A deep current of honest, raw emotion courses through my body as I mourn the loss of 3 of my childhood guardians and protectors. Each day I would awake to their gentle swaying and grandiose beauty. In the mornings of winter, I would peak outside at their branches and hope to see them covered in snow. In the soft golden light of the morning sun, we awoke to the world together. They provided homes for countless animals including a family of squirrels that lived amongst their branches for many seasons. Our cats to climbed up their massive trunks as refuge if danger came running towards them. They gave me a sense of home and belonging deeper than any house could make me feel. It was amongst these trees that I found my true home. One of them, the Grandest Fir in town would shed his resin filled cones, much to the chagrin of the rest of the neighborhood, but my mom and I never seemed to mind. Even when our kittie’s fur was covered in pitch, we enjoyed the smell and happily helped them remove the sticky globs of fur. The other two were majestic Western Red Cedar trees with soft bark and gentle swooping branches that caressed our home with the gentlest touch. These were our gentle giants of protection.
When I was young I never contemplated that at one point these trees would be gone. I assumed that because they had been there for years and were protected by the city, they would continue standing forever. How naive children can be. But, I must admit, that even as an adult, I didn’t think these companions of mine would die before I did. They had stood many years before and would continue to thrive if undisturbed. I was wrong. With epic amounts of rainfall this year, the Grand Fir took its last breath as it toppled to the ground alongside the road that was built around it. Unfortunately, because of the cement and houses surrounding, it will not be able to rot in place and go back to the soil from which it came, while providing homes for countless other creatures in the process, instead, it will most likely be chopped up and sold as fire wood or turned into bark chips. The other two Cedars shared a similar fate as their last breath was taken by ‘preventative measures’ of our former landlord who didn’t want them to fall on this property.
I feel a loss from losing these trees like I have lost 3 dear friends. They were my teachers in so many ways during very formative years. Whenever I tell people about my childhood, I refer to these trees and the imprint they left upon me. Grief is a slow process and right now I’m feeling angry and helpless and mostly sad at the reality of the situation. I know it is my life’s work to give voice to and help protect the ancient trees that are still left on this planet. They need me and I need them. They need you and you need them. With only 5% of the ancient Redwoods existing still, the Amazon rainforest being cut down faster than we can comprehend and clear cut logging still being legal in the last remaining temperate rainforest, it is the TREES who truly need our help. They need our voices, our awareness, our alliance, our action. It’s so simple really, but we lose sight of what’s truly important sometimes, like clean water and clean air for ourselves and future generations. Trees provide so much for just us humans and simultaneously contribute monumentally to the entire intricate ecosystem we live amongst. Although many die natural deaths, more are being forced down for reasons of human insanity.
A piece of me has died along with these trees. The piece that was unaware of what was happening. The piece that wasn’t taking greater action to prevent the slaughter of millions of trees all over the world. The piece that remained silent. In honor of my friends, my teachers, my guardians, the givers of breathable air, the holders of ancient wisdom, I know I will dedicate a large part of my life to this. As helpless as I feel, I pray each day for a path upon which to walk in order to protect the sacred gifts of this planet. I don’t know what it’s going to look like, but I am listening with a fiercely strong heart and calling upon the patience and strength to be shown the way.
“Shapeshifting requires the ability to transcend your attachments, in particular your ego attachments to identity and who you are. If you can get over your attachment to labeling yourself and your cherishing of your identity, you can be virtually anybody. You can slip in and out of different shells, even different animal forms or deity forms.”
― Zeena Schreck
And, so, like the quote says I am giving myself a name that allows me to be the shapeshifting woman that I am. I no longer feel a connection with the name Natural Health Foodie~ though I love natural foods and health still with a deep passion~ it just felt a bit limiting and not a true representation anymore.
Deep in meditation, sitting by swirling rapids, spiders precariously overhanging in their spiral of mystery, my body held by the warm rocks that drew my heaviness from the days before, I surrendered myself. Releasing the mind, the stress, the humanness. Comfortably on my back, gazing at the sunshine as it spilled through the trees, their chlorophyll filling my heart with a deep sense of peace and heavenly joy, I merged with the spirit of the land. My heart felt as vast as the cosmos, and I thought of all the people dedicated to protecting, speaking for, and relating directly to the land that cradles us so softly and profoundly. We are here. We are a tribe. We are a team. We all have Green Hearts. We are family.
Dedicated to the Green world and myself, I deepen my connection to myself through the natural world every day. What is it to be alive? To be woman? To be man? These questions seem to dance intricately together as the mysterious power of creation. This web space I am holding is a virtual representation of my life, my offerings, my truth. I have a deep desire to connect with people across the planet and share my gifts as Green Heart Woman and to nurture the Green Heart within us all.
Blessings in the warm Colorado breezes,
Since returning from Latin America in May, my life has been in full summer swing. I can’t say I mind it, in fact, I am truly living the life of my dreams. I get to travel, stopping in special places to visit family and friends and continue to expand my knowledge of medicinal plants everywhere I go. My latest adventure took me up to Vancouver Island in Canada where I attended the Vancouver Island Herb Gathering. I was lucky enough to snag a spot in the kitchen as a volunteer and worked with an stellar group of women creating a bounty of incredible food for all the attendees and teachers. On Saturday night, incredibly delicious slabs of fish were grilling on cedar planks, giant bowls full of fresh garden greens adorned by flower petals overflowed and creamy local cheese cubes and crackers were prepared in a kitchen that resembled something of a mindful meditation workshop. Every action was carefully planned, each word was truly necessary and laughter was the main sound emitted. The lack of stress I felt from the chefs was truly inspiring and I was honored to be a part of that production line.
On the herb front, the event was top-notch. The workshops ranged from learning about salty seaweeds to sweet and dreamy plant spirit medicine to the underworld medicine of mushrooms. You could work hands on or dive more deeply into the science behind herbalism. The teachers came from all over Canada and the combination of humble teachers and eager students let to a wonderful cauldron of shared information and learning for all.
Saturday night we danced, drank herbal mead and honored the Canadian Herbal Elders with a wonderful ceremony. Innisfree Farm served as a perfect container for us all as we were able to explore the wild forest or casually stroll through medicinal herb gardens. I am grateful for my time there, the information and wisdom gained and all the rich connections with passionate plant people. I definitely plan to return to the next one in 2017.
Photos by Ron Pogue
Here’s a recap video of this year:
It was a time of so much learning! I was challenged by the prickly landscape and extreme heat at first, but then as monsoon season rolled in, it was softened and I experienced such magnificent beauty there. The Sonoran desert will always hold a special place in my heart. The land is rich with traditions and the indigenous practices are still very much alive. I met so many amazing plants and people and learned so much about relationships with myself, others and the world around me. The desert offers us many lessons in her expansive and seemingly stark enveironemnt, but when we look a little closer, we see it is truly brimming with life and lessons of all kinds. I am so grateful for my time and eagerly await my return trip! For now, I am sitting inside as a wild storm brews around me in Northern California. It is quite the contrast to the desert and I wasn’t expecting so much water to come flooding into my life. But, that is the beauty of life isn’t it? Just when we think we have something figured out, a new surprise is right around the corner…
Making the decision to start eating healthier food is easy – it’s keeping to the commitment that can present a challenge. No matter where in the world you live, if you were raised to be friendly with junk food and sugary drinks, it’s hard to say goodbye to them when push comes to shove. It becomes especially hard, however, when you don’t know what to avoid.
Luckily, for those of you with a smart-phone, there’s an app that can help guide your food choices so you can be sure you’re avoiding the nasty things that can sometimes be put in food: Eating Clean The app works in a pretty straightforward way: you set it up to detect any combination of ingredients: Gluten, MSG, Artificial Sweeteners, Food Additives, Artificial Coloring, and Lactose. Once you’ve done so, you can then use the built-in barcode scanner to check if the food you’re about to purchase or consume has any of the ingredients that you’ve flagged. Though, it is always optimal to create your own meals, there are times when we all settle for convenience and this is a good way look a little deeper.
Eating Clean is just one of thousands of apps that have been released for those looking to pursue a healthier diet. Gaming Realms, the company behind Free Bingo Hunter, has said that there were 1 billion smartphone users in 2012, and that figure has risen exponentially to 1.75 billion this year. The health and fitness craze has reached the mobile sphere now, prompting developers to begin making apps that fulfill the needs of every fitness buff. Eating Clean satisfies the growing population of people following
Of course, even with apps like Eating Clean, there are still many other factors to take into account. Self-love, motivation and dedication are key. After all, the app can’t physically make you put down an item once it raises flags for certain ingredients – you still need to find the strength to do that within yourself. Hopefully, however, with apps like Eating Clean making it easier to find out what is contained within the food we are eating, it will be easier to stick to a healthy eating plan.