Lilac With Heart-Shaped Leaves

This Mother's Day, I'm working with Clever Girls in support of Macy's Heart of Haiti to shine a light on the "trade, not aid" program, which provides sustainable income to Haitian artisans struggling to rebuild their lives and support their families after the 2010 earthquake.

What is Macy’s Heart of Haiti? Heart of Haiti is a “Trade, Not Aid” initiative launched by artist and social entrepreneur, Willa Shalit, The Clinton Bush Haiti Fund and Macy’s. Already, Heart of Haiti has led to employment of 750 artists in Haiti, providing financial benefits for an estimated 8,500 people in the country.

Each item is a one-of-a-kind design and handmade by a Haitian master artisan from raw materials such as recycled oil drums, wrought iron, papier-mâché and stone. The collection features more than 40 home decor items including quilts, metalwork, ceramics, jewelry and paintings and is made almost entirely from recycled and sustainable items such as old cement bags, cardboard, oil drums and local gommier wood.

Heart of Haiti products are available online at Macy’s.com.


Like the story of Creation, it all begins in the garden.

almost ...

We didn’t have pets when I was a kid. What we had were gardens – flower beds and rose bushes and hydrangeas and vegetables. I learned how to take care of small defenseless things and feel unconditional love by helping my mother tend to the gardens.

Clematises and strawberries are a lot like kittens, if you think about it in a certain way. In the beginning, they need the right kind of food and water and bedding or they aren’t going to make it. They need sun and rain and fresh air to grow up tall and strong. They need the right kind of nutrients and an endless stream of careful, loving attention or they aren’t going to behave the way they’re supposed to. They need to be protected from creatures that would devour them while they’re young and sweet and tender. They need to be trained, so they don’t get all leggy, their runners headed off in a hundred directions, leaves everywhere, but never flowering, never bearing fruit.

Same with kids, really. They need to be trained.

the lilacs are being coy ...

My mother trained us in her garden. Everything I know about how to be a good wife and how to be a good mother and how to be a good person – how to BE – I learned from my mother, in her garden.

All those garden-related adages you might have heard? They’re not just true about gardens; they’re true about everything, metaphorically speaking, if you think about it in a certain way. You have to know how long to keep your precious little sprouts safe and sheltered before they can be transplanted. Sometimes you have to keep their petals covered to protect them from the big cold world. If they don’t grow in one spot, maybe they need to be moved. Give them time to put down roots. A skinny little stick with just a couple of buds can grow into something huge and beautiful, if you give it space to spread and thrive. Love it, enjoy it, not for what it is now, but for the gorgeous thing it will become, when the time is right.

And remember: one man’s weed is another man’s wildflower. A rose by any other name still smells as sweet.

My mother is like an accidental Zen master who’s been showing me the path to true enlightenment for the last 38 years. I just needed to practice my active meditation, to pour forth all the necessary blood and sweat and tears, to dig deep enough into the soil to find the truth that my Mom’s been teaching me all this time. And now the student has become the master, for I am sharing the wisdom with my daughter that I learned from my mother, and that she learned from her mother, and so on.

She probably doesn’t know it, but when I am working in my own yard, digging in my own dirt, I take some words I’ve heard before, and I change them up a little bit, and just like a seed becomes a sunflower through light and love and magic, so too does this poem become a mantra, a prayer:

“The kiss of the sun for pardon,
The song of the birds for mirth,
I am closer to Mom in the garden
Than anywhere else on earth.”

i can't believe that 3 years ago my neighbors wanted to throw this lilac bush out because it was a "dud."

It all comes back to the garden.


Thank you to Macy's Heart of Haiti for sponsoring my participation in this “Share Your Heart" promotion. I was selected for this sponsorship by the Clever Girls Collective. All opinions expressed here are my own.

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