Balancing wellness and health in a time or place which is surrounded by anxiety can be a tricky feat.
A tree found in the Columcille Megalith Park in Bangor, PA. Photograph taken during a quiet hike through the woods while reconnecting with self and nature. 2020.
When I started writing this blog in January, I made a pledge to myself that I would sit down every week and write one entry. As of August, I had only missed two entries. I felt, overall, that 30 entries was pretty admirable. Even though I write as a form of public service while spreading helpful tips, offering developmentally appropriate activities to share with children, creating a place to meet and share quality time, and discovering the beauty in the everyday places that we inhabit—in the end, I write for myself. This is my one thing that I do to really reflect upon my trade, my craft, and my passions. I don't want to be better than everyone else, I want to be the best version of myself and share my talents and gifts with others. Writing to me is really a form of verbal art. The words, the expressions, the pictures painted by flowing descriptions of letters and form. The voices we give ourselves and others.
Ever since March 14, 2020 our lives have changed dramatically, or at least my personal life has changed dramatically. That isn't necessarily a bad thing. I re-evaluated grocery habits which needed to be addressed. We don't stop at Target as much and accidentally leave with ten things we don't "need". We aren't saying yes to events even if we don't want to go because we feel that other people want us to be there or it is expected. We have learned to consider the positive impact of gathering on our individual lives and as a family. We are choosing to spend more time outdoors or surround ourselves with people and places that are calm, inviting, caring, nurturing, and reciprocal. We have been sharing things that we had in excess on "Buy Nothing Emmaus" group. We have been gardening so much more now than we did before. We are taking the time to learn new things, everyday. I have made time to rest and to reflect. One thing I have noticed from scaling back how much time that I spend with lots of people is that I really enjoy more quiet, intimate gatherings. I like to meet people and chat and interact with others in public, but I have realized that I really respect and appreciate the art of a small group setting. I don't want to shout over people in a loud space with music blasting. I want to just relax, joke, share stories, ask questions, learn, and connect with others while I am growing and connecting to myself.
I have found that working outdoors on a farm is so therapeutic. I was going every week for 2-4 hours at a time. It has been hot and it has been humid. While long bouts of hot weather bothers me if I am out participating or leading events in public, if I am on a farm harvesting, weeding, planting, or doing any manual labor, I actually really enjoy being hot, sweaty, and dirty outdoors because I am really serving a purpose. I am making an active difference. Lately, I have even scored some extra veggies, fruits, and herbs from my labor. Win-win. I get a free workout, I work alone or in a very small group of 1-2 other farmers, and sometimes I get free food. It reminds me that giving is vital to living. I don't want to just exist in this huge space and portion of time—I want to live.
When I feel like everything is getting out of hand or it is overwhelming, when I feel that tick or pinge, I check in with myself. "What am I doing differently? Am I neglecting my needs? Have I taken the time to eat and drink today? Am I exercising or over exerting myself without feeling any rewards? Did I take my vitamins? Have we been eating out more than usual?" It is so easy to get swept up and try to heal the wounds that are present that may not even be mine. As an empath, I definitely feel the wounds of others, of course, it is not the same or completely comparable to the actual pain someone else is feeling. I take a step back, "is this my pain?" giving service to others, giving back to a community, offering time and talents, doesn't actually mean carrying the weight and burdens that belong to other people.
"Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?" ~Mary Oliver
Along with writing this blog, I have been volunteering within the Emmaus Arts Commission and Rodale Institute and their Founder's Farm. I have been working on creating and facilitating public art, environmental art, and integrating nature, art, education, and food security into my every day approach to building a more wonderful, beautiful world for my children. I have been giving time and energy to support my local farmers, learn more about gardening and farming, and personally meet and spend time with the people that tend the land and grow the food in my area. The joy I feel while partaking in community outreach is indescribable. With this, I do realize that when I miss a week at the farm my energy and spirits definitely diminish. This month with our one single vacation that we took for the first time in almost 2 years, then getting back into the swing of a fall schedule, three events wrapping up at the same time for the EAC, and crazy hurricane weather, I missed 3 weeks of volunteering. No big deal, right? I can feel it, I can feel the actual joy and satisfaction of dedicated outdoor labor that I have missed.
I am looking forward to the fall as a time to step back, shed the leaves that no longer serve me, reflect, and absorb the information, knowledge, trades, and content that I have learned this summer. I will be completing a certification program through Oregon State University in their Professional (Development) and Continuing Education department. This was a six week course online with weekly live meetings. It was a wonderful experience and I am happy to announce that within the next few weeks I will be presented with a School Garden Coordinator certification. Along with that, I am nearing the end of my twelve-week course with Gardenary in order to be fully certified as a Garden Coach and Consultant. The future is looking bright and full of nature.
Reconnecting to self and others
Here are a few ways that I have found to reset, reconnect, and re-establish a happy daily/weekly flow
Make a visual cue to establish a general daily/weekly schedule : color charts, calendar, family routines, basic guidelines— meditate, meal, school, time for errands, free time, work time, exercise, outdoor time, reading time/ELA, art/creation time, exploration/investigation. It doesn't have to be specific it can be blocks of time dedicated for types or overall kinds of learning, doing, resting
Set time aside every day for stretching, meditation, exercise, or sweating time
Bathe, hygiene, and get dressed
Choose foods that nourish and support your individual needs
Celebrate a moment of gratitude every day
Read (on paper) for at least 15 minutes a day
Participate in or hone a skill/talent for 15 minutes a day (knitting, drawing, singing, playing musical instruments, building, organizing, writing, painting, learn a language)
Recognize your strengths, seek support in areas of need
Go outside for at least 1 hour a day (take your computer outside if you have to, or sit so you can look out a window, bring some plants inside, eat lunch outside, anything you can do indoors you can do outdoors).
Establish unplugged times for full, in-person connection and quality time
Plant one seed a week (plant an actual flower seed, a fruit, a veggie, a pollinator—indoors or outdoors, plant a seed of hope, a seed of kindness, a seed of change, a seed of goodwill)
This week is short and is really an overall reflection on tactics for resetting my personal values and actions. If you find that you have one hour a week, take a look at local boards or posts within your community. You may find that a committee needs help for an event, a church needs extra food for the food bank/pantry, a friend needs help in the garden, your neighbor had surgery and can't mow his lawn, or your town is hosting a contest and needs volunteers to support or spread the word. Volunteering really benefits so many people, including you. Volunteering can also help maintain a schedule if you choose one day a week for x amount of hours. You never know what could turn up from volunteering: maybe you'll make a friend, get some free food, be connected with someone who has a positive impact on your life, spread some smiles, or receive a job opportunity through the volunteer operation. There are so many places that keep our community running and they are run by a few employees and volunteers. There could be food banks, farms, gardens, nurseries, schools, churches, Borough committees and commissions, community art spaces, shelters, and even the YMCA. One hour a week could make all the difference in the world to one person and create a beautiful ripple of positive effects.
I'm hoping to return our "Thirsty for Good Vibes Thursday" interview sessions soon. Until then, Grow. Plant. Eat. Seed. Repeat. Everything mentioned in this entry is my own personal opinion, included photography is taken by myself on an iPhone X or Canon Eos Rebel. Feel free to take what you need, and leave what you don't need. If you have any ideas or would like to collaborate on a project, virtual or in-person, please reach out to me at info@thefindingplace-LV.com
Plant some seeds of joy and kindness. Thanks for stopping by. See you next week.