Laura Eubanks is an award-winning succulent designer in Southern California, and her cheerful and enthusiastic "Succulent Tip of the Day" videos on YouTube make it obvious that she is living her passion. I recently met her and her daughter, Hannah, at Mountain Crest Gardens in Northern California and, despite not being 100% sure of the final format of this photography project, dove in and did a scary thing and asked to photograph and interview her for the first installment of this project.
Laura came to garden design in her 40s as a way to heal. She had no formal training as a landscape designer, and works in a focused flow state without a plan or a blueprint. When she steps back, she's often as surprised as the clients at the result, but it's working: she is in high demand and travels all over the world, installing succulent tapestries and gardens.
The following quotes from Laura are lightly-edited excerpts of the conversation we had as the result of my questions: are you doing what you love? How did you get to this point? Are you happy?
"We have so many options and routes to take in life. For me, it’s about checking in, how do I feel? Do I feel anxiety? If so, that’s not the point, not the way. I keep pointing and pointing until I find the way that feels the best, and that’s the path I take that day. It requires a lot of faith to live that way — we want to think we have control, and we don’t."
"People look at my installations and they don’t understand why, but it makes them happy and feel good. It inspires them in ways they can’t articulate, and I believe we all have the capacity to bring this to the world in different ways. And for me, I found it with plants. I’m thankful and blessed that I connected those dots. My mission is to help everyone who I run across, to at least entertain the idea that they have a genius, and to have the faith and the stillness to recognize it. And then to follow it."
"I think that happiness is such a temporary emotion. I’m joyful, that’s better than happiness. And now, life has such meaning — it’s about stripping it all away and getting down to the basics of connecting. And as an introvert, that wasn’t my strength. Getting brave, and allowing myself to connect with people, saved me. That’s the point. That’s why we’re here. People say 'what’s the meaning of life, why are we here?' Simple. To connect with each other. Nothing more, there’s no agenda, it’s just a simple connection. We inspire each other. I have a saying: 'Suit up, show up, shut up.' That’s my goal."