Jen Lagedrost Cavender | Nectar and Bloom
Tell us a little bit about yourself and your business!
I'm Jen, owner and lead floral artist of Nectar + Bloom, a poetically-spirited fine art floral design studio for weddings, events, and creative and holistic experiences, workshops, and classes. I have a wild background as a traveler and writer seeking work and experience from the mountains of Wyoming to the fjords of New Zealand. I also have a formal academic background, with a Master of Fine Arts degree in Poetry, and a former career as a professor of literature and creative writing courses. My current work as a floral artist and educator continues to draw color and vividness from this background. I am also a passionate runner (former collegiate cross-country athlete), yogi, yoga teacher, and enthusiast about all things related to wellness, wholeness, healing, and empowerment. I started Nectar + Bloom out of a desire to create with my whole body, to heal and transform my life, and to prove to myself that I could create a life as a working artist. Once I started, I found another passion emerge, which is to prove to myself that I can be a working artist who is also balanced and healthy. This is an ongoing pursuit, for sure. Growing a small business provides many a challenge and opportunity for this evolution!
What does being 'Grounded' look and feel like to you?
Being ‘grounded’ is a huge part of 2019 for me. I do have to laugh because the word-nerd in me puns this term with a memory of getting in trouble for infuriating my parents as a teen, but that aside, being ‘grounded’ has become something quite different that as an adult I seek daily. Overall, being ‘grounded’ is a feeling of calm, self-assuredness, and empowerment. It feels like having both feet on the ground in a broad meadow, chest open, breathing the wild fresh air, vibrant in a sense of knowing and acceptance, observing beauty in all, and feeling in harmony with self and surrounds. In practice, being ‘grounded’ looks like making the time (and we never have time, we make it) to clarify my values and design actionable steps toward them.
A trick for determining your guiding ‘values’ that I learned while attending a Be Luminary retreat (highly recommended) is to consider how you would like to be remembered by your loved ones to have lived this life. Like guiding stars, these values help direct the actions, choices and steps, you take to head toward them. That centers your energy and conducts your actions, which is grounding. Sometimes it helps to define something abstract by what it is not. Being un-grounded looks like frenetically racing around trying to put out the fires, like opening your laptop and attacking emails like an onslaught of weeds that sprout ten more in the time it takes you to pull out one. Answering every request and demand that come your way (and they always come), even with the best of intentions, leaves you feeling fragmented, resentful, and often depleted.
Lightning is wild, dangerous, desperate energy that seeks relief, the fastest way possible, into the ground. I grew up on an organic vegetable farm in the midwest with plenty of wild storms. The old barn on our property had four beautiful metal lightning rods with points in the shape of stars on the slate roof that lead to a metal grounding cord connecting them to the dirt 30 feet below. Lightning wants to find a way out of the storm and into the earth where it can be absorbed and relieved.
Stress is like a storm, and the ground is how we return to our safety from it. We too are energy, after all.
When you are feeling stressed or overwhelmed, do you have any quick tips to share that help you to ground yourself in the moment?
One of the most helpful practices for me is journaling. It can seem like something frivolous or selfish to consider when you’re stressed out and over-your-head busy, but push through that falsity and try setting aside 30 minutes to an hour to have a meeting with yourself on paper. I hand-write because it slows me down and brings me to the present sensation of ink smoothly marking the page as I untangle my thoughts into sentences and understanding. Journaling helps slow down, gain perspective, and clarify an action plan. That is a three step process to immediately feeling grounded. Another helpful thing to remember, especially if you’re a perfectionist like me, is that some is better than none. If you don’t have the hours for whatever you consider to be a ‘full’ or ‘real’ workout, do a workout ‘snack’. Do something with the time you have that day. Finally, and most obviously, breathe. We hear it all the time, but actually taking a deep breath 100% never fails to sooth me and provide an immediate hit of relief and perspective.
Try taking 10 deep breaths. It takes a minute! But after you do it, you have transformed from where you were before. You are back on the path to feeling grounded.
How does your physical wellness affect your creative process?
I see my body as my home and my instrument. I live in my body. My body shelters me, empowers me, and allows me to experience the vast and incredible landscape of life. Most of all, my body is the instrument by which I am able to manifest, share, and serve the creations and callings I am here to make and to answer in this life. If my home is in shambles, I am in shambles. If my instrument is rusty and out of tune, how can I expect it to make music? As a creative and an athlete, my physical wellness is top of the list for me to care for in supporting and sustaining my creative process.
The Pillars of Wellness
I often need to define a word for myself in order to be able to see it better. If I can see its parts, what things constitute it, I know how to build it. For me, ‘Wellness’ is comprised of:
Community — Nurture relationships with friends, family, and shared experiences that fill you up and leave you feeling inspired.
Support — Assemble a little ‘team’ of healers and guides you can call upon when you are out of whack or when you need guidance.
Education — This can be anything from a book, to a podcast, a blog post, or a workshop or class.
Healing — Make space to see and feel what’s really going on inside you so you can acknowledge, process, and let go.
Movement — Movement is a much friendlier term than ‘exercise’ for many people because it’s more playful and can be anything from dancing to cleaning the house.
Nourishment — Instead of ‘diet’ think of ‘nourishment.’ Ask yourself: what does my body need to feel nourished? Nutrition is nourishment, and nourishment is self love in action.
How we can become more grounded today!
Once I can see how Wellness is built, I can then set up a way to pursue it:
1. Awareness — Everything starts with awareness. Awareness is awakening to your body, your beauty, your strength, your life.
2. Action — Our bodies are our instruments and our greatest tools to create, enjoy, express, and share what we are here to do. Physical movement is how to tune your instrument. The integrity of your tool directly translates to the success of your work.
3. Strategy — What is your biggest strength (your super power)? What do you want to work on (your area of opportunity)? Try applying your method for your super power to the way you approach your area of opportunity!
4. Practice — Wellness is a lifestyle, a practice, and a process to build. Engage with that process every day. Visualize your goal as a practice, not an arrival point. Be patient. Be compassionate. Keep the faith. I’m working on this stuff every single day right there with you.
A huge thanks to Jen for sharing such incredible insights with our Dulcet readers. You can find more of Jen’s incredible work here and follow her @nectar_and_bloom!
Kayla Sampson + Amber Thrane