flower arrangement with jun for girl gone authentic tea garden

A Thing About Flowers, Playlist and Conversation with Jun

“While preparing myself for this conversation, I have spent weeks, observing the yellow flowers in our yard. Their hopeful, tiny, swollen buds, the confidence and vitality of their petals when in full bloom, a sort of melancholy when they have fallen to the ground – which would be sad if the Earth didn’t look so beautifully dressed.”

This above excerpt is from a conversation with Jun prior to this interview. When it comes to inner healing, Jun is as honest as she is gentle with herself. A medical doctor hailing from Singapore, Jun offers tangible poetic moments of serendipity, clarity and healing evoked by the flowers we speak of. 

(Jun’s Instagram)

Girl Gone Authentic:

Please tell me a little bit about yourself?  

Jun:

I have struggled to define myself without referencing my profession, and that definition keeps changing. I suppose I cannot hide from it. As a doctor I am a scientist, a teacher, and a counsellor. Outside of work, I prefer to take on the role of a sister. Someone who provides companionship and warmth. I like to think that my friends and family are living their main character moments, and I love being part of their supporting cast.

When meeting new people, I try to establish the same intimacy and openness, one would expect from a siblinghood*. (*I use this term as opposed to “sisterhood” because the latter might suggest a relationship between women only). Whereas my approach to relationships pertains to both men and women.
Overall I am someone who just tries to strike a balance in life. My priority is to love, and to be creative in the way I love. Hence, flower arranging.
Girl Gone Authentic Flowers, Playlist and Conversation with Dr. Tan QiJun

“People see themselves in their favourite flowers”

flower arrangement with jun for girl gone authentic tea garden

Girl Gone Authentic:

What colour brings you peace? (If you have the words for it, please describe it to me).

Jun:

Turquoise. Something about it being a mixture of blue and green. I perceive it as a balance of the ruminative mood I receive from blue, and the optimistic wisdom of green.

Girl Gone Authentic:

If there was one flower that you could choose to be given, what would it be and who would give it to you?

Jun:

Jasmine, the earth. Oh it would be a dream to witness the growth of Jasmine flowers in a garden that I could call my own.

Girl Gone Authentic:

Now that we are speaking of flowers, how did you discover that flower arrangement was something that spoke to you?

Jun:

I was first mesmerised by the skill of the flower-walas who had stalls in Little India. The idea of creating this wall of fragrance around yourself throughout the day. The sweet, sticky nectar clinging onto fingertips under the hot sun… They inspired me to explore my own creativity with flowers, and I started using occasions such as my sisters’ or mom’s birthday, to dabble in arrangements.  
It spoke to me when I realised how much joy it brought to the people I gifted them to. I also believe people see themselves in their favourite flowers. When I gift someone flowers, I’m saying: “I see your uniqueness/elegance… let’s indulge in it and put it on display for the rest of the world to admire.”
flower arrangement with jun for girl gone authentic tea garden
flower arrangement with jun for girl gone authentic tea garden

Girl Gone Authentic:

Most of us have something that has deeply wounded our spirit at any pivotal point of our lives. No matter how far we go, it seems the journey revolves around healing that one thing. The lesson keeps presenting itself in different forms. Can you relate?

Jun:

Definitely. I believe most of these events happen during our most formative years as a child. But also it could be an impactful event during adulthood as well.
I grew up believing my role was to please those around me. As a working professional, I function to please my patients. My healing revolves around engaging in activities that serve to please myself, without causing hurt to others. Essentially, finding a type of work where I can service my soul and bring joy to people in the process. My current form of work forces me to service others at the expense of my own sanity.
Flowers have that. Every species is different, and has evolved for their own survival. Yet every type of flower – no matter how quirky or unconventionally designed, can be considered beautiful.

Girl Gone Authentic:

Is there one thing that you would like to heal in you?

Jun:

I would love to heal… this sense that we are “undeserving of greater happiness”. For some reason I still carry this sense of guilt when I indulge in personal happiness. It might have come from years of being taught that selfishness is sin.

Girl Gone Authentic:

What is the one thing that you wish you could heal in somebody that you deeply love?

Jun:

I wish I could heal my mother’s need for affirmation from her children. Or rather, the fact that developed it, because she did not receive enough of it from her own parents.

flower arrangement with jun for girl gone authentic tea garden

“My friends and family are living their main character moments, and I love being part of their supporting cast.”

flower arrangement with jun for girl gone authentic tea garden
flower arrangement with jun for girl gone authentic tea garden

Girl Gone Authentic:

I am inspired by your passion to experience a wholesome life – especially through community and friendship, food, books, art. It takes a certain kind of sensitivity and vulnerability to be able to open yourself up to experiences. How do you take care of yourself so that you are fully present for the people around you and moments that present themselves?

Jun:

Thank you, I share the exact same sentiment towards you. The gentleness with which you raise your children, and how you teach them that being your authentic self is enough.
I feel most taken care of when I allow myself time to paint. I paint for myself. Much like arranging flowers, it’s all about the process of creating a balanced composition with shapes and colours which satisfies me. I can make mistakes on a canvas, which typically do not matter because I paint for myself. Sometimes they turn out to be happy mistakes, sometimes I can just start over with little consequence.

Girl Gone Authentic:

I will keep your compliment close to heart for a long time – thank you. If you could throw it out there, and the universe would grant it, what is the one thing that you want most in the world right now?

Jun:

This is such a difficult one. Could we erase colonialism and capitalism?

Girl Gone Authentic:

Would you say that flower arrangement has brought you healing? Please share an experience of realisation.

Jun:

It certainly has. It first started with receiving flowers. The first flowers I received as a gift were from a friend in school who wanted to thank me for something I had done for her. I walked into the classroom one day and was pleasantly surprised by a pot of orchids on my table. Either it’s because it was unexpected, or the fact that I had never been thanked in flowers before. But, my world shifted in that moment.
Life got ahead of me and I almost forgot what it felt like to have fresh flora around the house, until many years later. It was a particularly normal day of running errands. In the midst of my supermarket trip for comfort food, I passed the flower aisle and my eye caught sight of those same orchids. Needless to say, I went home with a pot.

I started flower arranging as a form of creative expression. Most of my artistic endeavors had been confined to a canvas at that point. I particularly enjoy how a bouquet never looks the same from any angle. In fact, I try to vary it as much as possible in my arrangements. As I gained confidence in my skill, I found healing in the joy of giving flowers to other people. I occasionally still purchase a bunch for myself every now and then. But being given the opportunity to create an arrangement for someone’s special occasion, feels like an even bigger gift.

flower arrangement with jun for girl gone authentic tea garden

Jun, thank you for sharing such important pieces of yourself, with so much love.

All images are courtesy of QiJun Tan.

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