Silver lining confessions from an introvert.

Confessions of an Introvert: The Gifts of Coronavirus

“There is a LIGHT in this world. A healing spirit more powerful than any darkness we may encounter. We sometime lose sight of this force when there is suffering, and too much pain. Then suddenly, the spirit will emerge through the lives of ordinary people who hear a call and answer in extraordinary ways.”
― Richard Attenborough

So… I must stay home??  
As an introvert, I can’t figure out how this could be bad. I’m fortunate to have a career that allows working from home, but always felt a twinge of guilt executing the option.  Should I be at the office, networking, socializing – like everyone else?  Introverts are energized by solitude and now, suddenly the world wants me to be alone!  Do I have enough yoga pants? Will my book list get some attention?  What will happen to my voice after 48 hours without conversation?
While I initially looked forward to the “New Normal”, something entirely different has manifested. This was not the introvert paradise I imagined.  After 30 days of social distancing, I recognized a profound change. Little gifts appeared daily. Here are some silver linings I have discovered:

  • Gratitude for the Moment
    Death is inevitable. To die alone is terrifying. Is a stealthy virus hiding in the smiling faces of people you know? Yikes! My parents and significant other are vulnerable. Will our next kiss kill my boyfriend? I fear for what tomorrow brings; yet, here we are, safe in this moment. I am healthy and my important people are safe and healthy, too. I am thankful.
  • Change = Opportunity
    Opportunities to change can only happen where we make the space for it.  For months I’ve struggled to add some healthier habits into my daily life, yet I was entrenched in a rut reinforced by decades of indifference.  Suddenly my old routine is irrelevant.  Everything is new, and adding in a positive change is just as easy as trying to retrofit a bad habit.  
  • Family doesn’t just happen. 
    Family relationships are under the spotlight. I wanted to believe being at home with my children would bring us closer together, but it did not.  Time was not keeping us apart, it was effort. My children are introverts, so their natural routine includes more alone time.  Having time available did not mean they were ready to jump out of their rooms and play Scrabble with me.  I needed to make the move for us to connect. My effort is the key.  
  • Everyone in our community is ‘Essential’.
    Introverts often exercise the “I don’t need anyone” option. Now I have a better view of our “interconnectedness.”  Medical professionals are taking huge risks to help others live.  Closed restaurants are feeding the unemployed and teenagers are bringing groceries to their elderly neighbors. From the delivery driver to the warehouse worker to the people who make toilet paper, every person is important and their contributions are all essential to our community.
  • Time is a measurement, not an authority figure.  
    Last month, my life was dictated by the clock.  It’s time to wake up, time to go to work, time to make dinner. In the New Normal, time no longer wardens me. I can still have a schedule, but now it’s based on “what” I need to do and not “when” it needs to be done. I wake when I’m rested, work when inspired, and eat when hungry (or when my children “remind” me for the third time!)  Adjusting my schedule to my natural energy levels has made me much more productive. 
  • United, we are strong.
    Nothing unites us like a common enemy. Covid-19 has no political preference, nor is it partial to any one nation.  It is the disease versus all humanity.  We are all in this together, and we must join together to survive.   
  • really do like people.  
    There, I said it. Introverts do have friends and after 30 days apart, I miss being with them. Not just communicating, but actually experiencing them.  I miss their energy, warmth and touch.  I have a deeper appreciation for all my relationships.

Coronavirus did not bring these gifts into my life, they always existed. The pandemic pushed me to open my eyes to find my way along this new path and as a result I can see all that is before me.  Sometimes fear narrows our focus so that we only see the tragedy.  But the light is always there.  When we can bring all into perspective, our suffering will ease ever so slightly, and our happiness will be that much more precious. 
May you and your loved ones be as healthy as possible, and may you be open to the many gifts hidden in this struggle.
 Lisa Ladomer, A Founding Treehugger at Sacred Treehouse
She put the Sacred in Sacred Treehouse and still does!

Lisa Ladomer has been Dr. Shutt’s right hand during the creation of the Sacred Treehouse and has guided her through the many changes and challenges over the past 11 years. Lisa is a small business strategist who specializes in operating strategies, accounting, technology integration, budgeting, communication, and streamlining business operations.  In 2013 she joined Therapeutic Oasis of the Palm Beaches, where she currently serves as the Practice Manager.  Lisa earned her Bachelor’s degree in Professional Accounting from the University of Michigan and studied Public Communication at Florida Atlantic University.  She is also a founding board member for HEArt (Healing Through Expressive Arts).

When she isn’t working, she enjoys spending time with her three children and hitting the pickleball court.  A self-proclaimed cat aficionado, she can be found snuggling with her Nebelung cat.

Mindfully Celebrate Earth Day

You + Earth = BFFS: Being Mindful of Our One & Only Planet

Earth Day is here and what better way to celebrate our beautiful planet than to be mindful of the waste we create! We live in a convenience-driven world. People are praised if they can make something cheaper, faster, and easier to access and highly valued when it saves us time, but often these inventions become detrimental to our ecosystems. 

This Earth Day, Wednesday April 22nd, I challenge you to:  A PLASTIC FREE DAY and perhaps even inviting the whole family to join efforts to reduce overall waste by playing the R.E.D.U.C.E. Game or engaging in some of the suggestions below. 

Humanity has caused much harm to the planet, resulting in more extreme weather patterns, enormous out of control fires, a reduction of natural habitats, an increase in species extinction. However, there is hope for humanity and nature to once again thrive alongside one another. This will not be easy because it requires breaking habits, trying new foods, or growing your own, and the changes needed often require people to step outside of their comfort. Some changes I have incorporated into my lifestyle is to minimize plastics, eat a plant-based diet, grow some of my own veggies and I started researching and buying products from companies who are B-corps. 

These changes are something that everyone can take proactively and you don’t need to wait for government legislation or the next flood to force a community change. I find it helpful to form connections with like-minded organizations and people in my direct community like, Wise Tribe and UNLITTER, to build support, learning opportunities, and especially for collaboration when it comes to inspiring change in others. 

I never saw myself as a “leader” yet others attach that label to me because I have become more vocal in sharing my love and commitment to healing nature and humanity and therefore cannot help but inspire others to join this necessary global effort. If you have time, or find you are bored during some of the downtime of COVID19 pandemic shutdown, take some time to research local organizations and get involved NOW. Of course I would love for you to become a #1000WiseTriber with me because we can definitely use the help right now (trying to feed 40 families for 6 weeks). There are endless ways to get involved and start making small changes. 

  • You can do your part on a daily basis by utilizing your purchasing power to show companies what you want to support; it’s as easy as supply and demand. As consumers, we create the marketplace we want! Use Earth Day or the whole week ahead as a challenge to start being more mindful of the products you purchase, where did they originate, what are the ingredients I can’t even pronounce, what kind of package does it come in?  
  • Cooking zero-waste meals, making your own natural home and self-care products, or walking to the grocery store (in ordinary times) are all such empowering acts. Seeing  a trash can fill up so quickly with just a few takeout containers breaks my heart, so I decided to give you all the tools you need to learn the essentials of living a zero-waste day!

*Disclaimer I believe that it is not always the most functional to be 100% zero-waste, so don’t kill yourself over it. If you’re trying that’s a good enough start! I’m going to aim these tips towards a plastic-free and reduced waste day, because you can reuse and recycle your “trash” too!

Play the R.E.D.U.C.E Game This Week!


Eat more whole foods.

Ditch the paper goods.

Use containers, not plastic baggies.

Create uses for garbage.

Eat leftovers.

One of the biggest contributors to our trash cans is from cooking. This week for meal planning Hit The Produce Aisles!

The amazing thing about taking care of the planet is that it coincides with taking care of yourself. Choosing to buy plastic-free items helps reduce your consumption of processed foods and opens doors to eating more whole foods. 

An easy example would be choosing to buy a bunch of apples rather than containers of applesauce. The apples will contain more fiber to feed your gut microbes, less sugar, no added preservatives, and probably more nutrients compared to the apple sauce on the shelf. Just as the apple is good for you, eating it fresh removes the waste from the production of applesauce from polluting the Earth.

  • Grocery Shopping Tip: Have you ever noticed the layout of a grocery store? 

For many stores it’s best to shop only on the outside aisles- think about it – those aisles are either the refrigerated or produce sections, these are the foods that are less processed and can also have less packaging. Choosing to eat whole plant foods is the safest bet to reduce waste, preserve the planet, and fuel your body all in one bite!

Here are a entree recipes on my site you can make to celebrate a plastic-free day! 

Note About Bulk Buying: Typically bulk shopping is the main go-to for plastic-free shopping, however during this pandemic groceries have shut down their bulk sections and pre-packaged items in plastic containers so funny enough we won’t be shopping there! For the future, I recommend finding a bulk department near you that you can bring reusable jars and containers to fill up on staples like: rice, beans, oats, granola, dried fruit, nuts etc. 

We all have daily habits that have developed over weeks or years and we simply don’t think about their consequences. I encourage you to be mindful of your daily habits, keep a list for the day about what you toss. Try to R.E.D.U.C.E. your waste this week!

5 Mindful Daily Habit Swaps:

  • Keurig Coffee pods → a reusable pod, brew a pot of coffee, or green tea.
  • Napkins →  cloth napkins or wash your hands when you’re through. 
  • Plastic Cutlery → real dishes that will save you money long term.
  • Soap bottles → bar soap made from natural ingredients: LUSH is my go-to store! Honestly their shampoo is the only one that can de-grease my crazy hair!
  • Plastic Water Bottles →  a reusable one! 

Food for further thought:

Grow some of your own food or subscribe to a CSA to receive local farm fresh seasonal produce. Plants, both trees and crops, play a huge role in reducing climate change. Trees sequester and utilize CO2, a main greenhouse gas. While eating local seasonal organic crops reduces transport emissions, pesticide and fertilizer usage, and promotes a more natural agriculture field that will increase biodiversity and create habitat for native species. 

This is a lot to take in, it’s a lifestyle change that won’t happen overnight. I am always trying to learn and adopt new practices of mindfulness into my life. Cooking, eating, and shopping mindfully may save you a lot of money and the planet a lot of suffering. Treat yourself and the planet special this week and hopefully it inspires you for weeks to come! 

Happy Earth Day! May all beings everywhere be happy and free from suffering. 

“Live Dirty, Eat Clean & Green”, 

Lizzie Shutt
Check out my blog here!

Elizabeth “Lizzie” Shutt is a student at the University of Florida.  She is passionate about all things green and currently participates in many forms of environmental advocacy, including the #Unlitter movement.  When she isn’t hitting the books, she enjoys cooking plant-based cuisine, composting, and surfing.

Grief and Loss during COVID19

Every one of us is losing something precious to us. Lost opportunities, lost possibilities, feelings we can never get back again. That’s part of what it means to be alive.”
― Haruki Murakami, Kafka on the Shore

            Throughout the globe we as a collective human race are dealing with loss. And if we are all adjusting to loss, then we are all collectively in a grieving process. Americans as a breed are such do-ers that we often struggle with grief and loss because there is so little “to do” about the emptiness and pain it can create.  The restrictions and pain that are being felt worldwide are a call to those who can- to uplift in any way- to do soThat’s our collective call to actiondo what you can to upliftFor some, this will be a time to find a deeper inner strength,  pool of calm and/or an inspiration inside that can be a springboard to assist others and light the way.  For others, this may be a time of such deep fear and grief it might take their breath away and immobilize them.  Most of us will fall somewhere in the middle and our reactions will reveal to us how we handle uncertainty, restriction, loss, sorrow, fear, loneliness or disappointment.

“Grief does not change you, Hazel. It reveals you.”
― John Green, The Fault in Our Stars

            For those who are primarily in adjustment to living with restrictions, cancellations and uncertainty, this is a moment of opportunity to take whatever Mindfulness or Awareness lessons you’ve gained to a new level.  Use all your tools to stay in the present moment, to navigate the waves of fear, take conscious action when needed and also see what this GLOBAL event can  teach us. Since the stay at home order was given, during every sunset my neighborhood is now filled with people on their front lawns, children playing on streets and sidewalks, dogs taking their families for a walk, people cruising on bikes and in golf carts, and lots of joggers/walkers. We are aware of each other in a palpable way and offering what help we can. Younger people are reaching out to older people, we are greeting each other with smiles and waves—it’s touching. Personally, I’ve cleaned out stuff I’ve been meaning to get to for years, called family members and friends who’ve I’ve been “meaning to call,” and slowed down enough to pay better attention to the needs of my family, my body, my garden and my Spirit. When tension arises, I lean on meditation, yoga, inspiration and wise friends to keep me from being pulled into the strong undertow of fear. Here are five simple ways to consider navigating this time and to find acceptance: peace, engagement, centeredness, and even joy during this time of quarantine:

  • Slow down; enjoy more. Notice how good it feels to strive less and have life move more slowly– more time for loved ones and Life’s’ simple pleasures. 
  • Find gratitude and abundance- here, now.Count your blessings, count your shoes, sort belongings, open your pantry, and really notice how much you have.
  • Do one thing at a time.Create a practice of being undistracted and present with children, “family”, food, exercise, cooking, and work tasks. Apply this same practice to your use of TV, social media, alcohol/substances, snacking, and checking the market, to help maintain awareness and balance.
  • Take action where you can, innovate when you need to and finally let go when all options have been explored. Action can reduce anxiety however it can also keep us spinning. Through discernment, find clarity to see what’s needed. 
  • Connect with your loved ones, your neighbors, your community and your inner life. Many people are missing social contact and avenues of support. Find ways to increase your sense of connection and ability to serve others as able.

“Losing me will hurt; it will be the kind of pain that won’t feel real at first, 
and when it does, it will take her breath away.”
― Gayle Forman, If I Stay

            For those of you grieving the death of a loved one (or collapse of livelihood), your sense of loss and grief will be more intense and it’s critical that you find places of support. At first sudden loss may create a numbness or shock. This is actually protective because once the numb/shock wears off we are struck by waves of pain. Based on the kind of loss and how repetitive it is, the grieving could take longer to get through, but eventually healing will occur. If the death/loss “shouldn’t have been,” such as the loss of a child, sibling, spouse, partner and/or with someone who had been healthy prior to the virus, it is critical that you find someone to talk to who truly understands what you are
 living through. If you’re a medical provider or first responder and are living through repetitive exposure to loss, support is also critical so the traumatic nature of these times do not take root in you (such as with PTSD).   So much can be written about the myriad of ways we are impacted by deep grief and loss. However at first it’s key to understand what’s normal (and therefor healable) about the grief/loss response. 

 The following is a list of most common responses:

shock, numbness, disengagement, denial, anger, disbelief, hurt, pain, sorrow, “what if’s,” intrusive memories, poor focus and retention, crying jags, tiredness, going into hyper drive, “why bother,” talking to loved ones who’ve died, wanting to touch their things, going through photos, taking all the photos down, eating too much, not eating enough, unable to sleep and unable to get out of bed, and sometimes feeling alone with your grief.

After working for over 5 years as a Bereavement Counselor at a local hospice, I can tell you every one of my clients emerged from their grief; some slower than others, but healing eventually occurred. If you are experiencing any of the above symptoms, find someone who can support you exactly where you are– and most of all practice self-compassion. Grief and loss force us towards the deepest challenge there is to be human and so we need knowing, wise and gentle companions on the road to recovery.  

My sister will die over and over again for the rest of my life. Grief is forever.
 It doesn’t go away; it becomes a part of you, step for step, breath for breath. I will never stop grieving Bailey because I will never stop loving her. That’s just how it is. Grief and love are conjoined; you don’t get one without the other. All I can do is
 love her, and love the world, emulate her by living with daring and spirit and joy.” 
― Jandy Nelson, The Sky Is Everywhere 

Please stayed tuned to Sacred Treehouse facebook and email to receive offerings on the process of grief, loss, adjustment and healing. Take care of yourself and those in your world.

Sending Love and Compassion,

Anni and the Sacred Treehouse Faculty

Anni Johnston, LMHC-S, BC-D/MT, CEDS, CYT works at Therapeutic Oasis of the Palm Beaches as a Licensed Mental Health Counselor and Movement Therapist.  In addition to her therapy work, Anni offers weekly Beginner and Advanced Meditation classes at Sacred Treehouse.  She also offers book studies and special workshops throughout the year.

PRN: Mindfulness On Demand

We are all currently experiencing a significant traumatic event. For some, the effects (both short and long term) may be minor, and for others there will be significant effects that endure for some time. This is the reality of the COVID-19 pandemic and the current state of our world today.

Call it a grim outlook if you will. But in my line of work we encourage bringing awareness to suffering, “if you can name it you can tame it.” This allows for both a reprieve of the secondary effects of resisting and denial, and also promotes healing and resilience building. So now is the time more than ever to bring mindfulness to ourselves and our current, ongoing collective struggle. Many of our students recount daily how blessed they feel to have the tools to manage the overwhelming emotions and the rapid fire changes coming at us daily. Others find themselves reaching out for supportive tools and adaptive ways of coping with this pandemic and the unseen changes it is bringing with it on a local and global level.

So where to begin? Here is a simple, easy mnemonic you can refer to when you are feeling out of sorts. A “pro re nata” or “PRN” as-needed technique, if you will. 

P — PauseTake the opportunity to literally stop whatever you are doing. Even if just a moment or two. Invite stillness, even if just in your physical state. 

R — Recognize: Recognize what you are experiencing physically, emotionally and mentally. Common early effects of having experienced a traumatic event include: fatigue, physical agitationor jumpiness, muscle tension, emotional numbing or flattened emotional expression, confusion, sadness, and anxiety. Tune in to what you notice without judging those things or pushing them away. Even label them with words as you observe what is here, like “tight shoulders” or “super tired” or “feeling heartbroken.” 

N — Normalize: Remind yourself that the things you are experiencing are absolutely to be expected in consideration of what we are collectively enduring. They are NORMAL reactions to an ABNORMAL situation. You are not crazy, weak or inadequate. Judging yourself harshly only adds salt to the proverbial wound. Please take this invitation to soften around the discomfort, acknowledging that your nervous system is responding to this threat to safety exactly how it is supposed to. 

Most importantly, always remember that you are not alone. The above PRN technique can be used often and might even be a part of a daily reflection to check-in with yourself about how you are managing. But also know that reaching out to others that understand your situation and who you can be honest and vulnerable with, can also be a powerful salve for suffering.

Follow us on facebookand share videos and stories about using the PRN tool.

May you be safe, healthy, and free!

Nikki and the Sacred Treehouse Faculty

Nicole Davis is a licensed clinical psychologist at Therapeutic Oasis of the Palm Beaches  Dr. Davis has received extensive training in mindfulness, meditation, and yoga, and maintains her own personal practice in these as well.  At Sacred Treehouse, she facilitates group mindfulness courses, including Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction, Mindfulness Based Relapse Prevention, and other mindfulness-based seminars and workshops. She also offers meditation & yoga classes at Sacred Treehouse.

Gratitude for the little things…brings joy!

I shared this quote from the author, Mark Nepo, last week in the Sacred Treehouse’s closing week of MSC class and I can attest that GRATITUDE is a practice that is getting many people through this ongoing Pandemic. Aldo and I had the pleasure and joy to be teaching an MSC, Mindful Self Compassion, 8 week class during the outbreak of COVID-19 and we were fortunate to get through class 7 in person, before moving the final class to ZOOM. I was blessed as a teacher to have the most amazing co-facilitator, who worked patiently with me and assisted in so many ways to make the class a true spiritual experience of love and compassion for all. Muchas gracias Aldo Gonzalez!

In MSC, week 1 through 7 focuses primarily on cultivating the skills and deepening our inner resources needed to manage the tough stuff in life, such as the pain, the suffering, and the misfortunes that are inherent in human life. Fortunately, just as we hit the time of social distancing required to flatten the curve of this virus spreading, along came class 8. The theme of class 8 was embracing the rest of our lives with mindfulness and self compassion and includes the practices of gratitude, savoring, and self appreciation. Aldo and I were disappointed and sad to end the class in a virtual format, yet to our surprise the love and connection of this group was so powerful it could be felt across miles as we gathered for our final class and the lessons were in perfect time.

In our final class, each of the participants expressed gratitude for the MSC course, for each other, and even us! The felt sense of community and caring at a time like this was the the exact medicine required for a time of uncertainty, fear, and change. It was the little unexpected things we experienced on ZOOM that quickly shifted our sadness and disappointment to gratitude and joy. For starters, the appearance of so many furry and feathered friends on the camera was a delight, followed by teenagers who were curious about what Mom was doing and what Dr. Shutt looked like, peeking into the computer.  The cherry on top was the loving compassion showed by a young child who rubbed his momma’s shoulder as tears rolled down her face during her share about the transformation she experienced in the class. I could literally feel our collective hearts melt. 

Fortunately, it is not the end of our opportunity to practice and learn together, as the graduates of this class are invited into the ongoing Tuesday evening Sacred Treehouse Sangha that is now being offered virtually each week at 6pm on ZOOM. One of the silver linings of this pandemic is the force it put on me to do the Sangha online and our ability to have all of our US and international snowbirds join us year round.

If you do not already have a daily gratitude practice, take a few minutes to make a list 10 things you are grateful for today. Let them be super simple, like ice, socks, coffee, a neighbors smile, lotion, Whits ice cream, the cool breeze, upbeat music, clean sheets, and quiet time. 

Some other ideas: 

  • Establish a daily routine each evening to reflect or start a gratitude journal.
  • Invite your family into the practice by having each member share something each evening at dinner.
  • Send a text or a letter to someone different each day expressing your appreciation for something small.  
  • Include yourself each day, appreciating yourself!

 I would love to hear about what you are grateful for today on Facebook.

With love and appreciation,

Patty and all the faculty and Sacred Treehouse. 

Patty Thomas Shutt, founder of Sacred Treehouse, is a licensed psychologist and co-owner of Therapeutic Oasis of the Palm Beaches Dr. Shutt is passionate about helping others discover the benefits of mindfulness and meditation.  She offers Beginner Meditation & Advanced Meditation classes at Sacred Treehouse, in addition to Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction, Mindful Self-Compassion and various book studies throughout the year.

Do not live in fear

“One is never afraid if the unknown, one is afraid of the known coming to an end.” Jiddu Krishnamurti

These are wildly dynamic and confusing times … a fast-moving whirlwind of change … enough to make my head spin. Some days I feel like I am spinning so fast that everything seems frozen. One might call this a stress response, a la the “freeze” of fight/flight/freeze. To me, it feels simultaneously dizzying and stuck.

While our current state of affairs is unprecedented (at least in my lifetime), I also know that facing and fearing the unknown is something all-too-familiar for many of us, albeit often on a much smaller scale. So what practices can we use to bring us comfort and solace and peace?  

  1. Lean in. Surrender to the stillness and make space for fear and grief. Breathe in, knowing you are breathing in … filling your chest and belly, deep into the diaphragm, and maybe even bring your hands to your heart as you breathe out. Acknowledge that very human feelings are here, and tremble or weep if you must. Know you are not alone in feeling afraid.
  2. Turn your attention to what you DO know … the warmth of the sun, the green of the trees, your dog’s cold wet nose. Find solace in the things you know to be true and enduring … your belief in Mother Nature or a higher power, your love for baking, memories of a special place or time or person. Root down into the earth, connecting with the whole world, through the sensations in your bare feet as you walk. Breathe deeply, trusting your body to do what it knows to do. Know what IS, right now … what’s everlasting.
  3. Practice acceptance. Accept that change is happening — not that it shouldn’t happen, or that things should unfold in a particular way. Notice your thoughts and judgments about change … and know that your thoughts do not define you OR the situation. Let the way things actually ARE be the place you begin when making intentional decisions moving forward.
  4. Finally, remember you are not alone.

And may you all live with health, ease and peace as we move through these days and weeks to come, together 💜 Nikki

Nicole Davis is a licensed clinical psychologist at Therapeutic Oasis of the Palm Beaches  Dr. Davis has received extensive training in mindfulness, meditation, and yoga, and maintains her own personal practice in these as well.  At Sacred Treehouse, she facilitates group mindfulness courses, including Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction, Mindfulness Based Relapse Prevention, and other mindfulness-based seminars and workshops. She also offers meditation & yoga classes at Sacred Treehouse.

Less Becomes More

Less Becoming More
Slow down,
Soften your eardrums
Birds are singing.
Taste with tenderness
Each bite’s unique gift;
And we find we miss little.
A fortnight with the Soul,
Under the softening Moon
In relief, my gaze to softens.
And let Love in…..

This time of fear & constriction generated by covid-19 is driving lots of negative messages, here are some thoughts meant to counterbalance and provide some helpful guidance.  The impact of this time will be different depending on your current and past life’s circumstance(s). That being true, there are many ways to consciously both mitigate the effects and elevate your experience to better master the pull to be caught up in what’s to come. 
This is a rare opportunity where the entire world is unified in response to the same concern, despite race, gender, country or religion. A massive collective retreat is underway, so here are some things to consider for making this a conscious retreat for you:

  • Meditate and/or do any practice, art form, or contemplation that connects you to your wisest self daily. This helps you to elevate above the palpable fear around you.
  • Be aware that the body is usually very passive when watching TV, from your wide-open eyes to your relaxed physical state, so the messages of fear go beyond the mental and intellectual self, and impact the nervous system, body cells and psyche. This affects your energetic body, thereby influencing all perception and also what you transmit to others. Try to limit exposure to TV if you can and if you are tuning in do so mindfully with a focus on fact gathering.
  • Fear begets fear. If you find yourself surrounded by people who are becoming consumed by fear (highly anxious, panicked, and/or conspiracy proponents) strive to redirect and request a different conversation.  If they can’t pull away, then pull yourself back before their fear starts to commingle with you’re fear. Be informed but not consumed.
  • Get out in nature and away from all electronics (yes, even your cell phone!). We are affected by EMF’s even when not tuned into broadcast or streamed content, but now may be a time of greater vulnerability. Nature is a powerful rebalancer, clarifier and healer.  Try to limit the former and increase the latter. Fun tip, going barefoot outside will force you to slow down and notice the plant kingdom even more.
  • This is a worldwide slow down– think about how powerful this moment of time is. Use it to go inward and feed your Soul.  And then when able, project your calm, grounded strength, and loving-kindness outward.
  • Take time to attend to your home and garden- bag up things no longer needed, create beauty, and putter—yes, putter!  Puttering engages the mind and body in a soft way, which allows mental clutter to fall away and at the same time, brings satisfaction when small things are attended to. Look around, aren’t there things that could be: washed, painted, mended, fixed, built, created, mulched, picked, trimmed, fertilized, and/or completed? Embrace your “inner grandparent” and notice what’s right in front of you.

In short the slow down around covid-19 is both an opportunity for us to benefit mentally, emotionally and physically and be of service.  It’s also, an opportunity to dig a little deeper, to reflect more softly, to return to and distill what’s really important, and master the waves of intensity which may be moving through you and around you:

Maintain compassion for self and other’s in this time:
Face it, Feel it, and become Free of it

Stay tuned forTuesday evening Sangha going live to collectively meditate with the Sacred Treehouse Sangha from your home. Details will be sent out on Facebook so follow us at Sacred Treehouse and look for guided meditations to be posted there too!

With Love and Compassion,

Anni & the entire Sacred Treehouse Staff

Anni Johnston, LMHC-S, BC-D/MT, CEDS, CYT works at Therapeutic Oasis of the Palm Beaches as a Licensed Mental Health Counselor and Movement Therapist.  In addition to her therapy work, Anni offers Meditation and mindfulness coaching at Sacred Treehouse.  She also offers individual somatic work, book studies and special workshops throughout the year.

A Mindful Harvest

The garden of love is green without limit and yields many fruits other than sorrow or joy. Love is beyond either condition: without spring, without autumn, it is always fresh.” 
– Rumi

Have you ever wanted to change your career or transform your life? In essence, this thought has planted a seed that can grow into change. As a garden grows, we flourish and change in life. We start as a small seed, and with proper care and nurturing, we grow. A plant grows with proper hydration, nutrition, and sunlight. A plant grows by the change of season. A plant grows with sunlight, oxygen and the soil of the earth.

Gardening has therapeutic benefits because it teaches us about life, healing, and control. Just as a seed flourishes and grows, we also evolve each day. A garden teaches us to learn to value and ground ourselves. Also just like a plant, we bloom and sprout. We also die and go back into the earth.  A garden teaches us to be present, to be mindful, and to let go and allow the cycle of birth and death to unfold again and again.  

We are not in complete control of life; a garden also is vulnerable to life. There are factors such as weather, bugs, and neglect that can affect growth. In life, we all have weathered the storm. We have had to deal with pain and conflict. When we learn to let go of control, we embrace peace; a flower learns to bloom. As each plant blooms, it is fragile with unexpected nature. It needs the nutrition and care to thrive. In each season, it can change. It might not have an abundant harvest. It might be a bounty of produce. 

I started my garden during a time of change in in my life, and it became a metaphor for a chapter of this life. As a dietitian, it also became a metaphor for my practice. It was symbolic of my passion. Nutrition is necessary for growth and development. With each season and with each year, we provide our body with the energy and needs to maintain body function. As an RD, I encourage my clients to embrace diversity and to learn to nurture themselves. I am passionate about my professional growth and each season that will manifest. 

We are each a unique flower – beautiful and growing each day. We need to breathe and be grounded. We need to be watered and fed. We need to be rooted in our needs and honor our season. We need to learn the skills to live in harmony with our surroundings. We need to learn to build strength against the elements that are not in our control. It is important to be mindful. 

My literal garden continues to grows each day and I planted a variety of vegetables, spices, and herbs to foster diversity. In turn I receive the sunshine and Vitamins with each harvested plant. I love to share my produce with colleagues, friends, and family, just as we share moments of laughter, sadness, and other experiences. The garden in my yard has become a metaphor for life and my practice. It provides me the time to reflect on growth and evolution. It reminds me every day the power of nutrition. It reminds me of the importance of my ability to educate clients on the importance of nurturing their bodies. most of all it brings me closer to what matters most and great joy in sharing the harvest.

Take time to harvest your life intention.  Take time to yield your abundance.  Take time to nurture.  Take time to be mindful of your own garden.

Lee Cotton

Lee Cotton is Registered Dietitian Nutritionist who has a “no diet approach” to eating and is a foodie at heart! She believes in a mind-body approach to wellness.

She helps clients develop an intentional vision for their health, by assessing current food struggles and creating an effective and reasonable plan that can truly be a part of their life long-term. Lee believes in a non-diet approach, centered on mindful eating where individuals learn to stop fighting with food and move toward a peaceful co-existence with it and with themselves. “My passion is educating clients on how to eat for their own overall health. 

Her approach to medical nutrition therapy is evidenced-based and considers the client’s health and goals, providing the education and tools for a client to make lasting health changes.   Believing that there is not a one-way-fits-all nutritional plan, she takes time to listen to each client and understand their concerns and patterns. Lee is compassionate and empathetic, working hard to create a safe and supportive environment for her clients.

Mindfulness or Attachment?

Claude Monet certainly had a love of flowers, perhaps it was an obsession, or an attachment I am not sure. What this quote brings to mind is that we all have preferences and individual things that bring us joy. For me it is the water, the ocean, a lake, a pond, or a creek (at times a motorized water fountain) brings me a sort of peaceful joy and contentment. It was when I returned home for a visit after living in a city, land locked and separated from the ocean for two years that I recognized this deep love and connection with the water. It was through it’s absence that I came to know its importance to me and I instantly felt at peace and at home. 

There are many forms of nature that draw people into this sense of awe, wonder, and appreciation. Some have a love of birds, mountains, jungle, animals, or plants. I am also drawn in by trees and feel both a sense of deep connection and grounding when I contemplate and bring one pointed attention to trees. I am not certain about how these individual differences arise, and certainly do not believe that the deep love and appreciation experienced in daily life is limited to things in our natural surrounding, but I am confident that it is the kind of attention we bring to them that facilitates the feelings of peace, contentment, or joy. 

The kind of attention I am referring to is mindfulness, when one intentionally attends to the present moment experience without judgment or expectation. Simply being present and allowing the senses to be touched by what is alive or happening from moment to moment. Like a sponge, just soaking in all that is there and not attempting to change it or hold on it. I am not sure if this was what Monet referred to in his need for flowers, but I would extend this as a truth for all beings, that it is a basic human need to feel love, to sense beauty, joy, or contentment. It is this that allows us to manage the difficulties and hardships we experience as humans. 

I learned one-minded attention as a DBT teacher and continue to practice and teach it in daily life. This is a skill, it is practiced through simply choosing things to bring attention to in daily life and allowing all other things to fall into the background. I often teach people to start small with a cup coffee or tea in the morning. The instructions are simple, yet the practice is challenging, because our minds tend to view simple things as boring, and they seek novelty and jump from one thing to another.

Just this coffee…
Holding the cup and sensing the temperature…
Allowing the scent of the coffee to come to you…….
Taking a sip and sensing the temperature and flavor…..
Pausing to allow the senses to open and take it in….
Letting all other thoughts fall away…..
Sitting with just this coffee….
Just this sip, like it is the first sip….
Over and over and over…
Just this coffee!

I am always shocked when I am able to drop into one minded attention, some very simple things can be profoundly satisfying and calming. I am not always able or even willing to cultivate this state, yet after experiencing it time and time again, even if for only a few moments, I find solace in knowing it is possible and present at any moment and most of that the little things are most satisfying. 

What do you find brings you joy, or a sense of peace, or contentment? Despite all things, even flowers, they all come and go,  so try to catch the moments of presence that can feed your soul with joy, peace, contentment. 

With deep appreciation,


Patty Thomas Shutt, founder of Sacred Treehouse, is a licensed psychologist and co-owner of Therapeutic Oasis of the Palm Beaches Dr. Shutt is passionate about helping others discover the benefits of mindfulness and meditation.  She offers Beginner Meditation & Advanced Meditation classes at Sacred Treehouse, in addition to Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction, Mindful Self-Compassion and various book studies throughout the year.

This Wild And Precious Life!

Living deeply

The first time I read this quote was on a journal I used many years ago at a mindfulness retreat and it was a perfect time to read it because I was in the position to be slowed down enough to really read it. Plus on retreat all my basic needs were met for food, shelter, safety, and at least relative comfort so I was open to contemplating these final words by Mary Oliver in her poem, The Summer Day. What would I do with this wild and precious life? Of course, immediately my mind jumped to the negative, how I had already wasted so much of it and there was so little left and on and on. Although I do not recall how this first contemplation ended and what, if any, realizations arose at that time, I do recall over the years reading the poem over and over and recognizing yes indeed life is both “wild” and “precious”. 

I owe it to my meditation practice and teachers who continue to raise these sort of questions, over and over again. It is so easy to fall into habitual ways of living and fall back unconscious to what is deeply meaningful and at times both fear and self doubt also played a role in holding me back or led to chasing the wrong things to quell my discomfort. The Sacred Treehouse is one of the manifestations of me listening to what I want to do with this one wild and precious life and co-creating the Therapeutic Oasis is another one that is dear to my heart. Building safe and loving places for people to heal, to grow, and discover their path is what I am meant to do with my life. I am right where I need to be and doing what is most important. There are times I get caught up in comparing myself to others, and questioning again and again, but that is ok, it is just human nature to fall asleep again and again.  This waking up and living with purpose is a process and is available to us at any moment and is truly a path of living true to our heart. Let your heart guide you by meditating or simply sitting with repeating this question and really listening deeply to what arises. Do not be alarmed if some regrets, some sadness, and negative thoughts arise, just acknowledge this as natural and practice some acceptance, non-judgment, self compassion, and tune back into your heart.

Remember that this requires some sense of safety, stability, and quiet time and space. If you want support or guidance come to meditation, attend a workshop or class, see a mindfulness coach or mindfulness based psychotherapist. 

With gratitude,


P.S. Some photos of Lizzie living large in New Zealand. #vanlife #consciouslyconnecting #livwithliz

Feel free to share on facebook what you discover as you contemplate this question.

Patty Thomas Shutt, founder of Sacred Treehouse, is a licensed psychologist and co-owner of Therapeutic Oasis of the Palm Beaches Dr. Shutt is passionate about helping others discover the benefits of mindfulness and meditation.  She offers Beginner Meditation & Advanced Meditation classes at Sacred Treehouse, in addition to Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction, Mindful Self-Compassion and various book studies throughout the year.