with Melinda Rodriguez

Archive for the ‘health’ Category

What is really important – even when the journey sucks?

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May 5, 2015

What I’d give for a bad hair day!  Anyone who knows me or has spent any amount of time with me knows how obsessive I am with my hair.  In the 7th grade, when I began using tools and hairspray on my hair, I would spend hours trying to get it just right. Then I would pack on so much hairspray, Aqua Net to be precise, that my hair felt like a helmet.  I would turn my whole body with my head as to not undo the locks from their perfect place.  And now, it’s gone; all gone!

Chemo sucks indeed.  Yes, it is a necessary evil right now with stage IV ovarian metastatic cancer that has spread to my lungs, liver and lymph nodes, but it sucks ass.  Yet, in my 2 out of 6 rounds of having the deadly poison pumped into the port catheter conveniently implanted into my chest, I am finally free of the devastating pain I was in before my diagnosis. So in a way, I am grateful for the war being waged within my body for it seems to be having an effect despite the large tumor still protruding from my abdomen.  And of course there is the weight loss – another upside from this nasty disease.  Fortunately I am not gaunt, just back to my ideal weight and glad that I didn’t throw away all of my skinny clothes even though I haven’t fit into any of them for years.

Chemo makes me feel like crap, weak and tired, but the hardest part is being bald. Unfortunately my bathroom is comprised of three walls of mirrors.  Every time I walk in there I am painfully reminded of my circumstances.  Even after almost of month without hair, I still walk in there, catching a glimpse of my profile out of the corner of my eye and for a split second I think to myself “who is that?  She looks like someone with cancer.”  Oh yeah, it’s me.  I’m the one with cancer.  Fuck!

I face my own image full on in the mirror and feel momentary pity for the poor girl staring back at me.  However I quickly shift that pity to a sentiment of it-is-what-it-is and move on. I can only hope that I get used to my appearance soon, otherwise those mirrors are going to have to come down. I mean seriously, how’s a girl supposed to heal when she is constantly reminded of a suffering self-esteem thanks to chemo-induced baldness.

Then there are the looks I get when I go out into public.  There’s the fearful pity look that predominantly comes from women probably 10 years older than me.  Clearly they have their own inner struggle between their honest fear of reality and the pity they think is more appropriate.  And the second-take male look.  Not sure I have that one figured out, but men will look at me then do a double take.  Of course there is the curious child.  That one doesn’t bother me so much.  There’s also the look from someone I know that has no clue and is seeing me for the first time in months and I’m now bald and skinny.  They don’t know what to do or say…what do you say when you see someone who is all of the sudden bald?  I quickly put their curiosity to rest and fill them in on my recent diagnosis.  But the freak-out award goes to an unidentified gal who crossed a cross walk opposite me.  She was coming straight at me, paying no attention to me but rather to see if the coast was clear to cross.  By the time she felt assured it was she was a few feet in front of me and we almost collided. She took one look at me and gasped.  She then gave me a wide berth as she continued crossing.  I couldn’t help but giggle and the smart ass in me had to announce loud enough for her to hear that cancer was indeed not contagious and she didn’t have to worry about going bald from possibly being in my airs pace.

This is NOT the life I had planned for myself!  After all, I ate well 80% of the time.  I am a practicing herbalist, I am a healer, I am a spiritual teacher – this wasn’t supposed to happen to me.  Except that, it did!  I cleared a lot of toxins out of my life 4 years ago and continue to clean things up wherever I can.  I eat organic whenever I can.  Come on!  WTF!  Cancer?!  Stage IV?!  Damnit!

The truth is though, it can happen to anyone.  Cancer does not give a hoot who you are, how healthy you eat, or any other so-called defining marker that you mistakenly think keeps you safe from disease.  The question is not “why me?”  The question is, “WHY NOT ME?  Really, who do we think we are when we ask “why me?”  We can follow all the rules we think we are supposed to follow in life, in any situation, but NOTHING prevents bad things from happening to us; not positive thoughts, not clear chakras, not yoga, not green smoothies, not organic food, not even prayers, NOTHING!  Of course those things may lower our odds, but they do not offer all out prevention.

This does not however mean we live in fear or give up on spirituality or our healthy path.  What this does mean is that we truly strive to live in the present moment.  We absolutely let go of the bullshit from the past; leave it behind!  We must make love a priority as well as time spent with loved ones.  Quit worrying about security or safety because it doesn’t exist. Put joy in front of your career path. Better yet, include joy with your career path.  Because if you are not loving what you are doing every day then what is the point?  Please, take it from someone who has to face their own waning mortality, joy and love are everything.  I have no idea how long I have left on this planet.  Neither do you.  You may not have cancer, but you could die tomorrow from a number of causes. Right now my only focus is on healing and I do that by feeling as good as I can and surrounding myself with as much love as I can.  But if you are reading this and not actively healing or dying, then please commit to living joyfully in the present and focusing on the people that you love.  To be perfectly cliché, don’t sweat the small stuff…and it’s all small stuff!  And even if you are actively healing or dying, the advice is the same.

I guess my baldness is small stuff eh?  That’s why I posted a raw, bald picture of me here.  Because it doesn’t matter what anyone thinks.  It only matters that I focus on why I’m bald – because I am actively healing.  I am in treatment because I want more time to love. I want more time to feel joy.  I want to watch my daughter be a mother and see my grandson grow.  I want to spend as much time and share as much love with my aging parents as possible.  I want to feel the arms of my lover around me for as long I can.  These are my treasured gifts as I walk my human path.

So I leave you with this very important question – what are your treasured gifts on your human path and what is their priority in your life?

Your support for Melinda’s medical expenses is so very appreciated. Every little bit counts.  Click below to to show your support.

Unveiling the light within

I heard a song recently titled “I Am light.”  Lovely title isn’t it?  The lyrics are just as charming, speaking about not being our pain, not being our past, not being the things people have done to us, but being light at the core of who we are.  I believe this to be true.  But how do we experience this truth?  After all, day in and day out we live in a physical body and in a physical world that projects suffering from so many angles.  With the complexity of our human mind, believing and actually experiencing the truth that we are light can be a challenging quest that often seems to lead only to fleeting moments of any real awareness of our light – our Spirit – our God-self.  Anyone on a spiritual path pursuing spiritual growth knows of the many practices and journeys involved in seeking such awareness.

There is one practice that I discovered 15 years ago that truly opened my awareness of my light.  Whenever I engage in this practice, I sink deep into my body, feeling every cell of my being while simultaneously feeling connected to my spirit and my oneness with the Great Spirit.  This sensation lasts for hours, sometimes days.  The more I do it, the happier I am.  The amazing aspect of this practice is that it engages body, mind and spirit.  It is not a passive practice like meditation or listening to music; it is an active practice that requires gentle physical involvement.  It is an activity that has been practiced since the first humans walked this planet, in every corner of the world.  Every culture has roots to this practice, and in many parts of the planet it is still utilized today.  It truly is etched deep in our DNA, for no matter our cultural background, this practice was present at one point or another.  It is also something that anyone can do, at any age.

020 (2)Drumming!  And to a similar extent, dancing and singing or chanting.  These are all activities that our ancestors engaged in.  These activities were a part of everyday life.  They were healthcare for the community.  No one needed training.  No one was told they had no rhythm or a voice not good enough to sing.  Where community is strong in cultures around the world today, you will still find people engaging in making music, dancing or singing.  No one is a spectator; everyone participates, young and old.  And although they may not articulate as much, when they drum or dance or sing – they experience their light.  They experience joy and happiness.  They feel connected to their community as a valued member with something precious to contribute.  These innate elements of creating rhythm with others is sweet medicine to the body, mind and soul; medicine so many are missing out on today.  This missing medicine I believe to be a big part of why so many people feel disconnected, disenfranchised, depressed, ill, and overall unhealthy in today’s world.

Because we have evolved so far away from such activities in western culture, drumming is often a safe beginning activity to get our feet wet and reconnect to our light as we drink in the delicious awareness of our spirit.  Anyone can pick up a drum like a djembe or frame drum and play it.  And when a group of people come together and play drums – magic happens; literally!  I’ve witnessed it hundreds of times with people from all walks of life, all ages, and all backgrounds.  I’ve seen reticence morph into ecstasy in less than 30 minutes.  It just never gets old.  I get a double whammy of light every time I lead a drumming event because not only am I experiencing my spirit, but I’m watching everyone around me experience theirs.

Honestly, you don’t need a drum though to unleash this divine connection to your light.  Something a simple as a tiny egg shaker can connect you to your rhythm, which is the real essence that exposes the light.  Even objects around your home can be used to make some sacred noise.  A basic rhythm such as a heartbeat rhythm played repeatedly for at last 10 minutes or longer will actually shift your energy.  This isn’t something I’ve hypothesized, this is scientific fact.  Dr. Barry Bittman has done extensive research into the effects of group drumming.  To summarize one of his most notable findings, cancer fighting antibodies were found in the blood of a group of people drumming together that were not there prior.  I would hypothesize however that it was not so much the drumming that manifested these antibodies, but the group of people connecting with their rhythm and making music together that made the magic.  It is rhythm that is the direct link to our light, regardless of the medium.

Our ancestors may not have had the knowledge we do today about rhythm, but they certainly had the wisdom.  They knew the power of rhythm and how it affects the community as a whole, which in a healthy society is the health of the people; body, mind and spirit.

So the next time you are feeling down, disconnected, unsure of your light – drum, dance or sing.  Better yet, find a group of people to do it with.  Let go of any inhibitions about rhythm; those would be just part of an untrue story.  No one is truly without rhythm; it is a biological impossibility.  We might find ourselves disconnected from our awareness of it, but just like our light, our inner spirit, it is there…always.  The more you explore rhythm, the more connected to it you will feel.

Be forewarned though – connecting with your rhythm has been proven to ignite states of joy, harmony, ecstasy, peace and a lasting awareness of the light within.  So don’t blame me if you find yourself in a space of exhilarated happiness from drumming or dancing or singing – thank me.

In Rhythm & Harmony

Melinda

 

 

 

 

Glorious Sleep & Hormonal Harmony

How well do you sleep?  I hear so many people complain that they aren’t sleeping well, particularly women, especially women between 30 and 60.  What I come across commonly is that they can fall asleep, but have trouble staying asleep.  There are also those that have trouble getting the mind to shut down so they can nod off.  Does any of this sound familiar?

Unfortunately, I am no stranger to difficulties in sleeping.  However it has improved significantly in the last few years with only a few days out of a month that I might have trouble.  I have contemplated regularly what the right recipe is for good sleep.  Sometimes I think I have it, only to encounter one of those rare nights where I either can’t fall asleep or can’t stay asleep.  Then I heard an interview recently with my favorite herbal mentor, spilling the beans on what she believes to be the secret sauce for good sleep…Stinging Nettle!

Doh!  Are you slamming your palm against your forehead right now thinking “here we go again with the Stinging Nettle?”  Yes, I have written on this topic before.  And if you know me personally, you know I praise this weed like it is gold and have probably encouraged you to make some.  It is gold!  But I have new information that may not only lead you to better sleep, but what if I told you that Nettle, along with other nourishing herbs, are the simple, affordable pathway to hormonal harmony.  Friends, when I hear something that I know can empower and assist people, and they probably don’t even know about it, I want to sing it from the mountaintops!

I’m not going to repeat myself on the surplus of nourishing components to Stinging Nettle infusion.  You can read about that here https://pathwaysofwisdom.wordpress.com/2012/09/17/stinging-nettle-how-i-love-theeand-so-should-you/.  Instead, I want to share how this weed can lead you to the sleep you lust for along with its ability to support your body in proper hormone production, and throw in a few other golden nuggets of wisdom.

infusions2First let me say that I LOVE my nourishing infusions!  What is an infusion you ask?  It is NOT a tea!  I repeat, NOT A TEA!  Nettle tea, or any other herbal tea might be delightful to drink, but there is no nutritional, nourishing, or healing value (besides the enjoyment factor).  There is simply just not enough herb in a tea and it is not steeped long enough to extract all of the goodies that any particular herb contains.  An infusion is a large amount of nourishing herb “steeped” for an extended period of time, 4 to 10 hours, allowing the hot water to extract the gems our body requires.

It is also important to note that a not all herbs can be made into an infusion.  The term “nourishing” indicates the type of herb that is used.  There are four main categories for herbs – nourishing, tonifying, stimulating/sedating and potentially poisonous.  For further information, you can check out my blog post https://pathwaysofwisdom.wordpress.com/2013/05/29/the-wisdom-of-healing-allies/.  One must be mindful and respectful when working with the Earth’s healing jewels.  All but nourishing herbs should not necessarily be taken excessively or indefinitely.  Nourishing herbs however are essentially food and there is no known risk of overdose, nor unwanted side effects.  The above referenced blog post also explores herbs in food form such as infusions or tinctures vs. capsules or pills as well as the importance of working with them one at a time.

So how does Stinging Nettle help us sleep?  Well, it is an extraordinarily powerful adrenal ally.  When we wake up in the middle of the night and cannot go back to sleep, it is often due to adrenal burn out, or what is commonly called adrenal fatigue.  Your adrenals are supremely important to the overall health of your entire body.  Yes, all organs are important and they are all connected, but the adrenals are not holding up well with modern, western societal demands.  Simply put, the adrenals manufacture certain vital hormones, such as cortisol, the stress hormone.  Too much stress over long periods of time leads to too much cortisol, which leads to sleep impediment (along with a slew of other symptoms).  Taxing the adrenals in that way with an over production of cortisol and other stress hormones exhausts the adrenal glands rendering them dysfunctional and therefore altering the appropriate balance of hormones in the body, including those that keep sex hormones stabilized.  The adrenals were just not designed for an overly stressed life style.

Now Nettle won’t dissolve your stress.  Only you can do that.  But you can certainly support your adrenals along your journey of lowering stress in your life and continue to nourish them for the unavoidable stressors that will always be present from time-to-time.  I love my Nettle infusion and have been drinking it for several years now, along with other nourishing infusions.  But I too encounter busyness or forgetfulness and miss it some days.  I have finally connected the dots and now notice that when I do miss it for more than a few days, my sleep is not as sound, even downright sucky if I’m gong through periods of high stress.  Putting this puzzle together has motivated me even more to keep on top of my nourishing infusions, which includes Nettle.  In fact, I rotate through the various nourishing herbs, but I drink Nettle daily; sometimes several glasses a day during extended activity demands or periods of high stress.

So by now I’m guessing you are also starting to recognize the connection between Nettle and hormonal harmony.  Over production or under production of sex hormones, as affected by the adrenals, also impede sleep along with causing a landslide of other unpleasant experiences.  Again, stress is an important factor in harmonized hormones, but we can also nourish and support our body, providing optimum nutrition that goes beyond food.  Food is important of course, but most of us don’t eat perfectly each and every day.  Nourishing infusions provide all the nutrients, vitamins and minerals our body needs without any need for further supplementation.  It is also affordable, doesn’t require fancy machinery, or gobs and gobs of organic produce.

But Nettle certainly isn’t the only nourishing herb that is helpful to hormonal harmony.  Here is an excerpt from Susun Weed (my favorite herbal mentor) in an article she wrote on how minerals make the difference:

“By 2015 half of the female population of the United States will be post-menopausal. But this group of post-menopausal women won’t be old fuddy-duddies with broken hips, heart attacks, and failing memories. Women of today expect to emerge from menopause energetic, zesty, and passionate! Are hormones necessary? No! Wise women nourish their hearts, bones, and spirits with simple, safe mineral-rich herbs.

Herbs, especially the weedy ones, are minerals powerhouses. Getting those minerals isn’t as easy as taking a tincture (alcohol extracts little to no minerals) or swallowing a pill (minerals are poorly utilized from encapsulated herbs) but it isn’t difficult either. At the Wise Woman Center we include mineral-rich herbs in our daily diet; it’s easy, tasty, and very rewarding. How do we do it?  Drink 1-2 cups nourishing herbal infusion each day.

Herbal infusions differ from herbal teas: They are darker in color and richer tasting because their long brewing extracts many more nutrients — especially minerals. My favorite nourishing herbal infusions for menopausal women are oatstraw, red clover blossoms, stinging nettle leaves, and comfrey leaves.

To prepare your infusion: Put a quart of cold water up to boil. Weigh one ounce of dried (not fresh!) herb into a quart canning jar. Go brush your teeth and count your grey hairs until the teapot whistles. Pour the boiling water into the jar with your herb (only one herb at a time, please!), screw on a tight lid, turn off the light, and go to bed. Next morning strain out the herb and drink the liquid: cold, hot, or at room temperature. Add honey, tamari, or milk if desired.

Oatstraw (Avena sativa) has a mellow taste. It eases frazzled nerves, lowers cholesterol, improves circulation, strengthens bones, eases headaches, relieves depression and encourages us to be sexy old ladies!

Red clover (Trifolium pratense) infusion not only builds bones, and prevents cancer, it reduces serum cholesterol (protecting heart health) and helps maintain strong pelvic tissues –thus preventing incontinence, lowered libido, atrophic vaginitis, and uterine prolapse. Red clover contains ten times more phytoestrogens than soy, without soy’s bone-damaging, thyroid-impairing side-effects.

Stinging nettle (Urtica dioica) infusion contains more than 500 milligrams of calcium per cup. (Nettle tea has none, neither does the tincture.) Nettle strengthens adrenal functioning, promotes sound sleep, increases overall energy, prevents allergic reactions, strengthens the blood vessels, and prevents hair loss.

Comfrey (Symphytum uplandicum x) is controversial. Ingestion of its roots can cause severe liver congestion. The leaves are safe, though labeled otherwise. Comfrey leaf infusion helps maintain good vaginal lubrication, strengthens the bones, protects against cancer, soothes painful joints, and improves mental functioning.”

I have not tried comfrey or oatstraw yet, but have an order on the way.  I’ll let you know.  I love the taste of red clover.  Red raspberry, which is not mentioned above is also a great nourishing herb for infusion, and I drink that regularly.  It has a strong taste, but a little peppermint mixed in helps, which does not interfere with the medicinal qualities of the herb.  I use ample peppermint with my Nettle, and I will admit it was an acquired taste.  It has such high chlorophyll content that it tastes a little like a fish tank at first.  But within a day or two of first trying it, you’ll notice level energy throughout the day and excellent sleep at night, which is what we all want isn’t it?

So cheers <clink> to you!  May you be blessed with hormonal harmony and a beautiful night’s sleep.  And please do leave a comment and let me know your experiences with nourishing herbs.

Harmonious Blessings,

Melinda

A Hard Lesson In Keeping Boundaries

A Hard Lesson In Keeping BoundariesI broke my own cardinal rule recently.  I didn’t even realize I was breaking it until I endured the aftermath.  My rule is that the day after air travel, which I undergo three or more times a month, I do nothing.  No clients, no writing, no cleaning, no shopping, no lunch dates – nothing.  I stay home and do nothing but relax, preferably sans makeup, hair in a ponytail and wearing comfies.

I am a Jill of many trades.  One of which is presenting corporate team building events with African drums.  As an introverted, highly sensitive person that paradoxically loves to speak and present on stage in front of hundreds of people, I know myself well enough to understand that although I enjoy my work, I dislike the ups and downs of flying back and forth to my destinations.  Airports, delays, long flights sitting way to close to strangers, lonely hotel rooms, crappy food, and often limited sleep wreaks havoc on my finely tuned nervous system.  I am refueled with time alone, unlike an extrovert that refuels with time in community.  So when I return home from travel, I know I need to refuel in order to be grounded, whole and productive in the days that follow.

I used to feel so weak and even guilty for needing my down time.  Most of my friends and loved ones are not introverts or highly sensitive like me.  I see them flourishing by constantly being surrounded by people.  But when I finally realized there is nothing wrong with me, it is just the way my brain and body is wired, I felt a huge relief and vowed to protect that sensitivity and nurture myself with what is right for me, not them.  It took me 40+ years to understand this, so keeping that vow takes diligence and commitment.  And I broke that commitment.

Last week I spent five out of seven days traveling that included two trips; one from California to Phoenix and back and then California to Oklahoma and back.  And for some strange reason the day after my return from Oklahoma I was out and about, spending time with my love.  I suppose that’s not so strange being that we missed each other during my travel and had two days off together.  And I reckon that is why I threw my cardinal rule right out the window.  But it was bad reasoning.  I was fine the first day.  Then the second day I noticed I was feeling cranky for no apparent reason.  By the third day, when I actually set out to ease back into my routine of work, home management, etc., I found myself to be a complete wreck.  Thrown into the mix was the fact that my 12 year old Siberian Husky had apparently damaged some ligaments and is walking around on three legs which followed my 4 year old car needing a new alternator.  Suffice it to say that I was acting and reacting in a way that pretty much made premenstrual syndrome look like a day at Disneyland.

Then it hit me, and I thought to myself “Oooohhhhh yeaaahhhhh, I didn’t stay home and lay low the day after travel.”  The truth is, if I just would have honored my cardinal rule and taken just that one day to myself when I returned home from Oklahoma, I would have handled the stress of my dog totally differently.  I could have seen my options clearly, but instead I cried bawled for two days worrying about it all.  My love would have been so very happy to give me space and spend the day out playing poker, which is how he refuels.  We still would have had his second day off together, and with both of us refueled, it could have been glorious rather than both of us dealing with my crabby ass.

For introverts, extroverts, sensitives and non-sensitives, it is so vitally important that we set boundaries for ourselves and know how to flow with our rhythm and the changing rhythms around us.  Oh the irony – I preach this in every gig I present!  Every aspect of our life revolves around rhythm.  We eat, we sleep, we work, we play – all to a rhythm.  There is a rhythm to our day, to our work…and when we are aligned with that rhythm, we feel awesome.  Yet, it is human nature to fall out of that rhythm from time to time, just like I did.  If we are not conscious in our life and not in-tune with our rhythm and the rhythms around us, what we typically do when we loose the pulse is run around like chickens with their head cut off (like I did) and create chaos.  The key to avoiding that chaos, or at least leaving it behind and easing back into a rhythm is to just stop everything.  Stop doing, and just sit and be for a time; maybe a few minutes, maybe a few hours, maybe a few days.  Whatever it takes to connect without ourselves and then the world around us; feel the rhythm and find our groove – which I eventually did.

It is important to remember also that the rhythm is always changing.  This is why conscious awareness is so important to our peace and happiness.  When we are awake, aware and tuned-in, we feel the rhythm and synchronize.  Each of us has our own way of tuning in.  Knowing ourselves and honoring who we are is imperative – not who we think we should be, not who someone else wants us to be, and not who culture or society dictates.  Rhythm gets all screwed up when we try to be someone we are not.

And for the record, strength is overrated.  It is ok to have moments of weakness, and to surrender to it.  There is a time and a place for strength, but the same goes for weakness.  Actually, one cannot truly exist without the other.  And damn it, what we resist persists.  If I would have honored myself and settled into weakness for just one day after travel, I would have had the strength to endure.  Instead, weakness and I have been hanging out for almost a week now and I’m kind of done with it.

It was an honest mistake.  It was made out of love and wanting to spend time with my man.  I won’t beat myself up over it (anymore).  Lesson learned!  You all know what I’ll be doing the day after my next stint of travel…not a damn thing!

How do you set boundaries for yourself?  Have you had to learn the hard way how important boundaries are?  Leave a comment and let’s learn from each other.

In Rhythm & Harmony,

Melinda

 

 

You Own It – The Power to transform the World

Are you a woman who wants to change the world?  If I may, allow me to share a powerful secret that will grace you with the very tools that would aid you in your mission.  What is this secret?  Give yourself the audacity and loving permission to see yourself as scrumptiously, succulently, beautiful and flaunt that gorgeousness as if you are the queen of an exotic empire.  And as you strut your stuff, the key to the real power contained in this prayer to the universe is to walk your path with the awareness that everyone you encounter is also queen and king of their own exotic empire, even if they appear not to know this yet.  Because you honoring your intrinsic beauty as you honor the same in others inspires this very awareness in everyone you come across creating a domino effect unveiling the deepest depth of potential in humanity.  In other words, as Mama Gena says…”a gratified woman benefits everyone.”

cab9412058ba03272fe50eb8bc94514aThose are essentially a lot of fluffy words trying to describe the universal law of “owning it.”  I’m sure you have come across a woman who “owns it” and have thought to yourself, WOW.  Maybe your small mind chimed in with a few insults to make itself feel better, but no doubt your higher mind had some input as well that observed the power of a woman owning herself as flawlessly, imperfectly perfect.  Maybe she wasn’t a size 2, but her aura of confidence in her beauty, as is, made her the most alluring creature on earth at any size.  Maybe she wasn’t what you normally think of as conventionally “pretty” but the way she carried herself with such warm and outreaching audacity created a beauty in her that far exceeded convention; and damned if she didn’t have the men folk buzzing around her like bees to honey.  This is what I call the universal law of owning it.  It takes fake-it-till-you-make-it to the next level.  Owning it asks you to reach deep within and bring forth the truth that YOU ARE BEAUTIFUL, even with your perceived flaws, which by the way, almost no one sees but you!

I have a dear friend that taught me this law through osmosis.  She is a hippie kinda gal and most comfortable in hippie kinda clothes.  In Orange County, CA where we stomp around, a hippie is a bit of a foreign concept.  It’s on an upswing now, maybe because of my friend, but we’ve been stomping around before boho was trendy.  Anyhow, she is the epitome of owning it.  She could have pie on her face, ripped clothes and shoes that don’t match and not only do all the men flock to her, but really everyone loves her.  She is not boastful as in I’m-better-than-you, but owns it in a way that completely repels judgment and actually invites others to own theirs.  She’s like the pied piper of owning it.

I on the other hand have dealt with a poor self image most of my life.  I’m sure many of you reading this can relate in some way or another.  However, over the years I have had the deeply juicy opportunity to fall madly in love with myself, not just on the inside, but on the outside too.  It is a work in progress and like everyone I have good days and bad days.  What is important to understand about owning it, is that it must be cultivated, nurtured and practiced.

I’m sure you can conjure up a memory of when you felt beautiful.  In the moments of that feeling you uplift others with the awareness of your light.  When you are owning it, you recognize that your beauty comes from within and transforms whatever perceived flaws you are identifying about yourself.  Walking through life with that kind of perception taps into the law of attraction in all of its glory; everywhere you go you are not only uplifting yourself but you are uplifting others and bringing them into the vortex.  That’s changing the world from a grass roots level.

So, I’m going to share something with you now as an action of power in invoking my own universal law of owning it.  This weekend I have to attend a beach party.  I’m honestly not a huge fan of the beach with the exception of sunrise and sunset.  Otherwise, its messily sandy, overly sunny, ruins hair and here in So Cal is full of girls with lots of silicone in skimpy little bikinis that in the past I have allowed to make me feel inferior.  But you know what; I contain enough gorgeousness both inside and out that we can all share the beauty.  I’m going to sport my own bikini at 43 and I’m going to own it!  I am going to rock it like I’m Kim Kardashian before photo shopping.  I’m not only doing this for myself, but as a living message that Hollywood can go f@$# off!

Are you with me sisters?  And brothers…when you honor the beauty in every woman, you too are changing the world.  So as we all go into the season of summer and feeling way to hot to wear too many clothes lets all OWN IT together and stop the madness.  Let’s uplift and inspire our own magnificence as we uplift and inspire everyone around us.

In Rhythm & Harmony,

Melinda

Healing with Ritual and Sacred Ceremony

The mind is a multi-faceted, complicated component of being human.  There are layer upon layer of depths, some of them conscious, some of them unconscious.  So many disciplines, spiritual paths, areas of study and even sectors of modern medicine have been devoted to studying this elusive, mystifying aspect of humanity.  Really, our mind and its capacity and capability are all that separates us from other animals.

Every single human being walking this planet experiences emotional and mental patterns that create challenges and even extreme difficulty.  Because of our uniqueness as living creatures, what is considered challenging for one person may be different for another, so everything is absolutely relative.  Really understanding this truth could save so many from incredible strife.

9be2173a80a954a01dddfbc6ed89fe23In indigenous societies of both present and past, difficulties of the mind are far less prominent than they are in modern cultures.  Contemporary life has become incredibly complicated and to add to the challenges we face, our progressive minds tend to dissect and over analyze our mental and emotional patterns to the point of exhaustion.  But it is not just the evolution of the modern human that has created deeper emotional and mental conflict; it is also the lack of community, ritual and sacred ceremony that play a huge role the demise of the modern mind.

In Shamanism, there is an extraordinarily powerful healing method called Recapitulation which is a process of ceremonially releasing issues and obstacles in your life that you are ready to let go of in order to move forward and create anew.  From a Shamanic perspective, when traumatic events occur in our life, we often give our power away along with essential life force energy.  In psychology this is referred to as disassociation.  If we never find a way to clean up, heal and call back the energy, an energy proxy of sorts takes the place and continues to guide the course of our lives, being triggered by any number of things. When triggered, we effectively operate emotionally and spiritually at the age of the event where we gave our power away.

The recapitulation process begins by taking some time, perhaps a few days, maybe weeks, to write your story.  Thoroughly write out your life story, focusing on areas where you gave your power away.  Start at your very first memory and include as many details as possible.  This helps you get in touch with sometimes buried feelings, memories and the associated energy around issues or aspects of your life that you are looking to release and change.  Make sure you write it all out on paper that can be burned.

Once you have completed your story, you will chose a date and time to ceremonially burn your story, with the intent of transmuting the energy around any occurrences in which you gave your power away.  Obviously the point of a recapitulation is not to “undo” the event, but rather to integrate the experience and call back the energy that has remained stuck in time.

In a recapitulation, the idea is to eliminate unhealthy aspects of our life rather than “fix” them through analysis.  While understanding the “whys” can help illuminate our mind, it does not return the energy tied up in the patterns we desire to change.   We might tell ourselves, “oh I know why, now I’ll stop.”  We may even watch ourselves closely to make sure the behavior has stopped.  All the while the patterns continue under a different guise.  In other words, knowing why a pattern is occurring in your life is a step, but without reclaiming the energy, real empowerment can be difficult to achieve.  The substitute energy that has been filling the void of the energy released at the time of the trauma continues to perpetuate pain similarly to the way an amputee will feel pain in a leg that no longer exists.

energyhands1-300x299Although a solo recapitulation is enormously effective, a group ceremony is exponentially more powerful.  When we connect and heal as a community we are multiplying the healing capacity of the energy present.  It also ads to the power of the event when participants are willing to share something about what they are recapitulating.  This can be difficult for some people who are accustomed to carrying around trauma and uncomfortable with sharing their pain.  And this is exactly why community is such an essential component to a healed society – no one should carry the burden of pain alone.  In a sacred space filled with loving hearts that would never repeat what heard, people are able to exhale the stifled ache of hiding.

When you go through the process of writing your story, you will want to practice the art of detachment so as to avoid going full into the emotion of power-releasing events.  Detachment isn’t necessarily standing back as a 3rd party observer, but rather an act of disconnecting from the emotion and not allowing emotion to control the situation essentially causing you to relive any given moment in time.

Always begin a recapitulation with ritual prayers.  Whatever fits with your spiritual beliefs is fine.  I like to open a vortex and invoke the four directions, elements, power animals, ancestors, sky father and earth mother.  I offer sage and use a few additional ceremonial processes that have been shared with me by my teachers.  And I always close with gratitude.

This Friday is the Summer Solstice and a perfect time for a recapitulation.  I will be holding a Fire Ceremony for women at my home in Southern California, which will include a recapitulation.  If you are unable to join us, you can still hold your own ceremony and link up with us energetically (men included).  Ritual healing transcends time and space and connects with the sheer power of intent.

I look forward to connecting with the brilliance of your spirit!

In Rhythm & Harmony,

Melinda

The Wisdom of Herbal Allies

There are many reasons people turn to herbs for wellness support.  Some simply prefer a more natural approach to what they put in their body, while others are being told by their doctors that they need medication (all of which have horrible side effects) for certain health conditions and want to see if they can make herbs work first.

The herbal industry is a powerful one indeed and growing exponentially.  Americans are spending tens of billions of dollars on natural supplements each year.  The Journal of the American Medical Association (J.A.M.A.) released an issued devoted entirely to the studies of herbs and alternative remedies.  Among the fascinating findings was that Americans today make more visits to nontraditional practitioners, many of which claim expertise in herbs along with other natural therapies.  And they spend almost as much out of pocket on alternative medicine (most of which are expensive pills).  I’m going to assume these alternative practitioners are prescribing herbal remedies with good intentions, but where does their knowledge of herbs come from?  Their text books?  Industry influence?  Or from true herbal experts that have actually formed a relationship with each herb and their connection to humans?

I have a question for you…which provides you more nutritional value – a packaged processed food or a whole food?  Duh!  You know the correct answer.  So, which do you think provides more healing constituents – a processed plant that is powdered and plunked into a capsule OR a whole herb prepared with love and respect by YOU?  Moreover, do you think it would be wise to combine Prozac, Paxil, and Zoloft in one massive dosage?  More is better right?  I’m guessing you would not consider this.  Yet, many of the herbal remedies sold to us by practitioners and health food stores contain multiple herbs in one pill.  With my knowledge, in my opinion, we are being sold to by a greedy industry with marketing ploys that play upon the American notion of more, more, more!  And, many of the herbs being packaged can actually have side effects.

So, let’s get some clarity here.  The following are guidelines set forth by Susan Weed.  First, it is wise to know that herbs fall into four basic categories:  Nourishing, Tonifying, Stimulating and Potentially Poisonous.  Second, you need to make sure you have the right herb and that it is grown and harvested properly. If you are gong to grow them yourself, I highly recommend you study with an expert such as Susan Weed.  Or, if you prefer to purchase, make sure you have a reputable source such as Mountain Rose Herbs.

Working with “simples” (one herb at a time) is the best way to work with herbs.  It ensures optimal safety and allows you to understand how each herb works with your body.  My only exception is peppermint.  I often add peppermint to my infusions to enhance flavor.  According to Susan Weed, “The more herbs there are in a formula, the more likelihood there is of unwanted side-effects. Understandably, the public seeks combinations, hoping to get more for less. And many mistakenly believe that herbs must be used together to be effective (probably because potentially poisonous herbs are often combined with protective herbs to mitigate the damage they cause). But combining herbs with the same properties, such as goldenseal and echinacea, is counter-productive and more likely to cause trouble than a simple. A simple tincture of echinacea is more effective than any combination and much safer.”

”Different people have different reactions to substances, whether drugs, foods, or herbs” cautions Susan.  “When herbs are mixed together in a formula and someone taking it has distressing side effects, there is no way to determine which herb is the cause. With simples, it’s easy to tell which herb is doing what. If there’s an adverse reaction, other herbs with similar properties can be tried. Limiting the number of herbs used in any one day (to no more than four) offers added protection.”

So let’s break down the different categories of herbs, and what common ones fit into what category.  We will start with Nourishing herbs as they are the safest of all herbs and side effects are rare.  They are often used as foods and can be taken every day for any length of time.  According to Ms. Weed, nourishing herbs provide high levels of proteins, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, carotenes, and essential fatty acids.

 Nourishing herbs work best as food or in infusions like my favorite, Stinging Nettle infusion. 

Tonifying herbs have a cumulative effect on the body and are slow acting.  Side effects can occur but are typically short-term.  Tonifying herbs are best used in small quantities for extended periods of time, but not indefinitely like the nourishing herbs.  The bitterness of an herb is an indication of its strength and demands respect.  Therefore, the more bitter a tonic, the less you need.  Mother Nature is so clever.  Likewise, bland tonics can be used more freely. 

Tonifying herbs build the strength in specific areas of the body like an organ or the immune system.  Examples of tonifying herbs are: barberry bark, burdock root/seeds, chaste tree, crone(mug)wort, dandelion root, echinacea, elecampane, fennel, garlic, ginkgo, ginseng, ground ivy, hawthorn berries, horsetail, lady’s mantle, lemon balm, milk thistle seeds, motherwort, mullein, pau d’arco, raspberry leaves, schisandra berries, St. Joan’s wort, turmeric root, usnea, wild yam, and yellow dock.  Tonifying herbs often work best in tincture form.  You can add a few drops in water or take straight, depending on the taste. 

The next category of herb is Sedating and Stimulating herbs which can cause a variety of swift reactions, some of which may be unwanted as some parts of the body might “stress” in order to help other parts.  I once took an entire dropper full of valerian root.  I misread the directions, which stated only a few drops – YIKES!  Yes I slept incredibly well but was in a daze until noon the next day.  These are herbs to be respected and well understood.

Here is what Susan Weed has to say about these powerful allies; “Strong sedatives and stimulants, whether herbs or drugs, push us outside our normal ranges of activity and may cause strong side effects. If we rely on them and then try to function without them, we wind up more agitated (or depressed) than before we began. Habitual use of strong sedatives and stimulants-whether opium, rhubarb root, cayenne, or coffee-leads to loss of tone, impairment of functioning, and even physical dependency. The stronger the herb, the more moderate the dose needs to be, and the shorter the duration of its use.”

Herbs that tonify and nourish while sedating/stimulating are much easier on the body and can be used more freely, as they do not cause dependency. Sedating/stimulating herbs that also tonify or nourish are boneset, catnip, citrus peel, cleavers, ginger, hops, lavender, marjoram, motherwort, oatstraw, passion flower, peppermint, rosemary, sage, skullcap.

Strongly sedating/stimulating herbs include: angelica, black pepper, blessed thistle root, cayenne, cinnamon, cloves, coffee, licorice, opium poppy, osha root, shepherd’s purse, sweet woodruff, turkey rhubarb root, uva ursu leaves, valerian root, wild lettuce sap, willow bark, and wintergreen leaves.

Lastly I want to give a brief mention to some potentially poisonous herbs.  Some may surprise you.  Again, we must remember that each herb is going to have a different relationship with each individual.  I seriously recommend extreme wisdom when venturing into the realm of potentially poisonous herbs.  It would probably be best to work with an extremely wise and experienced herbalist before using.  Susan Weed happens to have a wonderful website with lots of resources along with a chat forum that her students frequent to answer questions. 

Potential poisonous herbs are strong, potent medicines that are taken in small amounts and only for as long as needed.  Side effects are common.  Examples of potentially poisonous herbs are: belladonna, blood-root, celandine, chaparral, foxglove, goldenseal, henbane, iris root, Jimson weed, lobelia, May apple (American mandrake), mistletoe, poke root, poison hemlock, stillingia root, turkey corn root, wild cucumber root. 

I have personally worked with several herbs discussed in the various categories, and always one at a time.  My favorite nourishing herb is Stinging Nettle.  I’ve also worked with Raspberry leaves, Red Clover blossoms, Peppermint, Chaste Tree Berry, Shepard’s Purse, Dandelion, and Valerian Root.  In fact they are all a part of my herbal pantry.  The results have been incredible, but it is also combined with the right diet for me along with daily exercise, limited toxin exposure and fostering a positive mind set.  Herbs are not magic bullets and don’t work in and of themselves necessarily, they are allies upon our wellness path.

It was a health crisis that caused me to turn to herbal wisdom.  I do not have health insurance, could not afford conventional medicine at the time, and even if I could, I don’t think I would have taken that route.  The physical healing following my pregnancy loss was intense.  I bled for a month straight and became horrifically anemic, weak and depleted.  The Shepard’s purse finally got the bleeding to stop.  The Nettle nourished me with iron and all the vitamins my body needed.  The Red Raspberry leaf helped to heal and tone my uterus back to normal.  My hormones were out of whack prior to getting pregnant, and they needed further balancing afterwards.  The Chaste Tree Berry helped with that and I took it for a full year.  The Red Clover blossoms are absolutely delicious and have a phytoestrogenic effect which helped bring further balance, but I only drank the infusion for a very brief time.  Dandelion is a great liver ally.  The liver is responsible for breaking down and processing all excess hormones for elimination, so supporting it is important.  But that too only needed a short time.  I use Valerian root on the rare occasion that I cannot sleep.  That was a far more common occurrence when my hormones where out of whack, but now that they are in harmony, sleep is not usually an issue.  And of course, I add peppermint to all my infusions because it tastes good.  I’ve also smoked it on occasion as it is a great healing ally for the lungs…and no it doesn’t get you high.

With all this incredible wisdom I know you are empowered and supported to work with herbs as nature intended.  And here is the best news of all…when we simply buy the whole herb in bulk to make infusions, or even as a tincture, it is so affordable.  You could even grow and harvest your own favorite allies.  As Susan Weed says “Herbal medicine is people’s medicine. Herbal medicine is the primary medicine of most people on this planet, right now. It’s not something old and dusty. It’s not a bunch of doctors and chemists figuring out how to use herbs like drugs. Herbal medicine is a 3-year-old picking plantain and putting it on a skinned knee or an insect bite. Herbal medicine is the medicine of women and children. It is the medicine of the earth. It’s medicine that’s free. It’s not something that must be studied before it can help you. Start with one plant. Approach herbal medicine directly, hands on, in the back yard with your children.”

In Rhythm & Harmony,

Melinda

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