Bumble Bees Bumbling

This was one of those hair raising moments that could quite easily replace retail therapy. I could have quite happily followed that bumble bee all day, all week even. It was a moment where nothing else mattered, the world was at peace with itself and bees will live forever.

As it flew away I felt abandoned, I wanted to scream “come back here”. But I didn’t for fear of looking crazed. It had gone, forever and I was left with a nice piece of cinematography that I will cherish forever and ever.

The reality is, humanity is not at peace with itself and bees existence is very much in danger. For a moment in time the bee which I am forever grateful to, fed my inner world, my existence was meaningful with purpose. I didn’t need to suffice my inner desires with consumption, nature did it for me, the best therapeutic moment I’d had in ages and I didn’t need to spend a penny. Possessions please, the poppy was my possession, I’d grown it in my garden. I’d planted the seeds, watered them and watched them grow. I didn’t need retail therapy because I was feeding my soul with the buzz of a bumble bee.

Ecotherapy

p20140429-180557When I joined the University of East Anglia, on a master of science in international development and water security, I had left behind me, three years of studying to become a psychotherapist. My psychological interest in the earth, led me there. I wanted to understand humans geopolitical and economic relationship with our planet. After a year of studying, my mind felt more confused and left university not really knowing how I could apply all the knowledge I had gained.

The one certainty I left with was the integral relationship between our psyche and capitalism and the environment and our economy. Ecotherapy is a tool that has the potential to develop a new relationship which can bring together our psyche and our environment and reject aspects of capitalism and the economy. I am not an anti-capitalist, I do however take a political ecology approach to the environment and believe there are many unnecessary inequalities that exist globally. These inequalities need to be acknowledged and understood if we are to resolve the issue of climate change. A political ecologist will question everything and believe nothing. For example, I recently highlighted on Twitter the relationship between the luxury leather business and deforestation in the Amazon. Greenpeace ensured me they were happy to speak about their climate and agriculture campaigns and confirmed they receive no corporate donations. Another contentious issue is the chocolate industry and the inequality between the amount of money made by the farmers and the amount made by those who import the chocolate into the West. I will explore this further in another post. I am sickened by the divide between the rich and the poor. I am neither rich nor poor, just a humble individual trying to preserve this planet for my grand-children and their children.

I graduated in 2013, since then I have been attempting to reconnect with my earth. I have been a conscientious consumer, purchasing second hand where I can. I’ve thought about the chemicals I use to clean with and I have attempted to not pollute my waste water. I have an allotment which is rich in alluvial soil, here I grow my own vegetables and fruit. I make my own aromatherapy products too which has given me a great sense of connection to my ancient past.

For me, ecotherapy is about discovering aspects of our self through our connection with our natural environment. Trees and their roots, fungi, grass, mountain ranges, plants, flowers, bees, they can all help us to find our self in a chaotic world that sometimes, we have no control over. Being in an ancient forest gives me a space to feel at home in when I am feeling unloved in the world. Stay with me on this journey. I’m not here to make money, just share my experiences of the natural world, my inner self and how I understand the chaotic world we live in.

 

 

 

Nature Deficit Disorder

p20130518-155346I have fond memories of playing in the ancient forest that sat on the opposite side of the main road, from my house in Forest Hill, South East London. It was the same forest my dad played in as a child with his friends and brother. It was veiled in the mysticism of queens and war planes and if you listened carefully you could hear the trees breathing. I can remember the sun glistening through the gaps, revealing the blue sky beyond. My self-sufficiency would have me and my friends take a jam sandwich and watch the gardeners attend their allotments. And with my parents, a game of hide and seek was enjoyed as a family which was a happier time for my Dad.

I loved nature as a child even though the city of London ran through my mum’s veins. She loved London more than anything and given the choice of nature or a trip to the west end it would always be the latter.

Born in the early 1970’s I was a very much a screen child. Hopping between my television, hand-held computer games and my Commodore 64. I was obsessed with gaming, waiting for my tapes to load, Hungry Horace, Daly Thompsons Decathlon and Damsel in Distress were some of my favourites. Gaming was isolating then, it was stand alone and I spent most of the time in solitude, not communicating with anyone. Gaming now is very different, I often hear my son cackling inappropriately into his Xbox 360 mic.

We all need balance in our life, a life that has equal parts. Climbing trees, running through forests and splashing across streams nurtures the psyche. Trees feed tranquillity into our very being, they ground our existence on this earth. They have the ability to transport us to other worlds, with queens and war hero’s. A child’s imagination can run as free as their body through a forest that sparkles with sunlight.

Most of our possessions in the home come from the earth, in some format or another. Nature is the perfect way to help children understand the process of consumption and the impact that process may or may not have on the environment. The wooden chair I sit upon once stood rooted to the ground with branches and leaves.

Spending time watching a bumble bee collect pollen and explaining why we need bumble bees allows children to understand the connectedness of every living being. Finding a dead animal and talking about the ecosystem that’s right before your eyes encourages how the reliance of every living thing impacts upon each other. If one is out of balance, nature allows us to explore the impact on the rest of the chain.

Climate change sees local streams flooding and when we visit the same wild place regularly we can see the impact of climate change on an environment that is changing. We can connect with others and understand how their lives have been affected by devastating floods and typhoons, for example, those people in the Philippines. It encourages children to empathise with the rest of the earth and it encourages a debate that children need to have with themselves about the causes of a changing climate across the globe. It’s not about frightening children’s existence, it’s about creating a dialogue that needs to happen for the sake of humanity.

With earth, comes fire and spring is the best time to camp up around the fire pit. Some ancient cultures use the smoke from fire to communicate with ancestors, those who once roamed the earth. Our ancestors are important to our sense of who we are and a fire is a great opportunity to discuss with children those who came before us. My own children love roasting marshmallows, independently. My daughter has been proficient in fire pit safety since aged five, negotiating danger is important to children. It’s important because if they’re ever in danger they need to be able to know how to get out. If they’re never in danger they’ll never know how to get out of it.

Being outside and listening to silence embraces the presence of being human, the silence has the ability to touch the psyche in a way that the hustle and bustle of the city cannot. I live on the edge of the M25 and I find it difficult to listen to nature go about it’s daily business. As the lorries roar past, I feel their power in my chest. I’ve lived in silence, of an evening we would sit outside, around the fire and listen to owls hooting and bats swooping. I miss the silence tremendously.

Balance in life is key and it can exist but it can only exist if we allow it to. Sacrifices in life are key and we all make them, only some are different to others. What sacrifices will you make today? And who will benefit from them?

Collecting Pollen

beethistlebig

My husband, daughter and me found an ants nest when we visited Bedgebury National Pinetum and Forest, as well as an array of Buddleia’s alive with butterflies. Four out of five children now suffer with nature deficit disorder.

Managing my 14 year olds sons connection with nature was much easier when he was younger. Now he likes to be with his friends more than he likes to be with me.  We are lucky that we have a forest at the end of our garden which he does frequent. He hasn’t been out of the house for a while because no one likes the cold, only when there’s a blanket of snow. I advised to him to go climb a tree, something he’s awesome at. I’ve yet to meet someone who can climb a tree as well as he can.

Bumble Bee and Thistle

Bumble Bee and Thistle

I took this on the disused railway of mid Norfolk, near a hamlet called Worthing, where I once lived. Set in the middle of an agricultural farm we was truly connected to nature. The river Wensum flowed across the field from where we lived and the fields hosted an array of crops from sugar beat, wheat, corn and rapeseed. Owls regularly visited our garden and we spent many evenings watching the bats as they swooped around the garden catching bugs, grubs and anything else they could find.

We could hear beyond the milkyway and see the silence of the forest as it shrouded us with a great sense of peace and tranquillity. It is a fondness I will cherish forever and I hope I eased my children’s inner selves with a connection to nature that will always sit deep within them, nurturing their unconscious.

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