Sunflowers and the Pursuit of Health and Happiness

“Come with me to visit the sunflowers…
each of them,
though it stands in a crowd of many,

like a separate universe,
is lonely,
the long work of turning their lives
into a celebration
is not easy.” ~Mary Oliver

A quick hello! These photos were taken at North Carolina Museum of Art’s Park (Raleigh) last Sunday. Just walking among the fields of sunflowers, zinnias, cosmos, and grasses increased my joy a thousandfold and decreased my stress levels ten thousandfold. There’s a reason for this expanding sense of health and well being while out in nature. I’ve always known that, even as a child–I just feel better, happier, and healthier when I’m outside.

But now, I’m learning the scientific specifics about how all that works. I’m taking a course in Horticultural Therapy through North Carolina State University and the North Carolina Botanical Garden. You all know I’m passionate about plants and healing, so we’ll see where it leads.

I’ve also signed up to take the Carolina Backyard Naturalist course. These courses are in addition to the NC Environmental Education certification I’m pursuing. ALL THE SHINY OBJECTS!! Ha! But now, I’m stepping back from many endless webinars, classes, and lectures. I realized even wonderful, fun things can overwhelm and exhaust me. I’m all zoomed out–zoom fatigue is real!

Writing work has picked up after a short lull due to coronavirus and surgeries. I’m still struggling with creative pursuits, including writing. But I’m chugging along. I hope you guys are, too!

Stay healthy, friends.

36 thoughts on “Sunflowers and the Pursuit of Health and Happiness

  1. How did I miss this post?! Sunflowers are so perky, they always lift my spirits. Kudos to you for taking those interesting courses. Pursue your dream, Cheryl. You mention “surgeries” (ugh, an awful word) and I’m out of the loop so all I can say, is I hope you are doing better 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Oh, dear. The shoulder! I’ve had shoulder pain (no surgery) and it’s amazing how that can sap the energy out of a person. I hope you’re well on the way to recovering! Same for Chuck 🙂 How is he doing? My husband wonders if he’ll need knee replacement at some point. I’ve known so many people who have had knee replacement. For some, it’s made little difference. For others, it’s like a miracle. I hope it’s the latter for Chuck 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      2. We are both doing well. It was hard on him being out of work. Both his knees were bone on bone and had starting bowing out very bad. He was in constant pain. He’s already feeling the relief from new knees.


  2. Cheryl thank you for the beautiful flowers. Makes me want to go out and hunt down a flower garden. Here in Michigan the leaves are turning and the blooms are mostly mums. We have to take our happiness where we can find it these days.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Gorgeous floral photographs and fascinating courses, Cheryl – I love the sound of horticultural therapy! More to write about and stimulate ideas. I’ve been concentrating on family stuff, but almost finished a very time consuming painting and still plodding on with current WIP novel. Wishing you some relaxation time :>)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much, Lynne! I’m enjoying the HT course. I’m not sure where it will lead, but it is an idea I’m passionate about: healing and plants:) I can’t wait to view the new painting. I hope you’re getting some relaxation time in, too! x

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  4. Lovely, as always. Thanks for the new-to-me Mary Oliver poem. Can’t go wrong with her! And thanks for the tip about the fields. My visit was also just the balm I needed, even if it was hotter than the pits of Hades. I’m so grateful to the museum and to Mother Nature. I must hear more about the horticultural therapy course! xo

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  5. Wonderful share of the sunflowers, Cheryl. They’ve always been a favorite of mine. The meadow with the zinnias and cosmos is inspiring and I’m dreaming of where I can make my own (on a much smaller scale of course). Good luck with the Horticultural Therapy. Sounds like something everyone could use during these trying times. I’ll look forward to hearing more about it. Warm wishes for continued recovery. Peace.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. All the flowers seem to be saying `hello!’ – something real sweet about that. Even though I am not the most outdoorsy of people, I do enjoy being outside. This year the mosquitos here are so bad, there is little joy in being out for more than 2 minutes. You are wise to figure out what will work for you now, what will make you happy right now. These days, whatever heals is a plus. Go for it!! Take care,

    Liked by 1 person

      1. It’s not as warm here for as long as it is by you, but yes, I can’t wait till it becomes cool enough for them to be gone. We have tons of trees here and bushes and shrubs – it’s been a bad year for them in many places. But we shall forge on in spite of … right? 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  7. These are gorgeous! Nature paints the most beautiful pictures! Thanks so much for sharing. I am happy you writing jobs are picking up and that you found those wonderful courses. You can practice your natural healing on me. It may take a field of flowers. Cheers!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I can’t wait to read what you’ve learned about horticultural therapy. It sounds like exactly what we all need in these troubling times. Thanks for sharing the joy you felt and captured in these beautiful pictures.

    Liked by 1 person

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