Always Well Within

Calm Your Mind, Ease Your Heart, Embrace Your Inner Wisdom

My Hawaii Life: Celebrating the Healing Power of Nature

Rainbow, Big Island, Hawaii

Double Rainbow, Big Island, Hawaii

If you would like to listen to me read this piece, please click below or continue on to read the text.

I grew up in a large city.  I never envisioned living on a fruit farm.  Life is not predictable, at least not for some of us.

This isn’t a commercial farm nor is it a large farm.  It’s just our humble attempt to live more sustainably.

Weeding, mulching, and feeding constitute my main tasks on the farm.  The scent of Cuban oregano and lemon grass delights me as I pull and hack and sweat – in moderation, of course.

We planted these permaculture stars around the base of our fruit trees to keep the weeds at bay along with various forms of unusual spinaches.  In theory (and hopefully in practice), the circle of lemon grass inhibits snails too, which are plentiful in this territory.

I would probably stay glued to my computer all day, but I’ve gotten myself into this impossible situation:  the land demands care.  And sitting too long in front of a computer screen causes its own aches and pains.  I’m grateful to be released from the obsession of likes, pluses, hearts, and retweets, called to duty by this lovely lava land.

Citrus Tree, Big Island, Hawaii

Small citrus tree surrounded by Cuban oregano, Brazilian Spinach, and Lemon Grass

Working on the land:

Calms my mind.  When I plant my feet on the ground, I spontaneously feel centered. I have to pay attention and stay in the moment or I might hurt myself.  I stumbled backwards onto a lava rock last year and had a large black and blue cheek (you know the one I mean) for a month.  I wasn’t able to sit or lay comfortably in most positions for more than a week.  The land insists on this present moment.

Eases my heart.  It may be a tiny contribution, but I know I’m doing something good for the world by growing some of my own food, using less gas by staying close to home, and honoring the elements, which give life to us all.

Frees my wisdom.  When I abide in the spaciousness of the present moment – at the invitation of the land – insight naturally arises in its own time.  I don’t have to overthink, drain my brain, or get a headache trying to figure things out.

Jack Fruit Tree, Big Island, Hawaii

Jackfruit Tree with Banana Plants in the background

Boost Your Health and Well-Being

According to Chinese medicine, the Earth Element represents the feminine, nurturing, and receptive qualities of life, all so needed right now to bring the world back into balance.

If you feel caught up in mental activity and internet overload, see if you can pull yourself away to touch base with the land.  Literally, touch the earth and tune into what nourishes you.

The Earth Element is associated with the late summer and the transitional periods between seasons.  However, if you have digestive issues or feel ungrounded, disconnected, or worried – signs your internal Earth Element is out of balance – you don’t have to wait until those times to regain your ground.  Here are some simple ways to reconnect with the Earth and thus simultaneously nourish the Earth Element within you.

  • Plant a tree.
  • Grow a planter garden on your deck.
  • Start a small herb forest above your window sink.
  • Sprout some seeds or beans.
  • Enjoy a picnic sitting on the grass.
  • Climb a tree.
  • Take a walk in the park.
  • Avoid wastefulness and consume only what is needed out of respect for this Earth.
  • Strive for unity, harmony, and the middle way.

I came to Hawaii to heal from a debilitating illness.  I didn’t intend to stay, but I’m so grateful I did. I needed to connect to the Earth for my own health and happiness.

All the elements express themselves dramatically where I live:  onyx-colored lava, unending ocean, trade-winds caressing one’s face, pounding sun alternating with sheets of rain, and the rare gift of space.  People often express envy that I live in paradise.  And, I do.  But rest assured there are a few drawbacks here too.

Consider the countless annoying insects, unsavory rodents, and constantly chirping nocturnal coqui frogs, who multiply prolifically on the east side of the island.  Volcanic Organic Gases, known as VOG, irritate people with allergies and environmental sensitivities.  Not to mention, with all due respect, the lava has a mind of her own and goes where she will reminding us that life is always uncertain.  The government sprays the roadside with toxic pesticides.  You might end of climbing coconut trees for sustenance because jobs are limited at best.

Ultimately, paradise is a state of mind, isn’t it?  But, I won’t deny for a moment how precious it is to live surrounded by beauty, the natural elements, and the spirit of aloha.  I’m grateful to the Hawaiians who lived in sacred relationship to this land both as its steward and its servant.

May every day be earth day!

Do you spend time touching base with the earth?  I cherish your comments and would love to hear.

P. S.  This is my first time recording a piece.  I apologize for the imperfections, but hope to get better as I go along. Do you find recordings like this helpful?  Do you tend to listen to recordings when they are available?

Thanks for reading!  If you have a moment to share the goodness on social media, I would be deeply grateful.  May you be well, happy, and safe. With love, Sandra


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  1. Even as a gardener I don’t spend enough time as work or life intrudes…I am most connected, happy and peaceful in my garden….thanks for the reminder to be there more often.

    • You’re welcome, Donna. I hope you get to spend more time in your garden! I’m glad you feel most connected, happy, and peaceful there.

  2. Love the earth and all things of nature Sandra and whilst paradise is a state of mind, nothing quite links me to it than the beauty of our earth.

    Thanks for this…it struck a chord. 🙂

    • That makes my heart sing, Elle! I’m happy for you. You’re so right that a beautiful environment can have such a powerful impact on the mind and body.

  3. Hello Sandra, how true indeed. We live on a farm in Australia and the work never ends! However, the connection to the earth, the beauty, the many breaths of fresh air and the physical action required are a brilliant foil for the office work and social media. I definitely agree that paradise is a state of mind.

    • So true, Jane! There’s always more to do. I have to remind myself not to get into that headspace and to enjoy each moment as you describe so beautifully! Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

  4. Oh, Sandra, I LOVED hearing your voice as you read this beautiful piece!!!! I read along and scrolled down to see the pictures!!! I hope that you will do more recordings (I love hearing people’s voices as well as reading their words because it adds another whole dimension to the experience! To me your little giggles and stumbles were charming and added to the reading and my experience of YOU! 🙂 More, please! And it really does sound like paradise but the bugs take a bit of the glamour off for me—-they are horrible here and I am sure they would send out a bulletin if I were there to go there saying that a new fast foods place just opened up called Jean”s Bug Bite and Sip Fly Through. 🙂

    • You gave me such a good laugh with your new fast food place, Jean! It really depends on where you are in Hawaii. If you are on the Kona side of the island, you wouldn’t have the same problems with mosquitoes, for example.

      THANK YOU so much for the feedback on the audio recording. It was scary to do it, and it felt like a mini-breakthrough and accomplishment. Yes, I’ll do more. I’ll probably still have stumbles now and then and gigles are good I’m sure.

      Much love to you. So glad you’re back!

  5. Matt Valentine

    That’s beautiful. This post reminded me of a story Thich Nhat Hanh once told.

    He described a woman who had always dreamt of having a garden. When she became successful, and made enough money to buy a house with a garden like she had always wanted, she barely ever took the time to enjoy it.

    The hustle and bustle, the illusion of attaining meaning by “going to the next level”, pushed her along continuously to the point where she never really got to live.

    I really enjoyed hearing you describe how you took the time to appreciate your garden and realize the significance in your experience with it.

    Also, great job with the audio. I recorded my first audiobook recently and it caused me to freeze uncontrollably at one point for long periods of time (weird side effect, it was mostly the pressure of finishing by the deadline I had set for myself which caused it).

    It was pretty difficult to finish, but as a result, I now heavily respect anyone who even takes a shot at recording audio!

    • Thank you, Matt! I’m glad you enjoyed the post. And I love the story from Thich Nhat Hanh. It so like how most of us live our lives.

      Congratulations on finishing your first audiobook. That’s huge. I can understand that things would come up like freezing. You made it through though. That’s such an accomplishment. Thanks for the feedback on my first attempt. It was scary, but it got easier as I went along.

      Thanks for taking the time to share a story and your thoughts.

  6. Loved this essay, Sandra! And most of all, loved hearing your voice! It instantly adds another dimension of intimacy and curiosity. I hope you’ll keep doing it as often as you can.

    Also, reading about how working on land can enrich and ease our lives in so many ways was really useful for me. I think I’ll start small with a container garden as a practice and opportunity to work with a tiny patch of “land” away from my desk, computer and business, with which I can spend the whole day just like you. 🙂

    • Thank you, Cigdem! I’m so happy you feel inspired to start small with a container garden. Even starting with one plant can be so satisfying. I also find it so excited when the shoot breaks through the dirt when I used seeds. Good luck with your mini endeavor. I hope you find it enjoyable and healing too.

      Thanks for your encouragement for the audio! That means so much to me. I will definitely do more. I’ve discovered it’s quite easy and fun.

  7. Sandra! I loved listening to this. It felt as if I were there almost. I also got inspired to plant herbs at our balcony this summer. Hugs from Anki in Sweden

    • Hi Anki,

      That makes me so happy! I’m glad you enjoy listening to this. How exciting, a little herb garden on the balcony. I think that will be delightful!

  8. Hi Sandra,

    Reading this I thought, “did I write this?” It made me feel connected to you. Our humble daily lives are so similar in respect to balancing creative work with earth work. Our plants (and insects) are different from yours here in Kentucky. Our desire to steward a small piece of the earth with positive tending is simpatico.

    Thank you for reminding us of the many ways anyone can and I hope does, enter into the fulfilling relationship with our mother.

    It was a treat to hear you speak.

    • Your farm is so beautiful, Kathleen! Yes, I also feel an affinity for your creativity, dedication to healing, and your connection to the earth. We are on the same path and I feel you are leading the way. We certainly have our unique plants and insects in our respective areas 🙂

      Like you, I wish we would all connect with the earth and feel her nourishing qualities.

  9. Just reading this post was calming and centering. The pictures are beautiful too. I’ve discovered I don’t particularly enjoy yard work (except mowing the lawn) or gardening, but I do enjoy walking and getting out in nature. I’ve been trying to walk more places in order to drive less, and increase my time outside. There has definitely been a correlation between my well being and these lifestyle changes.

    • That’s wonderful, Kayla. I’m so happy for you. I understand how yard work can feel like work, for sure! I’m glad you enjoy being in nature, it has so much goodness to offer. It’s great to hear you found the post calming and centering too. Thanks for the feedback!

  10. This is so lovely, Sandra. I used to be an avid gardener–until writing got in the way. But I still have my pots and raised beds. And like Kayla, I love to get out and walk.

    • Thanks, Charlotte! It seems like you’ve been super-busy with writing and teaching lately. I’m happy for you. And, I’m glad you still have your pots and raised beds so you can have some nature time too. So nice to “see” you!

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