“Wallflower in Bloom” Garden Party at the Spa!

Interested in the first part of our story?  You can find out all about my and Cheryl’s trip to the Lake Austin Spa Resort courtesy of Claire Cooke, Lake Austin Spa Resort, and Touchstone Books (Simon & Schuster) here.



Of all the posts (and there have been a lot– sorry!) I have made about my and Cheryl’s trip to the Lake Austin Spa Resort, this has been the most difficult to write.  To simply say, “We did x, then y, and after that z” isn’t enough; however, to move beyond that and detail exact conversations, reactions, questions, and observations seems somehow to be a betrayal of the moment.  I don’t really expect that to make much sense, because I don’t entirely understand it all that well myself.   Suffice it to say, I am so grateful to have lived this day–every moment of it, beginning to end– to have met everyone that I met, to have experienced everything I experienced, and to have done it all with my dearest friend.


Saturday, June 2

Evening, Wallflower in Bloom Garden Party

After our Water Yoga class, Cheryl and I went back to our room, talking with our classmates as we walked.  Once we had parted ways with them, we got ready for the book launch.  Let me type that again.  Cheryl and I got ready to attend a book launch.  Nope.  Still feels pretty unbelieveable.

I changed my mind about everything, from straightening my hair to what I was going to wear to changing my shoes to putting on make-up, which I opted not to do because I thought we’d be outside and it would melt off.   Every choice I made was a mistake, but I’m not going to dwell on those things.  In the end, the lesson I learned from this particular experience was to not second guess my gut feelings.  Next time, I’ll do things the way I want to and not over think them, which I did that night.  This would also be why I’m not posting any of the pictures of myself.  Yuck.  Well, that and the fact that I suffer from Chandler Bing syndrome.  Don’t know what that means?  Here, you can see it here.

Once we were both ready, or I should say, once Cheryl was ready and I realized that I couldn’t stall any more than I already had—why, why, why I was so nervous, I’m not sure—Cheryl grabbed her stack of books, I grabbed my camera, and we were off.

The book launch party was in the Aster Café, which is the dining area for the spa itself.  Since we’d taken all of our meals at the resort dining area, this was our first time there.  A musician was playing an accoustic guitar in the shade of a patio umbrella when we arrived.  We entered the double doors of the café next him.  The room was a cheerful blue color, and the tables were draped with red cloths.  The table to the right of the doors we’d entered was covered in stacks of Claire Cook’s new book, Wallflower in Bloom, and flower hair clips similar to the ones Cheryl and I had received when we arrived at the resort the day before.  The center table was decorated in beautiful flower arrangements, which contained many of the flowers and plants mentioned in Claire’s book.

The table to the left had pitchers of sangria.  We found our way to that table first.

I’m actually having difficulty writing about this part of the trip.  I thought for sure that this particular event would have been one of the easier parts of our story to tell, but surprisingly, it’s actually a little overwhelming.  I mean, this was the reason we were here at the spa, right?

Claire was doing an interview elsewhere with a reporter for a local paper, so we stood around sipping our sangria, watching others file in, and mostly looking (and feeling) a little green around the gills.  Me, I’m always nervous around people I really don’t know; however, Cheryl looked more nervous than usual, so perhaps I’m not the only one who was overwhelmed by the whole thing.

I don’t know what Cheryl did to power through her nerves (mostly look at me like I was crazy, apparently), but I did what I always do.  I used my camera as a shield.  I photographed whatever I could find to photograph, and then I took pictures of those things twice.

While I was photographing everything from the crackers to the flowers to the fireplace, other guests began to file in,

and before long, everyone had a glass of sangria in her hand (Claire Cook does write chick lit and we were at a spa after all).  Then Claire arrived, and just as had happened the day before, just her mere presence had the effect of brightening the room and everyone around her.

I know you probably think I’m being hyperbolic here, but I am telling you as honestly as I know how, the woman is a palpable presence.  She doesn’t just exist in a space; the sheer force of her personality overwhelms a space.  I don’t mean that in a bad way.  It’s like she takes the space over and makes it better.  How?  How?  How?  You know what I think it is?  Confidence and true happiness, and they’re so strong in her, so sincerely pure and joyous that you can’t help but be taken in by them.  You can’t help but soak up a small amount of the confidence she exudes; you can’t help but be joyful over the happiness that she’s found doing what she loves.  I think this is so because it’s all so genuine, and after speaking with her daughter for a bit during the party, I believe this to be doubly so.

See…even talking about her a month after the fact has an impact.

What was I saying?  Oh, yes.

Claire entered the room, greeted everyone, and exclaimed over the flower arrangements.

After a few minutes, she read a brief passage from the book—a passage that takes place at the resort and spa itself, hence why we were there in the first place—and then took questions.

When she was through, everyone lined up to have a copy of her new book signed, and I realized then that I’d left my books back in the room.   So I left my camera and sangria with Cheryl and I took off.

It turns out that I left the same time as Amy Gentry, the reporter who’d interviewed Claire.  She and I spent the walk back to the room chatting about Claire and her reinvention workshop.  Well, I babbled and she listened.  Fortunately, she took what I said and condensed it into three sentences that were relatively verbatim. You can read her article, “Reinventing Women’s Lives One Facebook Post at a Time,” here.  There’s Claire (pink skirt, white jacket) talking to Amy at the door.

I grabbed my books and headed back to the Aster room.  Claire was hip deep in signing, so I found my way back to Cheryl who was speaking about books with a very nice woman.  It turns out that the lady was none other than Trisha Shirey, the Director of Flora and Fauna at the resort.  This was very exciting for me, since one of my favorite things about the spa so far was the landscaping.  Trisha was gracious, accommodating, and knowledgeable.  She identified several of the trees and flowers which Cheryl and I had been wondering about.  She also offered us cuttings of the chocolate mint to take and grow at home after we told her that we’d each pinched some of the leaves the night before.

When Claire finished signing everyone’s books, she began to sign our stacks, stopping a moment to take a picture with Cheryl.  Love, love, love their expressions!

In the middle of signing Cheryl’s copies, Claire looked up and realized that the courtyard outside was full of ladies, flowers in their hair, sitting in the chairs and reading the novels that she’d just signed for them.  It seemed to take her breath away, and why wouldn’t it?  Can you imagine looking up to see a courtyard full of people reading your book?  I can, and I have a feeling that the reality of it would be so much better.

In the end, Claire finished signing our books, and she spoke with us for a while.  Among other things, Cheryl and I joked a bit about ending our evening by kicking back in the hammocks next to the lake with glasses of sangria and Claire’s new book.  Before Cheryl and I left, Trisha brought us to go cups from the café kitchen to assist us in our plans.  Perfect.

With that, floating on cloud nine, we left the party and headed for the resort dining room. Dinner was waiting for us, and after dinner we had books to read and sangria to drink.  A more perfect way to end such an unusually wonderful day simply doesn’t exist.

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