Take a moment to listen to my reading aloud of William Bartram’s Words, from William Bartram’s Travels.
Hills set aflame…Bartram’s description of native Azalea in bloom:
Shade gardening as a child…
As a child, I grew azaleas in the backyard. My mother gave me a plot of land to grow my own garden. There were a couple of flame red Japanese azaleas already growing there that I tended. I got really into gardening there, I bought a book on shade gardening, and added many plants and hostas to the garden. Most notably I planted a young pink dogwood tree. I read the hole was supposed to be twice the size of the root ball, so I dug this massive hole for it to go into.
Wild, Native Azalea in Greene County…
I wasn’t aware that there were azaleas native to Georgia until my father showed one to me. It was growing wild on a farm my family owned in Greene County Georgia. This azalea that was native to Georgia fascinated me. Instead of the cultivated grace of the Japanese azaleas, it had wildness to it, the blossoms mostly orange, and it blended in so naturally with the surrounding flora and fauna.
An Equilateral Cross….
When viewed large, this Wild Azalea Possible Perception creates a cross out of the flower stems. Aside from the more obvious Christian meanings, the cross is equilateral, an ancient symbol for the 4 elements, Earth, Air, Fire, and Water.
The Ugly Bush out Back…
I now live in a condo, with small plots of land both in front and behind my home. Growing in front are red azaleas, but the massive white azalea in the back stuns me every spring with its blossoms. My neighbor pointed out, and it’s so true, the azaleas are the ugliest shrubs except for a few weeks in the spring, when they are the most beautiful of all.
Take care of yourself for your loved ones…
There is a language of flowers, so that when you send someone flowers they can derive a specific meaning of the bouquet from the flowers it contains. Azaleas mean: Take care of yourself for your loved ones. In a sense, that could be my theme for the year, at least, I have been highly focused on self-care for sometime now. Extreme self-care.
The self-care of exhaustion….
Self-care has so many lessons to teach me. Like, if I don’t care for and love myself, I can’t count on anyone else doing it for me. More recently, I signed up for a Shamanic Journeying Workshop. I went to a friend for her to help talk me into canceling, I was over-committed; I would exhaust myself, too much money. She did the opposite, and talked me into it, because I work hard just to make ends meet and I should do something just for me each month. Because guided visualizations to drums is fun and powerful. Because I could sleep in the next day.
Extending myself for me.
So I am realizing, self-care doesn’t mean never wearing myself out, living in a protective bubble wherein I always get enough sleep, enough down time, enough food and water. Sometimes self-care means extending and even over-extending myself in order to treat myself, to reach new levels of self-awareness. I do that for work, both in my day job and in my art business. Why shouldn’t I extend myself for me?
For your loved ones…
I love the caveat in the meaning of the azalea. I always think I am taking care of myself for myself, although I do realize that I cannot help anyone else if my own well is empty. The meaning of the azalea is “Take care of yourself for your loved ones.” While I may think self-care is just for me, there are people out there, many that I can think of, who love me and want the best for me and really want to see me doing well. People who would be saddened if I did not care for myself. So I’m not being totally selfish and self-centered to practice extreme self-care. I am actually caring for my loved ones through me.*Opening stanza from “The Slacks” by Trip Shakespeare.