Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Friday, January 23, 2009

Awaiting the green

I await the green

The sleeping willows

the steeping leaves

I await the glow

of gold and pink

of the bulbs at their peak

the blinks of the baby flowers

unopened but swelling 

with promise

and rain.

I await the taste

of the first bitter placed

in my wintry mouth

like warmed snowflakes

flavored with life

I await the green.

I beckon to spring

might she show herself early I dream

of the first less frigid

walk and forage and frolic

looking through the ice glasses

of my window

I splash the hot soapy water

over pots and dishes and hands and wait

for the birds to sing 

the river to life 

and spring to midwife

the new green

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

When things don't work

I'll warn you that this is a personal post, not herbal or mystical or wisdom offering. 

I run a wilderness school, well a part of a wilderness school that provides nature based programs for about 50 homeschoolers, two of which are my own kids.
It was in August that I began the role of coordinator, after teaching there for a year and a half as the herbal/botany teacher just a couple hours a week.
The former coordinator warned me how hard it was. I was convinced I could turn things around,
And for the fall, I did. We had record enrollement and everything exceeded our expectations. The staff, the days, the kids, everything was wildly successful.

Now I sit here in January, and the programs are as desolate as the weather. They were slated to begin last week, and we've not been able to hold one of them yet. Only one out of four main programs got enough participation to run. 

What is going on. I keep asking this question. I've set everything up with consideration to what I thought parents had asked for, within the boundaries of what the school can offer. Flexible time, not too much time in the freezing cold, familiar and well qualified instructors, interesting topics yet with experiential content.

And no none is coming. 

I don't understand it. And while listening to the parents gives me plenty of insight into their particular need or preferences - they are all so different - that I cannot detect any additional common denominators. 

My freind tells me I need to try something different. The parents tell me I did try something different, and they don't want that - they want the same programs as usual. My guts are telling me I am failing and that there isn't any solution except to just cancel the programs and work on other stuff, like goods to sell and the summer schedule. Like grants and program development. Like recruiting enough staff for the spring. But see - I am the middle man now, and if programs are not running, my paycheck isn't supported. 

It just absolutely sucks. When this whole thing started I felt open and creative and inspired. Now I just feel weighed down and angry. I spend so much time on this job and not enough with my kids. 

But I have to work.

I wish I could get back to that centered place where it just flowed. Where I was driven by my joy and excitement and people responded. I never have worked well under deadlines and pressure and it usually drives me to quitting my jobs. It's half the reason I left dance, all of the reason I left marketing my herbal products for sale, and why I quit gymnastics when I realized it was actually a competitive sport. I don't like the pressure - it freaks me out.

I want to crawl in a hole and hide. I want to quit my job. I hate feeling like all my energy is pouring into all this PR stuff ( did I mention I am a plant lady - not a marketing major?). The fact that it is not working so much, really makes me wonder if this is what I am supposed to be doing at all. Is this really what I want to do? Or am I merely doing it for my kids, or for a little money. 

Ultimately I beleive in this school. I love the land, I love the experiential learning, I love the staff I have worked with, and I love that I am creating a place where children learn about and connect with nature, and that carries on into the future. But I do not love the feeling that I don't know what I am doing, and what I am doing sucks. That I am speding so much energy on plans that no one wants. 

If only I could figure out what I really want.

It would save me so much grief. 

I used to know....back in my adolescence. I knew with irrevocable certainty that I was born to dance. I was on this earth to be a dancer and nothing else mattered because I knew my purpose. 

Who am I without that title? Lost is what I am. With daily tasks filled up with emptiness and dispair. I feel like I do not have a gift to give. 

I need my purpose because it gives me meaning. A reason to do the mundane things that are otherwise miserable. A current of gratitude and a way of living that is valuable to me. And although I would give my life twice over for my children and I love them more than anyone or anything..... they are not my purpose. And I hate those responses like "you are here to be a spiritual being in a human body" or whatever. The fact of the matter is that humans don't stand still all day.... they function. The DO... they create, cycle, and live a life, which means we require tangible means to express our soul. Not some abstract comment. I know I am a spiritual being........ and so I will take that liberty right here.

I am putting a plea out to the great Goddess:

Give me strength for I am weak.
Give me eyes for I cannot see
Give me heart for I am hurting
Give me purpose so I may come home
I ask thee great Goddess, my Self, the center of my life force
Please illuminate this life for me so I may believe in myself again, 
and offer my gifts without doubt.

So mote it be.

Herbal Beads

Creativity can easily be thwarted when you consult the cabinets. I wanted to make cream but was out of beeswax. I wanted to make lip balm but was out of tubes. And on the list went. Out of frustration I forced myself to just look at what I did have, and see if there was something fun to make from that. What I did have, was some really fine herbal powders..... pink roses, red sandalwood, and green lavender...... and in the deep well of my "to-do-someday" list, herbal beads came up. 

I've never made them before, so I didn't know what to expect. I was suspicious that they wouldn't harden right or be durable. 

I mixed a simple paste from the recipes I have read and are also randomly listed on the internet, as approximately
1/2 cup herbal powder
2 Tablespoons all purpose flour
water, little by little until you have a workable dough
essential oils, optional and added last.

What I didn't expect, was the length of time it took me to roll all the beads... somewhere around 4 hours. 
Of course, when your hands are filled with sweet aromas, it's not too hard to let go of the clock and loose yourself in the rhythm. 
I found that making the holes with a medium sized metal crochet needle was much smoother than using wood (toothpick) or a tiny needle. Once I had the hole made I carefully strung it onto some hemp cord to dry. Newspaper is a good bed. 

I enjoyed watching the colors shift as the water left and the beads solidified. They are still fragrant and oh so lovely. They hardened quite well.

I also read that the original rosary beads were made from roses (hence the name) and while I have no proof of this, it sure makes sense..... and even more so when I think of how many rose bushes adorn the homes in my local Italian neighborhoods. Especially the apricot colored ones. Supposedly they were made from fresh, though, not dried, by making a slow cooked mash. It's the dead of winter here so I can't harvest fresh ones. 
I'm not Catholic - but I am more than willing to pray along a string of roses! 

Now, I can't see these being that durable, considering the contents, I imagine a drop of water would simply melt it back to goo. But I wouldn't want to lacquer them either, as that would block all of the lovely scent, and probably the natural texture, too.

I have seen that The Essential Herbal sells herbal bead making kits ( I haven't tried it) so maybe they know some additional secrets that I don't, if you are inspired and want some guidance.

For now, I love my sweet and simple beads, and will keep them for special friends and meaningful moments. I cherish the odd shaped chunky ones my children fashioned, and the square ones their best -yet suspicious - friend made ("you're a..... green witch??? what does that mean?") she says, as she requests more of that yummy 'leaf fusion', and 'leaf' soup.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Medicine Woman Tradition, new website

So beautiful! Congratulations, Kiva, Loba, and Wolf for reaching this most lovely and far reaching threashold of sharing!

Thursday, January 15, 2009

An Herbalist's best friend

I'm sure depending on my perspective, this answer could change. But at the moment, I'll say that kitchen mischief's best companion is arguably this:

really satisfying music.

And that is hard to find - if your not dedicated to spending time in the Border's isles or reading reviews, etc. You are at the mercy of what you come across. Or in my case, stumble upon.

It began by reading her blog, albeit with with one eye shut. Just like Dr. Seuss' cat - I would read it and my head would burn and nearly smoulder.... my shut eye tightened and my open eye widened. I would read half a blog post, close it and read the rest later..... taking me on a multi-day swing. "Why?" you ask?

Well, her writing is exactly what I wanted to hear - yet packaged in a truthful, lovingly bossy kind of way; a way that makes you keep coming back for more once you accept that you're ready to welcome in joy and start looking more honestly at your own ways. It's an exercise in what I've now decided to be my - uh - two - words of my year:
Truth, and Possibility.

Christine Kane has a magic wand..... one that's like a needle sewing real life beauty into readable, hearable, wearable, BEable prose, and I'm finding that it suits my taste perfectly. And did I mention a magic voice? Velvety, womanly yet simple and playful, almost a mix of Erica Wheeler and Shawn Colvin, but with a decided uniqueness all her own.

I'm filling my kitchen with her sounds that lift my spirit, remind me of my loveliness, our oneness, and life's mysterious ways. My Oatstraw and Sassafras are quite enjoying it. Go ahead - buy her CD or pull her up on Rhapsody. You'll be happy you did!

Thanks Christine for just doing what you do, and then sharing it.