Still I rise

Today I yield this blog to the Congresswoman from the 14th District of NYC, and her sisters of color in the U.S. House of Representatives. Rep. Barbara Lee referenced a verse from this famous Maya Angelou poem and during these difficult times, I think we can all find solace and inspiration within it.

You can read the poem in its entirety here.

Ally vs Accomplice, in the plant world

Repost: I really appreciate this image shared today via social media by the Equitable Giving Circle and @BrittHawthorne. I’ll admit – there’s a reason I’m a gardener. I’m all about the eye sense and I’ve always been a hard-core visual learner. I know that we can’t reduce complex topics like antiracism into cute little pixels but I find it tremendously helpful to visually check in and to “check” ourselves as we move forward in our individual + collective antiracism work.

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Mindful eating – connecting with our food system

This short video was inspired by exercises from Dr. Jan Chozen Bay’s book Mindful Eating, which I had the pleasure of experiencing during a mindful eating weekend retreat at Great Vow Monastery and also at a professional conference sponsored by UCSD Center for Mindfulness.

Mindful awareness is our passage into this moment; this one precious moment that contains much of the information we need regarding our food, as well as our body’s preferences, hunger, and satiety (fullness) cues. Clinicians call this our “internal wisdom” or “appetite awareness,” but we might as well call it our true nature.

Mindful eating is defined as being fully present during our experiences with food, while holding compassionate awareness of these bodies, which we feed.

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Dismantling and Rebuilding

My family began packing in the past month as we prepare to move to a new city. It’s been an interesting process thus far to go through what we’ve accumulated over the past five years of living in our current house, and also to be more intentional about which of our belongings we’ll take with us into new spaces.

What truly “belongs” to us? What represents who we want to be, moving forward?

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Future horticultural therapy leaders?

Check out the following video as well as a description of the H.E.A.L.T.H. (Healing Environments Ambassadors Learning Through Horticulture) program from a post on Instagram today by the Chicago Botanic Garden. This kind of program gives me hope about the direction that horticultural education, and horticultural therapy in particular, might increasingly take in the future.

From the CBG’s website:

“The Chicago Botanic Garden’s Healing Environments Ambassadors Learning Through Horticulture (HEALTH) internship launched in April 2019. The program connects high school students, their schools, and families to the health-promoting benefits of nature. Over the course of a spring-to-spring year, including an eight-week paid summer leadership intensive, students learned about therapeutic horticulture, videography, environmental stewardship, and landscape design. A new session starts in spring 2021.”

Right now, I’m knee-deep in Plant Science classes at another botanical garden and early in horticultural therapy (HT) training, although I’m already a healthcare professional. You know how I love food and edible gardens. In the best of all worlds, HT’s would partner with local community leaders so we have a program like this in every city (for those that don’t have one already).

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Change is a’ coming

This website will receive an additional overhaul over the summer to shed outdated blog entries and the influences from my former psychotherapist days, to focus primarily upon education related to mindful food literacy, therapeutic horticulture, and food justice. My language keeps shifting because as I do my own work and witness who is speaking up – and who isn’t, I’m realizing that old identities, roles, and organizations with which I’ve affiliated no longer serve the antiracist cause – which is also my cause, as an ally and also as the mother of a Black daughter.

Stay tuned.

In the meantime, as many of my personal and horticultural social media feeds have went back to “normal,” I’m heartened by the protesters that still walk the streets of my current and soon-to-be new cities (Portland, Oregon, and Seattle, Washington, respectively). Here’s a list of the progress made, in the past few weeks, courtesy of the Movement for Black Lives:

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Commitment

Many large organizations and businesses have released statements of solidarity in recent weeks. Others have remained conspicuously silent. I’ve also witnessed a frequent challenge to such supportive statements, along the lines of “yes, I hear your white words. But what are you doing, specifically, to remedy wrongs and support our Black communities?”

In other words, is this performative allyship while #Black Lives Matter is trending?

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Black Health Matters

I’ve committed to centering BIPOC and especially Black voices, now and ongoing, but I’m briefly pausing to forward on this digital storytelling video I just discovered by University of Washington public health students, which discusses the health inequities inherent in our country’s response (or lack of response) to those with COVID-19, especially within our communities of color. This information is directly relevant to the racial justice issues many of us have been discussing in recent days. The video was shared by University of Washington School of Nursing Professor Josephine Ensign, who presented at a Narrative Medicine conference I attended several years ago and is doing impressive work in our local communities.

As a healthcare professional and as the mother of a Black daughter, I find the statistics on Black maternal health and existing health inequities within the Black community deeply disturbing. I continue to educate myself and I have a long way to go, but I appreciate resources like this to guide me in my efforts to support policy and systemic change.

Today’s letter to my white friends

Today, in the midst of other responsibilities, I’ve been struggling to write this post because I felt compelled to continue speaking up. However, I find that a clear pattern is emerging – what I think I’m going to say, and what I try to say, and what I ultimately end up saying, are often quite different.

Instead, I’m going to share the second half of what I did write because I do believe it’s helpful and might serve as guidance for others.

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On Gratitude

I’m a lover of Sun magazine; their collection of poetry and prose continues to astound me. In one of this month’s essays, a series of letters exchanged between Ross Gay and Noah Davis touched me deeply with their expression of intimate, loving masculinity. I recommend you check it out, especially since Sun removed their paywall temporarily and all of these great pieces are free to read (although do subscribe, if you haven’t already!).

I’ve seen a few of Ross Gay‘s poems circulating lately, so here’s an excerpt from Catalog of Unabashed Gratitude, which calls out to be savored and taken into your bones:

“…thank you/the ancestor who loved you/before she knew you/by smuggling seeds into her braid for the long/journey, who loved you/before he knew you by putting/a walnut tree in the ground, who loved you/before she knew you by not slaughtering/the land…”

Just like Gay’s essay, my heart ached the entire time I read it. You can find the poem in its entirely on the PoetryFoundation.org website.