Sunday, November 25, 2012

Bah-Humbug! (Transformational Tools for your Holidays!) Journal activities, Herbs, Foods, and Smells to Help You

This past week my girlfriend and I had an enlightening conversation about Thanksgiving. Each of us where sharing what challenges us the most; what we were afraid of, what made us feel rotten, and what kind of behavior by others ruins our day.

I found us saying things like “I wish I had more help with the planning and preparation of the food so I was less resentful”, “I don’t want to have to answer to anybody about my personal life if I’m not ready, but I don’t want them to feel pushed away, either”, “I’m worried about political differences coming up” and “I feel exhausted at the end, not filled up and all happy like we’re told we should feel. I want to actually feel nourished and full of gratitude, not like: ‘thank God that’s over!’”

After we vented a bit, we started asking some questions instead, and low and behold we started coming up with miraculous ways to approach the coming holidays with a lot more self-awareness and intention, and less attachment to how others decide to use the day.
This is an incredibly self-protective and freeing experience! And although I've personally done a *lot* of inner work around dealing with winter and the holidays, but this conversation was especially helpful and insightful.

So, in light of the fast-approaching Yule tide, I come here today to offer a similar journey for you, as well as herbal and aroma allies. For my apothecary members I always approach things holistically this way (including inquiry based journaling/mindset methods, sensory engagement, and herbal nourishment) so that the healing happens from multiple facets and is integrated more completely. I invite you to tackle things with this in mind as well.

The more my friend and I talked about what we wanted and complained less about what we didn’t want, the more clearly we were able to see the potential to enjoy our holiday more, even within the given circumstances.

However, it is good to get all the complaints on the table, as they can help us navigate. So….lay it all out, my friend, with reckless honesty:

What are my biggest, most anxiety producing complaints about the holiday?






{Awesome, good job J}

Next, Go slowly through each of your above frustrations and ask these questions:

1.       Is this an experience I’m capable of changing?

2.       Does the change need to happen externally, involving others?

3.       Is there a change in me, internally, that would help? What is that? Compassion, forgiveness, or a shift in expectations?

4.       Do I contribute to this issue in any way?

5.       What personal boundaries can I set for myself around this issue? (e.g.; Getting more rest? Not answering questions I don’t feel comfortable with? Not engaging in feeling victimized or falling prey to passive aggressive behavior?

6.       In what ways can I ask for help & support from my loved ones in regards to this issue?
7.       How can I better prepare for this potential experience, manage it if it occurs, or help prevent it?

{Woot! Feels good so far, yes? Are you surprised by anything so far?}

Next, we need to shift the focus to what we do desire.

1.       What would each of these experiences look and feel like to you, if they were expressed in the positive?
For example, if your #1 fear was listening to your children fight, it might look like two siblings enjoying each other’s company.

2.       What do I want out of a holy-day? How do I want to feel before, during, and after?

3.       What are some ways my ideals can be fed and supported??

Brainstorm specific ideas around this – the more specific you are the more likely it is to happen, whether because you take action, or something becomes more energetically possible through the magic of your intentions.

Super! We’re well on our way to a transformed holiday experience.  In addition to the above specific problem-solving inquiries, we can arm ourselves with some general ideas as well. These are three of my favorite pattern interrupters that I use the most often.

~In this moment, I can choose peace.

~In this moment, what can I do differently?

~Even though I feel ­­­­_____ (angry, hurt, etc) I can choose to shift things by acting out of love.

By claiming more ownership over the emotional choices, vocabulary we use, and the physical activity choices we have, and by creating a plethora of options for ourselves, we can shift out of feeling victimized and begin to foster a sense of self-protection, groundedness, and hope that the coming days, meant to be most sacred, generous, and fulfilling, actually can be just that.

The nourishing feast: 

Oh the food! Yummy, yummy food, and lots of it! Meant to be a gleeful celebration of bounty, of course, this can instead be the source of much misery for many, whether it is days in the kitchen laboring over the perfect meringue, a tender bird, or peeling endless potatoes – worrying about eating too much and gaining weight, fearing the dish washing task, or simply feeling like crap afterwards.

Whatever the food brings up for you, we can apply a few small tweaks for aid.

--Ditch the MSG. This means no “Mr.Gravy” thickener, and no poor quality brand dressings or seasoning packets. MSG can cause severe inflammation, instigate over-eating, and provide mega-headaches. They are just no good party poopers. (Monosodium Glutamate) is known for its trouble making and is better off left out of the meal.

--Change from soda. UGH! There are so many excellent sparkly options nowadays. Corn syrup and artificial flavor/color is a holiday’s bad news. Don’t go there. Especially if you have volatile parent/kid pairs in the family, or any diabetics. This might feel like an epic change for some – but remember that we can focus on what we are adding instead of subtracting to help us all adapt and enjoy.

--ADD Lots of digestive aids! At least an hour before the main meal, take a little something each ten or twenty minutes to stoke your digestive fire. There are many options you have no excuse to avoid this essential action.

Ginger root, Lemon Juice, Fennel Seeds, Apple Cider Vinegar, black pepper & cinnamon chai, Turmeric root, bitters such as Dandelion root tincture, Artemisia tincture, and Goldenrod tincture can all help ready the digestion. Fermented foods as an appetizer and condiment are one of my very favorite (and delicious) ways to support digestion. Homemade sauerkraut, kimchi, or pickled vegetables are a fantastic way to support those in your family who may not be so interested in your herbal concoctions.

--Have honey available. For those who might decide to use honey instead of sugar in their coffee or tea. Yay! (Then dessert will be more relaxed)

--Ask for help!!!! Call up your inner queen and do some delegating. People who stand around waiting to do something, actually do want to help. But if they are in someone else’s kitchen, they would do well with some helpful directions. Guys who retreat to the football game are, more often than not, willing to help if you’re willing to ask.

And, last but not least, Aroma-allies.

If you’re hosting, and you usually burn Yankee or similarly scented candles consider not. These candles can contribute to migraines, nausea, mood swings, and mysterious maladies galore. They are packed with dangerous fragrance chemicals like z-estrogens that can wreak havoc.

Natural aromas in the house are inviting … cider, stuffing, garlic … these are the smells that help us feel welcome, stimulate salivation, and cultivate memories (without side effects). If you do wish for candles, try ones with natural essential oils of orange or cinnamon for a gentler ambiance. You can also choose unscented candles and use an aromatherapy diffuser with the following essential oils.

If you keep a cupboard of essential oils, you can make yourself a helpful blend.  One of my favorite for Yule time is Roman Chamomile. Wildly herbaceous & floral/fruity, this almost apple-like chamomile oil is incredibly uplifting and anti-depressant. Roman Chamomile is excellent for those who tend to feel brooding, argue beyond the point of reason, and get ‘hot headed’ or stubborn. It is also somewhat expensive – but also strong. Diluted in carrier oil at about 2-4 drops of essential oil to 1/3 ounce carrier oil, you can apply it or smell it as frequently as you like.

If you prefer something more grounded and rooty, you might find Vetiver essential oil to be helpful. It is excellent for those who abhor traveling, tend to feel nervous or insecure, or feel as though they need thicker skin. It is one of the strongest essential oils and will be plenty effective at a dilution of 1 drop in 1/3 ounce of carrier oil.

You might enjoy a trip to your local natural food store to smell an array of essential oils and determine which one makes you feel most relaxed and happy.


However you choose to support yourself this holy-day season, may it be nourishing, joyful, and bring you closer to the ones you love.

Blissful Blessings,

in the Apothecary (and more to come in the next week, stay tuned!!!)

~Resins & Roses~
Botanical Perfume

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1 comment:

Yarrow said...

Fabulous post. Thank you and many blessings this holiday season.