5 Phases to Become a Strong Sunflower
When I became a mom in 2011, I sensed society expected me to neglect myself and become the supporting actress in others’ lives. I experienced postpartum depression after the birth of my second son in 2015. I lost my identity. I said yes to my employer, church community, and kids’ school functions. What I was saying no to was myself. I was a shell of a person and sunk into a pit of despair.
Where was the girl that traveled the world? Where was the girl that went skydiving? Where was the girl that cheered competitively for Hawaii Pacific University? Where was the girl that auditioned and sang for anyone that would listen? Where was the girl that married her Uruguayan 90-day fiancé before it was cool? That learned Spanish fluently in 18-months and tested out of her university? That loved attending theatre and concerts? I was living someone else’s dream. Though I loved snuggling my babies and watching Blippi, I knew I wasn’t tapping into the best of me. I had a fixed mindset and felt stuck.
“Then I found out I was pregnant with identical twin girls in late 2017.”
How could I expect my children to learn how to live whole-heartedly if I couldn’t? I started pouring into my humanity by conditioning my mind, body, heart, and soul. I brought my kids along for the ride. I learned when my cup is full, my energy and love overflows into my friends and family. I recognized that life has chapters. Some chapters are thrilling and happy. Others are hard and depressing. The only thing I could truly control was my attitude and effort. So I made a cognitive choice to look for learning and growth no matter what life brought my way. I would have courage to try new things and not let the fear of failure stop me.
In 2020, the pandemic provided space for me to start a podcast called “The Strong Sunflowers.” My best friend Gisselle and I used (and still use) this affirmation to empower us to be courageous and authentic. When we served in a conservative religious organization that was mostly run by men, it was easy to shrink down. Often we’d be the only women speaking up and sharing our ideas. We also know how easy it is to compare or cut someone down instead of cheer for them. Our podcast is a sacred space where we share raw and vulnerable stories to show the phases of life. The good. The bad. The ugly.
We came up with 5 phases to become a Strong Sunflower to help us create language around what season we were in. They are seeding, rooting, stemming, blooming, and harvesting.
Here is an example of what they look like through the lens of wanting to learn a new skill, like guitar.
1. Seeding — This is a chapter of dreaming and starting something new. Maybe you always wanted to learn guitar. In this phase you purchase the instrument and sign up for lessons.
2. Rooting — This is where you move from newb, to novice. You start understanding how to make chords, but still not proficient enough to play at a open mic or talent show.
3. Stemming — The excitement is fading. You realize how hard it is to hold the guitar, strum, and sing at the same time. You might shred a few tears, scream, and want to give up. You take two steps forward, and two steps back.
4. Blooming — You push through the difficult and reach your goal! You can play any song you look up on Guitar Tabs. You are writing your own songs. You perform. People identify you as a guitar player.
5. Harvesting — This is a phase of figuring out what’s next. Do you join a band? Write an album? Become a song writer in Nashville? Stick to the local open mic nights? It also is a phase of paying it forward. Is there a friend that wants to learn how to play that you can teach?
Life is beautifully, complicated. With technology and social media we often only see the “bloom moments.” It is easy to feel less than. Each of us are unique beings. We have talents and passions. Our thoughts block us from growing into the best versions of ourselves because we fear what others may think or we want to avoid failure. These phases have empowered me to recognize when I’m in my stem, and seek therapy or celebrate when I am in a bloom or harvest. We want to empower each of you to live an unapologetic life.
You have a Strong Sunflower inside, you just need a little sun and water to help her bloom.