I got to have an early Christmas this week with my parents. Here's some of what it looked like:
It was amazing how much I reveled in the warm weather, coming off 3 snow storms in PA. I expected to feel "wrong" somehow, since the sun and the breeze and the heat were such a dramatic difference from what I had become used to, but I couldn't get enough. It was quite a lesson to see how differently my body feels and acts when it's not restricted by the cold weather! I think it is worth the effort to pamper my circulatory and immune systems a little, now that I'm back home.
Flooding on Stenton Ave
Let me paint you a picture.
It's about 5:30am, not yet dawn, not still dark. It's that time called the gloaming, between day and night. Usually, we experience the gloaming in the evening, at dusk. This morning, the light is deceiving- it's light out, but it's too dark to see.
You wake to thunder and lightning, and rain- persistent, steady, heavy rain. It's close to the time for your alarm, so you doze, and WAHWAHWHA your phone, charging next to your bed, goes berserk. An alarm blares, it vibrates like crazy. There's a flash flood warning. The air is warm, and has passed "humid" to become almost physically "wet."
Sure enough, there's detours on your way to work, creeks and streams have jumped their banks, neighborhoods are full of drivers trying to find a higher bridge. By 9am, it's still dark like it was at 7, but the rain is ending. Cicadas are humming like a horror movie.
Now, a second picture. You sleep with the windows open, and wake to bright, early morning sun. A 55-degree breeze slides over you and your bedsheet like cool water. You hear birds, and a few crickets, but little else. The air is dry, so very dry compared to yesterday that your nose crinkles inside a little. Because yes, these two pictures are only separated by 24 hours.
And that, my friends, is another reason to love PA. Sometimes August feels like July, and sometimes it feels like September.
In other news, I'm in the process of moving and downsizing my home, and I apologize for the scarce postings. I anticipate more breathing space by next week, and enough room to flail around by the end of the month. We'll dance again soon.
Interestingly enough, the start and end of my working stay-at-home vacation were very similar- cold, wet, and cold. But the in-between days were lovely! I still have several hours to go in my final day, and I still have plans for those hours- one being to transplant my tomato seedlings, thanks to a 10 Tomato Transplant Tips article from the Hudson Valley Seed Library that convinced me this weather is not just made for tea and movies, but for reducing transplant shock, also! Where did I put those red plaid rain boots?
Lots did get done these last several days, but not as much as I hoped and planned. A big lesson to come out of this is that This Girl Needs Discipline! Most of what I fell behind on were writing/planning/typing tasks, and I specifically had a hard time finding that old grindstone for my nose. But, now that I see that SO VERY clearly, there's hope.
I did update my website a little, and added new parts like detailed instructions about using my No Shampoo hair cleaner and my Smooth face scrub and mask. I also posted, thereby announcing, a Project Detox:Summer Scrub program! Come detox with me and be vibrant this summer.
So, in all, the Staycation experiment was a success and I look forward to doing it again. One of the biggest tasks I took on was decanting probably18-20 alcohol and vinegar tinctures and infused oils that I've had sitting around for, oh, a while. All right, some of them for several YEARS. But what a shelf life! It really took having several days off to organize and tidy my workshop and to enjoy it like that, before I suddenly got motivated to muck it all up again. So now I have a regular apothecary for my own use, and a shelf full of empty jars waiting for new potions and concoctions.
This is who greeted me this morning, outside the window next to my bed! Isn't she lovely?
I thought I had a trip planned for the Memorial Day weekend, and it turns out I don't, so I am going to enjoy a working stay-cation. I have about 5 days off, and those days are now devoted to pretending Paula's Herbals is my livelihood. If being an herbalist will ever support me at all, I need to know that I can do the work it requires. I need to develop products, develop workshops and talks, and find places to ply my knowledge, and write write write.
Consider this an unofficial 'launch' of the Paula's Herbals business. I've been dabbling, and ramping up, but now it's time to make plans and goals and timelines and really get moving.
Today, I mediated and tidied up my workshop. I spent a couple wonderful hours with my boyfriend having lunch, before he goes off to shoot a film 24/7 for the next week. Now I am surrounded by notebooks, folders, and all sorts of things I've been neglecting. I have a list, I have ideas, and I have motivation. I just took a bath with Lemon Verbena sugar, and that was the right choice- it gave me so much good energy! I have a candle lit, it's a cold and windy day which is perfect for concentrating, and I have tea at my side.
I'll check back in tomorrow!
I haven’t done a formal “check in” for a couple classes, but I also haven’t had much to report. I remember that from the foundations class; sometimes you haven’t had much going on.
The three weeks since our last class, the only one we had in February, have been nothing short of momentous, however.
A few seemingly unrelated, or barely related, occurrences have contributed:
1. Just prior to that class, I had my first phone meeting with my mentor (we’ve each been paired up with one of our teachers.) She and I talked about where I am and want to go and being stuck and uncertain, and she assigned me the work of sitting with the question, “What makes my soul happy?” Maia also suggested I notice what makes me smile during the day.
Well, the answer I got was a whole lot of nothing! I have been working from a position of “have to, have to” for so long that happy didn’t matter, so long as everything is moving forward.
2. I’ve also had a strange rash on the base of my tailbone for months. I’ve been trying to figure this out- rashes=heat, it’s near my digestion but that’s definitely not hot, it’s near my spine but I noticed no sensitivities or neurological signs, I haven’t changed detergents, doesn’t seem to flare or calm based on gluten or other potential diet triggers…
3. About a month ago, I started getting massages (WHY haven’t I done this before??)
4. Maia gave us a talking to about follow through, whether it be going all the way with medicine making to design labels and define pricing, or following up with clients, or anything we begin.
And what changed? Me. Suddenly.
I put together a website (free, but a beginning.) I ordered business cards. I blended, packaged, labeled and priced 2 teas, a syrup blend, and a bath soak. I put them out for sale in my studio. I asked my massage friend about putting them in her studio. I purchased, blended, packaged... more items and put them for sale in her waiting room. I spoke to the purchaser at a local farm market where I get my CSA share, and they will carry my products too- plus a local supplier of creams, balms, and some first aid items decided to not wholesale anymore, so there’s a niche there I can fill. I left my business cards at the market, calling myself an herbalist and declaring my doors open.
And that rash? It disappeared.
Instead of a physical ailment expressing itself on the surface, now I think it was the stirrings of energy, my ‘vital force’ we’ve talked about in class beginning to rise, to expand, thanks to my finally tapping into my calling.
I’ve had a little angst around combining the work I already do with this new work. A big step, strange as it may sound, was putting both items on my new herby business cards and acknowledging it publicly in writing- I do both these things!
It also just dawned on me that I’ve been yearning for a garden, and can’t get settled enough to grow one. I decided to put an herb garden in at my studio! Obviously! There is a patch of grass right outside my door that’s bare and unwelcoming, just waiting for some lavender and calendula and something to mask the AC units. (I’ll have to think about that one.)
Exposure, like everything, is good in moderation. A southern exposure gives your home good light in the winter, but maybe too much heat in the summer. Seedlings need fresh air and changing temperatures to germinate and grown strong, but they can freeze, dry out or rot. I need to build an online presence, let you meet me, learn how I think and what I think. If I resonate with you, we may both get something positive out of it. If you hear something dumb, or wrong, or difficult, I may have ruined that chance. The very exposure I try to create may destroy something. Where's the moderation?!
We don’t have to be perfect, we can’t be everything to everyone. But it’s scary, contemplating topics, ideas, opinions, and knowing that the way I present them can make or break me. I have ruthlessly culled blogs from my own Google feed when they just don’t mean that much to me. Did that hurt the owners of those blogs? Why can’t I be as coldly logical to myself? THIS is what I have to say, THAT is what I wrote, IF you don’t like it don’t read it.
Once it’s written, it is there forever, and that sort of permanence, that commitment is a big part of what holds me back and makes me reluctant. Yet I’m unwilling to hide behind a pseudonym or a company name. This IS
Click here I tend to think in terms of "I wonder what next year will bring?" rather than "This is how I will be different next year!" But last year I made a resolution, based on how I saw myself acting and reacting, to Say What I Mean, and Do What I Say. I wrote that inside a little notebook- an awesome one that has a little zip pocket on the front for little pieces of paper that I end up with all the time- and I began making my To Do lists for myself, my pilates studio and my herb ideas. I saw that quote often in the beginning of the year, and am proud to say that it doesn't really apply anymore- I learned to be more authentic, at least towards myself.
As I look over that first page, labeled 1/1/12, I see the same things written there that I would write now. How can that be? Did I do anything this year? Well, yes and no. This year will be remembered as the Recuperative Year, and I'm hoping next year brings Restorative and Rebuilding energy. I have a lot of work ahead, and I feel ready and able to do it.
The name of the game for 2013 is Balance. I know it's a cliche: work, rest, friends, hobbies, chores, exercise, books to read, movies to watch, places to go, everything we do we need to balance so none of it gets left out, and everybody struggles with this. I think I'm really really poor at this, however. I know I put off the time-consuming pleasures like calling a friend or going for a walk because I don't deserve it yet, I need to get more accomplished first, I'm still too behind on all those responsibilities and obligations.
I'm not sure how to reset that thinking- yelling at myself doesn't work, making lists or schedules doesn't either. I know better, yet it's a pattern that's all to easy to follow. I've begun the barest steps already. After dark I tend to hole up in my warm bedroom, so I've begun getting up earlier (I am still on holiday break after all, and finally getting enough sleep!) and making sure I get chores done in the other parts of my house, where I can see the windows and the outside. It's too cold out for me to just go for a walk, but today I plan to trot the garbage up the hill to the dumpster on foot! I tend to easily lose my connection to the outside world, both with nature and with people. I call myself an Outgoing Introvert, and these days at home reinforce that. Maybe if I had all the time in the world to rest and relax I would start getting out more, but for now since I don't have to, I revel in being home alone! My days will be happily people filled very soon, and this time to myself is healing to my soul.
2013 is starting off with a bang- I have major work to do to strengthen my pilates business, I will be celebrating the 5 year anniversary of my studio in a couple weeks, and next week marks a personal anniversary with the special man in my life. After tomorrow, the studio re-opens and all the planning and expectations I have for myself come due. I can't wait to check in on this Check In after a month and see what's what.
These last two weeks, I learned, again, that it can be done.
The Chopra Center meditations finished and I have been continuing a little sporadically on my own. I am also very consistent with the stream-of-consciousness journaling that we were assigned, and I LOVE that. I read something troubling this morning and felt all confused and conflicted and censored, so I did both silent meditation, after reading the Law of Giving piece I copied from the guided meditations, and the writing meditation and it really, REALLY cleared my head. I started teary-from-frustration and ended focused, a little compartmentalized, and ready to work even with that in the background.
I also put my nose to the grindstone again at my business, thanks in large part to my boyfriend. He never doubts that It Can Be Done, and gets really exasperated with my frequent doubt and worry and fear. But once I join him on that positive page, he's ready to help me move forward. I consciously WorkedWorkedWorked during set times, and RestedRestedRested during set times, and I didn't wear out! He had given me some great ideas to develop, and I made miles of progress on that highway, even getting to the exit lane of most of them. Balance is SO difficult for me but in class yesterday Maia used a great metaphor- the Energy Bank account was negative, it's gotten back up to zero, so don't spend it as fast as you deposit it!
Last night I was again sure it was all coming apart, and although I KNOW it's not, I still have to name those fears and look square at them before I can overcome them. And I look at them again and again, as we get the same lessons in life again and again, until we learn from them. I think I will always fear, so I try to get past them more quickly each time.
Now we have a month until our next class, thanks to the holidays. May they be peaceful and fulfilling.
Tomorrow is our 5th Advanced Herbalism class. When I took the Foundations class, we met monthly and began each session with a check-in. Everyone had the opportunity to share what they learned in the last month. It was an amazing experience. We learned more about each other and more about ourselves as well. But there was an additional benefit for me, at least: the process allowed me to mark time. I had to be very conscious of the time that had passed since the last class, and to summarize what the month had been like for me. I want to re-create that experience, to track my observations and development AND to be more conscious of time passing. I can't believe it's our fifth class, I can't believe November is almost over, I can't believe I'm in my 30s- I want to believe it, I want to have a sense of Now because I appreciated many Nows up to this one.
Consequentially, here goes!
I had been struggling with- well, what? Depression, apathy, mental fatigue, loss of purpose, overabundance of minor and major crises- I was low. I had gone to see someone that my teacher Maia suggested the week of our last class, and again since class. She is lovely, and I think being able to simply dump the chaos in my head, and explain my current "me" to someone who hasn't met me before, helped me organize my thoughts and feelings and stand back up again.
I have also learned that my vehicle, vitally important where I live, is running on borrowed time. I seem to get smacked around by the universe when I try to take too much time off from the things I really do need to do. I've known that my car is one of Several projects that require my attention. Writing in this blog is another. And yet...
I joined the Chopra Center 21 Day Meditation Challenge that began on Nov 5. In our last class, we were also assigned a daily writing exercise- 3 pages or 15 minutes of pen-to-the-page, don't-stop-don't-think-don't-correct Stream of Consciousness journaling. So this is 30 minutes every day of time for myself, time for my brain, my sanity, my clarity. It has been REALLY HARD to be consistent! I finally timed myself today and found out that 1 page of my handwriting takes 15 minutes, which means I've been spending much more time trying to get to 3 pages. This explains, in part, why I've been so reluctant to do this on busy days. I am many days behind on meditating. It requires sound, so I don't do it when others are around- when my boyfriend is over, even though he is all for it, or when I'm at work and now I'm just making excuses.
Today, to write, I used a Meditation Reminder app on my new phone that will time me with nice bell chimes, track my consistency, and has alerts for when I don't run the app by a certain time every day. This might be a tool that helps me on a daily basis. When the Meditation Challenge ends I will set up 2 daily meditation reminders, and refer back to a series from the challenge that I copied into my Calender to continue meditating daily.
The 21 meditations are $40 instead of $50 through Jan 13 2013, and if I actually continue this I will reward myself with buying them. If I flake out, I will keep coming back until I find a way to meditate and write regularly. I Know it's important for me, but I very easily dismiss, downplay and marginalize my own importance. Perhaps this will help me practice Positive Self, too.
Hi there, I'm an herbalist and a pilates teacher. Not a doctor, or a pharmacist, and not pretending to be one. My writing reflects my experiences, and I try to stay general enough so it might relate to you. This does not constitute medical advice, and I encourage you to discuss concerns with your doctor. Remember, however, that the final say in your wellness decisions are always yours- you have the power to choose, you are the boss of you.