Let me begin by saying a very happy May Day to you all! I love to celebrate this tradition by showcasing one of my favorite flowers, Lily of the Valley, on my table. It has long been a favorite – I adore their delicate structure and powerful fragrance, it’s the flower of my birthday month and it was beloved by Christian Dior – what more could you ask for in a bloom?
King Charles IX of France received Lily of the Valley as a token of good luck and a symbol of prosperity from a knight, which he then offered to the ladies of the court annually on May 1. This custom endured in France and became its May Day. There are celebrations of May Day in many countries, with varying customs. As a child, mine used to include offerings of small baskets filled with either confections or flowers. The current traditions, especially prevalent in Europe, now include dancing around the maypole.
My love of this flower inspired me to develop these Ziploc travel bags which are a slightly chicer nod to the convenient, kitchen plastic bags we all love using when we pack. They are also an excellent tool in organizing any area of your home, especially if you are neck-deep in taming the beast of clutter, as so many of us are right now! The design on the paper and the storage bag were inspired by the painting I did on the gift tag (which was a reproduction of an older painting I did). Currently available on my website (carolyneroehm.com), they will help you plan for the trip you are dreaming to take!
Moving on, I hope this post finds you safe, feeling well and that you are somewhat sane. I say somewhat sane because I have a tenuous hold on my own sanity at this moment! March and April of 2020 have felt like the longest months of all time! The other day, I made an announcement about a Friday appointment I needed to hurry off to (virtually) and was told by my beloved staff member that it was actually Monday. Losing track of what day it is seems to be my new normal!!!!
As I have mentioned before, because of my destroyed immune system (due to my near-death experience of a year ago) I am at the top of the list for people who are highly vulnerable to the coronavirus. This time has been a struggle for me. And to state the obvious, this is a time like no other for everyone. As we whittle away the hours at home, there are massive events swirling around us that are not only making indelible marks on our world’s history, but on every fiber of our daily existence. Simply put, this is surreal.
My heart especially goes out to those who have lost family members and those brave healthcare workers on the front line of this war. My admiration and appreciation for them are limitless. I do not know how they do it or how we may adequately thank these heroes of our times. I suspect we will be trying to find ways for years to come.
To focus this post on what is happening all around the world would be redundant because if you are like me, it’s the news you watch minute to minute and it’s the reel that’s playing on a loop inside your head all day long. There is the fear, anxiety, frustration, endless worry and confusion that we must all face every day. The media is not helping with conflicting reports. Who do we trust for our information? Do they place politics and bias ahead of the truth? (I fear they do). What will our new normal be when this is done?
With all that is serious, I digress to the light-hearted. My shelter-in-place “accomplishments” have been a bit all over the place. Don’t get me wrong, when our time at home started I made some ambitious declarations of projects I would be taking on (never do this in front of witnesses who will return armed with gentle reminders). I was going to clean every closet and messy desk, read the many, many books I have piled up everywhere, play stacks of board games, go through and organize the thousands of photographs I have amassed while working on my 13 books over the years and return (with dedication) to my piano and painting (the skills that I lost when I was so sick). In theory, I now have all the time in the world to do what I want and what have I accomplished? Very, very little, I’m afraid. Day to day, I feel like a deer frozen in the headlights of a fast approaching truck.
So I decided to start small in my accomplishments and where better to begin than with self-care? After all, it’s necessary. After 5 weeks I could not stand the broadening band of grey hair that taunted me in the mirror daily. I would look at myself and think, “who is that woman?”. Although I have never colored my own hair, I thought how hard can it be (famous last words)? This yielded a bathroom akin to a crime scene. And oddly, while the dye was streaked on every surface around me (because I was so afraid that I might stain my forehead brown), I managed to miss the actual roots. This was further complicated by the wrong choice of color. The patches of hair that did get color had a reddish cast to them – not too pretty. As the saying goes – better not give up my day job!
The next self-care blunder was ruining my nails. I began to peel off the existing cracked gel product myself (as I knew I wouldn’t be returning to the salon). Having ordered a DIY kit to rectify the situation (that never came), I resorted to desperately hacking away at the gel surface, ruining my actual nails in the process. Two out of two for disasters…so what’s next?
I was having terrible pain in my left, big toe due to an ingrown toenail. Finally, and because I had only one pair of oversized, floppy shoes I could wear, I decided to try the “surgery” myself. While I destroyed my pedicure, I relieved my poor, suffering toe. Finally, a success story!
I realized something about this quarantine that we may all take away from this time. Ditch the lists. This is not about spring cleaning. It is not a spa, nor a work-out boot camp. It is STRESSFUL. Be kind to yourself and those around you. When you accomplish small tasks, say, “good for you, girl!”. And forgive yourself when things do not get done. I am a star at beating myself up, so I know of what I speak. Managing the inner turmoil is about all I can do these days. Take care of yourself. Indulge in things you enjoy, like setting a pretty table or arranging a bouquet of flowers. Help healthcare workers and neighbors. Do things that bring you comfort – for me it is cuddling with my dogs. Reach out to friends who are alone during this time because being alone in a world of separation must be very hard. Lastly pray for, with the deepest gratitude, the many fabulous healthcare workers who are saving lives as well as the people manning grocery stores, delivering packages and doing the essential jobs that keep our lives running. Pray for those who are keeping us safe. Pray for the veterinarians and doctors who are taking care of those we love, be it two-legged or four. Thank you all from the bottom of my heart.
On a lighter note I am adding pictures I have taken during this time at home. We have had a long, grey, cold spring in Connecticut and have been reliant on the daffodils to be our sunny, saving grace. It was Wordsworth who said, “Then my heart with pleasure fills and dances with the daffodils”. They have been a beacon on my very bleak property during an even bleaker time. Sometimes we must create the sunshine indoors.
With an outdoor spring backdrop still lacking, we’ve been using what we have here at Weatherstone to create a vibrant spring indoors. Urns full of hyacinth paired with blue and white table elements have given our shelter-in-place meals the burst of color and cheer we are longing for these days. Creating these tables make me calm and gives me hope.
Find those small moments of beauty that give you hope every day until the worst of this is over. Until then, stay strong, stay safe and be well. We are in this together, my friends.