Category Archives: Community Building

Giving Thanks

Sample imageI rarely have time on Thanksgiving to spend time putting together a meaningful post.   It is a busy day in our home.   We will wake having a breakfast of sausage rolls and breakfast strata, while watching the parade Then we set out snacks-clam dip and lots of pickles and olives-and play board games.  We end the day with a big turkey dinner.   We’ve spent the last couple of days baking and cooking to get ready, so that we can all relax and enjoy the day.

So I thought I would take a moment, tonight,  to reflect   I have a lot to be  thankful about this year.   I have a wonderful, healthy family.   I’ve spent time with dear friends in beautiful places and taught at some truly inspiring conferences.  I’ve had new opportunities arise and made new friends.  I graduated from college-something I was beginning to think I wouldn’t get around to.

Of course nothing is perfect.   Life is  messy. There are tears, struggles and blow-ups, but sometimes this is the only path to healing.  They can be a blessing too, even though that can be hard to see when you are in the thick of it.  I am most thankful that life seems to be progressing down that path for my family, right now.

I’d like to think that recent events in the country represent those types of struggles.  Only by committing ourselves to unified goal and having compassionate discussions with people whom we disagree with, can we move towards a better society. Despite the narrative the media feeds us,  I believe that most people are inherently decent.  That doesn’t always mean they do the right thing, but I believe that very few people truly set out to harm other people.

If you listen to a person’s words, but only focus on trying to understand the  feelings that are creating their  narrative, you begin to see them in a whole different light.   You feel more compassion toward them.   Similarly, when  you stop and think about the emotions that motivate you,  you can be more patient with yourself.  It is a  useful exercise.  If you’ve never tried it, have a go at it.

I guess I will leave this  hoping that all of you experience today in a way that is meaningful to you.   I am thankful to have this chance to connect with you.

On Sabbatical…

The Garden at Goddard

The Garden at Goddard

Forgive me for the long absence.  I just decided I didn’t  want to use my thinking cap over summer break.   I wish I could tell you I spent the time relaxing in the garden, but Steve was gone for  most of the break.   I was doing well just to  keep up with the mundane household tasks and get some research done.   Now I am home from my fall residency at Goddard and it is time to get back to work.  I am  feeling recharged by my time in Vermont, but at the same time I have a lot to do.

I am finishing up my undergrad work in the next year which means, among other things,  that I have a hundred page thesis to research and write.   I also have a couple of other half-finished projects (Hi Todd  😳 I am a Vata, afterall) that I want to have complete before I move on to my Master’s program.    So this year is going to be really about pulling back and focusing on my studies.  I believe in a sabbatical, of sorts, is in order.

I have decided not to take on new clients or new students this fall. While I have been keeping up with my current clients,   I haven’t been doing my best work as a teacher, recently.  There is only so much one can do, well.   I will be putting together a few local workshops and offering some free classes, as my time permits.   My apprentice, Adrian will be seeing new clients.   So if you need a local practitioner,  we still have you covered.

I’ve been doing some soul searching on another issue, as well.    I’ve received quite a few e-mails about doing distance consults and online classes.     I’d really rather not.   I am a bioregionalist at heart.   I believe pretty strongly on feeding my energy into local systems.

There is also the fact that I just don’t want to be a hypocrite.  A lot of my research right now is focused the ways in which  folk herbalism better meets the social and ecological wellness needs of a community.    While I am happy to write about this,   or  present my ideas at conferences,   I don’t  feel morally right about luring away clients,  or students,   from local practitioners.

I believe someone who has a thorough understanding of the community in which you live is going to be the best fit for you to work with on a full-time basis.    One of my downtime projects was to compile a list of teachers and clinicians all over the country and I will be happy to refer you to good  people in your area.

The First IC Herb Day.

Hopefully, I have some new readers today from the IC Herb Day event I organized.
I was so incredibly pleased (surprised would probably be a better word) at the turnout.   Thank you so much to everyone who came.   I was probably overly exuberant due to nervous energy, but that will calm down eventually.  It probably would have gone better if the rain hadn’t caused me to switch the topic of my presentation at the last minute.   It was truly inspirational to me, but more importantly it brought me a step closer to realizing my goals.

To understand my goals it is helpful to understand that  I belong to an amazing  herbal community.  We are supportive of one another because we share a common goal in bringing herbalism back to the people.  We aren’t competitive or egotistic.   We promote each others businesses and products. We want one another to do well because we care about one another.  We share our knowledge freely because we love to talk about herbalism.  It is in our blood which runs just a bit greener than other people’s.    I am truly blessed by being a part of that community.

They  live far away.  We are scattered and we get lonely for one another.We  get home from conferences and we struggle with the fact that it is much easier to blend into that established community than it is to build one where there is none.

But we have to do it, it is in our blood.   I am teary-eyed as I write this thinking of all of my teachers.  I think especially of  Kiva and Wolf,  who work so hard to build the Herbal Resurgence community and Tina and Maryanne who work so hard to build The Essential Herbal Community.   More importantly than sharing your knowledge of herbs with me,  you have taught me the importance of herbal community.  And then there is Sean who is teaching me the way of being in community with the plants.    I have had many wonderfully wise herb teachers but it is you all who have taught me so much  about herbalism as a way of life and being.    I kind of love you for that.

Today was important for me because I want so much to do the same for other people and maybe in the process  develop a circle of local herb friends who don’t think I am daft for needing to spend time with my ash tree.    I think it was a good start.

For the Birds…

49845651859In very late fall, we begin filling bird feeders for the birds to live on during the winter. We are trying to do this as inexpensively as possible but we feel activities like this enhance our children’s appreciation of nature.

While we have chosen to spend a little bit of money on feeders and I received a bird bath for Mother’s Day a few years ago, some of the most interesting and worthwhile projects we have accomplished have been very inexpensive. The winter time is a great time to start this as the birds flock to feeders when the ground is covered with snow.

*Keep a list of all the birds you see. It is helpful to have a bird guide for this but you can identify most birds with an encyclopedia or even find them on the Internet. We recently created an excel file to document our sitings we keep some of these forms in a folder with our bird guide and we keep both of these close to the window that has a good view of our feeders.
*During the cold weather, our feathered friends really appreciate suet feeders. The suet gives them the extra boost they need for warmth during the winter. Now that our ten-year-old has become a vegetarian we have found that coconut oil can easily replace suet in most of the instructions for making suet feeders that we found online as it hardens at room temperature.

*My brother in law made me a platform feeder for my birthday, (Thanks, Kirk). It is bolted to the side of our deck and I put sunflower seeds and cracked corn in it. This mixture distracts the more aggressive birds such as the jays and it also attracts squirrels which keeps them from putting to much weight on your feeder hooks.

*You can make many homemade bird feeders. Pinecones spread with peanut butter, rolled in bird seed, and hung with bright red strings are a good way to start. You can make a birdseed garland to hang between branches of a tree. (recipe below) Be creative!
We fed the extra popcorn from the tree to the birds the other day and they loved it.

Birdseed Garland
1 cup cornmeal
1 cup of whole wheat flour
1/4 cup of honey
1/2 cup oil
1/2 tsp baking powder

Mix this together and add about a half a cup of wild bird seed.

If you need more to make it stiff add a little more.

Roll these out and cut them with a cookie cutter. I use my apple corer to make a large hole in each cookie.
Bake at 350 degrees until the cookies are hard about ten minutes.
String these on twine and hang them for your birds

*February is a great time to hang nesting boxes with hinged lids near your feeding area. Throw a little hay in the bottom and you will almost certainly get to see some hatching baby birds in the spring.