plant medicine as mirror fundamentals.

when all else fails, reach for the soil. tend to my roots.

for me this means putting my hands in dirt. i repot house plants, i tend to the garden, i soak seeds, i read garden magazines and plot new flower beds. i go to the plants.

i know i need to go to the plants when all the other things i think i know don’t work.

and when i listen to the plants, quite literally sometimes if i just watch where they are in their life cycles i can usually find where i am in mine.

when i let myself be with the plants, the plant that speaks to me often has the medicine i need. for instance, i;m feeling all out of sorts lately. my mother bought me a gardenia a few weeks ago. when i came home from vacation with my brother and his family the gardenia was looking a little faded around the edges. i was feeling faded around the egdes, disney vacation is not my idea of restorative activity. the gardenia caught my attention and asked for daily hydration. the gardenia demanded its circumstances/requiremtns be met. and so i had to listen, or lose the gardenia. as i had to tend to my own needs, hydration and rest, or lose my health.

the plants mirror our reality. they are the medicine.

the magic of noticing


in february i went to center space in grand rapids michigan to write for ten days.  i lived with strangers and internet friends for over a week and made art and cooked food and watched the world.  while there, a new friend commented on my tendency to share things i noticed in the natural world, squirrels eating outside the kitchen window for instance.  ever since that comment i have been really examining the way i notice the world.  and of course i related it back to plants, and now i am teaching a workshop this weekend called the magic of noticing.   

so i have been researching noticing, and what happens when we notice the world around us.  the magic of noticing is an opportunity to make time expand.  it is about realizing the present moment and recognizing that we have free will in that moment.  that we can be how we want to be as we are right now.  this is not about accepting the circumstances, it is about realizing where we have agency and making change.  your change may be big, maybe its small but it starts with noticing.  i told you i related this back to plants of course.  houseplants specifically but now even outside is full of small things growing that we can notice.

go outside. notice something alive.

so this free will that we exercise is really powerful and we can harness it and understand it when we use noticing as a tool.  noticing starts pretty small, minutia, but once we get good at noticing we can start to really notice bigger things. noticing is a tool we can use to build connection.  this is not surprising.  but its juicy.  

noticing gives us the power to really feel where we are, in our body, in our surroundings, in our homes, in our work environments,  when we begin to notice how our body feels when we are in a certain place and time we begin to make connections about our body and our feelings in that specific time and space. are you still with me?

connection. what happens when we are in connection with living beings around us? how can we be of service to the living beings we share space with?  this is where the real magic of noticing hits us. it is the moment we realize that we are part of bigger natural systems. when we are able to notice our connection to the natural world, whether we struggle with the time change of daylight savings time, or we crave sweeter richer foods in the fall or we feel as if we will explode in february if there is not a sunny warm day soon. often these moments of recognition are distilling a frustration or a disconnect we have with the universe around us. note that it can feel easier to notice discomfort before comfort, pain is information after all. these moments of noticing, that illuminate our part in the cycles of the earth are invitations to use our free will to make the tiniest shift towards feeling good, or better in your moment. perhaps reconciling the disconnect we have with the earth is what this noticing is best for. i don’t know. but i know that my noticing brings me into the present, brings me the gift of realizing and recognizing how i am connected to the natural world, i am a part of it, no matter how removed from it i feel. i am an animal, the rhythms of the earth affect my existence and noticing brings me deeper connection and understanding of this truth.

a huge component of my research in to noticing has been reciprocity. noticing is about being in relation with the world around you, and fostering deeper connection with your world. when we do this work, we begin to understand the reciprocal nature of our being in relation with other living beings. what we tend to grows, literally and figuratively. what we cultivate and use grows stronger, what we notice blooms.

Plants heal. Lesson #121,577

Plants. Heal.

So I have always loved plants.  I have a houseplant problem.  My wifi network is welcome to the jungle.  I had a friend who would count all of my houseplants before he left my house every time he came over.  He lived downstairs, he was there a lot.  Most often there were more plants than the time he counted before.  As we were preparing to move across the country my partner had to establish a rule that I was not to buy any houseplants till we were in our new house.  

I do not collect plants for the sake of collecting, rather it is the relationships I have with my plants that spur my collection.  Each one is a meditation in sustaining life and showing up.  My plants have taught  me lessons in routine, consistency, moving, letting go of what is no longer serving, resilience, thirst, famine, beauty, and breathe.  That is not an exhausted list, there are more lessons.

Often when people come to my house they are amazed by how many plants there are and how they seem to be everywhere.  They express surprise at their maintenance.  They proclaim they can't keep plants alive.  I would argue that the plants have kept me alive.  Because the secret of a plant, is that its only purpose is to grow.   It wants nothing more than to be its biggest version of its self and it will sacrifice in order to persevere.  

So the daily practice of having plants can be the analogy for the daily practice of trusting myself.  It is the repeated intuitive needs of plants that invite me to show up in my own knowing of my worth.  It is the relationship of responsibility for their life that demonstrates how to trust in what I know.  

I know this is a bit out there.  #woowooasfuck some might say.  But I am completely serious.  For me it is houseplants, and my garden, what is it for you?  Is there something in your life that sustains you?  Where do you learn your lessons?  How can you honor that something?  Do you prioritize it?  Could you write it at the top of a gratitude list?  Share it with people you care about?  

Creative Practice.

my rendition of an artichoke.

my rendition of an artichoke.

When I was introduced to the term creative practice a few years ago it was like a fucking light bulb on top of my head.  I have always made shit.  I am a writer.  I grow house plants, cultivate a kitchen herb garden, sew without patterns, and cook food for my loved ones.  All of these activities are creative outlets.  Yet I never really had a body of work that I could put on display or publish.   So when I found the term creative practice I realized that I had a very strong creative practice.  I fed my soul by making stuff, by learning new skill sets and putting them to use.  

Creative practice is not a set in stone, day in day out task.  It is a practice that serves wholly.  It is the freedom to focus on what intrigues me the most in the present.  Sometimes that is coloring while I watch a movie, sometimes that is planting a veggie garden, occasionally that is making a cover up for my trip to the beach.  

I think it is important to recognize how our practices, our behaviors serve us.  To examine them and ask are we satisfied?  Are we doing this from a place of should?  Or a place of pleasure?  Are they lifting us up?  

So check with yourself.  Where can you create something that brings you pleasure?  It can be a friendship, a calendar, a collage, a spreadsheet.  Creative practice doesn't have to look any one way.  It does have to serve you.  

Getting Outside.

Go for a walk.  Sit in a park.  Hug a tree.  Sit on the porch with a cup of tea.  Sit on your stoop with your lunch.  Walk to the store, lie under the stars.  Go fishing, go for a bike ride.  How do you get outside?

Recently I put outside time on my weekly behavior tracker, because I realized that even though I know that being outside makes me productive, happier and healthier I was struggling with getting my ass out into the world.  

What do you know is good for you but you struggle with implementing in your every day existence?  Where do you need a little bit of strategizing?  How do you hold yourself accountable for behaviors that promote creative healthy, growth?