By Peggy Hilden, Grantmaking Advisor to The Pollination Project

 Watch the Trailer for “Seagulls”

Each week we read through incredible applications and have an opportunity to share some of the enthusiasm, dedication and passion of the applicants – people with a deep desire to give something back to their communities. It has been a beautiful experience!  When I was invited to select a grantee to interview I jumped at the opportunity to talk with Leah, I was elated to further explore her amazing contribution to our

relationship to nature, the earth’s extraordinary healing potential and how the stories we tell shape the way we engage with the natural world.

leah origins

Leah’s story of creating My Planet happened at a time when she was at a crossroads – you know the place where you are keenly aware that your life as you know it is about to change but you just haven’t quite figured out how.  At that time she recognized the negative impact of looking at humans as a blight on the planet (I have been guilty of this myself) and had a dramatic shift when she remembered the words of Jaques Cousteau, who said, “We protect the things we love.”  She realized that all of the guilt, shame and blame of our impact on our natural world were pushing us further from our love of the planet, not closer to it.  We needed to bring balance back in the conversation and we needed a way to show people what is possible when we open our hearts and minds to truly hearing, feeling, touching and experiencing nature.

That moment of recognition and Leah’s commitment to do something different was strengthened by her own personal experience connecting and immersing herself in nature during her own healing crises.  What a tremendous force nature can be in health and wellness, how unfortunate that our disconnected and busy lives removes us from that healing opportunity.  Leah’s passion is to awaken others to this incredible gift.

To paraphrase some of her wise words: “I can’t help but laugh at myself considering how long it can take me to get into nature when I am feeling stress in my life. And yet every time I go, and am present, and can listen, I am rejuvenated motivated, inspired,  and amazed that I return, once again, at ease, aware that not only are we not alone – we are connected to each and every other beautiful being/thing that surrounding us.  Sometimes despite myself in nature I can find healing and grace.”

In our interview I asked Leah to share some words of wisdom for others who want to follow their heart:  “To bring your dream to life you must have passion, but you also need to invest in learning the hard technical skills that might not seem so romantic.  Broaden your vision to include the day-to-day reality of what you will need to succeed and find other people that share your dream and can help you manifest it.  Do not be afraid to ask for money – remember that it is just another form of energy exchange and it allows people to be a part of the joy of bringing your vision to life.  Love your work.  The sheer act of working on your passion will feed your spirit and keep you going even if you are feeling challenged by external forces.   Don’t forget to spend time in nature – it helps clear your mind and center yourself – it always works for me.”

I encourage you to go to Leah’s website  where you can read more about the stories that she brings to light.  Each is beautiful and poignant, reminding us of the opportunities we have each and every day to open our hearts to the healing gifts of the world around us.   Through a gift of money or time you can help bring these messages to life.

read the original announcement of Leah’s grant, 1/1/13.