Growing through struggles: My life lessons through roses

Updated: Oct 14

Sharing my personal life experience of the most recent challenge that took place a few months ago. I don't feel this experience is shameful because we all experience tough times in life at some points. The most important thing we can do is to learn how to move on from such challenges. Back at the end of August, my husband lost his job of 18 years. This is, of course, not something we had expected. And that's life. Things hit you when you least expect it. I left my HR corporate career of 16 years back in Nov of 2021 to pursue my web design and photography business. It was a dream of mine to have my own business after 40 years old. Although a bit delayed, I made it happen and I was extremely grateful.


Spirit of Freedom rose by David Austin
Spirit of Freedom rose by David Austin

This means my husband was a primary person who provided us with consistent income and health insurance while I pursued my entrepreneurial journey full-time.


When life throws a curveball unexpectedly, it sends all kinds of emotions from shock, fears, frustrations, and uncertainties. A few weeks prior to this news, my gut feelings told me to start meditation to keep my mind balanced and I was glad I followed my instinct even though I had no clue why I felt strongly that way. This has helped me prepare to face many more challenges during this transition.


Through the course of the years since growing roses, I've witnessed how resilient roses can be even under extreme conditions. I often share a story of my 1st rose that has been in my garden for about 8-9 years now. It's one of the 3 roses I decided to keep in my 1st round of trying to grow roses while I got rid of the other 2. It's a bright yellow rose called Sparkle and Joy from Maas Nursery in Seabrook. This rose has taught and inspired me so many life lessons when I went through tough times...be it marriage, career, self-doubts, motherhood, illness, and now lack of financial security and living in uncertainties.


Roses are struggling this year from weather and pests


During the very first 7 years, Sparkle and Shine rose thrived on its own without my care. As I mentioned, I started my rose growing journey without knowledge or understanding about roses and also didn't have a desire to learn to care about them. I got frustrated and quitted because I felt roses were too high maintenance and difficult. This rose never received care from me at all. Not enough water, no fertilizer, no preventative measures. For several years, it struggled badly with blackspots and I was waiting to see if it would ever die. It went through a hurricane twice, snow about 3 times, years of drought, crazy amounts of raining year and you name it. Yet, every spring it came back and bloomed graciously I couldn't believe my eyes! (you can read more about my rose journey here).

Sparkle and Shine rose as of October 2022 with basil in the front


Then in 2020 when I had an urge to start a serious rose garden, I started caring for Sparkle and Shine rose along with my new roses. It got its 1st pruning and fertilizing for the 1st time. Since then it has been receiving a lot of appreciation and love consistently. It bloomed beautifully back then and blooms beautifully and happily now.


You see, our lives are like roses in many ways. They withstand wind, heat, diseases, pests and all just like us who go through bumps. At one point we face one challenge, then life is good again, we face another bump then we rise from challenge over and over. The more understanding, flexible and adaptable we are, the easier we will be able to accept, flow, and adjust to changes faster while being kind to ourselves and those around us.


The weather this year has been challenging. I have learned that trying to control external factors will only increase stress and frustrations. However, what we can do is to control how we choose to respond and look at things.


Since the pandemic, many people got into gardening as a way to de-stress or find an outlet to relieve fear of uncertainties. Me included. I can't deny the fact that I still struggled with my thinking even after years of working on it. We hit a setback from time to time and it's okay as long as we don't dwell.


I found that when I put too many expectations on my roses hoping they would make me happy, that ended up killing my rose gardening joy. What I've realized is I don't have to blame mother nature or anyone. No need to compare my roses to others. Some people look at a bad gardening year as a lost investment but the truth is it isn't a loss. You gained some knowledge along away. Perhaps not just about roses but our own patience, thinking and belief.


I found that frustrations with our gardening goes beyone what actually happens inside the garden itself. A lot has to do with other things that go on in our lives at the time or before that. We take our anger, disappointments, and frustrations from our daily life and find a way to release. And many of us turn to gardening as a way or hope to get rid of those feelings.


When they started developing blackspots and pests showing up, they didn't look the way I had hoped so I felt discouraged again UNTIL it hit me that I wanted to enjoy this hobby. I will feel joyful no matter what. I shouldn’t let blackspots or pests bring me down. I will try and embrace it all instead.


That's the light bulb moment.


I have been working on my thinking and mindset for the past 8 years as I used to be a person who only saw things in black and white. I was someone who was never happy. I felt the need to control, do it all, and do it perfectly. I was a control freak. I didn't have room for flexibility. I always complained, blamed and felt miserable. My life was full of anger, high expectations, frustrations, resentment, hate, and exhaustion. I always exploded so fast (couldn't even count 1-5 to hold my anger!) and blamed how this person or that person or that situation made me angry. It made me even more angry when my husband said I had a full control to react and I didn't have to be angry. I just let those feelings took control of my life and chose not to change one bit.


Looking back now, a higher power had been trying to send me several signs that things needed to change - but I chose not to listen. I went on living my miserable life until one year things in life fell apart in all directions...from my dissatisfaction in my career followed by major health issues.



The year 2014 was the year when I started to realize that I had a poor mindset and thinking pattern. My negative thoughts caused all issues in my physical, mental, and emotional health. You know how they say - people don't have a self-realization until you see a coffin.


Since then I started working on ways to shift how I think and see things. Eight years later, I am still learning. This very recent awakening of my husband losing his job happened to remind us how abundant we actually have been and how we took small things for granted.


Funnily, when both of us were working full-time and we made decent salaries for almost two decades, I always felt we never had enough and constantly worried because I focused on the lack and what if we lost a job and all the negative "what-ifs" I kept telling myself. I never focused enough on what we had available.


Now we live in the situation we both were most fearful of for years...but we feel completely different today.


We finally feel at peace.


We made peace with an unpleasant situation (thanks to meditation and positive affirmations that help strengthen our minds during this challenging time). We start to meditate for at least 10 mins each morning to stay in the presence and write 3 things we are grateful for each night.


We choose to look at failures as valuable lessons, feel grateful for the life we have today, the air we breath, the water we drink, the food we have, the house that shelter us, each other, the beautiful garden that i always thought too small but now I am more grateful of it than I had ever been, the resilient roses that remind us how strong and abundant life can be even during challenges. We have so much to thankful for. And most importantly we have this life and body thatt will allow us to see opportunities and rise over challenges.


If you have a tough year growing roses or anything, know that you have done what you can. Every year is different. Nature has its way of balancing things and it seems things will die. New lives will emerge.



We can choose how to react. Maybe you can let loose a bit...letting go of the need for controls and frustrations. Breath in. Maybe all you need is to give yourself a space or a break for as long as you need.. maybe you will start again when you feel good and excited. You can always start. Don't beat yourself up for taking a break or try something new. If this thing doesn't work, there's many more things to try. See what you can learn from each situation.


While this year appears to be challenging and roses are suffering to a certain degree, all I see is how strong they are. Like many of us, we have scars and wounds inside and outside from life experiences. These roses endure heat, pests and drought for a long period of time. Their foliages are full of damages and their blooms may not be what you have pictured. Look at these scars, wounds, imperfections and damages as a trophy of courage and strength.


Look closely with the eyes of symphathy, the heart of understanding. They have been beaten up by nature. We have been beaten up here and there as well. The best we can do is to nurture, appreciate and love them and ourselves for what they/we have become. Our roses and our lives will be stronger and more fulfilling if we wearn their strenght and apply in our life in some ways.



Whatever life challenges you may be going through right now, please know that while we can’t control what life or others will throw at us - you DO have the full power and control to respond, to choose how to react/feel, to decide how to move forward. Choose gratitude over lack, choose love over hate, choose to give it a try over letting fear stop you, choose to appreciate what you have right now over an uncertainty of tomorrow or future.


May you grow and bloom with strenght and joy always


Tat


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