The Authentic Eclectic

Why receiving flowers made me cry

Gratitude and feeling worthy

A woman’s arm and hand, holding a bunch of flowers includinga sunflower, wrapped in brown paper, with a card, Trudi Bishop, Medium
Photo by Carrie Beth Williams on Unsplash

A couple of weeks ago I received the most beautiful bunch of flowers on my doorstep. Along with them was a note. I never receive flowers so this made my day already. But the note. It made me cry.

It said: “You’re a very special lady. Thank you.

No, it wasn’t a romantic gesture by my husband. They were from a stranger. Someone I had been communicating with via text. (No, I am not having an affair so, no, these are not from a ‘sexting’ partner).

They were from an extremely grateful lady. Over the Christmas holidays I had dragged my husband and son on a long, hard and muddy walk. One I had been wanting to do for while. I was in my element. It was this walk that led to me receiving flowers from a stranger and thinking about the whole concept of gratitude.

Under the forest canopy and on quite a mucky piece of the walkway where it was better to look down for the best footing rather than look up for native birds was where I spotted a gold ring shining up from the sticky black earth. It can’t have been there long, for there it sat, atop the earth, shining up at me, asking to be found.

Instinctively I picked it up. It was a thin, well worn, well loved gold ring. Inspecting it more closely, I saw an inscription inside.

Doug & Irene. 16.05.1953” A wedding ring. An old one at that. There was no question in my mind that this had to be returned to its rightful owner. It was almost as if the ring had found me, needed me to return it. I needed a purpose. I was struggling mentally. The ring took me away from that. I needed to find the owner of this clearly very special ring.

After a month of searching ‘Births, Deaths & Marriage’ records, social media posts and a message to an online local media publication, the rightful owner was found. The ring belonged to the daughter of the late original owner, her dad. It truly made my day to find this person.

When the owner and I started messaging to organise the return it was clear that they were overcome with emotion at the ring being found and actually being returned. Uncompromising gratitude flowed in her texts to me. For a brief few days I felt an emotional connection to them. Connected by this ring. As the ring had once connected two people.

The simple act of reconnecting an item heavily laden in sentimentality warmed my heart and sent a buzz of serotonin whizzing through my brain. My stress reduced. Knowing the ring had arrived safely was enough for me.

Then the flowers arrived with the note. “You’re a very special lady”. I cried.

Was it gratitude that made me feel this way? Someone else's toward me? My gratitude at receiving such a beautiful gift?

I cried because I didn’t, don’t, feel very special. I didn’t feel very worthy. I felt invisible. The note, the flowers made me feel seen, feel special. They helped me realise inside me there is someone inside who is capable of empathy, of generosity, of caring. Someone good. Someone … worthy.

I am grateful for that.

This outpouring of emotion and expression of gratitude made me think more deeply on the meaning and benefit of being grateful.

It led me to a TED talk by psychologist Christina Costa. In her talk she talks about “kissing your brain” or being grateful for all your brain does for you. Because we don’t see it or feel the blood it pumps or the air it breathes every day we can neglect it, forget how much it does for us. So ‘kiss your brain’ every day, say thank you and be grateful for all it does.

The idea of gratitude, she explains, is deeper than just kissing your brain. The benefits are psychological, physical and social. Practicing gratitude can help “rewire” your brain, firing new pathways to a healthier, happier existence. In a similar way trauma rewires the brain but with negative effects on the mind and body. Perhaps practicing gratitude can reverse these negative effects and increase the serotonin levels making us feel good.

Practicing gratitude can be as simple as writing a thank you letter or list, saying thank you to someone or something, including yourself.

From now on I am going to challenge myself to practice gratitude once a day. Be thankful everyday. When we say thank you, we look at the world in a different way.

Costa explains that by practicing gratitude it can boost our immune system, help us be more empathetic and regulate our stress hormones meaning we are healthier, happier and have better relationships. Now that is something to be grateful for.

So here is my list of five things I am grateful for today:

  1. Thank you to my mum (now gone) for having me.
  2. Thank you to the bees in my garden for pollinating the flowers and giving us food on our table.
  3. Thank you to my bonkers cat for just being you.
  4. Thank you to the fantail who visited me this morning. Your happy flight makes me smile.
  5. Thank you to me. For showing up to face another day.

I’ve included a link to Christina Costa’s TED Talk — have a listen. You’ll be grateful you did.

What have you got to be grateful for? I’d love to know.

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Trudi Bishop

Trudi Bishop

Kiwi by birth but not always by nature. Spent most of my adult life in the UK. I’ve landed back in NZ, a stranger in a familiar land. Trying to figure this out.