Sun, Water, Fire

My thoughts have officially turned to all things sunshine, water, fire. It’s a connection I made a long time ago with the rhythm of the seasons. June is a time when the sun moves to its peak and then begins to recede, when water saturates from the spring rains and any snow melts that occurred during the winter, when dryness begins to emerge and portends the droughts of high summer, and fires manifest in fire circles as well as inside in creativity. It’s a time of growth and rest. Balancing of extremes.

For the past couple weeks those seasonal extremes and balances have had me considering my Grandpop’s Garden.

I only interacted with my grandpop a handful of times. He was intense and I found him more imposing than anything else. First generation born in the USA, son of a German immigrant and a Donauschwabian immigrant. There were a handful of things my mother shared with me about her father when I was a growing up: 1. He was on the team that built the Chesapeake Bay Bridge and the Conowingo Dam. 2. He had a fascination with photographing car accidents. 3. He was an amazing gardener.

Grandpop was a retired operating engineer who spent his summers in Ocean City, Maryland and his winters in Clearwater, Florida. He had gardens at both homes but it was the one in Ocean City I saw. I only saw it once – it was awesome. What struck me the most was the abundance that grew in an environment that was challenging and extreme for most gardens where I live. 

Grandpop’s garden was on the edge of a marsh in Ocean City. Ocean City is a seaside resort town on a barrier island that extends a little more than 9 miles from the southern inlet to the Delaware state line. During the summer, it is the second most populated area in Maryland (,+Maryland). In other words, its crowded with people, buildings, and impervious surfaces. Gardens are not something regularly found in Ocean City. Beautiful potted plants on porches, yes, but not full blown vegetable gardens.

Garden, circa early 1980s

Grandpop’s garden was 12-feet wide and 20-feet long. The local newspaper did an article on him in the early 1980s . The interview took place on July 4th and noted that his garden had already produced several two pound turnips, 18 inches around and the “garden is also teeming with green bell peppers, cabbage, lettuce, squash, zucchini, beans, cucumbers, parsley, red beets, and onions” (Tip-off leads to stash of radishes, turnips, beets by Dale Walter). The article stated that the bounty from the garden was such that he would not need to purchase produce.

“Convincing vegetables to grow in his garden wasn’t all that easy, Mr. Gramlich reported. Ocean City’s soil is so sandy, he said, that  he had to import soil from Berlin [Maryland] and lace it with horse manure and fertilizer to create his garden. Mr. Gramlich worked hard keeping weeds down and the plants well-watered, but his efforts have paid off with a rich vegetable crop” (Dale Walter). Incidentally, in this article I learned a bit about my grandmom, who I knew less about than my grandpop. She cooked the turnips with mashed potatoes and cooked “beautiful stuffed peppers.” Boy, do I wish I had those recipes.

I was down in Ocean City the other day and the salty sea air was so rejuvenating to me. And, yet, how hard it must have been for his garden to thrive. Or, did it do so because he had figured out how to be in collaboration with the salty sea air, marshy Earth, and intense sun? I like to think that there was a little bit more to it than his explanation, that there was a collaboration with the spirit of the place and the beings.

It is that collaboration whose pull I feel so strongly, especially this time of the year. So much transformation and new growth happens in June. High school students graduate. Flowers start to bloom. Vegetables begin to sprout through the soil. Baby bunnies are born and begin to romp in the garden.

My hand, head, and heart practices for June are all about intentionally being open to collaboration with nature and the more than human beings we are in relationship with in this Earth community  (Orion magazine was the first place I heard the phrase “more than human beings” rather than “non-human beings” and I think it more aptly captures the spirit of the interrelationship).

Hand – The lavender starts blooming this month. It is the first herb I collaborate with during this time leading up to the solstice and midsummer. “The name lavender comes from the Latin word lavare, “to wash,” originating from the Romans who used lavender to scent their baths. Lavender has long been used for cleansing purposes, and was strewn about households to ward off plague and tucked into cupboards and drawers to repel insects.” (The Herbrarium). Some of the lavender I harvest will be dried for later uses (such as incense, oils), some will be used fresh in the kitchen (such as cookies, lemonade), and some will become lavender bundles.

As the solstice approaches, the lavender bundles throughout the house will be replaced with new ones. Lavender is said to encourage peacefulness and discourage negative energy so we hang ours in rooms where people gather and over our main door. I’ll harvest the lavender the day after a rain, once the plants have completely dried. This will help to prevent mold after they are bundled. The bundles from last year will be burned in our summer solstice fire.

Those who follow on the newsletter will receive instructions for making lavender bundles. There is also more information on how I use herbs and plants during midsummer.

Head – Stories for summer solstice are stories that include transformation, rebirth, journeys, light, and magic. In prior years we have read The Return of the Sun King by Christine Natale, a story full of fairy folk, gnomes, dwarves, water sprites, and seed babies.

This year, now that the girls are older, this year we are going to explore the story of Persephone from the Homeric Hymn to Demeter and The Descent of Inanna. The Descent of Inanna is the older of the two, thought to have been composed some time between 3500 BCE and 1900 BCE. Both stories tell the story of a young woman descending into the underworld and then returning. Both represent, at some level, the change of seasons and the cycle of death and rebirth.

Consideration of the differences seems as important as consideration of the similarities in these two stories. We will be focusing not only on the connection to the seasons but also to what these stories have to tell us about navigating life and transitions.

Outside meditation space, June 2023

Heart – Between the summer solstice and midsummer my meditation practice moves outside. I have a dedicated  space, a comfortable Adirondack chair surrounded by Hydrangeas, Azaleas, Cosmos in pots, and Dahlias in pots.  I have a focal point, or an altar, that is composed of stacked rocks with two shells at the top: an Eastern Oyster shell and a Gryphaea shell (a genus of oyster that went extinct about 34 million years ago).

I sit in a comfortable seated position, bare feet on the ground. I roll my shoulders backwards, then forwards. I slightly lower my chin and just breathe. Some days I set an intention. Some days I chant. Some days I sing mantras. Some days I ask a question and then listen. Some days I focus on a natural element – earth, air, fire, or water – represented by a special rock or crystal, an aromatherapy blend, a candle, or a bowl of water. Some days I focus on an ancestor through a family heirloom. Some days I just sit and focus on 108 breaths.

This time of the year I focus on growth, expansion, place, feeling based knowing, collaboration with the more than human world. I am aware of how my body is entering the space, what my feet, my back, my arms are each touching. I am aware of the sounds/light/smells/etc. Then, I simply ask, “what do you want to me to know.” And, then I listen and breathe. When I come out of morning meditation, I am able to carry the awareness that arose into the day.

Share in the moments of my life on Instagram.

Looking for more? Join my monthly newsletter for more thoughts and resources for tapping into a simple, intentional life filled with Earth-based practices. 

An Invitation from the Wild

“In the country it seems as if every tree said to me ‘Holy! Holy!’ Who can ever express the ecstasy of the woods!”

-Ludwig van Beethoven, Beethoven Library of Piano Works: Bagatelles, Sonatinas, Piano Pieces, and Variations.

Hiking trail along the Gunpowder River, May 2023

Hiking along the Gunpowder River, May 2023

I was wild until I was age 30. I don’t mean wild as in untamed, unruly, unrestrained. I mean the wild that comes from being in and of the natural world.

I use to spend a crazy amount of time on the water. Whether in boats, canoes, kayaks, or rafts, the act of being on water with no one else around relaxed me and made me feel connected to something larger than myself. I remember the first time I went white water rafting on Class III-IV rapids on the Youghiogheny River when I was 15. I was hooked. The names and identifiers along the river were enough to light up my imagination. Rapids called Double Hydraulics and Eddy Turn. Wall rocks. Snaggletooth rocks. What I wasn’t expecting was just how much I would learn from my relationship with nature and the river during these journeys.

Each rapid and each still water was its own learning experience. There were moments when I would hear a rapid before I would see it. My heart beat a little bit faster. The air felt different. And, there was a stillness even with the approaching rumble. I learned firsthand how rapids change depending on weather. During a rain storm the rapid is stronger and more dangerous than on a warm, clear, sunny day. When paddling in the rain everything was as gorgeous as on a sunny day. These variations struck me as significant. I was seeing different sides of nature, different personalities, different moods. I realized that I was seeing the river environment in moods that most people do not see, and I was honored to be doing so. It was exhilarating to watch the rain drip through the trees onto the water, and be able to think that nobody else saw this phenomenon in the exact same way as I was seeing it. There was also excitement when I looked at a rapid and wondered if I would make it through safely or if I would fall out and be injured, but knowing all along that if I did not try I would look back and wonder what would have happened. Inevitably, I would hit the rapid and no matter what the result, I was satisfied. This was when I realized how much I could learn by having a reciprocal relationship with nature. I made a conscious decision to learn as much as I could, however nature wanted to teach me.

As a child I loved to watch fireflies. Their light always fascinated me. They were always willing to show off their light. Their light, the thing that made them special, also made them vulnerable, easily identifiable, and different. But for their light, I would not have tried to catch them. I would not have wanted to know their secrets. But I did want to know. And, I would run around the neighborhood, barefoot and tanned (as it was summer), chasing them. I wanted to know where they were going. Of course, I never did figure it out, but that wasn’t what was important, it was the interaction. The understanding that they knew things I did not but may be I could learn and experience too.  I was reminded of my childhood love of fireflies and their magic when I discovered in the brackish waters of the Chesapeake Bay the same phenomenon that make the firefly glow .  (If you are curious about fireflies check out: The first 14 minutes is information about fireflies. At 14:24 The Firefly Experience begins. It’s worth the click.)

It was a dark, calm, quiet night. In total darkness, I canoed up one of the little guts (water ways) surrounding my marshy, island town, in a canoe with a friend. It was so beautiful. More stars than usual. Beautiful moon. We stop paddling, lay back in the canoe, drifted, and looked up. The stillness was energizing. I felt connected and alive – to my friend, to my community, to the Bay, to the world. I dipped my hand into the water as I had so many times before. But on this night the bioluminescence was intense. Covering my hand. Dancing up the side of the canoe as the water splashed. It was everywhere. It was like the water and the plankton were dancing together. Intellectually I knew that when a molecule of oxygen + an enzyme called luciferase combine with the protein luciferin the resulting new molecule gets excited and gives off light. On land that gives fireflies their light. The aquatic world has the highest number of bioluminescent creatures on the planet. Dinoflagellates, moon jellies, and comb jellies all bring this magical light to the Chesapeake Bay. Some scientists think bioluminescence may be a defense mechanism against predators, others posit that it is a means of communication, especially as a way to attract a mate  or to warn the community of danger. All I saw that night was the dance and nature’s reminder that there is more to the world than intellectual explanations.

Something happened when I turned 30. I remember my last wild adventure. It was a winter backpacking and climbing trip that we took as Outward Bound instructors. Backpacking on the Appalachian Trail in March in Maryland should be fairly safe from snow but it wasn’t. It snowed from the morning of the second day until we returned home. The eight of us were the only people out and about on the trail. No competition for the shelters. No foot steps ahead of us in the snow. It was cold, it was peaceful, and it was beautiful.

The reason my wild adventures ended wasn’t due to what you’d expect – marriage, kids, growing up, and all of that. After all, marriage and kids is a wild adventure of its own but that’s a discussion for a different day. The reason was far more mundane – work. It was the nature of my job. I became an administrator in a public magnet high school. I lost my summers. I extended my work days. And, my wild adventures in the natural world very swiftly came to an end. My adventures into forests, mountains, and waters stopped abruptly. Although, at the time it didn’t feel abrupt.

They say distance makes the heart grow fonder, but I have always felt that distance makes the heart grow forgetful. And, that is what happened. For years I held on to the little pieces, the little threads that tied me back to this wild life. I held on through my own created rituals and practices and dips into the natural world. I rooted into this sacred Earth to find ways to nourish my flow, vitality, contentment, resilience, creativity, and to honor and steward the Earth and all she is. (See Lotus #1: Earth/Nature for specifics on my practice).

I suppose I thought those little threads would be enough, would keep that connection alive, would continue my way of seeing that which is there, that which is greater than what is readily visible. May be those practices did keep it alive, alive just enough to be able to tap me on the shoulder now to say “Hey, we’re here…..”  I’ve come to understand that the wildness has been tapping me on the shoulder, and trying to get my attention for a long while now. Wildness is saying, “Come back out.” Wildness has been inviting me back into a reciprocal relationship.

As I was talking to my dear friend recently and I was thinking about why the wild adventures ceased and what I wanted, it occurred to me it was similar to  when I started walking at 4am with our beloved bullmastiff Winston (See Get Up, Wake Up – Things my dog has taught me). I started walking with Winston at 4am because Winston really didn’t need to be out in the world amongst people at other times. And, partially because it was the only time of day I could fit any movement into my schedule. When I started doing that years ago, my teacher had a phrase that she shared, “Get up, wake up later.” She’d say, “Just get up, just get up and do it. You can wake up later.” And, that really helped.

Right now, the phrase in my head is “Get Out.” Just get out. Just get out into the wild areas. Get out into the places where your heart is open and soars free. Get out into the places where you feel connected to everything that’s pulsing in the world around you. Just get out. So that’s what I’m doing. I’m integrating myself back into relationship with the natural world, reconnecting to the life force, specifically the forests, mountains, and waters,  and all of the non human persons living in those places.

Remembering and reconnecting and integrating. May be that’s what it is all about, may be it is all just about remembering. After all, the people who are my blood and my bones all lived along the coast. They all lived in lands of different climates, on different continents, but all near the water. Always on a coastline. May be that is why the call is so strong when I think about it, or when I feel it, or when I am out and about in it, its awakening all of that ancestral knowledge as well. That feels right to me, as water was here before humans were.

Here is my approach:

Hand – Granola Bars. I am making lots of snacks to have with me as I get out. Granola bars are my favorite – easy to make, varieties are endless, and they can be stored in the freezer until I grab one or two for my backpack as I head out. I wrap them in little parchment paper sleeping bags so they do not stick to each other and so they are easy to locate in my backpack.

Granola bars with sultanas and cacao,  May 2023

Granola Bars with sultanas and cacao, May 2023

Those who follow on the newsletter will receive the full recipe for the granola bars.

Head – I am tapping back into the classics that inspired me and searching out new ones as well. Old “friends” such as Sigurd Olson,  Anne LaBastille, Pam Houston, Barry Lopez remind me how I found myself in their stories and books. Currently, I am reading The Flow by Amy-Jane Beer. I believe that books find us when we need them the most and this one is all about water and wildness. Amy-Jane Beer is a biologist, naturalist, and a writer. From the inside cover of her book:

“On New Year’s Day 2012, Amy-Jane Beer’s beloved friend Kate set out with a group of others to kayak the River Rawthey in Cumbria. Kate never came home, and her death left her devoted family and friends bereft and unmoored. Returning to visit the Rawthey years later, Amy realises how much she misses the connection to the natural world she always felt when on or close to rivers, and so begins a new phase of exploration. The Flow is a book about water, and, like water, it meanders, cascades and percolates through many lives, landscapes and stories. From West Country torrents to Levels and Fens, rocky Welsh canyons, the salmon highways of Scotland and the chalk rivers of the Yorkshire Wolds, Amy-Jane follows springs, streams and rivers to explore tributary themes of wildness and wonder, loss and healing, mythology and history, cyclicity and transformation. Threading together places and voices from across Britain, The Flow is a profound, immersive exploration of our personal and ecological place in nature.”

This book is so beautiful. I have been reading it for awhile now, slowly, taking it in and mulling it over. I love her writing and don’t want to rush to the end.

Heart – I’m getting outside. Just the act of being out in the wild is my heart practice. I’m exploring new trails, discovering new places to swim off-shore, and looking forward to doing some paddling.

Share in the moments of my life on Instagram.

Looking for more? Join my monthly newsletter for more thoughts and resources for tapping into a simple, intentional life filled with Earth-based practices. 

Memories and Dreams

The other day my husband said to me, “Your memories are always with you.” My dear friend used to say, “your mind is a steel trap,” when I would bring up some long ago memory. I started pondering this. Then I remembered what my best friend told me in the 1980’s, “Don’t look back at the past, the only way to get to the future is through the present.” I work so hard at decluttering and letting go of “stuff,” why is my past right here with me?

Let’s be clear, I have a natural tendency to look back to inform the present. I majored in History, I am a genealogist, and I love stories, the older the better. I believe we can learn from the past and I believe reflecting on the past can provide insight into navigating today. I also live in the same city and the same house I grew up in. But that’s not exactly what my husband and friend were referencing. It’s about the mental clutter and the emotionality tied to it  So, why is my past right here with me? The answer, as always, was more complicated than expected.

I was born with pneumonia and spent an extra week in the hospital. When I finally went home, I was sent back to hospital in an ambulance for another stay. At some early point thereafter I began to have night terrors. Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital explains:

“A night terror is a sleep disruption that seems similar to a nightmare, but is far more dramatic….During a night terror, a child might:

  • suddenly sit upright in bed
  • shout out or scream in distress
  • have faster breathing and a quicker heartbeat
  • be sweating
  • thrash around
  • act upset and scared

After a few minutes, or sometimes longer, the child simply calms down and returns to sleep. Unlike nightmares, which kids often remember, kids won’t have any memory of a night terror the next day because they were in deep sleep when it happened — and there are no mental images to recall. Night terrors are caused by over-arousal of the central nervous system (CNS) during sleep…We have dreams — including nightmares — during the rapid eye movement (REM) stage. Night terrors happen during deep non-REM sleep. A night terror is not technically a dream, but more like a sudden reaction of fear that happens during the transition from one sleep stage to another.” That fear reaction is the night terror.

As is the case with night terrors, I don’t remember them, and I don’t know how often I had them. I know I was terrified and I know the episodes were disruptive to my parents. The episodes were frequent and disruptive enough for my parents to seek medical intervention.

The doctor my parents worked with decided that medication was the solution for my night terrors. Dilantin. Dilantin is the brand name for Phenytoin. According to the Mayo Clinic, “Phenytoin is used to control seizures (convulsions), including tonic-clonic (grand mal) and psychomotor (temporal lobe) seizures, in the treatment of epilepsy. It is also used to prevent and treat seizures that occur during brain surgery. This medicine is an anticonvulsant that works in the brain tissue to stop seizures.” Dilantin reduces neuron activity in the brain. Its a powerful medication that alters how the brain functions. I can only guess that the doctor approached my night terrors similarly to seizures and prescribed the Dilantin to interrupt the neuron activity that he suspected was causing the night terrors.  The prescription commenced, and then, the dark period began. I don’t know if there is a correlation between the two. The timing certainly make me curious.

I remember naming it “the dark period.” No dreams. Few memories. Little creativity and imagination. In junior high my parents would ask me if I remembered some incident or occasion from earlier in my life. I would simply say, “no, that was during the dark period.” 

To this day, I have no answer when someone asks me my earliest memory. Was it when I saw the boys tormenting the Doberman when I was 5? Or when I hit a golf ball across a major road when I was 5? Or accidentally dropping my pen in the storm drain at school when I was in kindergarten (age 5) and trying to get it out? Was there anything earlier? By fifth grade (age 10) I could sleep without a nightlight and without Dilantin. And, there were no more dreams of any kind. I have lots of photos of things that happened from age 4 to fifth grade that I should remember and don’t. Imaginary play and costumes with a friend. Horses. Halloweens. Birthdays. Weddings. But I don’t.

What I do remember, was feeling a pull to defend and protect . The doberman. Students who were teased and bullied, including myself. At this time, dogs roamed the neighborhood and ones needing assistance to get home would end up at our front door or would find me on my way home from school and follow me home. I remember anger. I also remember being happiest in the garden, the water, or the nearby woods. 

Once seventh grade came so too did my passive compliance to expectations set by society and others. This was the state of things for the next seven years or so. But a funny thing happened along that seven year journey. I began to meet people and have experiences I wanted to remember. Beginning in 10th grade the most amazing individuals entered my life. These are people, who together, we created unbelievable experiences and adventures. We grew up together and, most importantly, we grew.

In 10th grade I also began journaling. Some entries were recounting our adventures. Some were daily lists of what happened. Some were creative entries. Some were sleeping dreams. What I discovered was that the more I wrote, the more I remembered and the more dreams I had while I slept. To let go of the memories that no longer serve me is to confront the fear of going back to the dark period. Of not remembering. And not remember means losing track of myself and my journey. 

My word for this year is freedom. When I selected it I was thinking about my retirement and the freedom being awakened by it. It also applies to this. Memory is just our interpretation of events, and the narrative we create about them. The present is all there is. There is no guarantee of tomorrow. The past does not determine the present or future. It may inform my decision-making, my approach, but just because it was, doesn’t mean “it will be.” It can be inspiration but that doesn’t make it reality. There is freedom in letting go of the emotionality of memories. And, that is what I have decided to do. I have decided to go for the goosebumps. The goosebumps that come from the daily act of living, and diving into each moment with the full breath and awareness it deserves. I’m going with Henry David Thoreau:

You must live in the present, launch yourself on every wave, find your eternity in each moment.

Here are some of the ways I am doing this.


Part of living in the present and going for the goosebumps involves paying attention through my hands and feet. At least once a day, I walk barefoot outside in the grass or in the garden as a way of grounding and connecting to the Earth. It recharges my spirit as I absorb the energy the Earth and Sky offer. Even in the first few moments I feel the shift, my breathing eases, I feel calm, light. Sometimes it is early in the morning while still dark, and sometimes it is later in the day. I try to notice all I can with as many of my senses as possible. If you are interested in taking a deep dive into how connecting feet to the Earth impacts our autonomic and parasympathetic nervous systems, this is a good starting place: Journal of Environmental and Public Health.

I also make sure I connect my hands to the Earth as often as possible. Gardening has been a part of my life as long as I can remember. I planted my first garden when I was a little girl. I had two gardens – a sunny garden and a shade garden. My sunny garden was filled with forget me nots, rabbit ears, and other sun loving perennials my magical gardening neighbor Mrs. H shared with me. My shade garden was more of a secret space. Jack-in-the-Pulpits, Virginia bluebells, hostas shaded by evergreen trees. My mother had a flower garden and my father grew tomatoes. My grandfather had an amazing vegetable garden. Gardening is just something we did, and I still do. Flowers, vegetables, herbs, native plants are all members of my garden community. Getting my hands in the soil, the Earth, provides an opportunity to dive into each moment with the full breath and awareness it deserves and to the future growth that will result. Digging. Feeling. Smelling. Listening. To notice the colors, images, sounds, smells, words, all the details, while gardening. If you are interested in how gardening benefits a range of general, physical, mental, and social outcomes, I recommend starting with What is the evidence for the impact of gardens and gardening on health and well-being: a scoping review and evidence-based logic model to guide healthcare strategy decision making on the use of gardening approaches as a social prescription,”  by Howarth M, et al. in BMJ Open 2020, with particular attention to Figure 3. From this article, it is possible to dive into other studies.


I have a dear friend who shares his dreams with me; his actual sleeping dreams. For him it is part of the process of honoring the dream, the persons in the dream, and the message. I am profoundly honored to be in these discussions with him. Nobody is an expert here, in this life, and it often takes us coming together to find our way. After our discussions of his dreams I find my self wishing I had dreams again. I do occasionally dream but I often do not remember them. I am often left with a feeling from my dreams but nothing real to dive into. So, in my effort to live in the present and launch myself on every wave, I have decided to delve into dream work. Not only to learn about dreams, but also welcome dreams back into my daily life. To notice the colors, images, sounds, smells, words, the details, in my dreams. To do this I am taking my usual nighttime practices and fortifying them with additional practices. This is my process:

Regular Practices:

  1. Tracking my sleep habits. Since vivid dreams typically occur during our REM sleep cycle, my sleep analytics provides me with valuable information about my deep and REM sleep, how long I was restless, amount of time awake versus asleep, all of which can clue me in to the quality of my sleep.
  2. Ensuring healthy sleep habits. I cannot control REM sleep, however, I can adopt habits that will support REM sleep. Habits such as, no alcohol three hours before bed, no blue lights (i.e. cell phone) one hour before bed, regular sleep time and wake up time, etc.
  3. Practicing yoga nidra for sleep. “Yoga Nidra is a systematic method of inducing complete physical, mental and emotional relaxation. The term yoga nidra is derived from two Sanskrit words, yoga meaning union or one-pointed awareness, and nidra which means sleep… nidra is often referred to as psychic sleep or deep relaxation with awareness,” explains Swami Satyananda Saraswati (Yoga Nidra, 1998). Yoga nidra involves resting and listening, no physical movement at all. Swami Satyananda Saraswati  did not intend for yoga nidra to be used to induce sleep. Since yoga nidra is “a state of mind between wakefulness and dream,” Swami Satyananda Saraswati reminds that “the most important thing in yoga nidra is  to refrain from sleep.” Yet, practitioners have evolved ways to use yoga nidra to support sleep. Yoga Nidra Network has a free Yoga Nidra Library that I often use. For those new to Yoga Nidra they have a section called Yoga Nidra Made Easy Audio Files that has 13 audio files that take the listener through the yoga nidra process.

New practices:

  1. Reading about dream work and experiencing dream circles.
  2. Dream Tea before bed. My tea includes rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis), peppermint (Mentha × piperita), chamomile (Matricaria chamomilla), skull cap (Scutellaria lateriflora), mugwort (Artemisia vulgaris), damiana (Turnera diffusa), and rose (Rosa spp.) petals. All of these herbs support memory and relaxation. Some folklore suggest that mugwort encourages intuition and dreaming. To learn more about these herbs, visit  The Herbrarium.
  3. Rituals to enter the dreamscape. I keep a doomahitchie on my nightstand. It doesn’t matter what it is. Its nonsensical and really doesn’t even belong there. Before I go to sleep I tell the doomahitchie that in the morning I will tell it my dreams from the night. Then, in the morning, I look at it as I get out of bed, before writing in my dream journal, as a cue to remember.
  4. Placing a dream pillow over my eyes. Since I am focusing on my dreams I have made a new dream pillow, one that contains mugwort (Artemisia vulgaris), lavender (Lavandula spp.), and rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis).  Mugwort for dreams, lavender for relaxation, and rosemary for memory.
  5. Dream journaling. When I awaken each morning, I lie in bed and stretch and breathe a bit. This gives my mind time to process any dreams I had the night before and to prepare my self for moving. Then I get up and write in my dream journal, even if there isn’t a dream I make a note of that so that I can notice emerging patterns.


There is a new moon and solar eclipse on April 20th. The combination makes for a great time to focus on transformation, planting seeds for new personal growth. As I am striving to let my heart be free and wild this year, I will be lighting a candle and taking a ritual bath that night to support that intention. Ritual bath’s were part of my ancestors celebrations at various times of the year and I have been exploring adding them into my practices.

Here’s my process:

A green candle will be set on the windowsill near my bath. Green represents sowing seeds and growth. I will write my intention, to let go of the emotionality of my memories and to dive into each moment with the full breath and awareness it deserves, on a small piece of paper and fold it three times. I will light my candle and set fire to the piece of paper. The candle will then burn while I take a hot bath using a homemade bath salt blend which includes sea salt, pine (Pinus spp.) needles, juniper (Juniperus spp.) berries, violet (Viola spp.), cedarwood (Juniperus virginiana) essential oil, fir (Abies sibirica) essential oil, and a splash of new moon water collected during the last new moon.  These plant allies are a nod to my ancestors as well as supportive of emotions, relaxation, forgiveness, self-acceptance, and grounding. To learn more about these herbs, visit  The Herbrarium. After the candle burns out I will bury the residue by the Juniper tree in my garden. 

Those who follow on the newsletter will receive the full recipe for making a dream pillow.

Share in the moments of my life on Instagram.

Looking for more? Join my monthly newsletter for more thoughts and resources for tapping into a simple, intentional life filled with Earth-based practices. 


Retirement. It’s an interesting word. “Let’s retire to the drawing room.” “This is a retired racehorse.” “I am retiring after 30 years in……” “I am retired.” It seems odd to say those words. After 30 years in a schoolhouse and 34 years in education, to say “I am retired” still feels, well, early. After all, I am still in my 50s. Does that mean, this is it? It’s all over?

The Online Etymology Dictionary ( states that “retire” comes from the “French retirer ‘to withdraw (something),’ from re- ‘back’ (see re-) + Old French tirer ‘to draw’. Related: Retired; retiring. The sense of ‘leave one’s business or occupation’ is by 1660s. The meaning ‘to leave company and go to bed’ is from 1660s. Transitive sense is from 1540s, originally ‘withdraw, lead back’ (troops, etc.); meaning ‘to remove from active service’ is from 1680s. Baseball sense of ‘to put out’ (a batter or team) is recorded by 1874.” It’s a word that has been with us for many centuries that seems to suggest that “to retire” is an ending.

The retired racehorse may find retirement to be anything but an ending. They may still be “working” just in a different venue. They may find themselves on a breeding farm or being retrained for another sport such as polo or show jumping. Or, they may be living out their life on a sanctuary farm.

It is the “retiring to the drawing room” that is interesting to me. To retire to the drawing room sounds relaxing, even luxurious. It’s barely a transition from one location to another. It signals a downshift in energy. And, yet, it implies that there is more to come. The meal has ended but the festivities continue.

When my dad retired it wasn’t joyous. It wasn’t relaxing. It was an ending. He was 56 years old. He felt that he had to find another job, I was graduating from college the next year and my sister would soon be starting. He never did find another job but it was a lack of commitment to that endeavor, lack of will, not opportunity. I saw him slip into a depressive state, and then a series of illnesses. I am not sure if he experienced much joy during that time. Six years later he was suffering from multiple illnesses. Four years after that he passed away.

For me, retirement came on 1 January 2023 without fanfare or celebration.  It was slow, quiet, even solemn. When I take a shower, I use one of my body scrubs and I say, “wash away that which is not mine.” This is what the transition to retirement felt like for me. Stripping away all that I carried for all those years. The care, concern, commitment, passion but also the systemic toxicity, fear based compliance, hierarchical intolerance for others success and knowledge. Stepping away from a place that I love, and into the unknown. Retirement felt like a beginning. An emergence. I am learning to say I am retired with the same energy of the drawing room. Relaxed. Less stressed. With anticipation, may be even expectation, that there is more to come. I am here at this time to be an educator. It’s my purpose. That will not stop just because I have retired from a school system.

Rites of passage mark milestones in life. Some are religious – baptism, communion; some are secular – graduation, driver’s license. All contain a point of liminality, that place where the transition occurs; the old is behind and the new has yet to emerge. In that space there is an opportunity to reflect on what has been and what will be. Liminal spaces are magical spaces, full of juiciness. Its where my creativity and confidence lives. As such, it is important to honor and recognize my retirement as one of these life milestones.

Things of the hand, head, and heart – rituals, place, stories, the Earth are my foundations for this year as I process this milestone. In Waldorf schools there is a focus on the head, hand, and heart as the three processes to tap into in order to enliven learning, independence, and human-ness. (See, The Foundations of Human Experience and other writings by Rudolph Steiner). Think of the head as intellect, the heart as emotion, and the hands as will . By digging deep into those things that ground me and support me, I can relax and breathe into what  is and move energy to what is becoming.


I am learning to embroidery. I remember learning a little bit about embroidery when I was a young girl. It didn’t spark my interest at the time. I can remember my mother embroidering and then one day she no longer did. My great grandmother’s people were Kashubians who migrated to Danube Swabia in the mid-19th century and then to the United States in the early 20th century. Kashubians are neither German nor Polish. “Historians and linguists have argued amongst themselves as to the origin of the Kashubians. But they agree that for over 1,500 years, the Kashubs have lived along the shore of the Baltic Sea. Their traditional occupations were fishing and farming. Today most Kashubians live in Pomerania in the area bounded by Gdańsk in the north and Konarzyny in the south” (

My great grandmother’s knowledge of Kashubian culture and belief was never passed on, she passed away while all of her children were between the ages of 6 and 16. For me, learning about my Kashubian ancestry has been an opportunity to reinvigorate that knowledge. When I saw Kashubian embroidery I was captivated. It is a tradition that extends back to the 13th century. The designs are inspired by nature – pansies, cornflower, blue-bells, lilies, forget-me-nots – in both content and color.  The colors symbolize the Baltic Sea, lakes and rivers, the sky, meadows, forests, the sun, love, and adversity. I am far way from being able to do anything as beautiful or as intricate as Kashubian embroidery. For now, it serves to inspire me as I learn. To see Kashubian embroidery, visit:

If you are interested in learning to embroider, check out: Threaded by Tatum Her directions are clear, easy to follow, and she has all of the necessary supplies .


I have been delving into stories of shape shifting women, especially selkie stories. Selkie women are sea maidens who come ashore and remove their seal skins to reveal a human body. If the skins are captured by a human man, the selkie must live with him until her skin is returned to her. Only then can she return to the water.  Sometimes selkies are vengeful after the return of their skin, sometimes they are supportive after their return to the water. My favorite story right now is The Selkie’s New Skin from If Women Rose Rooted by Sharon Blackie. I read it a number of years ago and keep coming back to it. In this story the Selkie woman provides an opening for her daughter to “if ever she should choose, she also could take to the sea.” Mother, teacher, wisdom holder, all contained in this Selkie woman.

I took my skin off when I moved off of Smith Island (see  blog post I moved from the wildness of an island and a life lived largely outdoors to an indoor, concrete work life in a male dominated, controlled, bureaucracy. A system built on obedience and fueled by sameness and conformity. Little by little it strangled me, restrained me, and I lost my wildness. Aspects of myself that I learned and mastered from male role models thrived in this environment. Traits. Expectations. Behaviors. And it worked, for thirty years. Little flare ups of independence and wildness, periods of burnout occurred,  and I would recover to get back to the work at hand. Work of which I am so proud. I helped build something good and special that people believe in and are nurtured by, especially young people.  Now, with retirement, I have been given my skin back. Released from that world. I am free. The aspects of myself that have been pushed down and controlled for so long are now able to roam freely. My creativity. My uniqueness. My connection to the Earth. I can return to the waters. The selkie stories provide a lens for me to navigate and consider this new reality.

Additional selkie stories:


Tea is one of my most important daily rituals. As Ronald L. Grimes said, “Ritual practice is the activity of cultivating extraordinary ordinariness.” In tea, all of the elements are present – Earth (the herbs), Fire (the heat), Water (self-evident ), Air (the steam), Ether (the infusion) and the resulting infusion can be personalized to what one needs – energizing, healing, soothing, calming, etc.

My ritual begins with Step 1: I consider the herbs to use based upon what I need for the day, my intention, what I am endeavoring to manifest. What herb best supports that goal? This becomes the base of the tea. Then I add ingredients to compliment flavor or effect. Step 2: I thank the herbs when I have assembled them and I thank the water before setting it to boil. Step 3: While the tea is steeping I say words over it that are connected to my intention for the day. Step 4: I enjoy the tea. While I slowly drink my tea I also reflect on that intention. The tea I have been turning to these days is my Heart Warming Tea. Each of the ingredients is selected for its warming and heart supporting properties which I find I am in need of during this transition. According to The Herbrarium:

  • Hawthorn – a general cardiac tonic that appears to improve the mechanics of the heart and its metabolic processes. Hawthorn is also calming and stress reducing, and is used to heal, open, and protect the heart.
  • Rose – to open and fortify the heart.
  • Cinnamon – Warming, carminative, anti-inflammatory.

Those who follow on the newsletter will receive the full recipe for the tea.

Share in the moments of my life on Instagram.

Looking for more? Join my monthly newsletter for more thoughts and resources for tapping into a simple, intentional life filled with Earth-based practices. 

Place – Union of Dark and Light

It’s February. February is my tough month. I suspect everyone, alright, most people, have a tough month. For whatever reason, some months just seem to be more challenging than others. For me, it’s February. Memories. Deaths. Losses. February is filled with them for me.

Several years ago I began to befriend February. May be I finally listened to my dad, “That which does not kill you makes you stronger.” May be I was just super tired of holding on to the February angst. I no longer remember the catalyst, and that doesn’t seem important anymore. Now, I find appreciation in February. Lotus #2 Place is heightened in February and helps me remember the sweet spot where the human experience and the landscape are one. And, it reminds me to listen to this wonderful place. I simply need to step out side and be, and I can find all that I need to lift up February for me. 

I now understand that February is the month where the divine feminine and the divine masculine present their union so clearly. Fire and water. Shadow and light. Cold and warm. Dormancy and growth. Earth and sky. Sun and Moon. Boredom and inspiration. Fullness and emptiness. Being and doing. Receiving and creating. This divine union is everything.

February 2022

February is still a challenge but it’s different now. I feel things in my body more intensely during this month. Emotions. The flavor of food. Cold on my face. My bare feet on the Earth. The slow returning of the light. I have made peace with the challenge of February and have all sorts of rituals at my fingertips to help me manage my response to February. Here is how I look after myself in February…..

Our story for February is: The Candles by Hans Christian Andersen (1870) which we read surrounded by candlelight and a glowing fireplace as a sign of the returning sunlight.

Our ritual is: Candlemas and Imbolc. They fall on the cross quarter day between Winter Solstice and Spring Equinox – the middle of winter in this place I live. A day where the the solstice and equinox are in balance, in union. Candlemas and Imbolc are linked together in their origins and we have built our own family rituals around them that ground us in time, place, and spirit. With Candlemas we thank and celebrate our candles for all they have done getting us through the dark days of deep winter, and Imbolc is a celebration of the awakening of the land from its winter sleep and the return of the sunlight. Both are about the transition from dark to light, from dormancy to growth.

Pancakes or Crepes and Chamomile Tea for dinner followed by Rice Pudding or Creme Brûlée afterwards. Blessing our hearth with a hearth oil made for the day. Clearing our path into the new sunlight by cleaning and purging of that which is no longer necessary throughout the house. Adventuring outside. Beginning to lay out our plan for this year’s garden. It’s a day that is both nurturing and comforting as well as filled with anticipation and excitement of what is to come.

What we make: Hearth Oil. 

  • 1 drop Cinnamon Bark Cinnamomum zeylanicum essential oil
  • 2 drops Sandalwood Santalum album essential oil
  • 4 drops Lavender Lavandula angustifolia essential oil
  • 1 drop Jasmine Jasminum grandiflorum essential oil
  • 1 drop Rose Rosa x damascena essential oil
  • 2 drops Frankincense Boswellia carterii essential oil
  • 1 drop Scotch Pine Pinus sylvestris essential oil
  • 1 tablespoon Solubol (because we use our hearth oil as a spray)

According to Aromahead Institute

  • Cinnamon – Supports lessening stress and increasing feelings of  optimism
  • Sandlawood – Supports meditation, inner unity, quiet mental activity
  • Lavender – Calms, soothes, nurtures, and encourages balance in all body systems
  • Jasmine – Supports comfort within oneself
  • Rose – Soothes and heals the heart, brings a feeling of love
  • Frankincense – Supports reflection, introspection, tranquility, and quiets the mind
  • Pine – Calming yet uplifting while helping to improve air quality

We use the hearth oil to anoint our hearth as we say a blessing/prayer of thanks. This is the perfect blend for how our family interacts with our hearth. Our hearth is the heart center of our home. It provides a warm space for us to gather, relax, recharge, even enjoy a meal. The essential oils in this spray support this quieting, relaxing, uplifting, harmonious environment. 

Hearth 2022

Share in the moments of my life on Instagram.

Looking for more? Join my monthly newsletter for more thoughts and resources for tapping into a simple, intentional life filled with Earth-based practices. 

Earth – Love Conquers All

– Waldorf meal blessing

Last year I focused each month on the broad strokes of each of my 12 American Lotus that are always available to integrate me and this land and universe I am part of. Throughout 2021 I shared how each lotus is part of my daily life, rituals, routines, comings and goings. This year, 2022, I am diving deeper into each lotus. My plan is to align each lotus to a month, and then to share one story our family focuses on that month, one daily ritual I practice that aligns to the story and the lotus, and something we make as a family that aligns to the story and the lotus.

Lotus 1 is Earth/Nature and January is the perfect month to talk about this lotus.  We are putting away all of the decorations from Advent-Christmas-Christmastide. By Sunday night our home will be back in order from all of the festivities. Furniture back in its place. Pine needles swept from the floors. Elves and Tomte in their sleeping spots until next year. Just as that happens so too does a calling to connect with this deep, dark time of the Earth.

We are deep into Winter darkness where we live. But all is not still. While we are snuggling in with even more twinkly lights, candles, and fires, and warming beverages, cozy blankets, and fuzzy socks, the Earth is busy.  The Solstice has passed and the dark days are working their way towards increasing light. Our paper whites,  that were planted during Advent are beginning to bloom. This time of dark towards light is a time for noticing and listening to what is stirring within me (What new ideas are trying to get my attention right now) and within the Earth (What signs of increasing light and seeds for new growth are emerging?). My focus is: What do I hear and learn if I create space and pay attention to what the Earth is sharing? The story, ritual, and tea that follow support this process.

Our story for January is: The Snow Queen by Hans Christian Andersen (1845). A version can be found online at and includes annotations, illustrations, and links to modern interpretations. There is so much imagery around the Earth that draws us into this story – roses, river, long winter’s night, ice, flowers that have stories to share, crows, pigeons, reindeer, the Otherworld. It is the ultimate message of the story that has always been most special to us – love conquers all.

My ritual: At least once a day, I walk barefoot outside in the grass or in the garden as a way of grounding and connecting to the Earth. It recharges my spirit as I absorb the energy the Earth and Sky offer. Even in the first few moments I feel the shift, my breathing eases, I feel calm, light. Sometimes it is early in the morning while still dark, and sometimes it is later in the day. Yesterday, it was in the freshly fallen snow. If you are interested in taking a deep dive into how connecting feet to the Earth impacts our autonomic and parasympathetic nervous systems, this is a good starting place: Journal of Environmental and Public Health.

January 2022

What we make: We integrate herbal knowledge into our daily wellness routines, and a favorite this time of the year is Heart Warming Tea. Each of the ingredients is selected for its warming and heart supporting properties. According to The Herbrarium:

  • Hawthorn – a general cardiac tonic that appears to improve the mechanics of the heart and its metabolic processes. Hawthorn is also calming and stress reducing, and is used to heal, open, and protect the heart.
  • Rose – to open and fortify the heart.
  • Cinnamon – Warming, carminative, anti-inflammatory.

1 teaspoon Hawthorn berry (Crataegus spp.)

1 teaspoon Hawthorn leaf (Crataegus spp.)

1 teaspoon Hibiscus calyces (Hibiscus spp.)

1 teaspoon Rose hips (Rosa spp.)

1/4 teaspoon ground Cinnamon (Cinnamomum verum)

I like to use a quart size canning jar to prepare this tea so that it is easy to strain when it is ready. Combine all of the ingredients in the jar and pour 2 cups of boiling water over the mixture. Let steep covered for 20 minutes. Strain the tea into a favorite mug. Add honey, to taste, if desired.

Share in the moments of my life on Instagram.

Looking for more? Join my monthly newsletter for more thoughts and resources for tapping into a simple, intentional life filled with Earth-based practices. 

Lotus #12 – Divinity

“We are made out of the most common ingredients in the universe. Those elements are made in the cores of stars, that explode, scatter that enrichment across the galaxy, allowing the next generation of stars to have those elements that can make planets and life. So, it’s not simply that we are in this universe, the universe is in us. It’s not just poetically true, it’s literally true that we are stardust.” -Neil deGrasse Tyson on Danica Patrick’s podcast, Pretty Intense, 5 September 2019

My high school best friend and I spent a lot of time back then talking about God and religion. We read theologians like Henri Nouwen and naturalists like Sigurd Olsen whilst trying to find our way in the world. We discussed the role of theology and natural experiences in building one’s belief system. We proved, to our teenage satisfaction, that God is within each of us. This led us to the conclusion that divinity is not a public experience but rather an individual experience. And, as author John O’Donohue said in Anam Cara, we began to “sense the magic and mystery of [our]self.”

We were definitely onto something. It took me years to begin to understand the shift that was manifesting in our ideas.  It’s vast importance, however, is why this is the shortest blog post of all of the 12 lotus. Everything that I have written before comes together here. There is no path, practice, journey, or straight line to follow to discover the divine or the eternal, because it is within. Living my life simply and intentionally creates space and silence for the connections between the lotus to grow. All of the 11 lotus before this one are there to support me as I move in the space and silence that I need, just as they support each other when they move into the deeper water. In that space and silence, I am able to glimpse what is me and what is the universe, and our entwined relationship. 

Divinity, the eternal, whatever name I give to it, is in all. It’s not a search to discover or find or become, its a journey to see.

Candle, December 2021

Share in the moments of my life on Instagram.

Looking for more? Join my monthly newsletter for more thoughts and resources for tapping into a simple, intentional life filled with Earth-based practices.   

Lotus #11 – Ritual/Ceremony

Ritual practice is the activity of cultivating extraordinary ordinariness. It is necessary, because human activity has a kind of entropy about it; life, like love, runs down. Things get tiresome and difficult. Body and soul cry out for something different, hence the impetus to ritualize.”-Ronald L. Grimes

When I was really young our family did not go to church. When my little sister was born it was like a switch flipped for my parents and church became what we did on Sunday mornings.

What captured my attention in church was the rituals. All those glorious candles. The beautiful flowers. Incantations. The first time I saw an acolyte I proclaimed to my mom, “I want to do that!” It all seemed like a gateway to a secret club. All of the rituals and ceremonies were fascinating to little me. And, by fifth grade, I was an acolyte.

Acolyte, November 2021

These rituals were comforting and grounding, in the moment.  They were formal, collective, traditional, and connected to eight (8) generations of my ancestors. I enjoyed the histories and meanings behind the rituals, too.  As I went through my own rites of passage – marriage, birth, deaths – I began to crave rituals that were comforting and grounding but also private, independent from hierarchical constraints, connected to my experiences and beliefs, to those I love, to those I’ve never known, and to the eternal.

I realized that I didn’t need someone to tell me how to infuse rituals and ceremonies into the every day. I realized I could invent and reimagine, create, rituals for myself. The ones I create for myself and with my family are the ones that sustain me. They slow me down, remind me return to the breath again and again and again, help me remain healthy and happy, connect me to Earth/Nature and Place/Community. They are the ties that link each lotus together. They make the ordinary extraordinary.

Some of my rituals are short in duration, some are based on the small moments in the day, some are longer in duration, some are for deeper practices, some are seasonal, and some are daily. Some examples are:

  • Drinking Tea
  • Making herbal preparations
  • Blessing the morning
  • Blessing the first candle that is lit in the morning
  • Meditation
  • Saturday Morning Potatoes with my husband
  • Personal Morning Ritual
  • Personal Evening Ritual
  • Family Rituals around the seasons such as at Solstice and around the change of the seasons
  • Walking barefoot outside, every day

Here is an example of my Meal Prep Ritual:

  • This begins when I enter the kitchen, before any food prep begins. The kitchen is a sacred space in our home as it is the location where one of the most intimate family events occur – the place where nourishing food is prepared, food that will enter into self and others. As a result, it is important to me that I prepare the space before any food prep begins, and then connect to the sacred on each phase of food prep.
  • Here’s what I do. I begin by lighting the candle on my kitchen altar. Then, three full inhalations and exhalations to leave behind the tension and anything troubling. These breaths help me shift my energy into the moment and the food prep to come. It also serves to create the best energy possible so that the energy transferring from me to the food is nourishing as well. My words come next, tailored for the morning or the evening.
  • The food prep then begins. I endeavor to make the food prep process sacred as well. Slowing down. Raising my awareness. Aware of the sounds/light/smells/etc within the kitchen environment. Aware of how my body is entering the space. Being mindful. Hand washing becomes a cleansing ritual. Wiping counters becomes about clearing away thoughts to bring calm and balance. The ingredients are whole foods, plant based. Each phase is an opportunity to raise my awareness and connection.
Meal Prep Ritual. November 2021

Share in the moments of my life on Instagram.

Looking for more? Join my monthly newsletter for more thoughts and resources for tapping into a simple, intentional life filled with Earth-based practices.   

Lotus #10 – Wisdom-holder

This is the first of three posts that begin to connect the lotus to each other.

This post connects directly back to my September 2021 post about teachers and teachings.  It also connects all of the previous posts, just like a field of American Lotus, linked together to support me in finding my way through the mess and imperfections of each day.

I have written previously (see post: Collecting Stories) about how I was not a kid who grew up hearing family stories passed down through the years or who had heirlooms throughout the house that connected to people from prior generations. I barely knew my grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins and had no knowledge of anyone beyond them. I had no understanding of who came before or from where they actually came. Broad sweeping generalizations only.  (see post: Earth/Nature). I am not going to re-hash that here so check out the earlier posts if it calls to you. Suffice it to say, that lack of connection and ancestral knowledge was foundational to my journey.

The most amazing thing has happened over the past 30 or so years of research. My ancestors have found me. Yes, I do lots of research, and take courses to be an even more thorough researcher. And, yes, I do work hard in the process. But it still feels to me that my ancestors do not appear until they are ready to do so. Once I see them and begin to delve into their stories, I learn from them – their histories, their lives, their practices, their beliefs, their cosmology. Each reclaimed ancestor and story provides an opportunity for me to reclaim a part of myself, and in doing so to create practices that are relevant to where I find myself. The beauty is that I am continually rediscovering ancestors and their stories so my practices are always evolving. There is no ending, only new beginnings and integration.

I am here to grow and to learn. To be the fully integrated authentic person I am meant to be.  I am here to hold the wisdom and knowledge of my ancestors, to care for it, nurture it, to practice, and to continue to learn. I am an educator at my core. I love the 1560s usage of educator – “one who nourishes or rears.” This is how I see my role. I hold all of these practices and teachings that offer nourishment. I endeavor to live by example according to what I have learned – the principles, practices, and teachings. I hold it all, protect and nourish all, and am ready to share with those who come after me, in service to others.  I am here to share the knowledge, the teachings, to help those who yearn to learn, to listen and feel, to build compassion and love for the natural world and all living beings. Essentially, I am endeavoring to become the ancestor my descendants need me to be when their time comes. Our children are at an age where I am able to see these practices and teachings beginning to move in and through them. I find myself wondering if one of them will hold this wisdom for others after me.

The recipe that follows is born out of desire to hold the wisdom and knowledge through a connection to heritage, to heal the relationship with the Earth in the place where I live, and to provide an opportunity to engage in deep Earth practices. It is a recipe that is in our Death Book and will be nurtured and protected for those yet to arrive.

Saining is a Celtic folk practice of using smoke and herbs to purify and bless a home. Similar to smudging with white sage in Native American traditions, saining provides a practice for those with Celtic ancestry who want to develop their own practice based in their ancestry. In my herbal practices, it is important to me to heal the relationship with the place where my feet are planted by using the plants from within my ecoregion that have the energetics that align with my intention. And so, this recipe is crafted from flora sourced in my ecoregion. I use this recipe as a loose herbal smoke/incense blend and as a saining bundle, depending on the need and the intention of the deep Earth practice.

Recipe: Purify and Bless the Home


• Cedarwood Juniperus virginianaas

• dried orange peels

• dried cedarwood, Juniperus virginianaas

• dried rosemary, Rosemarinus officinalis var arp

• dried calendula, Calendula officinalis varr esina

• 8 drops Sweet Orange, Citrus sinensis essential oil

• 5 drops Cinnamon Bark, Cinnamomum zeylanicum essential oil

• 3 drops Nutmeg, Myristica fragrans essential oil

Tie the ingredients above into bundles with a natural cotton string. The bundle can be used for a one room or whole house blessing. Alternatively, small bundles may be made and added to a winter fireplace fire.

Share in the moments of my life on Instagram.

Looking for more? Join my monthly newsletter for more thoughts and resources for tapping into a simple, intentional life filled with Earth-based practices.   

Lotus #9- Teachers & Teachings

I love the beginning of the school year. There’s an excitement and energy to it that is unique. It is a time filled with hope, anticipation, renewal. This lotus fits right into this time of the year for me. It s big and juicy as it covers all the teachings and teachers I turn to for insight.

I have had lots of teachers throughout my life. School teachers. Religious teachers. Flute teachers. Swimming teachers. College professors. Yoga teachers. Some formal teachers, some informal teachers. The ones that most deeply resonate with me right now are some I have never met – my ancestors.

I have an altar of sorts where I start each day. It contains items that represent the five directions (East, South, West, North, Center), the five elements (Earth, Water, Ether, Air, Fire) and the five devotions (ancestry, humanity, Mother Earth, divinity, teachings). There are also three ancestral photos: my Great Grandmother Holly Louise Parker (Mama Parker), my Great Grandmother Bertha Gramlich, and my Great Grandmother Mary Elizabeth Hinson. These three women connect me to different aspects of myself and different ancestral traditions from which I gain insight and guidance. They tether me to my ancestral past, to my roots, so that I may integrate ancestral knowing in to my life and in service to others.

I remember the first time I learned anything about my great grandmother, Mama Parker. It was 1977, I was 11 years old, and my parents, sister, and I drove from Baltimore to Lithonia, Georgia to visit my dad’s aunt and cousin. It took two days for us to get there because I got car sick along the way. That I would vomit in the car was pretty much guaranteed whenever we went on extended family trips. Needless to say, I was quite happy when we arrived in Lithonia and pulled into the driveway at my great aunt’s house. The house was right on a lake so I was enthralled as soon as I saw it. All I wanted to do was be outside and explore. My desire to explore was quickly thwarted, however,  when they saw me. 

It began right away. Moving the part in my hair to the other side, they proudly proclaimed, “You look just like Mama Parker.” I had no idea what this meant because I knew nothing about Mama Parker, not even her relationship to any of us. We went inside and the analysis continued as a portrait of Mama Parker was brought down from where it was installed on the wall. My great aunt passed on to me a broach that had been Mama Parker’s and it was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen. It was sparkly and had its own little satchel to rest in. I knew it was special and contained its own kind of magic because it had been hers. All of the excitement around my physical appearance eventually settled down as we adjusted into our time together. By the end of the day we had gone fishing on the lake and I had caught my first fish. 

Mama Parker, September 2021

It would be 10 years before I caught another fish and even longer before I learned more about Mama Parker. As I think back, I’m surprised I didn’t try to learn more at the time but it planted a seed that patiently waited I until the time was right. 

After my dad passed away, we went to Georgia again to visit my dad’s cousin. This time I asked about stories and memories, and she excitedly shared stories about Christmas, birthing babies at home, building a tiny incubator for my aunt who was born premature, mementos, handkerchiefs, knitting, pictures were all shared.

I learned so much about Mama Parker that day. I have seen pictures of her feeding strangers on the front lawn of their home during the depression. Strangers who often promised to come back and pay but never did, and that was okay by her. I have touched things she made by hand – shawls, embroidery, autograph books. After my grandfather died, she was the one who supported my grandmother in raising her two teenage children.  Mama Parker teaches me about care for community, compassion, family, marriage/partnership, the importance of making things for self and others, and she encourages me to remember.

Great Grandma Hinson was described to me as full of spirit – “when she said frog they all hopped; no question about it. That little tiny thing, she ruled the roost.” It is said that she bore her struggles with a smile. She gave birth to 14 children, two of whom did not survive to be teenagers, and had a husband who ran off for extended periods of time. I am certain her struggles were many. Great Grandma Hinson is my gateway to my Celtic ancestry. Her father was born in Ireland and her mother was the child of Irish immigrants from Drumbeg in County Down. I could share facts from her life that are gleaned only from historical documents – birth, marriage, death, census but I am partial to the story that makes the person. In this instance, I have just shared everything I know about her as a woman. And yet, when I look at her picture there is a familiarity that is pronounced. She is the one into whose eyes I look and wonder what she can teach me. Something in me recognizes something in her. It is something that runs deep and connects to family and to land. Great Grandma Hinson teaches me about strength, courage, perseverance, the importance of family and land.

Great Grandma Hinson, September 2021

Great Grandmom Gramlich was born in 1884 in Mramorak, a Danube-Swabian village community in the Banat. In 1901 at the age of 17 she set sail from Bremen to the United States with her 23 year old brother, Frederich.  No other family members were with them on this arduous journey. With in one year Frederich had moved to Ohio and Bertha had married my great grandfather. I do not have anecdotes to share from those who remember her. Great Grandmom Gramlich died in 1917 in childbirth, as did the child, so there are no family members that I know who also knew her. I have come to learn that rosemary’s calling to me came from a deep ancestral place. Rosemary was my entry herb into herbalism, I carried it in my wedding bouquet, I had some with me at both of our daughter’s baptisms and both of my parent’s memorial services, and I grow it in my gardens. Years after my love of rosemary was fully realized, I learned that in my Great Grandmom Gramlich’s tradition, “The little sprig of rosemary, as a symbolic mark, epitomizes fertility, health and life-creating power on special occasions such as christening, wedding and burial, Kirchweih, Swabian ball, and rendering of the pigs, throughout the events that make up a human life.” (Hans Gehl as translated by Nick Tullius, 2006). The red geraniums that I just knew had to be placed in our window boxes when we moved into our home 15 years ago were also important in Mramorak and it was customary to overwinter them for the next season. Great Grandmom Gramlich teaches me about bravery, perseverance, herbalism, farming/planting, ceremony, connection to land, and hope.

Great Grandmom Gramlich, September 2021

Even though I have never met any of these great grandmothers they are my greatest teachers. Their essence runs through my blood and being. Their ancestral wisdom is there in the shadows, just waiting to be rediscovered by me, so that I may bring it back into the light of day for my family and in service to others.

Share in the moments of my life on Instagram.

Looking for more? Join my monthly newsletter for more thoughts and resources for tapping into a simple, intentional life filled with Earth-based practices.