Shanna Trufinni, Creator of You Are a Gardener
Shanna is a gardener. Before you picture knees in dirt, gloves and shovels, you should know she’s no ordinary "gardener". Her line of work is so powerful; she believes that in order to make impactful and mindful changes in individuals, we start the conversation early - as in with children. We water them with open dialogue so they can flower into adults, with awareness and mindfulness. Read how her kids became the catalyst for her to begin this educational movement of “pulling weeds” amongst her community.
Shanna, you are a “gardener” and your goal is to help others become one, too! Can you explain to our community what this means?
I am 'gardener' planting the seeds for emotional education in children and adults alike. A few years ago my family encountered an unforeseen event that caused my daughter who was 5 at the time to have post traumatic stress. As much as we did to stay ahead of it with regular therapy, her stress started taking root and manifested into to anxiety. As a Mom on a mission I was determined to help my family find a positive solution to help our daughter overcome her struggles. While working with a friend one day she compared her own stress and anxiety to watering weeds. This was my lightbulb moment as there was something about that image that stuck with me. That same night I sat my children down (my daughter was now 7 and my son was 5) and proceeded to tell them that they were gardeners growing the most beautiful gardens inside of them. The flowers were the things that make you feel happy, like baking cookies and snuggling, while the weeds were the things that make you feel sad, scared or mad. I went on to ask them if they had any weeds that day and instantly I was overwhelmed with their response about the weeds they had encountered. We would always talk about their day from who they ate lunch with, a song they learned in music to homework and so on, but we were never consistently talking about the things they had experienced that may have caused them to feel stress. And it turns out they experience quite a lot! Those day to day weeds can take root quite fast and by talking about them my children felt better. This was the moment that inspired me to write my book You Are a Gardener but how it changed our lives is what motivated me to self-publish it.
Some weeds always keep popping up and never truly go away (both literally and figuratively). How do you tackle those issues that will just never turn into flowers?
Weeds to seeds, plant flowers around the ones u cant get out. Our family is all about turning weeds into seeds. We believe that all encounters both positive and negative are opportunities to learn and grow! The more comfortable you are with talking to people you love and trust about your feelings, experiences and observations the easier it is to identify the weeds in your garden. However, there can be those 'weeds' in your garden that are deeply rooted and hard to get out. This is where the flowers come in.
Appreciation and positive distractions are always a powerful tool when it comes to taking your mind off your weeds. Look for the flowers, they are always there to help you see the light.
Why do you think it’s so important to start these conversation with the younger generation, especially children?
Teach kids to identify, discuss and problem solve at early age, empowering. With all the amazing people I meet from cognitive behavioral therapists, parents, school counselors and educators, everyone is an agreement that the stress levels in kids is at an all-time high and they are seeing it younger and younger. I know first-hand that what I am offering helps. Consistency is everything with the process and teaching kids to to appreciate their 'flowers' and always be mindful of the 'weeds' will help keep their 'gardens' healthy and bright.
Do you think social media has added additional stress to children and young adults? If so, how would your method help with this digital issue?
I think we live in a fast-paced culture that is in a habit of a looking down and easily distracted with technology. Our children, tomorrow's future, is in a disconnected state and I feel it is our generation's responsibility to put it back together. If we can get families and educators to speak the same language when it comes to communicating with children about their feelings and emotions we can empower them with the gift of knowing they have the tools it takes to control the way they feel.
What is next for you both personally and professionally?
Every month our family along with the talent of our illustrator/videographer Kelsey Delaney, produces a video series called Hello Gardeners to help spread our seeds of emotional well being. Every episode Gardener Anna & Gardener Aidan receive a ‘weed’ from a fellow gardener and they help by coming up with solutions on how to turn the ‘weed’ into a ‘seed’. The show also features members of our community and DIY projects for the whole family to enjoy. We are currently reaching out to anyone who might be interested in getting behind us to support a much needed cultural movement to make the future a brighter place for today’s youth. We are actively seeking sponsorships or mutually beneficial cross-promotional relationships. A second series is also in the works...stay tuned.
You can learn more on www.youareagardener.com or follow on instagram @youareagardener
Interviewed by Emily