When I moved to Stari Grad, Croatia a year ago, I was ready to find connection after losing my grandmom in Jan & finding out that my dad, on the other side of the world, had cancer (he’s in remission 🙏).
My world felt upside down, I carried around what felt like 15 extra pounds. I felt alone. Not only was I an ocean away from my family while I was grieving, I also didn’t speak the local language & rarely felt human connection.
I bought starigradyoga.com & launched on Airbnb to teach yoga as I scrambled on IG to hopefully meet people in the community.
As I was doing my research of the area, I stumbled across a lavender farm on the island, Hora Farm. One of my dreams is to have a lavender farm & this felt like a sign.
A few days later, I found myself running to the farm to introduce myself to Romana, who ran their marketing & events. At first Romana was a bit off guard trying to interpret my intentions. I can only imagine she was thinking, “why is this girl smiling so much?” I was so excited to see my dream & meet someone in my new town.
We toured the beautiful plain, sampled some Bogdanusa wine (God sent), Romana taught me how all of their food & drink was farm to table & how they distill their own lavender. 😍 I offered to help in anyway possible. Romana couldn’t think of anything at the moment & we promised to keep in touch to figure out ways to work together.
I snuck in a few yoga poses in the newly found Shangri-La before I ran home.
The first months on the island were filled with my host telling us how much global warming is affecting their land on Hvar. The wind was excessive, there was more rain than ever & it was unseasonably cold. I could feel her grief as she described the decline in bees’ health on their family farms.
Usually the months of April & May start to move away from the rainy season while the number of sunny days increased. Not this year. Lots of rain, intense wind & cool temperatures remained well into mid-June.
A couple of weeks after my first visit to Hora Farms, a bad storm hit & all of their crops were destroyed with golf ball size hail.
They had to start over. They needed help.
Luckily, I had met Soraya, who found me through yoga. She was quick to jump on board & before we knew it we were biking to the farm & eating breakfast with the ladies who ran the farm. We filled our bellies & said živjeli with a shot of raki before a day of planting tomatos.
The next few hours were therapeutic. Digging my hands into the earth, securing the stalks so that they’d hopefully withstand any storms. It drizzled rain while we planted. The view of the snow on the mountains in the distance left me feeling inspired.
Sure, I’m in nature often & appreciate the hell out of it, but there’s something remarkable about putting your hands in the earth. Each tomato I planted reminded me how fragile life can be & how much work goes into tending to the earth for high quality & nutritious food we all rely on & expect everyday.
I was mindful of the sounds, smells, & everything around me. Towards the end of the day, we were all planting in silence. Tired & hungry, yet satisfied with seeing rows of healthy tomatoes standing tall.
After rows of tomatoes were planted, we came together for dinner, wine & more wine. It was the best meal I had in all of my travels, potentially in all of my life.
It wasn’t just because it was downright delicious, but because we had bonded by overcoming a challenge together. We pulled together people who knew the land with foreigners who were eager for connection with the earth & one another. We laughed our hearts out, even when languages were being jumbled & the weather was awful.
This was my dream.
Sure, I had the lavender farm in the background… But more importantly, I had a family during so much uncertainty & isolation. I got to put my hands in the earth & help it grow.
Celebrating Earth Day
This story parallels where we are right in 2020 as a society. We have a figurative hail storm ruining our crops. We need to protect what we have & plan for what’s next. We need to come together in ways we couldn’t even imagine before.
We’re all going to have our time out in bad weather, but that doesn’t mean we can’t come together to share a meal & some laughs in between.
So, while many of us are quarantined in our homes, reminiscing in the past, just like I did with the story above, it’s important for us all to be mindful about our earth everyday. We have one strong, resilient & ruthless earth that we’ve been treating pretty awful. We have a lot of problems to address, but we will address them.
It starts with growing our connection with the earth that feeds us, something we can all do in small ways from our houses.
Whether it’s planting a veggie in your window, connecting with nature as you take deep breaths outside, picking up a piece (or even a bag) of trash off the street, composting your waste, eliminating plastic throwaways, reducing your own carbon footprint, or voting for sustainable business practices with your money, or teaching your kids about the earth & sustainability, every bit counts.
Not to mention, it’s scientifically proven that seeing nature reduces stress. Simply looking at photos of nature allows your body to find rest & your mind to find connection.
We are amazing when we work together & I promise you… it feels amazing when we do.
Happy Earth Day!!!