Are you back?
Spring is flirting with summer, the heady scent of linden blossoms is in the air, and I am done with marking papers and lesson planning for now. The last six months were a juggling act for me–or should I say more of a juggling act than usual. I was teaching English classes, caring for my family and doing speaking engagements and performances to promote my first book of poetry, Karma’s Footsteps. Sometimes it was a test of stamina but I had a ball. I reconnected with old friends, met writers I deeply respect and admire and made contact with readers from all over the United States. Without my regular consumption of herbal infusions and teas, I am not sure that I would have been able to adapt to all of the different roles I was required to step into this year: one minute I’d be in a classroom discussing the work of James Baldwin, the next I’d be talking to my daughter about the fine art of single digit subtraction, after that I’d be headed out to share my poetry at a bookstore or a college. Herbs that help us adapt to any type of stress are called adaptogens and I had some of them as allies during this time.
Mind you, when I started this blog, I was a stay at home mother doing an herbal apprenticeship. This meant that my family, my home and studying herbs were at the center of my life. Now my life is a mezcla of passions and I had to make a more concerted effort to keep the herbs and the earth central to it. Finding ways to do that improved my ability to be effective, relaxed and enjoy all of the dreams I was living day to day.
Starting the day with gratitude was an important part of this. It helped me to remain centered and in good spirits even if I sometimes felt overwhelmed, I would think of all of the beautiful things or people I am thankful for and name them. First thing in the morning before even opening my eyes. Connecting with mother earth and herbal medicine is a way of being that goes beyond picking flowers for headaches. It is about how we walk (live) daily. Gratitude is an important part of it.
I found myself scrambling for space and time to make my herbal infusions until I made that a part of my evening ritual. Ritualizing your preparation of herbal teas will help you keep them in your routine. At night when I was washing dishes or answering email, I would boil water for my infusions. They’d steep overnight and when I woke up I could have a cup of tea. It was perfect!
I’ve leaned very heavily on red clover, dandelion root, linden, and nettle so far this year. Dandelion root and leaf are great for just about everything. Many folks use dandelion leaf as a spring tonic. Nettle and red clover are nourishing, mineral rich herbs. The red clover was especially helpful at keeping my moods balanced before and during my moon cycles. The nettle is iron rich and I need it to keep anemia at bay. Linden has become a heavy rotation herb in my house. It is deeply comforting, tasty, spirit lifting, sexy even! The scent of linden flowers wafting through the air in June is incredibly intoxicating. I drink linden by itself or mix it with lemon verbena, lemon balm, elder flowers or rose. When I was deeply blue over the deaths of two young friends, Robin Rose Bennett made sure that I was drinking linden tea. In her book Healing Magic: A Green Witch Guidebook she writes “Drink linden blossom tea to help you recover from grief. Linden can help you feel young and vibrant again when you feel old and tired, defeated or in despair.” I can testify!
I also found it necessary to go to nature–even when it was chilly in New York. I would go visit my favorite oak and lean on it for a bit to ground myself and be reminded that I am supported by the earth. When I went to speak at Union College in upstate New York, my beautiful hosts took me to the campus garden. It was a most enchanted place. There were rosemary and thyme and oregano growing, roses, peonies and other visually delicious flowers in bloom. And in the midst of this was a gorgeous, huge gingko tree. Before I could stop myself I had my arms around the tree. My hosts were surprised (and accepting). I talked to them about gingko and how it helps circulation of oxygen in the brain. We talked about how the leaves resemble the halves of the brain. Holding that tree and standing barefoot in the grass was one of the highlights of an incredible trip! So get your nature on when and where you can. It is so replenishing.
Please do your best to make herbs a regular part of your life. My health has been enhanced by partnering with herbs and earth as opposed to reaching for an herbal remedy only when I am sick or in need. As an elder said to me “The earth is our mother. We get our food from her, we come from her and we’ll go back to her.” I talk to my mother on a fairly regular basis, not only when I am sick or needed something. I treat mother earth the same way.
How do you make time for the plants in the swirl of your life?