I have always been deeply moved and inspired by nature. When I was a little girl (age 3-4), I used travel outside in the early morning, Bert and Ernie slippers on, and spend time in the garden, around the flowers and the dewy lawn. I had a favorite apple tree that my mom strung a simple rope ladder on so I could climb in easily. I spent hours and hours in the that tree. When we moved to a new subdivision as kindergarten started, my biggest problem with the new place was that there were no established trees for me to climb in.
Bright sunrises over snow-capped peaks brought tears to my eyes. On the school bus I’d watch the wetlands for the return of the red-winged black birds each spring and know that warmer weather was on its way. I would pick up trash on the side of the road instinctually and become anxious in cities, feeling suffocated by too much cement.
I always knew that my purpose was closely tied to the health and healing of the planet. But the way in which I ultimately did that came as a bit of a surprise.
In high school, I developed school recycling programs, created an outdoor adventure club and spent extra time with my environmental science teacher, learning as much as I could. In college, I majored in Resource Conservation and graduated with a Bachelor’s of Science Degree with two minors, in Wilderness Studies and Women’s Studies. My goal in graduate school was to pursue the connection between women’s health and the health of the planet, mirroring the work by some of my favorite eco-feminist philosophers, but apparently that path was too “social” or “philosophical” for my Environmental Science master’s program, and I instead wrote a thesis on how to effectively connect regular citizens to scientific research projects so that more people could experience the magic and beauty of connecting to the natural world. I received a Master’s in Science degree for that effort.
After I graduated, I worked as a water quality specialist for the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary, where I led several citizen science-based programs to monitor local streams and storm drains. The work was interactive and fun, and the data we collected was used by the cities in Monterey Bay to make management decisions.
Still, I was unfulfilled. There seemed to be something missing for both me as a person and for those I worked with. While I loved the science, it felt like there was a distinct separation from the work we did to the actual healing of the planet. We did science, which is by nature not very touchy-feely. It provided accurate and fairly rigid information, which was then used to make more rigid standards of management. There was no feeling. There was no caring. There was no gentle touch, no gratefulness, no real sense of connection. While the science was good and effective in its goal to change management, it did little or nothing to provide a bridge through which people could connect to nature in a way that expressed and embodied primal belonging. And that connection was what I wanted to create.
Throughout my early 20’s, I would get visions, day dreams and night time dreams about creating an earth-based healing center – a place where people could retreat to in order to heal and connect back with themselves through nature-based activities. While this still has yet to happen, the dream has fueled much of my pursuit of education and training in the healing arts.
When I made my professional switch from environmental work to healing work, a difficult and tumultuous time which you can read more about here, there was mental confusion but soul-level contentedness. For the first time, I actually felt like I was living my purpose. I also felt that I had moved closer to my goal of connecting people with the planet in order to heal.
Although I have only very quietly made this known, one of the driving factors behind my healing work is for planetary healing. Healing, as I define it, is the process of coming home to yourself. It’s the process of removing the programs, belief systems, “should’s” and doubts that keep you from living fully in your power. As we heal, as we come home to ourselves, we find ourselves fully situated – as spirits in human bodies on planet earth. The essence of personal healing is of coming home to who we are and how we are connected. As we recognize our connections, we can now see so clearly our intrinsic relationship with the planet.
I love science. I think we should do more of it. I think we should consider it a standard, a base from which to guide our actions and management decisions as a species that depends on the planet for survival. And I also think it’s not enough. People like to reject science when it doesn’t suit their needs, their lifestyle or their religion. Science is often perceived as elitist and, indeed, a lot of scientists wield information like gods and look down upon the ignorant. Science is a tool. It is not a substitute for direct perception, for forming a true connection to the earth. This is where healing comes in.
I have never had a problem with science and spirituality sharing space together. They both have their place. I see my work as a sort of bridge between scientific information and spiritual wisdom and healing. There is no conflict here. I can hold one in each hand and neither pull me off of center.
On this earth day, I give such thanks to the beauty of nature. I give thanks for my intrinsic and inherent connection to the earth, for the healing and guidance I find there, for the lessons I have learned and for how my work is infused with nature as purpose. I hope that as you embrace your healing journey, which always includes grounding, you look to the earth between your feet and feel your connection to this beautiful planet.