The beginning of summer is one of my favorite times. Early summer is when the multitude of trips to various greenhouses are made, each with a unique purpose. One of them has the showy bridal wreath that is placed in an overflowing pot near the entrance of my home. Other trips are for the hanging baskets that are planted with a variety of color and precision. Each greenhouse has the familiar indulgent smells, sights, and extraordinary colors. It makes me happy. All of this allows me to be fully present, including the moment my hands plunge deep into the soil and play.

This year, I didn't do any of this. Technically, I made one trip for a few herbs and a tomato plant, but I didn't buy any flowers. I couldn't. Something inside me didn't feel like celebrating. It was a hard decision, but I decided to go on strike.

I don't have to explain that 2020 is a year for upsets of massive proportion. So many things are different, and the world has been described as one big game of "Jumanji." We have braced ourselves for the terrible upset in the months to come and didn't even flinch at the threat of "Murder Hornets" two months ago. My decision to go on "strike" with my happy flower time was all about me, allowing myself to feel all the "big feels" this year is bringing. It has been said that there are several seasons and a time for everything under the sun. This is the time for something alright, and by golly, if we are not all feeling it. The great part about embracing the turbulence is knowing that it isn't permanent, and better times will come. If we don't honor our selves when experiencing pain, it is hard to see beauty when it finally arrives. And it will come.

How do we honor ourselves right now? It can be a scary thing to be reacquainted with grief and loss. For many of us, when dark feelings and emotions come a-knocking, it can be hard to kick them to the curb, as they sometimes hunker down and stay. Embracing them seems to be the last thing we want to do. To truly see grief for what it is, we have to experience it so we can get through it. To do this cautiously, we establish scaffolding first to ensure our safety. People who love us, routines to cling to, goals to set, and future dreams help accomplish this task. We need to talk more, listen more, and be as gentle with ourselves as a mother is with a newborn baby. We give ourselves time, patience, understanding, and love until it is time to rally again and rise.

I went on strike, yes. I'm feeling big feels; it's true. I'm also experiencing times of great joy. I'm making time to go camping and being outdoors. I'm making plans to paint my house without the fear of trampling and crushing all my colorful blooms. I made a simple syrup from mint and basil and take time each day to smell my herbs and really taste their freshness. I'm doing things a bit differently to adapt. Like nature, I'm finding another way. I'm not really fearing the second half of 2020, instead, I'm looking for adventures. I still get down from time to time and find myself discouraged with daily news and social media. It's then that I put down my phone and focus on the things I can control. I can make my world a better place, with or without flowers on my front porch. I can let people know that they matter and inspire others to do the same. You matter and deserve to feel safe, accepted, and validated. Be you and embrace 2020, even if it means by finding another way. #YouMatterBemidji.

Kelly Brevig is Suicide Educational Services Coordinator for Evergreen Youth & Family Services, Inc.