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Monday, December 11, 2017

Stop and Smell the Lilacs

by Dr. Traci Vujicich (writer), Redondo Beach, March 18, 2007

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"I don’t want to do this! It’s not fair! Why am I always the one who has to do this stuff?”

Were these the words of my teenager, complaining about babysitting her siblings?

They could have been the words of the seven year old, whining about homework.

Most likely, they were the words of my three year old, who doesn’t want to put away his toys.

These whining words had to come from a child, right? Wrong. Those whiny words came from me, a forty year old woman. Instead of acting like the serene, peaceful woman I strive to be, I was reduced to an irritating brat.

At the time, I felt perfectly justified. It was a gorgeous Saturday morning, and instead of puttering in my kitchen listening to jazz and inventing new recipes like I wanted to, I was going to be chaperoning ten first graders on a Girl Scouts field trip. It was my day off, and I wanted to relax.

“Where are all the other parents on this fine Saturday?” I lamented to my husband, who was going to work.

“I don’t understand why I have to be the one to do this,” I complained to my neighbor, who was doing his taxes.

“This is the last thing I want to be doing today,” I moaned to my girlfriend, who was going to the hospital to visit a sick friend. “What could be worse than spending eight hours with a bunch of seven year old girls?”

Not one to be a martyr, I packed everyone in the car, put on some teenybopper music, and headed north to one of the few Los Angeles landmarks I’d never been to—Descanso Gardens.

After an hour in the car spent settling an argument over the best color lip gloss (clear), debating whether or not My Scene Barbie is a real Barbie (she’s not), deciding which of the brothers in the Naked Brothers Band is the cutest (it’s Nat), and taking an unexpected tour through Eagle Rock, we arrived at Descanso Gardens.

For those who don’t know, Descanso Garden is a 160 acre garden just north of Los Angeles. It’s spring time, and everything is blooming. The Girl Scout troop leader thought it would be a perfect adventure for their first field trip. I wholeheartedly agreed…until I realized that I would have to go too.

As we walked in the gate, the girls were so excited they could hardly contain themselves. “Look at this one!” “What is that?” I, on the other hand, was still in my pouty mood. “I could be home relaxing right now. Six hours in a garden, smelling plants? Oh joy.”

Muttering to myself, we turned a corner past the café, and I stopped in my tracks. Before me was the most beautiful Japanese garden I had seen outside of Kyoto. This garden was perfectly authentic—down to the last detail. Just like in a Hollywood movie, the background noise faded away, and I was transported back to 1986 and into my three week visit to Japan with my boyfriend. I wasn’t a harried mother of three being forced to go on a field trip. I was a twenty year old girl in love.

“Mommy, why are you smiling like that?” My daughter took my hand and led me over to the tulip garden. My eyes sailed across a multicolored sea of tulips.

My heart opened up like a flower blossom. What a wonderful place! The scent of lilacs wafted across my nose. My eyes soaked in the koi swimming lazily in the pond. The hazy sun filtered through the trees and I could hear birds singing their songs of happiness.

It occurred to me that when I am trying to relax or visualize, I create scenes just like this in my mind. Instead of being home imagining this, I was really here, standing right in the middle of it all.

Now, I’m not going to pretend that this epiphany is going to change my life. I’m not going to jump out of bed in the mornings and say, “Let’s go have an adventure today!” I’m probably still going to be a homebody who prefers her kitchen to the freeway.

But the next time I find myself whining like a three year old, I might just realize that it’s time to stop and smell the lilacs.


About the Writer

Dr. Traci Vujicich is a writer for BrooWaha. For more information, visit the writer's website.
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