How to find your plant ally

I know many of you are feeling heartache and perhaps even helplessness right now. There's so much we need to change about the way we live—and this week's release of the latest climate report from the UN's IPCC is a reminder of that. The results are not surprising. We have to act now or we're stuffed. And we know what needs to happen. But many of us don't know how to help or where to start. It seems too big a problem.

But we can all make a difference—in our own unique way.

I worry social media homogenises our response to situations. We need to stay informed and be inspired, and the online world is a wonderful place for that. But we also need time to sit with our own thoughts. We won’t discover how our personal interests and talents align with what society needs if we let the ideas of others infiltrate more than their fair share of our minds. Unique, creative and innovative solutions need time to simmer.

I suspect your heart knows what you need to do. So rather than look outwards for inspiration—look inwards.

I know that can be hard to do with all the information being thrown at us these days, and with all the thoughts racing through your mind—but having a plant ally can help.

A plant ally is a plant that you have a close relationship with, much like a close friend. They are especially wonderful at helping you to tune in to your intuition and find clarity.

Do you have one already? Would you like one?

Right now my closest plant ally is nettle. I sit with her most days, and I am always amazed at the clarity I find.

Nettle plant allyI not only sit with my plant allies - I also eat them if they are edible ;-)

A step-by-step guide to meeting your plant ally

1. STEP AWAY FROM THE SCREEN. Turn off your phone, or at least put it on silent.

2. Grab a notebook and pen (a thermos of tea is also wise) and head out for a wander. Perhaps there’s a forest nearby or a patch of remnant bushland tucked away at the back of a park. Worst case, depending on restrictions or where you live, simply wander around your neighbourhood. It is amazing the number of plants that can thrive in cracks in the footpath. As you head out, say out loud (you can do it under your breath if you don’t want to look crazy): “I am going to meet my plant ally.”

3. Meander, focussing on your senses. The smells, sights and sounds will all help to drag you into the present moment. Each time your mind wanders to the past or the future, bring it back to the present by reminding yourself you are going to meet your plant ally.

4. Keep an eye out for a plant that looks especially appealing. It will ideally be wild, not planted. It may or may not be beautiful, but it will appear very attractive to you. You may even doubt its interest and keep on walking—but if it is your ally you’ll sense it calling you back. Trust me. You’ll know.

5. Sit with your plant. Settle in on the earth beside it (or as close as you can sensibly sit for those who may have fallen for a weed growing out of a crack in the footpath).

6. Introduce yourself to the plant out loud. Tell them who you are, where you come from and what you are doing sitting here with them. 

7. Make an offering. Plant spirits love gifts. Sing a song, recite a poem, or tell them a story.

8. Then ask the plant, "What can I do to help reverse climate change? What is my unique role in fixing this mess?" or whatever question you would like help with. Plants want to help—we simply need to ask.

9. Rotate through your senses. Get out of your head. Focus on your plant. Look at it closely. Smell it. Feel it. Taste it if you know it is edible. It is your single-pointed focus on the present moment that is needed to get you into the right frame of mind. Each time a thought about the future or the past arises, kindly let it know you will deal with it later. Nudge it away by returning to your senses. You are here to sit with your plant ally.

You may find an idea or a thought pops into your mind. Jot it down if you want to remember it—and then return to your sensing. Perhaps you’ll find yourself in a daydream. Or you may suddenly know something that you didn’t a moment earlier (this is what happens for me.). Or you might see a symbol or have a vision. Sit IN THE MOMENT for as long as feels right.

10. When you are finished sensing, start writing. How do you feel? What did you notice? Did you receive any messages? Write even if you don’t feel you received guidance. Sometimes the writing is how you receive.

11. It is a good idea to research more about your plant later, so if you don’t know its name, take some pictures. Get close-ups of any flowers or fruit. The Inaturalist app is a great tool for getting help with identification.

12. Say thank you to the plant. Plant spirits appreciate thank you’s as much as they do gifts. Offer another gift. Another song or perhaps collect rubbish.

Are you game?

If you do give it a go, I would LOVE to hear how you found the experience. Whi is your plant ally? 


Nature memoir Greenhood: the delight in being dormant, will be out 19th November 2021.

"I hope Greenhood inspires you to create a clearing in your life—a dormant moment to imbibe in your essence—to rest, reflect, and revise, so that you can emerge renewed and with clarity, knowing exactly what it is you wish to cultivate." Tricia D. Walker. 

Here in the southern hemisphere, we are at the midpoint between winter solstice and spring equinox—early spring—the birth of a new solar year. Embracing nature's seasonal energies, now is the ideal time for new projects to germinate. And so it is that I finally let this little project of mine unfurl....

 

TriciaDWalker_nature_memoir_Greenhood

Greenhood: the delight in being dormant, will be out 19th November 2021.

 

Greenhood is a nature memoir about discovering the delight in being dormant.

It is a permission slip to slow down and double-check you are on the right path.

I was longing for a deeper connection with the natural world. Inspired by the likes of Henry David Thoreau and his time in a small cottage in the woods near Walden Pond, Cheryl Strayed and her Pacific Crest Trail hike, Claire Dunn and her year without matches, and Maya Ward and her pilgrimage along the Yarra River, I would have loved to head to the hills. But being in the depths of mothering, that wasn’t an option.  

So rather than step away from my life, I stepped deeper into it.

I declared a midlife ‘gap year’ and focused on living life rather than earning a living.

Nature seeped into the space left behind by paid work. Anxiety and overwhelm disappeared with my salary.

I tuned in to the natural world and learnt to dwell in between, to linger between one life stage and the next.

These ‘pauses’ are just as important as all the ‘doing’. Nature knows that. You don’t see her trying to bloom all year round.

MOTHER NATURE KNOWS THE TIME WE LAY DORMANT IS JUST AS IMPORTANT AS WHEN WE BLOOM

 

If you would like to be notified when pre-orders open, or of book tour events (touch wood, I’ll be out and about hosting little Inside Time Outside Retreat gatherings), you can subscribe to my e-newsletter.


On taking a breather (my midlife gap year)

Two and a half years; that’s a long time between blog posts. I declared 2017 my ‘midlife gap year’—a year off to focus on living life rather than earning a living. A year to pause and ponder before moving onto the second half of my life. I embraced all the ‘r’ words: retreat, reflection, reevaluation, rejuvenation, and restoration. I found the whole experience so worthwhile, my midlife gap year extended to two years. It took that long for my pause to pay off, for me to reemerge—restored, renewed and ready.

Small school visits tiny home 1Liv’s small school visits to measure our tiny home for a maths lesson. 

I know stepping away from paid work is a luxury, but it was made possible in part by us living in a tiny home.

Small school visits tiny home 2

We’ve been living in our shipping container home for just over three years, but the approval paperwork has only recently been finalised. Our tiny home is finally "suitable for occupation/use." That we were living in our tiny home illegally is probably another reason I was quiet in this space. I was uncomfortable writing about our tiny home life when we could have been asked to move out at any time. But now that we’re legal I suspect I’ll find my tiny home voice.

Small school visits tiny home 3

It was hard to stop doing, and simply be. In the beginning, I’d cringe each time someone asked me “What do you do?” But by the end I responded with confidence, “Right now, I’m taking a midlife gap year.” If they seemed interested, I’d chat about what I did and what I am going to do, but I was no longer embarrassed about the not doing. We need to respect and normalise the breathers in between.

The breather gifted me clarity about where I am going and what I am trying to achieve. At first, I worried my taking time off paid work was selfish, but I realise now it has helped me to be self-less. I know I’m on the right path, and have become far more patient about how long it will take me to get where I’m going.

I’ve continued writing these past few years. I’m writing a memoir about nature connection. I didn’t feel like writing elsewhere while I poured everything into that. But the end is almost in sight and I’m looking forward to writing elsewhere again.

Nature connection and Shamanic Womancraft 1A few bits and pieces I collected over my year-long four seasons journey with the School of Shamanic womancraft. Each object reminds me of a lesson.

The first half of my breather I focussed on not doing. I retreated and reflected. I created white space and then turned to my intuition to fill it. I found myself studying with the School of Shamanic Womancraft where I discovered that wonderful things happen when we live in sync with the cycles and seasons of life and nature—in particular, when we embrace the dark aspects of those natural rhythms. The moon waxes and wanes. She has a dark phase—a time for retreat and reflection. The seasons come and go. We have autumn—a time for release and harvest. Then comes winter—a time to rest and snuggle. The cycles influence us whether or not we are paying attention. And if we don’t pay attention, if we don’t pause in the darkness, we pay for it.

Autumn Inside Time Outside Nature Connection for women Newcastle NSW 1

Since stepping out of my midlife gap year I’ve been hosting seasonal nature connection gatherings for women in the Newcastle region. The winter series starts soon if you are interested in joining us. More information here

Autumn Inside Time Outside Nature Connection for women Newcastle NSW 2

Autumn Inside Time Outside Nature Connection for women Newcastle NSW 3

Autumn Inside Time Outside Nature Connection for women Newcastle NSW 4

I’m also hosting two gatherings with Milan Dhiiyaan at our place in the Hunter Valley this weekend (8 & 9th June). An important aspect of nature connection for me is learning about the culture of those indigenous to this land; about how they connect to country. On Saturday we’ll carve our own clapsticks and on the Sunday Wiradjuri & Wailwaan woman Fleur Magick Dennis will teach the women how to connect to Mother Earth through ceremony, while the men and children make a gunya (Aboriginal shelter). And if you join us, you'll get to have a peek into our tiny home :-)

While I was on hiatus, little eco footprints celebrated its 10th birthday. So I thought it was about time I wrote an about page. Only took me a decade ;-)


How to create the time to live YOUR fair and sustainable life?

Your fair and sustainable life

Almost a year ago I wrote here that I was going to step away from this space for a month - to focus on home and start the new year with a calm mind and a clear vision.

It seems one month wasn't enough. This space became one of the many casualties of me ruthlessly clearing the clutter from my schedule. A move that was necessary for me to move even closer to living the life that I aspire to.

We can't have and do everything - we have to choose. And I chose to focus on home for a while.

I practiced what I preach. I simplified my schedule, scheduled in white space, said goodbye to contaminated time, and focused on doing whats important - not urgent

Little eco footprints tny home 1

Speaking of whats important. We finally finished and moved into our tiny home. Here's a sneak peak. 

Little eco footprints tiny home 3

Little eco footprints tiny home 2

I'll share more in the new year. For now I wanted to pop back in briefly to let you know about a free workshop I'll be delivering tomorrow at the Newcastle Fair Share Festival.

The full program looks incredible; teenagers building a tiny home, loads of upcycling workshops, alternatives to consumerism and consumption, and urban farming. 

I'm facilitating a free two hour workshop on 'Creating time to live YOUR fair and sustainable life'. I'd love to see you there. 

I've missed this space and am looking forward to returning in the new year. 

 


Slowing down to start the new year with calm and clarity

Homegrown_Sunflowers_little_eco_footprints

I'm taking our calm and connected countdown to Christmas a step further - and am stepping away from the online world for December.

I want to focus on home and start the new year with a calm mind and a clear vision. 

Sunfower_and_bees_Little_eco_footprints

A thought to leave you with - especially relevant at this time of year:

Our presence is the best gift we can give our loved ones - particularly our children.

Our presence tells them they are noticed, important and loved more than any present ever could.

I'll be back in the New Year. 

Wishing you a calm and connected festive season. xx

My weekly columns will continue to appear in Monday's Newcastle Herald until the end of the year - I just won't republish them here. 

This Monday I wrote about supporting local garlic growers. I included a list of local Hunter region garlic growers.

edited to add: I've just realised half of the Hunter garlic growers were dropped off the article. The list should have also included: 

Moore Wollumbi Garlic
Pokolbin Purple
Patrice Newell Garlic
Stellar Garlic

For those of you outside the Hunter region - you can find lists of Australian garlic growers here and here