Tag Archives: passion

Hands, flowers, inspiration

Art enables us to find ourselves and lose ourselves at the same time. – Thomas Merton

There is nothing more healing for a weary soul than a true dose of inspiration. I don’t mean a feel-good buzz, groundless “be happy” optimism or pretty things. I mean something that connects you to fun, rest and purpose. Something that recharges your flat batteries. Something that reminds you that it is really a gift to be alive.

I woke up on Saturday morning feeling weary. I had arrived in Singapore just the day before, and I was happy that my aunt had signed herself, my cousin and I up for a treat, but I wasn’t really sure what to expect from a floral arrangement workshop. I like working with my hands in certain things – like cooking (and very occasionally, attempting to ‘garden’) – but I wasn’t sure about flowers. I thought it might be too complex / feminine / romantic for me …

We had a delicious breakfast at Kith before going to Marina Square for the workshop. Walking in to XTRA and seeing their new showroom reminded me of how wonderful it is to have our human senses.

To see, touch, listen to, smell, feel stuff – even furniture – provides an experience that digital platforms will never replace.

I was also reminded that though we get many great deals shopping online, we need to support our retailers where possible if we want to keep having wonderful shops to walk into!

The air was gloriously scented with the perfume of fresh flowers. And when I laid eyes on the workshop space and the tall, graceful blooms and leaves, I felt a little leap of excitement.

Ching (from Triceratops) made us feel at home immediately, with her warm, honest introduction to flowers and the art of floral arrangement. She was generous with her knowledge, and patient and gracious in answering our questions.

As promised in the brochure on this workshop: ‘ideal for beginners’, it was delivered at a great pace for this complete novice. In saying that, I am sure even seasoned florists would gain some insight and inspiration from it.

We learned where to buy materials at a good price, how to prepare and preserve flowers, and how to present them in a beautiful way. Details weren’t glossed over – we learned how to tie ‘the perfect bow’, even with a ribbon that was shiny on one side and not the other.

Ching gave us a few great ideas for delivering maximum impact with minimum effort – e.g. displaying a single sprig of mint fern in a vase. How’s that for easy?

Ching’s ‘demo’ arrangement came together rapidly, seamlessly and beautifully … that’s 16+ years of experience and passion for you ;-)

Before long, it was time for us to get our hands dirty (and perfumed).

It was fascinating to see how everyone else worked on their arrangement. Even people who selected a very similar combination of flowers and leaves put things together in such unique ways.

Though part of the work had been done for us (vase + sponge + bottom layers + water – check!) I realised it had looked WAY easier than it was (for me anyway!)

Fortunately, Ching and her team were on hand to give us lots of help and advice :-)

And we got there in the end.

The biggest takeaways for me personally were the fantastic tips – and the wider principles to apply in life and art: practice, patience, and remaining connected in what you do :-)

Thank you Ching, Triceratops, XTRA and my aunt for this wonderful and uplifting experience.

Advertisements

Not just coffee

I think if I were a woman I’d wear coffee as a perfume.
~ John Van Druten

A group of us went on a round-the-world tour on Wednesday night. Led by Bink and our noses, we journeyed through Papua New Guinea, Cuba, Ethiopia… it was wonderful. I’m talking about coffee cupping at Memphis Belle – if you’re in Wellington, don’t miss out on this very cool experience!

It was a pleasure to delve deeper into the world of coffee. We had 8 glasses of ground coffee placed before us, and I wondered what we were going to do. Coffee cupping was a new, foreign experience for me.

I could write more about how we circled the table, sniffing, tasting, commenting and marveling – but really, what captured me was less to do with what we were sniffing or seeing. I felt a fleeting sense of sadness at the thought of people in business suits who cheapen coffee by equating it with a cup of bitter blackness, the sole purpose of which is to wake us up to help us concentrate on our spreadsheets.

Because really, coffee is so much more than just brown beans/liquid stimulant. Coffee is a world phenomenon. As I tasted the coffee, registering the different notes – earthy, nutty, smoky, sweet – many thoughts came to mind.

We tasted coffee from different regions, farmed by different hands… and amazingly, when I really put my nose to the beans, I smelled alot more than just the generic pungent, robust smell of coffee. I swear I could smell peanut butter, peach sorbet, heck – one of the coffee glasses even smelt like roast chicken. I know, it’s bizarre!

What’s more, it smelled of energy. Farmers’ toil and pride. Fruits of the earth. Sunshine. Conversation. Beauty of the senses. It was so rich, so poignant.

We also had a discussion about fair trade coffee after that. They buy only fair trade green beans. What impressed me was the fact that I could see they weren’t doing this just to feel good about themselves, or to secure bragging rights about being Kind People. From what they said, it was obvious that they had invested much thought into the coffee industry, their values, ethics, passion, and how they could best help.

I think Nick, Bink and the rest of the Memphis Belle team are more than just coffee guys, or guys out to make a living. I was really impressed by their utter unmistakeable passion… passion about coffee, the different ways to brew and enjoy it (you should see their range of equipment, I’d never seen any of those gadgets before)! Passion about fair trade, more than just the ‘feel good’ factor of buying and selling ‘fair trade’ – but genuinely looking into the state of the world – the coffee market – the things that are wrong with it – and the way they can help put it right.

I think that’s really powerful.

Along the way, they shared their passion with us. I caught it. I think others in the room caught it too.

Good coffee = great. Following one’s passion = great. Not just complaining about the state of the world but doing something about it = great. Fair trade = great.

Memphis Belle – 38 Dixon Street, Wellington – Phone: 021 244 8852

Flight Coffee

You can also buy packaged fair trade coffee from Trade Aid