It’s Not Just You: Pandemic Depression is Real

The first step is acknowledging what we’re collectively experiencing, although our individual experiences and histories do vary. Sharing this article, and check out the additional self-care tips I’ll recommend on my Instagram and Facebook feeds in coming days (as a soon-to-be-fully-retired clinical psychologist but still an ongoing health educator), if you don’t have other resources.

Take good care and be kind to your suffering selves, friends.

Beyond this bite: Mindful Eating, Food Literacy, and Therapeutic Horticulture

In earlier posts, I’ve unpacked the definition of mindful eating as it relates to our personal experience and the larger food system, briefly discussed the concept of food literacy, and encouraged us all to play with growing our own food – whether it’s on a window sill, in a patio container, or in a front yard garden. In addition, be sure to visit the Resources page for links on all of these topics, and check back frequently for updates.

I’ve spent much of the past twenty years introducing group and individual psychotherapy clients to mindful eating education and in my free time, digging deeply into my own edible gardens. In early Fall 2020, I’ll be releasing the first of a series of low-cost educational videos on topics about which I’m deeply passionate. We’ll begin with Beyond This Bite: Mindful Eating, Food Literacy, and Therapeutic Horticulture.

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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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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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Balance Due

Support with your money or your action, support Black voices, support with your bodies and your hearts and your votes and your anti-racism work. We’re all needed in this movement. Be imperfect, be awkward, be messy, be scared, be willing, be courageous.

I’m with you.