"The way out is in"
- Thich Nhat Hanh
January has come and gone in a blink. Here at Springfield it was a month of feeling into our plans for the year and enjoying the company of friends who came to stay. Des, Nadya and Alex have migrated to Australia from Singapore, and have been with us since December. Our two families met at Green School in Bali, and their presence here has reminded me of what we loved about our time there - community, connection, creativity.
We’re going to miss them when they move into their own place next week. Peter has loved having Des as his apprentice in the veggie gardens, Alex is the dog’s number-one-human because of all the love and attention she sprinkles them with every day, and Nadya has been my peaceful, graceful companion to watch the sunset with and dream ideas into reality - like a new medicinal herb garden (more on this in our next issue). Thankfully, they are not going far.
When we met in Bali I was studying post-graduate permaculture design, which is based on working with Nature rather than against her, by aligning with patterns that are evident in all thriving ecosystems. Nature is holographic, in the sense that patterns you can see anywhere are likely to be everywhere. So, it occurred to me that if I want to be a thriving ecosystem, I could embody the principles of permaculture in my life too.
At the time I was facilitating groups inspired by Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way and started weaving permaculture principles into the groups and Nadya and Des both participated in those early sessions, which are now called inner landscaping. Now that Des is embarking on his new life here in Australia he asked me to do another men’s inner landscaping group, so we’re starting one at Springfield in March.
Thich Nhat Hanh, who has inspired millions around the world with his peaceful wisdom, famously wrote: The Way Out Is In, suggesting that the way out of any difficulty is to look deeply within ourselves for insights and then put them into practice. Inner landscaping (which is what my book is about) is permaculture for the soul, guiding you ‘in’ in a way that reminds us that we are Nature, and going ‘out’ into Nature to experience the awe of being alive.
Using twelve grounding practices, we focus on embodying the fullness of who we are and being joyfully alive. Inner landscaping is the way I live my daily life. When I was stuck in a spiral of indecision at the beginning of the year, trying to think my way through plans for the year, I went back to the basics of inner landscaping. I started by attuning to my inner self and seeking energy, and by the time I got to number three of the twelve practices (aligning my energy with my values), my answers emerged - clear as day.
One of the outcomes of my own inner landscaping is finding clarity about what needs to change in my life. Like many others I’m re-evaluating what is most important to me, what I want to put my energy into and how I can find more joy in this crazy world. This year is about prioritising my health - physical, emotional, spiritual and mental. Rather than big epiphanies, I am seeking a gentle year of unfolding, supported by holistic daily practices that replenish me.
I have cleared my calendar to have more time to play and I am already feeling a sense of spaciousness in my days. I am loving my shorter ‘to-do’ lists and lighter schedule. I’ll continue inner landscaping (including the book) but I am resisting the urge to be overflowing with exciting new projects.
Going to bed earlier has felt luxurious, my mornings seem longer, and my daily routine is just beginning to grow roots. Both Nadya and Shannon are inspirational and I deeply admire the way their daily self-care rituals seem so effortless, and non-negotiable. Nadya is unwavering in her commitment and compassion, and those of you who know Shannon will agree that she is the living breathing embodiment of good health — I am blessed to have them walking beside me on this journey.
Misty and Mama (aka Muffin) are both doing well. Mama did hit a rough patch but thanks to the care of our vet and Springfield’s animal-lovers, she has pulled through. What a shock it must have been for her, to suddenly give birth and nurse her baby cria. Alpacas are herd animals, so normally they would witness the arrival of cria before they give birth themselves, but Mama never did. She has taken it all on with the grace and stamina of mothers everywhere in Nature- and she just got on with it.
It is possible to have alpacas who come to you when called, and eat out of your hand, and Misty is more friendly each day, but still a little wary. As it turns out, the wonderful Elba, a massage therapist at Springfield, once worked as a professional alpaca trainer! With her guidance we will be introducing Misty to a halter this week so we can get used to being close to each other without fear. Wish us luck.