Thursday, October 17, 2013

my vision maps

So a month ago I made had a great time making a vision map.  It’s like mind mapping for me.  I start by choosing a word that symbolizes what I want to manifest.  Or this time (last night) it wasn't a word, but I want to improve my business this month.  So this months vision map is all about the things my business is made from.  I didn't have a central word when I started, but I plan to spend a little more time adding details.  Last month I wanted to focus on Home.  When I was flipping through magazines I looked for two words, home and love and anytime I saw them I cut them out, no matter the size.  

I heard about the idea of a vision board ages ago.  A year ago I pinned some articles on how to make one; I've had this idea macerating for a w-h-i-l-e.  Because I didn't get it.  


Then I painted one at a friend’s get together, but she calls it treasure mapping.  The first one I painted I was all over the place, there was everything all over anything!  A few of the things kind of make sense now, but not all of it.  Some I just put there because I liked it, like the motherwort.  Some was because my friend told us about some different sort of feng shui things we could put on there.  I think that's why the purple spiral is on there and now I have no idea what I meant by it.  So there is my first tip.  It has to make sense to you!  Don't put stuff on there that doesn't truly speak to you.  I don't mean don't add pretty little flowers and do dads, just don't put anything on there that doesn't mean anything.  

 This year I painted a new one and it's totally different.  Instead of painting the words, I painted the feeling.  I did write a few words and they meant something and still do.  This years feels good and I really like it.  But it still wasn't what I thought of when I think of a Vision Map.  So when my friend Azul posted on FB about her upcoming Vision Boarding session I jumped at the chance.

This time I had a really solid idea of what my central idea would be.  HOME was my centering thought.  I was really pleased to find the word on the cover of a magazine.  This is where the mind mapping part comes in, I had to think about what home means to me.  If home is within me, then what do I need to feel at home anywhere?  Home is physical thing too.  Two things that are important to me right now are deep friendships with women and my business.  So I have my center HOME.  The top right ABUNDANCE, my business.  The bottom left COMMUNITY and friendships.  After this photo I added one more thing.  I drew a ♀ symbol with a white out pen.  The top left is my HOUSE corner.  These were the things important to me.  Each corner I elaborated with descriptive words that develop the idea further.  These words mean something and most of them I searched for, flipping through magazines for what felt like hours!  In the end I have been very pleased with how it turned out.  And my life is definitely moving in these areas!  


This brings us to last nights session.  I had already chosen to focus on my business.  I have a hard time with this regularly, I have a lot of feelings and thought and ideas swirling around in my mind.  It made it hard for me to make a central focus here.  So I pasted ideas and thoughts on my board!  I found an article featuring passion flowers.  They fit right in since my ideas are based on my passions, herbal medicine, mamas and their babies.  It's still a little swirly and unfinished and there is only one idea that is solid, that I can see.  YES.  I have been practicing YES.  My sweet friend Leslie shared a poem with me that I love and I will be adding to this vision map. 
yes is a world
& in this world of
yes live
(skilfully curled)
all worlds - e.e. cummings

And I really think this poem, or part of a poem rather, is what vision maps are all about.  

Monday, October 7, 2013

what was given. what was taken. (trigger warning)

It’s really hard for me to write my story and leave anything out of it that would assign blame, which I do not want to do.    What I want to do is tell you about what I did.  What I felt and didn't feel.

I might start at 13 when I first started showing signs of depression.  When I first started cutting myself and when I first was prescribed an antidepressant.  Although I feel that is part of the whole picture, it was on the periphery when I conceived my first son at twenty.  After his birth I wouldn't say I was deeply depressed, but I would say something was going on.  It took me a long time to process Isaacs birth.  Not only had I had a baby, I’d started my family!  I didn't feel myself for a while and by then I found out that I was pregnant again. 

This time I worked really, really hard to overcome any negativity that I had experienced during, before and after Isaac's birth.  I hadn't had a satisfying birth experience and I was worried what would happen this time around.  But I was also excited to be expanding my family.  Now that I had been married for three years (instead of two weeks) I felt more settled and prepared.  I made a bunch of freezer meals and foods I could eat for lunch.  I felt ready.

That didn't matter.  None of it mattered.  Rowans birth went fine, right up until the end.  I went home confused and bruised.  I still occasionally have nightmares of the midwifes smiling face.  The feeling of falling and the flash of light from the scalpel.  Her telling me, “this will be easier for everyone.”



Twenty three days later after a long day on my feet at work I had a gallbladder attack that brought me to my knees.  My husband found me shivering, gasping for air on the bathroom floor as my body was wracked with unexplainable pain.    After this is when I start forgetting things.  I know that I was brought to the hospital, but I don't know who brought me or who was taking care of Rowan and Isaac.  I also don't remember what happened in the hospital.  I remember a Dr. coming in and telling me, “your gall bladders all sludged up, we'll take it out in the morning.”  This man did not examine me, or even make eye contact.  In fact, no one examined me.  In the morning another doctor came in and told me that my gallbladder was really okay.  That I could have it out laparoscopically and that I should make an appointment for an out patient procedure.  The nurse checking me out looked at my chart and told me that it’s fairly common for postpartum women to have gall bladder issues.  I had no idea what to do.  I had already been prophylactically pumped full of antibiotics for my not actually “sludged up” gall bladder.  There was a serious gap in my trust for these people.  I decided to wait and see what happened.  I ended up having five more gall bladder attacks. None of them were as painful as the first and I found definite correlation between what I ate and having an attack. I am still glad I chose not to have the surgery.  

What happened next in November? December, January or February? Those months are lost I won’t ever remember Rowans first Christmas, what it was like when he saw snow for the first time, how he smiled at me, the little noises he made when he nursed or my favorite clothes for him. I know those things happened. I know the sun shined across his sweet belly when I changed his diaper on the sofa, but I don't remember. The next memories I have are from March.  In March I started shoplifting.  Something I'd never done before.  I just did it all the time.  I mostly never stole anything we needed.  A lot of  magazines.  I shoplifted with my kids or alone.  During the day.  During the night.  Late, late at night. 
I want to tell you these things so that you know you are not alone.  And because five days ago my husband came home from work and told me that woman had been shot to death in her car in front of the capital building.  Then he told me she had a child in the car and I knew.  I felt it in my bones that Miriam Carey had suffered from PMAD.  A few days later my hunch was confirmed when a friend posted about Miriam.  I want to share my story for her, but there are still words I don't know how to say. 

I remember shoplifting.  I remember cutting myself.  I didn't cut myself for people to see, I always made sure I only cut in places no one would notice.  When I was doing these things, I wasn't doing them with my mind.  My mind was watching my body hurt itself and put my children in danger.  I remember being alone, completely alone.  I was terrified that CPS would come in the night and take my children so I didn't sleep.  I sat in an easy chair in a room above the front door, holding my son while he slept.  Often when he slept I got into the shower without taking my clothes off and either cut myself or didn't allow myself to use any cold water, or only cold water.  During this time I could barely cook, raw meat disgusted me.  There was very little I felt I *could* do.  I could make Isaac breakfast and lunch.  I could empty and fill the dishwasher one time.  I could do one load of laundry, but I couldn't fold it or put it away.  I could go to the grocery store every two weeks when my husband got paid.  I could sometimes go to the library.  Before leaving the house I had to work myself up to leaving.  I had to get ready one foot at a time.  Then after I couldn't put anything away and I had to rest for at least two days after.  Which meant for those days I couldn't do anything extra, in other words dishes and laundry.  I *thought* I would fold the laundry so my husband would dump it on the sofa.  I never felt able to fold the laundry so every morning I had to dig through the cloths to dress my kids.  And at night I had to do the same for pajamas.  Every morning I wiped my sons bottoms with clean wash cloths after taking their diapers off.  I dressed them in clean clothes every morning and every night they were always in clean pajamas that had a matching top and bottom.  Isaac always had enough food and we did things together.  I read him literally hundreds of books.  I worked once or twice a week.  I’m not sure how I did that, but I did.  I worked usually up to twelve hours for the most part wearing Rowan on my back in a wrap carrier.  Then usually the next day I would go to the farmers market and work in the booth.

I also had frequent images of myself harming my son.  Putting the thumb tacks or razor blades I used on myself against his sweet skin.  This terrified me and I could barely tell my husband.  I did so only because one day I knew that was the day it was going to happen.  I was in that armchair again, nursing Ro, when I knew that if my husband didn’t take everything out of the room I would likely kill us both.  It took him forty minutes.  Because he didn't understand.  I kept telling him take everything and he would take one thing and try to leave.  I had to scream and beg him to take not only the cork board but the nails in the wall.  The last thing he took was the ficus, in the crook of the ficus was a razor blade, but I didn't have the words to tell him that.  We didn't die that day. 

Rowan turned one and I don't remember that either.  If we had a birthday dinner, if I gave him gifts I don’t remember.  I remember that he had a red phase.  He would only wear red pants, a red shirt and socks and a red hoodie.  He would only eat using a red handled fork and spoon.  And for about a month he would only drink out of a blue glass bottle we had gotten springwater in.  I don’t remember when this was though.  I remember his second birthday.  I hand sewed him a birthday crown, but I didn't have a party for him.  I think had blueberry pie, but that is actually a memory from Isaac's third birthday when Rowan was only three weeks old. 

In ’09 when Rowan was about a year and a half, 3/19/09, we were at Barnes and Noble in the evening and I bent down to pick him up,  I nearly blacked out.  I drove myself to my parents house and someone drove me to the ER.  I had a lot of testing to find out that I had an 8cm dermoid cyst.  When I bent to pick him up the weight of the cyst had caused my fallopian tube to twist.  The cyst, fallopian tube and ovary was removed the next Monday.  I was in the hospital for a few days and went home to my parents’ house for a few days after that.  I didn't know what hit me.  But by the time the farmers market rolled around again I was back working with Ro on my back.  I seemed to level out, but I was still experiencing a lot of paranoia.  I remember one day I was nursing Ro to sleep on the easy chair and I became convinced that the front door was open and that someone was in the house.  My entire body became stiff with fear.  I remember feeling sore the next day, but I don’t remember how the experience was resolved.  About a month later I had another series of gall bladder attacks.  These were much more painful.  I had a surprise birthday party for my mother.  A few days after the party I went to a naturopath for the first time.  He gave me some different vitamins and ox bile. 

My weight during this time had gone up and up and up.  I gained about 100lbs in 18 months.  My diet had gone to seed.  I couldn't eat during the day because it wasn't safe to do so.  So I binge ate at night when my husband was home.  I also ate a lot of candy.  Around this time in 09 I read an article in Mothering magazine about a mother who had PMAD and how she saved herself by taking calcium magnesium supplements.  I knew I was scraping by so I started drinking quarts of herbal infusion.  I drank at least three quarts of infusion a day.  And I didn’t die. 

Everything we owned was on the floor.  There were maggots in the kitchen under empty grocery bags.  Friends tried to come and help me clean, but it was too much for one or two days.  When I say everything was on the floor, I want you to imagine every single drawer, basket, toy bin and hanger empty and all of those things on the floor.  Imagine a farm share not put away from last week under the farm share from this week.  It felt like one thing after another after another.  Every time I felt like I could get up again, I slipped back down.  I didn't shower for weeks sometimes.  I didn't realize I was gaining weight because I only wore the same three pairs of PJ pants.  I couldn't shower unless I earned it and I never did.  Eventually I would break down and clean myself because I couldn't stand it any longer or because it was time to go grocery shopping again.  Nothing was ever going to be okay again.  I was ruining my marriage, my children’s childhood and my own life and it would never be better.  I didn't know how to get help.  I didn't know how to help myself.  I didn't know how to accept help if it were offered.  I absolutely didn't know how to ask for help.  If you are drowning in the ocean you can wave.  If you are drowning in your mind there is nothing you can do except hope someone notices.  If no one notices you have to save yourself. 


There isn't a definite ending to this story.  I didn't wake up and feel fantastic all of a sudden.  I kept drinking my herbs and taking supplements.  I have to watch myself every single day.  I have to feed myself the ways I didn't before.  I have to take time to breath and be outside my head.  The hardest thing I have to do is reach out to women.  I have to have friends and that means helping other women and letting them help me which is really hard.  My next step is joining a fitness class.  I don't know if I will ever be a size small again, but I want to feel healthier.  I have to sleep which is also really hard.  I have to eat food in the morning.  I have to eat low carb, because I feel better when I do and every tiny ounce of feeling good is important.  The way I survived is by not dying.  Every single day I didn’t die is a day I won.  Every single day I wake-up is winning.  And not everyone does.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

New Moon in Leo

New Moon Setting by Avital Pinnick
New Moon Setting, a photo by Avital Pinnick on Flickr.

Whoa, mama!  This Summer has been really busy, but not very Summery if that makes any sense.  A little disappointing when I stop to think about what that really means.  But life goes on.  I feel like I've spent the last month inside and I pretty much have.  I don't want to get into the specifics, but I've felt very stressed out.  I have had a few days where I've had a really hard time staying inside my body and not drifting away on a daydream cloud.  Which I am wont to do even under regular circumstances.  I've barely even gone to the grocery store.  I’ve had not one minute to connect with my green side.  Or make the new soaps I've been dreaming of.  But guess what?  It’s August 6th, the New Moon. 

To me the new moon is a pause and chance to push the reset button on life.  It’s time to look at the past month and assess.   Is what you're doing working?  Was there something that you did or happened that you loved and you'd like more of?  Did something absolutely not work for you?  The new moon is the time to say Yes or No.  Thank you, more please!  Or STOP NOW.  I absolutely love the little ritual of taking a minute, yes taking a minute, to maybe sit with your journal and some tea.  Or take a walk outside, alone.  Even go for a swim, it is August after all.  Let yourself think about the past twenty eight days.  And yourself.  Think about yourself.  You are important too. 

Then it is time to set intentions.  What that means to me is that I choose a step to take.  Sometimes that can be I want to drink more bone broth, so this month I might want to focus on that.  This allows me to think about how will I drink more broth?  Maybe I will put stickies up reminding me.  Maybe I will write it into my schedule to make broth on Mondays.  Usually what it means is that I find something that’s getting in my way and I choose to let go of that.  I am not sure what I will be getting rid of or adding this month.  But I do so look forward to this time to reflect.

If you want to know more about what it means that the new moon is in Leo, there is a ton of info out there.  Here are some of the sites I've read.  Although to be fair I'm not entirely sure how I feel about astrology, it is interesting to think about. 







I hope you can take a minute to gather your thoughts together and allow yourself to set the tone for your next month. 

If you have a new moon tradition, won't you please share it with me?  I'd love to hear about!

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

How to Make a Tincture pt 2

clean empty jar, tincture, fine mesh strainer, canning funnel

The second part of making a tincture is straining.  You’ll need to let it steep for at least six weeks.  It can be longer if you forget as I sometimes do. 

do it

Can you make tinctures out of something other then alcohol?  Absolutely!  You can use apple cider vinegar or vegetable glycerin.  Just be aware that some herbal constituents are only soluble in alcohol.  This is why I use vodka.  I am extremely tight fisted and that is why I use bottom shelf vodka for the most part.  There are several organic vodkas out there.  The vodka I used in part one of How to Make a Tincture is an organic vodka that I bought from my local liquor store.  Just make sure you are using a proof of 80 or higher.  Check out this Wikipedia article for more science.  
 Why tinctures?  Because most tinctures are made from alcohol, when you ingest them they immediately hit your blood stream.  So the herbs get into you must faster then through your digestion.  Making tinctures more ideal for acute situations.    Susun Weed writes, “tinctures are used when we want to stimulate, sedate, or make use of a poison.”  When she says poison she means something like wormwood, you want to poison parasites.  Or Cat’s Claw for Lyme.  You need only take a few dropperfuls.  Perhaps a tablespoon a day if you take it multiple times.  That’s why tinctures are sold in such little bottles.  Other reasons to have tinctures on hand include plant availability, the little bottles are much more portable then bags of dried herbs and you can instantly take one no waiting.  If there is a dangerous situation going on, having a tincture right there, to use right now is very helpful.  

yup, they do.
There is waste when you wring tincture out like this,
but much less then if you didn't
do tea towels have an actual use?
ta da














How to use tinctures.  I have never seen a tincture on the market that didn’t say how much to use.  The standard seems to be between 20-40 drops 2-3 times a day.  And that is a fine way to do.  I personally ingest two half full droppers at night and two more in the afternoon, because that is what works for me.  I do not know what will work for you!  I am 5’5” my brother is 6’8” there is no way the same amounts would work for him as for me.  Every body is different.  I could even get into Waldorf temperaments here, but I won’t.  I start low, 5 – 10 drops in the morning.  How do you feel?  Is it working?  Have some more in the afternoon and again at night.  


Use a measuring cup with small spout
and optional funnel to pour into tincture bottles

If you are like me and always want to read several things on a subject here is a great article by Susun Weed about tinctures.  
Do you have a question for me about tinctures?  Feel free to ask me in the comments here.  



St. John's Wort tincture at the ready.



Thursday, May 23, 2013

how to make a tincture in five steps

Assemble

Menstruum, container with lid, herb.  Optional item: canning funnel.

Open lid of jar



Put herbs in the jar.

Pour vodka in the jar.

Put the lid back on the jar and label it. 

super fancy labeling

Now you never have to pay $9+ for one of these, ever again.

Tomorrow: more words.  Tinctures vs. infusion.  What can you use instead of vodka?  And, what next?

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

we stay up late to get Mexican Ducky



Very Easy, Very Vogue 8822
I’m feeling a little bit, how do I put this?  Weepy?  I had a crappy mother’s day.  My kids were fine, their Dad, not so much.  I found myself leafing through pattern books at Joan Fabric while he, the kids and his mother were at Kiwi Yogurt.  Next thing I know, I’ve got two patterns and a cart full of 50% off linen and a to-sew list with five things on it.  Realistically I thought I’d probably get to only three of those.  Two pairs of loose linen pants and a wrap shirt.  The pants and shirt are in the same pattern, but the idea of the pants is what matters.  I was planning on skipping the pattern all together and doing the pants the same way I did the kids Christmas PJ pants.  Which is using an existing pair of pants to create a pattern directly on the fabric, cut and sew.  Pants. Pants. Pants.  Beautiful deep violet and blue paisley pants.  Wouldn't this shirt be great in half price white linen?

Except, it’s Wednesday.  And I’m leaving for the Catskill to attend the Sacred Pregnancy training on Friday.  I have SO MUCH to do.  Not to mention this will be the first time I’ve left Oscar overnight.  I picked my parents up from the train station on Monday.  They flew from Hawaii to Newark and took the train to Philly.  My poor mother was awake for something like twenty-eight hours.  The two of them have been laying around  trying to get back on PA time.  So for obvious reasons my children are spending their time vacillating between asking me for food, rolling around the deck on ride-on toys and torturing each other/me (screaming).  This is all to say, I’m not going to be posting much this week, if at all.  Oh, also Oscar puked on the bed and other places. I'll just be here pulling my hair out, folding clothes, washing my sheets and drinking the coffee my parents got me in Hawaii and I'll see you next week.  I get back on Tuesday night.  And while I can't wait to be there, I really don't want to go.  KWIM?
If it has a picture of a lion on it, that means I will feel like a lion when I drink it right?