flowers and reinvention

by Sharon Santoni

sprig flowers on white background

While I’m travelling this week, signing books and meeting so many kind and wonderful people, finding myself in a very different culture to back home in the normandy countryside, and yet connecting so easily, I’ve been thinking about the words and symbols that we use as universal language.

We know that a smile is universally understood and I don’t see how that could be wrong

Some say that flowers are a universal language, and I can hardly argue with that either.   This whole trip was initiated by an invitation to talk about my garden and  arrange flowers at the Lauritzen Gardens in Omaha next week,  and today I’ll be talking at the North Haven Gardens in Dallas.

But actually this week, as I meet so many new people during this book tour, I’m amazed at how many tell me why they read the blog and which posts or pictures have touched them most deeply, and the theme that is mentioned again and again is that of reinvention.

I’ve been touched by many of the personal stories that people have shared with me, how and when they came to a point in their own lives when it was time to reinvent and start again, or simply to grow some fresh shoots in a new direction.  It feels like such an appropriate thing to talk about in the spring when all around us the gardens are starting a new season of blooms.

Yesterday it was my particular pleasure to talk alongside my friend Audrey Friedman, who writes the blog and runs the online brocante store, French Vintage Home.   Audrey lives in Dallas part of the year, and in her 15th century chateau in France for the rest of the time.   This is a wonderful tale of reinvention.  She has been a hugely successful business woman, and she sold her linen company when she thought she was ready to retire …. but it turned out she wasn’t!   This lovely lady is mother, grandmother and great-grandmother and today she hops from one continent to the other, buying antiques, enjoying life, and exploring this latest stage of her own reinvention.   It has been a privilege and a joy to get to know her better while in Dallas.

I hope that wherever you are today, you are enjoying some new shoots of interest in your daily life….  have a lovely weekend


Our French Oasis April 1, 2017 - 2:58 pm

What a great comparison, Spring shoots and reinvention. With all five of our children still of school age my time is limited, there is no room for a complete change, but I do think it is important to keep spreading our own wings, to keep learning, to keep trying new things, it keeps us young and interesting and hopefully when the sad time comes when all five have flown the nest it means I will be totally prepared for new challenges! Hope you have a wonderful time in the States.

david terry April 1, 2017 - 3:14 pm

Oh, Oh, Oh, Miss Sharon…..

Shall I tell you about “re-invention”?…

I gather that you’re in Dallas this week? If you go asking around, folks should be able to tell you that “Waxahatchie” is an historic neighborhood of Greater-Metropolitan-Dallas.

It used to be a very small town on its own before it got swallowed by modern Dallas (much like every “neighborhood” on the outskirts of Paris).

Not surprisingly (given their class and history) my Tennessee family lost ALL-ALL-ALL of their money following the Civil War. My great-grandfather (confusingly named, since we’re not in the least Jewish), “David Solomon Fudge”simply moved his wife and his three daughters (the youngest of whom, my grandmother, was named “David” in 1911…since they’d begun to despair of ever having an actual son). You could make MONEY in Texas in those days.

They did make money…..rather a lot of it, in fact…..mostly by my great-grandfather’s building most of those awesomely quaint Victorian/Queen Anne-style houses that now constitute “The Historic District”.

Once they made their money, they moved straight back to where we all came from in Tennessee.

One of my great-aunts stayed behind in Texas. She seems to have been a rather prominent (or at least unmistakable, by current standards) lesbian… the way that was considered acceptable (if not exactly “respectable” way) back then.

I’ve never been to Waxahatchie (or Dallas, for that matter). All I knew of the area/town was that young ladies could get their marijuana from the Mexican gardeners (this was the 1920’s, and pot was yet illegal)…..proper ladies didn’t smoke tobacco in public, but they COULD get stoned in their bedroom to soothe their “nerves”. I also, when I was young and knew my grandmother and one great-aunt quite well, wondered why the sister-who-stayed-behind was in a photograph, with very chopped-off hair…..and wearing men’s overalls as she was brandishing a hammer above her head….while she stood on top of the elaborate gazebo she had carpentered in her back garden.

Texas, Like Louisiana, has historically given rise/birth to many strange things…..

Sincerely (and do have a good trip),

David Terry

Marilyn McPheron April 1, 2017 - 5:09 pm

Thank you for sharing your family’s history — it should be a book! Please write it!

david terry April 1, 2017 - 6:28 pm

Oh, Marilyn, That was VERY CONSCIOUSLY EDITED & Re-EDITED. Nobody in my family ever seems to die, and they’re all voracious readers, so I’ve spent most of my life forcedly being Very Careful about anything I write/publish. I think I was about twelve when, having been roundly chewed-out by one parent or another, I first said “But why can’t I write or say it? Everybody ALREADY KNOWS IT!!!!”

Which everybody did, in fact. Still….the answer was ” People may KNOW it, but that doesn’t mean they want to READ it!”.

Welcome to the sort of Southern family from I come.

Advisedly as ever,
David Terry

Vicky from Athens April 1, 2017 - 7:04 pm

David, you are a mess! I love it when you channel your inner Margaret Mitchell!!

Debbie Spence April 2, 2017 - 2:30 am

I agree with Marilyn. I checked out your website and your art is amazing, but you are also an artist with words. Even us northerners would love a good story about such an interesting southern family. I Can’t wait to share your animal art with my 16 year old aspiring artist daughter who loves to draw animals. She will be amazed!

Sally Leonard April 2, 2017 - 4:01 pm

David, you tell the most wonderful stories.
Just yesterday, I was reading one of your comments on another blog!
Then I went to your art website and had a great time reading all about you!
Wish we could be friends in real life! Along with Sharon, Vicki and Heather!

david terry April 4, 2017 - 12:34 pm

Are you on Facebook, Sally?……just “friend” me on it, and then you can keep up with the details of life here at what I refer to as “Entropy Acre”.


David Terry

Rita Key April 1, 2017 - 3:35 pm

Hi Sharon,
I hope you have a wonderful trip. If I wasn’t heading to France I would be in Omaha to see you! Someday we will connect!
Good luck & enjoy the US.

Mary April 1, 2017 - 3:41 pm

Hello Sharon,
What a wonderful metaphor to inspire…new spring floral shoots and personal reinvention! It certainly puts a bee in the bonnet and inspires one not to waste a single moment of precious time! Are you coming to the Philadelphia, New Jersey, or New York City area on this trip or any time soon with your book tour? I’d so love to hear you speak!!

Terri Smith April 1, 2017 - 4:56 pm

Dear Sharon,
It was wonderful to meet meet you in Dallas. You are just as lovely and gracious as I imagined you would be. I loved your casual conversation last night with Audrey. Your post this morning and comments last night about reinvention have really spoken to me. I am on the precipice of retiring as an elementary teacher. I am closing the chapter on something that I have loved and done for 21 years. I am excited, but filled with anxiety at the same time. Your words have filled me with hope that I too will be able to reinvent myself. Thank you Sharon, I hope you enjoy the rest of your time in the States, Terri

Brenda Chambers April 1, 2017 - 5:11 pm

I hope you are having a great trip. Welcome to Dallas. I hope you are enjoying our nice weather.

Amie April 1, 2017 - 6:20 pm

I was also lucky enough to meet one of my favorite bloggers yesterday…you! You are the most poised, gracious, and fun person to talk to. I will cherish the conversation we had. I am going to look forward to my subscription box when I get it now because I know you personally pick out the items that are in it. How special! I wish I could have gotten to hear your presentation with Audrey, I was lucky to meet her once in Dallas at one of her Pop-up weekend stores. The combination of your stories about France must have been inspiring. Thank you for coming to Dallas, and please come again soon after your new book is published. Enjoy the rest of your time in the US.

Audrey Friedman April 1, 2017 - 6:54 pm

As always, unbelievably beautiful and delightful to read. So happy you are here in Dallas.
Love to you Sharon…….

Vicky from Athens April 1, 2017 - 7:07 pm

Sharon, I hope you are having a wonderful time in the great state of Texas! I know all of Dallas is enjoying you! Loved your post today!

Jennifer April 1, 2017 - 7:10 pm

I always enjoy when you write your thoughts on reinvention. It’s so important to branch out in life, especially now for me whose children have all left the nest.

That’s one of the reasons I started my blog, which has really opened up many new avenues.

Enjoy you stay in Dallas

Maria April 1, 2017 - 7:33 pm

I love to read about others who reinvent lives at the time many retire!
Mine involves moving to a small place in a countryside village in Italy, France or England that is affordable, to paint, write and be fully engaged in my new shoots
If anyone knows of a link to rentals like this it would be much appreciated .
Many thanks xx

Dana Veach April 1, 2017 - 8:36 pm

Welcome to Texas and the “Southern” U.S., Sharon. Please do enjoy your time with us! I live about 2 hours south of Dallas but am unable to drive up and meet you…drat!!!

And to David Terry…I had to chuckle at your stories. I once published a piece about my own Louisiana branch of the family entitled, “Faulkner Missed the Good Stuff!” My mother was horrified! “But all the pertinent parties are already dead, Mama,” I protested. “Doesn’t matter,” she retorted. “Everyone knows who they were.” Such is the nature of old Southern culture!

david terry April 2, 2017 - 1:34 pm

Oh, Goodness, Dana…… would greatly & REALLY enjoy Alexandra Fuller’s two harrowing, dreadfully funny, heartbreaking, and genuinely wonderful memoirs of her childhood/parents in Africa: “Don’t Let’s Go to the Dogs Tonight” and “Cocktail Hour Under The Tree of Forgetfulness”. I’ve just re-read both of them and was, once again, just floored with admiration for Fuller’s writing/style and the over-abundance of “material” her parents provided.

Buy them books and read them. You’ll be glad you did so.


David Terry

StitchinSweetSue April 1, 2017 - 9:20 pm

hi sharon, wishing you a lovely time. if your travels ever bring you near the new york state finger lakes region, let me know. it’s been said we have some very wonderful wines here:)

Stacey E Caron April 1, 2017 - 10:05 pm

I love that you are in Texas (which is a foreign land to New Yorkers!). The folks are so nice and the women are true ladies (haven’t been there in years, but I imagine it’s all the same). 😉

We will get you to NYC sooner or later…….I love this story about Audrey, so wonderful.
We are always reinventing ourselves.

Enjoy the limelight! You deserve it.

Victoria Savu April 1, 2017 - 11:23 pm

I have read your blog for years and was lucky to meet you in Cashiers, North Carolina last year. I also love when you blog about reinventing yourselves. At 68 at times I think it is to late to reinvent myself but when I read your blog, your book or other reader’s stories, I feel recharged and will continue to grow new sprouts and what a better time to do this then Spring. Thank you for years of pleasurable reading.

Susan April 2, 2017 - 12:14 am

Have a lovely time in the Great State of Texas. I’m in far South Texas ~ what’s known as “the Valley”. Wish I were closer!

Cate Tuten April 2, 2017 - 12:25 am

Sharon, I have loved your blog for sometime now, and recently discovered your videos!! Your blog is like a breath of fresh air—no matter the season. My husband and I will be coming to Normandy in 2019 for the 75th anniversary of landing on Omaha Beach and would love to rent your guest house. Have I missed info on your blog on how to do this?? Would love info on how to book—even two years ahead of time. Thank you so much, Sharon! Blessings, Cate Tuten

Debbie Spence April 2, 2017 - 2:36 am

I am in the midst of reinvention and having a delightful time. For a while I was fearful as I faced an empty nest soon, but my writing is taking a turn and I’m learning new things, and I’m having so much fun doing it. This next stage of life doesn’t look so dreary after all. Love the beautiful flowers!

Dee April 2, 2017 - 5:06 am

What a lovely message Sharon. I too wish you a fantastic weekend and weeks to,follow. Your blog always brightens my day here in Western Australia almost a world away. Love Dee x

Bonnie G. April 2, 2017 - 10:24 pm

First, your flowers and bouquets are always beautiful. The Freesia in your photos caught my eye; I love the scent from them.

This is definitely a time for new sprouts and reinvention for me. It’s been a particularly tough year, although I always count blessings and continue to stay strong and move forward! Your posts are an inspiration, thank you.

Candy Gray April 4, 2017 - 3:47 am

Sharon, welcome to Omaha, NE. My sister and I are so excited that you will be so close to our location. We have traveled to Paris twice in the last few years and will never be the same again. We left our hearts there and need to return…….there is a calling for us!! We are retired educators and trying to reinvent ourselves with our writings and creating Wedding Shower kits and wanting to add Baby Shower kits. We hope you can give us inspiring words to never be afraid of failing and go for what truly makes us happy. Do you offer any classes in your beautiful home? Cooking, floral arrangements etc..? We would be staying in Paris for a month and could ride the train to Normandy. Your amazing home reminds us of a Mimi Monet environment! Also, the possibility of renting your guest house when becomes available would be a dream come true for your new American friends! Having such a serene, lovely place to put closure on the Wedding Kit in Normany and the excitement of Paris to begin writing our life stories, sister to sister, both with very challenging marriages would be a dream come true! We just can’t stop thinking about Paris and need to get back before our health fails etc. we are happy, fun, creative sisters who love to soak up the beauty and culture of France. We would love to have a French Girlfriend and hope the same for you with 2 American girlfriends……. Loving hearts and sincere respect for your country! Have a safe flight. Thank you for inspiring women to go for their dreams. With Much Respect. Candy Gray and Carlene Dean. USA new friends

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