Friday, July 27, 2012

Optimismum - Remedium enim adversum et impedimentum

Lord Genesh
“The way I see it, if you want the rainbow, you gotta put up with the rain.” ~Dolly Parton

“One who gains strength by overcoming obstacles, possesses the only strength which can overcome adversity. “ ~ Albert Schweitzer

“The battles that count aren't the ones for gold medals. The struggles within yourself--the invisible, inevitable battles inside all of us--that's where it's at.” ~ Jesse Owens

"We cannot change the cards we are dealt, just how we play the hand.” ~ Randy Pausch

I’ve always liked to read fairy tales.  Even as an adult, I like reading the tales Hoffman, De Lint, Atwood, Esquivel, Wynne Jones and Oats have spun.  They seem to have the knack at weaving magic and fairy tale motifs into gritty contemporary settings.  These authors keep with the genre tradition by including the common story elements: magic (e.g., law of three, magical numbers), memorable characters, a moral message and obstacles the protagonist (i.e., hero) must complete to get the happy ending.  I’ve found, the harder the obstacle(s) [Note: they usually come in three] the more knuckle gripping the story.  A good book for me is the one I can’t put down until the hero completes their tasks and ultimately learn something new about themselves. 

These past three years I’ve been preparing to apply to graduate school.  My hero’s tasks have been relatively easy jumps over stones and logs: building up my writing portfolio; completing writing classes after being out of college for 20 years; learning to carve out time to be creative; learning to maintain wellness and balance regarding exercising and mothering while working full time; and searching out different MFA programs to meet my needs.  

The journey has included professors and instructors like Ann Palazzo, Columbus based poet Steve Abbott, short story writer, James DeMonte, and Nettie Morris who’ve proved encouragement, motivation and insights to hone my craft.  My classmates have also helped me by providing truthful criticism during workshops that have made several of my pieces publishable in the Campus Literary Magazine. 

I now approach my final obstacle: completing the two required essays in the application.  It isn’t that I haven’t known about these tasks.  I’ve stared at them upon my glowing laptop and overheard my classmates tête-à-tête about writing theirs.  But, unlike my fairy tale heroes who forge ahead towards this final task. 

Boulder in road
I admit to shirking away to a mission that only requires putting pen to paper.  And, while I’ve sat  staring at the blank white page it has managed to turn into an impassable boulder; around it, a thorny forest has grown; a din of banshees have set up camp taking bets as to if I’ll ever get this done; and I can smell the sulfuric breath of the Three Wyrm Sisters: Criticism, Doubt and Failure.   

My Fairy Godmother?  I’ve called her.  She has informed me WAMOU (Witches, Alchemists, Magicians and Occultist Union) is on strike.  “You're on your own,” she says and then quoted Naomi Wolf: “In women, powerless has been sexy for a long time. -  My stars how this sound like someone I know in aspects of her life, hmmmm?”  Ethically, she gave me a hotline number for a creativity coach in a snarky tone said maybe they’d be able to help rouse me off my butt by doing an unlicensed ritual. 

In the Last Lecture, author Randy Pausch writes: “The brick walls are there for a reason. The brick walls are not there to keep us out. The brick walls are there to give us a chance to show how badly we want something. Because the brick walls are there to stop the people who don’t want it badly enough. They’re there to stop the other people.”  I look at the boulder and still feel very overwhelmed. 

The Wyrms roar. “Why do you want to go to graduate school?” “Ha – she doesn’t really know.”  “Why the career change?  Why not continue in public health – it’s what you know.”  “Seems like a waste of money – do you really have something new to say?”  “Who will even read your stuff?”  “Oh the boulder is tooooo high, why bother you’ll never make it.  You might fall and smash your skull.”

I again stare at the boulder trying to scope any possible way to climb up around it.  I thought of my little girl self who sang her first poem amongst the tall trees covered with poison ivy.  How excited she to be able to share it that next day at school.  “May is spring/when birdies sing./Grass is green,/perhaps you’ve seen….” I thought of that poem full of red marks all due to spelling and punctuation errors and my ultimate solution of having a dictionary lay always across my lap.  Yes, I thought of the same girl who’d make stories in her head during classical music concerts, write grant applications for public health programs, newsletters or jot a poem as a creative outlet to the vicarious trauma experienced while working with survivors and the statistics of sexual and intimate partner violence.

The Wyrms laugh then choke upon their fire when I pulled out my yellow elephant shaped vile.  The label reads:

“Optimismum: Remedium enim adversum et impedimentum…. Remember the Law of Attraction: Our thoughts manifest our destinies.  Magical living starts with intent and optimism.  You have to be able to see your goals, dreams wishes and the great things happening around you.  Challenges are part of living.  An optimistic heart is grateful for all situations because it is learning something new. Take per os (orally) one Tablespoon daily.  Refill # (unlimited).  Dr. Ganesh.”

“If a don’t try, I’m toast anyways.”  I raise the vile up, take a gulp and raise up my magic fountain pen. 


Oh how it would be so easy to pull out a magic vile.  But, in my case the only way these papers will be completed is if I reflect back on my successes and set the timer for twenty minutes and slog away.  Reality - be optimistic and do your best shoot even Hemingway had to start with a blank page.    


Working on your third Chakra

Third Chakra

The third or solar plexus chakra represents our well-being, concentration and optimism.  It represents your personal power and helps you embrace challenges that are put before you.  It is located about 1-2 inches above the navel.  The ancients have symbolized this center with a ten petal lotus flower and its sound is RAM.

Those with an imbalance to this chakra may experience low self-worth and are always worried about how others view them or concerned about their future.  Fear plays a big factor in the imbalance: fear of failure, fear of shame…. All these worries may cause one to become either angry or depressed.

I know when I'm out of balanced when I don't take a step towards my goal or am snippy at friends and family.


Auntie Grace’s Shortbread with a Third Chakra Zing.
Ginger is one of the spices recommended to wake up your Solar Chakra.  Several Christmas/Yule seasons ago I was lazy and created variations on shortbread cookies.  Using my Auntie Grace’s recipe I got inventive: Lavender, white chocolate with dried cranberries, orange zest

Basic Shortbread
2 cups of sifted all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon each of baking powder and salt
1 cup of softened butter unsalted (2 sticks)
1/2 cup of confectioner sugar sifted.

1 Tablespoon of ground ginger
1/3 cups of cut up crystallized ginger (I used my kitchen shears it is much easier)
And a shake of white pepper

Preheat oven to 350.
Sift together flour, baking powder, dried ginger, shake of pepper, and salt.  Cream butter and sugar til light and fluffy.  Add flour mixture and then add in crystalline ginger.  Pat dough into 9"x9" ungreased pan.  Bake 20-25 minutes.  

Lemon Honey Ginger Marmalade.
I got this recipe from the Sure-Jell site and then added ginger to it.  Wow is this good.  I use this Marmalade to make Jam Cake.  

3 cups lemons (scrub their skins)
1 ½ cups of water
½ tsp of baking soda
1 box of Sure-Jell
½ tsp of butter
2 cups of sugar
2 cups of honey
¾ cups of crystallized ginger, finely diced.  (Again, I like to use my kitchen shears).

Sterilize jelly jars, screw bands in boiling-water canner pot.  Flat lids in a pan of hot water.

Prepare fruit by zesting lemon with a vegetable peeler.  Avoid the white part.  Chop the zest and put it non-reactive large sauce pan (e.g., corning ware).  Add water and baking soda to the pan.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer for 10 minutes.

Continue preparing fruit by skinning off the white peal.  Chop up the lemons and reserve any juice.

Add chop lemons and reserved juice to lemon zest mixture.  Simmer for an additional 20 minutes.

Making Jelly:  Measure exactly 3 cups and place into 6-8 quart non-reactive saucepan.  Stir in Ginger, Sure-Jell and butter.  Bring to a full rolling boil (You can follow the cooked recipe on the sheet in the package).  Add sugar and honey.  Bring to a full boil and boil exactly 1 minute.  Stir constantly.  Remove from heat.

Ladle into the sterile jars, filling within 1/8th inch from the tops.  Wipe jar rims and threads.  Screw on bands tightly.  Place jar into boiling bath.  Process for 5 minutes. 

They need to sit overnight to set-up and jell.

Other help - 

Crystals/stones to help the third chakra: Citrine, Amber,Tiger Eye, Gold Calcite,Yellow Tourmaline, Jasper, and Golden Topaz.

Rosemary Lemon foot soak
1 cup Epson salts
1 cup sea salts
½ baking powder
20 drops rosemary essential oil
20 drops lemon essential oil

Mix and place in a mason jar.  When you are feeling unmotivated or a lack of optimism - time to soak your tooties to get them moving. 

Monday, July 23, 2012

Open to the Spirit

SARK Poster
“Then Miriam the prophetess, Aaron's sister, took a tambourine in her hand, and all the women followed her, with tambourines and dancing. Miriam sang to them: "Sing to the LORD, for he is highly exalted. The horse and its rider he has hurled into the sea." Exodus 15: 20-21, Bible

“David and all Israel were celebrating with all their might before the Lord, with castanets, harps, lyres, timbrels, sistrums and cymbals…..  Wearing a linen ephod, David was dancing before the Lord with all his might.”  2 Samuel: 6:5, 14. Bible

“Joy is the grinning inside.”  ~Melba Colgrove

“Joy is the holy fire that keeps our purpose warm and our intelligence aglow” ~ Helen Keller

Miriam Dancing
Growing up in the Christian tradition I heard a lot about feeling the spirit move you.  People were quick to give me of examples such as Miriam, King David or the disciples feeling the fire at Pentecost.    I sat at many church youth retreats watching my friends cry, sing and hug – telling me how the spirit was moving through them.  Me?  I waited patiently for this divine knock your socks off feeling to occur.  Waiting to dance like King David by flinging off my clothes down to my undies (which due to my modesty values would never occur), but nothing ever happened, not even a giddy toe tap.  I also didn’t want to feel left out with this emotional crowd so I’d end up claiming: “Oh yes I feel it.”  And, then I’d wonder: “Is something wrong with me that I don’t feel anything?” or “Why isn’t it happening to me?”

It wasn’t until I began expanding my spirituality toolkit did I fully understand what it means to be “Open to the Spirit.”  I remember it happened during a Baptism ritual, the congregation was asked to remember and honor their connection to the source, Motherfather Spirit.   The minister asked us during a moment of silence to say: “Hey” to the Spirit.  He assured us that the Spirit is present in everyone – those Baptized or not – we were all filled with the spirit; we need to take time out of our busyness to acknowledge our connection.  Baptism was just one ritual recognizing our connection to Motherfather Spirit and an identifiable starting point where our relationship began.  And, for those already Baptized, it’s an opportunity to start afresh if we have forgotten our relationship.

The sermon continued on the theme of being opened to Motherfather Spirit.  What struck me was how I had been lead to believe that those filled with the Spirit acted in an otherworldly state like the descriptions of St. Teresa of Avila or Native American Shamans.  Sure some people had outward behaviors, jumping around or waving their hands showing they were connected, but I found out its more inner, personal and private – each person it being something different.  The minister saw our relationship to Motherfather Spirit crucial to having infinite love, happiness, peace, and laughter in our life.  He equated it to that spark or passion that gets us going expressing our deepest purpose of life (expressing love); and we’d never have to do it alone.  I sat realizing I was already connected and opened to the Spirit.


“The Wild Woman isn’t a workhorse….The Wild Woman needs aired out.” ~ Z. Budapest

A RECENT DREAM:  My family was being evacuated from our island.  I was deeply upset.  I loved my home with a Maine Vancouver feel.  But, the sirens were blaring and the police were telling us we needed to go: “The fog was coming in.”  I told them I wasn’t afraid of the fog.  My neighbors were in a panic and packing everything they could get into their mini vans and SUVs.  Begrudgingly I grabbed the family heirloom, an oversize glided mirror and loaded this into our Smart car. This was very out of character for me being “Ms. Ohio Preparedness.”  A mirror isn’t on my disaster evacuation list.  Sleeping bags and a tent, YES.  Mirror, No.

Coming back from my Bright Angel Labyrinth experience, I’ve been really focusing and examining my Spiritual Tool Kit to sync my heart, mind and spirit up.  Being at the half-way point of this yearlong blog, I’ve realized I’ve been coasting.  Sure I’ve been doing what I’ve written, but coasting.  The dream to me reinforces this message.  It is my wake-up call for self-reflection. 

I’ve been comfortable with this coasting; it has kept me safe and isolated – thus not wanting to leave my home.  And, by getting too comfortable, I realize the things in my life aren’t as solid as I’d like it.  My joy was kind of flat like day old Ginger Ale with no fizzie.  The mirror urges me to do an honest reflection.  Yes, there are places in my heart that aren’t able to express love because they are filled with other things or past experiences that have left me burnt.  And, if I wanted more love and joy in – I needed to declutter some stuff, get out the polishing cloth, and bless things away.  My messages from Motherfather Spirit – boring…. Yawn… you can do better.  These messages have been going on for a long time and I've been ignoring them.

Z. Budapest would say my “Wild Woman” (or “Wild Man” if you are a man) was bored.  And SARK?  My Succulent Wild Woman - was on the sofa eating too many chocolate creams.  In the meantime - the creative juices have been shrinking.


I googled “opening spirit pagan.”  I found not much was written.  I tried several other topic searches and laughed when up popped SARK, Z. Budapest and Clarissa Pinkola Estes.  Women who help me begin my Spiritual Quest.  All have written about this connection with spirit and describe it as a place within that is connected to the source.  That inner wise-place that is playful and passionate and joyfully creative.  All three have described our connection with Spirit as having a life filled with peace, love, happiness and laughter.

Another ah-ha moment during this self-reflection was my need to meditate in community.  I’ve been doing it on my own for 7 years and there is something more connected when you meditate in community.  I signed-up for the 21 day meditation challenge with Deepak Chopra – another person who laid a stone on my spiritual journey.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Nineteen, The Sun and Namaste

Sunflower field
"I honor the place within you where the entire Universe resides; I honor the place within you of love, of light, of truth, of peace; I honor the place within you, where, when you are in that place in you, and I am in that place in me, there is only one of us." ~ Mahatma Gandhi

“We are members one of another; so that you cannot injure or help your neighbor without injuring or helping yourself.” ~ George Bernard Shaw
"This we know: All things are connected like the blood that unites us. We did not weave the web of life,  We are merely a strand in it. Whatever we do to the web, we do to ourselves."  ~ Chief Seattle

I parked in lot 19 today and the first thing that came to my mind was fields of sunflowers growing on the plains of Kansas, my version of the tarot card.  I can see the sunny blue sky, orange petals with large black centers, swaying a hello in the wind.   These Van Gogh colors symbolically remind me to do what makes me happy.  I get that lighthearted feeling that everything is going to be okay, it will all turn out right just put on a smiley Band-Aid and find something to laugh about.

Nature has a way of reminding me that everything is interconnected.  The sun not only gives me warmth but is also one of the needed ingredients to make my garden grow vegetables.  (Those chloroplast within the plant cell use the sun rays for creating energy.)  In turn, I eat them in wonderful salads and stir-fried in ginger and soy sauce over rice – each bite gives me energy.  The sun’s energy is transferred to me and I become connected to the sun and the vegetable plant.  The question becomes what will I do with this energy?  Do I share this power freely or keep it to myself?

I smiled as I walked the ¼ mile into work.  Funny – it is like a chain reaction.  Others see you smile and they smile to.
The Sun by Mary Oliver

Have you ever seen
in your life
more wonderful

than the way the sun,
every evening,
relaxed and easy,
floats toward the horizon

and into the clouds or the hills,
or the rumpled sea,
and is gone–
and how it slides again

out of the blackness,
every morning,
on the other side of the world,
like a red flower

streaming upward on its heavenly oils,
say, on a morning in early summer,
at its perfect imperial distance–
and have you ever felt for anything
such wild love–
do you think there is anywhere, in any language,
a word billowing enough
for the pleasure

that fills you,
as the sun
reaches out,
as it warms you

as you stand there,
or have you too
turned from this world–

or have you too
gone crazy
for power,
for things?

I went to yoga class at lunch.  Talk about law of coincidence or Jung’s Synchronicity?  My Instructor announced that this Yoga session would be devoted to our interconnectedness.  He didn’t know what was going on in Central Ohio, but felt that the Universe was offering opportunities to learn about this concept with the storms and accidents. 

7 Sun Salutations: purity of spirit, forgiveness, service to others, compassion, faith, healing and wisdom.


On June30th a terrible storm came through Central Ohio.  Winds were clocked up to 85 miles an hour.  T called me at work that afternoon and asked if I wanted a ride.  I thought he was joking and said: “I rode my bike home yesterday in this heat.  It can’t be any hotter since lunch (98 F).”  He asked if I had risen out of cubicle land to look out the window.  The sky was pitch black looking more like 5 pm during December.  I requested a ride home for my bike and myself.  I felt like Dorothy in the Kansas.  T gave a ride to one of my walking co-workers.

As of this week (July 13) out in the rural areas of Central Ohio, there are still people without power.  Besides not having power for at least a fan to move the hot humid air, many can’t run the pumps for their wells.  My grid was one of the lucky ones; we were one of the first up and running.  I immediately offered my outlets for electronics or someplace to escape the heat. 

Strangely, these events haven’t stopped.  During these last two weeks, several major accidents on Columbus’ main freeways have managed to snarl traffic during the morning rush hour: a deadly crash, a car drove off the freeway into a building, and today a train derailment with an explosion. 

But the news has offered up numerous stories about people in Central Ohio showing kindness and love.  People have ask those without electricity over for supper in a cool house; stringing an electrical cord across the street so a neighbor’s freezer can remain on; created brigades with power saws to move trees out of the streets; made room in freezers for someone’s recently put up peaches; or drove someone to work because the bus is too packed to let person on. 

1+9=10=1 – weirdly it all ends up back to the magician and E=mc2 with that WOW energy that can jazz up the world or tear it down.  I notice that many seem to be sharing the magical spell of kindness by reaching out to others.

My Yoga instructor ends our time ritually saying “Namaste.”  This simple gesture acknowledges the soul in one by the soul in another.  Translated poetically this ancient Sanskrit means: “the divine light in me, respects the divine light in you.”  Namaste is a symbol of love, respect and gratitude towards another allowing us to come together energetically as one.

To carry out the Namaste gesture face a partner.  Place your hands together at your heart chakra, close your eyes and bow your head saying: “Namaste.” 

On a spiritual level, bringing your hands together at your heart chakra increases the Divine energy within you.  By bowing your head and closing your eyes , it helps quiets the mind in order to hear the messages from the Divine (Motherfather Spirit).   This gesture reminds us to live from our hearts by doing so we can see the beauty and love in all people. 


Howard’s Yoga Shake-up Blessing Chant
Done after Sun Salutation to loosen things up

Close your eyes and bounce shaking all your joints – think rag doll. After each line chant “omm” or “aumm”

May we learn to forgive.
May we show compassion to others, especially the electric company who is doing the best they can.
May we invite others over who are without electricity.
May we ask someone without electricity to dinner.
May we be willing to accept invitations to dinner.
May we check on a neighbor to see if they are okay.
May we be willing to offer a person a ride
May we learn we are all connected and everything we do affects someone else.
May we love more and live more from our hearts.

Omm is believed to be the original sound that rose at the time of creation.  It is called the sound of the universe.  Chanting omm allows us to reconnect with creation’s movement: the waves against the shore, the movement of birds flying, the rising and setting of the sun and moon.  We remember our place in the symphony of Divine love.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Nurturing Spiritual Wellness – more infomercials please

"Life is not a struggle or a contest.  There are no winners or losers.  There are no superior or inferior beings.  There is the process of participation and personal effort and attainment.”  Cheryl Kolander and Cynthia Chandler. 

“Ok people. This is the moment, and I am saying this out loud, in front of the moon and everybody. Everyone who reads this and agrees with it, please lend your energy to this truth: IT IS CRITICAL THAT YOU ARE WHO YOU SAY YOU ARE. LIVE UP TO YOURSELF, TO YOUR POSSIBLE GLORY, ON AS MANY LEVELS AS POSSIBLE, EVERY DAY. ACCEPT NOTHING LESS OF YOURSELF. THIS IS YOUR BIG CHANCE. THIS LIFETIME. DO NOT WASTE IT WORRYING WHAT YOU LOOK LIKE. SPEND IT BEING ALL THE BEST PARTS OF WHO YOU ARE.” ~ Yessherabbit Mathews

“There is one protection against both kinds of disproportion: that we should not move the body without the soul or the soul without the body, and thus they will be on their guard against each other, and be healthy and well balanced.” Plato, Timaeus: Disease and therapy of the soul

How do you lower the risks of heart disease? 

If you immediately rattled off examples such as: eating low fat foods, eating fruits and vegetables, stopping tobacco use, or getting your 10,000 steps in – put a star by your name.  Your answers are up to par with many health professionals.  I’d conclude that you’ve been listening and learning to prevention tips given by the news, PSAs (i.e., American Heart Association, US Dept. Health and Human Services), and TV shows.   But, people aren’t just their bodies. 

As I wrote before, we are made up of 4 energy bodies.  Our physical bodies are just the shell that carries our soul or spirit – the essence that makes you – you and me – me and the other energy fields.  Research is showing that spiritual health has an influence on heart disease and is related to your overall health (Ornish).  Even with this research, the public remains focused on the physical.  It’s measurable, it’s understandable and you can see and touch it.  The commercial industry finds it a whole lot easier to make money off selling vitamins and minerals with a juicer or a DVD to dance your way to fitness with Zumba or Hip Hop Abs by Shaun-T than on learning the steps to spiritual growth.  (Google infomercials on spiritual growth/nurturing - not much)

When I talk about nurturing spirituality, I tend to use the US National Institutes of Health’s definition: “the feelings, thoughts, experiences, and behaviors that arise from a search for the sacred.”  I believe each person has their own plan and for some it may include religious practices, values and beliefs.  My definition of nurturing spirituality also includes seeking peace, compassion and forgiveness within myself and striving to have an empathetic and altruistic attitude towards the world around me.  As I've walked on my life path returning to Motherfather Spirit, I've had good and bad experiences, met new people and said good-bye to others each of these has left it's mark on my spirit.  I’ve learned that some beliefs are important and other can be transformed.  And once again, everyone's path is different.  


I haven’t reached enlightenment.  I’m not perfect and sometimes find myself a hypocrite when it comes to practicing what I preach.  Specifically, I find myself a hypocrite when it comes to being compassionate and forgiving of myself or having empathetic attitudes towards people that strongly don’t carry the same values and beliefs as me.  What I've learn is each day is a new day that allows me to reflect on my mistakes and try again.  Meaning, feeling empathy or putting myself in their shoes.  

It’s been my experience that just because a person is a season ticket holder at a church, circle, temple, mosque or coven doesn't mean they’re practicing spirituality.  There was a point in my life I was going to church because it was the social thing to do, it was expected that I’d go, I felt guilty if I didn’t go – meaning I was disappointing my family.  I liked the church calendar and I like the rituals and singing, but actually it wasn’t doing anything for me.  It really wasn’t bringing any meaning to my life.  And, I really had no sense who the heck I was; where I was going; or why I was here in this world.  So I took a step back and re-evaluated.  I added some items to my toolkit and changed things up in order to explore these questions.  I took from other faith traditions what made me grow spiritually.  Thus is the reason I call myself a Celtic Christian Wise Witchy Woman.

My Toolkit for Nurturing my Spirituality – you may find them similar to yours or not.  This is okay.  Everyone’s toolkit is different.  My life lesson is being open to explore other ways to get close to the sacred.  It’s about being engaged.

For me, I need to do something daily that honors the sacred piece of me. My toolkit includes:
Reading Findhorn Inspiration Daily.
Walking outside and feeling the earth.
Saying Grace at meals
“I love you” self-blessing after the shower

I believe in a higher power.  I believe that this power is far greater than what I can imagine.  Just calling this being God, felt one sided.  I didn’t feel comfortable calling God, Goddess either.  I went with a more gender neutral name.  My name – Motherfather Spirit.  The change brought me closer.  We have a daily conversation.

Gardening puts me in a contemplative state. 

Yoga at least 1X a week.

Other goodies: Meditation and Quigong.  Lighting candles, reading an inspirational book.

Inspirational books/authors
The Alchemist - Paulo Coelho
The Cost of Discipleship - Dietrich Bonhoeffer
The Silent Spring - Rachel Carson
The Hiding Place - Corrie Ten Boom
I Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee - Dee Brown
Death Comes for the Archbishop - Willa Cather
Tuesday with Morrie - Mitch Albrom
The Celestine Prophecy - James Redfield
Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe - Fannie Flagg
The Prophet - Kahil Gibran
Writings of Julian of Norwich
Enchanted Garden - Elizabeth von Arnim
Personhood: the art of being human - Leo Buscaglia

I attend a ritual or services weekly.  My favorite types of rituals are in silence or there's singing.  If I don't go - I spend at least a hour walking in the woods silently.  The following authors influenced my spiritual practices - Lynn Andrews, Mary Summer Rain, Z. Budapest, Diane Stein....  

I try to do something nice for another daily.  It is my time to put others ahead or pay it forward.  I’ve worked at the food pantry, helped clean up trash, volunteer for a community event, write a note to someone who is shut-in, sing happy birthday to a friend on their answering machine, leave homemade blueberry jam on a neighbor’s doorstep, knitting hats and scarfs for seniors...


Take a moment to assess your own spiritual health by circling the words in each column that best describe your current spiritual condition. You decide which column more accurately describes where you are in your spiritual health.  This assessment is from the University of Northern Iowa.

Spiritual Health
•positive outlook
•acceptance of death
•forgiveness, self-acceptance
•meaning and purpose
•clear values
•sense of worth
•worship, prayer, and meditation

 Spiritual Atrophy
•loss of meaning
•long "dry" spells
•conflicting values
•needing to improve myself
•worried/annoyed/acting in haste
•without rituals that touch me

Build your own Toolkit


Glass-Coffin, Bonnie. “A Mother’s Love: Gender Altruism, and Spiritual Transformation.” Zygon. 41.4 (Dec. 2006). 893-901.

Holt-Lustad, Steffen, Patrick, Sandberg, Johnathan, Jensen, Byran. “Understanding the connectin between spiritual well-being and physical health: an examination of ambulatory blood pressure, inflammation, blood lipids and fasting glucose.” J Behavior Med. 34. 13 April, 2011. 477-488.

Hawks, Steven. “Spiritual Wellness, Holistic Health, and the Practice of Health Educaiton.” American Journal of Health Education. 35.1 (Jan/Feb. 2004). 11-16.

Kolander, Cheryl, Chandler, Cynthia. “Spiritual Health: A Balance of All Dimensions.” Paper Presentation.  Annual Meeting of American Alliance for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance. New Orleans, LA. 1 April. 1990.

Lee, Virginia.  Interview with Dean Ornish. Common Ground. Summer 1998. Web. 8 July, 2012.

Siegel, Bernie. Love Medicine and Miracles. Harper and Row. New York. New York. 1985.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Magical Love Potion: Analysis of Tomato Sauce’s Essential Ingredients

Illustration for Roman de la Rosa by Guillaume de Lorris. 1475.
Ink, pigments and gold on vellum.  See it at the British Library

“Stock up your pantry and your freezer with things that aren't perishable: Your favorite jar of tomato sauce that lists 'tomato' as the first ingredient, lots of grains, olive oils, vinegars, tomato pastes, onions, shallots. When you go to the store, you only have to pick up meats and produce.” ~ Giada De Laurentiis

“Home grown tomatoes, home grown tomatoes/What would life be like without homegrown tomatoes?/ Only two things that money can't buy/ That's true love and home grown tomatoes.” ~
John Denver, 'Home Grown Tomatoes' (from a song written by Guy Clark)

Sonny, true love is the greatest thing, in the world -- except for a nice MLT -- mutton, lettuce and tomato sandwich, where the mutton is lean and the tomato is ripe.” ~ Miracle Max, Princess Bride

"Are you going to Scarbourough Fair?/ Parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme/ Remember me to one who lives there,/For she once was a true love of mine." Scarbourough Fair.

It’s been two weeks since we ate our last jar of homemade tomato sauce.  T added onions, garlic and fresh basil, and ½ can tomato paste.  We had it over fresh pasta with shaved parmesan pecorino romano cheese with salad greens from our garden and Klondike bars.

I had made the tomato sauce in my crock pot last August when our tomatoes begin to ripen out of control.  I remember the red sauce bubbles filling my home with an aroma that makes you want to eat and sing Puccini. Okay, it’s only me that wants to sing Puccini others at my home would rather hear Carlos Santana or Cake.


In 1992, I went to a hands-on lecture at my local bookstore (sadly gone).  Judith Todd, Ohioan and certified herbalist, talked about her recently published book.  What I remember about her was her frankness, thoughtfulness, grand-motherly manner, plus she came wearing a scientific hat which I needed.  She taught us how to make scented bath salts with essential oils.  At that time, I’d thought of the essential oils as only scents and didn’t know the traditional healing properties.  Jude showed me how to make a stress headache relieving soak (Rosemary and Eucalyptus).

I purchased her book and many other books soon after.  I soon discovered that the herbs I used to make my food taste good had healing and spiritual properties they brought to the dish.  Like in many instances, our culture had lost the stories about our food ingredients that the ancients gave us.     

Take the basic ingredients for tomato sauce: tomatoes, onions, carrots, celery, peppers, garlic, oregano, rosemary, basil, thyme and bay leaves.  Mixed together in the right proportion and left to slowly cook, you create a wonderful smelling sauce.  With the right cook, you might even say: “WOW” and go into a non-stop eating frenzy.  Or have that scene from the movie Heartburn happen – Jack Nicholson takes the whole bowl of pasta and Meryl Streep to bed.  What is going on there?  Have you ever stepped back and analyze these ingredients beyond their culinary properties of tasting good?

Bay Leaves

A quick analysis of the tomato sauce properties, love, fertility and harmony seem to be the overall themes  (See the following website or check out the resources listed below).  For some, is the sauce speaking a love potion?  I leave you to conclude. 


The information I’ve shared about the traditional healing properties of these herbs and vegetables should not substitute for seeking advices of a licensed health professional (e.g., nurse practitioner or family practitioner) for a medical problem.  If you are thinking about taking herbs; you should use it as part of an integrative medical system.  Integrative medicine is healing-oriented medicine that takes account of the whole person (body, mind, and spirit), including all aspects of lifestyle. It emphasizes the therapeutic relationship and makes use of all appropriate therapies, both conventional and alternative (Weil).   

Please let your health care provider know that you are taking herbs, because they can interact with the medicine that is prescribed for you.  Example: Grapefruit is a great source for vitamin C, but interacts in a not good way with Zoloph and Lustar (anti-depressant medication), Novir (anti-viral medication), several cholesterol reducing and blood pressure medications.


Sauce Cooked All Day
By Beth Malchus Stafa
published SpringStreet 2011.

That place in Burlington
some neighborhood spot you found - 
the aroma of warm tomato sauce
knocked me back when you opened the door,
wedded drafts of tangy sweetness-
oregano, basil, onion,
and some magical ingredient
they'd never divulge.

We stayed until the early hours -
drank the house red,
ate roasted garlic 
slathered on crusty bread
then dipped into that red gravy
kissed later.

Our newly married fingers folded in,
with no no way to know then how we would touch,
after a lifetime of sauce spattered tablecloths-
to when my hair is moon-dyed
and I stir forever,
hunger for that savory sauce
the taste of our zesty beginning.



BEMS Crockpot Tomato Sauce
Recipe for Crockpot Tomato Sauce

From many sources.......
  • Cut up enough tomatoes (skins and all ) from your garden or CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) to fill your crockpot up to two inches (5 cm) from the top.
  • 1 medium onion cut up
  • 1 carrot cut up
  • 1 celery cut up
  • 1 pepper cut up
  • 4 cloves of garlic - smashed
  • 4 Tablespoons (15 ml) of Italian Seasoning (or in my case - walk into your garden and pick, oregano, rosemary, basil and thyme)
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 teaspoon (5 ml) of salt
  • 1 teaspoon (5 ml) of pepper
  • (Sometimes I add fresh basil, chard or spinach to this mixture)
Cook everything in a crockpot on medium setting all day. I usually start around 12:00 on Sunday and cook it to about 6:00 pm.

Puree tomato mixture by putting it into the food processor in small batches Be very careful this is hot! Dump mixture into a larger pot and cook down while stirring.

If I’m not planning on using the whole batch in the next couple of days – I can it. If you plan on canning please read up on how to do this. I add lemon juice to my jars to increase the acid in my sauce. I'm sharing the OSU extension site for your use if you decide to can you can find many other sources on the web and youtube.


Buchman, Dian Dincin. Herbal Medicine: The Natural Way to Get Well and Stay Well. Outlet Book Company¸Inc. New Jersey. 1979.

Clarkson, Rosetta E. Green Enchantment. Macmillan Publishing. New York, New York. 1940.

Cunningham, Scott. Magical Herbalism: The Secret Craft of the Wise. Llewellyn Publications. St. Paul, Minnesota.  1993.

Dugan, Ellen. Garden Witchery: Magick from the Ground Up.  Llewellyn Publications. St. Paul, Minnesota.  2003.

Hutchens, Alma R. A Handbook of Native American Herbs: The pocket guide to 125 medicinal plans and their uses. Shambhala. Boston, Massachusetts. 1992.

Mowery, Daniel B. The Scientific Validation of Herbal Medicine.  Keats Publishing, Inc., New Canaan, Connecticut. 1986.

Rain, Mary Summer. Earthway: A Native American Visionary’s Path to Total Mind, Body and Spiritual Health. Simon and Schuster, Inc. New York, New York. 1990.

Sanecki, Kay, N. History of the English Herb Garden. Villers House, London, England. 1994.

Todd, Jude C. Jude's Herbal Home Remedies: Natural Health, Beauty & Home Care Secrets. Llwellyn Worldwide. 1992.

Magical Realism Fictional Reads
Like Water for Chocolate by Laura Esquivel
Mistress of Spices by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni
Garden Spells by Sarah Addison Allen