See'rs, Be-ers, Knowers and Doers

How Being Open to Learning Can Open a Door to Our Intuition

May 24, 2021 Season 2 Episode 37
See'rs, Be-ers, Knowers and Doers
How Being Open to Learning Can Open a Door to Our Intuition
Show Notes Transcript

I spoke with Helen Stewart on March 2, 2021. It was great to hear about her adventures in Northern British Columbia and how that learning lead her back to her love of the garden when she was a child and then again to that love of the garden most recently. Learning about the patterns and the connection to nature as well as how her own learning and creativeness lead her to fulfilling her role as an educator of so many people was wonderful. 

Bio
Helen Stewart is an artist, writer, and long-time gardener. She feels a deep connection to the land, to plants and trees, and to her garden.
Helen is most happy when in the midst of any creative project. She has written and illustrated many books (children’s and adult books)
concerning the environment – its great and abiding beauty, but also the grave dangers endangering this infinitely complex natural world.
Drawn into the Garden, Helen’s latest book, offers some practical suggestions about connecting with the earth and caring for its
precious soil.

Speaker 1:

Welcome to Sears beers, knowers, and doers, a podcast about intuition. Do you know what that is? Intuition to me, is that inner sense for knowing that something is true and yet I have no proof, but there's so many definitions and there's so many ways it can come and we'll even to bring together and share with you some amazing guests, you have some amazing life stories and also some insights into how intuition can come. And I'm looking to gather those crows in the trees. I hope you're one of them. I hope that this podcast inspires you to be more connected to your intuition. And I hope that by doing that, we make the world a better place. Thanks for coming on this journey with me

Speaker 2:

Before we get started today, I would love to share some tools with you to help with stress and feeling overwhelmed, especially for the energetically sensitive person. Feel free to go to my store on my website at www dot healing, vitality.ca. Thanks so much for coming on this journey with me. So today I'm super excited to connect with a fellow West coaster and introduce her to you and have her share some of her insights with us today. So thank you so much, Helen Stewart for joining me today. And I'd love if you could share some things about yourself so that we can get to know you

Speaker 3:

Better. Okay. Well, I am an artist and I'm a writer and I'm a gardener and I live in Victoria now and very old and wonderful house. And I have a big, beautiful garden, but I have had an interesting life. I started, I grew up in Berkeley, California, and then I lived in Northern British Columbia on a sheep farm, a very remote area for about 15 years or more before we moved here. So I've had different experiences. And I think all of them have led me to learn more about gardening and the land and the soil in particular. But that's my big interest at the moment.

Speaker 2:

Well , and it's a hot topic, actually, Helen, for people who are paying attention, it is a very hot topic because without the soil, we're nothing

Speaker 3:

That's right. So important . Yeah . So when I was young, we went to see my grandmother in Rochester, New York, every summer. And my great grandfather had been the head of Elwing or embarrassing nursery there, which was the largest nursery in North America. At the time it was 625 acres of a garden. Wow. And my grandfather and his twin brother were also gardeners fine gardeners, but they both became bankers. And I spent the summers at my grandmother's and this beautiful old garden. It wasn't was not the old or beg Berry garden. It was a piece that was left a small piece. So I learned very early about a beautiful garden. And to me it was the most beautiful place in the world. I thought it was like a fairy land. And I loved being in my grandfather's garden and working with my grandmother and cutting off dead pansies and picking roses. So I had an influence from when I was a child. And then when I married, when I was much too young and moved North to a little narrow little town called McBride, that's in the VOP and Valley and it's a very beautiful area. But when we moved there in 1965, it was very isolated and we had a huge vegetable garden there and we were, we had sheep, but we were self-sufficient . We grew all our food and I baked bread every day.

Speaker 4:

Homesteading. I

Speaker 3:

Was homesteading for sure. I remember when I got my ring, a washing machine was the most wonderful gift I've ever been given until then I was actually washing clothes on a scrub board. So it was, and uh , when we went to McBride, the road went from Vancouver up to Jasper and you turned West and McBride was the end of the road. Now it's no longer the end of the road, but the road was only open for three or four months in the summertime. The rest of the time it was closed. So it was very isolated. And for me, this was just the most enormous change. That would be an understatement. It was an understatement. The first year we lived in town. And I think I , I, if I had been able to leave, I would've left. It was so depressing to me. And I think the thing that was the hardest was there were beautiful high mountains on either side the Rockies on one side and the caribou mountains on the other side of this Valley, that it meant that the sun in the winter time went down very early and in the 10 on, at one 30, it was pitch black. And then it didn't the sun didn't come up until about nine 30. And this is very hard Canadian. So tough.

Speaker 4:

Yes. For a California girl. My goodness.

Speaker 3:

Yes, for me, it was just, but I had never really paid attention to the weather growing up in California because it was always beautiful. It wasn't ever too cold and it wasn't never too hot. And I played outside all the time and I was barefoot all the time and this was just so different to me. And then when we moved out onto this farm, which was a beautiful little farm and out of town, further up on a Hill where it didn't get dark early, some was good, but we did have an enormous vegetable garden and there, it was pretty much Virgin land. And then we had all the manure from the sheep barn that we plowed into the soil and everything grew so quickly because in summer, the days for so long, and you worked outside pretty much until 11 at night, and then it started getting light again by three or four in the morning. So you could almost watch the vegetables, but the feeds , you could almost watch them growing. They grew so quickly and the vegetables were beautiful, sweet way nicer than what I'd have here in Victoria, just way nicer. But it was so much work. And we lived with men and Knights around us and they worked so hard, but I did learn a different aspect of gardening and farming. And at first I was just overwhelmed, but I, I got, so I really loved it. I, I loved to sheep. I was afraid of the cows and my then husband got a job teaching at the university of Calgary. So he had a long summer holiday, but a lot of the time I was alone. So the children and I had to manage just one catastrophe. So, and I had never, I had never had to work when I was growing up. I didn't really know about working. And I thought so I loved working and you could see the results with your jars all lined up for at all day. But after about 15 years of that, well, and the children were getting older and the schooling wasn't all that, but they needed that . We came to Victoria and then I started, well later I started gardening here, but it was a totally different situation with hardly any soils. So I had to make my soil. And I think without the experience on the farm, I never would have been able to do what I did here. So I was lucky to have a different type of background.

Speaker 2:

Yes. Just even living off the land for like having to live off the land, the knowledge that you would gain from trial and error. And I imagine intuition came into it when you're by yourself with kids. I always think of mother's intuition, but you would have had mother's intuition on steroids. I would assume being so isolated so

Speaker 3:

Well , and to even had to be really aware of the weather. And I never had been before. And I guess , I guess, because you were outside so much at the time, you were so aware of the seasons and how the seasons changed and you depended completely on your garden and it was just a different, a different situation. So you didn't really have to be aware and paying attention. And because I'm an artist, I do pay attention and look at things and I've taught children art for about a hundred years. And it seems to me with that , what I'm always saying, look at that, Hey attention, can I help beautiful? That is. And when we moved here, I started giving art classes for children. And one of the things I did at the beginning was I put a bulk hay on the table of simple, okay. And have them draw it and then have them look at the flowers and see that nobody drew what was in front of them. And then we practice up until we put, I put a K on the table and then they'd have to be quiet and look at it for a few minutes and then I'd take it away and they draw it. And at first it didn't work at all, but after some practice, they got very good and they started looking much more carefully at everything I felt that was such a good thing to learn. Wow.

Speaker 2:

And in today's world where we're so distracted or have to pay attention in short periods of time to many different things, I think that kind of I'll call it an attunement almost of the memory game when you were a kid or , or the exercise that you're doing you did with these kids. I think that it is a training almost to pay attention and that paying attention can spill out over into the rest of your life if you, if you want it to. But would you agree with it ?

Speaker 3:

Yeah, I totally agree with that. And I think it's born more necessary today because children, when I was, I mean, I stopped teaching about 10 years ago, but when I was teaching, I could read a story to the children and then I couldn't read another one and they pay attention. Now a child can hardly sit through a story there's so distracted all the time. And as for looking at things outside, they, they don't pay attention. And I, I see parents walking in my nearby park with their children and they're listening to an iPod or something while they're walking. And I think I don't listen to what's happening . You're missing everything. Where are you even coming in here ?

Speaker 2:

Yeah. And I also think of the safety aspect. I think I've talked about this on another podcast. When people go walk in nature and they have their iPads or iPods on or whatever, they're listening to, they're setting themselves up. I find, and maybe it's just my paranoia, but if you don't pay attention to your surroundings, you're missing a couple of senses on top of your spidey sense, not being tuned in. So I think it's, there's layers to that that are

Speaker 3:

Well. And now that I'm older and I walk in the park every day with my dog and when I was younger, I went more places to walk because there are many beautiful places nearby to walk. But now I mostly walk in my nearby park and I pay attention. And I, every day I see something different and every day I stop and look at something different. And I love that being so familiar with a place that you can feel the rhythm of, of the earth and you can feel the earth breathing. And in the springtime, going up into the chemist meadow and just sitting there and listening and hearing the bees and seeing the butterflies, but feeling the, kind of the heartbeat of the earth. But you have to be still to be able to do that. And I mean, I should get old energy, so it's maybe easier

Speaker 2:

Craving it more as they're forced to be still, which is interesting. Like there's is a percentage of the population that is confined in their houses and are forced to be more still. And I think there's a craving for the youth because I've had several clients who got into gardening finally this summer, and they've just fallen in love with their hands in the earth. And all of that comes with that, the grounding and , and the health and all sorts of things that come with that. So I think, yeah ,

Speaker 3:

And even if you only have a tiny garden, you start to pay attention to your plan and watch them change. And that's all so important. It's , uh , I get so excited that I was going to go back today to look and see if the sat and flowers had started to open up. And when I see the first door and I just feel, Oh, I have like a miracle all over again.

Speaker 2:

Yeah. Nature is that nature series of miracles. It's really fun. Yeah .

Speaker 3:

I think the more that you pay attention and if you're gardening, the more that you garden, if you are paying attention, then the more you notice that there's just such a huge amount of learn, just it's never ending. And you need many, many lifetimes for this.

Speaker 2:

Yeah. Very true. So I'm going to shift gears a little bit, Helen, how does intuition come to you?

Speaker 3:

Well, I have intuition. I sometimes I have a dream about something or I just see it sense when something's going to happen, but I think may not outside. And gardening has developed more of a sense of, of intuition, not of a specific event. Sometimes I wish I wasn't so intuitive because some of the things that I sense are, are not happy things, but a general sense of intuition. I think I get from being outside am I tend to touch things a lot. I, when I walk through my garden, my , I know I'm always feeling the plants and smelling them. And I like texture and I, in my painting, in my drawings, I like texture and layering. And I think that, that you can, you can develop intuition by putting your hands in the ground and feeling things and being connected to things. So it's an intuition, but it's something larger than that. It's a connection as well.

Speaker 2:

Mm . Yeah. Well, and just before the call, you had mentioned how moving up North seemed to flip a switch. Almost, maybe that's a little profound, but it heightened your intuition. You said to me before, can you go into a little bit more about that?

Speaker 3:

Yeah . Now, Ashley, I was thinking about that because I wrote a book afterwards about living in the North called Berkeley to the barnyard. And I, I marked something here where I wrote, I briefed in my surroundings gradually soaking up the sense and images about me until somehow this world took hold of my heart and crept into my soul. And I think that's what happened that at first it was foreign to me and the hostile, I mean, we have bears and coyotes by the Tizen and so many predators that were after the sheep . And you had to be aware all the time and careful. And at first I think I found it all frightening, but in the end I really loved it there. And I felt very connected and I felt attached in a personal way, particularly to this clump of Birch trees that wasn't in our front garden that I felt with this tree, that if something happened to it, it wouldn't mean that it was time for me to leave the farm. It just wasn't about important to me. I had a dream once of being buried underneath the tree, I was that connected with the tree. And I did a study with my children. I mean, I did some homeschooling when we are there. And one of the things we did was study this Birch tree and watch what happened and make little drawings and collect the bugs that were on there and make drawings made . We made a little insect collection and kept track of the different birds as they came, when they came and when the leaves fell and when they started coming back again. And I think that was a , when I think about that, I think that was a fairly good project because it included so much about the rhythm of the earth and how complex it is and how beautiful. And I thought, Oh, I've got to the lost data . Fine . Yeah .

Speaker 2:

Right

Speaker 3:

When I was still at Berkeley, I , um, I went to the university of Berkeley. I worked for a professor who was Angela Knology and he was developing a program of , uh , teaching animal coloration to fifth grade children. And I got to help with that. And that's when I realized that I really liked teaching little children. I helped make the backdrops and cut out the butterflies. But once a week, I got to go to the school and present this material to the children. And it was all new to me. I mean, I , I took in snakes and I took in [inaudible] and the first day we had to cut open a fish. I'd never done that before and just rushing out interested. The children were, it was so exciting. And I , and I think that really sparked a lot of my interest in biology and plants. And we went out in the schoolyard . It was different than it was all grass and hillside. It was so beautiful and we collected insects and we looked at things and I really, really enjoyed that. So that was probably about the only preparation I had for being on the farm.

Speaker 2:

Oh , wow. But you know, it's interesting how there's been seeds on, I'll use this analogy on purpose. There's been seeds planted throughout your life, connecting you to the earth, right. From your childhood. It's been interesting to follow that through the stories that you've shared. It's been

Speaker 3:

Well. And now that I'm older, I can see that connection and I can see how I've ended up. I mean, I'm all , you've almost gone in a circle in a way, because I used to look at my grandmother's life and think, Oh, I was like a life like that. And she was out in her garden. And, but my life is not like her life and it's not as formal. And she had help. I mean, I have help now too, but she had a maid, but , um, it seems so peaceful and calm to me. And my life is far from peaceful and calm, but I do have that, but my grandmother had it and I can see directly how I linked my grandparents and their parents before them. And I sometimes walk through my garden and think, Oh, my grandparents would be, so I wish I could take them into my garden and show them everything. They would be so proud and happy. And because of course, when you count children, things, you have no idea whether they're going to pay attention or not. But in this case I did.

Speaker 2:

Yes. Yeah. They sparked the whole fire.

Speaker 3:

Yeah, that's true. Yeah.

Speaker 2:

How cool, Oh my goodness. This has been interesting. So now currently you have a few books, is that correct? And do you write intuitively like how some , I always imagined that writing has to come from somewhere, but ,

Speaker 3:

Um , I'm not sure my case. I mean, I was looking at my Berkeley to the bartender book . Then I was reading some of it last night and I thought, wow, this is really good. I don't know how I did it because I was not born a writer. I was born an artist for sure. And I drew on a time I was small. And the first things that I drew were trees and plants. So that was a very natural development for me. But when we were in the North, somebody had asked me to do illustrations for a book that he was doing. And in the end that didn't work out. But I had done so many illustrations and I thought, well, maybe I'll just try doing something myself. And I had a close friend who had done a book and I, I was involved in it. She lived in San Francisco. I was involved in a little bit and I just found the whole puzzle of putting the words together with the illustrations I have that I love illustrating. And I love of being able to find the right words that go with the illustration I love. And I've got, so I really like writing now, but in the beginning I wrote so I could illustrate, but now I see the book much more as a whole and integrating the words with the pictures. And when I look at something, I automatically to get painting, I have always liked that, but now I'm starting to see words that go with them too . And the whole process of writing and then illustrating, and then putting the book. I have a designer and I have an editor, but working on that, I just really liked that. It's, it's just a wonderful thing to do. And my last book called drawn into the garden. I worked on for five years and I thought it would be my last book, but I know sooner finished it. Then I had this really good other book. And so I'm already onto another book. It's just, it's, it's so much fun that I can say, Oh, maybe I can do one more.

Speaker 2:

Well, those would be divinely led , I would assume. Right? When you get those ideas and you have to be, you're driven to, to fulfill them. I find those things are , are intuitively when there's that

Speaker 3:

Much joy that's sparked. I, I like waking up, like get to work on this. And the other thing is in the winter time, when you're not in the garden, then I'm drawing more and it's like being in the garden. So it's all kind of connected together. Yeah. Yeah. That's what's cool. Wow. Well, this has been fantastic to learn so much more about you Helen, because literally I think I found you on a video that was done about your book drawn in the garden. I'm like, Oh, Victoria. Oh, an artist. Oh, a writer. I said, I think I need to have her on my podcast because that all that doesn't happen just without some intuitions . So thank you again for saying yes. Oh, well you're very welcome. This has been lovely. All right . Well until next time, Helen, thank you so much. It's very nice to talk to you. Thank you.

Speaker 1:

Thank you so much for giving us your time today. We truly appreciate our guests for sharing their stories and insights about how intuition has impacted their lives. And I'm so grateful for Peter trainer for his time and giving me this original music. It's now your turn. It's your turn to listen and act on your own intuition and help make the world a better place until next time, keep seeing being, knowing, and doing. If you like this podcast, please share it. If you want to find others, like it, go to www dot healing, vitality.ca or wherever you would find your podcasts. We would love to have you join us on this journey. Come be a Crow sitting in the tree, be part of our community.