WomanKind Series - Connection with nature
Here at Pukka we believe that the key to wellness is being in tune with nature and aligning ourselves with the wisdom that inherently is within us all. We are nature – not separate from – but an integral part of it all.
Early into the project Lou met with Bristol-based Architect and Urbanist Director of Nudge Group, Shankari Raj and Pukka Herbs' own Sustainability Manager, Vicky Murray. Together in Lou's studio they shared memories of their multicultural upbringings, what heritage means to them and how they find space to connect to nature in the digital age.
How strong is your sense of connection to your heritage and roots?
Shankari: I have just spent the last six months in Sri Lanka, with the intention of re-engaging with the land that my Grandmother lived on and brought us all up on and no one's lived there since the 70's, so I kind of felt like it was my opportunity to take six months out of life and go and spend some time there to re-engage in that place on my own.
I think I sort of immersed myself into it, but I definitely felt foreign to that place, and everyone's just kind of staring at you and you kind of have like a crisis of identity and ethnicity. Not until I decided to build the house and they started to know like my heritage and background from the elders from this place, did they start to understand why I was there and respect the fact that I was there.
All of my aunts and uncles were like "god we're so proud of you" because no one else had, I guess no time but also the intention of doing something. It's something that I hope that lots of family and friends can come and use now and it becomes a place that re-invigorates itself.
Lou: Do you relate to that in anyway, what happened when you left Hong Kong [where Vicky grew up with her family]?
Vicky: My Mum particularly yearned to come back home to be nearer her family and I've experienced that certainly when I've moved from one place to another. I went out to live in London and then was there for about ten years then moved back to Bristol about two years ago, and I had underestimated how hard it would be leaving my friends and particularly the friends that I'd made when I had my daughter.
Those bonds that I made with those women, when you're going through that all at the same time, were incredible. I went through a proper grieving process when I moved here because I left those women behind.
Lou: I think that's something I've really realised recently, is that you've got your family and then you've got your friends family and the women and the female network around you is so important.
When do you feel most connected to yourself?
Vicky: Where I most feel connected nowadays is, I've just started sharing an allotment but it makes me so happy. You know I was feeling quite blue, just last week, I had a couple of days of you know just feeling low, so I went to the allotment. And, I had a lot of weeding to do and it was pretty hard graft, yeah. But, half way through, I found I was just smiling.
Lou: Since I got Bill, I have to walk twice a day. Going out and the breeze on my face or the sun, the rain, any weather, love it bring it on. It's just amazingly grounding and you know, you come back with a totally different frame of mind at the end of a walk.
Vicky: And I read a blog on that just a couple of weeks ago and it was saying exactly that, if you take a walk in nature, you're much less likely to come back, or it can halt that overthinking much more than if you were to take a walk in a city, in an urban environment. There's something about being in nature that calms and connects.
Shankari: You've got less and less people engaging with nature, and more mental health problems and pollution, so you've got to find ways of engaging people more readily with their natural environment.
What if prioritising people, planet and peace featured in the job descriptions of more politicians? How would you write the job ad?
Vicky: You know, politicians, that four-year term, you can't think long term you can't make, when you're kind of getting the popular vote you can't make the difficult longer term decisions when you're thinking "I just need to get re-elected". We need more feminine in all places of authority, whether it's politicians..
Lou: And that's for men and women.
Vicky: .. for men and women that's really important, so the feminine side of nurturing and of collaborating. Once that sort of bubbles up towards the surface, you can see a much more sustainable future.
Shankari: Bringing those feminine traits whether that's in a man or woman, into business, into politics, is so incredibly important.
Lou: I think that we really need to take politics right back down to you know, base levels of bringing up children and encouraging our kin and our children to be more rounded, natural individuals which in this day and age is extremely difficult because of the age of digital technology.
Vicky: These conversations need to continue, they're really important. We need to think about the role of women in making change and building a better future because you know, we are important, we are half the population, we have voices and difference and like in nature, diversity makes us stronger. We need a stronger voice.
When do you feel most connected to yourself? Join the conversation and give @PukkaHerbs a tweet using the hashtag #WomanKind.