Create! from former Temple Square Floral Designer, Diann Lavin

March 2013 SLT Luncheon

My Mother was born in the 1920’s on the island of Oahu in Hawaii. She grew up in lush tropical surroundings, pristine beaches and no high rise hotels. Uncrowded. Peaceful. A child’s perfect playground. As a young girl she learned the art of the hula, lei making and playing the ukulele. She often would wear a flower in her hair. She loved flowers.

It isn’t a surprise that I grew up appreciating the beauty of flowers. I grew up, not thinking about that love very much. Little did I know that many years later that love would turn into a passion and a talent.

As I was growing up, I seemed to always be “in search of a talent”. My mother was an excellent seamstress; I didn’t have the patience. I danced “a little”. I became an enthusiast but had no real talent. I tried piano. Nope. Sports. Oh no! No coordination. Cooking. No. I liked eating though! I felt a just little hopeless. Would I ever be good at anything?

Without realizing it, after I had married and had a family, I found a talent. I could create ideas. I could make things out of my own imagination or turn a task into something fun! I had an imagination!!! It didn’t seem to be a measurable talent but it was mine! And it would take me on an incredible journey!

Then, my mother passed away. It is a hard thing to lose your mom, no matter what age you are. But, as I missed her and her sweet spirit, I remembered our shared love of flowers. I decided I would take floral design classes. For the both of us.

My first series of class were wonderful. My instructor was fabulous. I loved going. However, at first my arrangements were disappointing and truthfully, awful. When the instructor chose the flowers, I did fine. But, when I chose them, I just couldn’t bring the combination of color, texture and proportion together. I began to feel another “failure” coming on.

But, something happened to me on the inside when I went to class. I felt brighter, happier and more peaceful. I love the beauty and oh, the marvelous scent of the flowers. In spite of what seemed another failure, I continued on. Eventually, I began to catch on. I made hundreds of arrangements learning the principles and elements. I began to design flowers for church events and eventually weddings. I felt like I was successful because people began to enjoy my flowers. I used to begin to dream a little. I thought that the ultimate dream would be to design some flowers for a temple*, the most beautiful and serene place I knew. But, that was a daydream. I was happy just designing for people.

Little did I know.

Ten years ago, I my daughter married and moved to Utah. My sons’ were attending church colleges. My husband was about to retire early from his job. We decided to move to Utah. While building a home, I found a job on the LDS Church website. It was a temporary job for 4 months as a Floral Design Assistant during the Christmas season on Temple Square. I was sure this was perfect way to stay busy and earn a little money for our new home.

As I interviewed for this job, I began to realize this wasn’t an ordinary job. Well, the job wasn’t a typical floral position, and neither was the Floral Department. I was offered the job during my interview and officially accepted a couple days later.

March 2013 General YW Meeting Designing Pulpit

Eventually, the temporary job became a part-time position when I figured out what an amazing opportunity it was to work on Temple Square. I was learning so much more than I ever thought I could! The environment was wonderful! The people were the nicest you could ever hope to meet and so willing to share their knowledge and experience. Our clientele was the most amazing! It was my privilege to serve the First Presidency of the Church, along with the Council of the Twelve and the Presidencies of the Young Women, Primary, and Priesthood. My experiences included stage and television as well as Public Affair events. Eventually, my position was that of Floral Designer for the Church. What a humbling experience that was. I realized that my Heavenly Father had blessed me for developing and pursuing my talent. It has made me think countless times of the desire to “create” as President Uchtdorf spoke of in his talk:

“The desire to create is one of the deepest yearnings of the human soul. No matter our talents, education, backgrounds, or abilities, we each have an inherent wish to create something that did not exist before.

Everyone can create. You don’t need money, position, or influence in order to create something of substance or beauty.

Creation brings deep satisfaction and fulfillment. We develop ourselves and others when we take unorganized matter into our hands and mold it into something of beauty—

You may think you don’t have talents, but that is a false assumption, for we all have talents and gifts, every one of us.5 The bounds of creativity extend far beyond the limits of a canvas or a sheet of paper and do not require a brush, a pen, or the keys of a piano. Creation means bringing into existence something that did not exist before—colorful gardens, harmonious homes, family memories, flowing laughter.

What you create doesn’t have to be perfect. So what if the eggs are greasy or the toast is burned? Don’t let fear of failure discourage you. Don’t let the voice of critics paralyze you—whether that voice comes from the outside or the inside.

If you still feel incapable of creating, start small. Try to see how many smiles you can create, write a letter of appreciation, learn a new skill, identify a space and beautify it.
The more you trust and rely upon the Spirit, the greater your capacity to create. That is your opportunity in this life and your destiny in the life to come. Sisters, trust and rely on the Spirit. As you take the normal opportunities of your daily life and create something of beauty and helpfulness, you improve not only the world around you but also the world within you.”

(President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, Happiness, Your Heritage, October 2008 .

May 2012 Create

My efforts and trust in the Lord had brought me to find a talent that I love! I had fulfilled my dream in a way I had never expected and found gifts that brought and continues to bring me great joy!

*As part of my responsibilities, I would routinely design a simple floral for a luncheon in the temple for the First Presidency and the Twelve on their temple days.

You can meet Diann Lavin at the Ruby Girl Retreat on August 12th where she’ll teach floral design. You can still register HERE.

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  • Diann Lavin
    July 17, 2016 at 10:47 pm

    Note: that I am a former Temple Square floral designer, having retired 2 years ago.