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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Grief and Anger

My dad’s one year memorial just passed. Unresolved emotions makes it hard to let go.
I feel stuck in my grief and realize the “daddy’s little girl” in me, will be sad forever.
What about the rest of me?
I feel sad my father and I didn’t have more of a relationship.
Habitually I passed right over anger.
I don’t want to be angry at myself, I don’t deserve it.
I’m not mad at daddy, it’s just sad we didn’t connect more in this lifetime.
This is the bullshit I tried to feed myself.
I also fed myself a bunch of carbs and washed it down with a big glass of wine.
Thankfully, I have grown to be self aware enough to recognize my emotional eating and drinking as a sign something was wrong. Stuck in the thickness of grief and anger. Literally and figuratively constipated. Unable to release.

In therapy, I found my elusive friend again, anger.
Yes! I AM angry!
I put my daddy on a pedastal. He was my superhero.
I needed him too much to be angry. I was too afraid to be angry.

I’m angry daddy! You chose booze and women over your own children!
Then when you were sober, you chose pride and expected us to take the blame!

I have always focused on the beauty and forgave the ugly in people.
I suppose it was a coping skill. How else would I have survived being abused as a child?
Or repeatedly raped? Attacked? Abandoned?
It was a handy coping skill to help me accept the horrors that have happened to me; but, it’s a faulty tool. You HAVE to acknowledge the bad, ugly and horrific. If you don’t, you end up in relationships with people who hurt you, let you down, mistreat you, or worse. 

I am so fucking sick of picking out the good in people and ignoring the bad! I want to see people for who and what they really are! Only then I can judge if they are healthy for me.

Thanks daddy for this lesson.
In finding my anger for you; I discover that I did NOT deserve to be abandoned. It wasn’t my fault. I don’t need your approval.
I am liberated.
I do NOT need to demean myself in my relationships with men just to feel worthy, or to keep them by my side.
I don’t need nor want negative attention.
Allowing grief and anger to come in helped me grow.

I am still angry with you; but, I also am grateful for the times you did show up.
When mom was sick, when she was dying, and at her service.
You were there. Real and feeling. Loving and supporting.
I love you for that.
I treasure the night of my brother’s surprise 40th birthday party, and you showed up. We were all a family for a brief moment in time.

I love you daddy for what you could do and did do, and it’s okay for me to be angry too.
I am sad. I am angry. I am grieving. I am letting go…

 

My Plant Journey has Begun

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I have finally begun my Herbal Apprenticeship at Misty Meadows Herbal Center!! I first heard of this course through my NH Employment caseworker. My daughter was a baby and I was in a program that helped single moms receive education needed to get back to work. I told him I was interested in Alternative Medicine and he mentioned he knew a woman, Wendy who offered some classes on herbs. He was going to mention me to her and see if he could work something out; but, shortly after that, President Bush cut the program. I tucked the aspiration in my pocket and went back to dancing;

After sitting on that goal for all these years it is enthralling it is finally a reality! “The Spirited Herbalist” “A plant guided journey to self” is the title of the course. Orientation was April 9, and I knew something magical was happening the moment there was drumming and a song to Mother Earth to open. I found it hard to hold back tears as deep primal emotions arose within. It stirred memories with my mom by the campfire, singing, and drumming. It made me feel connected to the Ancestors.

Class time is 8:45am to 5:30pm one weekend each month through November, and 10 practicum hours a month working in the gardens. In between classes we have to find, identify and gather plant samples, on our Plant ID list. It is quite the task. My first reaction was frustration, and negativity. I thought what the hell am I paying to learn if I’m just given a book and a list of plants to go find? Then it immediately dawned on me, Oooh! THIS is the journey part!

A journey it is too! I was feeling so much pressure gathering school supplies and trying to find plants that I knew nothing about. The feelings of self doubt grew strong. I felt like I wasn’t finding anything. I wondered if there was a late bloom because of the snow. I couldn’t even find a dandelion at first! One afternoon, I was extremely stressed out; I stopped at a thrift store for a glass bowl needed for the first class. I had planned on going to the woods at school to surely find what I needed; but, instead I locked the keys in my car. Of course my cell phone was in the car as well. I managed to borrow a passerby’s cell to contact a locksmith. Three hours later, I was back in my car. It was too late to go to the school, so I headed to a park with woods. I walked two hours in tears. My feet hurt, the bugs were biting me and I didn’t find one thing on my list; but, I was in nature, and it was healing. I dried my eyes, surrendered. and called it day. As I was leaving, I saw this beauty hiding near a murky swamp. For some reason, I felt better, hopeful.

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I posted the picture in our classes Facebook group and asked what it was. I shared that I stumbled upon her at the end of a very hard day and she cheered me up. I found out it is red trillium, also known as birthroot, and endangered. I felt honored and blessed that it presented itself to me.

Later that night, I messaged my faculty advisor and told him I was extremely overwhelmed and I wasn’t finding anything and didn’t understand why. The only thing I did know is that I am meant to be in this class and so I know it will work out. It was really hard for me to send that message, I felt like I failed and I was embarrassed. He messaged me back and was extremely supportive and encouraging. He said that if the Universe thinks I am ready then that should be an encouraging thought right there. He said it was perfectly normal to be feeling the way I did before first class. Then he offered to go on a plant hunt together at the school. The relief calmed my whole body and tears of joy were released.

I learned a valuable lesson from that experience. I can’t force finding plants or my relationships with them. I can’t neatly schedule it in and expect results. It is an unpredictable adventure. It’s absolutely mandatory to shed preconceptions. I have to put myself in a calm and centered space. I put out an intention and a message to the plants before I search. Sending love to them and gratitude for their lessons in advance. Suddenly, I found plant samples right at the apartment complex I live in!

The exploration of plants, spirit and myself have only just begun. It has returned me to a very sacred part of myself. A part that I used to only believe I could achieve with my mother’s guidance. I had my first weekend’s class on Mother’s day weekend. I mourned my mom as usual; but, I felt some contentment and peace in knowing I am doing something she would be very proud of. I am discovering my own mystical potential.

I believe there is a synchronicity to the timing of events, especially life changing ones. I am beginning to understand why the Universe had me wait almost 18 years. The spiritualistic lessons I am learning and experiencing I may not have been fully ready for until now. This is and will continue to be an extremely powerful awakening!

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New Season, New Moon, New Beginnings

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Happy Spring everyone! Though snow is in the forecast for NH tomorrow, I can feel new life stirring around the corner.

It was an extremely drawn out winter for me. If you read my last update, then you know, between bed bugs, breakdowns and trips to the hospital, there wasn’t much time for myself.

No time for self means depression. Depression is inevitable for me in the winter; but, this winter was especially gloomy.

That’s behind me now. Spring is here, even though it’s taking it’s time to show.

There was a new moon this past Monday. Perfect time to set forth a new attitude.

New season, new moon, new beginnings!!!

Next month, I will be starting an herbal apprentice course. I have wanted to take this course for almost 18yrs. So, it’s a big step. I am terrified, but the kind of fear that comes when you feel deep inside you will change.

I will definitely keep you posted on my progress.

Speaking of keeping you posted…I feel terrible that I haven’t blogged much.

I am so proud of myself that I finally started this blog and managed to hold onto it for a couple of years. I am always thinking of things I want to write about; but never make it to fruition.

With Spring’s renewal I renew my dedication to my blog. I vow to spend more time and effort into my blog and my writing.

I have finally made it to the point where my mental illness can no longer hold me back.

It may stop me in my tracks. It may take a day from me here and there. It may even break me at times; but, it can not stop me.

Everyday I begin again.

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