I think I just Feng Shui’d my living room!

Is that even a word – Shui’d?  I have no idea.  I don’t know much about Feng Shui either, except that it has to do with energy and flow.  I don’t know the rules of it but I spent the last several hours upending my living room-turned-workshop: taking stuff out that didn’t belong there, tossing unnecessary items (yay me!), rearranging my workspace and reorganizing my essential oils, herbal remedy ingredients, containers, candles, incense, lamps, table, diffuser, mailing packaging and supplies, you name it.  Okay so my hallway is a little off for a moment, but the energy in my living room is GREAT!  It feels like there is a flow to my space now, so maybe there is something to this Feng Shui after all.  Why not?

My day started off not so great, not feeling well.  Once my sinus headache cleared, I decided to tackle my work space to make it more me-friendly.  It’s amazing how much your ‘space’ can affect your outlook and how you feel – sometimes we just have to step back and take care of ourselves.  THEN we can help others so much more effectively!

I also made a nourishing homemade soup, not exactly like Grandma’s chicken soup recipe, but I did start with a great turkey bone broth I made and froze not long ago.  Chicken broth (or turkey) is so good for you, and really does help when you’re down with a cold or the flu.  Vitamins, minerals, amino acids, immune boosting action.  Add in fresh veggies and herbs like carrots, celery, onion, garlic, ginger, squash, thyme, greens, potatoes (whatever combo you like), and you’re packing some serious nutrition to restore you.  A little meditation, some herbal tea with ginger honey, and I’ll settle down tonight so much better than I began this morning.  I begin and end my days with prayers of thanks and gratitude.  Some days I feel it more than others.  Whether I “feng shui’d” anything today or not, I’m feeling extra thankful, and truly blessed.  Peace out.

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How did Grandma get so smart?

I find it interesting, how so many things in seem to come around full circle.  Do any of you have grandmas or maybe great-grandmas who always seemed to know a few home remedies to treat a variety of ailments?  My own grandmother didn’t have a huge store of herbal knowledge, but something she always had me drink when I had an upset stomach was ginger ale.  She’d give me a few saltines to nibble on too.  For many years, I associated ginger ale and saltine crackers with being sick, so I never had it at any other time.  Even through all the years growing up and well into adulthood, when ‘modern medicine’ was the way to go (throw out Grandma’s wisdom, in other words), I still turned to ginger ale and saltine crackers when I was sick, especially if I was nauseous.

Out with the old, in with the new.  Out with grandma’s remedies, in with pills and antibiotics.  I never knew WHY she gave me ginger ale, only that she did and it often helped.  Well, now that we’ve got resistant super bugs from antibiotic resistant bacteria – thanks to overuse – a multitude of side effects from drugs and drug interactions, we’re taking another look at grandma and her home remedies.  Turns out grandma was pretty darn smart.  Scientists are learning more and more about the wonderful healing properties of plants.  For example, ginger is a wonderful her to use to quell motion sickness, most any type of nausea, aid digestion, pretty much help your gut.  Fresh ginger wasn’t readily available when I was a kid, but ginger ale was in every grocery store. So it seems our society is coming back around to re-examining the wisdom of grandma’s home remedies, passed down through the generations.

That’s just one simple example.  Did you have a smart grandma too?  What kinds of home remedies did she use?  Do you use any of them now?  I still drink ginger ale, and gave it to my kids when they were sick.  My husband has been sick this past week and guess what I picked up at the store on my way home from work?  You guessed it – ginger ale.

Luckily, I’ve got access to fresh ginger and have been learning new ways to use it medicinally.  Here’s a super easy recipe for infusing ginger into honey.  It works great and tastes great in herbal tea (any tea actually).

GINGER INFUSED HONEY

Just take a hunk of fresh ginger (it should be firm and smooth), peel it, then either grate or dice finely, or process in a food processor with a teaspoon or so of water.  Put that into a small saucepan, and just barely cover with raw, organic honey.  Heat on low for at least 30 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the ginger is soft and the honey has a pungent ginger-ness to it.  You can either strain the mixture through a metal sieve to remove the ginger (by the way you then eat the little bits of ginger for a zingy treat), or you can put it all together in a clean screw top jar and pop into the fridge.  It’ll last for quite a long time, certainly enough to get you through cold and flu season.  Add a spoonful to your tea, by itself, however you normally use honey at your house.  It’s very soothing on an irritated throat.  It’s also good to have when you’re healthy!  Think of it as a good boost for your system, like a vitamin.  Lots of nutrients in ginger, so use it in your cooking, your drinks, in all kinds of ways.  You can even add some to brandy.

 

One Day at a Time, a Step at a Time

Since my mom passed away five months ago, my life has gone through tremendous upheaval, hurts and grief, tears, starts and stops, and also some healing.  Losing my second parent was somehow more difficult, I think because it represented a loss of not only a parent but so much more: My sources of wisdom and comfort, consternation (hey they weren’t perfect), laughter, a generation of knowledge and shared memories, family stories, the loss of the “daughter” role, recipes, loved voices, parental hugs, and so on. Up until then, I was still someone’s “child” regardless of my age.  I enjoyed hearing my mom introduce me as her daughter.  I had a special role in my mom’s eyes.  I didn’t want to take on the role as the matriarch, I wanted my mom to stay in that role.  I am sure my feelings are not unique, that many daughters have felt this way.

A couple of months ago, I decided to spend some vacation time on me, to concentrate on ways of healing.  I asked for one day/week off from work, on Wednesdays, for that purpose.  I had been having difficulty getting through a full work week without breaking down into tears or from becoming overwhelmed.  I thought if I could break up my work week and spend Wednesdays taking care of me, then maybe that would help me to heal while helping me to re-engage at work.  I was lucky that my supervisor was very supportive of my efforts.

I spent the “me” times in a variety of ways that I thought would help.  I spent a good deal of time in prayer, I rebooted my meditation practice, got a massage, a pedicure, started yoga, read a lot of books, soaked in a hot bath with essential oils, and things like that.  I also got a few sessions of Reiki and Quantum healing, which I found to be very therapeutic.  I began to start feeling some better, and longer stretches went between the tears.

One day at a time, one step at a time, I’m once again laughing and smiling, feeling love, and feeling enthusiasm for helping others.  I’ve got my first essential oil workshop scheduled and I’m looking forward to trying new endeavors.  I feel again the light of love shining within me, ready to share with others.  I felt guilty for awhile for neglecting my business, my website, my day job, and such, until I realized I needed that time to grieve and to begin to heal.  I could face it head on or not, the choice was mine.  It’s my turn to be the matriarch, to learn more, to grow my own light so that I can share it with others, to prepare my own daughters for their turn, whenever that time may come.  I still have sad moments and unexpected tears, but I also have warm memories of happy times, and smiles when I think of my mom and my dad.  They are well loved, whole again and happy in spirit, and I take comfort in the knowledge that one day I will again see them, and embrace them.

An Orphan at 52

I didn’t expect to feel this way, but I do.  I lost my father to cancer almost 3 years ago, and I lost my mother to sepsis almost 3 months ago.  That wasn’t supposed to happen to either one of them, but it did.  After my father passed away, I was heartbroken and grief stricken.  Two days before his funeral my mother went into the hospital for hip replacement surgery, the beginning of a different kind of nightmare. Five months and  two more surgeries later, and after an allergic reaction to antibiotics almost killed her, she was able to go home.  After she was feeling better, I had her to talk to nearly every day.  She helped me through my grief over my father.  Now she’s gone too.  She developed sepsis two days after her last surgery February 27th, to remove the spacer in her hip.  She went into septic shock and passed away within a few hours.  It was so fast, so unexpected.

Intellectually, we expect our parents to pass away before we do. But as I now know, the experience is far different than the theoretical knowledge.  I still have family that I love and care for, and love me in return, but each of those relationships is different than the ones I had with my parents.  My dad was my first hero and male role model.  My mom was the strongest woman I knew.  Like any child, I had my ups and downs with them, growing pains, etc., but I never doubted their love for me, and they never doubted mine for them.

I find myself feeling somewhat lost, weirdly enough.  Why?  I’ve been an adult for decades now and raised a family of my own.  So what’s this feeling all about?  Do others feel this way?  NOW who do I call for cooking tips and recipes?  Who do I talk to about fishing, religion and politics?  I just had a birthday, the day before Mother’s day this year.  No matter how old, my mom faithfully called me early morning of my birthday to sing “HAPPY BIRTHDAY” to me. Not this year.  I know that the pain will ease with time.  I am blessed to have many good memories to look back on with love and fondness.  It wasn’t all peaches and cream by any stretch of the imagination. But that doesn’t seem important any more.

It’s a little frightening to become the matriarch of the family.  I don’t feel like I’m quite up to filling those shoes yet.  But I suppose that I’ll get there.  I have my faith, the rest of my family, and friends.  But I now realize the type of relationship we have with our own parents is a unique one, whether it was good, bad or indifferent.  I’m not somebody’s “baby” or “little girl” anymore. I realize that I still treated my parents differently than any other person in my life.  I still looked up to them.  Age was irrelevant.

Even in the midst of my grief, I am blessed.  I had a good relationship with mom and dad.  Sometimes roles reversed and I was the caretaker, but they were still my parents.  They were – are – will always be – special to me.  And I love them.  As my mom used to tell me “I love you Tammy, with all of my heart, always and forever.”  Me too, mom.  Me too.

Dedicated to my mom and dad, now in Heaven.

MomDad1964

Grandma drank a Hot Toddy

My grandma was pretty much a tee-totaler except when it came to colds and flu, then she was known to fix a hot toddy at night.  I never really knew what she put in them but I know there was a shot of whiskey or sometimes brandy in it.  (My grandpa drank so therefore the alcohol was available.)  I’ve seen a few different recipes for hot toddies since those days – do you have one to share?  It’s been such a horrible flu season this year I thought maybe we should ALL drink a hot toddy as preventative medicine if we weren’t already sick.  🙂

For a single serving, you can either steep an herbal teabag or use hot water.  Fill your cup about 2/3 full, then add a shot of whiskey or brandy (especially if you infused it with slices of fresh ginger and orange peel like I did), a slice of lemon, a stick of cinnamon, and honey to taste.  Super soothing!

On a related note, I’ve been thinking about which herbs I’m going to plant this year and came across the website below.  If you’ve never grown your own herbs, either for culinary purposes or medicinal purposes, here’s a little snippet to get you thinking about growing some herbs this year.

Easy-to-Grow, Dual Use Herbs

If you prefer to buy and plant individual varieties of herbs, there are many that are easy to grow and do double duty as both culinary and healing herbs. You should be able to find the following herb plants or seeds easily at the garden center in the spring.

  • Catnip: Yes, you can dry the leaves and share them with your kitty, but you can also brew a tea from catnip that’s said to help with indigestion. Plant catnip well away from other plants. It can be terribly invasive in the garden.
  • Chamomile: Beautiful, nodding white flowers belie its ability to induce calm and restful sleep.
  • Garlic: The edible bulbs provide antimicrobial action in the body and also may help to reduce cholesterol. Simply use it as a cooking agent to spice and season food.
  • Lemon balm: Lemon balm may be used in cooking to create a simple lemon-flavored syrup. Medicinally, teas made from lemon balm help reduce fevers associated with colds and flu.
  • Parsley: Garnish your plate and use in salads. It acts as a diuretic.

[credit – posted on http://garden.lovetoknow.com/wiki/Medicinal_Herbal_Garden_Seeds]

Seeking Grandma’s Wisdom

Here we are in another new year.  2018.  It looks a little odd still.  I used to worry about messing up the year when writing checks, but thanks to modern technology I rarely write a check anymore.  Out with the old, in with the new….really?  Do you make New Year’s resolutions?  Every now and again I have, but not often.  I do however, find that it’s useful to remind me to reflect on where I am, what’s happened in my life, and where I’d like to go next.  What has served me well, and what do I need to change?  What is no longer useful and needs to go?

That last one – what needs to go – has often been a tough one for me.  Left to my own devices I’d probably become a terrible hoarder, the kind they put on TV shows.  Well, I’d like to think not THAT bad, but there’s a smidgeon of doubt in the back of my mind.  Especially when it comes to sentimental items, I have a hard time throwing them in the bin.  But honestly, how many drawings that your children have made can you keep before it becomes a fire hazard?  So, one thing I do try to do is go through my things in the new year, throw out non-useful items, pare down, and get rid of those things – physically, mentally, spiritually and emotionally – that no longer serve me or my development as a good person.

BUT, “out with the old” doesn’t literally mean OLD.  Grandmas are “old” but I’d never consider throwing her out.  Grandmas, and Grandpas, have a lifetime of experience, wisdom, and stories to share.  Or at least nuggets of it.  No one is perfect.  I am finding the younger generations, sadly my own kids included, often don’t realize the value of seeking out Grandma’s wisdom.  I refer to “Grandma’s wisdom” in the generic sense of course.  Grandma’s recipes, herbal remedies, stories about the family, stories about growing up, values, relationships, skills, crafts, all kinds of wonderful (and not-so-wonderful) things that make up the fabric of our lives and provide a sense of connectedness and identity.  Once “Grandma” is gone, she’s gone.  At least from this Earth.  Unless we take the time to absorb Grandma’s wisdom while she’s with us, we lose a valuable part of ourselves and who we are, where we come from, and an opportunity to pass on knowledge and wisdom that she’s accumulated throughout her years.  I wish our society still valued and respected elders.

I think everyone needs to feel a sense of connectedness, a comfort and confidence in their own identity.  Surely that is at least one of the reasons for the popularity of Ancestry . com and sending in your DNA for testing.  Often we are separated from our extended families due to military service, job opportunities, etc.  But this apparently universal need for connectivity doesn’t disappear, so we try to fill the void in other ways, including social media.

Still, Grandma has her own unique blend of wisdom to share, one that can’t be found on the internet.  So, while I no longer have any living grandparents or dad, I do still have my mom and stepparents and siblings who share a history with me and have many stories and nuggets of wisdom to share.  Wisdom I hope to capture and share with my daughters.  So while I’m sorting through my ‘closet’ and disposing of those things that no longer serve me, I want to be sure I keep and continue to seek Grandma’s wisdom this year.

Praying for many things for us in this new year, including more love and compassion for all, growth and success on our personal journeys. May you be always blessed.  Happy New Year!

Hot Flashes and Hair Loss

Supposedly, hot flashes (of menopause) and hair loss are unrelated, according to my gynecologist anyway.  I don’t usually get those sudden spikes in body temperature where I break out in a sweat in a few seconds flat.  But, ever since approaching peri-menopause and then just menopause, my body runs hot.  Like, if you hold your hand about 3 or 4 inches above my head, you can feel heat.  My husband describes me as his personal radiator.  I ooze heat, especially at night when I’d love to go to sleep.  My husband can hardly be found under his cocoon of blankets, while I’m kicking off the sheets searching for a cooling breath of air from my always-on ceiling fan.

In my 30s I started noticing some hair loss.  At first I attributed it to surgery and effects from anesthesia; next I thought stress, then I started noticing how hot I always seemed.  Everyone around me wore sweaters and jackets whilst I paraded around in t-shirts.  By my 40s I had changed my wardrobe to accommodate the ever present heat.  I realized “the change” was heading my way.  I also noticed more hair loss.  I went to a dermatologist.  I tried Rogaine.  But the hair loss continued.  Also, it’s tough to put chemicals on your head when you advocate a more natural approach to body care.

So here’s my personal theory: I am literally burning the hair out of my head.  Think about it – how could a mere hair follicle withstand that kind of constant heat emanating from my body, especially the top of my head?  Talk about opening your pores!  Who needs to visit a sauna?  Not this lady.  The mere thought might risk spontaneous combustion!

It’s funny how you start paying attention to every female head of hair that passes by, when you’re losing your own.  I wonder if men experience this angst, those who go bald.  And speaking of bald, how far will my hair loss go, could I actually go bald?  If I do, how will I handle it?  I’m already reaching the limits of my hair styling finesse to hide how thin it is.  There are the hair fiber fillers and some of them work pretty well, but they are expensive and not really practical all of the time.  I’ve talked to a couple of other women who are having hair loss issues.  One of them now wears a wig and encouraged me to do the same.  I’ve thought about it but you know what my problem with that is, don’t you?  I couldn’t stand the heat!! The way I radiate heat, I’d be afraid that I’d sweat to death underneath a wig.  And isn’t it true if you run hot already, the last thing you want to do is to make yourself MORE HOT, and not in a sexy way!

I feel like I’m on a strange journey, unsure of how far it will go or how long it will last.  I know I’m not alone, but I’m definitely not liking it.  It threatens to make me feel insecure about myself, after spending many years working on my self-esteem.  Intellectually I can talk to myself all I want about what a worthy person I am.  But something as superficial as losing my hair can threaten to undo my hard-earned work on self.  Sometimes I get mad at myself, sometimes I feel sorry for myself, sometimes I try to ignore it altogether.  I haven’t quite gotten the hang of handling it gracefully yet.  So, I pray.  I try to stay positive.  I count my blessings.  I am grateful for every day.  I give thanks that my hair loss isn’t due to chemotherapy because cancer is trying to overtake my body.  And I pray to remember what is truly important in this life – love, faith, family and friends.  I give thanks to God for his abundant blessings.

I try to maintain a good sense of humor, and not take myself too seriously.  So I say that I’m just too hot to hang onto my hair, and we’ll go with that.  😉