January is tough for me.
After the magic of Christmas has faded and the bright decorations of the holidays have come down, I look around my house and just see gray. Gray skies, gray walls, gray snow. The cold keeps us inside our house-turned-carnival more often than I’d like. Everywhere I look there is a pillow fort or some Lego creation. I’m usually in the kitchen baking my blues away, which is one of the few things I enjoy about winter days: the comfort food.
But even the soups and sweets can’t quite compete with the fresh scent of flowers and the sunny days of spring.
So when I pulled out my phone to read while snuggled up to my 3- and 1-year-old boys (who were fighting with all their might not to take a long winter’s nap) and saw a blog post from my friend and talented musical artist Sandra Turley titled “Water the Flowers,” I was immediately drawn to it. I clicked on the picture with brightly colored roses and tulips and read the following:
“Each year, instead of creating a list of resolutions, I listen for ‘the phrase.’”
This year, her guiding phrase is “Water the Flowers.”
“Back in April 2016 at general conference, I was struck by a talk titled “In Praise of Those Who Save” by President Dieter F. Uchtdorf (second counselor in the First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints). All relationships require intentional work if we wish them to be eternal. President Uchtdorf said: ‘Those who save marriages pull out the weeds and water the flowers.’”
Turley went on to write, “An immediate recognition pierced my heart: In our home, I ‘pull out the weeds.’ ALL the time. But I simply don’t water the flowers enough.”
For Turley, “water the flowers” means she will “intentionally pour happiness into the hearts of our home. This means watering with love, laughter, service, kindness, gentleness, esteem, music, creativity, patience, positivity, pleasantness — all things that allow my husband and children to grow stronger roots and blossoms.”
I took a deep breath and let her beautiful words sink in.
To my left was my 3-year-old, who had finally succumbed to slumber. To my right was my toddler who was still watching "Mickey Mouse Clubhouse" and pointing to “Goofee” and “Meenee.”
I glanced over the side of the bed at the laundry pile that has been slowly growing out of the baskets and up the wall and felt guilty for lying down. I should get up and fold that, I thought.
But as I stroked my baby’s soft, tiny cheek and watched him smile, another thought came into my mind: This is watering the flowers. I was so overcome with gratitude for this little moment in time where I could let the world be still and stroke my baby’s cheek. I closed my eyes and said a heartfelt prayer of thanks.
Folding laundry, cleaning bathrooms, mopping floors, those are like “pulling weeds” — necessary to keep things ticking over and looking nice.
But reading my boys books, helping them with homework, taking them to beautiful places where they can connect with nature or learn something new, encouraging them to pursue their interests, or just listening — really listening to them — are all ways I can “water the flowers.”
Sometimes the weeds (i.e., laundry) can wait. My little blossoms are blooming, and I want to be present to cheer on every new budding stage.
Carmen Rasmusen Herbert is a former "American Idol" contestant who writes about entertainment and family for the Deseret News. Her email is firstname.lastname@example.org.