A friend asked if he could interview me for a class project about careers. You know me...why wouldn't I say yes?
The questions were general at first, but when he got to the advantages/disadvantages of being a florist, I had to think about it.
Spending my days with fresh flowers and plants; enjoying their shape and color and fragrance before wowing myself with how beautifully they combine in a vase; making people smile every day.
Out of 38 years in the business, I've only worked in a high-speed shop for 6. I much prefer the fast paced, constant hub-bub of the GS floral, because now I'm very good at what I do....and because of the practical considerations: better pay, health insurance, acrueing vacation time, a retirement plan.
I DO think of myself as a professional artist. Sculptors and painters create beauty and so do I, but mine is affordable, available and ephemeral. I get the feedback I need for my soul when a customer tells me how perfect the flowers were. (Many artists wait til after they're dead to be recognized that way. )
My art is temporary, but eternal. Flowers have always added grace to a life; they're pleasing and comforting, and they don't last. I think that's the JOY of flowers--on a small scale, that impermanence is a mirror, an example of life.
It takes some effort to create an arrangement, and then, there on your mantle, the flowers are fresh and young, (you can watch them develope), then middle aged but still fine, then old and wilting. If you change the water and re-cut the stems, you can extend their life a bit, like modern medicine can do for us, but eventually, they die like we do.
(Hey, I've had thirty-eight years to think about this!)
Being a florist is rarely lucrative, and the "crunch" times are hard on a body. You're on your feet most of the day, every day. The possibilities for advancement are few, too: buy your own shop or go into management, or like his dad wants me to do, set up a design business in Florida...argh.
"OK...last question: Would you recommend being a florist as a career?"
Hmm. A qualified yes. It takes more than liking flowers...this profession had grown on me as I've lived it. I think I was born to have a career that wasn't life-or-death important in the world; a career that would make me think about grace and beauty and their value to people; a career that emphasised the cycles of life, variations-on-a-theme that ALL of life is.
But would I recommend it for YOU?
WHO are you?