I almost missed one of the best opportunities. Because of weeds.

That's right, weeds were holding me back. Because, well, how can you invite someone to Audra's Gardens, and then they see that I have weeds?

I read about other flower farmers who opened their beautiful, perfect farms to the public, who frolicked joyfully, cutting every perfect flower (because, naturally (or supernaturally?) they didn't have anything but perfect flowers). And of course, there was nary a weed to be found. That's how I read it, based on their perfect pictures on social media, so it must be so. Right?

Last year Justin suggested that we invite our friends out to see what we create: his furniture and my flowers. Just friends, I assured myself. And I thought, ok, I'll pull all the weeds before the big day. A little ambitious, you're telling yourself. Yes. I may have looked over the fact that I coach volleyball in the month before this open house. Oh, and my boys are all 3 in sports that month. AND I teach part time, and my husband travels several long weekends. And, when the day got close, I felt a panic rising in my chest because the weeds were never all going to get pulled in time! What would my friends say?

The big day came, and I managed to get excited despite the weeds. Vehicles started rolling down our country lane and pulling into the grass. Friends and their children tumbled out, they wandered around, admiring Justin's furniture and studying the different flowers I had arranged. I got caught up visiting, pointing out this or that plant, laughing over memories, discussing how our kids have all grown an inch since we were last together. And when the day past, all but one of my flower arrangements had new homes, countless people had admired my flower gardens, and not one person had commented on how in the world Audra's Gardens could be a viable business while at the same time propagating weeds.

The success of our open house encouraged me, and I stepped out further on a limb with Kids Flower Workshops this season. The joy of those workshops was such a boost to my heart, seeing the kids learning and creating, and the moms hanging back, enjoying the beauty of the dew on the flowers and their kids holding their mouths just so while they made their first ever flower arrangements. And next year I'm hoping to expand my workshops to adults! I could have missed all of this while I waited to get it together and rid our property of weeds!

As I pulled weeds from my landscaping tonight in preparation for this year's Cyntheanne Market Fair (our expanded open house with another furnituremaker joining us), I considered to myself the idea that Audra's Gardens might be not less, but more welcoming because of its imperfections. When I visit friends' homes who have kids' shoes in the entryway, cups in the sink, and games spread across the table, I breathe a sigh of relief. This is not a Perfect People Only Zone. I sink onto a couch and feel like I can be myself. My imperfect self.

So, I'm learning from my experiences this year. I'm doing what I can to whip this place into shape (and not a minute too far ahead, mind you), and then I'm going to let it be. I'm going to smile and be my imperfect self, and enjoy the old and new friendships of people who love flowers, and people who love me. Just like I am.

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