By Courtney Ingle
Mischelle Vining — a physical therapist and gardener with an infectious faith, a genuine love for people, and a smile that lights up a room — has cultivated a life of serving others. When a stroke threatened her livelihood and revealed a bleak diagnosis, Mischelle put all faith in God. Years later, she is pouring hope into others through her flower business, Hope Blooms. She recently shared her story with MCL Contributing Writer Courtney Ingle.
Courtney Ingle: Did you always dream of opening a flower business?
Mischelle Vining: No, but I always had a flower garden, everywhere I lived. My mother taught me and my six sisters all about gardening. But in 2012, I had a stroke, and it changed everything.
CI: Were there any warning signs before your stroke?
MV: I have a brain stem angioma that, at the time, I didn’t know I had. It started bleeding, which is what caused the stroke. But I didn’t know I had had a stroke until I saw my doctor. I had been dealing with fatigue, loss of balance, and coordination issues … I’d fall. I knew from being a physical therapist that something was going on.
CI: But you still have this angioma?
MV: Yes, and it isn’t operable. If it bleeds, it can cause another stroke, or I could go to bed tonight and not wake up. (But) I don’t live in fear. I know God has me.
CI: Have you recovered from the stroke?
MV: I still have most of the symptoms, but the worst after the stroke was fatigue. I had no motivation to work in my garden. I’d walk outside and see everything dying and just not care. I didn’t have joy in it anymore. I was just so tired and so frustrated.
CI: How did you get that motivation back?
MV: During COVID, people were gardening and planting things, and we had this open field that my husband said we’d never put anything in. So I asked him for one bed to keep myself busy … and then it grew. (It) kept growing, and I had so many flowers that I just started giving them away, and I started selling some from my flower cart and front porch.
CI: Did growing these flowers give you hope again?
MV: Hope Blooms comes from two things: My daughter’s middle name is Hope, but I also started to feel hope again as I worked with these flowers. The flowers remind me of new life, of God’s beautiful creation.
CI: So when the world shut down in 2020, Hope Blooms was opening up?
MV: Yes, I was growing and picking flowers, drying flowers for gifts, setting some out for folks to come and (pick up). It was a great way to freshen up your home, mood, and week.
And from there, I’ve had some events and special requests as well. We now have a subscription service, a flower club … people buy a subscription to it in the fall and have fresh flowers from April to August.
God was so good at that time (during COVID). For once, I had purpose again. (And) I had peace.
CI: How has Hope Blooms continued to bring you hope?
MV: Last year, my mother passed. Gardening (has) helped me grieve. People don’t realize how connecting with nature, with what God created, can be so healing. I’ve been able to grow flowers, and I’ve wanted to call her and tell her about it — but I know she’d be proud. Especially of my roses, since she always had a hard time growing roses. But Hope Blooms has been a blessing.
Follow Hope Blooms on Instagram @HopeBlooms_Floral, or on Facebook at Hope Blooms.