I sat down with my mother this weekend, and we spoke about her deep appreciation for flowers. I wanted to learn about the origin of her love for plants, and how this has affected and continues to impact her as a person. From the vibrant, colorful plants around my house, to the symbolic presence of specific flowers during celebrations and holidays, I knew there was a true personal meaning to her connection with plants. 

As a modern Pakistani woman living in American society, she often struggles to establish her identity amongst the many materialistic consumerist ideals on which our society primarily functions. Yet, her struggle does not involve the typical hardships faced by other women of various cultural heritages. Born and raised in Canada, her parents often pressured her to embrace a traditional cultural identity. This not only encompassed the way she acted as a woman, but also included her being forced to strive towards fulfilling their high educational standards in the medical field. In surrounding herself with the beauty of nature, she was always indirectly reminded of the power to dictate her own future because of the natural strength inside of her. This process forced her to develop into the strong, unique individual that she is today; an integral part of her story involves how plants served as the physical and emotional sustenance for her to keep pushing through her struggles and overcome every obstacle she faced. 

Years ago, she was diagnosed with autoimmune disease. As a mother, wife, and daughter, she knew that this would negatively impact her future by preventing her from living a life free of medical hardships. But rather than succumbing to her illness, she fought for her strength by embracing the healing abilities and emotional reassurance of plants such as natural herbs and beautiful flowers. Refusing to treat her illness and its symptoms through contemporary medications and prescriptions, she instead began to rely on herbal supplements and completely organic products. And over time, her illness shifted to the background of her life, allowing her to focus on the beauty of an everyday life free from suffering. 

To this day, she surrounds herself with colorful flowers to remind herself of the amazing potential of natural plants to heal the body and soul. It is a truly beautiful experience for me to have learned how impactful plants can be on a person’s life; not only do they symbolize our inherent need to be reconnected with nature, but in doing so, they provide the necessary physical and emotional sustenance we need as human beings to heal and nurture ourselves.