From the moment Spring arrived, I have felt the pull of the outdoors. I have been beckoned in my spirit to come closer to the Earth, to bury my hands in her soil, and to take notice of her sweetly scented breeze. In fact, it was these feelings that led me to write the Element of Connection Series.
I have always been drawn to nature. And though I practice cardiology in my nursing career, I originally spent years in self-study of herbal medicine and plant recognition in rural Jamaica. Despite this obvious calling toward natural methods of healing, I opted to follow a career path that favored financial security. Nonetheless, this part of me has steadily been experiencing a reawakening and to support that, I have to be really intentional about the relationship I have with Nature. Like any other relationship, chemistry can be organic but a connection requires intentional action.
So, why should we care about our relationship with Nature, in the first place? Well, last I checked we all live on the same planet. And while our day to day schedules can easily be rooted in our economic system, we experience every bit of our daily lives as a result of the life-giving forces of this Earth and its natural rhythms – from the sheets on our beds, to water to drink and bathe, to food on our plates, the sunshine and rain, and the air we breathe. If self-care is all the rage, consider a connection to Nature a very real part of that. Caring for her is an act of sustaining and nurturing oneself.
Additionally, Nature can be a great teacher. She has a way of reminding us of who we are and showing us ourselves in the absolute purest of light. When I see myself through her eyes, I am radiant. I am one with everything around me. I am barefoot and free, wild and colorful. In my most natural state, yet I feel my most adorned. I am a Goddess, a Healer. The gift of sight through her lens is sufficient for me, additional reasons to commune with her are lagniappe. But in case you desire more…
She reminds us of our mortality – with her coming and going of seasons, the cycles of dormancy, and rebirth. A cue that experiencing a real or perceived loss does not have to be the end for us.
She slows us down. Urgency and distractions fade in her presence. Natural rhythms of life prevail. And our sense of overall wellbeing can be restored.
And Nature is probably the greatest display of surrender that I know. I remember a storm that came through Jamaica years ago. The rain and winds were relentless. As I sat on the porch, I watched as the biggest trees outside bent and swayed with the rhythms of the weather. I felt so connected to those trees at that moment. There was no way that the trees could pretend the wind wasn’t as powerful as it was. To resist would only result in the tree splitting in two. To survive, they had no choice but to bend. In this way, they could remain rooted and pull themselves back up as many times as they could. Little did I know what I was witnessing was a foreshadowing of times to come; showing me that surrender does not mean defeat.
I have felt this connection to Nature since my late teenage years. Prior to that my strongest connection to the elements was mostly to water. I still have times when I feel the need to deepen that connection. I feel that way now. And I sense that many of us do. So here are some of the things I have been doing to guide me back to the Mother of us all.
Yep, you heard it first here folks. Captain obvious states, well, the obvious. To commune with Nature, we have to invite her in. And we have to show up. The simplest implementation of this, for me, has been to trade my office and desk for the porch and swing. I grab my computer, my work, some incense, a cup of tea/coffee and water, stretch out on my porch swing or sit at the bistro table and get to work.
Once Spring arrived, this became a completely irresistible option for me and I placed a high priority on creating a haven for outdoor living that I would want to spend more and more time in. So I headed to the local nursery and purchased some annuals and herbs to freshen up the planters on my porch. I also gave the bench, the table, and chairs a refresh with new cushions and pillows, which made it so much more inviting for outdoor dining as well. This simple decision to work outside more often had a domino effect. It ultimately led me to the soil – and I couldn’t be happier about that. My spirit longed to feel the dirt in my hands and to facilitate life again through the planting of tiny plant babies.
From there, I started planning the garden and landscaping for our backyard. I will share the drawings for that with you soon. The new fence will be installed mid-month. Then planting can begin in early fall. But I’ve purchased and potted many of the plants to give them a head start.
Recently, my husband and I have been intentional about taking walks together in the evenings. I enjoy this time with him so much. Now admittedly, this isn’t exactly time spent communing WITH Nature, rather communing with Jonathan IN nature. See, there’s a huge park with nature paths and plenty of very old trees, natural landscapes, and the local zoo just 3 blocks from us. There is also a 48-acre cemetery 5 blocks from us that we have started exploring. I know it may sound weird to some, but it’s beautifully landscaped and even has a greenhouse that’s open to the public. Plus, we’ve been paying our respects to some of Atlanta’s influential, yet in some ways forgotten African American citizens.
Additional ways of being outdoors to commune in nature could be:
The difference between being ‘in’ and being ‘with’ Nature is less about our surroundings and more about our mindset. Being ‘in’ Nature presents a doorway. Being ‘with’ her is like being invited beyond that doorway, into her home for a while. And like with human relationships, we don’t typically invite in those who don’t respect us, don’t listen to us, and who make no effort to connect with us. She is not very different in that regard. The more we tune in to her spirit, her vibes, the more she reveals to us.
I think the first step here (for me, anyway) is to turn my awareness to her. Relinquish the distractions and give her my undivided attention. By ‘her’, I mean anything in nature. A bird, a tree, a rock, a plant. If anything in nature grabs your attention, be it a leaf falling from a tree or a puddle of rainwater, take a moment to acknowledge the life force that is present in it. Attempt to see yourself as one with it, as no better but as its equal.
Fortuitously, as I am writing this, the loveliest butterfly just perched on my windowsill. It’s has been there for the last 15+ minutes. I desired to approach it because I don’t see its’ presence as coincidental (admittedly, I referred to ‘it’ as a ‘she’). In approaching, I tend to go inward, check my intentions first and make sure they are pure; try to alleviate any anxiety or haste in my steps or my vibrations. Then I ask for permission to approach. I speak to her; try tapping into the vibes the butterfly is sharing with me. I ask her what she’s trying to reveal to me. I may or may not say these things out loud. I believe our intentions and thoughts are communicated, in these instances, just as well if not better via action and vibration as compared to words.
I do the same with plants, especially before harvesting any of them for my personal use. For instance, I ask for permission to harvest herbs from my garden before I cut them. And if I need the plant’s medicinal power, I share that intention with the plant. I ask if it’s ready and willing. I ask it to show me which leaves or fronds would be most potent and willing to give of itself to the benefit of another. Additionally, my plants all know me before I ever ask it to offer itself to me because I tend to them and ask them to show me what they need to be at their best. I literally ask them to communicate with me.
Like I mentioned earlier, communing with Nature is about mindset. We don’t need huge expanses of land and wilderness around us to do this, though I am not discouraging this. Simply put, we can do it in the privacy of our homes by bringing plant life indoors and being intentional with our relationship to them. We can spend time at an open window or on a patio allowing the breeze to caress our skin or gazing up at the stars in the night sky.
Perhaps stepping out in the rain and feeling the drops on my face might be a personal favorite. Growing up in New Orleans, I have seen my share of storms. As a little girl, I would go outside when the sky became dark and storms cloud would be swirling above. I’d marvel at the lightning and listen for the thunder to roll. I remember taking an umbrella with me, hoping to be carried away by the strong winds. Yes, I was little and my thoughts of being carried away irrational. But I’ve always seen the magic in these storms – they would draw me outside to them with a very certain magnetism.
‘Connection’ is a grand theme in the aesthetic of my designs. And I feel that the more connection we attempt with Nature, the more connected we inevitably feel to ourselves. Because, like I mentioned earlier, Mother Nature has a way of reminding us of who we are and showing us ourselves in the absolute purest of light.
Please, stay tuned as the next installment to this series will focus on enhancing our connection to our living environments – namely our homes, though the elements we’ll discuss could be applied to any space we spend a considerable amount of time in.
Thank you for going on this journey with me, friends. Until next time…