Updated: Aug 23
How creating our tropical garden and seeing it literally bear fruit, has helped us through our toughest times in 2020.
2020 has been jam packed with unknowns and uncertainties, trials, and trepidations, almost without fail having a hard impact on everyone’s lives from around the world. Of course our lives are no exception, even though our premise for theLexperience is sharing positive vibes, we have been well and truly tested and yet, as we come to the end of this year, we still find ourselves grateful for the good times we have shared and hopeful for better times to come. Here we share with you our journey through 2020, our highs and lows and what has helped us through.
As I toasted in 2020 with a sparkler and glass of bubbly in hand with Laurie, sitting in the courtyard of our new home in Florida, I felt enthusiastic for the year ahead. There was so much to be positive about! Only a few months earlier we had moved from Massachusetts to Florida, after our youngest son Leo flew the nest, we wanted to avoid the brutally cold winters. Filled with optimism, we plotted and planned our year ahead, all three of our sons would be visiting along with other family and friends, all eager for us to show them around our new home and explore the sunshine state. We also had just started focusing our time on our new business, having ended our wedding photography business in New England, and we had such great plans for how we would develop that.
Less than 2 weeks after the start of the year, my eldest son Andrew and his fiancée Vickie arrived from England, we were so happy welcoming them into our home. It was extra exciting because they had only just got engaged and also Vickie was celebrating her 21st birthday the day after they landed. We crammed so much into the time they were with us, from Clearwater beach and a dolphin watch, to a gator show at Wild Florida, swimming and a trip to a casino in Tampa. The highlight of their trip was a day at Disney Worlds Magic Kingdom, riding 3 times on the Big Thunder Mountain, topped off with the best firework display. Although we were sad when it came to say goodbye, we told them we would see them again soon, as we were planning a visit to England.
With Andrew and Vickie back in England, it was time for Laurie and me to focus on developing our media company, theLexperience. Together we put all our efforts into every element, from resourcing inspiring women’s stories, making original artwork, to launching a crowdfunding campaign. We started gaining donors and interesting advertisers, this made us feel confident about what we were doing.
We were enjoying life, when we weren’t working hard, we were exploring as much of Florida as we could, making the most of all it had to offer, from nature reserves and beaches to theme parks and the best sunsets. Then, added to that, Leo told us of his plan to visit us in the spring, 2020 was looking marvelous!
Then came the BIG BUG, otherwise known as COVID 19, like a wrecking ball, it crashed into our lives and from that moment everything changed! Our plans to visit our family in England had to be postponed indefinitely, along with anyone planning to visit us. Almost simultaneously my father’s health took a dramatic turn for the worse. He had been diagnosed with kidney failure and had to undertake having daily dialysis at home, it was his choice to be at home rather than hospitalized. Just a few short months later he passed away and I had been unable to visit him. Fortunately, I was able to Facetime with him and we messaged each other all the time, I treasure those messages. The very worst time for me was having to attend my father’s funeral virtually, something I NEVER thought I would have to do. Watching Andrew read my eulogy broke my heart. I do take solace in the fact that I had been able to see and talk to my father virtually on his last day and that my son’s, Andrew, and Leo, represented me so wonderfully.
Through it all Laurie was there for me, her loving heart compassionately supporting me during this deeply sad time. Laurie knew how much my father enjoyed gardening and to celebrate his life she thoughtfully bought a magnolia tree, because it symbolizes eternity and long life, my dad lived to be 91.
2020 has proven to me repeatedly that every day is a gift and should NEVER be taken for granted. As the clock ticked into the New Year, so did new hopes and dreams, but quickly that came to a screeching halt. Having lived a large part of my life jet setting around the world, it was gone in an instant. Travel plans were grounded and the thought of being with family and friends was a distant memory. I have always lived my life filled with optimism but honestly it was hard to stay positive, when a virus was the head of every household with its own set of rules. My son Jonathan and girlfriend Asia were back in Massachusetts, along with other family and friends, all living in a hard-hit pandemic area. Like many others, I worry for their safety.
When the phone rings at midnight, its NEVER a good sign. My heart pumped fast as Caroline and I had just headed to bed when her phone rang. She knew and I knew, John was gone. My heart went from a roaring machine to a shattered glass in a million pieces. Having lost my father only
years prior, I felt the pain she was feeling, and had to be that person. That person that tells you everything will be ok, but somewhere deep down you know that does not happen instantly.
I spent eighteen years in the medical field, ten working in a hospital and sympathize with anyone not being able to be with family members who are on deaths door. Often if feels like the closure you need to move on, with life after loss.
The thought of adding a memory, in honor of my dear father-in-law to our home was one of the best medicines I could give Caroline.
THE HEALING GARDEN
Together, Laurie and I began building a tropical garden, we moved into our new home in August 2019 with a clean slate, nothing but a bed of bark. We had only planted a few plants at the beginning of the year, but now we were spending so much time at home we threw ourselves into creating a tropical oasis. I definitely got my dad’s green fingers, we always laugh about that, because I am British, I have green fingers and Laurie is American, so she has green thumbs, which means we have a complete hand between us!
Knowing how much my father enjoyed planting his garden, with every plant we chose and planted, I thought of him, then watching it grow felt like he was helping it along, the riches of life continue to bloom. Life does go on, even if it is changed it can still hold its beauty.
An additionally wonderful part of our garden are the elements of gifts we received from our lovely neighbors, we had plants, cuttings, pots, ornaments, a wrought iron chair and a large amount of bamboo given to us. We careful planted each thoughtful gift and repurposed the pots and bamboo adding another dimension to our little oasis.
REAPING THE FRUITS OF OUR LABOR
Aside from the therapy of working in the garden, which greatly helped us with processing this new way of life that had been thrust rudely upon us, we also were able to enjoy the delicious fruit we had grown. Hand on heart we can say these are the most delicious lemons we have tasted in our entire lives! It has been so fulfilling picking our home grown fruit and then making delicious recipes, from lemon chicken to sweet crepes and lemon surprise pudding. Now we can't wait for next years crop, which will hopefully include oranges and bananas. My dad always had a great appetite and I know he would've loved devouring a large plate of lemon crepes, so here's another one for you dad!
So, in a world of uncertainty, we focus on the light at the end of the tunnel. With new hopes and dreams for us and each and every one of you, as we sit back and enjoy the beauty we have created in our garden!
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