It was like magic. The very first step I took through the sliding glass doors into Terminal 4 at JFK Airport transported me out of the body and mind that kept reminding me of all the things I would never be. It was as if I was breathing a different brand of air that made me feel taller. For the first moment in almost a year I wasn’t “Poor Carey” or “the divorced one, the woman who couldn’t make her marriage work.” I actually felt life and happiness begin to bubble inside me. No one here knew my story. What a profound relief.
If I close my eyes, center myself, slow my breathing and conjure the image of me at age 38 in the summer of 2010 I can almost sense what I felt in those moments, but it’s difficult. I’ve changed so much since then. That trip was the beginning of a new and brilliant chapter for me. And this magnificent flourishing was birthed because I chose to spend a couple of weeks alone in nature in the south of France and because I got to know a flower. A tournesol.
I biked through Provence that summer. I was on my own and laughed and cried every day, usually within the same breath. I lost my way. I found my way. My “F You” Prada divorce sunglasses fell down the hole in the floor of a public toilet and I ate the first non-kosher food I had eaten in almost twenty years.
Exploring the country by bicycle allowed me to stop and literally smell the flowers, the basil, the pastries in the local bakeries, to see the leathery creases on the sun-drenched faces of the bikers passing by in the other direction. Rising to the challenges of the terrain, the language barrier and the lack of well-appointed bathrooms motivated me to believe in myself in a way I had never before. I was courageous! I had a renewed belief that life could be extraordinarily good. Even after a failed marriage.
And the fields of tournesols – sunflowers – were breathtaking. Sunflowers turn in unison to face the migrating sun throughout the day, a lesson I internalized as a metaphor for my healing journey. “Face the sun, Carey. Even when the darkness is so much easier. Even when being a victim brings the hope of someone giving a hoot. Even when you want someone else to do the work.”
The astounding behavior of the sunflowers with their bright, magnificent yellow faces toward the light taught me that happiness and healing was a choice. To live a full, bright and beautiful life, I had to keep my face up and to choose the bright side.
The tournesol served as a constant reminder of inner strength and full potential. Two years passed and I was at peace, overjoyed about having triumphed through the dark times surrounding my divorce. I wanted to share what I had learned with people who were struggling through turbulent times.
Tournesol Wellness was born three years after my journey through the south of France. When I look back now, every step of my life adventure was intentional, as haphazard and painful as it sometimes felt. I believe we’re all on a journey. I now help people into and through their journey with a little less pain and a lot more compassion. Tournesol Wellness identifies all the physical, emotional and spiritual components that impact total well-being and helps people reignite their innate inner strength to live a full and fabulous life.
The tournesol still serves as a reminder for me to keep my head up. Sunflowers remind me to make choices that nurture my soul, to act with conviction and courage – and these magnificent flowers demonstrate that spending time in nature will always reignite my bright, beautiful spirit.
Learn more about Carey and Tournesol Wellness here.