ReConnect with Plant Wisdom podcast | Ep.42 Invasive species vs. Naturalized, What Are You Evolving Into?

Ep.42 Invasive species vs. Naturalized, What Are You Evolving Into? with Nandini Gosine-Mayrhoo

This is another one of those episodes that will make you go hmmmm. Nandini Gosine-Mayrhoo and I discuss our personal experiences as double immigrants. We explore the fluidity of natural borders and the importance of embracing cultural differences, while never losing our own familial cultures. Only in this way, can we avoid becoming invasive species, and instead embrace naturalization.

Adapting to a new culture while retaining your own identity and customs has its challenge. With so many people moving from place of origin to new home, either by force or choice, plants provide a wonderful model for how to evolve with your environment.

Nandini is a Freelance Writer and Ghostwriter living in Palm Beach, Florida. Nandini is the creator of nandī, a platform that reimagines children’s education around nature, nurturing the nature leaders of tomorrow, today. She is an ambassador for the Music of the Plants and the author of the first children’s book introducing the device to kids. Nandi & The Music of the Plants is a Distinguished Honoree of the prestigious Mom’s Choice Awards. 

Topics Covered about accepting who you are

  • What decides my cultural identity?
  • Double immigration, how to adapt without losing yourself
  • The role of Pioneer species in a new environment
  • Allowing yourself to evolve into something new instead of an invasive species

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Welcome to ReConnect with Plant Wisdom. I am your host, Tigrilla Gardenia, Nature-Inspired Mentor and Leadership Coach. In this podcast, I share ancient and modern knowledge, from biology to spirituality, about the wondrous ways plants can help you lead a Naturally Conscious Life.

Nandini, I’ve been waiting to have this discussion with you for a while, because you know if anybody can understand the whole concept of being an invasive species versus a naturalized species as similar to myself as a what is it? How do I how did I put it to you the other day a twice removed like you’ve got it like I do so, understand that really well. But before we start into this conversation, because I know it’s really easy for us to jump. I want you to tell our audience a little bit about you who is Nandini Gosine-Mayrhoo?

Okay, well, thank you to Tigrilla. And first of all, thank you for inviting me to your podcast. So who am I? Well, I am a writer, a freelance writer and ghost writer and I have been number of degree as platform then actually conscious community I think from the very beginning. So I’ve had a wonderful journey with degree or helping me to, you know, just step into my true being. And that has been a transition from the world of Wholesale Banking to being a writer, something that I’ve always had a passion for. So you know, I do that and then through, you know, the naturally conscious community and Damanhur you know, I came across the music of the plants.

I think that’s how I first got introduced to, you know, Damanhur and to Tigrilla. So when I first heard the music of the plans, you know, sometimes we have these life changing experiences, and that’s the only way that I can describe it. That music just touched something in me that I really couldn’t put words to. And I knew I had to change it with the world and not change it with the world but rather share it with the world. And being a writer, I thought I would write a children’s book something that I never done before. So I am honored to say that I am the author of the very first children’s book on the music of the plants, introducing the device to children. And I am looking to expand that into educating children on what nature has to teach us so I’m looking forward to that journey.

I love it. It’s funny, you’re the you’re the second person that I know that has done such a dramatic shift in their career like this other friend of mine with a nuclear physicist who went to writing and you as like, you know, Wholesale Banking to writing it really is just amazing to think of exactly how much we can change our lives with absolute intention and will and just say, You know what, this world is not working for me. I need to find the world that’s going to work for me and I’ve always admired that about you. So here’s invasive species versus naturalized. So you didn’t talk about this before. Tell everybody your background because go sign Meru just doesn’t sound American, but it’s also not a your accents, not Indian, like come on, walk us through it. Because there’s a piece there’s a piece in the middle there people are not going to expect.

Okay. I don’t know which piece but we’ll go. So I was born in the Caribbean. I’m a child of the Caribbean on the beautiful island of Trinidad. And I spent my early years there and then I moved to London, where I worked in Wholesale Banking, and then I moved to Florida. So I’ve been here in Florida for 10 years now. So you know, that’s where I think my insights into being an invasive speciesor naturalized species comes in. You know, having lived the majority of my life, outside of the place that I was born, but yet having that strong affinity and that sense of being rooted in a beautiful tropical island.
Absolutely. And no, you’re just out of curiosity because I’ve never asked you this before but are your parents originally from Trinidad or? Yes,
my. I am actually third generation. You know, my family in Trinidad. So my great grandparents are the ones who would have moved from India.

Yeah, which is similar to myself in that aspect. I mean, my mother, we actually still don’t have exactly what generation moved from Spain to Cuba. So we know that some it happens somewhere in either my mother third generation, Cuban or it’s possible it’s second. It’s still very confusing because it’s, you know, similar to island nations have this thing of like records. But no, maybe sometimes. I mean, my mother still doesn’t even have a birth certificate. She has his her baptism certificate too. Which is funny because my mother was born with with one name. And one letter of her name was taken out by the time she was baptized, and nobody noticed that my grandmother didn’t notice. So my mother’s name is technically different from what my grandmother named her by one letter, which is hysterical in that aspect. So and I understand that like the I have that twitch of growing up in a place and then moving to another place and then rooting yourself there. I mean, you live to live in London 2323 years to then switch and go to the United States again. So you have this pleat, cultural shift happens Did you you know, coming back one of the discussions we have when we talk about invasive species versus naturalized is the fact that obviously, let’s just take from Trinidad to London, most importantly, because similar to ourselves, you know, you’re also in South plight of the Cubans very well. live amongst them in some ways. And so you know, that in in Miami in particular, I know you’re in West Palm Beach, but in Miami in particular, we we recreated Cuba in a lot of aspects. I mean, when we moved into the United States, it wasn’t with the intention of like, neither transforming the United States into Cuba, but it wasn’t with the idea of hiding our humaneness either. And so Miami is this very culture that was able to sort of hybridize to create this hybridized culture. Did you find when you went from Trinidad to the United’s to, to London, how did your family adapt to like cultures and norms? Did you feel yourself more invasive species in the sense of I’m going to, I’m going to just be what I want to be and I’m going to take over or did you find yourself that you complete naturalized, forgetting yourself? I mean, what was that shift? Like for you?

It was a difficult a difficult transition in some ways. It was a huge culture shock as you can imagine. It was, yeah, it was strange. And I remember missing home terribly, terribly terrible. And I guess the weather has a lot to do with. But one of the fortunate things I think was that my husband had very, very close friends. My husband is also from Trinidad, and he moved to London when he was quite young, when he was still a teenager. But he had some very, very close friends, some of them West Indian, but most of them Indian people who had grown up in India or East Africa who are then come to themselves and they have a very close knit community. And they were very, very well to me, but again, you know, there were pros and cons with this because Indian Yes, but very, very different to the culture that I was brought up in Trinidad because Trinidad is a very multicultural society. You know, every religious holiday is a national holiday. Whereas in England, it’s not like that. And different cultures have their own little world that they exist in. And so I myself, this child of the Caribbean, coming to London, out of place in English culture, out of place in Indian culture, and having to maintain a sense of identity within all of that gave me an opportunity for growth and opportunity to develop. Exactly who Nandini is, you know, I did not lose myself in any of the things that surrounded me. I maintained mono I have seen many people who go into a different culture and because they’re immersed in that culture, they become that culture. But I was able to coexist. Harmony harmoniously.

But looking back, this is not something I’ve ever really thought of before but now, as you bring it up, I’m realizing that I never really lost who I was. That Trinidadian, you know, from the island of sunshine and see, which is huge to be able to say because I remember I went I went to the University with somebody who was she was from Barbados, Barbados. I think she was from Barbados. Yeah. White from Barbados. A lot of almost didn’t recognize the first Barbados from Barbados, Barbadian, or baby it was like, for a minute I just blanked. People didn’t recognize it. And even though we were in South Florida, right, so we’re in Miami, it’s beautiful. It’s sunshine. The weather is very similar. We have a lot of characteristics that are very similar. I remember watching her and I mean, I knew where she was from. I knew what her roots were, but at the same time, I felt like it was almost expected of her to be more she didn’t look she didn’t look like us. So she didn’t look Hispanic or she didn’t look like she was Cuban or anything like that. She was literally looked like she can be, you know, I don’t know Dutch or, or Norwegian or something. It’s very pale and, and so I think there was this sort of expectation on her even in a place like Miami, which is very culturally abound and longstanding she had to almost be vocal about who she was. In order for her to be sort of stereotyped into something else. And so, I mean, I can almost assume that being for you being in London. It must have been challenging because they might have just put you into the category of oh, she’s Indian. I mean, it’s easy to be Indian.

All the time, and people would say to me, this is hilarious, but this was actually said to me when I started working in London. People said to me, but you speak English
you know, there is this person with an Indian name as Indian as you can get. And, you know, speaking English, according to them very well, when this was not something they were used to because the Indians of course who came from India and East Africa would have that very strong accent. And then the Indians who were actually born in England in London, they had a particular way of speaking that you would know that like if you heard them on the radio, you would Indian person, somebody born in England, but of Indian origin. And I was completely different you know, how was this person who looked in had an Indian need sound Indian did not act Indian did not what they associated as Indian you know, and even being exposed to that culture. I was not embraced in you know, to say like, Okay, you’re one of us. It was never like that. I was always very, very different because I had a different outlook on the world. I did not act in the way that they expected Indian woman to act, you know, so it was a little challenging in that respect, but I guess there was always a part of me that was, I am who I am. And this is me and I’m not changing you. Know, in not to say that I am doing any harm to anyone, but I am retaining my own identity.
So I’m going to throw a plant analogy over and then and then I am going to shift and some point over to our next transition to the next country because I feel like there is a big difference that happens between two. But bear with me for a second. If you think about yourself as the ecosystem that you created, right? By the way that you’re saying you’re like, I retain my characteristics, even though I was in a different environment and environment that in a lot of ways is more like it’s very different. I mean, it was different geographically. In other words, like the weather and the pins typing is very different from an island nation. And then on top of that, you have all of these other kinds of expectations set on you because of maybe the way you look or you know, what, what culture thinks that you’re supposed to be? If you think about it as an ecosystem, what do you think it was that allowed you to have you were able to thrive in that while maintaining were what were the aspects that you felt like you had to adapt in that, you know, if walk me through what you think was a good adaptation was to this is how you become part a naturalized into your electorate, but these are those things that are like true to your courts and that don’t let go of those like that’s, that’s not being you know, a good naturalized citizen, that’s just losing yourself.
Hmm. I have funnily enough, one of the things that I had to change very, very quickly when I got to England was how quickly I spoke. I mean, you know how quickly we speak it. So I had people looking at me and you know, Alicia, light and and the person would just be looking at me. You know, whereas in the Caribbean, though, you would say what was that? What did you say? You know, they would just sit there and look, and then you realize, or they didn’t understand was one big change to make. One thing that I realized that English culture is how close that is and how not very often they are to different cultures. It’s just the way it is not a criticism. It’s just the way it is. And coming from an island nation where you know what it’s like in the Caribbean somebody come to your island and you’re all smiles and open arms and full of love and Yeah, how about who would have a dream come in life, that kind of there’s so I guess in the beginning, being such an anomaly to people’s minds, but while retaining my my why what is the correct word? My sunshiny nature, despite my very reserved and introverted nature, you know, as soon as when people began to know me, they realized that I was very warm and friendly, and I think, in retaining that I did not become a reflection of the cold English weather, which was, which was a good thing and I would advise that you know, I would give that advice to anybody else who goes into a culture like that. Yes, you have to understand the history of why this culture is the way it is, and yes, you in in understanding that in understanding the history, you are then able to see Well look, okay, I understand why this is the way it is. But I will not become like that. I will not meet those expectations. I will retain the part of me that is different. While I can co exist.

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Next dots through answer aren naturalized versus invasive species. I feel like invasive species in general whether we’re talking about a plant species or we’re talking about humans are those that go to modify the society but from the perspective of there’s something wrong here so I need to take it over. And even as I think about myself, like, you know, in Miami and like I said Miami hybrid culture like there’s a lot if I look at the difference between how I grew up and how it is now when I go back, it’s very different bear when I was up, sure there were those places where you went and everybody just spoke Spanish.

I mean, you couldn’t go to sit down and have a conversation in English. But there was understanding and even when I have conversations with my mother, there’s certain pieces of our conversations that are always in English because it’s an understanding that we live in the United States, you know that we were there and that this is where today I think some of that is getting lost from i Pardon me for saying there is listening to me please take this with the love of the fact that I am what I am about to say like I those cultures, but I feel like where the Cuban culture very much wanted a naturalization that took the best of both worlds. And I don’t just say that because I’m Cuban. I mean, there’s lots of research around that around the idea that Cubans one of the fastest adapting adapting cultures into the United States. I mean, we adapted in the sense of going into politics and going into other forms of government and business and such like that. And we looked for a very hybrid approach. The idea of how do I create almost cultivars that have the best of all of these worlds put together, where I find when I go now, which has a much more South American feel. It’s much more turning into South America, there’s you know, less and less English being spoken more and more of a of a somewhat invasive species feeling, not because I feel like people are I don’t even think it’s coming out of a fear of like losing your culture where I saw that happen when I was living in Spain with long since I was in the Catalonia I felt like there was a lot of grasping at Catalonia culture without trying to introduce traditional Spanish culture because there was fear of losing it. I don’t feel like that’s where it’s coming from. I feel like it’s coming from a little bit more the way the culture is there in South America, where it’s like, well, we just continue to do what we’ve always done. And so therefore, when I moved to the United States, I keep doing what I’ve always done, which is I think very different from other kinds of Caribbean as well as even Central and South American culture is like Mexican culture and stuff which is much more like I’m gonna get into it type of thing. So I find that really interesting. And and I think that that me hidden or understanding of how to deal with invasive species even in my garden and to look at those species as like what are the lessons there that I to better help me be naturalized but losing my natural my nature, you know, losing my color. So here’s a really interesting question. For you. I don’t know about you but as I went from obviously, you know, Cuban, Miami to Seattle, which is still the United States but I sort of my Cuban is almost didn’t matter when I was in the United States because I don’t present as being you know, like Hispanic and so I think a lot of people just almost didn’t realize and so I fell into the rhythm of English and I became almost lost a little bit my nature but not because anybody sort of imposed that on me instead, when I came to Italy, I’m going to skip Spain for right now just because Spanish culture can culture so there’s a lot of aspects of it that didn’t that this question didn’t come into being but when I came to to Italy, I found there a very strong culture looked at me as an invasive species like absolutely looking invasive species, and therefore was like You shall conform to what we are doing without them even realizing it’s almost like there’s no opening for a hybridization of any soldier controlling type of thing. I’m going to ask a weird question, because I don’t think it’s expected but did you find South Florida be somewhat the same in the sense that I mean, South Florida has so much of its own culture, I know that you’re a little farther north, so it’s slightly different from like Miami, but it does have its own color. And while there’s a lot of acceptance for the idea of lots of different cultures, I find that sometimes without even realizing out those cultures, did you find it easier or harder brace yourself when you came into you when you finally got to the United States and we’re, you know, in that
I think strangely, for me, weather plays such an important role in how I how I am, you know how much I can be who I really am and the weather here being more like what I grew up with, I felt so much more at home. I was very, very fortunate in that I you know, I have lovely, lovely neighbors who were very, very accepting. very open minded, which I was very grateful for for other people I can see who are like because I think that my husband and I are the very first foreigners to live on
this way. incredible to think just as a no man Dini lives in Palm Beach County, right. Oh, not the same as Dade County and you know, Fort Lauderdale or
Palm Beach Gardens. I mean, what you do have foreigners but you know, I guess the pockets right. So I think we are the fifth foreigners on this street. And while I’m very very grateful for you know, the neighbors who are very open minded, very welcoming, I did notice that there are others who are cautious. You know, this is not something that we are used to Who are these people, what are they going to be like, which is natural, you know, I understand that. But I think here has been from what I have seen the atmosphere the culture is a little more accepting and open. I mean, in England, you do have, you know, foreigners are able to express their own culture so you could have your own kind of church, you know, your own kind of restaurants or whatever. But there’s, I don’t know there’s a little more free so if that’s the word, I think I think here is a little more accepting, but this you know, I see a trend across the world. And I think, where people are like, Okay, we’ve tried to open our arms to different cultures, but it’s not working. So we’re going to close back in and I think that has really recently happened in some Scandinavian countries. You know, and I think this is where you have certain cultures who are not willing to adapt, who are not willing to become part of the new society that they have chosen. To put themselves in. And I think that’s a huge danger for us, as a collective as humans on this one home that we have. And you know, this whole thing about invasive species and naturalized I’ve been thinking of okay, we are all humans on this one home that we have. Borders are man made, you know, we’ve created these borders ourselves. We come from different cultures, which are very rich in their own right yes, we want to retain those cultures by but how do we coexist? How do we live harmoniously where we can respect each other and each other’s cultures and give each other the space that we need? To exist as individuals as individual communities as individual cultures, but yet as a collective, and I think it comes down to just respect, you know, and as long as I do not expect you to save the way that I live, and follow the customs that I follow. So you respect my customs as long as I’m not causing you any harm. And likewise, I respect your customs. I think that’s the only way that we could continue to coexist now that, you know, you have movements of people across the world. You know, I think it’s just very, very unfortunate if anybody were to go into a new environment and say, I demand this I need this environment to be the way that I want it to be.
And I think this is where you know, I have often like what happens when we get to a point where humanity will be so mixed that’s all of these concepts that we have this but then again, your your accurate statement. Around manmade borders. The difference between natural borders and human made borders is their rigidity. The fact that if you look around the world, we have so many different types of ecosystems, right tundras are different from temperate forests are different from forests are different from you know, many different aspects of deserts and such these all exist in pockets around the world, but their lines right are fluid. In other words, where they begin and where they are is very fluid based on the Eco tone the space between one ecosystem and another that gets created and sometimes those egos tones are made out of oceans, sometimes those eco tones are made out of other things, but they over time shift. And I think that that’s what allows a species so from native to probably non native, even factual perspective a a see coming from a massive tree that then gets blown off right we see example or are moving higher and higher in order to you know, get away from some of the heat or we have other kinds of plants that because of the migration of animals have moved very far from where their original where they originally started to grow. is known to have gone planet following animals and other kinds of different migrations, right? But these plants are non natives, quote unquote, that show up into other environments, and then adapt into that environment. And and in some cases, of course, they strangle out other things that does happen more likely than not a different type of ecosystem starts to move and flourish from that union of these non native species to a native environment when it happens in a natural progression, right. Maybe one generation might die out another generation might or to live, they can’t reproduce, then over time, it will start to adapt better and better in order to be able to reproduce. And we have this fluidity where the ecosystems grow and shrink and move in different ways to adapt in the best way possible to the species, but it doesn’t mean we’ve stopped having tons and tons of species. We have lots of species that have cross pollinated and mixed and create a new species. But the end the old species, some of them do die out but some of them also are born and that are new. So we have this fluidity that happens and I feel like when we start to talk about these matters, the fear that many people have to the idea of Oh, you’re invading my space. So you must be an invasive species rather than just a non native that can become revised or can be naturalized to the environment comes from a fear that is not based on the reality of the world. Right? It’s not the natural environment can shows us completely different things. But it’s based off of this fear, because we have this rigidity. We have this rigidity of these borders, that this is the line between this country and this country, and therefore since that can’t move and be fluid we’re going to create this situation where we have have it you know, we have to have holes and we have to have the separations and we have to have all these problems. And I think that is what tips the scale between a conversation of non native adaptations to invasiveness because at that point you feel non grata you feel like you’re not wanted in this and so you push for more and more space because you’re you’re fearful or you get pushed out of more you know, the space because I found as much as I love Italy and I love living in a very privileged to be in Dominica because you know, it is different in a lot of actual ways. There is sort of this culture of, of pushing of keeping you sort of convenes a little bit inadvertently, the borders are around you and there’s not a lot of flexibility to easily adapting and adopting other kinds of understandings and like you said, that idea that I taught the different religions and lots of different customs that get accepted and embraced event and was super easy to have the whole like okay, Christmas in my family. It was Christmas Eve was Cuban style North Carolina. And que en Christmas Day was done American style, or these types of other kind of even holidays that were very similar like, Thanksgiving is American. It’s primarily American. I can introduce Cuban food every once in a while, but it’s more of a fun fluke. It’s not because I actually that that’s the way the holiday should be spent. It’s because I want to enjoy and play with it and it’s playful. It’s fun. And it’s to me, the great example of those like I’m going to play with my things without ever losing the values that are deep inside. So I think when we start to be really fearful of the idea of an invasive species or of a non native becoming invasive, I think we need to look at the natural environment and say, when we have natural evolution and natural migration, what happens what does that look like often times it looks like fluidity it looks like change it looks like evolution. And I think that that could help better understand our own roles. I mean, I think of this a lot like what is my role here both in Dominica as a diamond Hurrian but also as a Cuban as an American because I am both of those as well as I’m Italian. I have now all three I veered away introduce which culture so that it’s it’s an enhancement, rather than being a detriment. Where does it nourish rather than deplete the soil? And when do I consciously pull that out sometimes in order to create more space in order to create more to create more understanding and reciprocity, and when instead is it better for me to keep it inside as something that’s mine and personal and allow the existing culture or the existing experience to play your

Thanks for listening to this episode of reconnect with plant wisdom, Intro and Outro Music by Steve Shuli and poinsettia from the singing Life of Plants. So join me to give you like our Dania and my plant collaborators next time on reconnect with plant wisdom

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Opening and Closing music by Steve Sciulli and Poinsettia; Topic Support by Laurie Baker; Editing by Goddess Rocio Mendez.

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