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

Behind the Scenes with Rooted Angel

Harvest Holy Basil (Tulsi) from Laura's biodynamic garden

Harvest Holy Basil (Tulsi) from Laura's biodynamic garden

For over a decade, Laura has been working closely with the plant kingdom - both in her garden, and in blending essential oils and preparing tinctures. Her interests in biodynamics, plant medicine and holistic health have led her to make a variety of plant-based products intended to restore balance and wellness to the mind, body and soul. We sat down for a quick Q&A to hear more about how she got started and her process.

 

What is the difference between a tincture and an essence?
Tinctures are concentrated liquid extracts of herbs. They are very potent and are taken by the dropperful, most often diluted in room temp water or juice. Most tinctures are made with alcohol as the primary solvent. Effective tinctures can also be made with vegetable glycerin or apple cider vinegar as the solvent, and are usually recommended for children and people who are sensitive to alcohol. 

A flower essence is the vibrational imprint of a flower that has been transferred and stabilized in water. Flower essences can help people recognize, resolve or release different conditioned ways of perceiving the world and can help us experience greater well being and harmony in our lives.

When did you first hear about tinctures/essences and when did you start using them yourself?
I can’t recall the exact moment, but somehow I always knew there was another way to heal the body, soul and spirit and that the plant kingdom was here to help us whether it be the food we grow, prepare and eat or the remedy that we are attracted to - or that is attracted to us. I do remember my German grandmother using some Bach flower remedies, I think she used Rescue Remedy. As I became more curious I started to study homeopathy, flower essences and aromatherapy. I learned a lot from some very talented and gifted colleagues and friends - Joseph Aldo and Robin Spiegel.

How did you learn how to make tinctures / blend oils?
Robin Spiegel, owner of Lotus Wellness Center, taught me about aromatherapy and how to blend oils, in fact she was my mentor in the development of Rooted Angel Essence Blend. We spent almost 8 months in private sessions together. The question I wanted to explore was what was most needed for humanity at this time...who were the volunteers from the plant kingdom who wanted to come forth and assist in helping to keep a flow of balance and healing of the mind, heart, emotions, spirit? We had 7 different blends that we tried and they just weren’t quite right. Then in the 8th month, the 8th try the blend came through our channeled session together.

"Sometimes it's just easier to get out of your head and into your heart." 

Robin also influenced my desire to create flower essences. I always thought it was a complicated process and that you had to have a distillery or something like that. With her encouragement and my understanding of biodynamic principles I learned to work with the flowers and the solar energy of the sun to create flower essences from the plants that are grown in my healing garden. The very first essence that was created was the Zinnia Flower Essence. The flowers are so beautiful, colorful and playful in nature! It was perfect timing to bring through this flower of play and joy.

The tinctures were a whole other process, actually they are all threads of healing that are woven together in that they actually work! They work because these natural remedies and blends know that they are on their way back to spirit. Anyway I learned how to make tinctures from studying the plants, recognizing their healing qualities (like did you ever find yourself mesmerized by the scent of rosemary or holy basil?). I read books that were written by Rosemary Gladstar and Rosalee de la Foret and followed some of their basic recipes for creating tinctures.

What inspires you to blend certain essential oils together? What's your process when you're blending? 
It's been a mostly intuitive process, the scent of something can attract or repulse you initially. However, the more you allow the molecules to travel through the air octave to activate some part of the molecules within your own being you begin to understand something…kind of like getting past the watchman at the gate.

Sometimes it's just easier to get out of your head and into your heart. The reading literature part of it can be useful confirmation, but its not always accurate when you’re talking about blending oils. Sometimes I’ve created a blend for someone that uses not only essential oil but also flower essences. It requires a good bit of concentration and focus and a willingness to let yourself receive the guidance. And trust, I forgot to mention trust.

Tell me about some of the products you make for Rooted Angel...
The most recent product I've developed is called Better Bones. It seems like lots of people are being diagnosed with osteopenia or osteoporosis, so it was born from a desire to support our skeletal structure and help with regeneration of bones.  Along with a bone health diet, weight bearing exercise and the management of stress and worry, it’s a proactive way to help the bones regenerate. I never underestimate the power of essential oils. A couple of weeks ago I was moving too quickly and bruised my ankle....seemed like I might’ve had a stress fracture. My self prescribed healing came in the form of ice packs for a day, rest, and every day For 2 weeks I massaged my ankle with a blend of ginger, carrot seed, nutmeg, Roman chamomile in jojoba, fractionated coconut carrier oils. You can use this oil on its own or rub some into the most susceptible joints - hips, knees, wrists and ankles before you get into the bath or shower, where you can massage deeper into the skin.

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...I love that a lot of the foods we need are growing right outside our doorstep!

Anyway, one day I was working in the garden and had 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, it was 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 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, calendula flower…..and blend them with beeswax. If someone wanted to they could add a drop of their favorite essential oil to the jar of skin healer. I sometimes add lavender, neroli or tulsi but either way it’s a great little healer that has helped a lot of people. 

Breast Massage Oil was developed as a request from a friend DeeAnn Macomson. DeeAnn is a talented musician and massage therapist who uses rhythm and energy medicine to create drumming workshops. She wanted to stay proactive about her breast health. We blended frankincense and helichrysum in calendula infused sweet almond oil. DeeAnn was patient enough to wait until the garden yielded enough calendula blossoms to create this oil blend. 

How do you think plant medicine and Western medicine can interact? 
Favorably, I don’t think they contradict each other. The point is they each have their purpose and one is not better than the other. You may find yourself in serious need of antibiotics and you can still take a remedy to help keep your astral body in balance so that you’re not bonking out with side effects from Western meds.

There are so many plants with medicinal purposes, but what is one of your favorite uses of a medicinal plant? Is there one that you find yourself using the most?
I try to stay with a remedy long enough to recognize that something in me has shifted. Getting back to the question though, I think that all plants are medicinal.

"I think that all plants are medicinal. You could make an amazing salad with all kinds of organic veggies and herbs like parsley, cilantro, basil, oregano. You are giving your body such nourishment!"

You could make an amazing salad with all kinds of organic veggies and herbs like parsley, cilantro, basil, oregano. To me this would be a favorite (and every day!) use. You are giving your body such nourishment! I also sometimes use dried flowers and herbs to make a medicinal tea, either to stay calm or focused or help my liver to cleanse or to help move my bowels.

Tinctures and essences help me to stay focused with mental and emotional issues. When I’m feeling stressed I’ll take the Holy Basil Tincture that I’ve made. I love using the Rosemary Tincture to help me remember my origin, which is from the stars, and the Trinity Flower Essence is another one that came through a channeled session with a very talented bodyworker and light being, Mary Diehl. She doesn’t have a website or Facebook or Instagram account otherwise I’d shout it out to everyone. When I’ve been somewhat shy and sometimes stumble on being able to express my femininity in a way that resonates I’ll take Alpine Lily or Trumpet Vine. The Alpine Lily helps my feminine soul experience a more vibrant relationship between my physical body and the spiritual feminine. Trumpet Vine helps with active, and dynamic verbal expression.  I purchase both of these from Flower Essence Services and I love that they offer biodynamic flower essences.

What resources would you recommend to others who are interested in the healing powers of plants?
These are some of my go-to books:
Alchemy of Herbs by Rosalee De La Foret
Aromatherapy for the Soul by Valerie Ann Worwood (any of her books, for that matter)
Medicinal Herbs by Rosemary Gladstar
Herbal Recipes for Vibrant Health - Rosemary Gladstar
Spagyrics: The Alchemical Preparation of Medicinal Essences, Tinctures and Elixirs by Manfred M. Junius
The Healing Intelligence of Essential Oils: The Science of Advanced Aromatherapy by Kurt Schnaubelt Ph.D.

And some go-to people:
- Robin Spiegel, Lotus Wellness Center: info@lotuswellnessctr.com
- David Miles
- Joseph Aldo

Thank you to Greg Wright for these lovely drawings. All products can be found in Laura's online Apothecary and come with one of these informational cards.

The Making of the Magnolia Amulet

Have you ever walked by something a million times and never noticed it…until you noticed it? Kind of like the saying, "When the student is ready, the teacher will appear."

That’s what happened with the magnolia seed head. When I really saw them, lying scattered on the ground, they struck me as one of the most exquisite and intriguing invitations from nature to explore deeper. And once they caught my attention, I saw them everywhere. I remember collecting as many as I could fit into my pocket before the shop owner came out to sweep the sidewalk where I had first “discovered” them. 

At the time I’d also been working with 2 other colleagues, Martha Robinson and David Miles on developing a series of workshops called “Cosmic Flow of Gardening”. We had been meeting regularly to check in with each other on biodynamics, living soil, plant spirit guides, the 4 elements, preparing the garden, preparing the soul of the garden.... We studied plant behavior, with a desire to rest in the pure and empty listening, beyond the science of what we could read about. We studied plants in our own gardens, receiving gifts from both the seen and unseen forces. In this way we learned something about seeds, referring to them as cosmic, in that they knew exactly what their etheric blueprint was! Encoded in their biology was a journey of incredible growth, an understanding of nature’s rhythms, a vast potential to heal, teach and show us a way of understanding through the various stages of plant development.

On that day when I met the magnolia seed head, I wanted to refer to it in a feminine way. Something was happening to my heart, every time I saw or held the magnolia seed pod it seemed to move me into a softer, more intuitive, yin energy. In that shared experience of wonderment, what I “heard” was the seed itself was not feminine or masculine - but really both. The “A ha!” light went off and so began a channeled session with this beautiful tree. I didn’t know this at the time but later learned that the magnolia is a member of the evergreen family. It has very large leaves and an aromatic flower that is bisexual.

Embellished Southern Magnolia Amulets

Embellished Southern Magnolia Amulets

Unbeknownst to me, as I was collecting these seed pods, so was my daughter Nicola. You can imagine our surprise and joy when we each gifted the other with a found magnolia seed head! When I think of all the teachings, inquiries and willingness to explore and go deeper with nature, I stand in awe of what comes back when the mind and heart are open to receive.

These pods find their way to the ground in the way that leaves fall from trees in autumn. I wanted to preserve this pod, keep it as an object of significance. Firstly to honor what nature herself created, and also to anchor the energy in the physical plane, to give me a focal point of what the magnolia tree represents. I felt inspired to combine art and healing in such a way to offer inspiration back to the plant kingdom. My background in art and fashion lead me to weaving, sewing and adorning these magnolia seed pods with precious stones, leather, ribbons and trims. This gave me even more time to appreciate and meditate with the buds. Time to look at the amazing intricacies of the stem and pod. In working so intimately with these buds, my appreciation for the plant kingdom grew tenfold.

Magnolia is a tree whose energies help to strengthen and activate the heart chakra, the center of idealism, of love and of healing. More importantly, it aligns the heart with the higher intellect. I’ve found that just by holding the seed pod and bringing my awareness to its gifts that I’m able to shift the energy into a higher state of awareness, where the masculine and feminine reminds us to be true to our ideals and our heart, no matter what kind of external pressure is upon us.

I keep my magnolia amulet on my altar, and recently brought it to rest within the blessings of my advent wreath. 

Laura makes both Magnolia Amulets and Holy Basil Wands as a way of honoring the plant kingdom and the healing capacities of plant life. Both are available in her online Apothecary.

Healing Herbal Bath Vinegar & Sipping Tonic

Holy Basil

Holy Basil

HEALING HERBAL BATH VINEGAR

(Makes 1 quart)
3/4 cup finely chopped fresh rosemary
3/4 cup finely chopped fresh lavender
3/4 cup finely chopped fresh holy basil (tulsi)*
32 oz (1 quart) apple cider vinegar

Rosemary

Rosemary

1. Fill a glass jar with the fresh herbs. Pour the vinegar over the ingredients, filling the jar to the top with the vinegar. Make sure that the vinegar covers the ingredients by at least a couple of inches.
2. If you are using a metal lid, cover the opening of the jar with two sheets of wax/greaseproof paper, and then put the lid on or use a plastic lid.
3. Store vinegar in a cool, dark place for one month. Shake it once in a while and occasionally check to see if you need to add more vinegar, as some of the plant material may have soaked it up.
4. After 1 month, strain the fresh herbs from the vinegar. Discard the strained ingredients into the compost. The liquid left behind is your herbal vinegar. Store the vinegar in a container in a dark cabinet out of heat, light and temperature variation. It should last for about one year.

TO USE: Add ½-1 cup of this vinegar to your bath to soothe the skin and promote healing and regeneration to the body, soul and spirit. Or, take orally by sipping on 2 tbsp of this tonic before or with your meals as a restorative digestive.

*Fresh holy basil is harder to come by unless you grow it. Dry holy basil is easier to come by, or you can also substitute fresh basil (the kind you would use to make pesto)!

NOTE: you can make this herbal vinegar any time of year (even in the winter!) with dried herbs – just reduce the quantity to ¼ cup of each herb. Use the same process for storing and straining. I love using sourcing bulk dry herbs from Mountain Rose Herbs. They offer Fair Trade Certified herbs, essential oils and other products -  most of which are organic!


Lavender

Lavender

THE QI OF HERBS || MEDICINAL BENEFITS:

ROSEMARY || Rosemary is known as the herb of remembrance - it assists in releasing absentmindedness, forgetfulness or hypoglycemic tendencies. Rosemary is an excellent stimulant and warming herb, it improves poor circulation, lowers cholesterol, eases muscle and rheumatism pains and treats lung congestion, sore throat and canker sores. If you've ever woken up with a bit of a foggy brain, cut a sprig of rosemary, pop into a teacup and brew with hot water for about 6-8 min. Ahhhh, release!

LAVENDER || Lavender has long been used to decrease anxiety, induce relaxation and promote sleep. It also helps with pain, wounds, burns, depression, headaches, dyspepsia and bug bites.

HOLY BASIL ||  Holy Basil is one of the most sacred plants in India, and is often kept in courtyards and houses for its purifying and beneficial influence on its surroundings. Know as the elixir of life, queen of herbs and Mother Nature of medicine, it promotes optimal function of the lungs and heart, bolsters the immune system, heightens awareness and promotes mental clarity. Today's plant scientists have classified Sacred Basil as an adaptogen - a substance that helps us adapt mentally and physically to stressful circumstances.

APPLE CIDER VINEGAR || AC Vinegar is excellent for extracting minerals from herbs, it helps the body's acid/alkaline balance and assists in digestion. Additionally it is particularly beneficial for health, being antibacterial and antifungal, boosting the immune system.