Matriarch Monday: Chaga Tincture in Coffee

Chaga is a medicinal mushroom and a lovely adaptogen herb with so many health supporting qualities. This time of year, I really appreciate Chaga for its immune boosting properties. Taken over time, Chaga helps to strengthen and support immune health. It is high in antioxidants, is cardio-protective and good for mental focus and energy. Guess what? It also tastes so good in coffee! Coffee helps to carry the herbal medicine where it needs to go in your body. 

I just started a new batch of Chaga mushroom tincture. I use a double extraction process so you get all the goodness: first in a water decoction, and second in an alcohol extraction (brandy). Water extracts the immune supporting constituents, and alcohol extracts the adaptogenic constituents. This double-extracted Chaga tincture will be ready and available on my web shop the first week of October. I will include a bottle in the fall subscription boxes (check out my Herb Club), and it will be available at my farmers' markets in Austin.

So cheers to supporting and building your immune system as we move into Fall, and to enjoying a delicious cup of coffee! Good for the spirits, good for your body too!

Matriarch Monday: Love Yourself

Love Yourself. Fiercely, every day, above all else, nurture self-compassion and love. This is the stable place inside; the only stability in life. And all else--our strength, compassion and love for others, our work, creative action, social justice, our health, sanity--all else comes from this wellspring and stable ground inside. This is our internal wise oak tree, the big ole granite boulder, the cold clear mountain spring. 

Though I truly believe in this that I'm telling you, I SUCK at remembering/believing/practicing it when I need it the most! When times are rough (and boy have they been lately!) I forget about having compassion and softness and understanding for myself. I feel like a big jerk that somehow missed out on the secret of being successful in life! I reason  that things are hard because I'm not good enough. Or I'm not doing it right. Or I'm not working hard enough at the right things. Or I'm just plain defective!!

I know I'm not alone in this negative mental/emotional trickery! I think it's pretty common to bail on oneself in times of stress and hardship. This is why I am devoted to sharing self-care practices through herbal medicine, mindfulness practice, and time in nature. I fully believe that returning to this idea of loving ourselves, practicing self care, and climbing back on the horse again and again, is the work we must do.

So when I arrived to the HOPE Market yesterday to sell my herbal potions and veggies, I saw this beautiful mural on the wall right across the alley from our market! And I feel so grateful for that reminder...in such a soft but strong, loud but gentle, creative voice. Thank you!!! I've been inspired and will remember today to love myself. It's important. It's what I must do. And I trust that good things will come from cultivating my heart garden.

May you love yourself today and find little ways to delight, to soften, to rest, to create, to really know that you are enough and you are worthy of so much love. 

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Matriarch Monday: The Comforting Sound of Aspens and Floating With Clouds

It's Matriarch Monday, and I need to tell you that this past week I have found myself a hot mess! I am depressed, weepy, stressed out, grumpy, and feeling so vulnerable and raw. I feel a failure and a basket case. I also feel very supported by, and a whole lot of love for my tribe. I am so grateful for those that give me love, kindness, support and help in all kinds of forms-- from a smile, hug, advice, to help paying our mortgage. I'm grateful for my Lemon Tree customers: you support my business so I can support my family, and you give me ideas, inspiration and valuable feedback. I'm  learning on this path together with you as we practice with plant medicine. And I'm so grateful for my farmer's market community. Every single week, I feel encouraged when I show up to market and feel a sense of belonging there. And I go home with delicious food and treats for my family! And I want to mention that I'm grateful for our community of hockey moms that are supportive of our family and willing to take in my sons, have them sleep over, feed them, and drive them to hockey practice and tournaments. These moms are warm and kind to me as we wait for practices, they buy me beer at the brewery next door while we chat about life, and they support Lemon Tree.  It just wouldn't be possible for my awesome sons to have this awesome experience with hockey if it weren't for the support of the hockey parent community. Such a surprising place to me to find community, and I am absolutely grateful and humbled by the kindness and generosity I experience there. It does take a village, and it restores my faith in humanity to experience that we do in fact have that village in these modern, busy, complicated times!!

I know that I'm not the only one that goes through dark times. And my set of circumstances in life is quite lucky and privileged in countless ways. We are connected as human beings in our suffering. I am choosing to practice (I use the word practice  because I have to remind myself every day, and the work is never done) compassion for myself and for those around me. Even in darkness, we are love-able, valuable, worthy, enough. 

I practice self-care even when I don't feel like it. And guess what? It doesn't magically make everything better. But I do it anyway, like a habit that I just trust in even when I think everything is stupid and there's no point. I do these things to take care of myself and cultivate compassion a little every day no matter what, and somehow I get nourished and nurtured enough to keep going. There are lots of little things that I can do for self-care, and certainly my routine changes. Sometimes I need to pair it down to quick, easy, simple, cheap. 

The herbs I am using in my self-care routine at present are ashwagandha tincture, rose heart elixir, chaga tincture and nettle/mint/cardamom tea. In the morning, I take a dropperful of Ashwagandha tincture followed by rose heart elixir (sometimes the Peach heart elixir which has roses and evening primroses). I do this first thing before meditation or coffee. Then I put chaga tincture (for grounding, immune support, antioxidants and energy) in my coffee every day. I leave all of these tinctures on the kitchen counter, and then I usually take the ashwagandha and rose again in the afternoon and in the evening. I am very thankful for the support and energy these herbs give me so that I can keep moving through my day, take the edge of stress, and ground in my heart. They help me  pay attention to what is happening and give myself some compassion.

While I believe in the many benefits of mindfulness practice and meditation, I don't always make time for a real meditation. Lately, I'm trying harder to fit it in for 20 minutes in the morning because it makes my day so much better when I do. Or I go early before the heat on a walking meditation in the woods. But the last couple of mornings with getting ready for markets and having the kids home from school, I just haven't made the time for myself. So sometimes, I just sit in the yard in the morning instead and watch the clouds and spend a few minutes with the holy basil plants in my garden. Even 5 minutes watching the clouds or hanging out with plants is restorative and encouraging. I feel that it counts as mindfulness practice!

Below is a photo my son, Jun, took of a square cloud he saw out the window in the desert on our road trip to Tuscon. Kids are great at cloud watching, and they remind me of how inspiring it is to get absorbed and drifty with the clouds!

Another practice I like to do for self care is to spend time in the forest listening to the trees. It's a little difficult to do  in Central Texas in the August heat! But really early in the morning or in the evening in that magic hour when the sun has gone down, and everything is bathed in watercolor light, these are good times to listen to the sound of breeze in the leaves. Or when a storm is coming in like this past weekend!! Oh how refreshing and magical and shushing to worry! 

As a child, I grew up in the forest in Eastern WA. I remember hiking a short distance from our house to an Aspen grove that was at the top of our dirt road driveway. I would go there and flop down in the grass underneath the Aspens. Sometimes I would cry or yell until I released whatever was bothering me. And then I would lay on my back and watch the Aspen leaves dance in the canopy above me. I would listen to their shhhhhhhhhhhhh. A lullaby to my spirit. So comforting and calming. That sound connected with my breath and my heart beat and gave me a timeless sense of being, both supported by the earth and floating above. It was okay to be. 

This summer, while our kids were at hockey camp, I had the great opportunity to visit a forest in Northern Minnesota that resembled so much the forest I grew up with in Eastern WA. I listened to the Aspens, and they restored my spirits. Same sound, same heart and spirit, same timelessness. It is okay to be. 

Here's the little video I took to try to capture the Aspen's sound. It's not the same as being there, but might remind you of the real thing. There are some beautiful maples and birches in this shot too. 

Whatever you do for self-care, I wish you a sense of peace and calm in little moments every day. I hope you feel supported by your tribe and let the love in. It's okay to be just how we are, even when it's painful or scary. We are connected in our suffering and joy and human imperfection. We are on the earth,  dancing with the leaves, and floating with the clouds. Shhhhhhhhhhhhhh.

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