With a band called The Crooked Angels, it's no surprise that angels have made their way into my life. We named the band after a song Jamie wrote called 'Crooked Little Angel'. The lyrics celebrate both the divine and human aspects each of us holds. In it, he writes:
Oh, crooked little angel keep the dark in your wings,
to remind us that we all fall sometimes.
If it's comfort that you need, put your hand inside mine,
I'll be your shelter till the stars don't shine.
While the name The Crooked Angels might impart a more sinister image to some, to us it symbolizes the Divine part in each of us. We are all angels, albeit a little crooked here on earth, in our own right, especially when we choose love and acceptance over fear and hate. Last month, The Crooked Angels were visited by the real thing.....and it all began at the barn.
In January last year I was asked by a new friend, whom I met through horses, if I could help her plan a June wedding. Earlier that day, she friended me on Facebook and discovered that I was a floral and event designer. Her plans to get married on the Cape had changed due to family circumstances, so she was in a bit of a panic thinking about pulling a wedding together in a few months. This woman was so lovely--warm, friendly, kind, and intelligent (clearly! She rode horses!)--that I immediately agreed to help.
A few days later, we were sitting at a folding table in front of the wash stalls at the barn, watching the other boarders tack up their horses as dogs romped under our feet, talking about her wedding plans. She showed me her dress (one of the most gorgeous dresses I've even seen and perfect for her), we talked colors, location, flowers, food, and before I knew it, these words came out of my mouth: I LOVE WHAT I DO. What? As I was finishing the sentence, the last two words got stuck on my tongue before I spoke them, as I realized what I was saying--and genuinely at that!
I love what I do.
For so many years with my former business, Country Way, I was miserable. I loved the design aspects and merchandising the shop, but the deadlines, and working stupid hours through every holiday, overshadowed any pleasure I got from my work. It became a habit to say, 'I hate my job.' People would tell me, 'But you're so good at it!" To which I'd respond, 'That may be true, but I hate it.' I was a stressed out mess all the time. I would worry myself sick when it was time to deliver weddings, anticipating that the bride wouldn't be happy with everything (even though I've gotten countless letters and emails from clients gushing about how my flowers made their day so special). I couldn't drop the anxiety and self-doubt, so it was no wonder I hated my job.
I don't know when I internalized this sense of acceptance that I sang about with my husband, and practice with other people, but sometime in those few years that I took a step back from my professional life (after lots of meditation, therapy, and self-care), it happened. And, that day at the barn with my friend, making plans for her wedding, proved I was ready to be a designer again on new terms.
Over the next couple months, she and I assembled the 'dream team' for her wedding. Both the photographer and caterer were friends of mine and fellow horse girls. After a pretty amusing search for a band, I offered up The Crooked Angels to play music at the reception (we actually played the ceremony, too), and she said she was hoping for that all along! She chose to get married at a historic hall on the farm where she and her fiancé were renting a house, I had done weddings there years ago--it's one of the hidden gems of Middleburg. Everything just fell into place as if it was meant to be.
The day of an event is always a little hectic (especially when I'm in charge of the coordination, flowers, and music), but I was keenly aware of how relaxed I was. Not saying I was the epitome of calm, but I was actually looking forward to working for and with my friends, and seeing the venue transformed by the big farm tables, hobnail glasses with crips white Italian china, luscious arrangements of summer color bringing everything together. And I couldn't wait to see my friend with her flowers in THAT DRESS!!!
Jamie played the wedding party in, and the officiant invited us all to help make the beautiful garden a sacred place with our presence. The sun was lowering in the sky, pausing at the top of a heart shaped cloud, as the ceremony began, The rays cast shadows in the sky like I had never seen before. They looked like angel wings!!! Jamie and I tried to get the photographer's attention--it was undoubtedly the most incredible display of sun and billowy clouds we'd ever witnessed. I couldn't resist grabbing my phone to try to capture the light show that was illuminating their union. There was no doubt in my mind that an angel was shining down on this couple and giving me a clear message that my gifts are meant to be shared on this earth.
The whole night was perfect--a rainbow even appeared during cocktail hour. Jamie and I played music after dinner, watching the fireflies dance with the bride and groom and their guests. And yet again, the cosmos showed up to remind me that this was my path. Sometimes, all it takes is a shift in perspective. When I began to see my floral designs as a way to express my clients' soul and spirit, they became something special: a 'simply sacred' way to spread joy and love.
I love what I do.