Cheers to a whole week of vacation. R&R, perspective, priorities, and lots of sleep- it's a great idea! You should try it.
For those wondering, here's where all we went on our 2018 Summer Vacay. Links are included where possible. Essentially, we took a grand tour of central Pennsylvania, and it was great.
Really, get out of your house, out of your office, out of your town, and go breathe some air made by trees you haven't seen before. The world will be here when you get back, but you'll have a whole new nervous system to deal with it.
Lansdale Farmer's Market
Kutztown Folk Festival
Pine Creek Outfitters
Corning Museum of Glass
People's Choice Festival of PA Arts and Crafts
I've joined Instagram so you can see more trip photos and videos there!
This week I was invited to give a presentation at the Tamanend Herb Club in Southampton PA. We made Echinacea Tinctures and Immune Boosting Pastilles (aka cookie dough balls). It was SO MUCH FUN! The club was super engaged, asked lots of great questions, really had fun getting their hands dirty (so to speak) making the tincture and sampling the pastilles. A great time was had by all. If you live up that way you should check them out!
This week handed my butt to me on a platter. Just served it right up. It was a great week, busy and exciting, but I ended up not writing any posts like I promised I would.
I started to get all in a twist about it, then I stepped back. Some days I just don't have words in me to write, only to speak. And I speak to LOTS of people in a week! Some days I do have writing words, like today, and I'll get them out.
I apologize for the dead air this week. But I also encourage you to practice self-forgiveness when you encounter your own dead air. It's OK to take a shower or get 30 extra minutes of sleep or make a hot meal or even get a hair cut, instead of doing something else you ought to. It'll be there when you get back.
Also today, a spring time picture! I spy with my little eye...
Hello! Yeah, it's been a while. Not much, how 'bout you?
Well, it HAS been a while. Just before Christmas I was Planning the New Year, and now the halfway point of winter has passed. It was a time of quiet for me. Sometimes I wondered why I wasn't writing anything here, and sometimes I wondered why I ever had, but mostly I just quietly worked and let time pass.
Winter is the season of Water, and I felt it- like I was at the bottom of a deep pool, and eventually I'd bubble up to the top and get moving like a Spring thaw. As expected I did resurface, and it's wonderfully peaceful to know I can count on change to happen at its own pace!
Many of my clients express their frustration to me about being "lazy", about finding it hard to exercise or even get excited about anything during this time of year. How I wish everyone would look around and see how "lazy" Nature is being, and how judgmental we are holding ourselves to different standards.
A week ago we had an honest-to-goodness blizzard here in Philly. It was an entire day of strong winds and huge drifts and pity for people with dogs that needed walking. When I finally got back to my pilates classes, it was so much fun to listen to the stories about families getting snowed in, watching movies and doing puzzles together. None of these women, who are usually SO HARD on themselves, felt any guilt or self-recrimination for just laying low.
Winter is all about laying low. Some days the sun is out and it's almost balmy, some days we have energy and motivation and can accomplish "things'. But on balance, Winter should be as quiet and restful a time as Summer is outgoing and social.
I let myself just be over the last several weeks, and now I feel the wheel has turned and it's time for me to rejoin you. Maybe I'll take another break or three before we see flowers here again. Point is, accepting my downtime felt good. Don't beat yourself up over yours!
In the meantime I did do my New Year's Planning, on my annual New Year's vacation at the Outer Banks. I also began some outside work to learn more, and some inside work to teach more. I met a pilates teacher who can substitute for me when I have to go away, and introduced myself to people who might further my dreams. And I knitted a poncho. It wasn't an empty time, just a quiet time. And I thoroughly enjoyed it!
May the remainder of your Winter be as peaceful.
Planning Day is something I’ve been doing for the past several New Year’s, although I just formally found it named by Jamie Ridler Studios. It’s a day to contemplate and review and dream, looking forward to the next year and, well, planning!
I don’t have a formal process for my Planning Day. It’s just a compilation of thought prompts, journal questions, and daydreaming. Here, I’ll share my resources so you can develop your own guidebook for next year.
This year, I’ll start with her “Celebrate the Season that Was” and “Imagine the Season Ahead” worksheets to get into a good headspace by reviewing the year I’ve had and projecting forward as things put into action this year continue to influence my future. I’m also going to use her “My Focus Journal” worksheets to be more specific about what’s important to me, and how I want to focus on those areas.
I’m not sure that it’s still available for download anywhere online, so let me share the steps with you. You’ll miss out on the beautiful illustrations and instruction details, but you’ll also get the point!
I’ve done this twice already, and when I re-read them it does amaze me how many things in it have come to pass. I’m not great at setting goals, breaking them into action steps, and revisiting them blah blah blah. But writing a narrative that includes all the details I dream about, from where I live to what kind of soap is in my shower, really sticks in my memory and I find myself referring to it as a guide. Will this opportunity/choice/decision put me in that story?
These are the main tools I'll use as I daydream my way through looking ahead into next year. May the new year be merry and bright for all of you, too!
Ahh, it's in the air... eh, you know all the cliches. Actually, for me, it's in my lips! Last week, in the middle of the day, suddenly I knew the season had shifted and WHERE IS ALL MY LIP STUFF??
All summer I was finding assorted Burt's Bee's Peppermint and Bloomsburg Fair Maple Syrup lip balms (anybody going to the fair? Will you pick me up a new Maple Syrup balm, up the aisle to the left of the main gate?) and tossing them into the dish on my dresser, wondering where they all came from, happily forgetting the desperation I would feel when first I needed them again. And then snap! The need was at work, the lip balms were at home, and I realized autumn had arrived.
Last night was the Autumnal Equinox, so I included a little essential oil and Autumn Intention observance in pilates classes yesterday and today. We sniffed Black Spruce and/or Sweet Orange, and I posed some questions during class such as:
* What have you been sowing all summer, that you can harvest now?
* What are you missing, that you can look for, or forage for?
* What do you appreciate?
* What do you long for?
* What do you want to purge or cut away this season? What won't store well over the winter?
* After Samhain/Halloween, we're done with the harvest. What kind of energy do you want to take into the rest of the season until Winter Solstice in December?
* What do you want this Autumn?
Another thing that comes with Autumn besides chapped lips and intentions are colds. Yucky, cold, drippy colds. Sheesh. But there are lots of things you can do to help move them along:
So harvest up the last of your tomatoes, pull out your ankle boots and long sleeved t-shirts, and let's welcome our next season. I'm sure there will be some warm days ahead to say goodbye to Summer, but there are pumpkin whoopie pies and fresh apple cider (spiked with a little caramel vodka!) waiting for me. Welcome, Autumn!
Barnheart: The incurable longing for a farm of one's own- Jenna Woginrich
("Farm" may be too specific a descriptor, exactly. Some suffer the want of livestock and acreage and twice daily chores and tractors, some simply the want of a just-picked vegetable for tonight's dinner.)
Jenna explains, "It’s a dreamer’s disease: a mix of hope, determination, and grit... Barnheart is a condition that needs smells and touch and crisp air to heal."
Hello, my name is Paula and I have Barnheart.
My dreams lie more towards small things, gardens and little houses, rather than things with legs. But yes, I have Barnheart. Tonight I went outside with my homemade digestif to put my bare feet on the grass and look for the moon and I realized- that's it. I'm stricken with this chronic condition.
I wanted to share a book that started me on this path. Really, I think those of us with Barnheart are born with the potential for it and when events and life intervene to separate us from our soul's desire (or whatever you want to call it), Barnheart arises.
I can point to one specific moment, one specific book that unlocked the barn door, if you'll pardon the pun. From the Ground Up by Amy Stewart- the same Amy Stewart of The Drunken Botanist and Wicked Plants- wrote a memoir in 2001 about her first garden in a coastal California cottage. It follows one year of trials, learning, tourists, weeds, and finally, the importance of forget-me-nots.
When I first read this, I was fresh out of college and full of half formed dreams. Like me, Amy wasn't settled yet. She only gardened at this bungalow for a year before she and her husband moved on, and in many ways that was one of the books most important lessons for me- impermanence is OK. Leave it better for the next person, and love it while you're there. I've put in gardens everywhere I've lived since.
You never know what's coming, but a garden makes you hope for the future. I'm not living my dream yet but I can still have my bit of earth (The Secret Garden may have been part of my Barn building, come to think of it.) And although I dream of a sweet cottage garden, Amy helps remind me that gardening is a dynamic process of growth and death and war on a small scale, and it's so worth it.
I've read this book yearly for about 10 years now, and I never get tired of it. Often I pull it out in late Winter and enjoy the utter lack of Winter that Amy experienced in California. In a few hours I can experience her entire growing calender from moving in to moving out, while the weather in PA calls for a total halt of outdoor activities.
I think every garden I've started has been in memory of this book and it's testament to life. I see myself in her learning and her mistakes. One day I'll live in the permanent garden, the one that comes after this story. But for now I keep starting from the ground up, too.
This weekend I was invited to guest lecture at Barefoot Botanicals' Herbs Through the Seasons monthly class in Doylestown PA. I'm telling you, if you are ANYWHERE nearby, you should take this class. One student drove up from her NJ shore vacation just to participate! Linda of Barefoot just inspires that kind of passion.
I talked about muscles and herbs, and followed the class out for Linda's botany lesson. I took this class with her last year, and it was great to see the same lightbulbs going off for her current students as I remember from my experience. Wild carrot IS Queen Anne's Lace?! Oh, I get it! Linda's co-teacher, Sharon Moncrief (Greenbrier Herbalist), was there for her skeletal system talk in the afternoon. I couldn't stay for that portion, but she and I got to chat as well- so interesting!
Barefoot's farm is just beautiful. It's so lush and varied. Linda and Eric supply local restaurants (she was telling us about a green coriander encrusted scallop dish!), have a CSA and farmer's market stand, and Linda grows cut flowers and medicinal herbs as well. There's an amazing variety of plants, both wild and cultivated, in a wide variety of micro-climates on their piece of land. Dry, wet, full sun, full forest, everything is available.
So go say Hi to Linda and her husband Eric at the Doylestown Farmer's Market on Saturdays, and check out Linda's 7 month class for next year. You will learn SO MUCH!
Please permit me an indulgence. You see, today is July 1.
Yesterday was the last day of my lease at my old pilates studio. It was my last chance to move things out, my last chance to look around and hear echoes of my past.
I'm very pleased with how my life has changed in the last 6 weeks, but there's still a sense of nostalgia knowing I won't climb those stairs again, or count them to descend in the dark. I won't see the evidence of the expansion that happened a few years ago thanks to the energy of a motivated friend. I won't have to look at the sagging ceiling panel, or struggle with the old windows again. I also won't have a second-story 90 degree view of trees and a field, windows on 3 sides to catch breezes, or risk being startled by a helicopter as it floats by at almost eye level checking the high-tension power lines in the spring.
It was also fitting that, since I canceled the power company already, I couldn't vacuum the space one last time. So I grabbed the OLD broom and swept all 958 square feet by hand, as best I could. Out the door, down the stairs, and onto the pavement, I sent the last evidence of my occupancy into the world.
THAT life is all behind me now, and I'm satisfied.
Tonight I went outside during my favorite time of day- the gloaming, when "there's hardly no day, nor hardly no night. There's things half in shadow, and halfway in light."
I thought about to-do lists, and things I want to write to you, and about how wonderful it is to be able to pull a few weeds and talk to bunny rabbits and catch a lightning bug and just sit in the perfect, summer air.
There's a perfect man-in-the-moon crescent in the sky with a haze around him, promising a perfectly miserable day tomorrow with the Northeast trifecta, Hazy, Hot and Humid.
And there's good red wine and cool water waiting inside, and fans and open windows glorying in each breeze.
So tonight I wish you peace and coolness. There's time enough for writing meaningful things, tomorrow.
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.