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.

Jun's square cloud.jpg

Matriarch Monday: Thinking about Farmworkers

ma.tri.arch n. a woman who rules a family or tribe

I will write this column weekly (sometimes will pubish on Tuesday as life would have it) with various topics and stories that speak to the divine feminine, the wonder woman in each of us, the strength, kindness, nurturing, hard work, sadness, fears, and togetherness we share as women. We are the rulers and nurturers of our own tribes, of our own lives. We do a lot and have a lot to say about taking care of business for a more compassionate, sane world. Basically, we rule!!

Ernesto Silva, Thank You for our Food

This week's post is about something amazing my sister did this past Sunday to honor farm workers in her local community in rural Western Washington. Together with farm worker leaders from the National Farm Worker Ministry, local faith community leaders, worker leaders from the National Food Chain Workers Alliance, WA State Labor Council, environmental workers,  local non-profit Community to Community (C2C), friends and supporters, they marched 12 miles to reflect on and honor the day in the life of a farm worker. They started the march at 5:30 AM (typical start time for farm workers) and marched in rural WA state, along the Canadian border, along acres of raspberry and blueberry fields. My brother-in-law is a land surveyor, and he mapped the 12 mile route to make sure they had a safe place to walk that wasn't on private land.

They marched all day in quiet contemplation. They honored and remembered migrant farm worker, Ernesto Silva, who died one year ago working on a berry farm there. He had requested a break to go to the hospital because he didn't feel well and thought he had sun stroke. The supervisor told him he would be fired if he took a break, so Ernesto kept working and died later that day. That berry farm supplies  berries that we buy in the grocery store. Ernesto and many  farmers in our communities work tirelessly, often in terrible working conditions, for very little pay. Their work provides us with food to eat. 

Today I am taking a minute to reflect on where the food I feed myself and my family comes from and how much work goes into its production. I am so thankful for the farmers here in Central Texas, who work under the forbidding Texas summer sun to continue bringing food to the farmer's markets, restaurants and stores in Austin . They have the grit to keep going even when floods come and wash away entire crops and thousands of dollars of investment, even in freezing winter weather, even in August in Texas. Right now at farmer's markets in Austin, you can find cucumbers, okra, peppers, potatoes, onions, eggplant, basil,  meat, eggs. I'm blown away that anything can grow at all in this heat!! 

I'm grateful for sharing food in community. Thank you to the man my husband does carpentry for that sent home this week beautiful eggplants, hot peppers, and basil from his garden. I made super spicy salsa, eggplant parmesan, and am going to make Baba Ganoush. I've never been a great veggie gardener (I wish I had this talent and patience, but I do better with growing herbs, fruit trees, and grapes with the occasional miraculous veggie), and I think it's so awesome when people are able to grow food in their gardens, and then they share it with their community (I feel so, so lucky and happy whenever friends share veggies from their gardens! It's the greatest gift. I'm not exaggerating when I tell you that it usually brings tears to my eyes when a thoughtful soul has the care to send some eggplants they grew or drop off a zucchini on my porch!). In this way we can take care of each other, and it feels like something right in the world. Beautiful and nourishing and kind. Sustaining life.

When I buy veggies at the grocery store, usually they come from Mexico or California. Thank you to the farm workers there too...I am sure you are working your asses off. Way harder every day than I have worked on any one day in my life.

And while I'm being thankful for my food, I consider all the other people on the food production chain that work hard, are underpaid and don't get paid vacation, health benefits or sick that we can all eat. I'm thinking about restaurant workers, moms and grandmas. Who else am I forgetting? Please feel free to write a comment and tell me if I'm forgetting you or someone important that helps us have food.

Thank you to the plants and animals and mother earth that supports all of this life. Thank you from my heart, truly and sincerely. I hope to reciprocate, to return care and gifts to you. But at the very least, you have my respect and deep gratitude.

12-mile march to reflect on a day in the life of a farm worker. At the head of the march is an elderly migrant farm worker being pushed in a wheel chair. He set the pace for others to follow.

12-mile march to reflect on a day in the life of a farm worker. At the head of the march is an elderly migrant farm worker being pushed in a wheel chair. He set the pace for others to follow.