It all started with a local request for recommendations on where to find peonies during the Chicago winter season between two Instagram content creators. Peonies are a gorgeous full bloom floral that are usually mostly prevalent during the spring time. After seeing her post and responding that they weren’t currently in season, we started to have a conversation regarding floral seasons, the best spots to pick up affordable bouquets, and how the floral inventory was being impacted by COVID shipping and availability. As two avid flower fanatics, we had a lot to say on the matter. What we didn’t expect was that what started as a simple inquiry around flowers blossomed into a conversation between two strangers around self-love, self-care, and self-awareness.
Flowers are usually seen as tokens for special occasions. Maybe it’s to celebrate a promotion or a graduation or a birthday or a house warming party. Maybe it’s to show a loved one you care or to surprise someone on a Sunday or to flatter someone on a first date. But flowers can also be a gesture of radical self-love and self-care. One that states you don’t need a special occasion or someone else to remind you that you are worthy of gorgeous gestures for yourself, no matter how small or big.
“You know, it’s just the little things that make your heart smile. Walking past a bouquet on the counter. On the dining table. You feel loved.” – Taiyes Balcony
As we continued to discuss what this small act of kindness to one’s self meant, I checked my phone notifications. There were two Instagram notifications. One for Taiyes messages and another for an account called “The Peony Collective” that was just now having an Instagram live. The serendipity of it all felt too symbolic to brush off.
I felt even further drawn to the conversation and reflected on my own relationship with gestures of self love.
Aren’t we deserving of gorgeous gestures? Aren’t we the luxury? Aren’t we the special occasion? Why should we await to be gifted something that is both accessible and decadent at the same time? Shouldn’t we treat ourselves the way we aspire to be treated?
Don’t get me wrong, I love the idea of reserving certain things for special occasions. If I were to have my Christmas tree up year around, I can’t imagine it would be the same as the giddy flutters I feel unwrapping my ornaments as Frank Sinatra plays in the background in a snowy December. But for things that are not bound seasonally, that are accessible, that are luxurious and feminine and delicate, why should we walk past the floral aisle in the grocery store without picking something up for ourselves?
The conversation continued. A moment of vulnerability was sprinkled in a comment around how self-love sets the tone for how we get treated by others. She continued to state that she had made a few mistakes, but had worked on herself and was better for it.
She had the perfect audience.
I jumped at the opportunity and immediately shared my own experience with this. I shared how I had left a relationship that had inevitably drained me entirely of my self-confidence and self-respect. Mutually, we both ached and resonated with the personal battles the other had faced under similar circumstances. An hour ago, we were strangers. An hour later, we were not.
“I think the best thing we can do is realize we have our entire lives for external companionship and partnership. This may be the last few years we have in true solitary and in true independence to do what we want when we want and how we want. We have to romanticize that and remember we are not without, we are within. ” – The Bolet Collective
The conversation stemmed over the hour. We talked about the small acts of kindness and distraction that are necessary to work through a tired and broken heart. We talked about the fact that there’s no set timeline or milestone that one reaches when working through something like this. We talked about the people in our lives that gave us the emotional support and the small things we did to be our own support. We talked about divorce rates during COVID and the delicate line between embracing someones flaws and quirks and tolerating qualities that exceed flaws because you think that’s what you’re supposed to do. We shared resources, sent photos of books we had read to facilitate the process, and sent links to blog posts that mirrored our experiences.
I joined my family for dinner later and couldn’t shake the conversation. How did two strangers strike a conversation over flowers and then land on something so delicate, vulnerable, and real? As I continued to mull it over, the irony of the proximity of Valentine’s Day being three days away was not lost on me. We were being bombarded with at home date ideas, couples photoshoot styling, and dinner for two advertisements. Buying flowers for yourself with the sole intent of being the only person that saw them on your way to the kitchen was a small act of rebellion.
The flowers were the tiny pièce de résistance to a society that kept telling you love is only romantic. Love can be whatever you want it to be. It can be love with a friend, a beloved pet, a mentor, a neighbor, a stranger on the street, or love to one’s self. By this definition, you might already be living the most romantic life possible without even realizing it.
We’re in a pandemic and every day is a luxury and we need to start acting like it. As Taiyes said, “One day, we will be free and everything will be in abundance.” I know that this will be the case and I cannot wait for that day. The day when I can go to a movie theater for a screening, have a large group of friends out at dinner, have the choice to work in the office or at home or at a coffee shop, travel without worry. But until then, we will continue to treat ourselves like the ultimate luxury and give ourselves the right to pursue a life full of abundance regardless of the current circumstances.
One day, you’ll receive flowers for every special occasion. But for now, you can also create that luxury moment and remember you are the special occasion.
Next time, don’t just stop and smell the roses. Buy the peonies, get a gorgeous vase, spend a thoughtful moment arranging them, and remind yourself that you are worthy of gorgeous gestures rooted in self-love and self-care.