Finding the Voice // Moving Past Writer's Block

I was suffering acutely from writer’s block. I can’t tell you how many times I would say, “Well, not today, maybe tomorrow.” Or, “I’m too busy and I don’t have the time.” I made excuses. What if I just didn’t know what to say? What if there was nothing to write down? Heritage feels like a long time coming - I’ve been creating recipes and accumulating family stories for decades. I’ve been studying biodynamics and integrative nutrition for just as long. Heritage has wanted to be written for a long time, as though it’s been scripted for generations. And yet sometimes I just can’t get the ball rolling.

So I did what any stuck person would do, I phoned a friend. I called my daughter, Nicola, who listened with compassionate ears and encouraging words, reminding me that everyone goes through this. And then I talked to my husband, who in trying to be helpful, reminded me that I’m not a writer – to which I replied with hurt feelings, something about my 4th grade creative writing assignment where I wrote a story about a ghost and doesn’t that count as being able to call myself a writer. 

I Googled “writer’s block,” signed up for a free webinar (or two, or three, or four!), and phone a few more friends.

One of the most helpful and supportive bits of awareness came in the form of fully recognizing what was going on. Naming what was happening (writer’s block) enabled me to actually takes steps towards working with it - rather than continuing to come up with excuses. 

Beyond the encouraging words (thank you family + friends!), I found a more tactile way to work with this blockage.  I finally found a rhythm with writing, by creating a ceremonial practice that has become an important part of my day.

A dear friend and colleague of mine, Mela, helped me to sink into my new routine. Mela supports many clients with time management, “dejunking,” and getting unstuck. First, she helped me to feel supported and grounded in my space. Too often, I would find distractions - a pile on my desk that I could spend time tidying; or my cellphone, which was often within arm’s reach. In clearing my physical space, using the power of intention, practicing breathing exercises, and keeping a candle lit for inspiration to come through, I’ve been consistently sitting down every day for two hours to WRITE. And I have to say, I’m quite proud of that!

In thinking of each writing session as a ceremony, I honor how special it is that I’m carving out this time and space. It gets harder and harder, I think, in our modern world, to set aside time that feels focused and intentional.

Before going to sleep at night, I connect with my Angels and Guides and ask for their support with creativity, flow and focus.

In the morning, I spend a few minutes listening to that voice that wants to be heard before getting out of bed to start my morning routine.

I’ve learned to allow time for fidgeting. Yup, the beauty of the fidget. It’s where I get to feel organized before starting to write. This could include folding laundry, preparing breakfast, unloading the dishwasher, clearing off my desk, taking a shower, making a cup of tea. The sacred fidget prepares me in the most profound way, in that it brings me into alignment with the creative process.  And what I’ve found is that it gives me a chance to meditate on what’s about to be translated into words.

I keep a bottle of water on my desk and I speak my intentions into it. I also have a cup of warm tea in my favorite mug (thank you, Leigh Fanady!). I light a beeswax candle in my favorite candle holder. There are photos nearby of loved ones and some of my favorite pottery pieces to glance up at for inspiration when I’m feeling stuck. I don’t keep a phone nearby. I also take a dropper full of Hornbeam flower essence (thank you, Robin, my dear friend and talented herbalist, for this insight) and sometimes I use Rooted Angel Trinity Flower Essence for additional assistance from the plant kingdom.

Mela told me something powerful - that time is both linear and non-linear. When I can access the dimension beyond space and time, whilst remembering to stay grounded in the here and now, I’m able to truly feel like a channel. I remember this, and then I write. The writer’s block starts to melt. Sometimes paragraphs and pages don’t quite flow together, or there’s too much to say. Or too little. But I realize that it’s all just right. 

My intention for Heritage is this: I am focused, connected and centered. The writing of Heritage, Celebrating Family Recipes flows freely and effortlessly as I develop the soul of this book. Heritage will serve as a beacon of light for those who navigate the natural elements of life. Heritage is food for the soul – a return journey home.

When you find that you need acute focus, may you too find solace in clearing your space, setting intentions, taking a break from technology, surrounding yourself with sacred & inspiring objects and calling on the help of friends and the plant kingdom.

Skin Healer // Behind the Scenes of a Rooted Angel Product

Plantain, growing in the garden.

Plantain, growing in the garden.

Skin Healer came from my experience with the plants in our garden. One year there was an abundance of plantain growing amongst the herbs, flowers and vegetables. Plantain is considered a weed by some gardeners. My friend David Miles told me it was edible and rich in calcium and minerals. I tried eating it raw - it was a bit chewy and stringy, a good workout for my teeth and jaw. Then I tried it in a stir fry with some other hearty greens and some fresh chopped garlic.

Fast forward a few weeks… I was working in the garden and nicked myself with a garden shear. With a bleeding finger I looked down for something to wrap around the wound until I could clean it out with some soap and water. There was the plantain leaf - wide, flat, easy to wrap and felt cooling on this fiery cut. Later I learned that the Native Americans called the plantain a green bandaid! Pretty cool when that synchronicity happens. That was the start of the making of Skin Healer. I learned how to make botanical oils from several other plants like comfrey, St. John’s wort and calendula flower. Blending these with beeswax and plantain is the basis of this product.

Recently I felt called to add a new Skin Healer to the apothecary. It has all the basics of the original, with the addition of Sea Buckthorn Pulp extract and Patchouli Essential Oil. 

Sea Buckthorn is a plant that is native to Europe and Asia but can easily grow in North America into a beautiful bush or tree. The female plant produces the most stunning shiny orange berries. The medicinal uses of Sea Buckthorn go back as far as 618-907 A.D., with references found in Ancient Greek and classic Tibetan medicinal texts. The berries are considered a nutrient-rich superfood; rich in vitamin C, carotene, vitamin E, malic and succini acids, amino acids and other bioactive compounds. It also is a super source of omega fatty acids 3, 6 and 9, plus the rare omega-7 essential fatty acid, which can keep your skin looking firm and lifted. We’re talking about superfood for your skin! 

Patchouli essential oil has its own sacred personality and purpose. It works with calming anxiety and depression. It is anti-fungal and anti-inflammatory, and is also used topically as a wound healer.

There are so many plants with multi-dimensional medicinal purposes. I feel honored to be invited into their kingdom to learn about their healing properties and to be able to offer up their gifts.

Following Directions + A Visit to the Dentist

I never realized how much my soul longs not to follow directions, it prefers to take the longer route, thinking its more interesting, creative, expansive...

The problem is when my soul gets lost on its own path, asks for directions, and then doesn't follow them again. This is ok some of the time, but if you keep doing the same thing over again and expect different results you’re like a hamster on a wheel of endless spin.

I’d like to share about my dentist visit yesterday.

The dentist told me that I had some issues that will eventually lead to dental implants and so she wants me to use a water pick (water flosser) regularly and put some Listerine in there. She looked me in the eye and paused when she said Listerine….she knows me, and that I'm opposed to a lot of the unnatural dyes and stabilizing agents that are active in commercial mouthwashes.

Even though I eat well, chew my food, floss at least once (maybe twice!) a day, massage my gums with gum oil...I realized that she had a point. And I haven't always been good about my oral health. As a kid, candy was my favorite food and the last thing we ever thought about was tooth enamel, decay, bone loss, implants.

Holy basil in the summer garden

Holy basil in the summer garden

Getting back to the water pick and the Listerine. I'm asking myself, "Can I follow directions and still be creative with this new dental care ritual? What can I use from the apothecary instead of Listerine?" And then it came to me: use the water pick with water and a dropperful of the Holy Basil Tincture! Somehow this made more sense to me. 

The next issue was using the device without getting water all over the place (last time I used it I ended up needing to change out of wet pajamas). Since the model I have is wireless, the dentist suggested using it when I take a shower. 

So far it’s working, and I’m feeling really inspired to have the support from the Holy Basil plant! I also tried just a few drops of the Better Bones oil on my toothbrush and I loved how it made my gums feel. I feel grateful to the plant kingdom for always providing an alternative to processed & commercial products.

And here’s a cool thing that someone just forwarded to me, an article written by Dr Josh Axe.   Check out what he has to say on #8, Dental Care and Oral Health:

"Tulsi has the power to fight bacteria in your mouth that lead to dental issues, such as cavities, plaque, tartar and bad breath. Tulsi leaves serve as a mouth freshener because they kill the bacteria and germs hiding in your mouth. (11)

Holy basil benefits include helping to diminish ulcers in the mouth, and in vitro studies demonstrate it can stop the growth of oral cancer cells. (12) For natural dental care, try adding a drop of tulsi essential oil to your toothpaste or drinking one cup of tulsi tea every day."

To your health!
Laura

Recipe for Ageless Beauty

You are beautiful!
Your eyes soften their gaze to take in another person’s soul!
Your smile harmonizes with the stars that light up the night sky!

These few sentences are felt by the cells in our body; cells that are nurtured not only by the food you eat, the water you drink, the sleep and rest you need but also the thoughts and feelings that create your life. The power of positive thought is remarkable when it comes to healing the body and creating an environment of self-love. 

Self-love comes in many shapes and forms. Cooking for yourself and your family and using foods that are local, organic and biodynamic is a wonderful expression of love. I’d like to offer another thought: when you are eating in harmony with nature, you are naturally supported. Your energy comes alive, your skin smooth and clear. By choosing foods that are high in antioxidants with anti-inflammatory properties, you naturally treat yourself with love, compassion and care, and you send those same healing energies into your inner world where they can work to soothe and heal your mind, body, skin and soul from life’s daily stressors.

The plant kingdom is here to support, they offer themselves up in selfless service. It is with great reverence to the miracle of all life that I offer up these suggestions to help keep your beauty ageless!

A wintry sunset walk is amazing for both the physical and mental body.

A wintry sunset walk is amazing for both the physical and mental body.

  • Spend time in nature. Get to know her different expressions of mood, whether it be a forest, ocean, lake, a grassy lawn, snowy drift or fragrant rose garden. A 30 minute walk has the power to transform your inner world and outer beauty.
     
  • Eat unprocessed plant foods. Especially fresh vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds and healthy fats like avocado, flax, pumpkin, walnut, olive and coconut. Fresh foods that have been grown biodynamically or organically retain their life energies even after harvest. Those life energies infuse your body when you eat these foods. Helpful antioxidants are found in berries and brightly colored fruits like kiwis, raspberries, blueberries and blackberries. Seeds and nuts have well known anti-inflammatory properties as well as minerals that form the building blocks of healthy skin and hair. Cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, cabbage, kale and radishes are loaded with skin beautifying compounds. These natural phytonutrients boost the body’s natural detoxification enzymes to combat and repair cell damage, reducing inflammation and bolstering immune response.
     
  • Cook with fresh herbs and citrus. Herbs are loaded with polyphenols, plant compounds that have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects. Citrus is amazing for vitamin C and fiber, not to mention how refreshing it is when added to drinks or salad dressings.
     
  • Drink plenty of water. Adding lemon to your water or small amounts of apple cider vinegar are great for detoxing and stimulating the digestion. Whenever you drink water, consider expressing love and gratitude silently into the water before you drink. Do the same when you bathe or shower.
     
  • Drink green tea. Green tea is infused with a potent portfolio of age-defying antioxidants. Because it is one of the more minimally processed teas, it offers the most antioxidant polyphenols, including a specific catechin believed to inhibit cancer and also beautify the skin.
  • Dance or do a rhythmic exercise like ballroom, tango, 5 Rhythms, tai chi, chi gong, yoga and tennis. All harmonious movements help to strengthen your etheric body, overall health and beauty.
     
  • Seek out therapeutic massage, healing touch, reiki, acupuncture, reflexology. Many of these practices are forms of ancient healing based on the perception that life energy flows through the physical body along distinct pathways or meridians. Receiving a treatment aims to open up these pathways so that energy can flow freely and effortlessly, allowing the bodies to do their best work in regenerating and creating new youthful growth.
     
  • Listen to music that makes you happy. As everyone knows, music can change our life condition in seconds! Over a year ago, I purchased a Music of the Plants device, a magical machine from Damanhur, Italy that turns the electrical pulses of a plant into musical notes. I use the music of the plants to help center me and provide calm. For more about this, click here.
     
  • Take deep breaths. Do you ever find yourself at your desk or in the grocery store and you notice that you haven't been actively breathing? It happens to me all the time, realizing that I'm holding my breath. The cells in your body need air to remain at their peak level of health! Deep breathing also helps in calming temporary anxiety and gives the body a moment to slow down and remain present. 
     
  • Use skin care products made of pure plant substances, preferably grown biodynamically or organically. I first got into making skincare products when I realized that organic, thoughtfully sourced skin products were not so easy to come by. One of my favorites is Skin Healer, which can be used for literally everything - cuts, burns, rashes, pimples, dry skin & lips.

Taking the time to care for yourself is investing in your long-term health. There are days when going to a dance class or buying a slightly more expensive skincare product (because it's made with ingredients you can actually pronounce) can feel indulgent. In supporting your physical body, you are also supporting your emotional body. The effort that you've put into your physical and mental health will radiate outward - and it doesn't just stop with you! The happiness and calm that you can begin to cultivate extends outward to others.

For more about nourishing your inner & outer beauty, join Laura and Kerstin Florian, luxury, organic skincare brand in a talk about The Power of Plants on Tuesday Jan. 16th 2018. For more info and to register, click here.

A Reminder to Plant Garlic!

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I can't emphasize enough how easy it is to plant garlic! According to principles of biodynamic farming, there are a few prime opportunities left on the 2017 calendar to plant it.

Biodynamics is a spiritual-ethical-ecological approach to agriculture, food production and nutrition. It was first developed in the early 1920’s based on the spiritual insights and practical suggestions of the Austrian writer, educator and social activist Dr. Rudolf Steiner. Think of biodynamics as a way of honoring and collaborating with the earth. It represents scale in thinking – a view of all life as energy or consciousness. When we consider what is taking place energetically in the cosmos, we can begin to see how all life invisible forces both in the cosmos and in the earth; that is, all life is affected by Astronomical Rhythms, Seasons & Elements.

The biodynamic calendar categorizes plants into 4 groups: plants that we grow for their ROOTS (carrots, beets, sweet potatoes), plants that we grow for their LEAVES (lettuce, spinach, cabbage), plants we grow for their FRUIT (peas, tomatoes, raspberries, apples), and plants we grow for their FLOWERS (echinacea, borage, cauliflower, broccoli). The calendar is essentially a schedule - over the course of any nine days, there are specific times to work with each of these 4 groups.


The best days to plant ROOTS (garlic!!) in 2017 are:
December 3, 11, 12 or 13

 

If you plant your garlic on one of the root days this fall, you can expect to see fully grown garlic in your garden in July 2018. Here's how to do it:

1. Find a mostly sunny part of the garden and prepare the soil to receive a clove of garlic (take one head of organic garlic and break it into individual cloves leaving the paper on).
2. Dig a hole about twice the height of the garlic clove (about 1 1/2 inches deep).
3. Place the clove in the hole, pointy side up. You can do a row of garlic, spaced about 4-6 inches apart. 
4. Cover the cloves with the soil, a little water, and then top with about 3 inches of salt hay or leaves to keep them warm for the winter.  I like to offer a prayer of intention, welcoming them to the garden and thanking them for sending their roots into the soil, may they find their way effortlessly and freely into another dimension of themselves in the coming year.


RESOURCES for More Information on Biodynamics

Stella Natura - Biodynamic Calendar
A Way to Garden - Planting by the Cosmic Calendar
Oregon's Wild Harvest - What is Biodynamic Farming?
Today Show Video - Biodynamic goes further than Organic