Learning to Live What I Sell

Recently, I met a participant during one of my workshops.  She recognized me from a few years before when we had become acquainted during a play date. She explained that she had been exploring all that Pineapple Acres had to offer and wanted to be doing what I was doing. She said she wanted to be me. Of course, this statement can do wonders for a person’s ego, but I realized that besides making me feel good, perhaps I was doing something right.

So what does Pineapple Acres sell?

To keep it simple: an experience. I hope it’s a connection to nature – a spiritual journey to peace. But it may simply be where your journey needs to be in this moment. And that could be learning a new plant; solving a pest problem in the garden; or creating space for mindfulness in your yard.

I always encourage participants to work from where they are with what they have. I’d like to take that a bit further – and add from who they are. The reason: you’ll be more likely to keep at it and succeed when you acknowledge your reality.

Rome wasn’t built in a day, so we need to stop imagining we can change in a day, a week or a month. Through gardening, Pineapple Acres offers mindfulness as a journey – not an end goal. Read about garden therapy here to get a better idea to what I mean.

And what better way to make this happen then by living this journey myself. It’s a journey that ignites my curiosity; encourages me to learn; and inspires inner awareness.

Seems to be my most authentic marketing tool. I may be on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, a website, flyers, Meetup, etc., but living my slogan: Make every day better with mindfulness in nature, may be an unseen winner in the marketing race.

Because Pineapple Acres isn’t solely about identifying plants and helping them survive. It’s not even about a pretty display of well-placed plants. It’s about accepting where you are and connecting to that moment. Maybe you’re not meditating at the beach. You’re more like me – meditating for 10 minutes amongst the chaos of the afternoon. Maybe you’re not preforming flying crow in your yoga practice. You’re simply standing as a warrior in an unfinished workshop in the company of scattered tools. Wherever you are doesn’t matter. It’s being who you are and moving forward despite or in spite of what that may be.

How to discover this experience with Pineapple Acres?

  • mindfulness in nature workshops (i.e., meditation and yoga)
  • gardening workshops
  • guidance in holistic landscape (aka sustainability, regenerative, permaculture)

How did Pineapple Acres come to be?

Pineapple Acres is a reflection of me, which began here at this blog. Pineapple Acres is this blog come to life. But I don’t want you to be me. I hope to inspire, educate and guide you to speak your own truth while experiencing a deeper part to your own inner peace. That’s big. And, yes, I truly believe gardening and being in nature has that power.

You just need to have the courage to go there.

Pineapple Acres – Where you can hear the whispers of your soul, ground yourself in nature and find inner peace through plants.

Learning How to Design Community in a Food Forest

“Community food forests can reach beyond their physical boundaries in support of civic well-being.” ~The Community Food Forest Handbook

A year ago, I took to planning; educating myself in business and accounting; and taking action to launch my non-profit, Pineapple Acres (which made it’s official debut in April). Here I have had the unexpected experience of interacting with public spaces to install educational food forests. What began as a passionate gardening hobby has transformed into multiple community projects.

My first project was with my girls’ school. It began in February and has been loosely organized and built with a lot of uncertainties. Yet, it has created a low-risk business model for me. I’ve done some things right. Some things have not gone according to plan. And other things have turned out to be far better than expected.

In the middle of this project, I disappeared for two weeks to learn about permaculture design. Here I learned how to observe a natural space and then take those observations and put them into place for a self-sustaining garden. I believe there is a part in this process that does not include soil types, plant selection or sun vs. shade. Yet, it may be the most changeable and possibly the piece that can make or break a project. It’s the human factor. It’s much more difficult to observe the human systems in a public project because they are so complex and often overlap.

At the moment I have three projects taking place on public property. These are projects that fall into multiple phases and move in collaboration with many players. It’s complicated and requires focus and organization. It moves fast at moments for reasons that are completely out of my control. I may be lead on the design and manage the plants, but often I don’t organize the funding or volunteers. I don’t always set dates for work days. You see, when I’m brought in, I’m considered the expert in plants. I don’t usually have the final say in the project. This typically goes to someone who is in charge of the space and, many times, considers themselves a brown thumb or, in some cases, a black thumb. The main governance is controlled by others. And opinions can be many.

To help navigate this process, I’ve been studying the book, The Community Food Forest Handbook by Catherine Bukowski and John Munsel. This book is excellent. And to my surprise, already in chapter 2 they address the human piece and the effect it can have on the success of a project.

For example, for my initial school project we have moved through four stages. Each stage encompassed different volunteers. I have never worked with the same group. I’m the only stagnate piece (and my children at times). And sometimes I’m the ONLY piece. I spend many Sunday evenings checking in on the gardens, weeding, mulching and watering. We are currently in Stage 5, which I qualify as ‘maintenance’. This is the area where, if I did everything right, I should simply be the guide and no longer the lead or the most engaged in the plant part of a project. If I were to leave the gardens unattended others would move in to help. I believe, I could completely walk away and the gardens would survive. That feels good.

Yesterday, I initiated a work day. Teachers have claimed their gardens; science projects are lined near the butterfly gardens; and someone else located mulch. A few weeks ago I almost fell over when I found two dump truck loads of mulch. Others in this school community are choosing to continue with the gardens on their own. And I didn’t have to do a thing!

You can prep soil; install drip irrigation; and plant native plants all to help ensure a low-maintenance gardening experience, but there comes a time when other people will need to be present. What happens if the weeds break free from inches of weed-barriers you laid down (oh, and they will)? What happens if a landscaper decides to mow over the trees you just planted? Or a person doesn’t recognize a pineapple plant and hack it down with the neighboring grass? Someone takes your hoses and locks them in a locker that you do not have access to. Someone takes your pitch fork promising to mulch, and you haven’t seen it in sevens months. These things can happen. Believe me. Everything I’ve just listed has happened.

In permaculture design, we learned to observe things and then interact with the flow. I’ve learned how to move with the flow – even when it’s a bit choppy.

What I learned:

  • Talking with public maintenance or landscaping crews that are already in place is key.

One evening I was heavily scolded for watering plants. I didn’t blame the maintenance staff. They had no idea who I was or what I was doing. I may have had permission and a key, but clear communication is vital to ALL involved in the public space. I’ve also experienced the above examples of having trees, ferns, bromeliads, and pineapples mowed over. I know not every plant survives, but this was gardening murder. I cannot be at the school gardens 24/7. It’s impossible. But it’s possible to have a conversation and hope others using the space can work with you. Even if they don’t know plants, most often people are respectful of your work.

  • Organizing volunteers is important. Find groups that will commit. If you can’t organize the groups, many times the leader within the public space can.

With my girls’ school garden I have worked with university volunteers, church volunteers, PTA volunteers and family volunteers. All volunteers are welcomed, but not all volunteers are created equally. Many of my volunteers know absolutely NOTHING about plants. Still, if you guide them well, they can haul mulch, weed, plant and actually have fun. Even on days where no one should be outside. This is also a key moment to keep volunteers engaged. Providing water, work gloves and then talking about what the gardens mean to me has been enough to find support.

  • Funding is important! And complicated.

Grants are available for many school or community gardens. This is also an opportunity to bring outsiders into the project. You can do fundraisers; ask for community sponsorship; or donate yourself. Funding is an opportunity to bring in local involvement. Be strategic about this process.

  • Free stuff is good. Real good.

In my first project we reached budget (which was provided by me) at Stage 2 of 4. So we became creative about locating free stuff. Examples: propagating plants; contact tree companies for free mulch; ask volunteers for free plants. From my experience, the more people you share your project with, the more likely they will be willing to help. I had wonderful contributions from a local gardening club.

  • Community engagement is necessary for the long-term.

I’m impressed at how much community can be embraced around a garden. Not everyone can identify the plants or even know how to keep them alive, but a garden may be appreciated for the color of the wildflowers; the shade of the live oak; or the butterflies and bees busy moving in the sun. A garden provides a meditative space or an opportunity to sweat out your stress. There is something for everyone in a public gardening space. You just have to observe those within this space and move with it.

I believe in community projects, I have represented a gardening Yoda guiding others to understanding. In the end, it takes a village to make a community gardening space succeed.

“Many hands make light work.” ~ John Heywood

 

Regenerative Gardening Program

This month we are focusing on bees and Florida pollinating plants. Below are the schedules ’til the end of the year. The classes are free! Please consider joining me to learn more about the world we live in and for some fun hands-on activities.pumpkinsmindfulness-1holiday-1

Learning How to Say Goodbye

man in blue and brown plaid dress shirt touching his hair
Photo by Nathan Cowley on Pexels.com

I’m fully aware that today’s post may not resonate with everyone. It may dive further into the psyche than some of you are ready for or are even aware exists. But for those of you who are familiar and ready, this post may help you relate to your spiritual journey in another sense. And if you’re not familiar, take a chance. Perhaps this post will take you to a space you didn’t realize you were ready for.

I hope to transform something that can feel a little crazy and confusing into something slightly more tangible and worldly.

Many times when a person awakens, explores their spiritual life, or begins asking questions about their life’s purpose, they choose to make big changes in their life. Sometimes it’s a job change or a move, but for many it’s an inner change – a change to one’s perspective on how the world works and what a person needs and wants in life. This is personal and can vary from how people should treat each other, what is important in life to how you choose to live your life and where you choose to live it. Either way, these changes mean many times that you are leaving behind something, someone or some place.

At the core this is a loss.

We may not see it as a loss like we view a death. Yet, it’s still okay to give yourself the space and time to grieve for that loss (whatever it may be). Actually, it’s very healthy to do so.

It’s a chance to release and let go – a chance to say, “Goodbye.”

This concept is a bit philosophical, but stay with me.

To what are we saying goodbye?

In recent history, I have said ‘goodbye’ to a lot of things in my life. I reached a point where I needed to release things, people, and situations that no longer serve me in my life. Some of these things are physical – clothes I don’t wear anymore; books I’ve already read; well-worn shoes. You can read about my path to minimalism, which spurred this movement.

Other things aren’t tangible at all and live on a different plane.

For example, I have an entire document dedicated to saying goodbye to the old me. I’ve written to myself and it’s different versions. No, I’m not crazy or suffer from multiple personalities. But like all of us, I have parts of me that no longer serve me. For me, one is the scared little girl who comes out when I’m mad. She is not mature. She does not know how to handle her emotions. And she is mean – tear your eyes out, scream in your face kind of mean. You can imagine how unhealthy she is for me. I kindly told her that I no longer need her. I got this. Afterwards I felt lighter, more balanced and a little closer to peace. You see, she represented a fear I no longer needed to protect. That fear was being rejected for choosing to be an authentic version of myself.  And she’s been sabotaging relationships (which really means I have been sabotaging relationships.). I had to let this little girl go.

You may be thinking this exercise is crazy, silly, or not useful. But try it. No one has to read it. No one even has to know you wrote it. Write and delete it. Write and burn it (so healing). Write it and hold onto it. Tuck it away to read at another date. Either way, WRITE IT!

It’s a moment to acknowledge something uncomfortable about yourself and then take it further and allow yourself to sit in that feeling.

This takes courage. A lot of courage. Do not trivialize what you are tackling. It’s big. Be proud of yourself for having the courage to face this loss. It’s gonna be painful, but at the end you will find healing and peace. Guaranteed.

359491-J-K-Rowling-Quote-The-only-way-out-is-through

How many of us run from our emotions? How many of us are in denial that they even exist?

In a previous post on self-love I wrote about pulling all my junk out from under my bed. The metaphor reflects on the thought that just because you can’t see it, doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. And “the only way out is through.”

I know, I know sometimes the path through feels like a black hole in Hell. And you may feel completely lost, uncertain and confused. Guess what? THIS IS ALL NORMAL. And you can find ways to cope with this process.

First, label it for what it is: grief. Again, we’re referring to the loss of something while on a spiritual journey. I’m going to use the example of the loss in the perception of who you thought you should be; who your parent’s thought you should be; or who you were. This is a big loss. And one that can occur for everyone at some point in their life.

Imagine, you’re excited to become a new, healthier self; yet, something keeps blocking this flow. I believe it may be that you haven’t taken the time to grieve.

Let’s move through this process.

What are the stages of loss/grief?

  • Denial

You may be in denial that this past version of you didn’t mattered. It did.

  • Anger

You may be angry that you allowed yourself to live in that space for several years. Own that emotion. Then forgive yourself. In that moment or for all those years, that may have been all you were capable of handling.

  • Bargaining

Maybe you think you can let this past version of yourself creep out among certain friends or certain situations. How does this serve you?

  • Depression

This change is hard and overwhelming. Sit in these uncertainties.

  • Acceptance

This past version of you in harming healthier aspects of your life – aspects you want and need to succeed. It’s time to let go. To say, “Goodbye.”

This process can be painful and lengthy or take a matter of minutes. It depends on what is happening inside. It’s okay to be afraid. Many times this process triggers more. Each layer offers an opportunity to heal deeper. And all this is movement to more balance and peace in your life. It’s up to you how far you want to take it. You can do it today or wait until you feel more ready. Though, most often it hits at less convenient moments. Even then, sit in the process and let it unfold. You will thank yourself later. Give yourself permission to let go and say goodbye, and then watch yourself grow.

“It takes courage to grow up and become who you really are.” ― E.E. Cummings

Resources:

https://grief.com/the-five-stages-of-grief/

 

Community Food Forest: Stage 1

I’m happy to announce that Pineapple Acres kicked off National Clean-up Day by digging in at a community garden offered as an outdoor educational space. This project is one of those opportunities that I never anticipated and has grown into a wonderful collaboration with a local park. We plan to install a permaculture-based mini food forest with native Florida plants. This space will be used for our Mommy and Me Garden Club and our most recent program: Regenerative Gardening. It’s a space meant to integrate community members at all ages.

Today young volunteers from the park’s after-school project helped initiate our first phase, which was sweaty, hard work. We cleaned up our space; pruned overgrown trees, which we transformed into green manure; and laid down cardboard and organic materials, including: cow manure as a natural fertilizer and oak leaves. Once we finish clean up, we will set our design and begin installing plants – the fun part!

“Half the interest of a garden is the constant exercise of the imagination.”

~ Mrs. C.W. Earle

Learning What it Means to be Co-Dependent

woman looking at sea while sitting on beach
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Co-dependent. Ick…I hate that word.

Recently, I read a book entitled, “Co-Dependent No More,” by Melody Beattie. I hate that book too. Really hate that book.

If you’ve been following me for some time then you’re aware that I’m on a journey. It’s an awakening, an awareness, a dive into my spiritual body, and a self-discovering journey at full speed – sometimes it feels like a spiritual journey on steroids. It’s forced me to heal and grow in ways I didn’t know needed to happen. I haven’t fully disclosed all the details, and I only share what works for me and my audience. This post is uncomfortable for me. A vulnerable moment that I feel is important. It’s been a massive breakthrough on my journey and an awareness that I hope can help someone else.

So what is this word I hate so much?

According to Wikipedia, co-dependency is a controversial concept for a dysfunctional helping relationship where one person supports or enables another person’s addiction, poor mental health, immaturity, irresponsibility, or under-achievement.

According to “Co-dependent No More,” it’s a person who developed unhealthy coping mechanisms to deal with a loved one’s more serious issues.

Why do I hate this word so much?

Honestly, I’m ashamed.

I don’t drink excessively. I don’t do drugs. I choose to live a healthy lifestyle. I didn’t feel as if I was doing anything wrong, yet I suffered. It was such a subtle shift in my life, I didn’t realize I was suffering. Until one day a man I hardly knew saw it. He recognized something in me that I denied on the spot. I made up excuses for why my life was the way it was. That’s how co-dependency works, I’m not sure the co-dependent realizes it until they break.

Even then, I didn’t truly know what was wrong. I just knew something needed to change.

I had reached a point where things got turned so upside down I had to do something.

I decided to seek help from a therapist. I walked in thinking I was stressed dealing with other people’s problems. Now nine months later, I realized it’s been my issue all along. Oh, other’s have played their part, but I am no innocent. I taught people that it’s okay to use me, to abuse my responsible initiative and compassion, and then to pretend I meant nothing. But I’m not okay with this. I never have been. I’ve made so many decisions in my life based on other people’s emotions that I couldn’t discern what was mine and what was another’s. In recent history, I even played out another’s internal battle as if it was my own. I began to resent people, situations and myself. I became a ball of rage barely hanging onto my sanity.

co-dependent-2

It turns out I didn’t value myself enough to show others that I didn’t deserve to be treated poorly. Wait, how can someone do that to themselves? For me, it has comes down to love. I felt that if I didn’t do something, the other person wouldn’t love me. And then it became such a habit that I was choosing not to love myself. I spent many years believing this is how love worked. But it does not.

First, you deserve to be treated with compassion, understanding and love. No excuses. If a person doesn’t show you these attributes, they do not deserve you. Not only that, you need to treat yourself with these attributes. If you keep showing people it’s okay to treat you with any less, they will never change. And if they never change, again, they don’t deserve you. Because you are worthy of love.

So choose you. Choose to love yourself. Solve your own problems and let others make mistakes and solve their own problems. They will be okay. And, even better, you’ll be more at peace. I promise. Mind your own business. This is still a practice for me. Daily. It’s really difficult when you’re face to face with a familiar situation, and you can feel yourself shrink. In that moment, take that awareness and make your shift. I wake up every morning declaring to love me, and I feel the progress. It’s slow some days, but it’s happening. And, yes, it has to be a conscious choice EVERY DAY.

Then through the entire process, forgive yourself. Forgive yourself for not knowing any better, for suffering for so long, for letting other’s emotions control you. Because now you are more equipped. As am I, and my life has already changed.

I will not let anyone solve my problems. There is no pride involved. I got this. I need this. Exploring my own problems toward a resolution has helped me discover what I need and what I want. Those were questions I asked and truly did not know. But I now want to know. You see, I want to understand me to the point where I can say yes and know it’s me.

Sometimes it takes many tears, conflicts, blocks, challenges, disagreements to realize it’s not everyone else…it’s you. That awareness can take you to a space no one else can. A space of self-discovery, awareness and love. A place to grow. Don’t be afraid to go there. It’s powerful. Very powerful.

Remember you are the only one who has the power to make the shift. This journey is about having the courage to do it.

Resources:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Codependency