Monday, January 27, 2014

The Art of Self-Care and Saying No


I woke up this morning to the sound of the wind moaning as it bent around the exterior of our house. Each drafty space between poorly set door-frames and missing doorknobs stuffed with socks howled woefully like a ghost announcing the cold front blowing in from the north.  I rolled over and had the moment of ultimate relief that we feel upon waking up after a night of being ill. For those first few seconds we feel completely well – normal, and slowly the “ick” sinks back in, as if the body has to take moment to remember that it actually isn’t well quite yet after all.

I stared at the ceiling, turning the phone over in my hand trying to decide if I should reschedule the routine OBGYN appointment that I’d planned for that morning. THIS proved to be an easy enough decision, so I canceled and went back to bed. Maybe I’d feel better in time for my limpia and flamenco classes by this afternoon. I wasn’t feeling that horrible after all, just – you know – sour.

Why, you ask, am I even bringing up this bleak morning scenario? Well, because ultimately I canceled all of my appointments for later on in the day in order to honor a resolution that I made for myself this year; a resolution of self care. Certainly, I might have been able to coerce myself out into the blustery evening to halfheartedly stomp around the flamenco studio – exerting myself to a moderate degree and hoping that it wouldn’t make matters worse.

If anything, I would think that I should keep my engagement to visit my spiritual mentor and bring her the blue corn bread I had baked in exchange for a limpia and warm pláctica (heart to heart talk) about my reasons for requesting a spirit cleansing. Few things can make me feel more refreshed and revived than having the herbs and the egg swept over my body while she rattles and sings and burns copal. Wasn’t that part of my self care after all? But my body appealed and, as I had promised her I would, rather than push this time - I listened.  

This business of self care, can be tricky. We have appointments to be kept and deadlines to be met and projects to be completed. As professionals in a healing tradition ourselves, sometimes our passionate AND compassionate nature gets the best of us as we try to have the biggest impact on our students, clients, and community. We offer them advice to allow their bodies to heal but we often do not take our own advice. We tell them that the state of their mind, of their spirit translates into the medicines that they make, but are we always heeding our own? We cannot make effective medicine when we ourselves are sick and we cannot hope to offer a truly effective ritual for others when we ourselves are in need of a soul retrieval.

While I am not encouraging opting out of our commitments every time the going gets tough, I do encourage giving ourselves the permission to take the advice that we would give to somebody seeking our own healing council. “Listen to your body,” it will tell you if it is merely tired from working long hours this week or if it truly is not up for the task and needs you to show IT some compassion.  Long periods of ignoring these messages can build up into deficiencies of the body and spirit over time.

Today, while sprawled in a robe on my couch, feeling sensitive and a little week – my body is saying “thank you,” even as it continues to cause me some discomfort. But my spirit is nourished for having shown confidence in my own intuition, and the more I show her that I trust her guidance, the louder and more clearly she will begin to speak.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

No Olvidarte

Cosas importantes:

Freedom. La independencia. Perspective. Love within autonomy.

Nature & connection. Las raíces.

Expanding while simplifying.

Efficiency of spiritual, physical, and emotional resources.

Beauty. La humildad.



Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Teachers, Sensuality, and the Distillation of "Freuths"

Teachers can be anyone, and can be identified as such based on the timely moment when they enter our lives. 


Teachers do not have to be people that we learn from on a shared physical plane, standing before us, breathing their speak into the same space that we inhabit....but to say truly that there is anything else like that type of interaction; existing together and exchanging reverberations, the real-time call and responsiveness, the intersecting and melding of musings, would do a great injustice to the preciousness of such an opportunity. I have been lucky enough to have a handful of such teachers, all which opened my mind little by little and urged me to peak around corners that maybe seemed too dark, or that I had passed by over and over without noticing that they were there at all.

One of my most significant teachers, artist Joanna Frueh, came into my life at such an opportune moment in 2006 or 7 when I took part in her performance art class in college. To explain the details surrounding her impact and timeliness in my life at that point would not serve to illuminate anything particularly interesting here, but suffice to say that upon leaving that class I never felt freer or more clear of my own power and thirst for a sensuous and magical life than I did at that point.

Sometimes it is sufficient for those teachers to incite change and inspiration and then remain as a grand statue in our past - flickers of memory and nostalgia may bring them back to mind and appreciation of their role in our creative unfurling may linger on - either as a conscious thought or in the evidence of the new paths we've blazed & tended. Other times, teachers return, just at the winds shift and we find ourselves again in a graduated replica of that original mind/spirit moment of need...

Such is the case of my dear teacher, Joanna. As I grapple with the absolute celestial knowledge and recognition of the things that are lacking from my current life, I happened to stumble across an email about the release of her new book, A Short Story about Big Healing. This serendipitous discovery lead me to explore the richness of her words, photographs, and art contained on her sweetly simple website.... a still eye in the tornado of overstimuli which is the internet and social media. Existing. Beautifully. As always. As herself.

As I lingered over her words, delicate as a field of poppy and just as resilient and prolific, the exact thoughts and affirmations that had been hiding themselves in resented and self inflicted responsibility - on the tip of my tongue until now, were once again made obvious. I effortlessly imagined those words delivered in the deep rich tones of Joanna's sturdy voice, as if from a smooth grooved record where the needle had just dropped onto the exactly right place.

 An exert from Joanna Frueh's web-published piece, A Work in Progress.


"Beauty, economy, and necessity


Beauty, economy, and necessity are foundational pleasures for me. These days they spontaneously apply themselves in writing and performing as they do in eating, cooking, moving my body, connecting with people, choosing and arranging the material elements that create my home, buying and wearing clothes, picking a book, an aesthetician, acupuncturist, yoga studio, or travel destination, be it the Missouri Ozarks or Tamil Nadu.

Beauty is a cultivation of self and surroundings through feeling the subtleties of each.

Economy means attentive management rather than sparing use or scarcity.

Necessity ensures, to the best of my ability, that shoulds and have-tos dissolve before they lead to wasted energy, time, and words, and such selectivity and discrimination unfix ways that I've written and performed, so that my own flexibility surprises me, letting ideas and texts reshape themselves, freeing myself from forms and processes of writing and performing that have become routine and redundant to me."

Cicada Song

Entering a time of relative quiet, and you know, its ALL relative because here I go still working two jobs on top of trying to run my own collective & personal not adding one more thing to my plate just sounds relaxing, not necessary.

Although, maybe that is the point. Maybe relaxing IS necessary - tell that to a Vata Sagittarius with the "sports gene". I've been walking along the Colorado river at dusk to calm my locomotive soul, that chugging mind and hissing body, that can take hundreds of feet to skid to a stop.

I don't HAVE to do everything. I only have to do what matters. So, here's what matters in a burst of tiny early autumn inspiration in the dead of summer: what matters is feet on the earth and paint under my fingernails creation. Charcoal knees and hands that smell of tinctures from pressing them both bare.

Taking a break from the infor-emo-tion highway. Closed system. We put so much of ourselves out there  to share that we forget to embody what we mean. I used to think that putting a thought out into the universe would help it to manifest - now I see how its like throwing bread crumbs into a rushing river on Yom Kippur, washing us away of all our sins and best intentions. Rather I should now sit with that thought and hold it within me, let it marinate and sink into the root of me, becoming a part of my molecular body and my unconscious mind. Maybe THAT is the magic. Privacy is the magic. Quiet.... is the magic. Just ask the cicada.

So now I let go all of the things that have me running on this wheel towards a "success" that I will never have the time to truly create because my efforts are too split, hurried, and disjointed. And when I lay my head down on my pillow at night, I am too exhausted to receive the loving gaze that my beautiful partner would give, too exhausted to sit under the moolight with him and plant seeds in the earth and talk of mysticism and music.

I have time (if I have time) - I must now be able to pull back and be quiet - because if the former is true, then I will emerge more ready than ever to accomplish & create the life I want to inhabit. If the latter is true - I should hate to say that I missed my chance to enjoy peacefully those things that I now take for granted will be there when I finally have time to slow down.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Snails, Trails, and Owl Pellets : The Gifts and Medicine of a Central Texas Storm

Last night the storm rocked the house and lit up every window and otherwise crack to the outside from our darkened home. My only window of the spectacular show was when my partner burst into the room lit up as bright as the sky itself, energized by pushing seeds into the sponge soft ground in, and no doubt the energy generated by swelling storm.

This morning, I awoke a little disappointed (thunder storms are my favorite, I had slept through it, and we don't get as many here in Austin as we did in Tucson) but overall felt entirely at peace and after making some coffee, I strolled down to my new moon garden. Beyond the winding trails where the downpour had washed all the organic debris downhill, I perched on a rock with my nose close to the ground to see if any of my little seedlings had been coaxed out of the ground by the showers and to see what else the storm had left behind.

I want to share a really lovely short and simple article about the art of vibrational healing(also this is just a really great blog, if you have interest, I suggest you follow):
Herb Geek: Vibrational Healing

I truly must believe that anyone who spends time with herbs, anyone who spends time in the ritual of preparation itself (be it teas, salves, etc), or simply anyone who walks the winding paths left by the rain after a great storm cannot deny that this invisible medicine exists.

What the author doesn't mention in this article is that science backs up vibrational changes that have a direct effect on the human body systems. Take, for example the well established effects that the negative ions left after a good rain has on the human body. I sourced the following information from I would have paraphrased this myself, but I'm anxious to get back outside!

-Negative ions increase the flow of oxygen to the brain resulting in higher alertness, decreased drowsiness, and more mental energy.
-Negative ions help recovery from physical exhaustion and fatigue – achieved by increasing oxygen levels in the blood.
-Negative ions stabilize brain function – effect - relaxation and calmness.
-Negative ions aid in blood purification by increasing the levels of calcium and sodium (healthy salt intake) in the blood stream, negative ions help restore a healthy (slightly alkaline) pH balance to the blood.
-Negative ions increase metabolism by stimulating exchange of electronic substances in cells.
-Negative ions strengthen immune system - high levels of negative ions promote production of globulin (proteins that are found extensively in blood plasma) in the blood, resulting in stronger resistance to illness.
-Negative ions balance autonomic nervous system by balancing the opposing sympathetic and parasympathetic branches of the autonomic nervous system.
-Negative ions promote better digestion - by counteracting over-arousal of the sympathetic nervous system, negative ions help ease tension in the stomach and intestines, promoting the production of digestive enzymes and enhancing digestion.
-Negative ions promote cell rejuvenation by revitalizing cell metabolism, negative ions enhance vitality of muscle tissue and strengthening internal organs.


Thursday, December 15, 2011

Still Moment

Jesca Hoop is the voice of the little adobe corner-market house on Franklin, in a burning-sky desert in autumn. She is the first days of sweater on the front stoop, of glowing windows, and a dirt drive, and starlight obscured by branches. Oh, that sweet certain spot. Nothing but aged wood floors and adobe smells like aged wood floors and adobe. Breathing in the world's expansive and varied fortunes, and out my uncertain intention - it was the house of waiting, and I, at the mercy of absolute contingency.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Herbs to Share with Your Sweetheart, Be They of the Human or Animal Kingdom.

As I write this, I am waiting to pick up my first ever cat companion, “Mr. Meow-gi,” also called “Tommy the cat,” from the veterinary clinic. I always thought of myself as a dog person through and through but then, one fateful eve about a month ago, I more or less fell into the role of a cat owner. I adore their independence and ability to turn grown men into bumbling, baby-talking idiots with a coy and calculated look (such coveted gifts!). So, with felines on the mind, I want to share the all too overlooked wonders of Catnip with you!

Most of us think of catnip purely as a kitty cocktail, something to entertain and intoxicate our furry friends of the feline persuasion. However, to stop there would be selling short this incredibly multifaceted herb. Common catnip, Nepeta cataria, is a member of the mint (or Lamiaceae) family. It has been long used by humans as a tea, infusion, tincture, and even smoked for its calming effects, to ease upset stomachs, reduce fevers, chills, aches and pains, and to help relieve joint pain and rheumatism. I like to drink catnip as a tea, in a blend with chamomile (Matricaria recutita) , oatstraw (Avena sative), and passionflower (Passiflora incarnata) to alleviate anxiety and promote rest and relaxation. Considering these characteristics, it might not be surprising to learn that catnip shares a similar chemical structure with the Valarian plant.

…but those are just reasons why us humans love catnip. Your cats love it because it contains a terpene called nepetalactone. When cats inhale this fragrance, they begin to exhibit the range of actions associated with kitty intoxication, purring, rolling on the floor, etc, likely reacting to similar “feel good” pharamones. Interestingly, only cats over the age of eight months usually respond to the herb, and even after those eight months, 10%-30% of cats will not become susceptive to the nepetalactone in catnip’s stimulating effects. That same terpene, nepetalactone, is also a potent insect repellant, and has been tested and reported to be more effective than DEET against flies, mosquitoes, and even roaches.

This Valentines Day, consider showing love to yourself and your furry soul mate by sharing in some catnip and a candlelit salmon dinner.