Confident Sunflower stands tall and radiant, shining like the sun. When you are suffering from low self-confidence or self-doubt, Sunflower humbly reminds you of your true magnificence, instilling acceptance and understanding and allowing loving compassion to flow from your heart.
Except for little snippets here and there, I haven’t really shared my personal story before. Mostly because I didn’t believe there was any value to doing so. Who cares? Well, I now realize that although there is nothing particularly special about my story, the value is about how I view myself. If I truly believe I have value, then so does my story.
So, I don’t believe its any accident that Sunflower is the Soulflower flower for the month of July. Her message is about confidence, about standing tall and radiant and knowing that we each have a unique story to bring to the world. Sunflower is standing behind me, and within me, infusing me with the confidence to shine my own unique light.
I humbly acknowledge my own unique light and the special beauty it brings to the world.
My story begins around the tender age of 8 or 9 when I somehow decided that I alone was responsible for everybody else's happiness. It was a huge responsibility of course, and over the years I took the full weight of it very seriously— putting everyone else's needs above my own and believing somehow that my gifted ability to recognize, anticipate and fulfill the needs of others made me someone of value.
It made me feel needed, wanted, purposeful and mostly, it made me feel loved. My entire self-worth then was determined by external sources. I believe this is the case for so many women and perhaps that is why it took me so long to recognize it.
The headaches started in my early teens—hormones perhaps, but that is beside the point. They were frequent, mostly low grade and easily ignored with an ibuprofen or two. My life was unfolding according to plan and I didn't have any time for headaches. I did everything I was supposed to do to ensure a happy and successful life.
I worked hard, I went to college, adjusting my major from frivolous art to marketable graphic design because that was a better career option. I met my future husband not long after graduation, found work in prominent design studios and we bought a home. We got married and decided to start a family (of course).
After my first daughter was born I decided to quit my job and take on my role as “mother-martyr caretaker of all” full-time. We had three daughters which our lives completely revolved around. I even home-schooled them for many years while my husband supported our family with his career. We had a good life, but the headaches were getting worse and worse. They eventually got so bad I couldn't function for a week or more at a time. Something needed to change.
This is where the universe stepped in. My husband lost his job (for the first time). We also lost a lot of money as the housing market tanked and we decided I could no longer homeschool and needed to go back to work. As we struggled to find a footing I was simultaneously working on my health issues. I knew clearly that my body was trying to tell me something, but I kept missing the point. I kept looking for a fix outside of myself— a cause or something to blame—which also is not unusual.
It wasn't until a few years of constant struggle, uncertainty and fear later that I realized that the message my body was sending me was one of misalignment. Misalignment with my soul's purpose that is. Somewhere along the way I'd gone on a great big detour in my life and I am sure it is because I always looked to external sources for guidance and validation.
The one constant thread that was woven through all of my adult years was my love of plants and gardening. No matter where I was living I could always turn to nature for solace and healing.
I could always turn to Nature for solace and healing.
My “free” time was spent reading Materia Medica, gardening journals, learning about natural health and alternative healing remedies and so on. But no matter what I read or learned about I was always brought back to the land.
The plants and flowers were my friends, my confidants and my teachers. And it was the plants and flowers that encouraged me to pick up my paint brushes again after over 25 years of avoidance. And when I did finally listen and pick up my paintbrush, it was the plants and flowers that poured out.
Every painting was like an intimate conversation between two old friends. As I painted I realized that each plant was sharing with me a restorative soul lesson. The act of creation was medicine itself and I didn’t even need to consume the plant medicine to access it’s deep healing energy. Something that I'd forgotten along the way. Despite my (unfounded) fears of not being good enough, or qualified enough or whatever else my ego was telling me to keep me small, I decided that it was my goal to create and self-publish my work as an oracle deck.
Over the course of the next two years I spent time painting, journaling, photographing, writing and documenting my journey back to myself through the power of the plants and flowers that I tended to year round or that grew in the woods around my home. Each plant helping me recognize and release layers of what I was not, and instead reminding me more about myself as a spiritual being having a unique experience in this world.
I had no particular agenda or list of plants that I wanted to paint, but instead allowed myself to be led, guided—and boy was that uncomfortable! And as I worked, I released more and more layers of stories, untruths, and beliefs that I held about myself and my life. (Dandelion energy!) With each painting I felt lighter and clearer about who I was and what my purpose was in this world in this lifetime. And as I finished the last piece for the deck I realized that truly my work was just beginning.
I want to tell you that my headaches went away but that's not the whole truth. They did improve tremendously. So much so that they are now more of a rarity than the norm. But when I have one now I recognize it for what it is—my personal reminder to slow down, to stop and pay attention to how I'm not caring for myself, not honoring myself, and not taking the time to meet my needs. In these times I find that I have been pushing, forcing and struggling to stay in the game, to get things done, in the way I was taught to be successful. And where is the joy in that? :)
I no longer believe my headaches, my body even, to be a curse but rather a gift and a teacher. My whole experience of healing, of “wholing” myself, has been an enormous lesson in patience and trust and enoughness.
Allowing things to unfold in its own time just as nature never hurries. Trusting that all of my needs are always being met and I am fully supported always. And understanding that wherever I am in my journey I am always enough.
When I think of how the Earth has supported and loved me on this journey, I know clearly that part of my purpose and soul work in this lifetime is to share my experience so that I may inspire and support others to do the same. I truly believe that when we all feel that sense of being fully supported, and enoughness we will be empowered to take better care of ourselves and by extension the Earth that supports us all.
One by one, as we come home to ourselves, as we heal our hearts and souls, we will help bring the Earth back into balance with our empowered, embodied and fully expressed divine feminine energy.
Thank you Sunflower for encouraging me to share my story. I hope it inspires you to see the magnificent value and uniqueness that is yours.
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The more I fight and struggle and suffer, the more I create all that I am not. And the more I sink into the watery depths of despair, which I have done over and over as I have unpacked my personal suffering, the more I pull others down with me. Rose tells me over and over that what is in my highest good is indeed in the highest good for all.
On our metaphorical dance floor that is life, we are faced with many choices every moment about what steps to take next. Lady’s Slipper asks if our steps come from within, guided by our connection with our higher selves, or if are they choreographed by others?