alternative medicine · ecology · essential oils · food · health · Herbs · homeopathy · modern life · slow food · technology

Herbal Enhancement and Enchantment

Every single day I use herbs in a multitude of ways and they are not necessarily ‘curing’ anything (although they might be!) nor are they making me super-human. What they do is enhance daily life in meaningful, beautiful ways and I’m on a mission to get others to think about herbs as enhancing their lives, instead of thinking of them in a pharmaceutical way. If people can change the way they think of herbs, they are far more likely to start using them and enjoying their benefits, which is great in itself but also it is beneficial because herbs work best as promoters of long-term balance, so not only would one get the most out of one’s herbal usage, one would also be able to retain balance and avoid imbalances (dis-ease). In other words, more herbs means less drugs, less sicknesses, less doctor visits.  Now I’m all for modern medicine~ absolutely would not turn back time to any romantic bygone era because I wouldn’t want to lose access to our modern medical wonders. I am most definitely not talking about replacing modern medicine with herbs~ if you have a medical issue, go to the doctor. Herbs can do so much more though, and if you start incorporating them in your life, it’s my firm belief you’ll have less medical issues for which you need to go to the doctor. And even though modern medicine may be full of wonders, the truth is not many people enjoy the time spent in doctors’ offices, hospitals, or going through the newest medical techniques~ miraculous or not. This attitude reminds me of the slow food movement so I like to think of it as slow health. Herbs alone won’t make a person healthy, but thinking long-term about health is a great way to start thinking about your personal tendencies and imbalances and how to counteract those things long-term. Many things might help: exercise, yoga, dietary changes, brain games, homeopathy, social changes, journaling, essential oils…the list can go on and on because we are all such different individuals. At a time of year when so many of us are reviewing our daily lives and resolving to do better, be better, I hope in the rush towards better-ness we can all pause and instead of just downloading a new app on our smart phones to track diets, or upping goals on fitbits, we can all think of slowing down this rush which is itself out of balance. Perhaps the best part of adding herbs into daily life is the connection with nature that moment provides.

Lavender

If you own one essential oil, it’s most likely lavender. Add a drop to your pillow tonight, or several drops to your bath and enjoy herbalism that way. In other words, you don’t have to drink an herbal tea or take a tincture in order to benefit from herbs, there is a world of beauty in essential oils that can be tapped through so many ways. Not that there is anything wrong with herbal infusions or tinctures, but if you are new to the world of herbs, I recommend starting with something fully pleasurable and beautiful and hopefully it will whet your appetite to investigate more in the herbal world. Health regimes do not need to be unpleasant~ enjoy creating your optimal health. It’s a beautiful thing.

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ecology · modern life · slow food

Thanksgiving in December

I had to wait to write this post because November is my least favorite month of the year, and Thanksgiving has never been one of my favorite holidays either. Don’t get me wrong, I love celebrating gratitude. Gratitude, if done right, can enhance one’s life in an instant, and nothing has longer lasting results than a true change in perspective, which gratitude truly does, in the deepest way possible. I try to practice sincere thanks-giving everyday~ it’s the holiday meal that bothers me. And the pressure to cook, and to cook certain things, and the whole push/pull that is happening now with Christmas and when shopping should start and it all leaves me stressed. (Why do people get so rankled over that? Because it is something that they can adopt a sense of superiority about? ) Personally, I never go out on black Friday, nor that whole weekend because I loathe crowds and would rather pay more for my gifts than sit in traffic, but the whole discussion around it just seems laced with venom and I don’t understand why everything has to be so heated. We have real issues to deal with, (climate change, poverty, extreme ideology), so let’s not get bogged down in complaining about what others do with their Black Fridays and what time is acceptable to do it. If people really want to honor the spirit of Thanksgiving, perhaps righteous indignation should be put aside for the day.

Anyway, that was an unplanned vent, I guess I needed to get that off my chest. The real reason I don’t care much for Thanksgiving is that I don’t like any of the traditional food served on the holiday so the big event is just awkward for me and always has been. Now with three out of four of us being gluten-free, it causes even more awkwardness and even more cooking. I was at a gluten-free bakery a couple of days before Thanksgiving and this poor woman in front of me had just been diagnosed as gluten and dairy intolerant, and so was her daughter. She said that when she told her family they said something along the lines of, “No problem. Just bring whatever you want to substitute your foods.” And her response was, “But that’d mean the entire meal! I think I’ll stay home and cook hamburgers instead.” I totally felt for her. I cook a few things that kind of go with the meal though aren’t traditional, and either buy the rest or others do that cooking. My husband apparently makes a fine bird, but I wouldn’t know. All I know is it takes forever for that turkey to cook. Here’s a bird I am thankful for:

Owl at Grass Lawn Park

Someone stuck this ceramic owl in the most unlikely place at Grass Lawn Park and it has stayed there for about a month now. Either people don’t notice it or no one wants to move the little cutie. I love this special owl and look for it every time I’m in that area of the park, which is even more often now that I have a dog than when my kids were younger. And for the record, I’m very grateful for that park too, and for the fact no one has taken the owl for their own.

Another park I’m deeply thankful for is Marymoor park. They have an off-leash area which my crazy dog thinks is the best place on earth. It is indeed pretty fabulous~ the beauty of the changing landscape has stopped me in my tracks at least once a week since we started going there. Not bad for a dog park.

Cold Morning at Marymoor

This frosty weather did not last long but it got my boys talking nonstop about winter, snow, and skiing. We are back to the rainy 40s and 50s that are the norm for here, but the frost and ice we had in November were beautiful, if fleeting.

InstagramCapture_fec22a29-d7a7-4482-8b99-70b4b68ce2ee[1]

I feel so blessed to have these outside spaces that feel like a nature sanctuary in the suburbs. These spaces are so important and I am so grateful to have such beautiful ones. My hope for everyone this holiday season is more nature, less plastic, more fresh air, less artificiality, more stillness, less madness. Happy Holiday season to all.

 

ecology · gardening · global climate change

Summer part 2

This has been the hottest, driest summer I have ever seen in western Washington. We are in a drought, another first for as long as I’ve lived here, and the ‘evergreen state’ is starting to look like its cousin to the south, much further south, like southern California without the sandy beaches. In a region where A/C is not the norm it has made for a very difficult season to get excited about making dinner as that is when it is generally hottest and the sun streams into our large front windows from about 2-7:00 in the evenings just in case we forgot that it was shining, yet again, in the city known for cloud-cover and rain. It is truly strange to see so much straw-colored grass where there has always been green. It’s playing tricks on my eyes and I have to remind myself that this is indeed, the greater Seattle area. This displaced feeling comes over me most often when at the off-leash area of Marymoor park and I find myself pulling out my phone camera to document the change in climate because, Toto, we’re right where we’ve always been, it’s the earth that is changing. This chamomile is thriving though:

Chamomile

There were actually clouds this day, but not many people. The boys thought the park looked ‘desolate’.

Marymoor park

One word~ dry.

Dry

I’m curious if this trend will continue, and if so what it means for our parks and botanical gardens. Apparently the big botanical gardens are already contending with global climate change and having to rethink their gardens. I’m not surprised.

children · ecology · Education · gardening · Herbs · kids · modern life · organic · parenting · picky kids

Happy Earth Day 2015

The boys were excited to plant vegetables and herbs in the garden for Earth Day. I hope they are just as excited to eat them this summer. My older one will be for sure. If you are wondering which one is older, look for the blue stripes and boss-man brow. More and more people are asking me if they are twins, much to their chagrin. One thing about my younger son, though he be picky he is still growing like a weed. Or it might be better to say, growing like a misunderstood wild herb. Little dandy lions.boys garden 2015

ecology · gardening · health · Herbs

Urban Herbalism

It is so fun to walk around town or on the trails and see the wild herbs growing. These little beauties are Burdock.

Burdock...I think

At least I’m about 95% sure they are Burdock…it’s been over 15 years since I harvested that particular herb so I’m not 100% sure, although I’ve dug up enough roots to be fairly certain. The roots are used for cleansing the liver and blood, which makes it a skin purifier too. If you have skin issues, you might think about looking into adding Burdock tea or tincture into your daily routines, although not every herb is right for every person even if the condition is a correct fit. For example, some herbs are warming while others are cooling, or drying rather than hydrating, and these things can affect the whole person and be exactly what the body needs, or exactly the opposite. It is definitely worth checking in with a naturopath, herbalist, or a doctor who knows about these things before jumping on an herbal supplement. Naturopaths and herbalists are also invaluable for suggesting brands that are what they say they are, and knowing which brands are the most pure, and/or organic, farm-grown or wild-harvested. It’s a shame that the cheaper brands are often adulterated or not even what they are supposed to be inside the bottle, but there are reputable companies out there, you just need to ask the right people which companies are the best. Of course, you could always grow your own, and people have been harvesting from the wild since the beginning of humankind. Marymoor Park

I don’t recommend harvesting your own from public property such as trails though, because you never know what is in that soil and it may or may not be legal anyway, even though herbs are often considered weeds. But you certainly can harvest away on your own property, or on a friend’s. It’s sure nice to spot these wild lovelies growing in the middle of our urban world though. It reminds me of the resiliency of nature, and the fact that the earth is alive always creating, even in winter.

ecology

Climate Change

This is an article from KUOW’s page dedicated to climate change information. In case you were wondering what the U.N. thinks about the “possibility” of global climate change, its effects on humans and humans’ effects on it, here’s a recap of the 2014 report from the U.N.’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change:

Environment
4:18 am
Mon March 31, 2014

U.N. Report Raises Climate Change Warning, Points To Opportunities

Originally published on Mon March 31, 2014 7:07 am

  • From ‘Morning Edition’: NPR’s Geoff Brumfiel on the U.N. panel’s report

“The effects of climate change are already occurring on all continents and across the oceans,” and the world is mostly “ill-prepared” for the risks that the sweeping changes present, a new report from the U.N.’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change concludes.

The report also wastes no time in pointing a finger toward who is responsible: “Human interference with the climate system is occurring,” reads the first sentence in the scientists’ summary of their work.

As NPR’s Geoff Brumfiel tells our Newscast Desk, the panel “includes hundreds of scientists from around the world. Its past reports have made gloomy predictions about the impact of climate on humans. This time around, they’re also trying to prepare us. Chris Field, the co-chair of the new report, says improving health systems, making transportation more efficient, and beefing up disaster response can make a difference.”

“Things we should be doing to build a better world are also things we should be doing to protect against climate change,” Field says.

In the summary of its findings and recommendations, for instance, the panel suggests that ongoing efforts to improve energy efficiency, switch to cleaner energy sources, make cities “greener” and reduce water consumption will make life better today and could help reduce mankind’s effect on climate change in the future. While all people will continue to feel the effects of climate change, the report concludes that the world’s poorest populations will suffer the most from rising temperatures and rising seas unless action is taken.

Still, The Guardian says the report concludes that climate change is “already having effects in real time — melting sea ice and thawing permafrost in the Arctic, killing off coral reefs in the oceans, and leading to heat waves, heavy rains and mega-disasters. And the worst was yet to come. Climate change posed a threat to global food stocks, and to human security, the blockbuster report said.”

“Nobody on this planet is going to be untouched by the impacts of climate change,” says Rajendra Pachauri, chair of the IPCC.

The BBC calls the report “the most comprehensive assessment to date of the impacts of climate change on the world.” [End article]

And quite frankly to those who think they know more than the scientists who are dedicating their lives to studying this, well, they should just go back to drinking their fairy juice and let the educated adults get on with solving problems in the real world.

children · ecology · Education · gardening · health · kids · parenting

Schools a Healthy Place?

I had a strange experience last week when I went to my youngest son’s music class presentation. It was beyond cute of course, with all the second graders sounding angelic although I know they are often quite a devilish group as I’ve seen them enough in other settings. But sitting in the metal folding chairs as they sat on the floor or walked around singing, something else struck me besides the sweetness of it all~ when I looked at them each individually, as in really looked at them, they mostly looked kind of…sickly. Granted it was the end of the day and also the end of the week so they had reason to be tired, and maybe the lighting is not the best in their brand new school, but it seemed odd to me that they could all look so sluggish and lacking vibrancy considering their youth. My own son’s cheeks were flared up with the pink that signifies something is bothering him allergy-wise, either the carpet or something he ate, or who knows what, but that is what made me start looking at the other kids. There was one girl who looked completely healthy, alert, and engaged and I happen to know that this girl always looks that way or at least she does at library time where I help out and also field trips and parties, before and after school. She is just that kind of girl who notices everything and is part of everything and probably questions her teachers and parents ad nauseam. She was seriously the only one. The other kids were a mixture of eyes with dark circles, half closed eyes, wandering eyes and hands, bad skin, rashes, confused and disengaged looks, and tired faces and bodies. It made me wonder about kids, schools, and health. Is the modern school a healthy place for our students? Do they get enough outdoor time? Are they eating good food? Are we doing our best to help them learn? I don’t know, it just bothered me to see a bunch of second graders that just didn’t look vibrant and vivacious. They are too young not to be! The edible schoolyard project is one place to look for answers though my kids’ school has put me off for two years now when I’ve brought up planting a garden there. The students would get so much out of it, not the least of which would be a bit more good health. One bright eyed bushy tailed student out of 21 is not enough.