When someone asks how old you are, do you immediately know your exact age or are you in the ballpark, give or take a year or two on either side? As time marches on, I have paid less and less attention to this detail, as I see it as only a number. I belong to the camp of “you’re only as old as you feel” and I always feel younger than my biological age. I have also been told that I look younger than my age, which only serves to reinforce my lack of preoccupation with it.
Some people dread getting older, especially when they hit a milestone birthday that ushers in a new decade of their life’s journey. Personally, I welcome each birthday with gratitude for the past year of life that was gifted to me. Another year of life is never promised to us. Some people regard their birthday as just another day of the year and others like to make a big deal of it, treat themselves and celebrate in grand style. Depending on which category a person falls into, it will set their expectations and determine their reaction to how you choose to acknowledge their birthday.
I can confidently give myself a letter grade of “A” for remembering other people’s birthdays. However, I am not so great with remembering if it is a milestone birthday, as I do not pay close attention to my own age. In the back of my mind, I had a niggling feeling that a milestone birthday was coming up for a close family member. Although they had mentioned it last year, it was not mentioned again. I happily convinced myself that their milestone birthday was most likely next year in 2022.
Just to ease my mind, I checked with a relative who confirmed to my chagrin, that the milestone birthday was indeed this year and in four days time. My mind went completely blank as if someone had disconnected my power cord. I spun into a bit of panic, knowing that with the shutdowns and restrictions currently in place, it would severely hamper my efforts in getting an appropriate gift.
I wondered why nobody else in the family had mentioned this significant milestone birthday. I was tempted to get into a “blame game” of pointing the finger elsewhere for my predicament, but fortunately I caught myself and let that train of thought go. Sinking into a victim mentality never serves anyone. I also decided to refrain from any harsh judgments against myself, as I am learning to show myself the same compassion that I usually extend to others.
The benefit of a more compassionate approach with yourself is that it frees up your energy to begin working on solutions a lot quicker. Given that this was a big milestone birthday for a close family member, I was definitely feeling the pressure to honour it in a special way. Although I had negotiated to chip in for a food delivery with a relative, I still wanted a more personal gift to mark the occasion. After a quick analysis, I realized that my best bet was to order a floral arrangement.
I quickly discovered how pricey floral arrangements and delivery fees can be. Pricing and location helped me narrow down my options. My first choice was to go with my local supermarket that has a floral department and a florist. On Sunday evening I decided to just pop in and take a look at their selection of roses and pre-made arrangements, although the florist would not be in until Monday morning. My heart sank upon seeing the limited selection of roses and their poor quality. I was glad that I had trusted my instincts to check things out in advance.
This latest development sent me into another tizzy, as I tried to come up with plan B that evening. Thanks to the internet, I found a reasonably priced florist nearby with good ratings. Curbside pick-up was the only option under current rules. I was not keen about ordering an arrangement sight unseen, but I did not have a choice. I left a message thirty minutes before closing time knowing that I had to place the order first thing on Monday, in order to have it by Tuesday.
Monday proved to be even more frustrating. Every time I tried to call the florist shop the phone would briefly ring and then promptly disconnect. I have started practising the philosophy of “If it doesn’t open, it’s not your door.” This has saved me a lot of time and unnecessary aggravation. I decided to eliminate this option and go speak with the florist at my supermarket. As soon as I arrived, I was informed that she had just gone on her break.
I tried to keep my frustration in check and used the time to scan some of the new flower arrivals. No matter how hard I stared at the buckets filled with roses, I could not imagine the florist possessing enough magic, to put together a befitting and quality arrangement. When the florist finally emerged, she agreed with me and suggested that I try the superstore nearby. I was not aware that they had a florist on site. As disheartened as I was, I truly appreciated her honesty and assistance.
When I arrived at the superstore, I was fortunate to connect with a very patient and lovely person who answered my many questions. Once again, I ran into some unexpected restrictions and limitations. If I wanted an arrangement with roses, I needed to buy a full dozen and then purchase another complete bouquet of other flowers to create the arrangement.
The good news was that I could get my pick of the freshest roses on Tuesday morning, if I came in for 9:30 a.m. Additionally, they could arrange the flowers for me and wrap them to go at no extra cost, in lieu of a formal arrangement. I had a selection of vases at home that I had purchased to create a centerpiece arrangement some years ago. My plan was to repurpose one of them. I was wisely told to bring it along with me when I returned.
I knew I was cutting things really close but I reassured myself that I would be getting the freshest roses and that I could choose them myself. I hoped that the colour I wanted would be there. It was out of my hands and I just had to have faith that things would all work out.
Tuesday morning arrived and I had a bit of a bumpy start. I was told by staff that the florist was not actually scheduled to come in until about 11:30 a.m. and may not be on the floor until about noon. I had been given incorrect information. I was supposed to drop off the flowers at around noon, but I knew that I had some leeway. Still, this latest development did not inspire confidence in me as to how things were going to unfold.
I gathered myself and decided to focus on the task of selecting my bunch of roses. Fortunately, in the midst of conversation, I realized that I was in the wrong section and that the newest arrivals were in a different location. I narrowly missed selecting a bunch of roses that were older and not as fresh. Sigh…could anything else have possibly gone sideways?
As I approached the correct area, I immediately lit up when I saw the bright pink colour of roses that I was hoping for. I had three bunches to choose from. After viewing some arrangement ideas online, I opted to just go with roses and baby’s breath. Sometimes less is more and this option just felt right. The staff person said she would set the roses aside and would inform the florist of what I needed. I asked her how she could ensure that nobody else would take them and she replied, “You’ll just have to trust me.”
Fast forward to around noon time on Tuesday. As I walked over to the floral department, I noticed a woman expertly putting the final touches on my bouquet of gorgeous pink roses. They looked even larger and more impressive, laid out openly. The florist had used bright pink tissue paper with the clear wrapping to really make the display of roses pop. The cells in my body seemed to let out a collective sigh of relief.
In the end, everything worked out better than I could have even planned myself. The bouquet of roses had the “wow” factor I had imagined and conveyed the sentiment that I hoped it would. In hindsight, I realized that the formal arrangement I had initially wanted would have had less roses and more filler flowers, with my first two options. Furthermore, the suggestion to bring my vase in was a wise one. It became abundantly clear that I needed to go with a taller one that I had at home.
The arrangement for displaying and wrapping the roses was free and they looked absolutely stunning and perfect for posing with, in pictures. The birthday person loves having her picture taken and specifically asked if I could bring my camera along. Additionally, the timing of when the florist arrived in the store was actually better. It minimized the amount of time the flowers would be without water, after being wrapped. In the final analysis, the third option of the superstore proved to be the charm, as the expression goes. This option was not even on my radar at the outset.
The hopes and dreams we hold and the goals that we strive for in life, do not always go according to plan. We may feel such strong confidence and conviction about the plans we have laid out, that it can be a bitter pill to swallow when life does not cooperate. We think we know best, but do we really? Have you ever glanced back and been grateful for the things that did not work out because you were redirected to something even better? Perhaps you recognized that all that glitters was not gold after all, and that you were saved from a heap of misery and regret.
As I reflected back on my gift dilemma from the past week, I was grateful for how perfectly everything unfolded, especially with the time crunch I was in. Despite all the twists and turns, disappointments and frustrations, a gentle grace was weaving its presence through it all. I was led to a far better outcome than I had planned or could envisage at the time.
Could I have done without this stressful episode in my life? Sure, but I would have missed out on a powerful reminder of how supported we are in life, no matter what we may be struggling with. I believed with my whole heart that a solution existed, and quite frankly, the opposite reality was not an option for me.
Life rewards action. It is so important to never give up or never give in. If we are willing to step forward in faith, optimism, receptivity and flexibility, we increase the probability of new options finding us more easily. When we shift from a stream that focuses on the problem to one that focuses on the solution, the current will lead us to where we need to be, as long as we go with the flow and do not resist.
We must be willing to let go of what is not working to allow forward movement and new discovery. Do we not deserve the best possible outcome that is available to us in any situation? It is there, waiting to greet us. Once we choose it, we step into the flow that leads us right to it.