Sunlight, Ringlets, Folksy Prints, and Hawthorne Blossoms

A couple weekends ago my friend Lily texted to see if she could stop by and drop off some dresses she had just thrifted for Mycelia. She was out on a stroller saunter with her darling baby Cecilia (Mycie always goes "If we have a baby can we name it Cecilia?" to which I reply, of course, that that might get a little confusing). She had scored three of the most adorable vintage prairie-esque children's dresses imaginable, and Mycie and I were thrilled! (And will pass them back to Lily and Cecilia once Mycie outgrows them). I decided to take some photos of her in front of this sweet little folk art print that I had just gotten at a yard sale that same day.

The girl has been to one too many Violet Folklore photo shoots...

and has really perfected- and personalized- the art of the pose.

I also got this awesome vintage Easter Egg at the yard sale. It looks so familiar, I must've had one as a child.

I could not love this little scene any more. What is the little chickie saying that has the parents so concerned? And where can I get one of those buggies?

Our phototastic morning led us outside into some of the very small amount of sunshine we Northern Californians have seen so far this spring.

This statue was at this house, in this condition, when we moved in. We heart the hell out of it.

We ambled around to the back of the house, where earlier that morning, out the laundry room window, I had discovered something wonderfully magical and heartwarming right before my eyes...

But first we stopped and said hello to some of the plants in our wee herb garden...

and to the dandelion forest on the side of the house...

and to the mighty oak, clothed in ivy, that watches over us.

And then we found what we were looking for- a hawthorne tree! Though we have lived here for two months now, they have been a wet and cold and busy two months, and since the hawthorne was not in blossom, I hadn't realized it was there until this day! The first day we came to check the place out there were endless violets filling in the side and back yards, and we took this as a wonderful Welcome Home sign. And I feel the same way about the hawthorne! It's a plant that always brings joy to my heart- especially when it blossoms in May.

(Last May Mycie and I were walking behind an apartment building on our way to a woodsy path that eventually leads to a park. We came around a corner and there in front of us was a hawthrone tree in full bloom. My immediate, unthinking reaction was to throw my arms up and yelp with glee! And run towards the tree to caress the blossoms and show them to Mycie. Then I heard the words "What is that crazy bitch doing?" and looked over to see a shaved head, shirtless guy in sagging basketball shorts smoking a cigarette and talking on his cell phone on his tiny apartment balcony about 15 feet away).

Mycie picked herself a little handful of flowers and we walked back around to the front of the house to put them in water.

And snap a few more photos.

Here's hoping that spring really is just around the corner. You know, now that it's almost officially summer and all...

Hawthorne is the best known heart/circulation ally in Western herbal medicine. (WHICH MAKES SO MUCH SENSE WHEN I THINK OF THE UPLIFTING AND FREEING SENSATION I FEEL IN MY HEART CENTER WHEN I SEE THE PLANT IN FLOWER! Ahhhh, plants are SO amazing in all their complexities and all the ways they seek to communicate with and teach us.) In European folklore it is considered one of the most magical plants, and is associated with Beltane/May Day and with divine protection. My favorite discussion of this healing plant is in Judith Berger's book Herbal Rituals.

Taking Care Of Me, So I Can Take Care Of Everything Else

Putting it out to the public holds me to it and allows me to share information I've been lucky enough to come across with other people. So, here are the things I've committed to do every day in order to get my body and spirit to a healthier place this spring and summer (so that my immunity and mental health are as strong as they can be in the coming fall, winter, and beyond...).

The links will take you to websites and articles (some written by me and Sasha) relevant to the subject at hand.

Let's do this in chronological order, from morning to evening:

Oil pulling with coconut oil first thing in the morning. I learned about this ancient Ayurvedic technique last year at the Northern California Women's Herbal Symposium from the lovely and amazing Rupam Henry. I do it 1) because I have an unfilled cavity and I want to keep the space around it as clean as possible and 2) because it is a gentle cleansing technique. I tend to agree with Susan Weed and most other herbalists that harsh cleanses- like fasts and intense purgatory herbs- are not good for the body in most cases.

After oil pulling, and while breakfast is being prepared, I strain out the two separate quarts of nourishing herbal infusions I started the night before. One infusion is always stinging nettle, which I use for so many reasons, but mostly as an iron supplement for my borderline anemic condition, and the second alternates between peppermint, comfrey, red clover, catnip, and seaweed, depending on what I feel my needs are that day.

Seaweed you ask? Why yes, I decided a few weeks ago to make seaweed a daily part of my diet for at least three months to see if it can help me clear up some health issues (namely an underactive thyroid, but also to boost overall energy levels and to nourish my digestive tract and womanly organs). Sea vegetables are a seemingly endless source of good stuff for humans, and I highly recommend reading some of Dr. Ryan Drum's articles, as well as Susan Weed's seaweed chapter (there is also a chapter on nettles) in her classic Healing Wise. On the days I don't make a seaweed infusion I either munch on seaweed fronds (bought at my local Co-op) which are super tasty and kids love 'em, or I add some ground up dulse to my food.

After breakfast (which is usually local rye or sourdough bread with local chicken or goose eggs), while my belly is still full, I take Vitamin D. There has been a lot of media attention paid to this important nutrient lately, so the resources for learning about it are endless. But I have learned the most from The Weston A. Price Foundation.

After using half the water in my cup to take the Vitamin D pills, I add some dandelion tincture that I made last year to the rest of the cup and drink that. It is a combination of dandelion root, leaf, and flower, and I use it to support my liver (the root is supremely helpful at this and  really everyone needs to be giving their liver some love in today's toxic, stressed out world), aid digestion (the leaf is a bitter and helps especially with the digestion of fats- and I eat a whole lot of good, traditional animal fats), and to break up stagnant energy patterns (which is where the whole plant, even the flower, comes in. I have also made a dandelion flower body oil to help break up muscular tension). Susan Weed's book also has a chapter on dandelion!

Whew. So, sometime during the day I also eat some raw sauerkraut for its probiotic building capacity. We buy the Cultured brand out of Berkeley, CA (and then reuse the glass jars to hold our herbs and spices! Helps make the $10 price tag seem worth it). This company makes many different flavors, all of them with different herbs and therefore medicinal functions. There is even one with nettles, and one with seaweed. (Apparently they don't have a website).

So not onto the tough part- exercise. I am such a sedentary person by nature. My parents say that when I was little they could put me down anywhere and I'd just sit there and observe. I am still the same way. But I am making an effort to do yoga at home- at least some basic unwinding stretches- every evening. And I plan on going to some free classes too. But what I am really excited about is starting to go to Tai Chi next week! I have always been interested in it, and lately (after reading the awesome book The Multi Orgasmic Woman and after receiving acupuncture from a friend that immediately cleared up an ear infection and tinnitus that I had been experiencing) I have been reading a lot about Chinese medicine. I majored in Religious Studies in college and have always loved Taoism, though I have never felt attracted to Chinese medicine despite years of immersion in "alternative healing". It's interesting how things come to us, and come back to us. And Chinese and Taoist principles of health are feeling so right on to me right now. I know that Tai Chi is exactly what I need.

One last thing I do every day (after making tomorrow's infusions) is Maya Abdominal Massage. I first heard about this at the Women's Herbal Symposium last spring and then took a three day course in the Bay Area last summer. There is a great article in the current issue of Mothering magazine about MAM as well.

Oh and there is one more thing that I am attempting to remember to do throughout my day- breathe! Deeply. I can't even tell you how often I find myself taking shallow breaths. The act of breathing deeply alone is probably more beneficial than everything I've listed here. Ahhhhhh...