Ecology, Community, and Self-Care

by quietbuild


A family of native, invasive, and cultivated plants working together to feed the pollinators and the soil.

During this period of my life, when it seems like the stress is never-ending on every front, I have been taking solace in my neighborhood walks. It seems that the years of mindfulness practice are bearing their fruit; I am able to slow down, look around me, and get connected to myself, nature, and other people. Today, after a long, grueling day, in the middle of a long, grueling week, a leisurely lunch-break walk, listening to the amazingly talented Juana Molina and Sigur Ros, I experienced that peaceful feeling of clarity and flow we all strive to achieve. I am grateful to be a nurturer– especially lately, when so many people in my life need support and love– but being a nurturer demands lots of self-care to sustain. Today, rather than running to medication, unhealthy eating, compulsions, or a mental break-down, I consulted with colleagues, expressed gratitude to the people I love, photographed some amazing plants, and am trying my hand at writing about it all.

I am finding some common themes throughout my life, for which I am grateful. Everywhere I look in my urban neighborhood, I see signs of connectivity, interdependence, and the delicious, ecstatic glee of imperfections.

Above, are some discoveries I made of those juxtapositions between the welcome and unwelcome influences on life. We see examples of the native mixed in–and sometimes overwhelmed by–the invasive. The garbage, the rejects, the obscene, are entangled with, and sometimes indistinguishable from, that which is beautiful, welcome, and cultivated. None of it is perfect, and therein lies its divinity. Even as I proofread, I struggle with that inner perfectionist, wanting every word to be cultivated, intentional, appropriate, and necessary. But fuck that! Sometimes life’s messes and imperfections are part of its beauty. So here’s to loosening our belts, taking off our makeup, deep breaths, and grammatical errors!