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It was Helen Keller who said, “Life is either a daring adventure or nothing”
In a collaboration with Czech Republic photographer, Denisa Maňásková, Floris Niu reflects on the highs and the lows of her adventure: My Life with Cacao. Her story is a celebration of courage, passion and tenacity.
When I first came back to Samoa, to the village, to the land, to the Cacao Plantation … God showed me what was possible in Nature, that everything I ever needed was already Here.
Through the Simple Beauty in Nature, God showed me the incredible cycles of Life, that we can begin again … and make better choices. When that light shone through the shadows of my heart, I felt myself getting stronger with each daylight. Watching my cacao grow and fruit, was my meditation, my prayer.
And although at times I felt very much alone in my efforts, I knew that God always had these reserves … these other tiny buds of hope, flowering slowly but surely in the background. Sometimes life is like this, but not always.
There were days when I felt heavy, mundane and purposeless as a farmer. I see and hear farmers in my village like this every day. They tell me their stories too. But in my corporate job in the Western world many years ago, I carried a slightly different load than this man. I wore a profound sadness, deep depression, hopelessness, anxiety and fear stemming from cultural displacement and life’s relentless challenges. I yearned to come back to a place of simplicity … of ancestral connectedness, of peace.
Climbing a coconut tree is a dying art in Samoa. It is one of those skills, like many I learned as a child growing up in Samoa, which has not been passed on. I fear that many other things in our culture will not survive if we don’t grasp them with our hands and feet. An organic life is one of those precious things.
In my strive to take care of these trees and this land, I often forgot to take care of myself. But God, the Universe, Nature never forgot the other things I needed in my life … moral support, cheerleaders and true friends to share the highs and lows. Whatever I asked for, I received … sometimes tenfold … incredible kindness and Love surrounds me every day on this adventure. Thank you!
In the beginning, to say that it was difficult to talk to other farmers, so I could learn from them, is an understatement. No male farmer was willing to take that risk with me. I was a lone woman trying to do their job. Who am I to have ideas about koko let alone farming? And who am I to ask them why they need chemicals?? However, time is a curious thing. Five years on, they realise that I am not a tourist after all … lol … and I can stop by several farms and have a friendly exchange of ideas and support with my fellow village farmers … sometimes even score some free plants and seedlings.
Today, I walked away with a beautiful hibiscus as a gift, and a few jokes to last me a few days.
It gives me immense joy to share ideas with these village farmers, much more than I ever did in an office boardroom in my other life.
Sharing my life with others from another world, watching them grow and become the beings they are meant to be … has been an unexpected gift. All those days of turning, washing and sorting beans … they were not in vain. If they were merely to teach me patience, attention to my thoughts and learning to love every part of these processes … for the sake of awakening others, then my work is done right here.
When I prayed for help, the heavens opened up and brought two amazing beings who are so attuned to the needs of this place … and to mine as a farmer. Over the past 5 years, the sons I never had, just turned up. They filled the void left behind from the inability to have my only child with me. Whenever I despaired that perhaps God had forgotten me here … I was promptly proven wrong.
Denisa sorting our dried beans.
It’s been said before. When you surround yourself with like minded people, singing from the same hymn book, moving to the beat of the same drum … work should just be easy. It’s no longer work, but a passion.
Everywhere I go, I look for those who inspire me to stay grounded, strong and encouraged. No being is an island so we must learn to ask for help when we need it. On this island, everyone and everything is interconnected. Our wisdom comes from the most unexpected sources and experiences. I’ve learned this much from my Life with Cacao; growing is a neverending process. We need others on our journey, to make it all worthwhile.
Visit: Ms Sunshine Farms