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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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?
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)
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.
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.
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?
You may be in denial that this past version of you didn’t mattered. It did.
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.
Maybe you think you can let this past version of yourself creep out among certain friends or certain situations. How does this serve you?
This change is hard and overwhelming. Sit in these uncertainties.
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
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.
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.