Poppies (Papaver) are interesting little flowers.

They are the ultimate culmination of contrasts all within one lifeform.

  • Their petals are so thin and wispy, dancing with the lightest touch of a breeze.
  • Their flowers are a bold, bright red and always love to poke their heads up above the other flowers in the field.
  • Their seedpods with their fun and decorative shape make ideal objects for sketching practices.
  • Those pods are filled with tiny little seeds that make it rattle like a toy.
  • We can use the seeds in cooking and baking and more ….
  • yes, that “more” is a less delicate side of them (one of them, please read on)

We just remembered ANZAC Day here in New Zealand. And the Poppy is a remembrance symbol for veterans. We see them used in all kinds of ANZAC Day related memorabilia, lapel pins, statues etc. (If you are curious how the humble poppy became this symbol read here.)

Also, I made a painting with poppies a  few years ago.

I did that as a healing journey for myself when I was struggling to come to grips with the other symbol of the poppy. There is a strange phenomenon here Down Under which is commonly referred to as: “the Tall Poppy syndrome”

I encountered this shortly after I emigrated to New Zealand  –“…The tall poppy syndrome is the cultural phenomenon of mocking people who think highly of themselves, “cutting down the tall poppy”. Common in Australia and New Zealand, it is seen by many as self-deprecating and by others as promoting modesty and egalitarianism. People are expected to be humble and self deprecating…”-Wikipedia.  

Born and raised in the Netherlands, I had never heard of this before.

When trying to assimilate and adjust to my newly chosen home, I quickly learned about it. And through finding my place in this new land, I learned a lot about the feelings and pains that go with this phenomenon. 

So a few years ago I processed much of this into a painting that I called “Tall Poppy”. It is no secret of course, that I use my creative expression as my healing tool of choice. And the powerful medicine of creative expression is second to none, trust me. (added benefit: it’s safe by the way, a lot safer than that other thing that poppy seeds can be made into)

Recently I sold this painting. Another immigrant to this beautiful country had struggled with similar feelings about this and related to it immediately. So, she took the Tall Poppy painting home ❤️

The negative connotation of the poppy left when the painting left my studio space. It felt like a relief, a release. It was the last remnant of a feeling, that I had carried for so many years. So fitting that it was time for it to physically move out of my space, because in my heart, mind and soul, I had already moved on.

The contrast of feelings this humble, fragile poppy carries in it’s image intrigues me:

  • One side shows the gentle, tender feelings of remembrance and the fragile look of the petals.
  • The other, the difficult feelings and the emotional struggle of fitting in and the potential dangerous strength those tiny seeds hold.
  • Standing out on one side, cutting down on the other side.

All of this within one pretty little flower.

Worth a bit of contemplation and reflection.

And reminding yourself that is is TOTALLY OKAY to stand out

and be authentically YOU!

If you feel so ready to shine your own light, but struggle with self confidence and self worth? Let’s jump on a call, see if we’re aligned and how to bring your dream into this world ❤️ click HERE