News for December @ Pineapple Acres:

The Regenerative Gardening Program has been cancelled for the month of December due to the busyness of holiday schedules. We will be back in the new year with a new name and many new topics!  Pineapple Acres is making a shift with the cooler weather for new outdoor mindfulness programs, including yoga at the beach! Join us every Saturday in the month of December; we are getting out in nature for yoga and meditation at the beach. Follow all Pineapple Acre events here. Stay informed with all our activities at pineappleacres.org. As always, contact me with any questions: stephkoeser@gmail.com or 813-504-3097. And remember, make every day better with mindfulness in nature!

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Monday Musings

Last Thursday marked the beginning of National Novel Writing Month. I began an epic fantasy novel five years ago. Recent new friends in my life have encouraged me to finish this dream, and I’ve decided to give myself the space to do so. I’m trading in blog writing this month for novel writing. Already five days in, I’d be happy to spend the month with my computer in a cabin the woods. My work, PTA meetings, and children won’t allow for that, but I WILL WRITE for one hour a day, and I’ll be happier for it. Below is a poem I sketched for a warm up writing exercise. If you would like to follow more of my poetry, I will be posting on my Instagram (steph_learningtogrowinflorida) and Facebook (Pineapple Acres) throughout the month. I will also sprinkle in excerpts of my novel for feedback and fun.

Until December,

Stephanie

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Designing the flower!

Not all classrooms have four walls.

The centerpiece of this community garden is a flower. It’s coming together a bit different than the original sketch, but I’m loving it and so are the kids! I’ve already planted cabbage, onions, broccoli, cauliflower and carrots with an after-school green team. We still have pruning to complete on existing trees, and I continue moving my black tarps to kill all the weeds. In the next two weeks, we are going to make the full installation. I am very excited!

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Discover Mindfulness in Nature

Please join us in November to experience a deeper level of connection in nature. The classes are free! This month we will be planting and creating our community garden. Check out the progress here. Things are coming together! We’ve even recruited an after-school green team.mindfulness-1

Learning What it Means to be Connected

To me, being connected can be defined in one word: mindfulness. Whether it’s a connection to nature, your career, relationships, yourself, conscious movement in mindfulness will help deepen any experience. This means slowing down to breathe in the moment and avoid rushing through.

What better way to experience mindfully living than while on vacation?

 

Vacation fosters mindful movement – a space to experience with all senses. A person on vacation usually slows down. Certain aspects of life are shifted. For me that includes: no alarm clock (sometimes I need one to be sure I catch an early-morning flight); no pets to feed; no work; no school craze, homework and car lines; I eat out, which means someone else does the dishes and cooks. Vacation creates a chance to detach from stress and daily chaos and to purposely reconnect.

I recently visited the United Kingdom (UK). (In case you missed my debut to the UK last fall, you can read it here.) To say it simply: I LOVE THE UK. It’s a place I feel at home. The UK inspires me with it’s romantic castles, haunting historical architecture, poetic train rides and cooler, damp weather. I easily imagine a permanent home with a crackling fire and Tennyson’s words filtering the steady stream of rain.

Don’t worry I do know what a cold, wet English rain feels like with squishy shoes when you are blocks from your flat. I also know what a crowded weekend train from Oxford feels like. I stood for the entire hour with all the other travelers. I also crammed myself with the rest of the morning rush on the Underground. And somehow this reality DOES NOT change how I feel about the UK. Because there is connection in every moment, and recent history has proved the uncomfortable moments are the ones to pay attention to.

I’ve never had difficulty finding awareness in my surroundings. I’m always very conscious of my physical surroundings. But I haven’t always been aware my emotional body.

 

So how do I feel in those uncomfortable moments?

First, riding a train in London is such a familiar feat everyone gets comfortable and reads. Not a cellphone. Not even an e-book. A REAL BOOK. That made me smile. People talk to each other. Complete strangers have conversations.

There is a relief to knowing you’re on the right train heading in the right direction. It’s a moment to take a deep breath and relax.

Those moments reminded me how to stay connected to who I am and who I am becoming. I used this opportunity to continued to find deeper connection with my needs, wants and feelings. And a deeper connection with myself cultivates deeper connection to the experience.

How did I cultivate that connect while on vacation?

Self-awareness:

The UK surrounds me in a life I find comforting. It was Autumn (my favorite season), and it actually felt like a season I remembered as a child. The UK is where many great writers emerged – a subject I studied in college. (People actually know who Elizabeth Gaskell is AND they can list her books.) And the English garden is a must see and smell – ALL THE ROSES. It’s a moment to fully immerse in what I love, which is, in many ways, who I am.

Self-care:

Every day I did yoga. Many times it was in the kitchen of my flat. Sometimes it was in nature. I also sat and meditated. My favorite spot was the one pictured above. It was a sunny spot in a crowded city center in Oxford. The noise didn’t bother me. The moment still held peace.

Silence:

I took advantage of moments of silence for reflection and to just breath in the experience. A good experience should be given the gift of savoring with all the senses.

“The journey changes you; it should change you. It leaves marks on your memory, on your consciousness, on your heart, and on your body. You take something with you. Hopefully, you leave something good behind.” – Anthony Bourdain

How do you connect while on vacation or holiday? How can you remain in those moments to stay grounded in who you are?