As we begin to emerge from life in lockdown, I’ve noticed that our small steps towards regaining emotional and physical freedom become cherished, profound experiences in our lives. Whereas before they might have been just a nice afternoon spent out and a fun experience, there now seems to be a deeper meaning.

This past weekend my family ventured out to visit a very special landmark in our beautiful city of Philadelphia, the Shofuso Japanese Tea House and Garden.

The Japanese style tea house was built in Japan in 1953 before being shipped to New York and exhibited in the courtyard of the Museum of Modern Art. Eventually it found its way to West Fairmount Park in Philadelphia. Today the historic site and museum is positioned on a hill brimming with energy and alive with incredible natural beauty.

Although the Shofuso was always notable to me, on this early pandemic-era outing I saw something entirely different this time.

For the first time I saw what an incredibly powerful ecosystem it is. The garden is a brilliant network of essential independent and interdependent parts. A waterfall feeds the pond garden, bordered by blooming cherry blossoms, azaleas and camellias. Koi fish swim lazily as their stunning colors dazzle visitors into feeding them, while the geese take this opportunity to sneak a few mouthfuls themselves before returning to their nest tucked safely on the pond’s small island. The whole scene, best seen from the house veranda, brings the space full circle…forming a fully functional and exquisite ecosystem.

As I took in the splendor of the Shofuso, it was suddenly easy to see how crucial each aspect, each defining element was to the whole experience. An experience of abundance, beauty, richness, tranquility and life. Remove just one element from the ecosystem, and it would change entirely.

Quarantine has caused each of us to become insular. Focused on our immediate home environments and a little part of the world that we could control, despite a world that has been out of control.

Our personal ecosystems are essential…our overall happiness, productivity, creativity and connection. If we’re amidst chaos, clutter and confusion, our world can become stressful, unhealthy and unsatisfying. It becomes far less supportive of the harmonious life we want to create.

And if we look beyond the physical to our relationships, our health, our work, our finances, our spirituality…that along with our physical space contribute to our personal ecosystems…we can see that they are all essential, independent and interdependent parts of our lives. Together they form our focus, shape our thoughts and create the conditions, moments, and experiences that bring so much fulfillment to our own lives.

My newfound perspective on the Shofuso has become the elegant model upon which I am basing my personal ecosystem. Working to create a life where all aspects work in harmony to bring me peace, joy, and abundance.

I encourage you to reflect on your own ecosystem, and how you can enable it to thrive.

If you think about the practical aspects of creating a fully functioning ecosystem, it starts with awareness and focus around 3 essential components:

  1. Reflection – What matters and what are the current dynamics of your situation?

    · What do you want your ecosystem to represent?
    · What elements of your current ecosystem are supporting you?
    · What elements are life-sucking?

  2. Understanding – Are these elements synergistic or noncomplementary?

    · Which elements are working well together?
    · Which are conflicting or dissonant?
    · What choices can you make to alter the dynamics so you can create your own Shofuso?

  3. Execution – What are you willing to actually do to create, sustain and renew your own Shofuso?

    · Which elements do you get to build anew or re-do?
    · Which elements are you primed to dismantle?
    · What are you doing next and when?

In the end, we want our personal ecosystems to reflect the inner life that is important to us. Is your current ecosystem supporting you in this way? If not, how can it?

Quote of the Week

Our personal ecosystems are powerful when we remain aware of what matters most and align our thoughts, actions and words with who we choose to be.

With heart and brilliance,