After moving from California to the Midwest in search of a slower pace of life, she took up homesteading and growing plants with her husband and children. Alyson uses visual storytelling to inspire ecological awareness, and she writes about homesteading and eco-activism on her IG, @alsyonsimplygrows. She’s a writer, photographer, creative, mother, and folk herbalist — and we couldn’t be any more excited for you to get to know her today!
My first ever job was babysitting, in the most literal sense. I must have been 11 or 12, and I would spend my summers at my grandmother’s house while my parents worked. Next door to my grandmother’s home, our longtime family friend ran a daycare that I had attended as a small child. My first job was to hold the newborns. I would sit and hold them for hours. Comfort them, feed them, and change their diapers. A babysitter! I think I’ve always loved tending to beings: plants, humans, and other kinds. There are so many ways to live, and I’m fascinated with different ways to care and tend for ourselves and each other. My next job right out of high school was in retail working for Crate and Barrel.
A stunning styling moment via @alysonsimplygrows
I’ve always had a creative spirit and I thank my parents for their influence in honing and supporting that energy within me. My dad taught me as a young girl about techniques, composition, perspective, and he really cultivated my artistic eye. He was always calling me to look at a tree, or leaf, or sunset with an appreciation for beauty and life itself. My mother worked in a Crate and Barrel since before I was born, and I’m sure that exposure predisposed me to crave interiors and homes spaces that feel good. I was forever in art classes throughout grade school and high school. It was where I found a sense of safety. After a car accident in high school, I understood I could not take my life for granted.
In college, I turned to a completely different field of study, and my creative passions and urges went underground. I didn’t realize I needed creative space to truly feel myself. Then motherhood came along and I did not want to lose myself completely. Exploring my creative passions was an act of self-preservation. My husband and mother gave me a camera and it was then I began to remember what it was to see through my lens. I began to create spaces to share myself and my perspective and found it resonated with other people. The gift of beauty, a slower lifestyle, intimate connections to plants—I could share these with other people to inspire them. Art, creation, beauty in nature, are a balm for the troubles of this human-built world.
I thought I had to do what everyone else seemed to be doing or deemed successful. I would tell my younger self that I was safe to create and safe to be myself and follow my own intuition. What else is this experience called life other than to live it fully and wholeheartedly? I would encourage myself not to be afraid to make mistakes and errors, because that is where the growth edge is. It is where you realize what it is you want and what it is you don’t want. My father always told me to have patience, persistence and passion; I try to always embody those words because sometimes the good things in life take time.
I am inspired by the natural cycles of the earth, the change of the seasons, and the textures, colors, and structures of flowers, plants, and rocks. I find inspiration in the phases of the moon and the stars. Inspiration comes to me from connecting deeply with the natural world around us, our collective home. Whether it’s plants I grow in my garden, or going for a hike in the verdant rolling hills of the Driftless region of Wisconsin I call home, there is so much wonder and energy to be found. For our home build, the color palette and inspiration for textures came from a small rock my daughter found on the shores of Lake Superior on a family vacation last summer. I use it as a touchstone, a piece to align the materials I’m bringing in for the build. I’m also deeply inspired by historical architecture, heirloom design and antique furniture. Timeless style and heirloom pieces built to last and stand the test of time.
My creative process varies depending on if I’m writing, photographing something, or designing a space. Any creative process for me begins with quieting myself, creating sacred space within or without, and finding the spark of inspiration or feeling I’m wanting to convey. If it is summer, I’ll take my coffee out into the garden to see what is growing, to listen to the birdsong, to connect with the heartbeat of the world. If it is winter, I will light an herbal smoke stick to clear the air + clear my mind. Finding ways to ground myself before engaging with my creativity is important. I love using Pinterest to then plan and gather inspiration for color palettes, textures and moods, but I love allow the present moment to offer its possibilities, the way light enters a space, there is often so much creative magic in the spontaneous and beyond what is planned. I often have to open myself to it first.
There are so many challenges in starting and growing business and creative work and life. Boundaries have been hard for me: How to be sustainable in how I give my energy to different projects and how to create boundaries for myself so that I am well resourced. One of my biggest challenges has been to create boundaries to continue to cultivate my work despite conflicts and copycats. It was a long process to work with my therapist and personal growth to find the courage to put my creative self out in the world in the first place; it can often feel vulnerable to share my thoughts and myself in such a forward-facing way. I get nervous every time! And to have that work being targeted…it was a hurdle to continue to push through and call my creative power back. I had to realize I only really have control of what I do and what I share and cultivate faith that if it comes from my own authenticity—it cannot be replicated.
You know, this is an important question for me, because I think I often check completed tasks and accomplishments off my list without sitting with the weight of them, and truly holding space to congratulate myself or celebrate my accomplishment. I recently submitted a manuscript for my book! I had worked for a year on the project and I couldn’t believe I made my way through it and had completed the manuscript. The process of writing a book in the pandemic, while working and mothering two small children was no small feat and I really had to reprioritize my life and focus to bring it into being. I still can’t believe I did it!
I have two big endeavors, the culmination of two years of work and many more years of dreaming. The first is my book Our Kindred Home: Herbal Recipes, Plant Wisdom, and Seasonal Rituals for Rekindling Connection with Earth is being published in March of 2023. It has been a labor of love and explores our deep ties to the natural world and offers regenerative and sustainable ways of living through my intimate exploration and healing journey. The second endeavor is the planning, building and designing of our home! In March 2020, we purchased 38 acres of land, and for the last year and a half we have been working closely and designing our home build plan with our friend, woodworker and local builder Adrian Ugo. The final plan is our sixth version!
We broke ground this spring, after some pivots due to inflation and what was unearthed in the excavating process, there were changes to the plan and now the crew is starting framing. It’s been a special project and amazing to work with our local community, friends, and craftsman to bring this vision we’ve been crafting to life. I’m so grateful and beyond excited to have more space and create a home to welcome friends and family from California and abroad to the Driftless region and experience the love and magic we’ve found here. I hope to be able to offer workshops and retreats at our new property in the future as well.
To keep up with Alyson and her work, don’t forget to follow @alysonsimplygrows and check out her website http://alysonmorgan.com. Also, don’t forget to check out her new book, Our Kindred Home.
Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *
Save my name, email, and website in this browser for the next time I comment.