As a fairly new plant mom, I’ve come to realize that few things in the world bring me as much joy as my candles and my plants.
Now, I know the title of this piece says “except for my closet”, and that’s because my clothes and shoes are the greatest expressions of my spirit and my moods. However, when it comes to filling a space without taking much room and reminding me to value stillness, my plants and my candles take the cake. During these times of revolution and social distancing, stillness has become extremely important to me. We’re being forced to sit with ourselves, reevaluate ourselves and our lives. And I’m a firm believer that exploring our creativity can be especially healing during periods of reevaluation.
I received both of my plants during a period of reevaluation: I’d just moved to New York and had never even watered a plant before receiving them as gifts.
My mom had always kept fake plants around; and they were beautiful, but carried no real responsibility outside of dusting their leaves. So receiving these was a bit of a test for me in seeing how I would rise to the occasion of nurturing something besides myself.
The first was Roberto Celemente, named after the groundbreaking baseball player whose career sparked many integration efforts within the MLB. I named him after Roberto because I was determined for him to grow strong–and also because he was the first of many plants to come. So, I guess they share a trailblazer quality, which I love.
He’s a snake plant: doesn’t need much sun and only needs to be watered every two to three weeks. He’s sprouted significantly since I first got him and even survived a leaf tear that nearly crushed me. His pot is simple: matt white with a saucer to match. I moved him out of my window where he was getting a bit too much sun to my dresser where he gets minimal sun and gets to chill with my beauty products.
The second plant is Celia Cruz, named after the fearless diva, songstress and fashion icon whose tenacity propelled her to major success and worldwide recognition, in spite of the discrimination she faced.
Celia is a ZZ plant (zamioculas zamifolia). I named her Celia because of how her leaves sprout and her stems hang a bit. She’s in the process of reviving, but her silhouette reminds me of a classic Celia headdress. Celia is a bit of a bolder personality and a bigger plant so I use her shape to provide me with a little more privacy in my main window.
My lovely roommate paid for her to get repotted as a birthday gift for me with the help of the lovely folks over at Natty Garden. It was in that process that they discovered her roots were pretty tightly bound and she was outgrowing her previous plot. I noticed she seemed a bit sad and sluggish which inspired me to bring her into the store in the first place. However, now with her new pot, she’s starting to thrive which is a lesson for me, and so wonderful to see.
My plants have not only taught me about the importance of stillness and nurturing, but that they can survive tears and being tightly wound. It makes me think of how we as people face our own personal battles, whether physical, mental or spiritual.
So the tears to our bodies, our souls and our minds are temporary. And when we’re tightly wound, maybe we just need to be repotted and/or seek other spaces. When we give ourselves permission to grow, outgrowing like battle scars are bound to happen. So, after we face them, after we grow, after we re-pot and seek new spaces, how can we celebrate? Celebrations are often busy and/or loud, but that isn’t always what our hearts, minds and/or bodies need or want. I’ve come to value candles because it’s like my little bit of peace in a jar. Target is my source and I choose the size and scents according to how I’m feeling.
Most times it’s a big candle, because I typically restock when my budget allows. They’re anywhere between one and three wicks with scents that are usually warm, musky and a little sweet. I typically light them in the afternoons or at night to celebrate the end of a work day or the end of a project.
Something about the dancing flames and the shadows they cast on my wall feel spiritual and make me feel protected in my solitude. Sometime I have company when I light them and they get to enjoy them as well, but I buy them and light them for me and me only. And it’s nice to have something that you do exclusively for you. I guess my plants fall into that space too, of being for me and being taken care of by me. It’s less about them being things and more about me being reminded of my power through nurturing theirs.
Even with working and entertaining from home, I’ve found that moments of stillness, watering, and watching fire dance restore my space. If I’m working from my bedroom, once I light that candle I’m towards the end of my day. If I’m working in the living room, I can walk into my bedroom and light my candles to welcome myself back in. And when my plants need watering, I make sort of a big deal about it.
I reach as far down into their pots as I can to check their moisture levels and then I gage how much water they need from there. I pour along the top for their soil and I wet their leaves. I even give them a light massage with my fingers, adding a bit more water to their leaves. It’s about me as much as it is about them and I’m so happy to have them around. They remind me to take care of myself and we all need more reminders like those these days.