Having spent the last eighteen months establishing Green Heart Collective, founder Helen Redfern is reflecting on what really matters in life for her...and maybe her reflections may inspire you too to explore life with gratitude and curiosity.
I don't know why I've left this one until last because it all comes down to this. This is the most important one. Maybe I subconsciously left the best til last. I'm beginning to realise that nature matters more than anything else. By nature, I mean all living beings, including humans. Including plants and the whole planet and in fact the whole universe too.
Until recently, I've been panicking about the future of the planet. I connected with the slogan 'There is no Planet B'. But recently, I've come to realise that the planet knows what it is doing. Left to its own devices, the planet knows how to regenerate. We saw that during lockdown when animals started to reclaim the cities and the air became cleaner and the birdsong became louder. The planet is not the problem. We are.
We've created this mess. We're causing damage quicker than the planet can regenerate. We're depleting the planet's resources. Our modern industrial culture has interfered with the planet’s natural processes.
I'll say it again. The planet knows what it is doing. Natural systems are in place that have worked for millions of years. The more we can align with the natural systems, with the planet's way, using nature as a model for all that we do, the more we will find peace and healing.
I think that's why I'm drawn to the natural world. The beauty is breath-taking on the largest and smallest of scales. The level of design is mind-blowing. The natural world has all the answers. I'm beginning to see that more and more. When I spend time in nature, I feel more at peace, more alive, more regenerated.
Maybe this is why -
"Making time for solitude in wild nature helps us to have the largest conversation we are capable of having with the world. Communion with wild nature helps us to embody our ultimate place and act wisely in recognition of our kinship with all life." Daniel Christian Wahl
It's not the easiest, making nature a priority though, is it? I work in a warehouse with no windows. The sofa and TV call to me after a hard day at work. But here are some of the things I love and intend to make more space for in my world.
1. The dogs - my dogs are the closest I get to nature on some days. I love lying next to them and bringing my breath into sync with theirs. There is nothing more relaxing.
2. Swimming in the sea - I don't really swim, but I do dip in the sea once a week on a Sunday morning. It's like a reset button for my week. I look out to sea and feel at one with the universe. I value this connection so much.
3. The sun - I love the feel of the sun on my face. I don't feel any major desire to lie in it but when I go outside, I do turn my face to the sun and soak it in for a few minutes.
4. Raspberries, rhubarb and blackberries - they grow themselves really, don't they, but I do feel a sense of pride and connection when I pick and eat the fruits from my garden
5. Being vegan - this aligns me with my values of compassion for all living beings. Making this choice connects me with the natural world and all who live in it. Preparing food from scratch rather than eating processed food connects me with the earth too.
6. Walking in the woods - I get to do this every morning in the same woods with the dogs each day. As soon as I enter the woods, I let out a sigh and visibly relax into nature for half an hour. It's the best way to start the day. I love seeing how the trees change as the seasons change. Sometimes I get to see the sun rise too which is pretty magical.
7. Watching the bats at dusk - sitting outside after tea rather than sitting on the sofa is so much more regenerative. I love watching the bats swooping through the sky. I find it easier to contemplate and let my mind wander and rest when I'm outside under an expansive sky.
8. Observing nature with my grandchildren - kids are the best for bringing a sense of wonder to the moment. I connect with my inner child when we look for frogs in the pond or study a butterfly or watch a snail leave a trail.
9. Nature programmes on TV - finding out more about the wonders of the natural world reminds me of what we are here to protect and care for. It's a truly incredible world that we live in and we have a duty of care.
10. Getting away from it all - this is aspirational at the moment. I can't see it happening right now. But when I do get away, I need it to be really away. Not in a town but in the heart of nature. That's what I'm yearning for.
Nature is healing. It's regenerative. I need to make more space for connecting with the natural world in my life, because for me, the future is all about learning how to communicate with and learn from nature.
When do you feel connected to nature? How does it feel? What do you love about the natural world?
This brings Helen's What Matters? series to a close. You can read all of the What Matters? series via the links below.