Learning from the Trees

Today was a bad Mama day. I woke up feeling all sorts of surly and wasn’t quite sure how we’d make it through. So, I did what I usually do on these days. I took the kids to the woods.

While chasing the eldest, I wondered how the trees did it. How do the trees keep standing strong with so much going on around them. Squirrels run through their branches. Vines grow all over them. Rabbits and other small rodents build nests at their feet. Insects eat their leaves. Birds peck at them. Parasitic plants grow all over their trunks and sometimes encircle their roots. Humans carve craziness into their trunks. Yet somehow, every day they manage to keep reaching for the sun; even when it’s cloudy. It all makes me feel quite inept as a human being.

Something in The Green heard me and answered my query. It told me, all nature just is. When I accept the nature of all being and allow things to be as they are, I will be able to stand through anything as well– until I don’t stand anymore. When I am no longer standing that will just be too. My problem, or rather what causes my confusion is the expectation that Motherhood is to be a certain way at any given moment. Things do not have to be any particular way. Everything just is.

Nope still not ready for that answer. I have many many many expectations about Motherhood and who I am supposed to be as a Mother. The Green has a great point though. There is peace in accepting things as they are. I wonder what I value more: peace or the pain of self judgment and censure. At the end, I’ll choose what I value more. I am realizing that I have all I need to engage what I most value– which include trees.

I love the trees <3

Hope things are being good to you.. Until next time

J

 

What if?

What if all the stories I told myself about what love is and looks like aren’t true? I believe that in order for me to love I must abandon myself completely to it. And by abandoning myself I mean leaving myself stranded in my lover’s arms. No job, no friends, no family, no savings, no community, no sense of self. In the past, love has demanded this of me, but what if I didn’t need to love like this anymore?

If I don’t really need to be so empty to be loved and loving what do I want to fill myself with? Who do I want to be? How am I in love? Who am I, really? And how does this new self jive with all the responsibilities of my current self?

In love, I constantly find myself following the wisdom of a hurt, scared and isolated 5year old. She’ll do anything for you if you love her. This five year old is emotionally and energetically tuned in. She can tell what you are feeling, even when you can’t (usually because you don’t want to). She is fabulous at assessing needs, wants and desires. She is even creative enough to get you the experience you most want, if she likes you enough. This 5 year old has impeccable boundaries that don’t quite work with the rest of me because she is a hardass. Children are fierce and honest in ways adults choose not to be. However, but 9 times out of 10 she’s on the money in her analysis of a situation.

While my 5 year old is awesome at identifying and maintaining boundaries, she’s not so helpful in taking care of me. She asks demands that I love in detrimental ways that kept me safe when I was her age, but aren’t a good look now. The same demands she makes of me, she makes of others. As you can imagine, this doesn’t end well. She’s often hurt, disappointed and confused. Not everyone can love with the ferocity of a 5 year old. I’m no longer a little girl; even though I can’t help but act like one upon occasion.

I’m not quite sure what to do with my 5 year old self. I’ll just take my jasmine flower essence and woman up into shit. I mean jasmine is the essence of divine, intoxicating womanhood. There should be some harmony there. Me and my little five year old have been tussling for years. I don’t want to tussle anymore. I can see her wisdom. It’s just finding the right avenue for it so other parts of me, hopefully more adult parts can express.

We’ll see what happens here..

Take precious care

J

Violets in the backyard

As I clean up twigs and branches from a recently pruned bush, I note the abundance of violets in the backyard. Large heart shaped leaves and purple flowers dot the lawn, occupy space in the herb patch and form a wild little boundary between our yard and the neighbor’s yard.

I’m eyeing them. They’re eyeing me. They remind me that I love them and that I can make medicine from them. I play bashful by imagining myself getting sick because I harvested the wrong plant. They tell me to stop being so afraid of myself and my path.

I stop. Then I ponder the root of my fear. I think about how it felt to be separated from my brothers at a young age. I think about leaving New York. I remember being forced in a private school I resented being in and how I’ve spent so much time running away from that. Then I come back to the present. The violets are still staring at me; this time with some poison ivy.

Instead of holding on to the memory, I’ve held on to the fear of it happening all over again. I fear being ripped from loving community. I fear being suppressed, overwritten and forced into a way of being that ain’t me. I fear it so deeply that I keep myself basically invisible, isolated and defend my familial boundaries violently.

You know, it just might be time to do a little harvest, leave an offering of gratitude and make a little tea <3 We’ll see.

 

Take Precious Care

J

 

Update: In honor of the Taurus New Moon, I collected some violets with the intention of moving forward through my fear.

An herbalist by any other name…

One day while perusing facebook, I noticed a friend’s status. She had decided she would no longer call herself a herbalist. I love it. It’s out of the box and I agree with it. Besides, the more I study herbalism the more annoyed I become with it.

Why get annoyed?  For starters, I don’t believe in “using” plants to heal “ailments”. I find it disrespectful and arrogant. I believe in healing connection. Plants have their own consciousness. They are their own beings with free will. Just because you want a plant to heal you or someone else does not mean they will or are obligated to.

I also get annoyed when asked to ignore my intuitive connection with Nature. Materia Medica is nice. I mean, reading about plants and what they “do” and how to identify them is cute. But that’s no substitute for building a relationship with a plant–which is something that many teachers of herbalism suggest. However, it is never suggested that you trust your own connection with a plant over what they teach or what you read in millions of herbalist books. Your intuition must be validated by the authorities to be useful 😉

I am also bothered by the idea of wandering out into the forest, or roaming through rural locales to harvest plants. I’m a black southerner. I’m not doing this shit. I live in Maryland where the klan is still active. It’s not safe for me to wander everywhere all the time. And not all of us have the money, space or energy to grow our own herbs. Oddly enough, growing and making your own medicine is supposed to be a big part of what makes you an herbalist.

I also take issue with co-opting Native American traditions when many main stream herbalists aren’t Native American. It feels wrong, to me, to profit from continued genocide. If you are in America, you live on stolen land. Benefitting from those who lost what was most precious to them, feels wrong.

I’ve also been frustrated that there aren’t more resources on slave medicine. We healed ourselves as we were tortured and worked to death. Our minds, bodies and spirits were routinely broken with only the plants to put us back together. Yet, we are still here. Our ancestors obviously knew something good about Mother Nature. Why aren’t our herbal traditions (outside of Hoodoo) discussed more?

I won’t even get into herbalist guilds, or using indigenous medicines from Africa, Asia or South America. All that irks me too.

I don’t like what I have been given as a framework for herbalism. It smacks way too much of colonialism and capitalism run amok. It feels too much like giving power to structures that aren’t supportive and don’t reflect who I am.

I still love working, playing and being with the plants, but I can’t really call myself an herbalist either.

At the end of the day I am left with what I am usually left with: an intuitive connection with Mother Earth and the plants. We’ll see where this leads. Something is shifting.

 

Third Trimester Shenanigans: Sleep… What sleep?!

Even though I am in the third trimester, sleep hasn’t been too hard to come by. (Jinx!) When I do wake up, I am usually able to get back to sleep without too much trouble. However, when I do have problems getting back to sleep, I’ve found a few sure fire strategies to help me back to dream land.

Here’s what works for me:

  1. Before bed time I enjoy a nice blend of herbs that promote sleep. Passion flower, Lemon Balm, Rose, Sweet Violet and Milky Oats ease my spirit so I can sleep. Hops has also helped me sleep too 🙂
  2. When tea is not enough, I take a dropper full of lemon balm tincture. In fact, I keep Lemon Balm tincture beside my bed. Just her presence eases my spirit.
  3. If I really can’t get back to sleep, I eat. Sometimes, I wake up because I am hungry. Usually enjoying a snack high in protein and fat helps send me back to sleep. (Think peanut butter or Babybel cheese!)
  4. Regular exercise helps me sleep too. My current yoga practice isn’t a very vigorous one, but I’ve noticed when I make an effort to take a walk I sleep much better. Somehow chasing a toddler around all day isn’t exhausting enough :p
  5. If none of this works, I enjoy being with me. Sometimes, I’m not awake for any other reason than I need to just be with myself. When I am not with my son, I am with my husband. When I am not with my husband, I am with the little one inside of me or on my way to sleep. Upon occasion, the still of the night is the only time I have to actually hear myself. I find when I actually make time to hear myself, I sleep well and have much more space for everyone else.
  6. Keeping a regular meditation practice has been helpful for my sleep as well. I find the more I create space to breath and clear my mind, the easier it is to let go and sleep. For me meditation is different than hearing myself. Hearing myself is a conversation with me. Meditation is me trying to hear God. It’s a different experience.

These five strategies have helped me sleep somewhat well through out pregnancy and some of motherhood. When none of the above works, I chalk it up to being pregnant and then masturbate. That is not a typo. Wanking really helps me sleep when all else fails. I love myself to sleep upon occasion. Pregnancy is a strange time. Even with the best preparations, things often do what they want.

Until next time…Take precious Care!

J

My what lovely and numerous cavities you have….

Haha! Motherhood is rough on the teeth 🙂

The last time I had any dental work, I was newly pregnant. Now that I am… well pregnant again, I have no desire to have someone drilling into my mouth. I’ve found a product that has been great for my tooth decay, but it’s not very pregnancy friendly. I use it and feel guilty. It’s like I can feel the fuckery it could potentially cause.  So, it’s time to try something new.

After cleaning out my little herbal stash, I came across some white oak bark. I didn’t think much of it. The I remembered that White Oak Bark is fabulous for the mouth. It kills bacteria 🙂 This is what I need! I also need Milky Oats! Milky oats has an abundance of trace minerals; including the ones that build teeth: calcium and silica.

I looked into other herbal allies such as black chestnut and horsetail. But I was told no 🙂 They aren’t normally, pregnancy friendly. Black Chestnut feels like a level of gangster I am not ready for.

So in honor of my cavities, I will do more to support healthy digestion, increase intake of healthy fats and enjoy a thrice daily rinse of white oak bark and milky oats. We’ll see how it goes.

What? You ain’t got no herbs for that?

Sometime about two weeks ago I got caught with my pants down as an herbalist.

Wait, let me back that up. You see, I occasionally expect myself to be God. I should be able to look at my child, hear the forest, give him whatever is appropriate and keep things moving. And.. I didn’t. I mean I couldn’t. I mean, if the child had a psychotic break, possession or something woo-woo I have stuff for his ass. But for an ear infection, I had no idea what to do.

Garlic and Mullen oil or Raw Onions, Lavender, Pennyroyal and Mint…. shit, I don’t know. I didn’t know who or what to put where and to top if off my husband was sick too. There wasn’t space to pray, meditate, research and head to the apothecary (which is what I’d normally do).  It was a hot funky mess.

So, we did things I hate to do. We went to the doctor. We gave the child antibiotics. The child got a rash I brewed some stuff and then the child got well. He is still surly, but much better than he was. The kicker is that we need to go back next month for vaccinations. That’s a whole other kettle of fish.

I am happily humbled and a bit relieved in some way. I officially know my lane and now understand how to stay the fuck in it 🙂 There are local herbalists. I need to reach out to them; especially since they work with Mamas. I swear by hook or crook this little boy teaches me something amazing about life and myself every day.

I hope you and your loved ones are well. It’s a bit wild out there!

J

 

An Old Friend: Mugwort

I love Plant Friends. They make me laugh because they have a habit of showing up right when I need them. Being an  herbalist in this way is quite amazing.

I first met mugwort as moxa. I remember my acupuncturist burning moxa during a session to assist conception. It worked. I soon became pregnant. Months later, moxa made an appearance during labor, as a relief measure. The intention was that moxa would move energy so that baby could be born. After Lil Boo was born, I heard nothing from Mugwort. She disappeared as quickly as she popped up.

A year or so later, I moved to the Silver Spring Metro area. I spent my first summer playing with Lil Boo by (and occasionally in) Sligo Creek. At first I didn’t believe my eyes. Then I took a closer look. Yep, Mugwort was everywhere. I chuckled. I looked at her, she looked at me and then suggested I take a few leaves home to place by my bed. I followed her advice.

In addition to supporting conception, dreamwork, intuition and restorative sleep, I learned that mugwort was very protective. She keeps trouble from finding you. She’s not who to call when you are in trouble. She’s the one  to call when you want to avoid trouble. Mugwort is so much more than a door to unseen realms.

A couple of weeks ago mugwort said that I needed to purchase it. I wasn’t sure why, but I did. She arrived accompanied by skullcap. At first I put a little bit of mugwort in a cup with some lavender to put by my bed. The odor cleared my third eye and relaxed me. It felt so goooooooodddd. Then mugwort suggested I combine her with skullcap as a tea. So I did and had the best sleep I have had in a long long time. It was a restorative deep sleep that did not leave me drowsy in the morning. It was a beautiful thing. My dreams were helpful and soothing. 🙂

Since I am in conception mode I look forward to playing with mugwort more. I know she has a great deal to teach me and I am thankful to learn.

Until next time, take Precious Care

J

It’s the New Year… and I’ve been drinking…

teaHuh? Happy New Year and all that jazz 🙂 We made it to 2016, let’s hope this year is far kinder to us all. Or rather let’s be kinder to ourselves and each other.

Speaking of kindness, if you’ve been hanging out around here, you know I’ve been having a rough time 🙂 Since I’ve stopped taking 10 million tinctures in the morning, I’ve been tinkering with tea. I say tinkering because it’s contents continually evolve. Stinging Nettles and Lemon Balm seems to serve as a base. Other plant friends seem to keep popping up, but Nettles and Lemon Balm are crucial to the mixture and play the biggest part.

 

So here’s the current line up & ratios:

2 Parts Nettles

2 Parts Lemon Balm

1  1/2 Parts Rhodiola

1 Part Oat Straw

1 Part Elderflower

1/2 Part Marshmallow Root

Parts can be tea spoons, table spoons, oz, or whatever have you.

 

Each Plant Friend comes in with a purpose. Oat straw said I needed to add it to the tea, so I can be soothed by it’s presence.  So, now Oat Straw is involved. Rhodiola kinda came out of no where to become part of this tea. It seems to be here to help my adrenals  and support fertility. I feel Rhodiola has lots of wisdom to share. She likes to whisper secrets in your ear when you aren’t expecting it 🙂 She feels like  Mother’s helper, or something.  And most recently Marshmallow Root has made an appearance because it says my intestines aren’t happy about my gluten consumption. Even though I enjoy my ElderFlower tincture, she has requested to be included as well. Something about immune system regulation, being a Divine Orchestrator and helping me not over react to everything. The Plants Speak and I obey. Things seem to work best this way.

Any who, this is what I am drinking these days…

Werk through the pain

Staying fully grounded and present in my body has been a challenge this week. Holiday preparations have been triggering in unexpected ways. Although this could be part of the grieving process, it does not quite feel like missing my father.

The wonderful thing about being triggered is that I can now consciously see what I am like when I am in the midst of an emotional flashback. It’s become clearer and much more tangible. The challenging thing about it has been waiting for the flashback to clearly end. I feel like I  constantly cycle between kiddie and teenage years. So, on top of acting like a pissed off 13 year old who is about to burn the house down,  (13 year old me had good reason– I promise) I am an occasionally surly 4 year old. 🙁 My poor husband.

In the midst of all this, I’ve also started identifying a few coping mechanisms. One of my favorite ways to cope is to pop out my body. The only times I have felt fully present and engaged in my body this week have been when I was rough housing with my son, practicing yoga and listening to mid-late 90’s NYC based hip hop. Otherwise, I have been out to lunch with no desire to go back to my body. 🙁 Unless, I can catch myself and remind me that I am no longer a kid; which seems to help bring me back.

Here are a few more observations from this week:

  1. Being fully engaged and present in your body can be overwhelming, especially if you are working through any challenging emotions, trauma, or just anything that ain’t fun. Even if you aren’t working through anything, life is a wild thing to witness. Sometimes we all wish we could shut out eyes. Some of us do. I’m learning to no longer judge myself or others; just to focus on doing the best I can in the moment.
  2. Since Rhodiola has popped up in my lexicon, saying that I need to work with her, I am questioning whether numbing nervines are really helpful to me, right now. Rhodiola doesn’t feel like she wants me blissed out. She feels like she’s going help me work.  How much pain or inner turmoil is useful in healing and how much is too much to  handle. Now, I am sure the answer to that question is different for everyone.  I am just noticing that a little bit of pain helps me feel my way through to what needs to be worked on. If I feel no pain, I do no work. When I am overwhelmed with pain, I check out to lunch. I find that I need a balance between pain and pleasure for me to work.
  3. That there is so much more going on that emotional flashbacks and feedback loops. I have an arsenal of coping mechanisms and protective behaviors that are no longer  helpful. With an emotional process  there are usually  mental, spiritual and physical processes to sort out as well. But since I am emotionally driven, sorting out the emotions will help me bring the other pieces in order. Everything in time 🙂

That is all for this week 🙂 Take precious care and enjoy the holidays!

Jeannette

PS– what?! Rhodiola? Yes, Rhodiola with some Nettles, Oatstraw and Lemon Balm… as a tea taken daily 🙂 Keeps me alert, present and sucka free!