Update: Celebrating Life

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It’s been a bit since I’ve posted, so I figured an update is a good place to begin again. The year has been a whirlwind for me so far. Major events and significant emotions spinning around me. The amazing thing is I remained fairly stable through it all.

If you read my Hello 2019 post then you know it was a mixed beginning to the new year. Shortly after that post, it was confirmed My cat has cancer. At the same time, I somehow manifested a money miracle. On the unclaimed money website, there sat $11,000. waiting for me! Since my Being poor post, I have worked on changing my attitude about money and I truly believe this little miracle was a reward for that work.

The money was its own little tornado. It was a blessing, yes; but, it was also stressful. The fact that I am on disability created its own set of rules; because, you are only allowed $2,000. for assets. After reporting it, I had only the rest of the month to spend it. I used it with the goal in mind to elevate the quality of life for myself and my daughter. It was mostly spent on another car, home improvements, appliances, and furniture.

I was also able to afford x-rays for my cat, to clarify the cancer diagnosis. The vet did not bother with the ultrasound because the x-ray confirmed there were already spread nodules in his chest. She believes cancer started on a cellular level in his GI system. Even the testing to find out what type of cancer would be too aggressive. She placed him on hospice and prescribed steroids to suppress cancer as long as possible. I was financially able to buy him herbal/natural supplements to aid in his treatment. The vet gave him 2-4 weeks to live, and he has lived 10wks. Though his recent decline in quality of life leads me to the inevitable decision to bring him to the vet and ease his pain.

I was grateful I had my furbaby to keep me company when my daughter left for Alaska for a three-week visit with her dad and family that lives there. I usually fight loneliness when she goes; but, this time dare I say, I felt relief. We’ve had a few upsets recently and agreed we need a family therapist to guide us through her becoming an adult. I don’t know when to push her and when to not. Her self harming in the past left me very anxious to not upset her. We need maneuvering and mediating.

While she was in Alaska, I had the opportunity for a few weeks to really be mindful of my own feelings and needs. It was healing, enlightening and enjoyable. The joy came to a halt when I received news of a dear friend from my past had died. I was devastated. Sad because she passed; but, also sad that we had fallen out of each other’s lives. I learned her son had died three years earlier and I wished I had been in her life. Maybe she would still be here? I recognized these thoughts as grief guilt and the overwhelming sadness of my good old friend grief. I knew better than to resist, I opened up and let the emotion take over.

I spent the first day with wine, weed, pizza, and chocolate and said screw my daily routine. The next day, I awoke exhausted and didn’t feel like doing anything. Part of me wanted to push, get up, do your routine!! The other was simply unable. I emailed my therapist and asked, what is a normal response, I don’t want to spend too much time teetering on the tight rope of depression; but, I needed to rest, and mourn, and process. She told me three days, then get back to my routine. On the third day, I dragged myself to start functioning. The funeral at the end of the week brought closure and though sad, I was feeling like I was at a normal and healthy space.

A few days after the funeral, my daughter came home, exhausted and with a bunch to process herself. The next day was my birthday. Shockingly, not a tinge of the typical birthday depression. My gratitude for life was heightened with the loss of my friend. I awoke, did my routine, went to the gym, (I learned to go by myself while my daughter was away), I bought myself big sunflowers, vegan cheesecake, chocolate, champagne, and dandelion greens to make pesto. I indulged and took pleasure in these simple things. I took a long bath and wrote in my journal. I sat in the bath and reflected on all the baths of my life since I was a small girl. I spent my day in appreciation, mindfulness, and gratitude to be here another year.

The same mindfulness I practiced on my birthday I am using now, to cherish every second with my cat. Looking at him and loving him for the last time in this dimension. His symptoms are lasting longer and he is not bouncing back like he has before. He has held on longer than expected and it dawned on me that he has held on out of his love for me. When my friend died, he spent every day by my side. He kept me company while Serenity was in Alaska. He celebrated my birthday with me. He has been there for me through countless tears. He has been an amazing therapy cat and I am so grateful for the time we have had. Now, I have to be there for him and make him as comfortable as possible. Having to come to the decision to let go of my cat has been tremendously painful and I am struggling with depression again. On the other side of that pain, the appreciation for every moment and every breath of life has etched its groove into my soul.

I celebrate my cat’s life, our life together, and the connection we will always have.

I celebrate every person that I have spent precious time with in this life. I recognize how lucky I am to be loved and to love.

The loved ones I have lost I think about every day. When I feel apathetic I shake it off and appreciate the fact that I am still here, I motivate for the people who aren’t here to have the luxury anymore.

I Celebrate Life ❤

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Deep Breaths and Baby Steps

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This is the frame of my mind you need to recover with mental illness. Keep moving forward! When I had my nervous breakdown, I felt paralyzed. I was terribly sick physically and just existing was painful. Deep breaths and baby steps, became my mantra.

Healing has many levels and the journey is different for everyone. It has been 13 years since my breakdown and I’m still on the road of recovery.

Through the years, I often feel the return of that drudge pace, like I am walking in mud. Thinking I will NEVER heal, dragging my depression with all my might. Holding on to a thread of hope while I snail through life.

I feel like I have finally come out of the heavy and thick darkness, and I am standing where I can see the light at the other end of the tunnel; but, sometimes that light seems so far away. Each day, I pull myself out of the dark, acknowledge my fears, put my healing hat on and inch forward.

Some days, it takes a little push, others a brave leap, and then there are the days I just can’t move, and that’s okay too. 

Where every you are on your journey, hang in there! Know that all of those baby steps add up and you ARE moving forward. You ARE healing.

One deep breath and baby step at a time!!

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Purging the Old/Creating the New

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Happy Fall everyone! I unintentionally abandoned my blog through the summer. Alas, summer jobs and projects have come to an end and I find myself in transition.

I begin to reflect not only what summer’s bountiful lessons have taught me; but, I also am reviewing the whole year thus far, as the New Year quickly approaches.

Astrologically it has been a year of retrogrades. This summer there were six planets and Chiron in retrograde at the same time! Retrogrades can make you feel you are in reverse, as old patterns surface to be healed. Anxiety, change, eruptions of what no longer serves you, are all part of the process.

I felt all of the above. My year started out with no car and in turmoil. Early spring brought, The Teal Swan event that produced an ongoing healing and transformative experience. Then my 50th birthday which marked an intense milestone with much reflection, and my party that became a free for all for suppressed feelings my family was holding, which we are all presently healing and learning from. Then, Summer was a friggin’ rollercoaster ride! I mentioned in my Healing in Progress post, I began to shed old ways and in between nourished myself as much as possible before the next big wave came. Somehow, in addition, I managed my summer work, volunteered at the herbal school’s gardens, launched my herbal lotion site, aaaand, worked on my social life and relationships.

Wheeeeee!!!🤣

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It was not without a toll. I had my days of breakdowns and relapsed on smoking cigarettes almost all year. I am on my second week of quitting….again. At first I beat myself up, another old coping way. Then I gave myself a break and learned more about the part of me that needed to smoke. How she is afraid of all the growth and change and needs some sort of habit to make her feel safe. If I could, I would still be smoking; but, the effects on my health are undeniable and not conduit to my path of self love and healing.

I also had to learn to step away from relationships that were hurting me. I finally have begun to recognize that my self worth has been so low my entire life. Coming from trauma and abuse, I developed relationships that matched the internal scars I had. I let people treat me badly and held on just to be loved. This is a lesson I am still learning and practicing.

From the beginning of the year, I began to practice changing my reactions to crisis’s, such as losing my car,  My post Carless not Homeless was a realization for me. Growing up poor and witnessing the stress it took on my mother, I naturally took on the same reactions she used to have when something went wrong. For example, if the car broke down, sure enough my poor mom would too, crying out, “What else is going to go wrong!?”, “Why us!?”, “We can never get ahead!” These are all understandable reactions but they only perpetuate the feeling of despair and depression. I finally learned to let go of the old reactions and find gratitude and peace in the moment. Mind you, this is not without struggle and tears; but, it began a new way of life for me. Letting go of old thought forms makes way for new thoughts and life.

While purging the old, I have begun to create space for a new healthy mind, body spirit. I have created confidence in myself with work and volunteering. I am creating new friendships and relationships. I am creating health and core strength with yoga and a mostly vegan diet. I created an herbal lotion line and blog, which I will share here soon. I am creating the life I was once too afraid of.

Fall is the season of change. For me it is a bittersweet transition. I am always sad to see summer go, and begin dreading winter. This year, I am learning to be present in the moment and appreciate Fall’s magic, because it goes as quickly as summer does.

I created goals for winter that will hopefully keep me focused and motivated. I plan to build my lotion site and work on a book. I share that here to hold myself accountable. I also have shared these goals with people in my life, something I never do. That’s how I know I am serious!

In between seasons, I stop and take a breath first. Rest, restore, and then reboot.

I continue purging and transmuting old energies into life giving breath. I breathe in the life that awaits me. The life of highest potential. The life I deserve. It is a constant process with triggers, insights, tears and smiles along the way. I continue to heal myself so I can in return help heal others. 

Contraction

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“With any great expansion, it is only natural to have a contraction that follows,” this is what my therapist told me a few weeks ago. It had been a week since Teal Swan’s workshop, The Mirror. I had been feeling nauseous, dizzy and slightly depressed. The whole experience left me in a surreal state. My therapist continued to explain while holding her arms out as if around a giant beach ball. “Your expansion has you feeling way out here, and as you contract back, it’s only natural to have these symptoms; but, know you aren’t contracting all the way back to where you were.”

The next week, I thought we had bedbugs again. I’d been waking up with bites a month before. I researched natural methods to keep them at bay and told myself I would only contact management if it escalated; because their treatments haven’t proved successful either. When we returned from our workshop, Serenity crashed in my bed. The next morning I picked a bug stuck on her ankle off. I thought it was a bedbug and didn’t want to sleep in my room that night. We both slept in the living room and Serenity picked a tiny bug from her the next morning. I naturally thought our situation indeed escalated, and notified management. Meanwhile, we knew the drill. Launder everything. Bag everything. Clean everything. It as a familiar nightmare. We were exhausted but still remaining aligned with our new healing, while questioning why would this happen. More contraction? We decided maybe it was a sign to move. Then the exterminator did her inspection late last week. I showed her the samples and much to our surprise, it was a tick I had picked off my daughter and the other bug wasn’t a bedbug. The exterminator did not feel a treatment was necessary at this time, and told me to just keep up what I was doing and keep things bagged if I can.

Moments after the exterminator left, my daughter broke down and cried. Tears of relief. We sat and reflected. We learned in our workshop that everything is a reflection of us. So, we thought that because we had went into panic mode, maybe we need more inner calmness. More meditation and checking in with ourselves. While this is true, I contemplated more and shared with her that I don’t think we even have to judge our reactions. I think the experience taught us that while we thought we were in a crisis, we still remained calm. We saw higher perspectives and possible reasons. We worked as a team, which we hadn’t last time. Last time we had bedbugs, she ended up in the hospital and I not far behind. We also learned to take a break from the work as we attended an art show and fed our spirits. These were all important lessons learned.

My entire being has been spinning for awhile. Since my birthday, turning 50, the family brawl, the intense workshop of healing and reflection, then the bedbug scare….I was finding it hard to redirect. I have been exhausted, drained on all levels. Today in therapy, I did some grounding. After grounding, I realized parts of me are stirred. Those parts gripping to old coping skills and old forms of thought.

My therapist said, “It’s as if a new self is emerging but looking through an old self’s eyes.”

Now that I have expanded and contracted, I feel like a worn out balloon. I am going to regroup, get back on my routine, rest and nourish myself. Then I have to look at the parts of me that have been resisting change and growth. I have some work ahead of me.

It is a painful metamorphosis.

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Update: Expansion

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Every so often a lapse of time goes by and I haven’t posted. During these times, there are events happening that swoop me up in a tornado of energy. They are usually painful, and sometimes explosive; but, when I land after the storm, I recognize it’s beauty and try to reap the lessons. I acknowledge this as a growth spurt, growing pains and all,

During these storms, it takes all of my focus and strength to find my way back to self again. It is only after the dust settles, that I can sit and share here on this blog, with with you, out loud as an update.

This last growth spurt felt like an explosion into expansion. It was a period of time that I can only now reflect and see clearer. While I was going through it, I tried my best to stay grounded and know it was all for a reason, even if I couldn’t see that reason yet.

In one month’s time a series of events occurred, propelling me into this new growth, beginning when a friend of mine was diagnosed with leukemia and not given much time to live. Her daughter is also a friend of mine. I found it triggering, knowing what it is like to have a mother terminally ill. Despite my triggers, I offered to be of assistance any way I could. When she took me up on it, I pushed through my panic and was there for her. I am grateful to have had the courage to visit my friend in the hospital, because it was the last time I saw her. I went to the service alone and paid my respects. A few weeks later, a mutual friend brought over  some essential oils and scarves that belonged to my friend, and we bonded, feeling she was with us. I could see that my friend’s passing brought other us together. I was sad; but glad she didn’t suffer long. I miss her positivism and her light.

While this was going on, my daughter and I were fighting. She had made a decision that I strongly disagreed with and I feared for her safety. I could barely speak to her. We don’t argue much, so when we do, it is extremely painful. I asked to put things on hold while I got through my friend’s service. After the service we sat and talked some. I believed her decision was an extreme effort to gain some independence from me. She put the decision she made aside and we talked about being codependent and agreed to take it to her therapist. There we worked through some stuff and are now more aware of and working on our patterns. My mother and I were pretty codependent, it feels good to be breaking the cycle.

After we celebrated a quiet Orthodox Easter, we prepared for my 50th birthday! 50!!! What a milestone! Months before I had struggled with anxiety over it; but, now I had reached acceptance and I felt incredibly grateful to be here for 50 years. A younger self would never have believed it. My sister had rented cottages and my family came to celebrate. I hung pictures of my entire life on the walls. Reflecting on the years was emotional to say the least. My theme was Happy Hippie@50. We all bathed in love, joy and laughter for many hours. Unfortunately, it ended abruptly when a few family members started fighting. It was obvious there were buried emotions never expressed, and alcohol forced them to be purged. When it got physical I tried to get in the middle of it to stop it and I ended up in the hospital on my birthday with bruised ribs. The horror of everyone’s faces yelling, bleeding and separating, echoed in my mind. It was traumatizing. It wasn’t until later that I realized the need for those emotions to come up for healing. I wished it had been in a different way and pray that our family continues to grow, heal and talk to each other in a healthy manner.

The very next week my daughter and I were in NYC for Teal Swan’s The Mirror Event. A three day workshop intended to see our reflection in others. I was in physical pain and terrified to see my emotional pain; but, I knew it was necessary to continue to heal. There are hardly words to describe what took place over the next few days; but, intense healing is a good start. The intention of the workshop is to heal fragmented parts of us. As Teal explains, starting in childhood, when a trauma happens, or we are shamed, we then fragment and develop another part of us and leave that part there. She talks about The Completion Process, healing and integrating all of our parts. Having been diagnosed with Dissociative Identity Disorder, this healing modality appealed to me immensely. I am still processing all that happened and will probably have to write a separate post.

On April 22, Pluto went retrograde and will be until Sept 30th. I learned in a recent Astrology class  that Pluto is the planet of expansion. When it is retrograde, it has a habit of creating an explosion if necessary for your growth and learning. It is a good time to work with shadow selves and to be prepared for rude awakenings.

It has been a week since the workshop. I have been weeping, dizzy, nauseous, and exhausted. It feels like there are swirls of energy whirling around me waiting to settle in to my being. I have been earthing and resting and slowly integrating it all.

Sometimes it feels the Universe is against you when things blow up in your face, when you are in so much pain and don’t understand; but if we look at it all from a higher perspective, we can realize that the Universe is only answering our call, our call for expansion.

 

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My Herbal School Books

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Happy Spring Everyone! The Advanced Herbalism course just started at my school. Unfortunately, I will not be able to take it; because, I have to save money for a car. Maybe, it is just as well. I really want to review all of my herbal apprenticeship studies, because it was a lot of information to take in, and I really want to retain it. I thought I would share a bit of it here with you all, starting with my school books.

I thought this was a great collection of books and diverse as well.

Beginning from left bottom; the Peterson Field Guide to Medicinal Plants and Herbs of Eastern and Central North AmericaThird Edition. By Steven Foster&James A. Duke 

This book is an invaluable guide! This is what we used to find our plant samples in the wild for our materia medica pressings. It includes the common and medical name of each plant, along with pictures, great descriptions, where it is found and uses, that include historical and indigenous practices. This book became my ‘herbalist bible’, helping me find over 100 plants!peppermint

The next book (top left) is Heal Your Body, The Mental Causes For Physical Illness and The Metaphysical Way to Overcome Them, and it’s by Louise Hay 

You may remember I discovered her when I was healing with hay house.  If you’ve never heard about her or her healing crusades in the 70’s, then you really should check her out. This book explains that there are mental causes for each of our physical ailments and includes affirmations for each body part! I used this book to heal my lower back spasms during my course. I will write about that in a different post. I still use this book daily for affirmations that correspond to whatever part of my body is acting up. A must have book for anyone on a healing journey. hay

The book on the top middle is Edible Wild Plants, Eastern/Central North America, by Lee Allen Peterson.

This is another must have guide for herablists and wildcrafters. I am not as familiar with this one; but, it has all the same great info as the Peterson’s guide.ewp2ewp

 

Top right hand corner is The Herbal Handbook, A User’s Guide to Medical Herbalism, by David Hoffmann.

This book is awesome! I used it a lot during homework assignments for our materia medica; because it was set up similarly. It describes Actions and Body Systems and the herbs recommended for each. It doesn’t go too in depth with the plants; but it’s a great quick guide, and a must for learning materia medica. herbal handbook

Next book, bottom right, The Herb Book, (The Most Complete Catalog of Herbs Ever Published) by John Lust, with over 275 Line drawings.

This book I have not familiarized myself with much yet either. I used it some toward the end of my course for homework. I guess I was a little intimidated by it and stuck to the other books; but, it looks intense and I will definitely be studying it while I am reviewing everything.the herb bookthe herb book2

Last but definitely not least, Body Into Balance, An Herbal Guide to Holistic Self-Care, by Maria Noel Groves.

This is a great integral component. Holistic Care aims to treat the complete person, physically, psychologically, socially, and spiritually, in the management and prevention of disease.  I didn’t start reading it until my course ended; but it ties in all we have learned. It’s divided into three parts, foundations of good health, going deeper and tying it together, and then buying and making herbal remedies. This book is done beautifully and another essential tool for healing.bodybalance3

 

 

 

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I hope you have enjoyed viewing these books, I know I have. I will insert links to them through their titles if you are interested in purchasing them. I am going to love reviewing all the magical plants, even though they are all covered with snow presently; soon, they will be emerging and I look forward to more of their stories. 🙂

 

 

Update: Graduation&Restoration

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Wow! I did it! I actually graduated and am now an herbalist! I fantasized about sharing the journey along the way; but, my life was spinning ever since I began my plant journey in April. I was swept up in a tornado of magic, self discovery, and the growth and pain that accompanies it.

With the very first drumbeat of opening circle at orientation class, something deep within me stirred, emotions welled up and burst forth in my heart. I knew I was home. I had returned to my sacred self. The part of me that carries inner wisdom of healing, intuition, and magic.

The journey along the way only continued to prove this path I had begun. Our very first class we learned about flower essences and herbal extracts/tinctures. I sat in the rain next to a plant and ‘spoke’ with it for a good amount of time. Then I asked for it’s essence and proceeded to make medicine with it. I unlocked the part of me inside that believes in communing with nature.

I am amused by the irony that years ago, a state psychologist evaluated me for a program that offered permanent disability assistance. There was a question that asked if I believe flowers talked to me. I had a really hard time knowing the right thing to put down. I honestly thought, of course they do, just not in a language we are familiar with; but, I knew if I wrote that, they would think I was more crazy than I’d already been labeled. So, I simply wrote no. I smiled remembering my mother and how she taught me EVERYthing had feelings and how magical she made my world; but, I was too broken to find it on my own at the time.

I was soon to realize that I am no longer as broken as I thought I was. The fact that not everyone graduated, made me realize how capable I really am. I found over 110 plants in the wild and pressed them for my materia medica. I completed 60hrs of physical labor in the gardens, where my deep love for the plants blossomed even more. I made it to all but one class, made herbal products and kept up with piles of homework. Then I successfully presented my final project with a 17pg paper!

As the course proceeded, I came head to head with every inner saboteur that lied within me! Every self doubt I had seemed to manifest in some sort of way. Either chaos surrounded me, grief enveloped me or good old fashioned panic attacks that kidnapped my breath and logic. There were times my heart pounded and pain radiated in my arms convincing me this was it, the big one! I should just give up, I can’t do it, I am not good enough…With every step, I pushed through another personal barrier.

With every barrier I crossed, I built a deeper relationship with the plants, nature and myself. Much to my surprise I developed relationships with the staff and classmates too! With my social anxiety I never dreamed of being able to be comfortable in my skin long enough to make (shall I dare say), friends! Wow!

I waited 18 yrs to take this apprenticeship, and I now know that I was there exactly when I was supposed to be, with those particular people in that moment of time. We helped each other through and now share a forever bond and journey. Though our paths may be separated, the goal is the same. To use our gifts and of nature to help heal ourselves, others and the planet.

This course gave me my mojo back; reconnecting me with not only the magic of my mom; but, helped me find my own unique magic that I never believed I had. This journey renewed my relationship with nature and helped me heal myself and offer healing advice to others. It gave me a community, a tribe, a home. 

What now? Restoration!

As much as my enthusiasm wants me to race off and begin again, I have finally respected the value of rest. I am tired and worn.

The weekend before my graduation I had a reunion with some girlfriends to celebrate one’s 50th birthday. It was a wonderful time and a beautiful realization that while we are no longer the ‘hot thangs’ we once were, we are indeed incredibly beautiful in a wise and empowered way. It was the first time seeing some of these women in about 25 years! I was deeply grateful that I had come far enough to attend.

Then, my final presentation and graduation was an all day event, that my best friend and my daughter shared with me. An incredible ceremony that left me in simultaneous shock, contentment and elation.

The weekend after my graduation, I was in Pa for a huge family reunion, which had its pros and cons. The joy of seeing us all together, for some of us it has been many years, crossed with the emotions and stressors that are expected with holidays and mental illnesses, depleted my system, and I became slightly ill.

These were three life time events all back to back. I learned that even good emotions are overwhelming and I am at a point of much needed resting and regrouping. Nurturing my health with herbal remedies and taking time to process all that has occurred. 

My car is broken down and I am not sure how to get through the month; but, if it’s one thing I have learned, is that I WILL make it! I am taking advantage of down time and catching up on cooking and cleaning. Two things that went mostly undone for a long time now. 

Last winter I started my antidepressants to prevent seasonal depression. This winter, I am using herbal adaptogens and nutritive plants to sustain balance. I have found a tiny bit of inner peace that take all my effort to maintain. Yoga helps. I am trying to stay grounded with herbal roots and root vegetables. Staying in the moment and returning to writing are my focuses. 

I am so grateful that I have this blog to come home too! I want to share details on everything I have learned. I want to tell you about my experiences, my conversations and even my crazy dreams that I had along the way. I want to put my knowledge to use and make some medicines and self care products. I want to revamp my blog and then begin to share ways that will help my readers heal too!

My course may be over but another journey begins ❤

Right after some well deserved restoration! 😉

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