Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Lessons from a Funeral

I've lost relatives, and I've lost dear friends...but never a member of my immediate family. 

There's a difference.  The loss is felt so deeply that you almost cannot bear it.

But like any of life's experiences, there are things you learn, things that you take with you.
These are a few things that I am taking with me.

It is good to work with people you know and trust.  They felt my pain, and to them the process was more than just "business as usual".  It was so comforting to know my Mother was in the hands of the very best, and that the celebration of her life would be done with the careful attention it deserved.

Share.  Share stories, laughter, tears, hugs, kisses.  I won't hold anything in.  I won't be afraid to let people know I share their pain.  I know they need to hear it.   And I will give lots of hugs, not just one.  The one I am hugging will let me know when it's okay to let go.

If I send a card, I will put a return address label under my signature, and make a note about any memorial gift I've included or am sending.  That little gesture will mean so much to those who are opening cards and trying to keep everything straight. 

If I can attend the funeral and reception, I will stay as long as I can.  But if I can only pop in for a minute...I will.  I know now that it means the world to the family to see me, even if it is just for a moment.   I know that they won't remember that my visit was brief....they will remember that I took the time to share their loss. 

If I am able to make a meal for my friend, I will be sure to make it in a disposable container, and to send along a pack of containers for freezing smaller portions. 

And, as always, I will send flowers.

Working in the floral industry for over 40 years, I have assisted many families who have lost a loved one.  I have held their hand, given them hugs, shed tears with them. It's humbling to be asked to create a floral tribute that has so much meaning to the family. 

And then, for the florist, the time comes when you have to create a tribute for one of your own.   I was fortunate...there was no thinking involved.  My mother had already told me what she wanted for her spray...and had given me permission to embellish on her wishes.  Thank you, Mom.  And thank you for guiding my hands to do the work.  There was no pause...just a steady flow of inserting stems, each going exactly where it needed to be.  And when it was done, it was complete.  No fussing, no fixing, no question.   Just an ache in my heart.

The piece that was created to accompany the spray required no thought.  My mother loved pink carnations.   A simple flower.  A humble flower.   And in mass, a beautiful presentation filled with the beauty that comes from simplicity, and a whole lot of love.


♥ MJ

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Being a saavy flower buyer!

Whew!  The fast and furious week of Valentine's Day is over - every single order I received was made and delivered on time (one of the benefits of doing business locally!) and not a single complaint was received (another plus to doing business locally!)

In the days after the holiday, I took some time to research the facebook pages of the online flower order gatherers such as 1-800-Flowers, FTD, Teleflora, Just Flowers, Blooms Today, ProFlowers, and the like.  The complaints were never ending.  Flowers never delivered, flowers frozen, poor quality, non existent customer service, and totally unsatisfied customers.  It sometimes amazes me that these deceptive companies are still in business.  Yes, I know there will always be those who like the convenience of ordering online in the middle of the night...but oh, how I wish they knew how much extra they were paying for that convenience...and what it would eventually cost them in the end!

Those of us who have spent our lives in this industry and who love our work are deeply concerned when we hear and read about these types of complaints.  It upsets us when anyone is unhappy with a flower purchase, but we get even more worried when we continually see these deceptive online businesses taking money from our customers and delivering poor quality, or worse not delivering at all.  An unhappy customer (either purchaser and recipient) is one who may just stop purchasing flowers altogether, and that affects all of us in the industry.

I have repeatedly said that one should always take the time to get to know your local florist.  Develop a relationship, and allow them to get to know what your preferences are.  Call them directly.  Stop in and visit occasionally.  Let them show you new and interesting product.   Then, if and when the time comes when you need to send flowers out of the area, let them recommend a florist for you to call directly (or allow them to place the order on your behalf).  You will not only avoid those excessive online fees, but you will be dealing with the designer who will actually create and deliver your floral gift, and ALL of the money you spend will go into the beautiful flowers!

So you still want to place your order online in the middle of the night?  If you must,  just be sure to do a little research and make sure the website you are ordering from is a real brick and mortar florist and not an online order gatherer.  Never pick a shop from the top of the search page that appears in the colored block - those are always order gatherers.   Look for a local street address and phone number.  Look to see if the designs pictured are those created by the shop, or if they are cookie cutter photos provided by one of the wire services like FTD or Teleflora.   Read the "about us" page and look for some history that will let you know who you're dealing with.  And when you get through the order process - be aware of any additional "service fees".  Real florists don't charge those!

Flowers are a beautiful addition to your home, and to your lifestyle. 
They make you smile!  They make you happy! 
And we want you to be happy!


Monday, December 24, 2012

All is calm....

It's been a fast and furious few weeks, for which I am so grateful!  And now that the craziness has passed and things are calm, it gives me time to reflect.

With our big sale the last 3 weeks, the store has been filled with happy shoppers, and every single one of them (well, with one exception...and I think she was just having a really bad day!) has been filled with a cheerful holiday spirit!  It was truly inspiring to see so many happy people!  Many friends popped in to say hello and extend their greeting for a happy holiday, and there were new faces and new friends made along the way. 

It always makes me so thankful to be a florist, despite the pine sap, holly pokes, and rough dry skin!

Thank you to all who have supported my little shop this year....I realize you have many choices as to how you spend your hard earned dollars, and I am truly appreciative that you chose to spend some with me. 

Wishing you all a blessed Christmas spent with those you love. 


Friday, November 9, 2012

Open House!

It's beginning to look ALOT like Christmas!  And some of Virginia's locally owned, independent businesses are having their holiday open houses on Saturday, November 10th.  Many will be offering specials, treats, and inspiration for helping you with your holiday!  Pick up a flier at your first stop...visit every shop on the list and get your flier initialed or punched by each store...and turn it in at your last stop to be entered in a drawing for a gift basket valued at $200.00!  Be sure to support these locally owned businesses this season...we support the community you live in!
Here's a sneak peek at some of the treasures you'll find at Virginia Floral!

Hope to see you on Saturday!

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

old dog...new tricks

It's true.
You can teach an old dog new tricks.

No, I'm not an "old dog" by any means....

But in the floral industry, I would certainly be considered an "old timer"...I've been working in the industry for over 40 years, so I passed the "rule of 90" a   L O N G   time ago! 

I have learned the long standing, tried and true methods of creating intricate designs from seasoned veterans, the methods that are still used by florists today.

But there is this thing called progress.

The floral industry is no exception...and it has made huge advances in technology over the last decade.  Good changes. 
They have made it possible to create things that are beyond your imagination!
They have made things easier, less time consuming, stronger, and opened up a whole new world of design....IF you are willing to learn about the new techniques, new products, and new ideas. 

I'll be making a another trip to the big city this weekend for the third time in as many months to learn new design techniques...with another session scheduled the following weekend. 
I've been amazed at the possibilities that have been presented to me thus far!

Yes, this "old dog" can learn new tricks! 
The old brain still works...and I am loving it!

Friday, September 7, 2012

Breathe deep....

"Long breath, long life. Short breath, short life. No breath, death."
- The Tao of Breath

Have you ever stopped to think about breathing?  I know when I am stressed, my breathing is short – sometimes I even forget to take a breath!  When I am happy, it’s easy.  When I am calm, it is long and quiet.  And when I am sick…well, forget about it!  I'm too busy coughing, wheezing and sneezing!

I never thought much about how different scents influence me, because I always have beautiful scents around me in the flower shop.  But I recently had the opportunity to learn more about how much our health and wellbeing can be influenced by what we breathe, from a company called Aromafloria.  I was intrigued by what I was learning, and decided to carry some of their products.  We can all benefit from what Mother Nature provides for us!

“A flower’s fragrance declares to all the world that it is fertile, available and desirable […] Its smell reminds us in vestigial ways of fertility, vigor, life-force, all the optimism, expectancy and passionate bloom of youth.  We inhale its ardent aroma and, no matter what our ages, we feel young and nubile in a world aflame with desire.” 
-1948 Diane Ackerman

"Mother Nature’s pharmacy of natural, herbal remedies can effectively treat both physical and mental conditions by mere inhalation.  Our state of mind and sense of balance can be influenced through our sense of smell.  The quality of air we breathe is essential to how we feel and to our health.  Our everyday environments are filled with air loaded with organisms that affect our bodies, resulting in sore throats, congestions, colds and flu, allergies and other airborne diseases.  Through simple rituals in inhalation, we can protect ourselves against the environments we can’t control and maintain a healthy body and mind." *

Aromafloria has developed specific Inhalation Beads based on the rituals of inhalation.  It’s the perfect aromatherapy for a life on-the-go. * 

Whether you’re suffering from stress, symptoms of the cold and flu, sinus issues, or having trouble falling asleep…there is a simple, organic, wonderful aide in relieving what ails you, and it's as simple as breathing.  Stop in and let me show you this product.  I love it!  ♥

 *from the Aromafloria website.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Time to make the donuts...


yes, donuts.

Each year when the week of Mother's Day rolls around, that phrase comes out of my mouth automatically.  Reminiscent of the commercial;  the alarm goes off much too early, my feet swing out of bed, I try to wake up...and the words utter from my lips, followed by a sigh..and a smirk:  "time to make the donuts".

It's a long, long week at the flower shop... with many hours spent creating beautiful bouquets for Mothers, Grandmothers, and other "special women". 

When it comes to Mother's Day, there just is no gift quite like a bouquet of fresh, beautiful, fragrant flowers.

Don't forget to order your bouquet early!  
And it's okay to send it a little early too...couldn't you use some extra bragging rights?