Seeds of Freedom
Cultivating a Life
Do you feel like a hamster on a continuous wheel, running on empty in the endless pursuit of success? Are you trapped in an office, buried under work, or otherwise so busy that you never see your family and friends? Do you fantasize about a real soul connection, a relationship in which you can have time together without your BlackBerry interrupting every five seconds? In other words, do you crave a life that matters, one in which you’re tapped into your creativity and living with purpose each and every day?
Heather Wilson, author of the newly released Seeds of Freedom: Cultivating a Life that Matters (Hay House), knows exactly how you feel. For years she was caught in the “success spiral,” until she finally broke free by simply planting a garden. In the process, she rediscovered what gave her enthusiasm for life and ultimately quit her job as a corporate executive at a Fortune 500 company to help others find their own paths to authenticity, joy, and true freedom.
What are the “Seeds of Freedom?”
By planting an actual garden, I was able to get connected to the natural laws of the universe, and slowly started to see the truths of my own life. As my life transformed, I wrote down the lessons I learned and, as a result, came up with nine “Seeds of Freedom.” They are: Exploration, Focus, Rooting, Nourishment, Growth, Connection, Balance, Clearing, and Renewal.
These steps are multi-dimensional and can be planted in any order. The garden metaphor is accessible and engaging, especially for the business world that is so left-brained. I teach the reader how to plant each seed in their own Life Garden so they can slowly cultivate the changes that transform their lives through a journey inward to grow a life that matters.
Anyone can plant the Seeds of Freedom in their Life Garden. Each of us possess exactly the right information to live our best life in alignment with our higher self – all it takes is a sincere desire to take ownership for our lives, to live a life in alignment with the spirit of the universe, and to be open to the unlimited possibilities that exist. It takes courage to dig deep within our souls, but it is the only way that we will find true happiness, fulfillment, and freedom. Like the trees in the garden, we must root deep in a secure foundation so that we can grow and expand in the world.
How did planting an actual garden lead you
to create your own “Life Garden”?
I planted a garden and along the way learned valuable lessons about my own life. In my garden, I needed to make sure that all the elements were present—earth, water, air, fire (the sun), and spirit—to keep things alive in the garden. Different plants need different amounts of each, but they all need the same basic elements.
As I looked at those elements, I recognized that we need to have certain aspects present in our lives as well. We need security (earth), health and well-being (water), relationships (air), vocation (fire), and creative expression (spirit) to live a fulfilling life of freedom and joy. In my vegetable garden, I needed to make sure that in order to thrive, I provided it with all of those elements on a daily basis, and since I was applying those principles to my “life,” I termed what I was cultivating my “Life Garden.”
The more we can see our lives as a “Life Garden,” the easier it is to allow the power of the Universe to help us grow in our natural state and the more fulfilled we become.
Why did you write this book?
Today, people are disconnected from what really matters. We live in a society with so much freedom and so many opportunities, yet even those who are successful by most standards are seeking greater meaning and satisfaction from life. We’ve exchanged our dreams and passions for an endless pursuit of success that many times feels like an endless series of tasks and routines. More than half of Americans (52%) don’t enjoy their jobs or don’t get satisfaction from their work.
I thought I was alone, but the more I talked to people, the more I realized that there are a lot of people unhappy with their jobs, their relationships, and their lives. They are bored, unfulfilled, and feel like their life doesn’t matter. I found that people are caught in a never-ending cycle and feel powerless and afraid to step off of that cycle. They feel trapped and overwhelmed with all the work, obligations, and rules that surround them in all areas of their life.
I felt the same way.
I had a successful professional career; however, I had always been seeking for something more and it seemed unattainable at times. I thought I would be happy if I had more money, an MBA, a great job, lost weight, ran a half marathon, a relationship, kids, and plenty of exotic vacations. I had been pretty successful at achieving these things and most of it was a lot of fun, but there was still something nagging at me to find out more.
I was caught in the “success spiral” and finally broke free by planting a garden. It was the garden that helped me reconnect with the natural laws of the Universe and also rediscover my enthusiasm for life. This new awareness ultimately led me to quit my corporate job, downsize my house, and re-evaluate my definition of success.
Planting a garden saved my life, but it was the incredible journey inward that really made the difference for me. I found such a source of freedom, such a source of joy, and have had such an incredible transformational experience, that I want everyone to feel the power and joy that comes from this new way of life. By sharing my story, it gives others the permission and tools to find their own paths to authenticity, joy, and true freedom.
We all have the answers inside of us and when we plant the seeds of freedom, we start to provide the right conditions for owning our life, connecting to what’s right for us, and expressing our gifts in the world so we can live a life that matters. It doesn’t come from buying anything, doing anything specific, or having any special powers; it grows from inside of us.
In the book, you share stories of other professionals that are also living a life of freedom. How did you meet these people?
Some of the people I highlight in the book have been friends or colleagues for many years, while others I met over the past few years as I was transforming my life. These people—teachers, healers, friends, business partners, and just amazing people—started to show up in my Life Garden as if by magic. I didn’t seek them out or “try” to meet people. It was like the Universe was introducing me to people at exactly the right time with the message that I needed to hear. It might have been through an introduction, a conference, or an email, but I continued to meet people that respected the Life Garden that I was creating.
You write about connecting to and trusting your intuition throughout the book. How did you learn to trust your intuition and do you think it helps you in your life and work?
Absolutely! Today, my entire life is lived in alignment with my connection to the power of the universe. I learned how to cultivate my intuition through meditation, focus, and by becoming aware of the synchronicity and magic that occurs daily—when we are conscious of it.
At first, I kept a connection journal and started noticing the connection to that little voice in my head, my gut instinct, the feeling in the heart, or even the small seemingly coincidental events in life. The more I noticed these events and synchronicities, the more often they occurred and the more powerful they became. I might think about a person and then get an email from them, or I threw away photos/letters from an old boyfriend and they contacted me within a few days, or someone that I hadn’t talked to in twenty years sent me an introduction to one of their colleagues and it was someone that inspired an idea. Once I started paying attention to these “coincidences,” I really started to notice the multi-dimensionality of our lives and how what we do in our lives has an influence on everything else.
In the book, I talk about a time when I was at the end of my savings and credit lines and I didn’t know how I was going to pay the mortgage that month. I was keeping a positive attitude, saying affirmations, and I believed that what I was doing was the right path for me, but I still had to pay the bills. It was at that time, that I sincerely prayed for help. Within days, I was given the opportunity to be in a place to meet a woman that invited me to dinner and then offered me an interest-free loan to help me out with my financial obligations. There was no way that I could have predicted or planned for the money to come in the way it did, but when I took a step back, it looked like it was orchestrated to perfect.
Now, I make decisions by “thinking” with my heart instead of “thinking” with my left-brain logical and analytical mind. I trust what feels right to me. So, even if everyone is going right and my heart says to go left, I go left. It’s not always easy to do when everyone else is going the opposite way, but now I know that following my intuition, following the intelligence of my heart, gives me the ultimate fulfillment and freedom in life, so I trust it.
How did you gain the courage to quit your job?
At the time, I didn’t think it was a courageous decision, but looking back, I did take a big risk. Quitting my job and choosing to step off the corporate track wasn’t something that I decided impulsively. It was a scary decision and it took me over two years to find the strength to quit my job. And when I finally did, I had to make the decision that there was nothing that could convince me to stay — what I wanted was intangible.
Fortunately, when I gave my resignation, my company was very generous and gave me a four month paid sabbatical to think about what I wanted. This was totally unexpected and allowed me the time and security to rest, think about what I wanted, and just take a break.
I realized after this break, that it was definitely time for me to go. Sometimes there’s a natural ending to relationships, education, or work. It’s just time to do something else and that was it for me. I did, however, consult for my company for many years and still do some work there today. I am not “anti-corporate,” but I am “pro-freedom.” I think that everyone should do what feels right for them.
Staying in a corporate setting wasn’t right for me. I had a knowing that I needed to do something different in the world in order to make me happy and feel fulfilled, and honoring that feeling is really important in order to live a life aligned with our higher purpose.
Every time we trust self and make decisions that support our best life, then the next decision gets easier. Courage is a muscle that we must exercise in order to make decisions that are in alignment with what we really want in our Life Garden.
Can you describe a time in your life when you didn’t feel a sense of freedom?
I felt trapped when I was working in a corporate structure—climbing the corporate ladder, doing the same thing day after day, and doing activities that I know didn’t matter to me or in the world for that matter. It was at this time that I completely abandoned my own Life Garden and therefore felt frustrated and unfulfilled, but I didn’t know why.
I also felt this way in certain relationships, creative pursuits, or situations with my health. I thought that if I worked harder, I would be able to achieve, solve or make things happen. And when they didn’t, I got frustrated, and I just worked harder and got more frustrated. It was a never-ending downward spiral. I was constantly working to tend others gardens instead of my own.
This book seems like it’s more fitting for an individual’s personal transformation. Is it applicable for business as well?
I believe that personal transformation leads to business transformation. Once someone is able to plant and tend their own garden in every area – security, health and well-being, relationships, vocation, and creative expression— they are then able to fully be present to engage with other people in a loving, compassionate, and intelligent manner. So, yes, this book is ideal for people that want to find out how to take ownership of their life, how to connect to their inner knowing, and how to find joy and freedom in their lives.
As people start to reduce their stress, connect to their intuition, and take better care of themselves, they can’t help but have a positive effect on others. This results in higher productivity, turnover reduction, increased job satisfaction, and spontaneous innovation. When someone decides to plant a garden – at home, in their office, at school, or somewhere in the community—something happens to the person, the workplace, the school, or the organization. Seeds are planted, roots dig deep down in the earth, nourishment becomes a priority, there’s growth and connection, obstacles are cleared away, and the person, the office, the school, or the place in the community is renewed. The garden when planted with sincerity can make all aspects of your life beautiful.
The RV tour sounds exciting. What made you want to take this kind of trip?
It’s been a lifelong dream of mine to travel across the country for a year with my family. I first got the taste of an RV when I was twelve years old and my parents took our family to Scandinavia for six weeks. We spent most of the time visiting family in Sweden and Finland, but we used the camper to explore the countries of Scandinavia. It was a memorable trip and I really enjoyed the freedom and flexibility that camping afforded us while we were there. So, I had always envisions taking a year off to see North America with my family—I just thought it was going to be with my husband and my children, not my parents and my dogs!
There’s a values exercise in Chapter Two that I used to figure out what was important to me. When I first created this exercise, I discovered that my top four values are: connection, freedom, creativity, and joy.
These four words describe my essence and I find that I am much happier when I am expressing these four values in all parts of my Life Garden. This tour will do exactly that as I connect with people, experience the freedom of working from anywhere, create, and live in joy as I travel this beautiful continent.
Freedom means different things to different people; for me it’s about my time, being outside, traveling, and meeting people. So, I am going on this tour to visit beautiful gardens and parks, interview people consciously living a life of freedom, and talk to groups of people. Part of my work will be speaking about cultivating corporate culture, leading workshops, and organizing retreats with different organizations. My goal is to teach people and companies how to plant the seeds of freedom in their life so they can live or do work that matters too!
It’s going to be a fun ride!