Advocate – allow – adjust

I’ve been quiet, simply because I didn’t have much to say, or if I said anything, it wouldn’t have been original, or it would have seemed like a reach. Instead, I thought for a long time and have come to these conclusions, none of which are earth-shattering, but it will show you where I am (currently):

-Advocate: in the best ways we can, we need to advocate for those who are marginalized. And so many are marginalized. At this time and for the long haul, supporting Black lives in getting true equality in treatment and care is critical. It is criminal that it has taken us (I’m including myself, because, even though I considered myself an ally, I didn’t speak up and out as often as I should have in the past) this long to do the messy, uncomfortable work of facing internalized racist and otherwise hateful structures. The most effective way I’ve found to be helpful in this regard is in one-on-one conversations. They tend to be quite uncomfortable and painful for me (who is just not a “hey! Let’s talk to other people” type) and that is okay and necessary because it is needed, and it is the only possible way that some of these people will be introduced to other ways of thinking. Of course, I’ve been e-mailing, calling, etc. to voice my concerns to those in power, though I don’t know how much of a difference that does. There are social media posts, which I’ve resorted to sharing if I feel they’re informative. I know some don’t believe I’m visibly posting enough, and for that, I ask, for whom? So that fellow allies see how much I care, or so they can nod in agreement with what I post? Most of the people who need to turn around their understanding of their own inherent racism will either ignore or rebuke those posts.

And advocacy doesn’t stop there. I’ve been learning more about a lot of the horrors that Native Americans experience now, and we need to show up for them, as well. Of course, this month that is fast closing is Pride month, and we need to support GLBT+ in their battles resulting in hatefulness directed our/their way. (I feel like I more or less fit into this group, as someone who currently identifies as Asexual, but also don’t really feel like I quite fit, either, so…I never know how to address this…except, really, in all of these cases, we shouldn’t be thinking in “Other” terms, but as how we can support our fellow humans and eradicate antiquated, hate-filled attitudes.)

-Allow: So much allowing is necessary. Allow outdated systems that don’t work for us to crumble and crash down. Allow and accept that we are uncomfortable and we’re going to be in this uncomfortable place for a long time. Allow for ongoing time to learn. And allow for taking breaks to rest. You can’t pour from an empty cup. Make sure you fill yours up.

-Adjust: Recognize the myriad of adjustments needed to ever learning, ever moving forward. Adjust your thinking to realize we might not be able to grasp all the possibilities our new futures can hold. Adjust to every unexpected thing that shows up in our path. (And in 2020, there have been a LOT of unexpected things showing up for us!)

None of this is easy. All of it is messy. We need to do what we can. And chat with each other for support along the way.

My own path is still quite foggy. I have been continuing to learn about plant medicines, and I know for certain the directions I shouldn’t go, not quite sure how I will be extending this to others beyond using my knowledge to help my own health and wellness. I know my workplace is barely hanging on at the moment, and we’re going to be experiencing more cuts. And there’s not a lot out there at this time, especially for someone who is wayward with her personal direction and would like to be paid at least a little closer to her worth.

So, like you, I’m trying. A step at a time. Learn what I can. Make mistakes, learn from them, do better. Keep kindness in mind. And we’ll figure out a new way, even if we all have no idea what that way is right now.

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Cross my heart, hope to fly

I’m at the point now at which I should accept that I shouldn’t come up with a crazy series to work on unless it seems like something that I love and that I’m committed to. I’m thinking particularly about that idea that I had to play short improvisations outside whenever it moved me. Then it became and remained colder than I would like and I amended that in my mind to strike the word “outside.” Annnnd then I didn’t play and record any short improvisations.

Everyone has been going through their own weirdness during this time of isolation. I have, too, though it doesn’t seem to be solely related to the quarantined life. I had mentioned in an earlier post that I found this magic triumvirate of herbs for my mind, which addressed my anxiety, depression, and sadness. What was fascinating is that, once all that dissolved, it wasn’t like joy popped right in to fill its place. No, I was struggling with the feeling of nothing. A big old void of blankness. And prior to this herbal discovery, I was already feeling like I lacked purpose or direction or interest or whatever. That felt like the most cavernous yawning gap after anxiety and depression weren’t there, incessantly yanking me around.

Anyway, fairly recently, I had this dreadful realization: this is where I will remain if I don’t do something to change it. I had been trying so many things to help in the flavors of psychology, spirituality, physical activity, studying herbalism further, getting outside. Nothing was helping much. When I had this feeling that this everlasting vacuous dreadful nothingness was here to stay, I thought about, well, what else could I do to fix this?

For some reason, a pop album came to mind. On TikTok (yes, I’m on TikTok, as an observer, at the moment) I encountered quite a few testimonials for the album Qabalista, with one of the main perks (according to online legend, BTW, this isn’t something the creator of the album proclaimed or encouraged) being that one can lie down, listen to the whole thing, and have a trippy experience or astral projection without the psychedelic mushrooms. I thought I’d try it, but I failed because I couldn’t sit still to this kind of energetic music! I want to RUN to this!

Ah, running. I’ve been having increased hypermobile joint issues, so I haven’t been running for a while. Heaving a disappointed sigh, I gave up on the album then. But I decided to work out to it, doing a workout that focuses on alignment, lymphatic drainage, and some isometric principles. (And I do modify some parts of it because, otherwise, I’m fairly certain I’d end up completely dislocating my shoulders, and I’d need to pick up one arm off the floor with the other.)

It was such a beautiful experience.

I hadn’t enjoyed a workout like that since I was able to run on a regular basis, and I think it’s because a lot of the words fit so well into my esoteric studies. I essentially combined my meditation and simple daily ritual followed by this workout fueled by Qabalista and I felt amazing. And I was surprised, simply because there were a couple of tracks that I didn’t particularly relate to (on the musical style part of it), But especially some of the words to the song “Tiphareth” really built me up.

This also inspired me to create some more little artistic pieces in my journal. On the left side, a dark, hopeless background, with a heart that had been completely bandaged up, a few bloody spots here and there across it. (Oh, wait, pause: I should mention that I had done another heart art piece before this, and it had big tears and breaks in which music and dance resided. In the art piece, those tears were stitched together with the greenery of plants as well as gold, in a Japanese kintsugi-inspired way. I had made that a week ago. I had no idea that I’d want to make a heart series later!) I knew that the lyrics from “Tiphareth” at the beginning fit this well:

“I said goodnight for a long time…
…I was not all right.”

The most interesting part of crafting this is when I took old torn shreds of book pages and began pasting them over the heart to make the bandages. At the bottom, the words “Aber soll ich” (But should I?) showed up, and to the far left, where music and its deep wound was in my first bit of heart art, the word “Gefängnis” (prison). Yep, that about sums it up. I have been holding myself in a prison of what my life and my musical self should be, while second guessing every single aspect of what I think I *should* do with my life. Art synchronicities strike again!

Later, the song grows more hopeful, and it plays on that same kintsugi concept that I had been using in the last two art entries of my art journal.

“Light up my heart
Brighter than my dark
‘Till all my scars
Shine like stars
Cast in gold
Endless gold”

I don’t know why, but this somehow opened something up in me and helped me transmute the years of shadow work I’ve been working away on oh-so-diligently. It has been a magnificent thing to behold. I look forward to seeing what the future holds, now that I have more than a crumb of energy and that which seems like the possibility of hope. (Probably why I wrote “Cross my heart, hope to fly” at the bottom.)

Much gratitude to selki girl for this album. ⭐

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Not for everybody.

I recently concluded that intensive study of astrology is not for everyone.

I have, in the past, envied those with encyclopedic and detailed knowledge of such heavenly studies. And I wanted to try to learn more after seeing the wondrous synchronicities some medical astrologists have revealed from a simple natal chart study. Despite my long-term efforts, I had to let go.

I’ve done this in the past with studies of other disciplines. After putting in so much effort and feeling like I turn into a combustible powder keg of resentment from the lack of returns, I needed to recognize that it’s not for everybody.

In a similar vein, I’m getting more comfortable with the fact that I’m not for everybody, either. To some, my music, my artwork, my personality, my feeling that I just can’t be bothered to put up much of a façade when interacting with anyone…all of that is too weird, too awkward, too much….or, more likely, not enough.

There will always be those who don’t seem to get along.

And there are those who are out there looking for the weirdo that is you. Or me.

I guess this is a reminder to fly that freak flag without the worry of offending others. We’re not meant for everyone. But our authentic selves are needed and sought out by some.

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“Be kind” – it applies to interactions with oneself, too!

The beginning of this quarantine was beautiful. I had enough time to spend by myself and recharge. I could get a lot of things done. I didn’t have pesky BS events taking up my time. So I luxuriated at home. Sleeping in, cooking good food as slowly as I wanted.

For the most part, I still feel pretty good about it. However, there have been numerous occasions in which I learned to what severe degree that I am my worst enemy. In the first week, I noticed I reverted back to eating-disorder-in-poverty mode, consuming a breakfast smoothie and little else daily. I snapped out of that once I recognized it.

Then I realized how many restrictions I put on myself because I’m not deserving in some way or another. Even though I thought I had been good with gentle, good-for-me physical movement, I found that I’m still very much all or nothing. Because I’ve been struggling with loose joints, I either wouldn’t do much in the way of daily movement because it was too wussy or gentle to make a difference, or I’d go all in and do the hardest workout I could muster, because my fat body needed that. Clearly, I’m dealing with food and dysmorphia issues that I didn’t realize were still there.

More generally, even before the quarantine, I’ve been beating myself up over past choices. Why on earth did I ever major in music? Why did I ever think that would work? Why didn’t I go into a more stable field that wasn’t about just barely getting by?

And this does tie back in to the prior entry I wrote about being okay with just being. Some days, I love and embrace that hard. Other days, I’m less than kind with myself and I harass myself over past choices and failures.

Of course, the “be kind” advisory is especially important for us to remember when interacting with essential workers, strangers, and loved ones. But part of that is also to be kind to ourselves. It is clear I need to face a lot of internalized self-hatred and transmute it into healthier approaches. I wanted to share the beginning of this process with myself, in the event that you have found you do something similar. Be kind to yourself, too, for you’ve punished yourself for far too long.

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Reflections from quarantine.

Well, I definitely feel the uncertainty that everyone else is. How long will this last? What will financial affairs look like? Will our outdated monetary systems remain in place, or will we find better ways to function as a society and move forward?

Unlike many others, I have been reveling in being holed up by myself. Because of all this time, I’ve been able to organize, clean, cook at my leisure, and finally get the rest I have been aching for in the past couple of years. I am allowing myself to focus on only the things I want to do, like make herbal medicines, read and learn more about them, and to try my hand at drawing, painting, creating collages. It has been quite a beautiful time for me, and I wish there could be a way I could show others this kind of peace.

But I also know that I have the luxury of being at home alone, and often, one’s peace can be easily disturbed by one person, but even more so by several people. So finding some calmness, joy, and flow with interruptions and conflicts can be much more challenging. Or there are others who feel the lack of human connection so acutely that it eats away at them. And sometimes there’s the undertone from people who don’t feel like they can stand the company of themselves. So…what to do?

Because this doesn’t seem to be ending any time fast, we might need to face all the façades we slap onto ourselves, hoping we are making ourselves presentable enough for the Outside World. I’ve been going through that for at least the past two or three years, and I know that some people have found me a little more uncomfortable to deal with. I still want to be kind and compassionate, but I am tired of doing everything at my own expense. So a lot of bullshit layers had to go.

Sometimes, we might find that we don’t like the naked, vulnerable person beneath all of those masks. And sometimes, like in my case, we might not even recognize if there’s a real personality left! Good grief, was it ALL just a construct?

Perhaps. And what is further more interesting is that, at least, for me, there’s this need for simply being and living, without the stress of highly achieving. This feeling is something I’ve found embarrassing for a long time, until recently, when I concluded that having a place to live, growing a garden, working with herbs, helping others, making art, and getting plenty of rest is a lovely collection of things to bring contentment. It’s fine that it’s not peppered with millions of dollars, or academic accolades, or some kind of fame. It’s okay to just be.

If you find yourself highly driven to do all the things, that’s okay, too. But if you feel like you are dragging around a carcass with only an iota of life left in it to do all the things because you have to prove something to the world, maybe it’s time you step back and reflect on why.

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Healing is not linear.

That bears repeating:
Healing is NOT linear.

I’m currently experiencing the perfect example. The first health issue I worked on in my herbal apprenticeship was my stomach. For my whole life, my stomach has been fussy enough for me to warrant naming it “Princess.” Princess really doesn’t like much, but she LOVES to HATE things and throw a fit if faced with needing to digest them. Meat? WTF, Monica?!? I guess I’ll just hold onto this crap for five days, let it rot, give you some smelly sewer burps, and then at the most inopportune time, you will need to vomit your eyeballs out. Cooked tomatoes will do that, too! Other stuff like cheese is mighty tasty, but it’s going to kick that normal-for-me pain up a couple of notches. And, oh, some of this will be standard info, and I’ll also surprise you with sickness and pain from things you thought were safe. HAH!

Anyway, I had pain, some strange abdominal swelling, back in 2017 I had a dime-sized ulcer, which the gastroenterologist thought would be best managed with a lifetime of omeprazole. While I was grateful that my ulcer healed, my digestion never seemed quite right. It wasn’t until I had made holistic healing important, taking Marshmallow Root cold infusions, regularly drinking nourishing hot overnight infusions with Nettle, Red Raspberry Leaf, and Comfrey, as well as decoctions of roots like Burdock, Dandelion, and Astragalus. Also being extremely careful in what I was consuming…all of that helped. The final piece was to add some gently warming herbs like Meadowsweet and Ashwagandha and some bitters. I remember how excited I was to feel what it was like to have a stomach that simply digested food, the way that it should, the way that millions of people experience it every day. I had that experience fairly recently, in my mid-40s.

Then I wanted to improve hormonal issues. I’ve always had heavy periods, some accompanied with debilitating pain. Taking Vitex regularly has helped greatly, as well as a Beth root tincture.

For my mental/psychological health, I have found some helpful allies. Milky Oats tincture has been aiding me in being able to stand myself for quite some time, and the real find(s) I’ve encountered is this triumvirate of herbs that seem to be critical for me:
Blue Vervain, Wood Betony, and Linden. The combination of these three brings a beautiful blend of dissolving tension and anxiety, uplifting one’s mood from a funk, and also encouraging better brain and stomach health. It is absolutely what I needed, as a stressed-out pile of sadness.

As far as I’ve read thus far, these herbs are not to be taken when pregnant, and Linden shouldn’t be taken with iron-rich foods, as it may inhibit absorption of iron. But I have been using small doses of the three herbs in a tea before bed. It is bitter, perhaps, it wouldn’t be your most favorite-tasting tea, but I feel it has helped my brain get into a better balanced place, with wonderfully restful sleep to boot. That in and of itself makes me feel like a new person!

I should note that these statements were not evaluated by the FDA, and that this isn’t meant to diagnose, treat, or cure.

This is simply my anecdotal experience that I have had with these plant medicines.

Okay, but, back to healing is not linear: I had a BAD stomach week this past week. I started it by consuming chips and salsa. (I know, stupid move, but, HEY! I was hungry, and I was at a family gathering with not a lot for me to eat, there, so, yeah, salsa was consumed.) I had a couple of other things throughout the week that were borderline. I felt one part of my abdomen swell and my stomach started going back to its old ways, and oh, that’s not good. I was thinking I could handle the salsa, because there were a few times I’ve had bad-or-borderline-for-me foods, and Princess wasn’t happy, but after a bit of a small fit, she got over it. Not so in this instance.

But I’m working my way back to having that awesomely-functioning stomach, because I know it’s possible. It’s just going to take time. And maybe now I shall learn that cooked tomatoes really are terrible for me? Yeah.

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Of endings, beginnings, and ludicrousness.

IMG_0097Long time, no blog. Let’s fix that. 🙂

I feel like there’s a whole lot of nothing and everything that has happened since the last time I posted on this page.  Here’s my attempt at an efficient summation:

– I had to give up running for a while, both because I have to be careful with my joints, and because winter came and I ended up being too much of a fair-weather person to go outside. This made me realize how important jogging is to my brain, even if I was slow-going and battling my hypermobile issues, because The Brain got to be a dark place. I’m sure Seasonal Affective Disorder and low vitamin D didn’t help.

Eventually, upon reading someone on Facebook muse aloud that they had been experiencing strong disassociative issues, and someone else thought that was a hallmark of critically low vitamin D, I tried upping my intake and that made a difference.

-I am almost through my herbal apprenticeship. It was mainly quite good, especially initially, for one-on-one work in dealing with stomach and hormonal issues. For that, I am grateful. I was disappointed in the private discussion group, as it was totally dead in there, and I hoped to have conversations as lively as they were on the original beginner plant medicine group. The difference, though, is that there are hundreds of people, at least 10-20 who are talkative in the beginner group, and less than 15 in the apprenticeship group, most of whom hardly post. I know that many of them have been involved in other classes, trainings, and intensives at the same time, so they probably didn’t have time to post anything, and I think I am likely the only one with a job at which I’m chained to a desk with computer for 8 hours a day, so there’s that. Oh, AND! I feel like I found a wonderful formula of herbs to help with anxiety, stress, depression, and to encourage restorative sleep! I will write a separate post about that.

-I have been doing a lot of work on myself, psychologically/philosophically/spiritually, particularly through shadow work approaches. Some of it has been helpful, and I’m thankful for the introduction to the various techniques I’ve learned. And some of it simply doesn’t resonate with me. A while back, I pared everything way back into blissful simplicity, and, yet so many things creep back in. I’m realizing that I need to recommit to that kind of simplicity and set effective boundaries for those things that don’t serve me or seem to create unnecessary work.

-I have been genuinely drawn to a lot of associations with death. Some find this scary or morbid, but I have been looking at it in a myriad of ways. Interest in the work of being a death doula, learning about the devotion to Santa Muerte (a beautiful contrast to Tonantzin – think Great Mother of All), and finding the concept of starting an informal recording series in local cemeteries alluring. I know that my reading audience might read that and think I’ve lost it, completely, but let me tell you what I’ve gotten from all this. Death doula-ing really shows care, attention, and appreciation in change, transition, suffering, and letting go. Studying the devotion to Santa Muerte shows me a level of acceptance and nonduality (because it’s often said that Death is not picky and accepts all…that is why she has been popular with the poor, the imprisoned, and some parts of Mexicana/o/x LGBTQIA. And because there’s a sense of acceptance of our whole selves…the light, the shadow, the living, the dying, the changing. I feel I should say that traditional devotees would not classify me as being one of them, but one who appreciates the concept and has learned much from her).

-Let me give the playing-in-cemeteries thing its own bullet point. (If you are curious to listen to this, here’s that link. Here’s what I wrote elsewhere about it:

…For some reason, I’ve been feeling really drawn to playing in cemeteries. I’ve been waiting until it’s warmer outside. Sunday was definitely the day, as it got about 50 degrees Fahrenheit here.

I went into this one cemetery I felt I needed to begin with. My plan was to record this in the little chapel there. So I wandered around the place with hundreds of closely-dug plots, eventually getting to Chapel Hill. The initial way I found to go up had rickety stairs for two-thirds of the way up, and the rest of the ascent was a muddy hill. I made it to the top only to find the chapel was locked. Of course, it was then that I found a paved path that wound its way down the backside of that hill.

I couldn’t find any indoor places to play. So I found this little crypt (pictured) and stood next to it to play through my little improvised tune once, recording it. I took it home, added a little reverb, as well as a minimalist second track to accompany it, and here it is.

I’ve had a lot of thoughts about this experience. Because of all the running around and still needing to play outside, I was less than enthused, and there were a lot of pockets of strange swampy energy in this cemetery. (I mean, it was initially a place for war soldiers to take their final rest.) So I thought, maybe I should be looking more for, like, cave structures. (And then I thought about how I’d likely piss off the things living in the caves and thought again.)

But today, as I was putting this together for Soundcloud, I felt like I got it: it’s not just about cemeteries, or caves, or whatever. It’s about going to the spaces I’m drawn to and playing there to encourage some kind of peace, healing, and harmony of the land, of unsettled spirits, of ancestors, and of the living. And I feel like the groundedness of my work with plants has been leading me to do this kind of thing.

So thank you, plants. We shall see where this takes us.

(I realize, again, this might seem a bit “woo” for some of you. Even if you think I’m nuts for running around and recording short, mediocre improvs outdoors, know that this is the first time in a long while in which I feel connected to and appreciative of music in my life, rather than feeling like it’s some elephant sitting on my chest trying to kill me. It is leading me back to a place of music and emotion, a safe place of learning to embrace imperfection and offering it out there for anyone who might care.)

-Addressing the ludicrous in life: of course, I could be referring to our current political catastrophe, and, yes, I do think that is a total shart show (yep, shart! There’s too much noisy hot air flying around with all that shit), I’m also thinking about, I don’t know, so much in life. Take this thought, for instance: why do you do/say/post what you do?

If I’m being honest, here, for a long time, much of what I posted on social media was to
-show how funny I am
-show how smart I am
-demonstrate how edgy or progressive I am
-to show my readers how worthy I am of their attention
-to beg for some kind of affirming response from my readers

When I took all that away, I realized that I was, essentially, a construct of my imagination. So if I’m not that, what am I? How much of that do I need to put out there?

The answer is I am what I am, and I don’t have to put a damn thing out if I don’t want to. Or I can put out a ton of stuff, if I’d like. Or something in between.

So all of this has brought me to realize the need to avoid unnecessary drama, maybe less social media time (I’ve been better than I was in past years, but always room for improvement!), and being my authentic self.  In this vein, I’m going to keep playing with the Harmony recording series, continue my herbal studies (mostly on my own, though, after attempting test-runs of working with clients, I think I would feel better if I rounded out my knowledge with some clinical herbal info), and see where that takes me.

It feels like now is the time for a massive spring cleaning, both in cleaning out my physical living space, as well as tidying up all other aspects of my life. Sometimes it’s a little daunting, but I’m feeling good about it.

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Everything is not okay.

I did the Bubble Run on Saturday.  Up to that point, I trained with my Couch to 5K app as I’ve always done in the past. I was feeling pretty good about it. Some days, I felt like I might end up being fast enough to have a personal best, time-wise, and other days, I thought I’d end up at about the same times I’ve had in the past.

But a lot of small stuff went awry, and realized in the middle of the 5K that Everything Was Not Okay.

I will admit that I should have had a drink of water before leaving the truck with which my family traveled, but I didn’t because I didn’t want to be desperate in looking for a place to pee. Then we got in line at the starting line and waited, which meant standing in running shoes, which is not great for me. (I have other shoes good for standing that aren’t good for running, and running shoes that aren’t good for standing.) I tried to relieve some of the weird knee and ankle joint issues that started to crop up in standing by marching in place, shaking my legs and doing the occasional squat or two. Well, during one of the squats, my right knee went back in place.  (In case you are new to reading, or you don’t know me well enough: I am quite loose-jointed, and something is always out of joint. I run, walk, and move cautiously so I don’t hurt anything, but I also feel I cannot put all my physical activity up on blocks, as I need to keep doing an effective exercise for my metabolism and for my mental health.)

Knee back in place? That’s awesome! Win-win! This run should be great!

And shortly thereafter, our group of people got to start.

After about the first one or two kilometers, my breathing started to be a little swampier. I did have a cold with some lung issues a week or so before this, the night before, I walked and spent too much time in ragweed, and the actual day of the Run was quite humid, so breathing was not as easy as normal. Strike one.

A little while later, I was DYING for water. I ran off course because I spotted some drinking fountains, but when I got to them, they didn’t work. I was so relieved to get to the water station mid-course, and was too embarrassed to ask to hook myself up to a hose directly to the water tank.  It was the first time ever that I ran fairly dehydrated, and I won’t do that again. Strike two.

Then I tried to get my running stride and tempo back, and my body wasn’t having it. The newly-popped-in knee was yammering in a way I haven’t heard it do so before: fairly quiet, but present. I kept going. I could tell I was going pretty slow. Every once in awhile I would push myself to pick up my speed a little, or to cover a little more ground with my stride. It didn’t really seem to work, and the course seemed extra long. (Though it’s likely it wasn’t. My C25K app insisted that the whole course was 3.75 miles, which is longer than 5K (=3.1mi).  My aunt, who walked the course, had a regular step-counting app that she started in the morning that said she walked 3.2 miles so far that day by the finish line of the Run.)

I felt awful. And my final time was so slow – 1 hour and 8 minutes  – a time that is 2nd slowest to the first time that I ever ran a 5K.  But I made it.

I took a photo at the finish line.

I looked at it, and I looked like death.  No, not just tired and disheveled like normal me after running. I looked like actual DEATH. The color was drained from my face and there was no nice endorphin-y shine. (Though I did get a wave of happy endorphin brain around the 53-minute mark.)  Let’s be honest. I barely made it through that. This felt like beyond strike three.

So in a little bit, the rest of my family who walked this Run showed up at the finish line, we took a celebratory photo together, and then we left. Getting out of the truck when we got home was a challenge with my leg. For the next, say, day or so, I was a hurting, limping unit. I kept drinking water, icing the knee, and remembered how Solomon’s Seal tincture is supposed to help muscle and bone issues, took that, and during the night last night, when I was walking to the bathroom, my foot and ankle spasmed and snapped into place.

My leg felt like brand new. And what was odd is that I didn’t remember those things going out, I just remember there being some tendons and ligaments pulling in a way they weren’t supposed to around my knee because it was sort of out. I hadn’t realized how out my knee, ankle, and foot were. No wonder that was such a tough run.

I’m grateful that my family and I decided we wouldn’t do that particular Run again because the whole process is more difficult than it needs to be. (It’s no longer an option to pay a bit more and have your shirts and number bibs sent via mail, so one HAS to go to the city of the running venue the day before and pick up the stuff. If that’s not possible, you need to pay $5 extra per person to pick it up the day of the Run. Also, they don’t carry shirt sizes beyond an XL. When I contacted the company about my concerns for that, they said, “No worries! They should have larger sizes at the pickup site!” And they didn’t. And they didn’t care.)

But we talked about doing other fun nature walks on our own and whatever, which is a great and more flexible alternative. And I realize that I need to work on helpful strengthening movements that I can do alternating any walking or running I do.

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Of Herbs, EARTH, and Equinox

I’ve been taking an online introduction to herbalism. I’ve attempted this through other online schools before, only to drop out because the approaches were wacky. This one worked really well for me. It’s called EARTH, and it is part of a series of classes offered by Carolyn Elliott. For this class, Annie Fox and Crystal Woodling were our instructors.

Today, on the Equinox, we received our last lesson. I tore into it and pored over it. And I had to keep the phrase in mind: “Don’t be sad that it’s over. Be glad that it happened.”

I could take the time to edit what I posted in gratitude to the class’s Facebook group, but I’m not going to.  Instead, I’m going to do a direct copy and paste, and look for some key photos from the stuff I did throughout the class.

Because I thought you’d like to see me happy, for once.

Here is said FB group post:

At the risk of sounding like a bumbling idiot or a hopeless fangirl, I’m going to post this LONG brain dump here, anyway.

Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.
Thank you Annie, Crystal, and Carolyn.
(I don’t know if anyone here knows me well enough, but I’m not one to gush with gratitude unless I absolutely mean it. So know that this is genuine.)

You all put this information into a way in which I feel I could truly grasp a firm foundation of plant medicine, and, more broadly, a different way of thinking. I knew I was in for something when the beginning of our EARTH lessons, it was said that we could learn a lot from plants in the way that they just exist. They simply ARE. And from their existence comes great medicine. That in and of itself is a tremendous lesson.

Then came the lessons learned from the plants themselves. I hadn’t realized how deep that wisdom would run until I was knee-deep in marshmallow cooling and healing so that Tulsi and Calendula could warm and brighten so that Dandelion could do some spring cleaning. And those are summaries that just scratch the surface.

Fun fact: I have been intrigued with alchemy for at least 20 years, but, until the past couple of years, it was a rather shallow infatuation. I looked at original sources, pored over books and websites with symbols and interpretations, joined (and left) a Yahoo alchemy group. There seemed to be something missing, and the information as well as many takes on them seemed stale and not quite fitting for life as I understood it.

INFLUENCE was the beginning to change that. The alchemy lesson made so much sense to me and the info presented in EARTH just took it up a few notches. I know this last lesson pointed out that the info presented is just the beginning, but I am oh-so-grateful that it is giving me the kind of foundation, understanding, and outlook with which I can go forward.

I began to tear up when I was working through the lesson and got to Rubedo, particularly this:
“We can know when we have accomplished the aims of Rubedo when we feel fully genuine and alive. When we feel a profound and vital connection to the processes of nature. When fully coagulated and incarnated, we feel a deep, palpable sense of love and joy that pervades our work, as well as a respect for the cycles of birth and death.”
OMGYAAAS THIS THIS THIS! I have friends who have rolled their eyes at me when I expressed frustration about not figuring out how I fit into this world, that I don’t feel like I found a real purpose, that I seem to be missing some sense of joy in life, and so many of them respond with things like “Purpose isn’t real,” or “Life can’t all be wondrous rainbow-farting unicorns.” Yeah, I get it…life isn’t fair, and we all need to chomp down our share of shit sandwiches, but…there should be some genuine hope? Joy? Purpose? Synchronous harmony buzzing through life? I’ve seen a person or two embody this before these classes and I’ve seen so many more since then. It gives me hope.

And ending with this:
“We encourage each of you to carry this tradition forward with your unique beauty and genius, trust in your intuition, listen to your body, and pay close attention to the language of the plants. We are the alchemists now.”

💖💖💖💖

I’m really going to miss the new lessons in this class, but I am so, so thankful for having experienced it.

Much gratitude to you all.

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What about (self-)love?

October 2018 has been a whirlwind. Lots of rehearsals and concerts, a couple of weddings, and extra time at work resulted in an insane schedule. That added to working through plenty of mental and emotional stuff as mentioned in the past two entries resulted in some moments that just about broke me. Oh, and that coupled with Seasonal Affective Disorder issues (which I sometimes refer to as “the SADs”) made some days a real picnic.

I reached a point at which all I wanted to do was sell most of my belongings, purchase the smallest and coziest cottage in the woods, quit everything, then sleep ’til death. Some people to whom I told this understood and said I needed rest. Others thought I needed therapy. When having one particularly difficult conversation with a friend, it came up that there is a serious level of self-hatred operating in me, and there always has been. It was sad. I’ve had that going on as long as I can remember. But it got so much worse over the course of the past 15-18 years or so. Letting go of the last vestiges of anything academic in my life has been a self-healing relief and a perpetuation of self-hate via constant failure, simultaneously. Balancing this out is going to be a real trick.

For the last concert done in October, we played in a small venue with art exhibited there. During the concert, when I was listening to the pieces in which I don’t play, I started to fall down a dark and depressing hole (some of the music done was lugubriously minor and plumbed the depths of its own darkness). I was feeling disconnected from my place in music, mainly because I heard some competitive achiever discussions during the break beforehand (ex: “Oh, I went to school here, here, and here. And I published a bunch of things, and I played all the various things I am mentioning now and will continue to reiterate throughout the evening, and I do all the non-related interesting edgy things, so SEE HOW SPECIAL I AM!!!”), and that kind of thing is so off-putting, it drains me in the worst possible way. I concluded that so much of my disgust in the music world has to do with that as well as the bone-dry approach to historical performance. (Or, in the rare flip-side occasion, the let’s-do-something-totally-outlandish-that-doesn’t-make-any-sense-to-possibly-engage-the-audience approach isn’t that much more appealing.) More simply, I want to put good stuff out there and have people enjoy it to the point that they are somewhat (even if only slightly) changed by it. Back in 2007, I heard Robert Barto perform a solo lute recital that was just like that.  And it was life-changing for me. I remember tearing up and being so grateful that I could experience something as beautiful as that. And I wanted to do something like that, too.

But, oh, the bullshit.

Anyway, back to the concert I was playing and attending: I started to tear up there because I didn’t know if I’d ever get to a point at which I could make peace with music. And I was on the verge of bursting into ugly-crying. So to diffuse those feels, I looked at the artwork displayed in the venue. The pieces closest to my seat had messages on them such as “You are adored.” and “You are worthy!” and I felt this tentative feeling of love and acceptance envelop me. It was like something was telling me, “Well, you’ve tried self-hatred for 44 years. Don’t you think it’s time to try a little self-love?” And my brain and whole being screamed “OMG YES! Let’s take a nap.” Yes. Okay, self-love needs to come in the form of me giving myself the rest and care it needs, even when I feel like I’m going to be ridiculed for it. My experience there was like a breaking open of the hatred to see how it’s just my Self crying out for what I need, and how desperately I need it. 43706428_10156678958771678_5370883915345035264_n

You know, in this little online coven I belong to, we did a little Samhain Witchmas gift exchange. For those who are across the pond, we gifted tarot or oracle readings. (I also crafted some cards just for a little something in the mail for my giftee. And that was so much fun for me to do.) Anyway, I did a reading for her with my Sacred Rebels Oracle deck. Normally I don’t like these kinds of decks, but one of my favorite vloggers recommended it as a tool for help with self-love and healing, and I’ve loved it so far. My giftee really loved it, too, and it was completely synchronous how some of the things in the reading that she needed to hear were also things I needed as well.

cards

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