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Doutzen Kroes on reconnecting to her power through nature

We spoke with Dutch model, mother and avid gardener Doutzen Kroes on how gardening fuels her creativity, inspires her to tune inward and helps re-write her life experiences. She made the life-changing decision to put her modeling career on hold and focus on her family, our collective consciousness and developing her world view.

“The more time I spend in nature, the more connected I feel to my own power. When I place my hands in the soil and feel the life beneath me, it fuels my creativity. It makes me look at the world from a different perspective. For me, I realized this feeling is what makes me happy. At the start of the pandemic, I imagined this metaphor of a high-speed train I had been in all these years suddenly coming to a halt. When I got off, nothing happened, and I realized that all along, I had been afraid of an ego death. I wondered who I would be if I were no longer doing the job I was doing, and when I stopped, nothing changed. When I started gardening, I would cook homegrown chard and place it on the table in front of my husband and children, and I would experience such a strong, full circle moment created out of pure love. I realized that all these years, I had learned to give away my power, and nature helped me take it back.

When I started gardening, I realized how intelligent nature is, and once I realized we are all part of nature, gardening became a mirror for me. Our connection with the earth is so important because it enables us to reconnect with ourselves and the magic of life. You realize you hold the same innate intelligence that allows a tree to know when it is the right time to drop its leaves.

The metaphor of the train coming to a halt was a revelation for me. I was so grateful for being forced to slow down; it was a gift. We work so hard in this society, but what we enjoy most is spending the weekends outside in harmony with nature. This doesn’t pay the bills, so it was a luxury that I was able to focus only on this for a while. I understand most people don’t have that choice.

As a child, my parents practiced homeopathy and my mother taught me about herbal remedies. Every summer, I helped my dad harvest potatoes. For my parents, healthy food was always a priority, but it was expensive and unpopular. So when they returned home from work in the evenings, they would work in the garden. Their dedication inspired me to work hard and follow my dream. Even when I was living in New York as a model, I always had a small herb garden. My biggest dream was to have a house with a garden and a vegetable patch, and now that dream has come to life. Planting a seed that sprouts, grows, gets eaten, and nourishes the body is such a miracle. It helps me see the little things as big things. This perspective has redefined how I view success. I enjoy walking the red carpet in an amazing dress or doing a fashion show, but the fulfilment I have experienced in the past two years through slowing down is something I never felt before.

Last year, while New York Fashion Week was going on (one of the major moments in my previous modeling life), I was strolling in a garden center in the Netherlands with my mother-in-law buying herbs for her balcony. My Instagram feed was full of what I could have been a part of, and I thought to myself, “oh my god, here I am in a garden store with my mother-in-law.” It was a beautiful moment. I realized that what I had always feared missing out on wasn’t something to be afraid of. I was content. Getting off that train, or even just slowing down enough to feel what really suits me has been so important to me. To me, the most empowering thing is to live authentically and in the moment.

Growing up, we are being taught that things outside of ourselves know us better than we do – our teacher knows better, our parents know better, and even God is made to be found outside of us. But I think it’s all inside. We’re all pure consciousness, and we already have all the answers. I learned to decide what is best for me. It was so scary to take back my autonomy and start making my own choices. I felt like a little girl again. But truly finding my authentic self and learning to trust it was my challenge. I am now at the stage where I’m beginning to feel stuff, and I’m excited again. This occurred for me at age 37, but it doesn’t matter if it’s at 25 or 50. There is a timing for everything. I realized I can be a model today and a gardener the next day. Our essence is not connected to our identity. Only I get to decide which role I want to play in my own divine moment.

Someone recently asked me why everything in my garden grows so well. It’s because I give it so much love. Everything is energy, so it must feel what I offer it. It’s about the intention and having that respect for the food. Whenever I cut a vegetable, I thank it first. Not out loud, but with a feeling.

When I come across weeds in my garden, I don’t remove them, because who gets to decide what a weed is? Many weeds help the soil absorb nitrogen, which is healthy for the plants surrounding them. It’s all about balance, just like in life. My garden offers me a balanced perspective of the world. Do we have to define things as good and bad or can we just co-exist with them? Maybe nature can help us reevaluate what beauty is.

As a mother, seeing my children eat something from my garden makes me so happy. I think children have a natural connection with nature, and they love learning from it. I recently told my daughter, Myllena, who struggles with math, to look up at the trees. One tree still has its leaves and the one next to it already dropped them. We are all developing at a different pace, just like everything in nature. I reminded my daughter that we should honor this truth and not allow anyone else to say we aren’t good enough. We the people have the power; it is about time we start remembering this.”

Doutzen, pictured in her garden with her father, who passed away last year.

He gifted me these two wild yellow roses, the first plants in my garden. They make a gateway to my vegetable garden and will forever remind me of my dear father. When people give you plants as presents, your garden becomes a living memory of all your loved ones.

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