Seven years ago this week, my husband was admitted to the hospital and spent a few days in Intensive Care. During that hospital stay, he received a lovely blooming azalea plant. Both of them have survived and thrived since then. The azalea has upsized several times to bigger pots. It spends its summers on the patio and its winters by the glass sliding door in the basement.
Each spring, my husband plants annuals in the flower beds in front of our house. The colorful petunias, marigolds, and other flowers last through the summer, then die off after the first cold snap. But the perennials survive. They may go dormant during the winter, but they live on to bloom again, like this azalea. Our outdoor azaleas bloom big and pink every spring. This one gets a little extra help, since it has a warm place for the winter, and it rewards us with blooms several times a year–often when we least expect it.
Creativity is a lot like that. When it’s nurtured and encouraged, it will survive and flourish, even through the times in our lives when we deal with sadness, discouragement and other disappointments. 2013 has been a year of ups and downs for me, as it has for many people I know. I’ve enjoyed some very nice accolades and awards for A Voice for Kanzas; I’ve had good times with family and friends. But I also spent a chunk of 2013 helping my daughter to care for my father during the final weeks of his life. It was a time of sadness, but also a time that I will treasure for the bonding in our family. During those weeks, I wanted to write, I expected to write, but it just didn’t happen. Besides the continual care my father required, the sadness and sheer fatigue felt like “winter” to my creative mind. No matter how much I wanted to think about the novel I was writing, I just couldn’t.
But, thankfully, that winter passed. As my dad went forward on his own journey from this life, so I went forward from that time to my own next chapter. Spring came, and summer, and eventually I went back to my novel and completed the story.
So here’s to 2014. It’s pretty cold here in Missouri this winter, as it is in much of the U.S., but spring will come. May we all nurture our creative voices through our winters and bloom again…and again.