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Friday, September 30, 2011

10 Km Run, Quieting the Mind & Traumeel

I don't like running.  I never really have, and yet it occurred to me  that off and on, I have been running since I was about 15- about the same time I started writing in earnest.  This thought occurred to me yesterday, while I was running.  It started out to be my usual "if I feel like it", 20 minute event.  By the time I got to my half way point where I usually turn around, I just couldn't bare the thought. See, the way back on this particular route is a very gradual but continual uphill grade and I pass the same scenery I just saw. There is not much to distract me and it feels like a tough haul. The only reward is getting to the end. So, yesterday, I just kept running. Feeling a bit like Forrest Gump, I ran 10km. I've never done that before.

For a few days I'd been thinking I might possibly try this 10km stretch. I thought of it as my own personal race of some sort- a goal I guess, a challenge. I didn't put much more thought into it than that. I didn't intend to make the run yesterday. I didn't even consider it when I headed out. It  just felt like it would be easier than turning around and going back. 

When I was finding a picture to put up with this blog, I found all kinds of information and suggestions on how to prepare for a 10km run.  The most "to the point" one had 11 different steps you should take.  It outlined how you should run different distances each week up to the race day.  The article included the items you would need including water, an energy bar, sunscreen, a hat, and a change of clothes. Hmm...

I ate some peanuts and raisins, had a cup of coffee, did some yoga stretches, dug a dirty pair of socks out of the hamper because I couldn't find any clean ones, put on my runners, and took off.  I did have my trusty cellphone/blackberry. I took it more in case someone needed to get a hold of me than in case I might need to call someone myself. I'm not recommending this routine- I'm just explaining!

The first part of the run after making my decision to keep going for 10km was a little intimidating.  I run on a trail that doesn't have road access so at that point my only option was to go back or forward, no bail outs in the middle. But I just told myself I could walk if I had to- no big deal. Having given myself that option, I didn't really need to use it. By about the middle, I started to realize how good I felt.  For the first time ever in the my personal history of running, I was actually enjoying it.  I had a rhythm and a pace.  I was enjoying the scenery. I could breathe easily and everything smelled really fresh and good. It was the perfect temperature and I felt pretty good about myself. Having never run this course before I had no idea where I was or how much further I had to go, so I didn't think or worry about that. I just kept going. The hardest part of the whole thing was the last few feet.  By that time I recognized the trail and I knew I was really close to the end.  As soon as I saw the end I thought about how far I had come and I was exhausted.  When I reached the end it didn't really feel like that big a deal. It felt like it should have been a big deal, but somehow it wasn't. I started thinking maybe I should consider doing this more often. Hmm...

I didn't really think about much of anything while I was running. And for that alone, it's worth doing. Once I got to that pace point it felt like I was really just "in the now".  I wasn't trying to work out a problem. I wasn't trying to think about a story to write, or my next item on the "to do" list.  I just was.  Maybe that's the runner's high people talk about? If that's the case, I guess I've never gone far enough to experience it before.

As I reflect on the run I see a lot of similarities to life in general.  It really did feel sooo much better to keep going forward than to turn around and go back.  Once the decision is made though and you're on a course with no "escape routes" it can be a bit scary.  But if you tell yourself you can adjust the pace, you can always slow down, you can always walk, the pressure is lifted.  The hardest part of any course might just be the last few feet, particularly if you focus on how far you've come instead of the fact that you've "arrived". And, I guess we're never really done until we're really done. Once you accomplish something you're ready to move on to the next step.

For me at least, I was glad I didn't have a lot of baggage when I started out.  The weight of the water, the bar, the extra clothes, and sunscreen would have made my journey more difficult, but that's just me, and it has to be a personal decision. It might change over time. Next time I might take some water at least. I doubt if I'll ever feel like running with anyone else. For me, this is a solitary pursuit. For others, the company of others is what makes it fun.

Although I didn't do a lot of thinking at the time, I did remember back to when I was  15  and I started getting up early in the morning to go for a run. I ran a track along the river in the morning mist before school and although I didn't enjoy the process of running any more than than now, I know I felt I had to do it.  No one else in my family or within my circle of friends ran. No one suggested I do it or came with me. For me it wasn't for the exercise, for weight management, or anything like that. It was to quiet my mind.  I realize that for me, running is a bit like using Clematis  When you push your body you help ground yourself and for me at least, it helps integrate my mind and my body in some small but vital way.

There is a reason why people are encouraged to approach a 10km run with some thought and planning. I know that makes more sense, is  logical, sensible, and perhaps kinder to your body. It just isn't my style. So, for me it's good to know there are some homeopathic alternatives to help with such radical, spontaneous , decisions. Traumeel is a nice homeopathic pain reliever and anti-inflammatory.  It's a good one to consider if you've got aches and pains, stiff muscles or joints.  It contains a number of homeopathic remedies including Arnica, Belledona and Hypericum. It's probably a must if you decide it's easier to go forward than back and don't do much planning!

We're all different. Some people carefully plan and prepare, go step by step, and pack a backpack before they head out. That works for them and is right for them. They will get to the end. (And they probably won't need a lot of Traumeel). Other people just do it when it feels right. Sometimes they do "it" to avoid something else. They too will get to the end. That works for them and is right for them. Maybe there are lots of times when it's easier to move forward than it is to go back. Maybe we sometimes don't continue long enough to relax into the process. Maybe the best we can do is honor our own methods, celebrate our personal achievements, and honor the path other's take as well. 

And some times, sore muscles equal a quiet mind.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

A Day of 11's & Clematis

I opened up an email from a friend today and for some reason the date jumped right out at me.  I realized that today's date ,29/ 09,/2011, in numerology, adds up to 11-11-11. 

I don't know a lot about numerology. Perhaps, just enough to be dangerous!  However, that rarely stops me from sharing! In numerology, the number 11 is considered a master number and a spiritual messenger. The number 11 is a symbol of psychic abilities, sensitivities, and intuition. Numerology charts are similar to astrological charts and you can have the number 11 in various aspects of your chart, or it may be your birth number. If the number 11 shows up frequently in your chart, you may possess illumination or increased spiritual awareness.

So I figure on a day like today when the 11's have such a prominent place, that increased spiritual awareness, illumination, heightened awareness and insight might just be opened up to everyone regardless of where 11 falls in your charts.  In fact, I believe, it's there all the time for everyone anyway. But maybe today is a good day to reflect on it a bit and take advantage of a "cosmic opening".

John Culbertson, in "A Look at the Symbolism and Personality of Eleven", claims people with prominent 11's are here to inspire others by offering the information their higher self and inner voice provides to others. He writes they are here to uplift humanity.
I think we're all here to do that. We are all on earth to uplift humanity.  Perhaps today is a good day to consider the part we are playing in that.
Heightened awareness, psychic abilities, and insight don't always come without a price. It can be difficult to be in touch with your higher self and the "unknown" and still keep yourself grounded enough to walk around on this earth.  Regardless of the symbolism of the numbers of today, you probably still have to go to work, take out the garbage, walk the dog, do the dishes, or heaven forbid! clean the bathroom.

The downside of the gift of illumination can be nervous energy, fear, unpredictability, insecurity, and increased vulnerability. That type of "other world connection" can be a real shock to the senses and can leave you feeling a bit "alien", out of place, confused, or lacking in direction. It's hard to walk between two worlds. As the world opens up and we collectively increase our awareness, for some those abilities may finally be recognized and validated, but for others, the ground may start to feel a bit shaky as they loose their sense of place and reality.

Scott and Stephen Petullo, in "Numerology & The Number 11- What it Means & Why it's so Challenging", explain that people who split their energy between the earth plane and other dimensions can have a difficult time keeping themselves solidly grounded. They write that those who try to ignore their illuminations risk phobias, obsessions, and even psychosis.

In order to uplift humanity, we need to bring inner knowing and awareness down to earth.  Now that's a tall order!  But not impossible.  It's about bringing those gifts, insights, and talents into recognizable forms. It means bringing your  dreams into waking reality. I think a lot of kids understand that and have the ability to do that. But that can also make it difficult for them to accept the reality we face in the moment.

If you need some help to stay grounded and bring your gifts into form, the Bach Flower Clematis may be helpful. Clematis is indicated for people that live in a world of their own and find it hard to be fully present. Clematis can help you feel more grounded so you can formulate your dreams and ideals into activities and constructs that work on earth. Clematis can help you bring you mind or spirit in line with your body. Once you can find that grounding alignment you may find a creative, artistic talent or outlet for your dreams. Clematis won't cause you to loose your dreaminess, instead it may help you bring focus to your insights.

Culbertson writes that the number 11 is represented by an angel. He reports that "angels are heavenly creatures blessed with the ability to offer insights".  So perhaps today, on such a day of 11's, angels walk among us. Most likely they do every day. Our choice is to ignore them, or welcome them in. 

Enjoy the journey!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Book Review: Living Outside the Lines

Today is Raise-a-Reader day in Canada. This is an initiative to raise awareness and funds for literacy programs. Melvin Moon saw lots of the color yellow around this idea, and if you don't know what that means, you haven't been reading the right books!!

In my opinion, reading really does open up the world and precipitate change. It's how we find information, test out concepts, sample the lives of others, and learn about differences and similarities between humans, humans and nature, and humans and the unknown.

I have been reading lots of different types of books lately and have been trading books back and forth with friends. To me, there's really something special about borrowing or lending a book to a friend. It really seems to be a positive transfer of energy in some way that I truly appreciate. Perhaps it because it really helps you connect with the other person and see a side of them that you might not have otherwise known. I've really found connections with people during the casual discussion of a good book it turns out we both read. I've often been surprised to discover what someone else read and enjoyed.  Often it encourages me to see the person in a different light. The recommendation of a good book is not something to be taken lightly.

So when favorite teenager I know lent me a copy of Lesley Choyce's, Living Outside the Lines, I took special care to read it. When the teenager lent it to me she told me she thought it was "my kind of book". It was.

This novel tells the story of a high-school student that is enrolled in an advanced writing class with the assignment to write a novel. The character's novel is expectantly picked up by a publisher and sets in motion some pretty powerful events that actually take place in the future. As the story progresses, the lives of the novelist and the novel become intertwined in a bit of a science fiction/alternate dimension way. In the character's novel, teenagers have increased political and social power. They become the decision makers for society. The years of career productivity become between 15 and 21. At 21, people retire and turn the reins over to the up -and -coming teenagers. The older adults revert to consulting, volunteer, retirement, or scaled back work capacities.

Part of the premise of the book is that teenagers have more to contribute than adults give them credit for. I agree with that. The character's novel  suggests that "childhood" was a concept invented in the 1800's that might not have have the best interest of children at heart, but might have been more of a political control move. That's interesting...

I think somewhere along the line we started to devalue teenagers a bit. If we consider what children were doing at the age of 15 a few centuries ago and what they are doing now, we might be hard pressed to consider all of that progress. Perhaps we are underestimating what teenagers could be doing.

In Living Outside the Lines, the main character, Nigel, has to make some pretty tough decisions. He faces questions around love, dying, euthanasia, career choice, family values, recognition and control. He makes his choices according to careful thought and a deep knowing. And the teenagers that are reading this book, at least some of them, are responding to, and can relate to that. They "get it". I think they too are capable way beyond what we give them credit for.

In my opinion, Living Outside the Lines is not "just" for teenagers. It's the teenage voice put into the written word. I applaud Lesley Choyce for doing that so well. And if Nigel's world is anywhere near future reality, we better start paying attention.

Maybe if you've already "Raised-a-reader", you should check out what they are reading. It might make you think. It might help you understand. It might bridge the disconnection.

And if you just want a good read that might make you think outside the lines, pick up a copy of Living Outside the Lines, curl up in your favorite chair with your favorite beverage and celebrate the fact that you have been raised-a-reader.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

New Moon in Libra, Butterflies and Transformation

Today marks the beginning of a New Moon cycle. According to my We'Moon book, it's a new moon in Libra. Maybe that explains the "in between" restlessness I described in yesterday's blog.

I believe that our bodys' follow the cycles of the moon whether our scientific minds choose to go along with it or not. And the new moon signifies beginnings

As the first New Moon of the fall season, this new moon feels pretty powerful. During the waning half moon we shrugged off our thoughts of summer projects and aspirations, we reflected during the fall equinox and are now, finally ready, to move into a new cycle renewed and inspired to move onward.

Because this New Moon is in Libra, We'Moon explains we may feel opened up to social connections. People born with the moon in Libra (not necessarily the same as your astrological sign- that refers to the sun position) are said to be peacemakers. They see the beauty in things, they strive for fairness and they help us understand each other. They sometimes forget to put themselves in the equation though and they may have difficulty balancing their own needs with others.

The New Moon also resonates with the 7th or Crown Chakra.  This Chakra is focused on self-realization. It's about finding enlightenment, spirituality and connection with your higher self and the divine. At first glance, that sounds like a solitary pursuit, not the group social effort Libra's enjoy. A lot of people meditate and "go within" to connect with this Chakra. That conflict between wanting to socialize and feeling the need to connect within  might be the cause for some conflicting thoughts during this moon phase. But I'm not so sure about that.

Perhaps the challenge of the 7th Chakra in this era of extreme connectivity due to telecommunications devices, advanced technology, and global travel, is to find your core. Maybe it's about finding your personal connection with something not entirely of this world, in the midst of all that " Libra stuff" going on around you. Perhaps we are being challenged to maintain our sense of self, not only in the Buddha meditation state, but also in the world of action, reaction, and constant stimulation.

Yesterday, as I struggled to figure out what exactly I should be doing, I came across a lot of nature signs. I saw little toads, crickets, and dragonflies all over the place.  But the ones that really stood out were a couple of fuzzy stripped caterpillars and some yellow butterflies.  Butterflies are a catalyst for transformation.  They support a balance between vulnerability and strength.  As I looked at the fuzzy caterpillar it occurred to me that they have to let go of a lot of stuff in order to transform from that chubby little soft guy to that light airy, fragile being of the butterfly. And to switch from the incredible slowness of taking an hour to get an inch to flying all over the place in seconds must be pretty extreme.  You really have to be mentally prepared for that transition or you're not going to be able to handle the switch very well! There is nothing wrong with being a catepillar. They are soft and touchable, every bit as beautiful as the butterfly and by far more approachable. I wonder if catepillars get to choose whether or not they will become butterflies?  I wonder if butterflies ever long for the "good ole days" when they were soft, lazy, and grounded? What if you realize when you get flying around up there that you might just be scared of heights? Hmm... I think my new project is another children's book....

... But back to the New Moon in Libra.  My take on this, is that it's time to let go of all the "fuzzy caterpillar stuff" that you might have sloughing off during the full and waning moon.  If you choose to. According to the Libra aspect, some of what might have been weighing you down doesn't really belong to you. Perhaps you were trying so hard to create harmony with others, between others, between you and nature even, that you misplaced your core sense of self a bit.

The butterfly travels pretty light.  When it comes out of that cocoon it appears to others to be totally different than the caterpillar it once was. But it is still the caterpillar of before. There is something within the core that remains. It might be microscopic, but obviously it's the most powerful piece. It's what survives all stages of growth. Perhaps the core piece is the courage to fly.

The 7th Chakra is about finding that small piece of core, that inner courage to fly.  Until you find that piece, I think you will be full of superstition, apathy, and illusion , the weaknesses of an unbalanced crown chakra. It isn't about finding something to add to yourself. It's about getting rid of the cocoon. It's about stepping away from all those people, things and places that are preventing you from flying.

The New Moon is the time to fly. It's the time to find your balance, spread those beautiful new wings you've been developing, breathe deep and lift off! Enjoy the journey!!

Monday, September 26, 2011

A Bach Combination for "I'm Bored"

Did you ever have one of those days when there was nothing you wanted to do but you didn't want to do nothing? It's the kind of day when you are presented with a long list of "have to do's", and an equally long list of "want to dos" and yet, nothing really inspires you, or feels like exactly the right thing to do? So, instead of doing anything you sort of wonder around from task to task, or find more things to add to either list, still without finding an appealing option. All of this just makes you feel like you are "wasting time".  In kid land, this is called "I'm bored". This feeling is NEVER relieved with parent suggestions for either work or play.  That's the thing, the feeling can't quite be solved. Hmm...

Dr. Bach didn't create an essence for "boredom". There are a few Bach flower essences that, at first glance seem as though they might be a fit for this emotion, but like the problem itself- nothing that's just quite right!  When that's the case with Bach therapy, you have to dissect the emotion further to really find the route of the discontent. Sometimes the "thing" we think of as an emotion is really a combination of feelings and for that, it's a combination of essences that match better than individual remedies. The combination of the remedies is more than the sum of the parts.

Bach essences need to be matched to individuals, but the combination that might help lift your disconnect/boredom could be Hornbeam, Wild Oat, Wild Rose, and Impatiens.  For me, this combination appears more by excluding the others.

The sensation of disconnect/boredom I'm talking about has nothing to do with fear. It isn't the fear of starting a project, or not being good at something. It's not the sensation of being unsure where to begin, or being afraid of either success or failure. This means you can role out Rock Rose, Mimulus, Cherry Plum, Aspen and Red Chestnut- they are all for different types of fear.

This feeling of not finding what you want to be doing, in my opinion, doesn't have anything to do with others. It's something internal, not solved by looking at how you relate to others. So you can role out Agrimony, Centaury, Walnut, and Holly. They are all within the category of oversensitivity and really address issues that have some component of how we feel or react to others.

The boredom or searching I'm talking about also is not about being led astray by others, or convinced to do something others want done, or being frustrated because others aren't doing their part in the project. It isn't a sensation that other people are irritating or not doing something according to your strict standards.  So that rules out the essences within the category of "overcare for others' welfare" and includes Rock Water, Beech, Vine, Vervain and Chicory.

This isn't a great despair emotion, or a real angst feeling.  It doesn't feel that deeply rooted or dramatic. Rather, it is something that just sometimes seems to surface. So you can rule out the category of "Despondency and Despair" and that includes Larch, Pine, Elm, Sweet Chestnut, Star of Bethlehem, Willow, Oak, and Crab Apple.

That leaves three categories to consider; Uncertainty, Lack of Interest in Present Circumstances, and Loneliness. Hmm...

I think boredom and disconnection are a combination of feelings found within these three categories. Definitely it is a feeling of uncertainty.  It's that emotion of not knowing where to direct your energy and attention. I think it's a bit of Hornbeam and just not knowing where to focus, and a little bit of Wild Oat- too many options on those "to do lists" to pick.  It isn't a decision between two things, which would point to Scleranthus and it isn't the Cerato feeling of not trusting yourself.  You just can't figure yourself out to get started.

The category of "Lack of Interest in Present Circumstances" certainly needs review. I rule out Clematis, because at least for me, when I'm daydreaming I'm happy to be there.  The feeling I'm talking about is a dissatisfaction with being disconnected. Clematis types enjoy the distraction. Nor is it about the Honeysuckle longing for things to be as they were in the past, quite the contrary, it's a yearning for something you can't quite define.  There is no lack of energy as might be suggested by Olive, tons of energy- just no idea where to direct it. This emotion wouldn't be classified as depression for which Mustard might be appropriate. It isn't a sadness exactly.  Nor does the "thoughts going around in your head" nature of White Chestnut seem appropriate. For me, I can't quite attach to any thoughts in particularly!  Chestnut Bud gave me pause because I might have been here before with this dilemma, but that doesn't feel quite right. In the past, I at least, have probably redirected this boredom/waiting/ disconnect with yet another project that spun off to never never land.  Or "wasted time" window shopping, drinking coffee with friends, or spending money. This time, I'm not doing that- so I'm learning, I just haven't found quite the way to replace useless projects yet! Wild Rose definitely strikes a cord. Wild Rose is indicated when you are resigned to an unpleasant situation. This isn't exactly a feeling of giving up, or you wouldn't be looking for Bach essences to change it. But the positive aspect of Wild Rose; a lively interest in life, work, and the world in general certainly sounds good.

A lot of parents think that when kids say they are bored, they mean they don't have anyone to play with and they are lonely. There are three essences within the category of loneliness: Water Violet, Heather and Impatiens. If your feelings could be solved by going "out and about" or doing something with a friend but you just can't quite make yourself go there, Water Violet is indicated. That's not a match for the boredom  and disconnect I'm talking about though. For me at least, this is not solved by the distraction of good friends and socializing. I can be good at doing that, but that doesn't feel right either. Heather doesn't feel like a match  in that this does not seem to have anything to do with a preoccupation with self. In fact, listening to other's problems might take your mind away from the issue and could be welcomed as a distraction or direction, but would only be a temporary fix. There is however a bit of an Impatiens component to the emotion, otherwise you would be content to "do nothing".

So my "anti-boredom" remedy contains equal parts Wild Rose, Wild Oat, Hornbeam and Impatiens. Wild Rose will lift the apathy that surrounds every one of those "to do items" so you can reconsider the lists again, maybe even add more options. Wild Oat will help you discover which one of those items (or another one altogether) really does stand out just a bit. Hornbeam will help you focus on the one you chose with some strength to keep at it. It may help you find a new approach to solve the problem so that tasks in fact, takes on a new vitality. Finally, Impatiens may ease your irritation and allow the world, to catch up with you and you to catch up with yourself. Maybe, just maybe, you'll find a little more peace in the "do nothing" phase.

I'd like to stay and chat.. but ... I've got things to do!

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Expanding Awareness, Throat Chakra & Sand Dollars

Yesterday, on the first day of fall, I went to the beach with a friend.  Research on the fall equinox had revealed that it is a traditional time to reflect, release and receive. I figured a walk on the beach was a good way to reflect and release on the summer's passing while setting myself up to receive.

It was more like a summer day than a fall day.  It was warm, almost hot, and muggy. The water was the warmest it has been all summer. The tide was out, the fog just starting to roll in- a perfect day for beach combing and talking with a friend while walking. I was walking barefoot at just the edge of the surf, head down, looking for sand dollars.  For some reason, I was really on a hunt for sand dollars. No other shells or rocks were interesting me, and I really wanted to find a sand dollar. I walked the whole length of the beach without finding any. We turned around and just started to walk back, on exactly the same path, when I found 2 absolutely perfect sand dollars.  There wasn't  a mark or nick on them, the etching of the 5 petals was perfectly formed. They were very close to each other, almost in a straight line with my footprints. I'm not sure how I missed them seconds earlier when I walked that way.

I felt a real rush to find those "dollars" and I carefully carried them the rest of the way in the palm of my hand- like real treasures. Sand Dollars are very delicate and need to be handled with care. You can't just throw them in a bag with other shells, or put them in your pocket and expect them to remain intact.  You have to be thoughtful in your treatment of them.

At Pacific Essences Ltd., they include the healing power of the sea in their vibrational or energy medicine. In her book, Energy Medicine, Sabina Pettitt, the founder of Pacific Essences explains the meaning of each of her essences.  Pettitt writes that the Sand Dollar is an essence that helps expand your awareness. It is helpful to create a disruption of the mirage, to come to your senses.  Pettitt defines the Sand Dollar as primarily a mental remedy. As we connect with our thoughts, feelings, beliefs, and attitudes, we can bring healing to the physical body. Pettitt explains that we can only get effective results when underlying belief systems have been examined and released.  Hmm.. there's that "reflect and release" suggestion again.

The Sand Dollar is linked to the 5th chakra- our throat chakra, which is focused on self-expression of our truth. The challenge of this chakra is to let go, or release, the illusions and imposed limitations ,so that you are freely speaking your truth, whatever you believe it to be.  This chakra really addresses the "freedom of speech", that ability to feel free to express what you are thinking and feeling.

Before you can release that information, you need to reflect on what it is that might be blocking your speech. Perhaps we too easily decide it is others that are preventing us from telling our truths.  Maybe the reflection of the season should be to identify what we are blocking ourselves from, and release those limitations. That's where the Sand Dollar essence may come in as a helper. Hmm...

Before I did this research on the sand dollar, I placed both of them very carefully at the base of my money tree.  It just seemed right to put sand dollars with my money tree which has been growing to incredible heights. Today, I realize that positioning may need some personal reflection!  I wrote about my money tree almost a year ago- in the fall Since that time I have re-potted that tree twice and had to move it  in order to accommodate its' incredible growth. For sure it's not monetary richness I have received in the past year, but maybe, just maybe, it's an expanded awareness...

We finished the walk and stopped at the coffee shop.  I sat in a deck chair at the very end of the wharf drinking a ginger beer. Ginger resonates with the root chakra and I was thinking about that as we watched a sailboat, flying a pirate flag!, float into the fog.  The fog looked surreal, exciting, and very seventh chakra in nature  What occurs to me now, is that those sand dollars were encouraging me, not only  to bring that seventh chakra, somewhat foggy knowing, into the root chakra physicality but to express those thoughts clearly and without limitations. Hmm.... the blog, my self-expression, will continue for at least another season...

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Fall Equinox

September 23rd is the official Fall Equinox, which means we will have approximately the same amount of light (day time) as darkness (night time). It also marks the official end of summer and beginning of fall.  All that seems a bit too "official" for me.  I don't think humans can really "declare" a season over or another one beginning, so maybe we should just observe the changes and celebrate nature. I think that's more the spirit of what Fall Equinox is about, and has been in ancient traditions.

In many cultures, Fall Equinox is considered a time to celebrate the harvest. It's a way to acknowledge and give thanks for the gifts the earth has given us over the spring and summer months. It's also a time to consider the upcoming season of restfulness.

Summer seems a more social time. We tend to celebrate, have parties and get-to-gathers more often in the summer.  It's filled with that yellow energy of the sun and we often seem to match that energetic feeling, or at least think that we should. As fall approaches, many people get that "homesteading" or "nesting" feeling.  We start to withdraw a bit.  We consider indoor activities, and solitary pursuits. Fall and winter are a good match for Water Violet type personalities. I've written lots about Water Violet- it's a pretty common state and a helpful essence for sure. You can type "water violet" into the search feature for more information or go to this early post

During this Fall Equinox, we are in a waning Half moon phase. Seems very appropriate to me, as the waning moon is a time of letting go, and connecting with your inner self.  It'sa good time to really consider what's right for you and where you want to be heading as we move into the fall season. 

Equinox is the ultimate balance. It signifies equal sunrise and sunset, equal light and dark, the point right in the middle where peace resides and everything is accessible in equal measure. Perhaps it's that sense of balance that we should be celebrating.

If you had spent the spring and summer seasons planting, tending to, and harvesting crops, I think you'd be celebrating pretty "big time" right about now. If not for the fact that you had food for the winter, even just the fact that your work was done for a period of time! Because lets face it, all that gardening was hard work. And it probably created a bit of angst in there as well, wondering if you would get enough sun, or enough rain, bug  infestations, or just the right conditions for a good crop. By this point, it "is what it is" and nothing you could do about it so you might as well celebrate either a great harvest or at least just the fact that you can quit the work and worry.

People claim that we are removed from our food so we don't understand those cycles as well.  I see the merit of that argument, but I think it might be a bit in your perspective, and I doubt that everyone can just quit the office job and plant a garden. I think there's a good chance you've been working pretty hard. even if you weren't close to nature.  Maybe it wasn't work planting seeds, weeding rows, or picking potatoes, but if you've been attending meetings, logging overtime, churning out reports, pouring coffee, cooking food,  answering phones, changing diapers, playing with kids, or whatever it is you do, you've been working hard. And there's a good chance you've been doing that so you could "put food on the table", you just haven't been so directly involved in the process.  Maybe we cheat ourselves a bit in this cycle and loose the balance in the middle that suggests since you have been working hard, it's time to relax a bit. Celebrate what you have achieved, realize you have a good harvest, or at least stop for a moment to breathe and connect with yourself. Celebrate that peace in the middle.

In my mind, no good celebration occurs without a cake of some sort. The Chinese have a tradition of celebrating September or Fall Equinox by making moon cakes.  These are offerings to the moon.  If you need an easy recipe for moon cakes, check out what Melvin Moon has to say:  If you're working in some other capacity in order to be create your harvest- give yourself a break.  Better yet, give yourself a pat on the back and recognize the fact that you are preparing for winter.  Buy a cake on the way home!

Let go of work for a bit and celebrate a job well done. You've brought in the harvest- let go of your worries and celebrate your achievements!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Crayola Bombs, Afternoon Naps & a Book Review

Robert Fulghum, wrote All I Really Need to Know I Learned In Kindergarten, in 1986 with a second printing in 1988 when it became a bestseller.  He's gone on to write more short essay style, slice of life books, that have all sold well. Much of his work has become almost pop culture.

People still keep their original copies of this book.  I know because a friend of mine recently lent me her copy, knowing I would enjoy it. I did, but perhaps for a more reflective look than anything else. It took me back a bit.

I was  reluctantly introduced to this book when it  first came out. I was a new grad from Paramedic school and was partnered for a few months with another graduate from my class.  Of all the close knit classmates I had, he wasn't one of them.   He had been a  bit of an outsider it seemed in the two year intense struggle of emergency medicine. Truth be told, perhaps we didn't really like each other that much.  But that can change pretty quickly the first time you carry someone out of a more than questionable inner city bar with multiple knife wounds while the fight is still going on.  We were both being razed  during those first few months, for different things, but the same reason. Our only crime that we were both rookies. We were also both "out of province" which increased the razing in the West's version of the East's "come from away". We started to appreciate each other a bit.

So when he started telling me about this great book he was reading I half listened.  When he told me about the introductory poem, almost a mantra that suggested we all should have a nap in the afternoon, I took note. He was exhausted and that line really struck a cord for him. Although we were the same age he was going through a tough marital separation and trying to bring up a very "girly" daughter that was just entering school ,as he was trying to get his feet on the ground in a career he wasn't sure he was suited for.  I wasn't even married yet, truly couldn't appreciate the world of parenting let alone single parenting, and for perhaps those reasons alone, was adjusting pretty easily to the adrenalin world.

The first line from the poem is "Share".  When my partner came to work one morning with burns on all the finger tips of one hand I realized I needed to share my limited knowledge of how to work a curling iron.  His daughter's straight hair wasn't cooperating and he was trying so hard it melted my heart, that at the time, had a pretty tough layer.  I told him  about the comb trick to keep your fingers away from the hot iron and your daughter's head!  When my in-laws were coming for Thanksgiving, he gave me his cheescake recipe and I still use it today. In fact, a version of it is in Sweet Shack and Bach Bar.

So when my partner got to the chapter about the crayola crayons on a pretty slow night shift, we went out and bought a box.  My partner carefully colored a beautiful unicorn picture for his daughter, keeping exactly within the lines. I made my own lines, didn't finish the picture but had fun with the process, and when he was still coloring and I was bored, I tried unsucessful to see if I could melt the crayon into a candle. Luckily we got distracted by a cardiac arrest call. 

Over twenty years later, I am really sitting down and reading the book. It's the kind of book that you can start anywhere and just read a section. It doesn't have to be read from front to back and I like that.  You can read it in 5 minute chunks, or over an afternoon.  In twenty years it still seems pretty appropriate. 

There are some passages and thoughts in the book that I don't agree with. But that's part of the joy of reading this book. It will make you think about what you do, and don't agree with.  Robert Fulghum suggests you do just that.

In that span of twenty years I am astounded by how much my views have changed. Not the core pieces so much.  I still don't color within the lines and I'm still trying to make candles, but the outside layers of me are so different.  It's not so much the passage of time, it's the experiences along the way that have changed the layers- taken some off and added some on.  For that reason alone, it's enlightening to read this book- for self examination I guess. I highly recommend it.

I'm not going to wreck the surprise if you haven't already read the book and explain the crayola bombs- you have to read that yourself.  But to that partner, that I have no idea where he is or what he might be doing, I energetically at least, send you a big box of the 64 crayola crayons with the built in sharpener, and a little bomb of happiness. I hope you kept your book and are reading it with pleasure, or maybe just having that afternoon nap.

And for the friend that recently lent me the copy, who's been a friend through all those layers- thanks! And I will get it back to you- I promise!

Monday, September 19, 2011

Wolfs bane: The Power to Kill or to Cure

In the comic books, when you have a super power, you can use your power for either good or evil. Some call that "free will".  This is also true in the plant kingdom, or at least when humans get involved and interfere with the plant kingdom.

Wolfs bane is a plant that has been around for a very long time in a multitude of locations and across many cultures. In folklore, wolfs bane is said to reverse shape shifting spells. It is rumored to kill werewolves, cause them to change, or even to heal them, depending on who you listen to. It has been used as a folk tradition for protecting homes from werewolves. Ancient Germans used wolfs bane to kill wolves, perhaps that's where the name originated from. It was used to kill predator animals throughout both Europe and India.

Witches were said to have dipped flints in the juice of wolfs bane. If the flint was then thrown at your enemy with any kind of accuracy, one scratch alone was enough to kill.  These "turbo-boosted" flints were called "elf-bolts".

This same plant in Tibetan medicine was called "the King of Medicines", while the Greeks called it the "Queen of Poisons". Interesting how the king is good and the queen is bad, but maybe that's more a reflection on power. Hmm...

Regardless of the fact and fiction that may surround this plant, there is no doubt it is powerful and can be very poisonous. It is essentially a paralytic which means it would paralysis your nervous system to the point that you would stop breathing if taken in enough quantity. And it seems like you probably wouldn't need to ingest that much of it. It is also a hallucinogenic, so you might have some interesting "60's type, magic mushroom" experiences just before your breathing stopped. Experimentation to find the dosage wouldn't be recommended!!

In the world of homeopathic medicines, the balance between kill and cure is understood. Many of the homeopathic remedies are derived from plants or substances that, if used in their pure form, would be deadly. In the preparation of the remedies, the substances are diluted to such minute levels, that a person can experience the power of the substance for cure rather than illness. In the tradition of "like cures like", substances cure the very symptoms they would cause if taken in stronger doses.

Wolfs bane is used to make the homeopathic remedy aconitum lycoctonum.  One of the prime indications for this remedy is Hodgkins, according to the Materia Medica (the source for all things homeopathic!). It is also indicated for swelling of the glands  (lymph nodes) which is really the hallmark of Hodgkins. Some of the symptoms of Hodgkins include coughing, chest pains, and breathing difficulties- all of which could be considered symptoms of wolfs bane poisoning. Another charactertics of the condition is skin flushing which is also a match for the poisoning. Aconitum lycocotonum is not very common, is pretty specific in its indications, and is not widely available.  It would be unlikely to find this in the "over the counter" formulations and you would probably need a homeopathic practitioner to find this remedy.

There is however, a very common remedy called aconitum napellus that is prepared from a plant similar to wolfs bane, called monkshood.  Although it's not the same plant it is very similar in nature and the two are  often confused, or referred to interchangeably.  Monkshood is purple, while wolfs bane is yellow.  Both are poisonous.

Aconitum napellus is very useful for a wide variety of symptoms. It is especially helpful for respiratory affections including a dry cough and labored breathing.  It is the remedy to first consider for croup and fever. The cough and symptoms that respond to aconite usually occur at night, often around midnight. People that match the aconite personality are often affected by atmospheric changes and find their symptoms come on, or worsen, if they are exposed to draughts, dry cold weather, or very hot weather.

For people that experience attacks of panic, feel very anxious and worried about their ailments, or are prone to experiencing forebodings and fears, aconite may be a match. The person may be very physically and mentally restless and likely won't want to be touched when ill.

I've mentioned before that I really don't believe in coincidences.  I think when something comes to you, there is a reason.  I therefore don't think it is a "coincidence" that during the course of writing this entry, I have talked to 4 different, and unconnected or related people, about an incidence of cough and respiratory complaints in the past few days.  Two of the "patients" were animals- one dog and one horse.  Aconitum napellus can be used for animals as well as for humans, like all of the homeopathic preparations. It would be a good remedy to have on hand during this fall season.

I don't honestly even know where one would buy flint in order to dip it in wolfs bane, and let's face it with my aim, I might not hit the right target!  And what about the concern that it might bounce back on me.  How did  witches get that wolfs bane on the flint without absorbing it through there own skin? And are shape shifting and  werewolves really a bad thing anyway?  All this to say.. I recommend we use the positive power of plants rather than evil.  And if you're feeling all that fungus in the air these days and you're coughing and heaving, feeling fearful, or having attacks of panic- consider aconitum napellus as a remedy!

Saturday, September 17, 2011

The Art of Storytelling

A couple of nights ago, my favorite Book Store Cafe, hosted a Storytellers night.  I had never been to such an event before so had no idea what to expect.  When I arrived the candles were lite. The room was full with a very "assorted" audience.  We were just starting to get outer bands of a fast moving hurricane and the air was tropical, muggy, and just starting to rain really hard.  The perfect night for a story.

I settled into my chair and had a really reflective moment.  I realized I was completely relaxed and ready to just sit back and listen.  I knew that nothing was expected of me.  I wasn't going to have to speak, formulate a response, or judge in any way.  I truly came to be entertained.

And entertained I was.  The stories were fabulous.  The storytellers were animated, their voices changed as they told the story from different characters' point of view.  There was just enough description that I could "see" it all in my mind.  Many of the stories were from the "one-room school house era" and I could place myself back there, imagining the characters as ghosts from my own past. The stories became very real to me but not as my stories, only that I could see the story through my own eyes- very different perspective. I didn't re-live my own past, I just, for a brief moment, clearly enjoyed someone elses'.  Most of the stories were personal accounts of something that had happened in the past.

Even though there was drama and trauma in some of the stories, I didn't have any angst as I listened.  I guess because the person telling it  is right there in front of you, you understand that somehow this story turned out okay. I didn't judge what was real or fabricated, it totally didn't matter to me. It was just a good story and if there was fiction mixed in there with fact, "mores the better".  No judging, sorting through, or analysis required.

Afterwards, I got to thinking about my experience.  It occurred to me to wonder why I couldn't take that same "entertain me" approach when listening to friends over coffee. So often when listening we are thinking about our response, or placing ourselves in their shoes, judging the teller, formulating how we think it will end, or what the teller might do differently. Many times it seems, we are waiting for our turn, and instead of listening we are thinking up our own story.  We try to come up with a story along the same lines, perhaps as a way to compare experiences or provide our input in order to relate and therefore "have a conversation".  Maybe we should tell stories more often than we "enter conversations". 

All those drama tornadoes are going to make great stories if just told for their entertainment value.  If we aren't judging the characters, taking sides, protecting ourselves, or worrying about the outcome, they will be fun to just listen to. Perhaps, years from now, some of those tornadoes will be folklore, myths or fables?

During the story telling session there is no interruption from the audience.  There is no discussion afterwards.  The story is presented, the teller "has the floor" and then you move on to the next story.  The stories don't have to be similar or flow as a reflection of the one told before. The story doesn't even have to be  the same every time. They don't have to be true, and the teller doesn't have to provide context or explanation as to whether or not they are true.

Bary McWilliams, in "Effective Storytelling" (available on-line ) says that one of the principles of storytelling is that once you finish the story - you stop!  He suggests you don't ramble on, try to tie up loose ends, or explain everything. You tell the story and let the audience draw their own meaning from it. Hmm..

Maybe that's what we should practice more.  Just telling our stories and moving on.  Maybe we don't need to hear the audience's interpretation or critique. Perhaps all we want to do is to tell our stories with sincerity and enthusiasm and then move on...

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Animal Signs: The Toad

A few days ago, while walking on a familar stretch of trail, I came across a toad sitting right in the middle of the trail.  He didn't move as I approached, he didn't move after I left.  I stopped to admire him for a few minutes.  He was quite magnificant. He seemed perfectly formed and colored and really very handsome.  I told him so, and kept on walking.  A few mintues later, another toad was sitting right in the middle of the trail again.  He/she, could have been a twin of the first one, and like the first, didn't move as I approached.  I talked to her too and carried on.  It was kind of a strange walk. It seemed like wildlife was everywhere, yet at the same time, everything was very hushed and quiet, almost like an approaching storm, but none was predicted and nothing came. I have walked this path thousands of times before in all kinds of weather and seasons, and have never before seen a toad. On the way back I retraced my steps and sure enough there were the two toads still sitting in the same places on the way back! 

Not believing in "coincidences", I came home and got out Daniel Mapel's, Into the Wild Book, my usual source for animal interpretations.  There isn't a listing for toad, so I considered the information on frogs, and I went back and read an earlier post I did on the peepers.  Some of the information about appreciating the miraculousness of nature and transformation seemed appropriate, and I wondered if the toad was signifing a transformation from summer to fall. But some of the information just didn't seem to really fit and I felt sort of let down, as though I was missing something.

Then by "conincidence" the other day, I came across some information on the toad as a totem creature.  It appears I shouldn't have considered frogs and toads as one in the same!  Sorry about that guys!

It seems the messages the toad brings include enchanment, inner strength, and luck.  The toad is considered a symbol of both the earth, and the moon and a bridge between altered states.

Toads survive in two worlds. They begin their journey in the water and their food sources are primarily found there, but they can breathe both under water and on land. They are equally comfortable in both environments. This type of adapability and metamorphosis, is perhaps why they are considered messengers of a change about to take place. Seeing a toad may mean it's time to leap into a new life path.

I considered the role toads have placed in folklore and story books. I kept thinking about that saying you see on t-shirts, posters, and mugs sometimes, "In order to meet your prince, you have to kiss a lot of toads". I think that might be a mistake- maybe that's supposed to be the frog, not the toad. In any case, I'm not in need of a prince and I'm a strong believer in changing old plot lines  There was no way, the toads I saw were waiting for a kiss. They were much too refined and wise for that kind of foolishness.  They weren't waiting to be transformed.  They were suggesting, I transform myself.  So back to those fairy tales, I figure instead of trapping and kissing the toad, the princess should have followed the toad to discover what she could have become independently, strong and trusting of her inner strength.

It might be a little daunting to consider following the toad.  Change often doesn't come without some questioning and a bit of concern. Three Bach flower essences that might help encourage the leap include Wild Oat, Larch, and Cerato.

Wild Oat is an essence that supports you as you decide on, and follow, your true path. If that toad is taking you in all sorts of directions so that you feel a bit unsettled, perhaps unsure you are following any direction at all, you might consider taking Wild Oat.

There is some fear around the concept of change for sure.  It would seem we are more comfortable about accepting change in others than in ourselves.  The princess is always happier to take the chance that the toad will magically become a prince than she is to consider the concequences of her transforming into a toad. Maybe if princesses took Larch, they wouldn't need to be kissing toads. Larch is the Bach Flower essence that helps provide confidence. It is recommended for people that are afraid of trying due to the possibility of failure.

Toads symbolize inner strength. The challenge is to bring that strength out so that it becomes part of what and how we do things.  Cerato is the Bach Flower essence that helps you trust that source of knowing. Cerato might have helped the princess follow the toad rather than listen to all those handmaidens that told her to kiss him instead.

I was thinking about the toad symbol yesterday as I was buying gas. It occured to me that the post the day before had ended up focused a bit on "luck" as well and the number 13, and before I knew it I was buying a lottery ticket. Surprisingly, I didn't win a single thing! I realize today, buying that lottery ticket was a bit like kissing a toad.  In the case of the ticket, I was hoping it would magically transform itself into boundless money.  That type of transformation happens a lot more in fairy tales than in real life. In real life, I would be better off following my inner knowing to create my own fortune.

All this sounds pretty good, but the toads I saw didn't move. There was really no chance to follow them.  Maybe the lesson in that is to wait, allow, and watch the transformation unfold secure in my inner knowing, the magnificance of nature, the possibility of altered states, and the luck that surrounds me.  For that, I go take multiple drops of Impatiens!!!!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Triskaidekaphobia: Fear of Thirteen

There are still lots of emotions and high drama being played out in this full moon phase it seems. Although it's not a Friday, it is the 13th day of the month and in the name of drama, I thought I'd reveal a new word I just learned- Triskaidekaphobia.  Apparently this means "the fear of the number thirteen".

Whether you share the superstitious thoughts about the number 13 or not, you're probably at least aware that some people avoid this number. Many high rises don't call the 13th floor by it's location and avoid it by calling it the penthouse, or skip right from 12 to 14 in the elevator and number sequence. In some racing barns, there is no number 13 stall- often it's replaced by the sequence 12, 12A, then on to 14. Airplanes often avoid the 13th row and I'm told there are no "Gate 13's" in Scottish airports.

Apparently the feelings around this number originate in paganism. The Druids and the Celts had thirteen lunar months. Twelve of these months were the traditional months with the zodiac symbols we are aware of today, but there was also a thirteenth that was considered "secret" and the center of cosmic life. The number 13 became prominent on the female side of occult work. It still seems to share that sense of black magic and the mystic today. In numerology, 12 is considered the complete number and 13 is a bit "irregular" in nature. Hmm...

In Hexes and Hemlines, Juliet Blackwell creates a mystery novel around the Serpentarian Society in New York.  Her novel is fiction, but the Serpentarian Society has non-fiction roots. In the 1800's prominent leaders of society, in an effort to dispute the "unlucky 13" superstition, organized dinner clubs of 13 select members. They did everything they could to "fly in the face" of superstitious rumors including walking under ladders and always meeting on the 13th of the month.  In Hexes and Hemlines, this doesn't work out so well for some of the characters, but I won't spoil the story- read it for yourself!  It seems to me, that all that effort to refute the superstition kind of points to Shakespeare's quote "methinks the lady doth protest too much". That kind of energy drawn to the subject seems to point to some kind of underlying fear in an effort to prove.

It seems that there are as many people that believe 13 is lucky, as there are those that believe it to be unlucky. Just not many that are ambivalent about it.  I guess that's the way with a lot of aspects of life, and most definitely with what we consider the "supernatural". People are drawn to it- either in fear or fascination, or a bit of both. Once again it comes down to finding a balance.

I don't know Dr. Bach's opinion on the number 13, but I know he created a number of essences that fit within the category of fear. Those included Aspen, Mimulus, Rock Rose, Red Chestnut and Cherry Plum.

Aspen might make the most sense if you fear the supernatural. It's indicated for people that have fears and worries they can't identify. It's for that "spooky sense" that might surround you, or that stays with you after waking from a dream . Aspen might help you balance that sense of foreboding with the realization that you can choose to see the world as fearful or secure and the choice is yours.

For triskaidekaphobia, Mimulus might be the Bach Flower of choice. It's indicated for known fears. If you know you are afraid of the number and identify that as the cause for your concern, Mimulus should help.  Mimulus helps you face fears with your emotions under control.  It still might not be a good idea to walk underneath a ladder, but you can realize this avoidance might be so that something doesn't fall on your head, not because supernatural forces may overtake you!

If triskaidekaphbia or any other fear is causing a real and definite sense of terror in you- Rock Rose might be the essence for you. And the supernatural really can evoke that kind of terror in some people. Some people believe that type of unexplained terror may have roots in past life experiences, or old trauma. Rock Rose can help balance that with a sense of courage and the presence of mind to be in the "hear and now" not a past thought or experience.

Red Chestnut is indicated if your fear is not directed internally as much as you fear something happening to those you love. I guess this one is for the "step on a crack, break your mother's back" superstition. What more can I say?

For those people that formed the Serpentarian dinner parties, this Bach's for you: Cherry Plum. Cherry Plum is for the fear of loosing control.  I rather think those prominent socialites (and rumor has it a past president or two were in those parties), might have feared loosing control over social order and financial status to a more powerful supernatural force. Hence the energy to disprove the power of the "occult". That's just my own opinion!  Cherry Plum can help balance that sense that you are on the verge of a breakdown and no longer in control. It's included in Rescue Remedy for this reason. But that fear of loss of control may also be that you fear control can be taken away from you, a slightly different perspective for which Cherry Plum may also help balance.

Then again, there's the idea of the "baker's dozen".  No matter how you look at it, I think if you've paid for 12 doughnuts and you actually get 13, it's a lucky day and a good number!

Monday, September 12, 2011

Full Moon in Pisces

Last night or early this morning we entered a  full moon phase. It is considered a full moon in Pisces phase. Full moon phases are often very powerful times,
and this one in particular may really pull your emotions to the surface and to the point of overflowing.

According to my We'Moon 2011 book, the moon in Pisces reveals our permeability. Pisces is a link to intuition and spirituality. People born under the moon in Pisces are said to have extra perceptions, be very sensitive and compassionate. We all have some Pisces in us and this full moon helps to bring that interconnectedness to the forefront.

A lot of people have been talking lately about being "sensitive" and in tune with others. In my opinion, this is happening to everyone, everywhere and is part of a changing world. We are all experiencing the gift of intuition exposed in new ways. No doubt this full moon is helping to speed that advancement along.

This kind of increased perception can be as simple as thinking about someone just before they phone you, knowing who is on the phone without looking at call display, or having a sense where the perfect parking spot is. It can also be as complicated as feeling a confusing sense of emotions that somehow don't quite feel your own, but you don't really know where they came from.

Like everything, this increased sense of knowing, connectedness, or intuition can be both a gift and a concern. The challenge is to find the balance.

As a gift, this sense of knowing is pretty cool.  We are all amazed when people seem to know what we are thinking or are able to tap into that extra sense.  This type of "psychic ability" has been the source of parlor tricks and professions. We both admire and fear these abilities- in others and in ourselves.

Being this emotional sponge that takes in the feelings of the world around us (and it may not just be limited to the feelings of humans around us), can leave you with a heavy, slogged down feeling. Pisces is a water sign and therefore the analogy of a sponge full of water comes to mind. At first, a bit of water in the sponge makes it softer, smoother, and the sponge expands into a new and bigger shape as it floats on the surface. But if you keep adding more and more water to the sponge, it eventually becomes heavy, soggy, starts to loose shape, and is unable to float to the surface anymore. It starts to sink with the heaviness of the liquid it has absorbed. You get to a point where the sponge can't take on anymore without dripping out something else. The sponge is permeable to anything and everything liquid.  It doesn't differentiate between good and bad liquids- it soaks them all in.

Perhaps, it would help us in this age of sensitivity to be "selectively permeable" in order to maintain balance.  If you remember back to Grade 9 and 10 science class, that picture of the cell will jump right out at you.  Remember those big proteins that sat looking a bit like lima beans in the diagram of the cell wall? Those proteins were/are selectively permeable.  They choose what substances they will admit to the inner core and what they will just ignore, or let float on by. When the proteins decide they have enough they just don't let any more in.  They don't loose their ability to absorb, they just keep it under control, always allowing what's  good for the cell and the inner machine. Those substances that are floating out there aren't necessarily trying to get in. They  just "are there". They get in when the cell is ready.  They don't  push their way in without a check in place. They aren't hurt by the exclusion, they just float around again. The proteins aren't selfish, harsh or prejudicial. They aren't mean, unfeeling, and uncaring. In fact, they are highly sensitive, knowing what is right in the moment.  Proteins don't loose their shape and abilities to absorb. They just "are".  Hmm...

In the Bach Flower collection, there are 4 essences that fit within the category of "oversensitivity". They include Agrimony, Centaury, Holly, and Walnut.

Agrimony types keep on taking on and absorbing the issues, concerns and feelings of others, pretending it isn't affecting them. They put on a mask to hide themselves while absorbing everything around them. Agrimony types, when they aren't balanced, are sponges, not selectively permeable proteins.

Centuary types also are not selective in who or what they take in when they are out of balance.
They take whatever liquid comes their way, good or bad,  and they go with the flow whether it's where they want to go or not.  When balanced, they are selectively permeable proteins that can say  "no" when it's appropriate for them.

Holly types sometimes don't feel they have the right amount of positive "things" inside them. Perhaps when they were growing and developing, they felt there wasn't enough positive emotions to select from. They develop a bit of a barrier crust on their membranes that seals them off from the flow later in life. Holly can help them soften up a bit so they can allow the positive liquids in to feed that inner core.

The world outside us is always changing. Perhaps in the Pisces moon, and in this changing world, the emotions of others are just flowing at higher levels and in greater concentrations. For that, we could all use a bit of Walnut to help protect ourselves from things that are not good for us personally. It will never be the same things for everyone. Walnut can help you discover for yourself what you need to take in and what you need protection from.

When you realize the rich environment of expansion, it can be hard not to just take it all in and expand quickly beyond your healthy boundaries. When that happens it gets confusing and difficult to sort out who you are as an individual and what is "your stuff" versus someone else's. That may be even more likely to occur under the influence of the Pisces full moon.  Now is a good time to open yourself up to what is around you and enjoy the expansion, but also take equal time to retreat a bit so you can sort it out. Focus on you, and what is right and best for your inner core.

 Enjoy the watery world of a Pisces moon but maintain your own unique shape!

Friday, September 9, 2011

Animal Signs: Dove

With all those drama tornadoes swirling around, and the anniversary of 911 this weekend, I thought I'd end the week with a peaceful blog.

The dove seems to be a universal symbol of peace and love. Daniel Mapel, in Into The Heart of the Wild,  writes the dove is a symbol for nurturing feelings of peace, calm and stillness at the heart of one's life.  He recommends dove essence when you want to quiet your mind and experience the glory of nature and the peaceful calm of the moment.

There are many references to the dove symbolizing the "holy spirit".  The white or grey/silvery color of the dove points to the 7th chakra. The strength of the 7th chakra is that it is our link or  connection to our higher selves, our pure thoughts, and the source of our inner knowing. When the 7th chakra is underdeveloped or unbalanced, we can suffer from superstition, apathy and illusion. Interestingly, many magic acts of "slight of hand" and deception involve doves. Scarves are turned into flying doves, or doves disappear into hats or scarfs. Hmm...

The wisdom ,it seems, is to find your true connection and stay on that course in order to maintain your sense of peace, simplicity and love. It's always there for us. We can choose to see the black hat and scarf, or the dove at any point in time.  We can sway over to superstition, fear, and illusion, or maintain our balance in peace. Easier said than done, but important to remember that fact. Sometimes awareness of the choices is all that's required.

Doves seem to avoid conflict. They don't screech or squawk or even chirp like other birds. They coo.  It's a pretty peaceful sound, almost like a very contented owl sound. It's never jarring, just soothing and gentle and perhaps a bit mesmerizing- peaceful and simple. 

Doves are not the solitary type creatures that Herons seem to be, but you also don't find them in big groups like crows either. They mate for life and remain true and very connected to small family orders. I guess that's the reason why doves are often released at wedding ceremonies as a simple of harmony. During stressful conflict laden times, it may be helpful to retreat to small family or friend units. Rather than gathering in big groups where the tornadoes abound, find a couple of good friends that support your peace and harmony and honor your inner knowing. It isn't about quantity, it's about quality where friendships are concerned. That seems to be the lesson from the dove. Mapel recommends families or couple consider taking Dove Essence together during stressful times to help resolve their difficulties and find their connection.

There are Bach Flower essences that can help balance your 7th chakra and restore you sense of peace as well.  In Sweet Shack and Bach Bar, Wise Woman guides Norma through some pretty difficult 7th chakra conflict. If you want the recipe and advice, order your copy by clicking on the picture of the book on the top right of this blog.

In my opinion, humans are drawn to conflict, drama and chaos.  It's just part of what we are about and our journey on earth. We bring it to us, and bask in it, some more than others. We like the action that drama provides. It feeds us somehow. The difficulty is knowing how to get out of the conflict when it becomes uncomfortable, too much, not fun any more, and damaging to self and others.  If you're seeing doves, maybe that's a symbol that it's time to pull back a bit and shift your focus. Remember the illusion, and focus on the peace, not the deception.

Connect with nature and your inner knowing. Turn off the T.V., unplug the computer and the phone, and go outside. Breathe in and breathe out.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Detachment from Drama Tornadoes

Maybe it's  the back to school and work routine, or the end of the summer season.  Maybe it's the lead up to the anniversary of the 9/11 attacks in the U.S. Maybe it's because we are getting close to a full moon and the fall equinox. Most likely it's a combination of all those and other forces as well.  Whatever the reason, it seems drama tornadoes are swirling all around. 

I've talked about time tornadoes before those points when it kind of feels like maybe you were in another dimension for a bit.  Drama tornadoes have that same sense of distortion, but instead of time, it's the present situation that gets distorted.

Teenage girls often get accused of what I call drama tornadoes. They take a piece of a situation that may or may not be factual, and talk it up among themselves, find alliances and oppositions, hype it up a lot, drag some more people into the center of things,create ways to fix, analyse and solve things, and viola you have a huge forceful ball of destructive energy set on a definite, but quickly changeable and unpredictable course. It isn't just teenagers that create and get trapped in drama tornadoes in my opinion. We all do it.. Sometimes we call these tornadoes, "media hype", "causes", "crusades", or "interventions".  The thing that distinguished drama tornadoes from good work, is the destruction that is left it's wake.  That's what makes them dangerous. Sometimes it's hard to tell if you are experiencing the winds of change, or a tornado barrelling down your path.

In an emergency capacity I responded to a number of weather tornadoes. I've never personally been in one and can't imagine what it must be like, because the aftermath is difficult to behold and unlike any other type of weather event.  Tornadoes are very selective in their destruction. One person's property and life may be completely devastated by the event while someone right beside them can remain totally untouched. The path of the tornado is easy to see because it destroys everything along the way. It isn't just a flattening of things like houses and structures. Tornadoes don't just snap branches off trees, or quickly uproot them, they twist trees in what looks like a painful twisted contortion.

That's the type of force that drama tornadoes can have. Sometimes these events start out, I think, loosely as an offer of help or assistance, perhaps harmless, but they soon pick up an energy that outruns us all and is no longer controllable at all.

The emergency advice when you see a weather tornado on the horizon is to get to a storm shelter. Shelters are located below ground,, near a basement wall, or in the most sheltered deepest part of the basement. If you see a drama tornado coming, the same advice may apply.  Take shelter.  What storm shelters are for weather tornadoes, call display may be for drama tornadoes. Water Violet types rarely get sucked into drama tornadoes. They don't just look at call display before they answer, they unplug the phone, turn out the main lights,ignore the doorbell, and hunker down with a great book and lots of chocolate! There might be some lessons to be learned there.

If you don't have, or aren't near a shelter when a weather tornado is approaching, you should take cover in a small room or inner hallway, like a washroom or closet. You want to avoid large halls, auditoriums, cafeterias or arenas. Tornadoes are likely to take the roofs right off those types of large structures. The same is true of drama tornadoes.  When you see one coming, it might be best to go within a bit.  Avoid the crowds, the parties, the large gatherings. This is not the time to find "safety in numbers".

Some people suggest, if all else fails during a weather tornado you should take cover under a desk or large piece of furniture. The theory here is that the furniture will protect your head and body from flying debris and injury. The problem with this advice is that once the storm has passed, you may find yourself physically intact, but unable to exit the building.  Drama tornadoes function the same way.  You might think you can remain part of the group and just cover your hears, don't say anything, "bury your head in the sand" a bit. The problem is, you may find yourself surrounded by the fall out when the dust clears, trapped in a place you don't want to be in.

There are some buildings that just don't provide shelter during a tornado no matter where you look or how big your furniture is. I once saw the remnants of a trailer park after a direct hit.  There wasn't a trailer or structure left  in sight. If you see a drama tornado coming and you know you aren't strong enough to shelter yourself ,don't try to outrun it.  You'll  only add your energy to the force of the storm and get flung further away. Stop for a minute and face the storm.  Watch where it's headed, measure the path and take definite steps in a right angle direction. In other words, do something completely different that takes you away from the path.

If you find yourself in the eye of a drama tornado, you might be a Vervain person.  It might be worth your while to consider your intentions when you signed up for this activity!  Maybe you are a little out of balance in your energy. Take a deep breath and reassess.  You might have the power to dissolve the tornadoes energy from within. 

If you aren't quite in the eye of this drama tornado but way too close for comfort and not feeling good about it, consider whether or not you could use a bit of the Bach flower Centuary. Perhaps you got "sucked into the vortex" by that Vervain character beside you!

Finally, if you find yourself in the trailer park without adequate shelter and too late to get out of the path, consider the Violet Flame as a way to shield yourself from the onslaught.  Maybe that pocket that I want to put in all backpacks and briefcases should contain a copy of the Violet Flame as well as Rescue Remedy!

The good news about both weather tornadoes and drama tornadoes is that although they are strong and powerful they do blow through quickly. Although you may be left picking up the pieces, either literally or figuratively, you can be assured of better weather ahead.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Back to School with Bach

In my part of the world, today is "back to school" day. I guess most kids, and parents alike, have pretty mixed feelings about that. Having been the kind of kid that for the most part really liked school, September sort of brings a memory of excitement. It's a fresh start feeling. For some kids, and parents though, school can be a really tough place and if that's the case, September must feel like a pretty rough start.

If the back to school routine has you or your child in an uncomfortable place, Bach Flower essences could provide a smooth transition and a great support. As always, any of the 38 different essences might be indicated, but I'll narrow it down to a few of the more common!

For young children, particularly those that might be entering the world of school for the first time, Aspen, Centaury, and Clematis may be helpful.

Aspen is indicated for unknown fears. The child that has never experienced school before, may be full of fear without really even knowing what that fear is directed towards. They can't tell you what they are afraid of because they truly don't know.

Centaury may be helpful if your young child is timid, shy and easily led astray. Centaury may help them get off to a good start by standing up for themselves and expressing their opinions.

Clematis may be helpful if your child is a real daydreamer and has difficulty making the transition from the world of play to the focus and concentration that may be required in school.

For older children and teenagers, their emotions may be seeped in a few years of experience with school, friends, and teachers. For them, Mimulus, Beech,  Crab Apple, and Elm may be more appropriate.

Fear can be a pretty common component in the back to school routine. For those that have been there before, they may know exactly what they are fearful of. In this instance, Mimulus is indicated rather than Aspen. Mimulus can help your child find the courage to face their fears and address them with a presence of mind and logical thought.

As children get older, and begin to develop the second chakra, they sometimes develop an intolerance of the rules, structure, or certain personalities within their school system. For this type of irritation, Beech may be helpful.  If your child complains about or  is bothered by the habits and mannerisms of others, or seems irritated and critical of other students or teachers, Beech may be helpful.  Beech may be appropriate at the early teen, junior high level. 

Crab Apple is an essence that can be very useful during teenage years. Crab Apple is indicated when your self image takes a hit and self  esteem is low. If your teenager is returning to school with pimples on their face, a changing voice, a few extra pounds, or just not feeling good about how they look and feel- Crab Apple can be a life saver!

It isn't easy being a kid. In today's world the responsibilities can start to mount up pretty quick when school gets started again.  If your teenager is juggling a heavy work load, a part-time job, extra-curricular activities or "needy" friends, they may become overwhelmed with it all. It's not uncommon for teachers to pile the work on in the first few days of school in, an attempt to get students to take the year and homework seriously.  This may be a time when Elm is helpful so they don't suddenly feel like they can't possibly keep up with it all.

It can be pretty hard to separate your child's feelings from your own. The return to school can bring up just as many emotions in parents, and teachers, as it does in children. The Bach Flower essences Red Chestnut and Chicory may be appropriate.

Red Chestnut, in my opinion could just be labeled as "the parent worry" essence.  It's indicated when you have a sense of worry and over-concern for family members.  It would be most helpful for all those parents that left the daycare/pre-school room with tearful, screaming children clinging to their appendages as the parent struggled to get out the door. By the time the parent got to the parking lot, their child was happily engaged in an exciting activity, while the parent was a bag of goo for the rest of the day- perhaps the semester. If you feel any version of that in the "back to school" season, Red Chestnut may be helpful for you.

Chicory can also be a "parent remedy". It's indicated for people that become overly possessive of those in their care. Chicory people dislike being alone and for this reason often keep children under their thumb longer than is necessary or welcomed! Chicory can help you allow your children to be themselves, capable of having experiences that don't always include you. Chicory can help you let go. Chicory may be particularly helpful for parents with children either going to school for the first time, or "empty nesters" with children out of the home for the first time.

No matter what your age or stage, Hornbeam, Honeysuckle, Larch, Walnut and Gentian might be indicated in the back to school phase.

Hornbeam is the "Monday morning" essence.  It's helpful when you find it hard to face the day.  After a summer of no, or modified, routines, everyone may need a little Hornbeam to get used to the harsh reality of school and work!

If you've had a great summer and enjoyed lazy days and evening campfires, or whatever it is you like to do, Honeysuckle may be helpful as school begins.  Honeysuckle is indicated when you long for the past and can't quite get "in the now" because of it.

Larch is a self-esteem, confidence booster and is indicated for anyone that needs a little bit of encouragement to try something new. And that can be either child or parent! Remember Larch when exam time rolls around as well.

Walnut is the essence that helps when you find it difficult to adapt to change. Walnut can help you move forward on your path, free of the past, ready to make changes in your life.

Finally, Gentian may be an essence to consider as we move through the month of September. Gentian is indicated when you feel discouraged or depressed when things go wrong or you are faced with difficulties. If the return to school, routine, or just the fall season, has you feeling a bit disheartened this is the essence for you.  It may be indicated when the excitement of the return is replaced with some discouraging marks or tough assignments.

In my "perfect world", I'd replace that box of Kleenex that is on the elementary school supply list, with a bottle of Rescue Remedy.  Make that 3 bottles- one for each child, one for each parent, and one for the teacher. I'd make sure every backpack and briefcase had a special, easy to access, compartment for a bottle of Bach Flowers. I think the world would be more balanced as a result.

It's natural to feel some ups and downs, highs, and lows during changing seasons and routines. Taking the time to acknowledge how you feel, and respecting how your child feels, is important. Talking it out may be all you or your child needs. But if you could use some help to find the balance in a changing world, Bach Flower essences are a gentle, non-addictive approach to helping. 

For more information on any of the essences, type the essence into the  "search" feature at the top of the blog, or visit my website

In the meantime enjoy the scent and feel of new scribblers, crayons and colored pencils, or the peaceful aroma of coffee in solitude!