To You, Thomas

I have sat here for months, starting to type this, starting to get out what I know I need to, from what I feel you have shared with me through presence and attitude alone. The last few days, for some reason, I have felt you ever stronger, just spontaneously arising in my mind, in my space, and in that way, I know it is really you and not just me thinking of you on my own.

This story starts before you passed, as I attended the second funeral of my life for a dear friend’s father. It was a ‘traditional’ funeral, complete with preacher who did his thing to a group of seriously affected and mourning people, all stunned by the sudden death of a man who could have had many years more until old age. I just found this, of which I wrote the day after the experience:

“The reverend reads from a dead book, not a microwave cook book, but not far from one, telling us that our emotions are ‘ a bit off right now’, that life isn’t fair for the reason of death and for a parent to bury their son. That all we have when someone is gone are memories to cherish. Through this, he effectively tried to sever the magic of maintaining the sacred… whatever that may be between people and their kin. Explaining about a reality he didn’t seem to understand, he taught me so much as he preached to those who mostly never asked for it: that I will die and be celebrated and sung over, danced around by friends and family, and all emotions allowed to be fully felt. That it will last as long as it does and not a single preservative chemical will enter my being. No burden and no price tag. The Earth is my coffin and that is all. ”

Fast forward to the end of May 2016, and I wake up from a dream that I must call a friend. I call her, and hear the news, that Thomas Fekete had passed away. It took me some time to process, and I don’t think I cried for a few days, and then it suddenly hit me very hard. I met Thomas back in 2009, and had heard of his skating back before then even, in the South Florida circuits. Yet he was more legend then, as I didn’t know him well, but I got close to him due to a dear friend of mine, Lindsey Mills. Through her, I was permitted to enter into his life in a more profound way. I was visiting him in the hospital, sharing healing songs with all the machines hooked up to him, Jessica, his wife, standing by, feeling it. It was then that David Winston’s “anything that changes your mind is medicine” took full evidence in me… watching his heart rate and breathing normalize after singing. I visited him in his home with nourishing foods and herbs and knew that I didn’t know enough, but still could offer myself in some way.

(Picking back on up on this now, 7/12/18)

This was the last post that I had started to write out, and so it feels right to finish it.

I witnessed so much with Thomas, in the few times I had shared with him. I remember one time, bringing a flute over to his apartment, and thinking it would be a better application of working his healing lungs, by simultaneously activating his breathing and making harmonious sounds. I realize the benefit of music to a musician is obvious, but at the level of energy he had, I remember it hard for him to hold the guitar and do his thing. So, as he played the flute, working his lungs, I played chords in key to that of the flute. Just to simply jam back and forth like that, it was like magic illuminating his being. To his request, I left the flute at his place.

“ I really do love myself. What could make me love more is if I could get other people to feel that way about themselves before they fucking die”

I don’t think there is a higher one than this view. It really speaks volumes about the way we run around in our lives, distracted from drama to drama that we convince ourselves is somehow more important than recognizing our humanity, and from there, becoming more kind and compassionate from knowing we don’t have forever. Thomas surrendered to this truth, and he reminded me by presence alone.

Thomas has me often reflect, especially after he passed, how there is a major difference between being healed and being cured. There is no cure for dying, no cure for losing all the things we will lose in this life. Yet, through his illness that took him, I feel Thomas was gifted a compassionate perspective that allowed anyone to come in contact with him to become immediately self aware of anything they might need to be aware of. In this way, he was healed, to me, of a closed heart, the most prominent sickness I encounter. His love continues on in the stories we share about him and the love the world showed him in his crisis.

“Suddenly, I have this circle of actual brothers and sisters and we are just going through the motions together, in heavy hitting profound ways that mean a lot, mean a lot to me. I could cry over it. The scariest thing now about death, is not feeling these things anymore. Where as before, I didn’t really give a shit, I guess I wasn’t really feeling anything at all anyways. Well, now when my cousin sits down and gives me a foot rub just to be nice, you know I want to cry because she is so sweet, she doesn’t have to, and I’m gonna do that now to somebody… I sound like a kid again, learning things the way they should be learned.”

I love you Thomas, rest in peace my brother

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journal 5/30/17

Grief Release 5/30/17

“Dad was finally agreeing to something that maybe I should’ve offered myself, but we know how those things go, too close for effective measure. So, after hearing about the discomfort and distention in my Papa’s belly (around his heart and stomach), our friend offered him a Thai massage session to which Papa agreed on.
We huddled into the spacious yurt and allowed the room to be set; my brothers and I sat on the couch, one of their partners sitting with us, and we observed the beginning of any regular body work session. Warming up, getting comfortable, and gentle movements.
Only Papa is a bit different. Ever since I was a young kid, I would watch him on the chiropractor’s table getting an adjustment and moving his body in a way that seemed like he was having a sort of epileptic experience, convulsing with his arms outstretched at his sides, palms up, eyes rolling back, and breathing intensely the whole time while letting out deep outbursts of sonic release. After many years of now witnessing people discharging emotional turbulence and stored traumas of the bodies, I know that he has learned a skill that is nearly unteachable. He refers to it as somatic breath work, a practice he learned when I was just a baby. His body undulates like water and he breathes through it in a trance-like state with nothing stimulating the process besides his own volition and attitude.
As our friend starts to work on him, within minutes, Papa moves into this state of deep exchange of breath and movement. He then, out of nowhere, rises up off the floor and breaks out into the most deep and guttural cry that I have ever heard from my own father since I have been able to remember. I had been in a relaxed state prior on the couch, but upon witnessing this break through, I calmly dipped down to the floor to level with him and started to focus more intensely on relaxation. I called upon my plant teachers and my nervous system lets me know when they come, of which all did.

Some of my family members were concerned in these intense minutes of vulnerability. I mean, how often do we see each other in such a delicate place and feel safe in doing so, from either vantage? It seems very rare to me. Yet, working with ceremony and the daily checking in of myself and others through community, it is of no shock to witness a very necessary human experience, one that most of us have learned to stifle to our very detriment.

If grief has a way in, then it definitely needs a way out. We are capable of carrying and holding onto things for such a long time that we forget why the music of our lives has been so harsh and strangely out of tune. It takes a safe space and deep trust to know that we can even express what needs to be expressed, for fear of judgement and being fully seen can totally block such a catharsis to unfold naturally, as it should.

My family member returns back to the room after a few minutes outside to calm himself down. I explained to him quietly but directly that if he wants to help my father, he must only empty himself and pray. I look beyond him and my family has begun instinctively chanting mantra in an effort to assist.

As we all formed a semi circle concave to my father, our hands guided by the Thai massage practitioner started to gravitate towards my papas hands and legs and I landed my gentle hand on his chest. I began to pray in Spanish, quickly rolling into a spontaneous feeling based thought-less connection to All That Is. I am working with tobacco at this point, blowing it on myself and my fathers hands and heart and head, cleaning him up. I then come back to his heart, and I recognize how close it is, and so I connect to my own space and feel him. The grief is heavy and I erupt in tears, I flow like a river, I cannot stop myself for that would be the failure of the entire session! I cry so hard with him and many of us start to at this point, purging the tension through our eyes, grieving for life herself and the hardships that come of Samsaric dancing. The intensity rises between us all,; the drumming up of an inevitable breakthrough on the horizon.

After a minute of intense crying it starts to slow down and I open my eyes and lift my head off the floor to see my father smiling through tear soaked cheeks, bringing me to recognize the clearing of his chest, the blockage unblocked. We all come up to him on as he is on the floor, one by one, and kiss him and tell him our love. We rise up from the grounding ground and hug each other proper, just like anyone would after a vulnerable release.”

Work
– Listen to grief and praise talk by Martin Prechtel
– We are not usually accustomed to one releasing emotions… How do you react to this experience when it happens around you? How can it get better?
– Do you have a regular way of safely releasing what has been accrued?

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On Meditation (1) 

A baseline anxiety seems to exist in many of us. Like a low buzzing sound that isn’t noticed until its finally turned off.

And one may wonder how it was ever even not noticed for so long, for sometimes years, like it was for me.

The essence seems to be in continual releasing of tension, accumulated through various experiences throughout the day and night, eventually becoming 1st nature to be spontaneously relaxed and aware. It’s like the muscle of presence gets so tight and can cause so many issues until it is finally allowed to rest. For me, meditation has played a crucial role, as well the path of reconnecting to plants and nature. Meditation is so often misunderstood and overly conceptualized when it is shockingly simple: imagine allowance, nothing to do but be, nowhere to go but here, nothing to achieve besides breathing and being. This tool allows us to be able to become quiet enough to listen to the subtleties of communication that surround us. Let’s call them synchronistic spaces. The mystery reveals itself slowly but surely, and for some, rather quickly. All is a process. Patience is key. Keep flowing!

For Something

Everything in your life is for something. Nothing is for no reason or chance, ever. The family we have, the relationships we enter into, all are birthed out of something that is beyond language although some have brought it through as karma etc. If we haven’t already begun to look at those closest to us as great teachers of something profound, giving gratitude especially to those that are difficult, then, we can start today. No matter what, thank you mom, thank you dad, I am here because of you and I have work to do.

How Burping Taught Me How To Eat

I have been eating for some time now, you know, for at least 29 years. Food is beautiful. Food is fuel. It nourishes us, it allows us to continue living our lives and hopefully benefiting the others near and far through our virtuous actions.

Food can also be painful. I didn’t know that discomfort wasn’t normal with food until I started to really pay attention to switching around foods. My brother and I came to this saying that, “the pleasures of the mouth aren’t worth the pains of the body.” I suffered digestive issues ranging from stomach ache to severe pain.

I went through many dietary changes, from vegetarian, to vegan and now back to eating a varied diet including the best meats and dairy/egg products that I can sanely afford. I can say, looking back, that the biggest change I made, with the most lasting effect, is controlling the amount of food I consumed in a sitting. This was done through pure intuition, to eat only one plate or bowl of food, or just not to eat until I was ‘full’. For the past few years, I would teeter on the edge of balance in finding out how to gauge this mystery level, but it was difficult to navigate and I would sometimes still land in stomach upset (especially when it was something that I loved to eat!)

Then, a few months ago, I had the sudden inquiry to ask what the simple act of burping really meant. Why do we do this? Is there any meaning to this beyond what WebMd says? Within a few minutes of searching, I found my answer. It was a simple blog post by a student of Dr. Vasant Lad, shared her learning here. It was simple enough.

The basics: There are three kinds of normal* burp. The first, is the clean burp, a burp that will release no taste in the mouth, and this signifies that it is time to eat, the digestive system is ready for you. Mangia, come, vamos. The next burp is the burp while eating, that signifies the stomach is good and you can stop now. It always occurs, even if you have never recognized it before (watch). The third burp occurs when we are considering to eat another meal maybe that a friend prepared for us, or shows a plate of something great and we burp and taste the meal that we had last consumed maybe only an hour or so ago… it means we are still digesting, and to lay off consuming still.

In doing a bit more research for this post, I came across points that I had failed to consider on my own because I don’t usually partake in them, points that would alter the burp scenario. These included drinking a lot during the meal (especially carbonated beverages) and excessive dialogue (maybe distracting the person from the presence for the burp) and too much air intake

So, as of practicing this in real life and not just blog life, I have of course committed to it, for the most part. There are some times where I just go over the burp, but I always know now, what to expect (bloating, stomach ache, etc). For example, at a recent wedding I attended, my partner and I looked at each other and sternly shared that we are not listening to the burp in order to fully love all the wonders of the evening, gastronomically speaking.

Who even cares about burps, ya freak-o? Well, this is a free measure that our intelligent organism presents to us. In the world of capitalistic gains, it is quite something to find the ways that are naturally ours to know and utilize. With diseases of excess being rampant in our surroundings (see diabetes ), we can learn to consume what we actually need and not just what we want. In this way, we can see how we can start to take control of our dietary habits (at least in this way, through quantity, not referring to quality) and hopefully begin to recognize our own power through choice.

Like anything else in the world of healing and finding balance, it can take time. This took me quite a while to stick with, because, flavors. I would say that finding a partner to have this practice take place with makes it fun and interesting and also keeps you accountable to the holy burp of completion. Happy eating my friends!

*Normal Burp

There are also instances where burping can be excessive, and can be caused due to fermented or undigested carbohydrates. Burping can also occur from air being released during exercise, where the digestive organs being massaged have the tendency to release stagnant foods.

I may add, this is all new to me… how does this actually work? Is it the air ratio of the stomach finding some sort of balance and then releasing a reminder? Also, I would love to hear of your experiences in the coming time, or if you already have been working with the burp as such! 🙂

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Yuca flat breads, burp approved 🙂

Albizia, Mimosa, The Tree of Happiness

Common Name: Albizia, Persian Silk Tree, Mimosa
Latin Name: Albizia julibrissin
Parts We Love: Flowers, Bark
Native to: Southwestern and Eastern Asia
Indications: Depression, Anxiety, Stress, Grief, Bruising, Amnesia
Contraindications: Pregnancy (moves blood)

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Albizia flowers, green pods, and tripinnate leaves, set against the beautiful Pine.

 Her Story

This beauty was first documented in the 2nd century, in the Shen Non Ben Cao, a collection of oral traditions that included the relationship to 365 different plants. It was utilized for it’s effect on the mood and calming actions. Flash way forward to the mid 1700’s, when Italian naturalist Filippo del Albizzi introduces the tree to Europe for cultivation. Then famed botanist Andre Michaux brought the tree to North Carolina in the late 1700’s, and now, it is everywhere (sounds simple, doesn’t it?)

Y Ahora, Donde Vive?

It has naturalized as far North as New Jersey, and down to the tip of Southern Florida as well as west to Texas. It’s vivacious desire to live can be seen here…”One study showed that 90% of the seeds were viable after five years and, for another species of mimosa, a third of its seeds germinated after 50 years in open storage.” Woah. It is considered a highly invasive ‘alien’ species, and this always has me consider our human ways of being highly invasive and alien… and most people you can’t tincture or make tea of for mood lifts and calmness. I am not one to plant invasives and destroy natural habitats, but while the sun shines… let’s get some flowers.

One Day…

I am driving in a borrowed car and heading towards a client, to help her ease the woes of postpartum depression. I found myself meditating about her life before I met her, and feeling into what plants may come to me. I then look up to the left and catch a stand of trees with bright pink blossoms waving in the wind. “Mimosa!” was my first thought. I had yet to see the tree with the knowing that it was what it was. I pinpointed my location with local landmarks in the town I didn’t know so well, and promised to return to see…

On the way back, I stopped, finding a shady spot under a tall pine tree to park the car. I got out and was engulfed in the scent of what one may think could only come from synthesized perfumes. It is the most incredible scent! With the help of an online plant identification group, I was able to make sure it was Albizia julibrissin (I must get on my botany, i know, I know).

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Mimosa flower and unopened buds. Incredibly beautiful.

A brown paper bag in the car knew to be there for me. I grabbed it and also my shaker and went out and under the branches, close to the trunk. In the distance, I could feel the intensely intrusive sounds of a factory. I decided to employ one of my favorite pastimes, to resonate with the sounds that you can do nothing about. I sang spontaneously to the stand, in deep gratitude to finally be able to convene with them.

Once connected and in, I started to harvest flowers. I saw so much life in and around the blooms. Two different butterflies, silk worms, and ants were coexisting. I could not stop smiling. I sang and sang and sang and felt such gratitude to find this stand of 1000 plus pink blooms.

I have a deep way of wanting to personally know plants before I administer them to others. It is so easy to google a condition and find anything to pass on to someone… yet, how does it really work? In finding out for myself first, testing them on yours truly and others that are dear to me, I can cultivate communication and confidence in befriending such beings. This is the living way, and although books and the internet are so useful, they can never replace the direct transmission from Nature herself.

Update: This tree came to me for the first time, hours before the Pulse shooting in Orlando. In working with the Orlando Grief Care Project, it is unreal how much Albizia has come in from all over the country in the form of flower essences, tinctures, and elixirs. I really feel these plants make themselves available when we are truly in need, and that we are.

Making Medicine

Thomas Easley of the Eclectic School of Herbal Medicine advised me to make preparations of the bark and flowers, separately, for how they both affect in different ways. The bark is felt to ‘anchor the spirit’ while the flowers ‘lighten’ it…

I worked with 190 proof grain alcohol for the bark. I cut it up fresh, into pieces and used the ratio of 1:3, bark to alcohol. For the flowers, I tinctured in organic vodka, 1:2, and also made an elixir, using half brandy and half honey, covering the flowers completely.

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Drying out blooms. We have made mead and are awaiting its maturation!

As I glean from the tinctures and elixirs of both bark and flowers, I will write more about my experiences and the experiences of others. For now, check out the writing of other herbalists that I have found useful:

https://www.planetherbs.com/specific-herbs/albizia-the-tree-of-happiness.html

https://southernherbalist.wordpress.com/2011/07/02/mimosa/

http://www.hearthsidehealing.com/mimosa-full-happiness-flowers/

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Bark harvesting… Peeled, chopped, and then fresh or dry tinctured.
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Albizia blooms only seconds before an equal mixture of raw honey and brandy are added, to make an elixir.

~~~~

I want to remind ourselves that nothing will ever replace the deep need to do work on ourselves. These plants and these practices are tools along the way to self discovery and can aid us greatly in making the changes we need to in order to fully come into our highest potential. So, of course, take into consideration dietary changes, lifestyle modifications, and emotional healing in conjunction with herbal protocols.

R

Resonance

if it makes a sound
it can teach you music
if it has a root
it has a reason
if it has a voice
it has a truth
if it makes skin rise
then its the spirit’s eyes
:listen on in:

I have made it a practice to go with the flow as much as I can remember to. Making it a habit, to replace the complaining and whining with gratitude and acceptance is quite a shift in seeing. It is most evident in situations where the sounds may be so inescapable, that one wants to shut them out or be agitated about them. Yet, there is another option at times.

I would find myself while working in a kitchen with loud fridges housing all of the prepared produce, humming tunes relative to the pitch of the buzz that it put out. It taught me (and I’m still learning all the time) my first intro to harmonizing and feeling my body resonate the sounds.

So, when something is overpoweringly loud and there is no way to not be with it, try embracing it by engaging with your voice. Sing your way through it.

 

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I am not Sorrow

You may have heard this phrase before, it goes something like this…

“I am sorry.”

However, are you really? All those feelings in there, all those bones and tissues and fluids and juices, and you are naming it all, sorrow?

This was pointed out to me in immersing myself in the Spanish speaking language. I started to see in translating the phrases that we use, that these words can be traps, or not. For example, in Spanish, we say, “Lo siento” when expressing “I am sorry” yet its literal translation is “I feel it.” How profound! Instead of calling yourself or someone else an entire emotion, we only claim the temporal nature of feeling it, which is not forever. It passes. It is allowed to leave.

In the same way, there are two forms of saying “to be” in Spanish, Ser and Estar. Ser is the way of permanence, like, “Este arbol es un roble (This tree is an oak)” or “Yo soy Italiano ( I am Italian).” Estar is used with temporary conditions, like “Esta lloviendo (It is raining)” or “Estoy feliz/triste (I am happy/sad).” Do you see what happens once again? They don’t claim to be an emotion, which like the weather, is in and of itself a fleeting and never permanent experience. Que wow, no?

Meditation:

Watch how the words you choose to empower can be trappings. You are not your emotions, yet you do feel them as they come and go, in time. Maybe we can start to use “I feel…” instead of “I am…”. Gentle awareness, like usual, is key in even knowing that these things occur.

Feeling feely,

R

 

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The Gift of Presence

I am in a hospital room with a dear brother, who is very ill. He is on bags of liquids that are streaming into thin plastic tubes that run into his body, seemingly keeping him alive. He is being fed through a tube that goes up his right nostril and into his stomach. He has had his colon rerouted to have his feces empty into a bag, and a catheter to go along with it. He is inundated with Dilaudid, an opiate 7x stronger than morphine, whenever he chooses to push the button connected to his PCA pump to wash his pain away, if only for a short while.

A doctor walks in as I am sitting beside his bed, and he says,

“Not looking so good today, are you?”

A short while later, a nurse outside speaks to his mother in law and says

“He is deteriorating…”

There is confusion and the strongest lack of communication between the multiple doctors and medical workers. One doctor walks in and suggests the use of a suppository while our friend here is with a colostomy. Another doctor comes in and begins to order a CAT scan, when he didn’t know our brother had gone through one 2 days ago (each scan is worth about a year of environmental radiation). Another doctor speaks to him and tells him he will be leaving today. The previous doctor tells him he can’t leave today and will leave tomorrow. Up, down, and all around.

__________

This is a small taste of what it can be like in the chaos of a disease process in our current medical system. There are of course, the multitude of beautiful and kind souls who practice perfect patience and share their hearts… and this is not to be overlooked. Yet, it can pale in comparison to the strange and toxic relationship that some have experienced while in this cold building.

I walked into our brothers room and prior, I prepared myself. I had gathered myself in the car, centered and focused, I began to walk into the hospital. A maze of lefts and rights and elevators to here and there, I finally enter the room. I notice his heart rate is at 157; extremely high. His blood pressure and oxygen levels were also at extreme levels, rising and dropping into the red zones multiple times, letting out a disturbing electronic signal.

I brought a lot of things with me, unaware of his true state of health and consciousness. After feeling out the space and knowing that its potential benefits outweighed whatever strange judgements might come at me from the staff, I decided to ask his permission to sing a medicine song for him. He agreed, maybe a part of him hoping that anything will help him feel a bit of ease.

The shacapa is a bundle of leaves that is collected from a plant in Poaceae family (grass family) in South American traditional medicine. It may be Pariana radiciflora, but I am unsure as most local curanderos don’t know the latin names of the plants they are born knowing (and latin names seem not to affect medicinal potency as much as they help us to classify plants). Regardless, it is used in the ceremony space as a sort of shaker, keeping the rhythm going and also employed at times to touch the person being sung to directly, the leaves themselves having the reputation to wipe away negativity and densely stored emotions. Depending on how it is maneuvered, the energy can be experienced as a blend of cleansing, soothing, revitalizing, and lifting; something like a bird’s wings taking off very close to you.

I pulled a shacapa out of my travel bag and started to bring presence to our brother. I whistled in an icaro, a sacred medicine song, and began to shake the shacapa over his body, bringing myself more and more into a state of deep presence. Dancing the shacapa just over his body, going in circles, I sang like this for about 10 minutes.

When I was done, my body was buzzing and I knew it to be a good sign that I was connecting with what heals. I opened my eyes just as he opened his eyes and seemed to return back to his body… I looked up at his vitals on the LED screen. Everything had begun to normalize. His energy was returning to his face, he was calmer and relaxed. Verification of the invisible can be nice sometimes.

David Winston says “Anything that has the power to change you is medicine…” It can’t be any more true. I am still always moved by the simplicity of finding my center and singing a song that comes to me in that moment, and how effective it can be to myself and those who are in the space of such sounds.

So, do we need to all go out and learn medicine songs? Does everyone need to grab a shaker or make their own bundle of leaves to shake over their friends? Not at all. Coming back to Winston, he speaks to anything that has the power to change someone is medicine… Yes, and even before we start to analyze which gift is the one we can share in our lives, we can remember that there is a foundation! This foundation is presence, and it doesn’t matter what it is that ends up being our tool of transferring such a space, be it singing or speaking or even better, just listening, but just that it is not forgotten.

These doctors that I had experienced with their rushed and anxious energies… it could be that they have forgotten the primary act of their practice; Presence. It is how we do what we do that matters so imperatively! I don’t know that much about cancer. I don’t know that much about surgery or intense health conditions to begin with. Yet, I do know that how I feel and what I decide to say when I am around someone affects the space inevitably, in one way or another. We have a responsibility in this to manage ourselves in a conscious way, taking into consideration how we may influence those who are so very sensitive, and especially in times of illness or distress.

(take away)

How will I choose to hold myself in my daily life, knowing that even my own thoughts affect the space all around me and inevitably, the world at large?

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Two shacapas, freshly bundled and ready to use in ceremony.

What do you mean ‘connect to my food’?

You might know a friend who all of a sudden has a deep interest in knowing where their food comes from and with how much care is it raised. This is happening more and more as we are collectively recognizing the link between our It starts to bring one closer to the cycles that keep them alive in a state of wellness. In focusing on what nourishes us, we may then be able to see we can see the nourishment or lack thereof in our lives.

Here are a couple of ways to connect with what keeps us going.

1. It is of course important to reach out to your local farmers. Why do we want to eat local?

– It is fresher. Local means it didn’t have to travel hundreds or thousands of miles to get to your table. It also will taste better being that it was actually allowed to ripen instead of being harvested prematurely to make the voyage!

– You are eating your local bacteria. Yes, you get to consume the little beings that help the party out in your stomach.

– You are supporting your neighbors and creating relations. This is crucial in keeping the ball rolling because these farmers usually face the competition of large commercial producers.

Connect with actual farmer’s markets (don’t be afraid to ask folk where the food comes from!)

*** Being certified organic shouldn’t be the deciding factor for your dollars placement. Some folk can’t keep up with the costs of maintaining the certification, where others see the errors that are externalized. Finding people that grow food in an honest way is it.***

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Papaya, glorious in it’s abundant ways

2. Start Gardening

Getting our hands in the soil is now a days considered a form of therapeutic activism. We are coming together over what we actually have in common and in that, there is much to be done. We are choosing in what conditions will our food grow. We are nourishing ourselves with wholesome foods. We are remembering our roots as human beings.

Have a yard or access to one?

-Grow perennial crops (plants that you dont have to replant every year)
-Grow cover crops
-Understand your local wild weeds
-Learn permaculture principles and approaches (see inhabit and PRI)
-If you use chemicals to control pests, find natural means to eradicate them or recognize that that plant may just not want to live in your region

All that good stuff being mentioned, still feeling challenged in starting a food forest in your apartment’s patio? Don’t know the difference between a tomato and a potato? Want to understand what plants you could eat when walking around? There are solutions!

One way is to reach out in our local area to see where the community gardens are located… We can get invested in a plot or volunteer and learn how it all functions and flows. We can meet our neighbors in the garden and share in the ways of learning from those with more experience than us.

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Edible Hibiscus, a perennial green!

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Wild weed Spanish Needle

3. Gratitude. I feel it is almost indicative of our current mainstream cultural disconnect to what is actually important when it seems we need to have lists such as this one. Bless us all!

There exists a multitude of ways to show gratitude for what keeps us going (I am reminded of Rumi’s “There are a thousand ways to kneel and kiss the ground”). It can range from the direct prayer and gratitude blessing, done by everyone at the table. Or it can be even a silent feeling of gratitude before touching the fork to the mouth, envisioning the journey your food has made to reach your plate. The spirit dance ain’t your style? Well, we can at least all agree that feeling gratitude for the plants and animals that keep us alive isn’t a bad thing to do… It relaxes us into digestion and brings presence to our activity. Thank the plants, thank the cook!

If you eat animal protein, consider its source and if it can be found closer to your home or if you are able to raise it yourself. Also, consider the frequency of meat consumption and if it is truly what your body needs (I am not advocating eating one thing over another for there are many variations of diets and it is good to respect the diversity).

Of all these steps listed, I feel that above having the privilege of choosing which foods to eat, practicing gratitude for whatever is able to make it to your plate is most important. There exists too many food deserts all around us and in bringing the community together through gardening and permaculture, I hope to bring more awareness to all those in need.

***In working in the vegetarian/vegan community for a few years, I came to find that even if one is eating a pure diet of ultra healthy conscious this’ and thats, it doesn’t mean you are all good to go on the holy road to liberation! There is still of course the behavior that happens all around our meal and its ordering i.e. how we treat others! So what if the body is running perfect if the mind and heart are sour?***

Further reading: The Yoga of Eating by Charles Eisenstein
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