Lessons from the Plants

After receiving several requests to share my opening remarks at the Allies for Plants and People in June...here they are...I hope you find some inspiration to connect with others, including the plants themselves. 

Nothing gets me in my right mind more than walking the plant path.

Nothing gets me in my right mind more than walking the plant path.

Opening Remarks at Allies for Plants and People, June 9, 2018:

Some of my closer friends, who know that I have been more than a little short on time lately, have questioned me as to why I am hosting another conference in addition to my annual event, the MAWHC. Even I asked myself that more than a few times in the past several weeks, as organizing an event such as this, the same time as the planting season on my family farm is building to a frenzy…well…that WAS I thinking?! Am I crazy??

My good friend Andrea Reisen recently sent me a little note:  'It can be hard to do what the plants ask us to do,” she wrote, "and then try and make it all work for us too.' This statement startled me. Do plants actually ASK us to do stuff? Do they ask us to step out of our daily rat race to tend to their needs? I can’t really answer that question, but I can tell you what led me here today and you can put the pieces together as you see fit.

Over the past several years I have observed with a great measure of sorrow how keenly words can cut. Divisive lines between people are brutally struck with words, whether spoken aloud, written with style or sent in a single tweet. At times, the air seems laden with impending doom and I lie sleepless, worrying for my children’s future. 

I’m not the bravest person I have ever met, and so I might not make the boldest activist, or the most outspoken champion for change. Instead I tend to hold my angst inside and then feel hopeless, or helpless to make a difference when faced with injustices.

It was on one of these dark, restless nights when I realized that my best healing work happens when I bring a group of like-minded, plant-loving people together. With the help of everyone here we have created a green haven. A home of sorts. A place where we can breathe more freely and where the plants can have their say. Here we are creating a community that supports each other and turns to the plants with a humble ear to listen and learn. Rather than clamoring for attention we seek to understand the workings of these plants and by attempting to do so,we are taking medicine of the purest potency.

We are raising a healing vibration that will reach upward, like a sturdy vine, sending messages of love, healing, wholeness, connectedness and the sacred appreciation of nature.

We cannot possibly fathom how far these tendrils will stretch, and how bleakness and hate can be transformed into love.

Guido Masé, one of our speakers today, said once,

The world of medicinal plants, holds a secret that can change lives, change communities, and change culture. 

He intimates that plants actually take care of us by inserting themselves into a complex and beautiful  biological dance that happens within us.  One, he states poetically, "that rivals misty sunrises, egrets and fish, live oaks and palm trees” and that is taking place every day in our every cell as DNA is methodically turned into proteins that become our physical shape on a moment-to-moment basis.

This microcosmic relationship of photo nutrient and human DNA is a poetic expression of the potential healing in the macrocosm, relationships of human to human, community with community, culture with culture and possibly beyond.

In this way the plants not only care for us, nurture us, reduce inflammation, balance endocrine and immune function, but they set an example of love.

They teach us that interaction with each other is essential to survival and interacting with love is essential to life. 

Inspired by the work of my mentors David Winston and Rosemary Gladstar, as well as United Plant Savers, and inspired by the  many dedicated teachers, mentors, gardeners, medicine makers and organizations in the herbal renaissance, this event today strives to create space for mentorship, land and plant stewardship, with an inner mission to cultivate alliances between plants and people, and between people and people. We are grateful for all who are participating in this expanding green movement which invites perspective on the transformation of modern health and health care in this country.

Look deep into nature and you will understand everything better.” ~ Albert Einstein

Registration for our next event, the MidAtlantic Women's Herbal Conference, September 28-30 is open. Featuring Rocio Alarcon, Maia Toll, Kathi Keville, Kathleen Maier, Tammi Sweet and more.

Slowing Down to Find Joy

 Enjoy this post by special guest FreeDom Flowers - yes! That is really her awesome name! Contact info for her included at the end of the post. 

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This year has been one of many transitions for me.  Cross roads that I have come to and that required big decisions.  There is a common theme in each of these choices I find myself faced with.  They seem to be a choice between simplifying my life, so that I tune into the things that bring me joy and fulfillment, or things that bring me more chaos but paint a pretty picture of the perfect “American Life”.  Now this must seem like an easy decision to some but, to be real, I have found it to be quite challenging. I have grown up surrounded by chaos and it’s familiar.  I think it has become my habit to gravitate towards it.  Chaos isn’t always terrible.  It can mean lots of social interaction, being driven to succeed in business, always having fun things to do and places to go.  It’s the thrill of excitement of having a full life.  However, as you can imagine, it has its downsides, too.  I have sometimes overextended myself, dropped the ball because of juggling too many things, time away from family due to working long hours, and, ultimately, burn out!

Over the past two years I have wanted something different.  Something that gave me space to slow down and enjoy my life and the simple pleasures within it.  I’d prefer to stop and smell the roses, so to speak.   I have been making the efforts to choose joy and the soul-feeding goodness that comes from the art of slow living.  I recently downsized my successful massage therapy center with several employees so that I could put more of my energy into my family, clients, and focusing on building my herbal medicine practice.  We recently sold our fixer-upper home in the congested Lehigh Valley and bought a home in the hills of Berks County’s countryside with a home that does not require a lot of fixing up.  We will have a modest plot of land and that means gardens, medicinal plants, bees to keep, possibly chickens, and definitely waking up to do some bird watching while I sip my tea.  A slower way that resonates in my soul so deep that it feels older than me.  Perhaps it comes from my great grandparents or even older generations.   I crave a return to the simple pleasure once considered normal, pre modern convenience and all the noise.

I am grateful for the cross roads that I happened upon.  They are empowering me to choose the kind of life I want to live and give my kids.  Times like this when transition and mental exhaustion are a prominent theme, I turn to my adaptogens and other supportive herbs to support me through. Below is a light summer recipe that I created that has been helpful to me in my transition from chaos to calm. I also wrote a list of each herb and their benefits. It is helping me to restore my energy and strength from the exhaustion I have endured over the years and my hope is that it also helps you!

Benefits: Tulsi (aka Holy Basil) is a mild adaptogen in cases of fatigue and the Hypothalamus Pituitary Adrenal (HPA) axis deficiency. It stimulates cerebral circulation and therefore is beneficial for those with foggy brains and poor memory. It enhances immune function, has antiviral properties, and is an immune amphoteric. It is beneficial in cases of allergic asthma and allergies, helping to regulate blood sugar levels, useful in gas and nausea. Regular use of Tulsi helps lower LDL/VLDL cholesterol and triglyceride levels. Another bonus to this amazing plant is that it can act as a galactagogue, stimulating breast milk production in nursing mamas.  When nursing moms drink it as a tea, it can also help ease colic in babies. I have also been drinking Tulsi tea for headaches during this pregnancy.

Lemon Balm is a mood elevator, helps reduce anxiety, and soothes the nerves. It is beneficial in times of stress or when your brain is foggy from overload. It may be taken by nursing mamas to reduce colic in their babies. It is a good choice for little ones having temper tantrums (or adults for that matter). Lemon Balm supports digestion by reducing gas, burping, nausea, and reduces excess stomach acid.

Linden Flower is beneficial in cases of mild depression, anxiety, and irritability. It basically calms the nerves and spirit. Linden is useful in reducing stress headaches, sleeping difficulty, and mild hypertension. It's a sweet and pleasant tasting flower. One of my favorites in tea. :)

Hibiscus supports mild hypertension, elevated blood sugar, and cholesterol. Hibiscus is rich in antioxidants and is an anti-inflammatory. It helps regulate the immune system and reduces histamine production, which makes it a nice choice to use as a preventative or to reduce allergies.

Rosehips are anti-inflammatory and antioxidant. They are helpful in musculoskeletal discomfort such as lower back pain, osteoarthritis, and, rheumatoid arthritis. The seeds in the hips are a good source of vitamin E.

The herbs in this recipe can be used as we do here in ice cube form. You can also make an ice tea or refreshing popsicles by mixing it with a favorite fruit purée. Get creative....and as always, enjoy!

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Tulsi Late Summer Elixir

Ice cubes

Holy basil 4 tsp

Lemon Balm 3 tsp

Linden flower 2 tsp

Hibiscus 1 tsp

Rosehips 1/2 tsp

Short pour of maple syrup 

1. Mix herbs into a blend

2. Add 2 tsp of herb to a tea ball 

3. Steep cup of tea in boiling water for 20 minutes. Then strain.

4. Add maple syrup 

5. Pour into ice cube trays

ummer Elixi

Strawberry puree 1/2 cup

Lemonade 1 1/2 cups

Rose infused water (splash to taste- careful, a little goes a long way)

1. Mix all ingredients together in a jar

2. Pour into cups and add your herbal ice cubes

Contact FreeDom for a consultation or to learn more about her work, visit http://www.mamaflowers.co