Lesli Gresholdt, a photographer and busy single mom of two from Chicago, shares with us how plants help her find time for much-needed self-care.
Tell us a little about yourself.
I am a lifelong Midwestern girl, currently living in the Chicago suburbs with my two kids, Adelaide (10) and Oliver (7). Photography is one of my hobbies, and my work-from-home job involves managing a team of talented photographers across the country as they take newborn photos in hospitals. Working from home lets me homeschool my kids, which gives us lots of freedom and flexibility. We love to take trips to the beach in Seaside, Florida and South Haven, Michigan in the off-season. We enjoy being outside, biking, kayaking, going to movies and plays, and entertaining friends and family. We always have a full house – it is rarely just the three of us here. We also have two cats, Mae and Mirette, that—for the most part—leave my plants alone. I started my Instagram plant account @sorryihaveplantsthisweekend about a year ago after my interest in plants increased dramatically and I feared I was alienating myself from friends and family if I kept posting plant-related photos on my personal feed! The plant community has been amazing, and now I have plant friends across the world to share this obsession.
What’s your New Year resolution?
To be honest, I am not much of a resolution-maker. Goals stress me out, and I tend to self-sabotage. Instead, I try to go with the flow year-round and make changes as needed. However, I have definitely found the saying by Zora Neale Hurston to be true: “There are years that ask questions, and years that answer.” 2018 was a year of questions, sadness, upheaval, transition, loss and grief. I am hoping that 2019 will be a year of answers, hope, love and new beginnings. But, if I had a resolution for 2019, it would be to operate on a higher frequency in order to attract the things I want into my life and to focus on an attitude of gratitude. And – trust my instincts, always.
Why is taking time for self-care important to you?
We are often so much nicer to others than we are to ourselves. I hate that about human nature. We offer forgiveness, patience and understanding to others, and then we don’t extend the same to ourselves when we need it most. For women especially, we can carry heavy workloads, a large share of parenting and household duties, and just the weight of so many expectations of how we should manage all of that. Self-care is essential to keeping our heads on straight. I also try not to worry too much about what other people are doing. I continually make choices to stay unstructured and “unbusy” in order to create a more relaxed lifestyle for myself and my kids.
What does self-care mean for you?
As a single, working mom, I don’t have time or money for the stereotypical ‘self-care’ routines like a girls night out, massages and getting my nails done. Luckily, self-care means something different to everyone. I try to practice self-care in small ways every day. I make sure I have alone time to recharge. I practice the Danish concept of ‘hygge’—creating a mood of coziness and well-being in a warm, comforting atmosphere. I did this before I even knew was hygge was. Just little daily rituals make a difference, like playing my favorite music, wearing cozy slippers, lighting candles, diffusing essential oils, sitting outside in the sun, reading a book, filling a room with plants, keeping the house clean, making my bed every day, and making sure I have chocolate fully stocked in my freezer.
How have plants become part of your self-care routine? Or, how have plants helped you heal?
I currently have 106 plants and people often ask, “How do you keep them all alive?!” Having so many plants creates a nice, relaxing morning routine of getting my iced coffee and doing my watering. Taking care of them has felt like something just for me, instead of another task on my to-do list. While I always had a handful of plants, my interest in them peaked during my divorce. It was suddenly my house to decorate exactly how I wanted, and there was something about bringing new life into the space that felt really cathartic and peaceful after years of tension and stress. I went from 19 plants to more than 100 in less than a year. At first, I knew nothing about their care and paid no attention to what they needed. I didn’t even know what kind of plants they were! Looking back, I can’t believe they lived. So I decided to learn everything I could – common names, scientific names, light and water needs. It’s not just a hobby though; plants have had a huge role in making my home more inviting, purifying the air, releasing oxygen, improving mood and creating a sweet jungle vibe. They literally make my space a place where I can’t help but feel happy.