I Have a Confession…

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Gardening, Nature, cooking, and healing are my obsessions. While most people meet me through plant-based cooking classes or nutritional workshops and know me as “the plant chef,” that’s not the entire picture.

 

While cooking is my main thing, it’s certainly not the only thing I teach: mindfulness, breathing, ancient wisdom, and biology are a few other topics… nutrition is just the foundation or gateway to Healing with Nature.

 

I’m a plant-based lifestyle coach, which means I mentor people on cooking and healing naturally, with as little support from anything “non-Nature-related” as possible (including supplements, which I consider medication). I’ve created names for programs and types of people that are based on plant metaphors.

 

A friend I met in a messaging bootcamp recently asked what gardening has to do with my coaching business—my clients and students are “Seedlings,” for the last few years. A certain portion of the population is “Wilted Sprouts,” because they have specific conditions that put them at risk for premature death. I call vibrant people “Lively Gardeners,” because they not only have power over their own life, they tend to other beings—whether it’s plants, their pets, wildlife, or something else—they care for something greater than themselves.

 

Nature is my greatest teacher and healer… she always has been, though the older I get, the deeper the wisdom she shares with me. I’m a Green Witch, and I look to the birds, animals, plants and trees for support. Coworkers know I talk to crows and watch them closely, and I have no issue explaining my fascination with this highly intelligent bird. If I see an animal repeatedly, I know they’re sharing a message with me. I talk and listen to Nature.

 

I find answers and comfort in Nature. I know she supports our lives, which is why I’ve been passionate about helping Her since I was a teen. 99% of my decisions on diet and daily habits have one core goal: how will this affect the planet and her inhabitants everywhere? I understand every living creature on this planet, share the same water and air. What works for our 1st world country won’t work everywhere, so I have no dogma that says everyone should follow the same path.

 

But the deepest iteration of my obsession with Nature began in December 2017, when we abruptly moved to Maine. Our first visit there was only 2 months earlier, when we were scouting yet another home for us—we needed to move from the toxic relationships we had on Long Island. (We’d already visited Philly, Seattle, upstate NY, and had considered my roots in NC and FL-yuk to all of them!)

 

We were immediately drawn to the long drives with trees, grass, and very little traffic. I saw more water, wildlife, and plant life than I’d ever seen, even in my 3 years of living in rural NC. It was a stark contrast to anything we grew up with, since I grew up urban and Rob grew up in the suburbs.

 

We both knew we were home.


 

Rob and I don’t question our gut instincts—intuition is a trained muscle for us. When we feel a deep urge, we follow it. We know the path will be bumpy, but we trust the outcome.

 


We understand that just like you, we’re protected… even when it seems impossible, we know we won’t fail.


 

Read that line again and KNOW this: you’re always protected when you follow your intuition. Nature always has the answers you want, if you’re open and listening. Life isn’t always (or usually) a trip through a field of daisies, but it’s ALWAYS worth the short-term pain. The stories you tell yourself about change greatly determine your path in life.

 

During our coaching graduation Saturday, I walked a fellow coach through a practice in asking and listening to her intuition… if you’re ever interested in learning to listen to your Intuition, just ask. I’ll gladly walk you through it, too. Intuition is your direct line to The All, the Divine, Universe, god, goddess, whatever resonates with your Soul.  

 

We followed out intuition and moved to Maine at the end of fall, beginning of winter of 2017. We didn’t know how dark that winter would be for us—we pulled in to our house at 3:45 and the sun was setting… foreshadowing the next few months! We spent 5 months completely isolated, unpacking, looking for work, watching Survivorman, and having nervous breakdowns. (A story for another day… just know we had no jobs, prospects, family, or friends when we moved there. We just needed to detox and start our business.)

 

Transitions are multiple action steps you take that are usually painless. When I return to work each spring after a winter “off,” it’s a transition. I’m making a shift in my schedule, adjusting my routine and goals for the season. I change what I eat, how much I can write, how much I can read and how many classes I can take, and how much I can teach at night. It takes 1-2 weeks to adjust to the transition.

A transformation is NOT that. It’s an upheaval, and I understand why most people avoid them. But Rob and I are NOT most people. We met during individual transformations (divorces), and purposely transform ourselves every few years—we understand the temporary struggles create a better life. We know taking a step back leads to 2 or 3 steps forward.

Our move to Maine was no different. It was a necessary transformation, though we never expected the outcome. The change was so intense I wrote a course and book of the same title the following year… Transformation 101; Your Guide to Empowerment in Just 3 Weeks.

 


I didn’t yet know how gardening would connect all the things I do, but I was about to get a hands-on lesson (pun intended).


 

April 2018-5 months into our isolated move-we were desperate for work. I’d just ended a close friendship because of a lack of boundary issues she had. We were now more isolated than ever and losing inspiration by the minute. I’d also quit my job as a dietary aide in the local hospital after 8 days, and no one was hiring. Maine shuts down in the winter and jobs are scarce—something we never discovered during our research. Oops!

 

I questioned everything about myself. Was it time to compromise my values? Was I too idealistic in my expectations of friends and work? Maybe my stubbornness wasn’t my highest quality after all…

 

Luckily, Rob found a tattoo shop that aligned with his goals and ethics in late April. By chance that same week, he found a listing for a greenhouse assistant (AKA assistant grower) at Sprague’s Nursery in Bangor. I had no experience, but I loved plants, wanted to learn how to garden, and fuck… I needed to work. I applied, hopeless, expecting no call because of my lack of experience in growing plants. I’m a corporate-trained rat who’s a plant-based chef and wellness educator.

 

I was lucky they wanted someone with no experience, so my journey began May 2, 2018 (what a wonderful Beltaine that was!). Ironically, my interest in plants as food interested them, as did my work history and ethic.

 

That last line is key: my interest in plants as food landed me a job in a greenhouse… they saw the connection I couldn’t imagine in my current state of panic.

 

My career as a plant-based chef gave me an edge in growing plants. I am forever grateful they saw what I didn’t… it led to the recent conversation with the messaging friend I mentioned in the beginning of this story.

 

Fast forward to 2022, after an intense 4 years of working with garden plants and as an organic farm assistant. The connection between plants and healing grows stronger and the roots go deeper… yes, yes, plant puns! I have LOTS of those, if you’re ever around me and garden plants. 😉

 

Last year, I began creating a high-level course, focusing on who I really serve, and what their identities and stories are. I’ve created my LG Plate, Wilted Spout and Lively Gardener profiles, and sprinkle them in marketing.

 

But when I connected with a lovely woman in England in February ‘22, she asked a question many others probably wonder:

 

What the hell does gardening have to do with your plant-based coaching business?

 

<LIGHT BULB>

 

Oops! I’ve never explained the connection to you and it’s probably pretty confusing. How does that story about intuition and the challenges in Maine tie in to Seedlings, LG plates, Wilted Sprouts, Lively Gardeners, and creating programs!?

 

It’s time to explain my obsessive connection between gardening, Nature, and cooking…

 

During our 3 years of living in Maine, I understood the pattern of Nature like never before. I worked 9 months, was off for 3 months to rest and create, and became addicted to the cycle of Nature. We started sleeping around 8:30, waking at 4-4:30, when the sun also sleeps.

 

I took courses in permaculture and regenerative farming while we lived there, and learned “sustainable” just ain’t enough to save our planet… there’s a way to design a housing/farming system that works WITH Nature and doesn’t require stripping her of resources like electricity, tainted community water, degrading soil, etc. That concept swirled in my brain and became the foundation of a high-level program I’m creating.

 

Our Transformation in Maine taught me how to live with Nature on a deeper level than ever. The knowing of the hustle in the spring; less hustle but focusing on nurturing and trimming/pruning/cleaning in the summer; hustle for the fall harvest; then rest in winter. It deepened my understanding of Ayurveda and the cycles of Nature.

 

I spent hours alone at work, caring for 13 greenhouses, moving trees and shrubs, pulling weeds from plants and understanding our connection to Nature at a deeper level… “there’s a metaphor here… I need to write about this and share the importance of tuning in to Nature.” I even learned to drive Bessie, our work tractor that I still love to this day!

 

My Lessons in Gardening is another book in progress, but for now, just know plants aren’t much different from us—understanding this led to using plants as metaphors for people.

 


Air, temperature, water, food, soil, sunlight, bugs for pollination, chemical signals… the things that keep plants alive also keep us alive.


 

A lack of balance in those elements kills plants—and us.

 

When I began studying potential clients, I wanted to continue with the theme of plants. Not as a cheesy metaphor because gardening is an obsession, but because I know how healing plants are on multiple levels: as food, herbal medicine, essential oils, and the act of gardening. Plants are the foundation of our health.

 

Plants = Wellness.

 

 

I’m not teaching you to garden per se, though I’m certainly qualified and do it at work on the daily. Farm to table; regenerative farming; composting; growing herbs for medicine—I study these terms. I live them.

 

I teach various aspects of wellness and healing through plants: Herbal Basics 101; Essential Oil Safety 101; 29 cooking videos; Plant-based Substitution classes; Elements of Ayurveda; Transformation 101.

 

All these classes have one common theme: Healing with Plants.

 

Seedlings is a title I’ve had for my clients and patrons for years—they’re tender shoots I nurture with ancient wisdom and advice. That’s all of you reading this, watching my YouTube vids, purchasing my meal prep plans, taking my classes on wellness, so on.

 

For those I work with personally, there are specific identities:

 

  • Wilted Sprouts have specific conditions that put them at risk for premature death. Not all of these conditions have to apply, but if you recognize 2 or more of these, I’m here to help: you’re on multiple medications; you have 20+ extra pounds to lose; you yo-yo DIEt with little to no success; have high BP; high cholesterol; live a sedentary lifestyle, and much more.

 

I move these to what I call:

 

  • Lively Gardeners. They not only have power over their own life, they also tend to others. You’re vibrant; you know what to eat; you know how to adjust your diet if you gain 5 pounds because of winter, vacation, whatever; you can fast; you can move easily without a lot of pain; you can be active and not hurt yourself.

    You understand the myth of aging is a lie.

 

There’s a video explanation of these terms and my LG plate here…

When I explained all of this to my messaging friend in England, it made sense to her. But I’ve only touched upon this with you. You probably just know I love to cook and feed people plants. You don’t understand the big picture, because you aren’t aware I spent 4+ years in the plant world, TRANSFORMING sprouts into lively, healthy, vibrant plants that brought joy to thousands of people. I can no longer work inside, so I’m still in the world of plant merchandising!

 

So, for context, here’s part of our conversation:

 

“Yep, okay, so we’ve got a lot of gardening metaphors and you’re leaning towards the nutrition but you’re also doing wellness as it’s much bigger.

 

Your language that you use with them is a lot to do with gardening and metaphors and things.”

 

“Yeah, when we moved to Maine for three years, I worked for a greenhouse—we went through a huge transformation when that happened. As I was looking at the plants, I worked by myself all day—you know, taking care of these plants and I went oh well, they’re just like us. They need food; they need air; they need water; they need sunlight. Huh weeds…

So, gardening became a metaphor, and it’s always something that I’ve dabbled with, so gardening and the food that I feed to people is plant food—it all kind of just tied in and made sense.”

 

“I’m imagining… let’s say there’s a banner (I don’t know what your website looks like)…

I’m imagining if there’s a picture of you in the greenhouse with the plants around you and it says wellness and good living or something, then that tells me straight away-that makes sense-you in a greenhouse with lots of plants immediately tells me, “Oh, you work with plants, and you think plants are good.” That kind of tells me everything.

 

Lean into that, as Brandon would say. Just a picture of you just growing stuff or whatever because you probably have cooking pictures. But it’s like if you’re if you’re tending to plants and then you’re in a greenhouse or something and then there’s you cooking as well, then it’s fairly clear. The transition of I’m not teaching gardening. I’m showing you this is where it’s from and we’re going to be cooking and learning.

 

I say I think the main thing is that you don’t want people to think you’re gardening, but it does add to who you are.”

 

That my friends, is my obsession and passion. This is why I use plants as metaphors… this is why I KNOW plants and their healing abilities. It’s why I am a Plant-Based Lifestyle Coach, because it’s not just about nutrition—it’s how we can use all of Nature to heal. 💖

What are your thoughts?

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