It’s been 18 months of full immersion into natural building, permaculture, farming, plant medicine, community living, and all that juicy stuff and I FINALLY feel like I can see the colors on my new wings. The old me is (mostly) discarded and the new me has (mostly) emerged. I feel so much relief to be settling into new skin after so much TRANSFORMATION.
What is different, Gabby? You may ask.
Well, I’d love to tell you, thanks for asking.
MONEY my relationship to money is completely different. My whole life used to be monetized. I couldn’t go anywhere or do anything without spending money. Pay the rent. Buy the food. Go to the gym. Attend the event. All of it was a means to an end — take care of myself, connect with people, learn things, have fun — It NEVER even occurred to me that many of these things could be accomplished without the financial TRANSACTION between me and others. I accomplish most of these things now without spending money — I live in work/trade environments, eat veggies from the garden, hang out with people who want to go hiking or stargazing, sit in the hot springs instead of the sauna, I learn from conversations, documentaries or conferences where I volunteer in exchange for entry. I swap clothes and plants and upcycle unwanted materials. Yes, I still give/receive money but it’s not dominating my life. I had no idea how much it was grinding on me until I took a break and discovered the gifts that money can’t buy.
OUTDOORS my pendulum has swung from 90% indoors to 90% outdoors. I spend most of my time outside. More space. More air. More sun. More shade. More plants. More flowers. More animals. More insects. I can’t even begin to quantify the level of stimulation and satisfaction from a life lived outdoors. Less screen time. Less shoulder tension. Less sedentary. Less stagnant air. Less artificial light. Less synthetic heat. Less manufactured cool. I could write a dissertation about the environmental and health benefits of this lifestyle but I won’t. I know you know. That’s why you plan your vacations to be outdoors :) Living life outside means that I smile more, I make more friends, I feel the natural rhythms and the sore muscles from doing more walking, hiking, biking, digging, planting, harvesting, and hauling. There is such a joy in outdoor living.
MEDICINE I regret to confess that I’ve had so many meds in my life — from rounds of antibiotics to antidepressants to over-the-counter pain pills, allergy pills, anti-acid pills — my bathroom was a pharmacy that rivaled CVS. My medicine now lives in the kitchen — garlic, honey, lemon, ginger, turmeric, mushrooms — and a dozen bottles of tinctures made from flowers and roots and all things natural. I’ve been traveling like crazy and even while others were catching colds and covid, I didn’t get a sniffle. It’s kind of embarrassing that it took me so long to adopt herbalism as my first line of defense (especially since I am a professor of Holisic Health), but I am glad that I finally arrived. The shift to herbalism is also woven into my relationship with money and the outdoors — “shopping” for plants means more time outside, less money spent, and more natural benefits from spending time in nature.
SACRED I used to think that the sacred existed in churches, ashrams, temples, pyramids and other exotic places. I thought that it was holy to pray or chant or meditate. I didn’t bring the sacred home with me. I didn’t invite her to my meals or my bathtub or my chores. There was a clear line between the ordinary and ceremony. Surrendering my old life means that I relinquish the idea that I live in some bubble that’s separate from divinity. The fact that food is so abundant and freely available is a miracle. The fact that I can stand under a waterfall or bathe in a river is a miracle. The fact that the sun warms me, the moon awakens me, the stars inspire me, the fact that everything I need is given to me, as a gift, without debt, is a miracle. Returning the sacredness to plants and herbs, means honoring Earth’s medicine that has been used for thousands of years. Returning the sacredness to each step in nature means putting divinity back in the ground where she belongs. Visiting the mountains and hot springs and the forests instead of investing in transactional places for entertainment, means putting the sacred back into recreation, into our lived experience with friends and family.
And this is just the tip of the iceberg. I’ve moved from an automated life to a life of manual labor. I’ve shifted from buying global to buying local. I’ve quit the urgency and deadlines in favor of slower living. I care more about humanitarian projects than profit-driven enterprise. I prefer YouTube videos about ecovillages and food forests to Hollywood movies and celebrity gossip. I’ve stopped relying on everyone else to take care of me and the planet. My entire ecosystem has shifted from entrepreneurs and academics to carpenters, farmers, shamans and gypsies.
Everything is different.
This is my version of rewilding. Of coming back into balance with the human-earth relationship. Of gathering the parts of myself that were disconnected or lost. Of disengaging from systems that I think are toxic or broken or both. This is my version of regeneration, of tending to the Earth, of reclaiming what was stolen, of reckoning with regrets and mistakes and blind spots.
And this doesn’t even touch the inner work that I’ve done…which is documented in detail in my book. (Get your copy!)
Gosh, if all of this can happen in 18 months, I wonder what will happen in the next 18 years…..
Happy Full Moon. Happy Eclipse. Happy Life.