Re-starting the Handpicked initiative was not an easy feat. From the start, it was difficult to find a time where both the flowers from a wedding and a date where the social service agency could coincide together. This was on top of other factors such as the bride and groom’s willingness to re-purpose the flowers, the florist’s availability and our volunteer’s time as well. Thankfully, we managed to eventually figure it all out just 1-2 weeks before the actual event date at Safe Place Shelter by Lakeside Family Services.
It was a relaxing and chill session. We started off with the drinking of floral tea, combined with a sensational experience where we got the ladies to see, to smell and to touch the dried florals before they were doused with water to make the tea. While it seemed that everyone is of the view that perhaps the flowers were meant more for the eyes to see than for us to drink, it was quite clear that this was a new experience for the ladies, to slow down and to reconnect with our 5 senses. It seemed that they enjoyed this experience of slowing down, something that perhaps was not present in our day-to-day life as a Singaporean.
As we move on to using the repurposed flowers for the jar arrangement, the ladies were really engrossed in making their own jar. Some of them wanted to give their own mothers, some wanted to place it in their common toilet to share the view, while some wanted to try and experiment drying the flowers. Whilst I later learnt that the colour theory of flowers could possibly play a role in the more chill atmosphere and mood during the session (the theme of the wedding was white and green, which are more nude colours that contributed to the calming presence of the session), and also possibly because the ladies at the shelter are all currently pregnant or had just given birth, and their energy levels were lower, I felt the intentional creation of slowing down this session actually helped the ladies to connect with their 5 senses more and become more attuned to their sensations and feelings. It is the conversations with them while they were doing the jar arrangements that matters for me - what made you decide to give your mum this jar? Why is it so important for the flowers to be placed at the common toilet? How did it feel for the dusty millers to touch your skin? What emotions or memories does it evoke?
Our time with the beneficiaries are limited, and so is our time in this world. We may not be able to cause a whole butterfly effect of change, but I guess, we can make an intentional effort to make every encounter mean something. And that’s good enough.