Rebecca Schiller is a gardener, a smallholding steward, an activist, and women's rights campaigner - founder and trustee of human rights in childbirth charity Birthrights. She is the author several books for adults and for children. She joins Cultivating Place this week to chat more about her recent US publication: A Thousand Ways to Pay Attention, A Memoir of Coming Home to My Neurodivergent Mind (The Experiment, 2022), about grounding back to land, place, and garden—even in the midst of chaos and crisis inside and outside of us.
A Thousand Ways to Pay Attention tells the story of Rebecca and family’s move to a small less than 2 acre farm in the southeast of England in the midst of the political and environmental chaos of 2016, only to then spin into a mental health crisis, which leads Rebecca to a diagnosis of severe ADHD, a neurodivergence she'd had a sense of and actively over-worked to mask prior to the breakdown. But the "diagnosis" opens Rebecca up to whole new world of relating, understanding, and perceiving the plants and animals and land around her as well as seeing herself.
In our conversation, Rebecca shares more about this experience grasping her own ADHD and then of allowing the lives and history of lives on this land to expand her own thinking and being – allowing her access to seeing beyond the veils and constructs of our so-called normal everyday lives.
And among other many things, it is the many ways and how we pay attention in this world that expresses what and whom we value - truly, deeply, wholly - and everyone and everything for which we are thankful.
All images courtesy of Rebecca Schiller, all rights reserved.
Follow Rebecca online: https://www.rebeccaschiller.co.uk/ and on Instagram: @rebeccaschiller
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Speaking of plants... and place:
Because of the length of this rich conversation, we will return with Speaking Of Plants again next week
Thinking out loud this week:
So many things called out to me in this conversation with Rebecca – her inimitable way of bringing different perception forward for me – this recognition of the illusion of time, space, place – so much of what my garden reminds me of and yet I so routinely forget – get distracted, and need to be reminded again and again….the slowing, listening, learning, leaning in. Why do we move away over and over again that we are all in this together - over time and space? The two ideas and statemens of her that I have had turning in my head over and over again since I spoke with Rebecca are these: Sometimes the key arrives before the lock…..ohhh I love the idea and affirmation and sheer FAITH of that. Whatever it is arriving, growing, or even ending in our lives, that plant or seed or experience –could very well be the exact thing we need to move through the next struggle, doubt or obstacle in our lives….trite? maybe. True – you better believe it.
And this: the rest and relaxation of hard physical work. Now I will get if you do hard physical work for your livelihood, such as being a professional gardener, it might be less of a rest and relaxation for you than for it is for those of us at a desk all day – but the premise still holds – that sensation of resting our monkey brains and our overwrought nervous systems while doing something that moves our hands and bodies with purpose: it could be dancing that does this for you, it could be cooking, it could be folding laundry, it could be planting your bulbs, it could be dancing while dreaming of cooking those onions and garlic bulbs you just put in. Whatever it is for you – find time – make time - to rest and relax your nerves and your nature through the portals of such meaningful labors of love and life this winter season.
With the new moon on November 23rd and the deepening into this season of gratitude, I know I have the pleasant buzz of making of things on my mind all the time right now – I finished knitting a pair of socks for my November-born father’s 85th birthday; I am starting to craft little gift herbal wreaths for friends doors comes December 1st, and even I – not a passionate cook – am yearning for stews and rich sauces and the warmth of the hearth as it were. The change of seasons is a deep deep pull – the pull in, the pull to slow down. It is notable and it is necessary. What kinds of things do you like to make as we head toward the holidays?
If you happen to have making on your mind and hands and you live within driving distance of Chico, CA, I would love to have you join me and botanist friend Adrienne Edwards on December 10th on the campus of CSU Chico for a California Native Plant wreath making workshop – It is always a total blast of interesting nerdy plant folk and holiday fun - learning your plants, community crafting, refreshments and holiday music are a bonus to actual taking a wreath or other item home :). We provide all the materials you will need and all proceeds go to support the botanical, educational, and conservation hearted mission of CSU Chico’s Ahart Herbarium!
If you'd like to register or get more information - send an email to: email@example.com
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