Bonita Ford joins us this week on the Seeds of Tao Podcast Episode 063 as we dive into cultivating hope, even in the darkest of times. Bonita is a non-violent communication expert, group facilitator, and coach who combines permaculture with non-violent communication, body and nature awareness, movement, and Reiki into her work. She’s just released her first book, Embers of Hope which she describes in the episode. Especially in these times of pandemics and uncertainty, her message of hope in the darkness is vitally important for us to utilize and maintain the regenerative mindset we seek.
Get in touch with Bonita:
Here's where she first took a PDC:
Here's where she got her permaculture diploma:
In the episode, Bonita shares her journey of writing her book and the struggles she was having before her friend fell very ill and passed away. In this process, Bonita went to a very dark place, and found that she did not have to stay in that dark place, but could still have hope. This hope pulled her from the darkest places and yet allowed her to stay in the dark places if necessary and work through them in a way that helped her to value each and every day we have on this earth. She says, “If we can hold ourselves gently and courageously in that dark place, then it really shows us how precious our lives are.” In her book, Embers of Hope, she relates this to building a fire.
If you’ve ever built a fire by hand with primitive tools or a bow drill, not matches or a lighter, you’ll know how much work goes into creating that first ember, and how very precious it is to keep alive. These small pieces of light and hope are likewise extremely important for us, especially in times of darkness in our lives. That ember looks different for everyone, for some it’s their spouse or their kids, maybe it’s their community or their work, it doesn’t matter what shape it takes, just that it’s a light point to focus on when things get rough.
Four years ago when I was 27 years old, we were living in Montana in our trailer, slaving away at making a home on that hill. I was driving one day and called my grandmother to check in on her and she told me my dad had passed away suddenly. He was 66 years old, he wasn’t sick, he had choked while eating lunch alone in his house. I remember feeling the shock run through me like lightning. I turned the car back home and fell to pieces when I walked through the door. I was pregnant with our 4th baby, my dad hadn’t even known yet.
While my dad lived in California, we had lived in Utah and Montana our entire marriage and only traveled down to California once or twice a year. But one of the years in Montana our water systems kept freezing and went down to California for the winter right when I got discharged from the hospital after having our 3rd baby. We spent 6 months down in California with my family waiting winter out, and was able to spend time with my dad every week while down there.
At the news of his death I felt so angry he had died alone, suddenly, and I had talked to him on the phone only three days before. But the moment I stepped out of that emotion I was completely overwhelmed with gratitude that we had been able to spend those months down there. I was so grateful we had struggled in Montana that year, and it forced us to be near him. Those months were the first time my husband and kids got to know my dad. That time we had gotten was a gift of immeasurable worth. It was the ember in my darkness.
Bonita talks about the transformation she had after her friend’s death and the new resolve she had to really value every day and fully show up. We can give ourselves no greater gift than fully showing up in our lives. Bringing our full attention, intention, and enthusiasm to the day and truly seeing it as a gift allows us the space to create the life that we want.
No matter what ember of hope is anchoring you, it’s your responsibility to keep it alive and feed it to be a thriving fire. Just as we must feed fires tinder and wood, we must feed our embers of hope opportunities for that hope to be applied and developed into greater strength and hope. Sometimes that looks like service in the community, sometimes it’s reaching out to someone in need, the applications are necessary to build up that fire of hope within. It’s what you do with that ember that counts.
Just because we’ve seen darkness and come back into the light doesn’t mean we won’t find darkness again in our lives. But if we keep a hold on the hope we’ve cultivated we can see our way through any darkness we may face. And let’s face it, today there’s a lot of darkness going around. We’re dealing with a global pandemic, dying oceans, disappearing topsoil, species extinction, disappearing resources, and many more challenges. We have the choice to stay in that darkness and get angry about it. We can yell at the news or at our neighbor who doesn’t agree. We can be angry with our country’s leader for not fixing what we want fixed. We can wallow in depression because the world is going to pot.
We can choose to latch on to our ember of hope to see us through this. We can use that little light and get ourselves out of the depression, out of the skepticism about the world, and into a place where we’re working every day to create the regenerative livelihood that will see us through this and every time of darkness. In permaculture, we’re taught to creatively use and respond to change. We are better able to positively respond to the changes around us when we stay centered on the hope that grounds us. That hope can inspire us to move forward, heal from dealing with death, continue to increase our positive impact, and spread our light to help others in dark places.
Bonita and Seeds of Tao hope that you look at your times of darkness and can identify the ember of hope that helped you pull out of it, and keep that ember with you as you move forward along your regenerative journey.
Keep Growing Permies!
Previous Episode: Building Financial Resiliency with Laure Oldanie
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