I am celebrating my 1 year anniversary of moving out of NYC and into the Hudson Valley. Man, does it feel good! Truth be told, I have always been an outdoors enthusiast! I grew up in a small antique farm town in rural NJ. However, in high school, I felt the city calling me so I packed my bags and moved to Center City Philadelphia. I lived in Philly for 4 years while studying jewelry making and glassblowing at the University of the Arts. Graduation set me in motion again. This time, I packed my bags and headed for NYC!!! I had always wanted to live in New York! I was manifesting my dream of being an artist in the big city. Living in Brooklyn for 7 years and Philly for 4 years before that, taught me how to stay connected to nature while living in the urban jungle! In the beginning it was a struggle! However, I learned a valuable lesson. Nature is all around you all the time. You just have to know where to look... this may not seem so obvious when you are trying to catch the L train into Manhattan during the rush hour commute... but here are my top tips for staying connected....
1. GET SOME CRYSTALS!!!! (*~*obvi.*~*)
* It's no surprise that this is my favorite way to stay connected to nature. Wear them, carry them in your purse, put one in your pillow, decorate your home, give one to a friend, treat yourself to some gemstone jewelry, get creative! There is no shortage of ways you can incorporate the beauty and magic of the mineral kingdom into your life! Whether you believe in the healing powers of crystals or not, their natural beauty is undeniable. Working with crystals has been a life changing experience for me! In fact, I've built my life around my love for rocks! If you feel called to do so, you can check out my curated collection of crystals here.
2. LEARN ABOUT THE CYCLES OF THE MOON
Following the cycles of the Moon is a very potent way to stay connected to the rhythms of nature! Especially for women! Just as there are 28 days in a Lunar Cycle, there are also approximately 28 days in a typical menstrual cycle. Women are cyclical in nature, just as the Moon is. The Moon is a celestial Feminine being. Tuning into the nurturing energy of Mother Moon can help to heal any hormonal imbalances and sooth emotional distress.
Aside from the physical realm, working with the energies of the Lunar cycles can also help us on the emotional and spiritual planes. New Moons are the beginning of the Lunar Cycle. They symbolize a time of new beginnings and fresh starts. This is an excellent time to set an intention or start a new project. Plant a seed that you would like to manifest either literally or metaphorically. Full Moons are a time of culmination and completion. What is ready for harvest? What is it that you might need to let go of? Asking yourself these questions during a Full Moon can help us release that which is no longer serving us to create space for the next cycle... BONUS POINTS for learning about Astrology to deepen your understanding of the cosmic forces at play...
If you are feeling called to learn more about Astrology and get your chart read, check out my dear friend and trusted Astrologer, Vanessa Cleary IG:@catsastrologyandrecords Mention this article for a little extra cosmic stardust in your reading. 20% OFF until Summer Solstice 2019. Email DJness13@yahoo.com to book a reading!
3. PLANT MEDICINE
Believe it or not, I began my journey as an herbalist while living in NYC. I was living in an apartment with limited windows and no backyard access. I had experimented with trying to grow some herbs on my windowsill. Unfortunately, these plants did not have enough sunlight to thrive. Clearly it was not my time to connect with the plant realm via gardening. Instead, I made some friends with local foragers and learned about the edible and medicinal plants that grew wild in the city. Urban foraging BLEW MY MIND!!! Foraging excursions with friends was uplifting and empowering so I took my quest for knowledge to the next level! I devoured books about plant medicine, participated in workshops and weed walks, wildcrafted tinctures and infusions, and frequented local herb shops. (Shout out to Flower Power and the Alchemists Kitchen in NYC!) Perhaps there's a plant ally growing in your hood that you walk right past everyday?
Queen Anne's Lace
4. COMMIT TO EATING ORGANIC FOOD
Commit to doing the right thing for the environment and your wellbeing: mind, body, soul! What is good for the planet is good for you too! Ditch the chemicals and pesticides used in industrial farming! Go check out a farmers market. Join a co-op or a CSA (Community Shared Agriculture) in your neighborhood. If you are worried about your wallet, use the "Clean 15" and the "Dirty Dozen" as a guide when produce shopping. There are lots of ways to make eating organic affordable! If I can do it, anyone can! When you're ready to take your love for the planet to the next level, educate yourself about where you choose to spend your $$$$$!!!!! Support companies that are committed to renewable energy and sustainable farming practices. And feel good about it! (Pro tip: Don't forget your reusable grocery bags when you go to the store!) Shopping Guides to pesticides in produce: "Dirty Dozen" + "Clean 15"
5. CARING FOR PLANTS + ANIMALS
Caring for plants and animals is a spiritual act. It is symbiotic in nature. If you have the time and means to have plants and pets of your own and you feel called to do so, go for it! If you don't, don't stress! As a city dweller who was not in a position to commit to having a pet of my own, I knew that there were plenty of furry friends around and owners who could use a helping hand! I signed up to be a dog sitter on the Rover app, and I got a good dose of the dog medicine I needed. The best part was that I got to borrow a dog for a limited amount of time that fit my schedule AND make a little extra $. WIN, WIN, WIN! If you would like to begin your journey as a plant parent, I would recommend a succulent or aloe plant. They thrive on neglect! (Perfect for humans who travel a lot like me!) They are also hard to kill! Usually overwatering is the culprit for an unhappy succulent or aloe plant. Luckily, these plants are very resilient and can bounce back as long as they don't get root rot. BONUS: Aloe plants are great for skin care! If you have a window in your bathroom, think about creating space for an aloe plant. It is an excellent addition to your beauty regimen! DOUBLE BONUS: Plants pets cleanse the indoor air quality of your home! And let's face it, city dwellers need all the help they can get when trying to improve their air quality! Remember I mentioned that it's a symbiotic relationship? If you take good care of your plant pets, they will return the favor! And the good news is, they are pretty low maintenance!
PRO TIP: Crystals can help your plants grow!
6. ELEMENTARY SCHOOL
The ancient science of Ayurveda has a lot to teach us about how to live our best life. Ayurveda, the sister science of Yoga, translates as "the science of daily living." It is an ancient Indian medicine system that utilizes the Elements: (Air, Space, Fire, Water +Earth) to cultivate balance, optimize health, and harmonize with your environment. What I appreciate most about this lifestyle is the individualized holistic wisdom that Ayurveda provides. It encompasses all aspects of health: mind, body, and spirit. Ayurveda sees us as a part of nature, and not separated from it as in Western Allopathic "medicine". Because of Ayurveda's inclusive collective approach, this is a place where we can get to the root causes of our ailments and true healing can begin. By learning how to work with the elements, Ayurveda can be a powerful ally to teach us how to get out of survival mode and truly THRIVE! Anyone looking to connect to nature on a deep cellular level would greatly benefit from learning about Ayurveda and incorporating these principals as a lifestyle.
7. HARMONIZE WITH THE SEASONS
Learning how to harmonize with the seasons is beneficial regardless of where you live. Ayurveda has a lot to teach us about how to stay in balance during these times of great transition. As humans, we are highly adaptable, but what if we adapted to the seasons with awareness and intention? What if we could learn to love all the seasons equally? What if we could embrace the unique energy that each season brings and the lessons they are here to teach us? Ayurveda identifies the seasons with the elements they express: End of Winter and Spring is Kapha season; governed by the Earth+Water elements. End of Spring and Summer is Pitta season; governed by Fire+Water. Fall into Winter is Vata Season; governed by Air+Space. Learning about the properties of these elements provides us solid ground to stand on when in the midst of the ever changing seasons. To learn more about how to live an Ayurvedic lifestyle, this is a good place to start.
Autumn in Aspen, Colorado
8. CHECK OUT YOUR LOCAL PARKS
Check out a map of your city and locate all of the parks! Make it a fun activity to visit these places with your family and friends. Take note of the flora and fauna in these localities. You might be surprised about what you'll find! Within in these little green pockets entire eco-systems develop! I was surprised and delighted to learn that a lizard population thrived in a local park near where I lived in Ridgewood, Queens. How many people typically think of thriving lizard populations when they think of NYC? It's amazing what you can discover if you keep your eyes and ears open! Tune in! Nature is waiting for you to discover it!
9. PLAN A TRIP
If you have some time to escape the city, plan a trip! It can be for a week, a month or even just for the day! There are some beautiful places to visit outside of the city limits. It is amazing what being immersed in nature can do for the spirit! It can shift your whole way of being! The summer was always my favorite time to escape the city. The air is hot, thick and oppressive AND THERE ARE TOO MANY SMELLS! LOL... One of my favorite ways to feel reconnected to nature would be planning a trip to either go camping in the mountains or to the beach! Both destinations elevated my happiness and the planning was almost just as fun as the trip itself! Looking at pictures and fantasizing about remote picturesque places triggered my sense of adventure and wanderlust in an exciting way! Where would like to travel to???
10. GET CREATIVE
One of my favorite creative activities is to build a Crystal Grid in tandem with the Lunar Cycles. You might be wondering, "What is a Crystal Grid?" It is a temporary installation comprised of objects from Nature in the form of geometric patterns. Objects can include, but are not limited to: crystals, feathers, plant material, bones, jewelry, etc. During the process of building the Crystal Grid, I focus on an intention. The creation of the Crystal Grid becomes a meditation that moves the intention into the physical and spiritual planes. This is just one example of how you can get creative about how you connect with nature. Feel free to give this a try or come up with your own ideas! BONUS POINTS for doing these creative activities outside :)
Autumnal Equinox Crystal Grid in Marble, Colorado 2018
BONUS PRO TIP: DON'T FORGET TO UNPLUG!!!! Unplug your cell phone, iPad, computer, TV, WiFi, and any other technological computerized device!!!!!! Your brain, body and whole being will THANK YOU!!! It is SUPER IMPORTANT to take sometime to just be a human! Without any gadgets or gizmos!!! Do yourself a favor. UNPLUG! Make this a regular practice for optimum well being :)
EXTRA PRO TIP: HUG A TREE! Don't forget that the trees are our elders! They were here on Earth thousands of years before we humans were! They have a lot to teach us! And we wouldn't exist without them! They feed us, shelter us, clothe us, and give us the gift of each breath we take. If you're feeling grateful.... hug a tree!