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How to Make a Bouquet Out of Your Life

Updated: May 11

Advice from a rocket scientist

Poster bordered by drawings of roses, buds, and leaves reads: Happiness is the art of making a bouquet of those flowers within reach.
A poster on my daughter's fridge gives me wise advice about how to live.

Forget visiting churches or hiking up mountains for a dose of inspiration!

I find a lot of inspiration in other people’s kitchens! And, specifically, on their fridge doors. This is where people stick notes that urge me to be a better person.


My mother had a fridge magnet stuck on the front of her classic white fridge that said: Do what you love and love what you do. And another one that said: Take time to smell the roses. When you spent time in her kitchen she always found a way to weave either of these two sayings into the conversation. Words of gold, really.


I was in Perth recently, browsing the photos, children’s drawings, and sayings posted on my daughter’s sleek silver fridge. This quote from Bob Goddard caught my eye:




is the art

of making

a bouquet of

those flowers

within reach.


This time of year there aren’t many flowers in my wild autumn garden. Just a few pansies in terracotta pots, some late roses, several fading zinnias with drooping heads, a bit of lavender, several stray cosmos blooms, and ever-present fragrant white alyssum. So, there isn’t much to pick. But Goddard, the American renowned for building the world’s first liquid-fueled rocket, is telling me that if I want to be happy I have to pick the flowers that are there and make something worthwhile out of them.


This is good advice for how to live too: if you want to be happy, make the best of what happens to you.


Work with what you’ve been given.


Make a bouquet with whatever is available in your life right now.


How to Make a Bouquet Out of Your Life


The Oxford English Dictionary defines a bouquet as an attractively arranged bunch of flowers. Therefore, to make a bouquet of your life you need to arrange what happens in it in an appealing way.


This can be difficult.  “Flowers” like sadness, hardship, upheaval, deprivation, disease, and accidents aren’t attractive. They are hard to arrange in such a way that they are pleasing to the eye. But it is possible to make them pleasing to our inner eye, our deeper knowing.


The simplest way to make what happens to us pleasing is to accept what life is giving us.


Acceptance turns lean pickings into gifts.


The past twelve months have given me many beautiful things worthy of a bouquet, like the birth of a grandchild, family reunions, new friendships, a holiday, and a wedding. But these months also gave me the death of a sister, sickness, and surgery.


Weaving these last three events into a bouquet is only possible if I embrace grief, accept responsibility for my body’s condition, and be thankful for the skill and generosity of hospital staff.


Every moment (no matter how fraught it is with what we don’t want) and every flower (no matter how bedraggled it seems) holds a gift if we look at it deeply enough.


Following the instructions stuck on my daughter's sleek silver fridge, I go outside and pick what flowers are available. Then I put them in a tiny vase painted and given to me by my granddaughter, Summer, and place it on the kitchen table. The arrangement is small, simple, and exquisite. It represents my autumn garden flowers and it is just right.

A small colourful vase with four deep pink cosmos flowers, a stalk of lavender, and some white alyssum.
Making a bouquet of the few flowers left in the autumn garden at Evergreen.

Bob Goddard may have dedicated his life to making a rocket but he obviously looked carefully around as well as up into the blue yonder, in order to pen that quip about finding happiness in what is within our reach.


Nothing is closer to us than our own life.


Let’s regard our life as a bouquet that we are creating.


Everything that appears in our life has value and is worthy of acceptance and inclusion.


Life offers us flowers.


We make the bouquet.


Love, Marlane

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