For so long I believed that structure was confining. I believed it was stifling my intuitive nature and effectively clipping my wings, not allowing me the freedom I craved, the freedom to do and be what I wanted. And I was right. The structure that I knew, the structure we're all used to, that which is placed upon us, dictated to us, that structure did indeed stifle me. It wore me down and hollowed me out.
Shortly after my first daughter was born, I quit my job as a preschool teacher, and I turned my back as much as I possibly could on anything that even resembled structure. Not only did I want to be home with my baby, but I was just so DONE with that overly structured, overly complicated, overly regulated life. I didn't want to play that game anymore.
At first the de-structured nature of my days was exactly the freedom I needed to decompress. But after a while, I noticed I couldn't seem to get myself to maintain much daily structure at all outside of feedings, nap time, and bedtime. If it wasn't something to do with the kiddos, I was pretty much lost, and even that was a struggle sometimes. Once I started homeschooling, it became abundantly clear that the "freedom at all costs" approach I'd been taking wasn't working in the way I originally thought it would.
I tried for years to implement structure, but I just couldn't get anything to stick longterm. Even with help, it was such an uphill battle. I felt completely incompetent. I couldn't understand why this was so damn hard for me. I berated myself. Told myself it was because something was wrong with me. In some way I wasn't good enough. I felt like I was failing at being normal. And all the while, I had convinced myself I was living intuitively, going with the flow, but truthfully, I just didn't know how to have structure and freedom at the same time.
More importantly, I didn't know myself well enough to know what kind of structure I needed. And even though I knew I needed something, I had so much trauma around structure that I just couldn't go there. It wasn't until I added shadow work into my daily life and began intuitively working with herbs and plants and channeling their medicine and wisdom that my outlook on structure began to shift. To this day I continue to gain greater insight into life and myself through the plants and shadow work and as a result, my relationship with structure is strengthening, healing, and evolving.
Throughout my journey I've come to understand on a visceral level that structure is the containment that allows us to flow freely and be ourselves. A river cannot flow steadily without the strong banks on either side of the water. Just like a river, we need that structure to help contain and direct our flow. Without it, our energy gets spread too thin in too many directions and lacks clear focus and definition. But when we have that structure, we're able to show up fully with ease. Just joy and excitement.
It's not that overly dictated, stress-inducing structure we're used to, though. It has to be structure that is based on your needs and wants, structure that works FOR YOU. Structure is support. It is the framework for joyful, effortless self-expression. It requires you to know yourself and your boundaries and to know that you and your boundaries are valid and worthy. It is not only prioritizing yourself, prioritizing how you feel, but OWNING yourself in all ways--emotionally, mentally, spiritually, and physically--always.
You cannot know what structure you require until you know, understand, and ALLOW yourself to be who you are. And it takes a f*ck ton of inner focus to figure these things out! It really does. Which is great, it's what we're here for. The issue then is that we don't feel like we can focus on or prioritize ourselves, and we tell ourselves horrible stories that invalidate us as people and make us fear some of the exact things we need to help us feel good, feel secure, feel safe and ready to be who we are and show up authentically.
So how do we flip that script? How do we invite more structure, containment, and boundaries into our lives, if we don't have a strong sense of self, we feel undeserving or unworthy of prioritizing ourselves, or as parents or caregivers we feel our focus has to be on our loved ones and those we're caring for?
In my world, you work with the plant allies you feel most called to, and you make shadow work, parts work, introspection, and meditation a regular part of your life. It's as easy and overwhelming as that.
Over the years I've worked with many different plants that have each shared their unique wisdom and medicine with me, but there are specific plants that I feel get to the heart of the matter where boundaries, sense of self, and structure or containment are concerned. They work singularly and together to clear out the old at the same time they nourish the new, which I find hugely important. Herbs like:
And several more are who I look to first. Of course, there are always going to be other herbs that play a supportive role in unraveling further issues that tie into the lack of boundaries, weak sense of self, and lack of structure, but these plants are an awesome place to start for many. They're the ones who have been key players in healing my relationship with structure by clearing a pathway to my inner truth, and then nourishing me as I became better acquainted with myself and gained greater clarity on my wants and needs.
Before, if I didn't have clients on a particular day, I didn't work. I never set aside scheduled time to write or plan classes or collaborate. I procrastinated and prioritized everything and everyone but me and what I wanted. I had so many great ideas that I would talk about, but never did anything with. And I was always frustrated with myself for that.
Now, I have scheduled work days, and I make sure to include all the behind the scenes things that are important to me like writing, shadow work, medicine making, and being out in nature. I even went back to work teaching for someone else! That in and of itself is MAJOR! I swore I would never work for another person again, especially in a teaching role, but one of our local nature schools has been the perfect containment for me. It has given me consistent time outdoors, allowed my inner child freedom to play and explore, and has helped heal my wounded teacher. That's something I didn't even realize I needed to do until I started working there!
And I could have never done all of this without these plants. They have played such a pivotal role in my healing journey, and I feel honored and excited to share their transformative wisdom with you! In fact, I'm so jazzed up about these plants and what they can offer, that I've created a workshop to teach you exactly how I work with these plants to nourish & support healthy boundaries, define a clear sense of self/Truth, and create structure that works FOR YOU! I'll even share some tips on how to easily incorporate them into your daily routine. So, if you're a parent, guardian, caregiver, or anyone who is taking responsibilities for others in the Gloucester, MA area and you feel called to do a deeper dive into this topic through the plants, join me on Thursday, June 30, 2022, for Freedom In Structure!
If you're not in the area, stay tuned for more posts that highlight these and many other plants as they offer their wisdom and medicine to help us get self-focused and prioritize ourselves!
With love from me & the plants,