braiding a journey…

_DSC7667Sweetgrass braids, Hierochloe odorata.

It has been too long since I’ve added to this blog.  I’ve been following another path on the journey and earning some credentials along the way.  Yet it’s now time to braid the seemingly different paths into the meaningful life I seek; the stillness I need to connect with others, often practiced through photography, writing and deep-listening between people, my respect and wonder for the beauty of life through all its diversities, and the deeper desire to craft something empowering with people to support our well-being on this small planet.

The time between has fed me and brought me closer to knowing strength through connecting my mind, heart and hands.  Through my Science in a Changing World (SICW) graduate work and extended practice, I’ve come to appreciate that my original inquiry is deeply rooted in my quest to understand my own connection with nature in the context of my life purpose and work. And I have been and continue to be on a journey framed in working to support exploration and change at the individual level of awareness rather than the bigger scale of the environmental movement. Yet I’ve also come to understand that the power of change is held within each of us.

My path these last three years has allowed me to spend time on my development as a leader/mentor of people I work with while also honoring my personal development as a reflective practitioner and action researcher. And I’ve honored the deeper processes of personal narrative creation to support that inquiry because I believe it’s the connective tissue that builds empathy and support for risk-taking rather than a weakness lacking academic or scientific rigor.  Stories are the structural roots of our learning, ever working to slowly reveal and shape new awareness in the way that flowing water gradually reshapes a rock.  Experiences we once saw as broken limbs on our trees are now gifts in our own personal development. In tree physiology these wounds compartmentalize rather than heal; they are always part of the tree, but hidden from surface awareness as calluses grow to cover scars. Only later during times of stress by wind may these wounds become apparent again, a journey of tension that need not split the wood.

With this time of support to build my own reflective practice, I have been able to return to a question that has been following me for years.  How can I better understand the complexity of biodiversity while attending to cultural diversity?  What might that look like in our landscapes and lives?  What gaps are we not seeing and what biases are we blind to?  How do we support individual and collective well-being?  These will be questions I will continue to explore through these braids.

My challenge ahead is to continue to nurture the right seeds of community and the stillness of the soil for my replenishment after these three years of intense focus. Another challenge is to not allow the past narrative of my experience in public horticulture to frame what is in front of me today. I need to craft or join a supportive community of fellow journeyers and continue to practice the tools I have gained in the SICW program, in my workplace, and personal life. I am intensely aware that the journey is the gift and that the paths and actions to follow will become apparent if only I attend to the stillness and listen.


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