Erin Johnson is the founder of Surround, a place to come and remember that life is about connection. Drawing inspiration from nature, she guides others in reimagining the spaces in which we live. She currently lives in New Mexico drawing inspiration from a raw and wild landscape and a perfect person to speak on all things wellness!
How do you define wellness?
Wellness is synonymous with deep joy. I believe our joy surfaces from a deep unwavering sense of ease. The depth has weight and magnitude; a feeling I liken to the immensity of nature. It’s like a slow undulating sea, or a thick yet gentle wind, or being held within the steadiness of a mountain valley. I find that landscape is at ease with itself. Nature knows no other way and when I’m in its company, my senses awaken, my mind softens, and my spirit soars.
Nature is beautiful. It’s dynamic, powerful, and reflective. It’s nothing other than itself. When in its presence, I’m more apt to afford myself the same grace and honesty; I’m well. Therefore when I say being outside allows me to expand into the very definition of wellness, it’s literal. I make sure I’m able to access nature and I also create a smaller version of that around my home through gardening.
All trails have led me back to the garden, so to speak. As a student of Asian art, architecture, history, and religion, I discovered that paradise was in fact the garden. As an Ayurvedic Practitioner, I found a language which expressed health through nature. As a farmer, I understood the backbone of a community was the land. As a product developer, that which was cultivated and harvested was the root of our supply chain.
I’ve designed my life accordingly, creating and cultivating beautiful spaces, a garden being one of them. I wasn’t meant to sit like a yogi. I was meant to move. I was meant to work with plants, to work hard, to find solace and silence in the landscape. Wellness, I believe, comes when we know our true nature and live in alignment with it. Mine happens to thrive while outside.
What do you do daily for your wellness?
Beauty surrounds you because you create it.
I’ve come to be the proud caretaker of a gorgeous garden. It grows and continues to evolve and thrive. I see this as a result of the daily conversation I have with it. You’ve heard of kaizen, the art of small, incremental, yet intentional acts which, over time, result in massive transformation? Well my garden is where this principle comes alive. I get outside and enjoy it everyday.
Be it watering, a little weeding, planting, harvesting vegetables, picking flowers, sitting with a coffee or a glass of wine, having friends gather, everyday I do something to take care of it and in return, it takes care of me. I’ve done many things in my life and I’d have to say that cultivating a garden and paying attention to it daily has been one of the most humbling and rewarding practices.
This keeps me curious and connected.
I also pray everyday (same prayer). It takes just a few minutes in the morning before I get out of bed.
This keeps me sane.
What do you do weekly for your wellness?
Approaching wellness is as much a physical act, as it is emotional, mental, and spiritual. Frankly these can’t be easily dissected from one another, as they’re all threads in the same fabric. This being said, every week there are several things which anchor me.
For my body…I always cook up a storm. Home cooking, even if it’s just for me, is one of the most creative, loving, and pleasurable things I do. Plus I LOOOOVE to cook and I love to eat, so it’s a win win.
For my heart…I make sure to call and connect to one of my beloved girlfriends, we talk story, we laugh, we cry.
For expanding my trust…I lean into gardening. I watch plants grow and flower and die. It reminds me that life is a transmutation.
For deepening my faith…I pray, I make my own medicines, I allow myself to love and be loved.
What do you do monthly for your wellness?
I’ll be honest, as much as I’d want to get out and do an epic hike/walk weekly it just doesn’t happen. But monthly or a few times a month, yes! I’ll take a day tuning out to tune back in.
I’ll head over to the Rio Grande and walk through the bosque or take a day and get into the mountains and mesas of the desert. I’d say the best thing about Albuquerque is that it’s in New Mexico. This area is one of the most magical, raw, etheric, and beautiful places in the world. I’m so grateful that I can get out into the wild easily.
What do you do yearly for your wellness?
This year has shifted how I approach this one, yet for the last decade or so, I make a point to invest in an experience for myself. Just myself. Not with my husband or my step children, just me. It took me a long time to recognize the value of this. Now sacred, I make sure however it unfolds to invest in self care.
The experience generally includes travel or retreat. I consciously and thoughtfully take myself out of the patterns, habits, and monotony of the day to day to recenter and remember. For some they can do this mentally, make a clear and decisive choice to do x, no longer y. I too do this, but I also have learned to honor my desire for travel, retreat, kinship, and art.
These have taken different forms, be it a week in silence, a week to dive into the art of photography, remembering the breathing and movement therapies, take time to travel with an old friend whom I no longer live in the same city…Sometimes the experience will take me around the world, sometimes it takes me just away from home. In either scenario it reminds me how critical self-care is. That no matter where I go or what I do, when I choose to invest and value in what I love, be it travel, food, art, meeting people and sharing stories from around the world, there is ease and grace and discovery.
Joy is an infectious state of wellness.