Ready for your Spring check in?

Springtime

Finally. Are you feeling ready for some sunny days and bright pink plum tree flowers? Ready for feeling warmer air against your bare skin and the sound of frogs singing at dusk? Me too! This winter has been long and dreary- made even more so by endless stress over what is going on in politics. All the more reason to take a pause for a spring time self care check in.  

It's been 2 weeks since I last shared with all of you about my ongoing Self Care R-evolution. So many of you wrote to me after my friends blog post and let me know what you were struggling with on a personal level. As I read the emails I had the same sensation I often get at a women's circle as we go around the circle and check in about our lives.  The feeling is that I could easily be the one writing or speaking about the very same feelings. Sharing our stories magnifies the reality that many of us are dealing with the same core issues. Some of you mentioned that money was the major struggle in life, others noted that feelings of low self worth or fear of failure kept you from taking time for self care or from moving into that job or relationship you really want. Feeling physically tired was mentioned a lot and also struggling with anxiety over getting everything done. Sound familiar? That's because none of us are unique in these mental struggles- even though we often shame ourselves with thoughts that everyone has it figured out but us!   

Dancing with the Season

Spring is the best season to start anything. The energy of the Earth is supporting new beginnings of all kinds. We can use all that winter compost and the breakdown /breakthroughs of 2016 to now fertilize the next steps for abundant health at all levels.

Even if you don't believe you can change- you can't help but be amazed at all the changes nature shows us in the spring! If a bare tree can suddenly be full of beautiful blossoming energy- so can we!  I want to share with you my favorite spring plant ally in sourcing the energy that so many of us feel is lacking to break the cycles of self judgement and fear. I will be using plants as guides to self care medicine this year. As a farmer I work with lots of plants- I mostly have spent time pampering the domesticated veggies but some of the most powerful healing energies in my field are actually the weeds! 

Weeds are Magic!

The war on weeds in farmer's fields reminds me of the war we wage on our bodies. Weeds are really nothing more than the Earth trying to protect and care for her own skin. She covers bare ground with the weeds that spread out like band aids and keep soil from eroding. She replenishes her mineral content with weeds that tap into root energy and bring those nutrients up to the surface. She nourishes her bees with lovely flowering weeds that burst into pollen early in the season. Because we are a part of the Earth our own body's self care is intertwined with the seasonal medicine of the Earth as well. In spring we find the Earth offering us the most potent spring tonics for deep cleansing and strength. 

Energy for Days- Stinging Nettle

I wanted to focus on a plant that is a remedy for some of our shared struggles that were expressed after the last post's shout out. Feeling tired, low self worth, fear of failure, lack of abundance and general stress and anxiety.

Stinging Nettle is a powerful spring medicine. Many people consider it a noxious weed but I am joyous whenever I find some growing wild by a river bank. It's like finding a free source of energy! I am slightly anemic so I begin to crave the high iron content of spring nettles after a long winter of eating storage squash and potatoes. The deep green plants are the one of the best sources of calcium and iron for our bodies. You can find nettle patches growing all over Oregon in the spring. If you are in doubt just touch the stem and the "sting" you will feel will instantly verify their name. They are also easy to grow in your garden and I have my own patch that I harvest from as well as going on nettle finding missions in wet spots near running water (under Alder trees and near old homesteads are great bets!) If you can't find fresh nettles use dried ones or a nettle tincture from the natural foods store!

Stinging nettle (Urtica dioica) packs more stimulating energy than sugar or even coffee, and without the downside of feeling jittery!  According to herbalist Susan Weed; "Nettles are rich in protein, vitamins, and minerals, especially the critical trace minerals: anti-cancer selenium, immune-enhancing sulphur, memory-enhancing zinc, diabetes-chasing chromium, and bone-building boron. A quart of nettle infusion contains more than 1000 milligrams of calcium, 15000 IU of vitamin A, 760 milligrams of vitamin K, 10% protein, and lavish amounts of most B vitamins.... Nettle builds energy by nourishing the adrenals and detoxifying the kidneys ... Minerals in a nettle tea are actually magnetized into the blood stream without needing to be digested so the effects can be felt quickly"

Nettles are obviously good for you. Your lungs, skin, urinary tract, bones, hair, blood and nervous system will thank you for drinking nettle tea or even steaming them (cooking removes the sting of the plant) and eating them like a spinach substitute! (see recipes below!)  Nettles is a particular nourisher of women's bodies and helps fertility, breast feeding, healthy pregnancies and menstruation. 

Nettles are also energetically powerful. They are known as being a plant for protection from negative energy and cleansing any bad mojo in your body and your home. Burning nettles is an ancient way to purify a space. The entire plant is here to help us break our bad old habits, cleanse our bodies and give us the deep nourishment and energy to revitalize our lives!

 

Nettle Meditation

Meditation is key to observing our mental patterns that keep us repeating the same old shame based loops. When we become still and watch our thoughts we lessen the power they hold over us and we become aware that they are not "us"- they are just thoughts we have. Thoughts can be changed- but not unless we can see them for what they are. 

I like meditating with plant medicine. Drink your nettle infusion, take a nettle tincture, eat your nettle pesto, maybe even give your skin a little nettle acupuncture (careful! they hurt!) and then set your phone for a  15 minute alarm and relax in a comfortable position.  Listen to the plant's message as it works with your body. Offer up some self tenderness to any part of your body that you normally think ill of. Offer your gratitude to nettles for protecting you from harm, for cleaning your blood of toxins, for nourishing your energy at all levels. Do this for 3 days and take some notes on how your body or energy is feeling before and after!

Nettle Recipes!

Make a stinging nettle infusion/brew:

(From herbalist Susan Weed): Measure out one ounce of the dried or fresh herb. Boil a quart of water. Put the herb into a quart jar and fill to the top with the boiling water. Stir with a wooden spoon and add water until the jar is full to the top. Lid tightly and set aside to brew for at least four hours, or overnight, whichever is easier for you. You can drink up to 2-3 quarts of nettle infusion a week to feel the full invigorating effect! To use: Strain and squeeze the liquid out of the herb. Be sure to refrigerate your infusion, as it will go bad at room temperature once it is done brewing. Nettle infusion is delicious over ice. Its rich green taste is not at its best when served hot. Adding honey can make it taste quite strange. Some folks like to add a little apple juice to sweeten it. Or stir in some miso, for a salty drink. However you consume it, do drink it up within a few days, as nettle infusion doesn't last.

Nettle Pesto

from Lucid Food: Cooking for an Eco-Conscious Life by Louisa Shafia

Nettles leaves are serrated like teeth and they’re covered with spiky hairs that sting on contact. But the sting is fleeting, and the antidote is the juice of the nettles’ own leaves. Boiled briefly, nettles turn into a rich green vegetable much like spinach. You can drink the nutrient-rich cooking water like tea, just leave out the salt. Toss pesto with pasta, spread on seared fish or chicken, or use as a dip for raw vegetables.

Makes approximately 3 cups

Ingredients

  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 pound stinging nettles
  • 1/4 cup fresh mint leaves
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup pine nuts, toasted
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup firmly packed grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese

Instructions

Fill a large pot halfway full with water. Add 1/4 cup salt and bring to a boil.

Fill the sink or a large bowl with cold water. Using gloves or tongs, submerge the nettles in the water and let them sit for 5 minutes. Remove the nettles and discard the water. Wearing rubber gloves, pull the leaves from the stems and discard the stems.

Put the nettles in the boiling water and boil for 1 minute. Drain and spread the nettles on a baking sheet. Let cool completely. Squeeze out as much of the water as possible and coarsely chop.

Place the nettles in the bowl of a food processor with the mint, garlic, pine nuts, and 2 tablespoons of the lemon juice. Process until the mixture has formed a paste.

With the machine running, pour in the olive oil. Transfer to a bowl and fold in the cheese. Taste and adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper.

Nettle Spanikopita:

inspiration from Rosemary Gladstar's  Herbs for Longevity & Well-Being

Saute together in olive oil:

  • 1 entire bulb of garlic, minced
  • 2 large onions, diced
  • 2 large bowls full of fresh nettle tops, chopped
  • 2 packages of frozen spinach
  • 2 to 3 large pinches of strong dried oregano
  • a tiny pinch of nutmeg
  • salt and pepper to taste

Remove from the heat and mix in:

  • 1 cup ricotta cheese
  • 1/2 cup grated cheddar cheese
  • 8 oz crumbled feta cheese
  • 2 eggs, beaten

For the flaky yummy crust:

  • one package of phyllo dough
  • one stick of butter

Butter the bottom and edges of a 9x13 pan.  Start laying sheets of phyllo dough into the pan on sheet at a time. Keep the sheets you are not using under a damp towel to keep them from drying out.  Apparently phyllo dries out quickly and becomes brittle.  Lightly brush each sheet with butter before laying the next sheet on top.  I did about a 3rd of the package and then put half of the green mixture down in an even layer.  Then I repeated this process one time.  Finally I took the remaining phyllo dough and created a top layer.  I think next time I will just do a bottom and a top layer of phyllo with no middle layer because the middle layer seemed to get lost in the midst of the green veggies.  Before putting the spanakopita in the oven I lightly scored the top into serving sizes and I was glad I did too because if you try to cut the top once it is baked the flaky sheets on top get messed up.

Bake at 350 degrees for about 45 minutes until golden brown on the top.

 

No need to go it alone

You have help. You have support. You have friends.

The Paczki. A Polish traditional food for Fat Tuesday and yeah- they are doughnuts. Sugar blasted and ready to cleanse!

The Paczki. A Polish traditional food for Fat Tuesday and yeah- they are doughnuts. Sugar blasted and ready to cleanse!

This is my mantra as the first day of the spring cleanse begins. March 1st just so happened to coincide with the first day of Lent and my Catholic upbringing (although now a historical footnote in my life) raises the urge to do the binge and purge of Fat Tuesday followed by giving something up for Lent until Easter Sunday. If you believe there is power in numbers than why not jump on to the wagon with millions of others and do a great big group spring cleanse together! Some will give up smoking, some will give up video poker-  and I for the one millionth time, am giving up sugar. 

That number one millionth sounds like a lot. Well, I can tell you that's how many times it feels like i've given it up and failed. Sometimes I last a day- sometimes not even 4 hours. This Lent is 7 weeks long. I'm at the end of the first day. So far so good. The reason I have more confidence in my ability to stick this one out is because for 2017 I chose three words that would guide me to a happier life. Self care, Abundance and Friendship. 

I've already blogged about the first two and now it's time to talk about friendship.

There are lots of reasons that friendship made the list for this year.  Friends are the people in our lives who will stand by us when things go wrong, who will point out our faults when no one will, who give us perspective, a shoulder to cry on, a place to feel heard, seen and loved and they are not as complicated as our families or partners to deal with. Friends are fun. They are the connections we have to the world outside our homes.

My good friend Sarah who I've known for almost 20 years now. I don't think we even look much older than 20 so I'm not sure how that's possible! ha!

My good friend Sarah who I've known for almost 20 years now. I don't think we even look much older than 20 so I'm not sure how that's possible! ha!

Through friends and community we learn about how to relate to ourselves and how to be good to others. When we stop making friends or stop making time to hang out with our friends we limit our support network. We become more isolated in our own habits and thoughts. We can start feeling like no one understands us or cares for us. We can put too much stress on our partners to supply us with everything we need instead of having friends as our release valves. 

What does this have to do with giving up sugar? Well even though I grow healthy food for a living, I still cling to the patterns I developed as a child. I use sugar to numb out when I feel overwhelmed. It is a coping mechanism. In my over worked farmer brain the lettuce is what I live on but the sugar is the reward- the band aid for the bad day or for the fact that I didn't give myself time to take a bike ride or journal or do yoga. My inner child demands justice and everyone knows sugar is an easy way to soothe a screaming kid. 

Two of my good friends! Randi Love is an amazing therapist and of course that makes her one of my best friends to talk with while walking my other Beast Friend- Roscoe T. on Manzanita Beach. I am so grateful to Randi for listening and providing me with her insights!

Two of my good friends! Randi Love is an amazing therapist and of course that makes her one of my best friends to talk with while walking my other Beast Friend- Roscoe T. on Manzanita Beach. I am so grateful to Randi for listening and providing me with her insights!

Where do friends come in?  I noticed that my need for friendship and for self care are linked. If I feel overwhelmed and make time for friends then I get the support I need and don't start the numbing out process. Friends remind me that I deserve to take time for myself. When I take time for myself I am much less likely to fall into the cycle of sugar numbing followed by shame and beating myself up for lack of willpower. 

For the past two years I have been a pretty bad friend.

I focused so much on my new marriage and on the huge job of starting a new business that I felt I didn't have energy for anything else. I didn't want to go to parties or be in public. I became more and more aligned with my working and doing and lost my ability to remember how to just be myself and relax. That is until I crashed and I just couldn't "do" anymore. I stopped everything for January and over the last 2 months I have made it a point to make new friends and to spend time with the ones I already have. 

Friends in Astoria! Making time to hang out with folks further from my farm is a goal for me this year!

Friends in Astoria! Making time to hang out with folks further from my farm is a goal for me this year!

My friends are awesome people and so very few of them held it against me that I had been so out of touch for so long. The new friends I am making are like finding new parts of myself I haven't spent time with yet. Every person brings out a new aspect. Some are more bold, some soft, some brilliant, some funny. Instead of seeing new people as a burden I now see them as such wonderful gifts. You never know who or what will bring about the next steps into your future. 

I also have heard from many friends that they too are feeling the urge to reconnect. We are reaching out for each other for support and community, to remember what is true and good in our lives. At North Fork 53 I have begun hosting women's full moon circles which has brought me many new and interesting friends this year.  

Women in particular suffer without the ability to express and share with others. We socialize as therapy and even simple talking circles can fill big emotional needs. I am grateful that North Fork 53 can be a place for new friendships to begin and also to provide space for old friends to reconnect and spend time together.

Some days I think that the most important thing I might do in life is to be a good friend to someone and maybe the most valuable thing I have are those friends that will be there for me. 

 

Now a picture of beautiful salad greens as I remember to listen to the needs of  my oldest and truest friend- my body! Sugar is a fair weather friend but veggies will stand by you for life!

Early spring mustards, chickweed, arugula and tatsoi from our hoophouse

Early spring mustards, chickweed, arugula and tatsoi from our hoophouse

 

Are you are looking to make some more friend time this spring?

Join us at North Fork 53 on Wednesday March 8th for International Women's Day! We are having a gathering from 6-8pm along with a world wide coordinated event focusing on peace and solidarity with women everywhere. We will have a short meditation at 7pm and lots of time for sharing, socializing and meeting new friends. RSVP and learn more on the Face Book event page!

Keep an eye out for our Women's Self Care weekend

Coming up at the end of the Month! Spring break is a great time to relax and retreat on the coast with friends. We are planning a wonderful weekend of spring cleansing spa, yoga, art, gardening, hiking, cooking and more! Sign up on the email list below and get your invite!

Let's be friends! Sign up for my email list and get all the dirt on self care, healing, workshops, recipes, foraging & more!

Abundance vs. Fear

Open your eyes and what do you see? A world full of beauty, love and endless gifts or a world of danger, lies, and threats to survival. Maybe you see both. Maybe it depends on the day. The interesting thing is that the world isn't one or the other. What you see rests squarely with you and your perception of reality. Reality is up to you. To us. So why choose fear over abundance? 

Welcome to the next installment of the Self Care R-evolution! This week the political game has been surreal. What seems to be the only truth that anyone can say for sure is that no one knows the truth of what is happening. There seems to be seven different versions, and even more opinions, for each event that takes place washing around in the media. This is undoubtedly purposeful on the part of those in power but let us for a moment use it to our advantage as a tool for self care. If this week has shown us anything it is that truth and reality are subjective. What seems like firm ground is always in motion, ever changing and no one person ever experiences it the same way. We choose our realities although we often do it unconsciously. If seven different versions of a story are printed then which one we choose to believe and repost says more about our own minds than it does about anything else. Those that analyze such things are busy building "big data" banks from which they generate targeted media that even further plays upon our hidden insecurities and tendencies. For more on that read this fascinating and disturbing article here. https://motherboard.vice.com/en_us/article/how-our-likes-helped-trump-win

How does this have anything to do with Self Care? Well often we choose realities that don't really serve our highest happiness or peace. Why? For millions of valid reasons but none of them really are anywhere near as important as the realization that we have a choice. We can choose to open our eyes and see a world of abundance. It exists. There is Moonlight. Clothing on our backs. Clean water we can drink. Electricity that comes on. Friendship we can call upon. Oak trees, dark chocolate, hot baths, cute dogs, our favorite music and on and on. Especially in the 21st century and the In US we are awash in the level of abundance that is rare in the whole of history. Even if you have none of those things the Earth herself is abundance manifest. The dandelion flower does not produce one or two seeds it has hundreds- in fields of thousands. The law of nature, of life, is putting out more than is needed. Always a little extra just to be sure. Diversity and generosity are the strengths of every natural system (ahem- take notes here politicians!)

In a world of abundance why would we choose to see fear? We wake up stressed out. We don't have control of anything and nothing we do makes a difference. The problems of the world are too big to handle. We don't know what to do. We are sad, overwhelmed, afraid of what tomorrow might bring. Yes- this too is valid. If we look at the problems they are manifest. Huge. Complicated. We dive in and as hard as we swim we will never reach a safe shore. We feel exhausted and afraid. We are vulnerable and alone. There isn't enough resources for us all. Sound familiar? This is the news we listen to everyday. The media love fear. The worldview given to us through movies, books, television, social media is that we are at a constant war with some force or another (crime, drugs, terrorists, cancer, hunger, other nations etc) and that our chances of losing are good. In this view the law of nature is dog eat dog- survival of the fittest and better watch your back. Here is of course where most of us live in our heads and why we feel so depleted and helpless to effect positive change in our lives or in the world around us. 

Here's the Good News! You can choose. Choose the world you live in. Choose what you pay attention to and what you give energy to. I'm not saying to drop out of reality- I'm saying to change your reality. It is the most powerful and empowering thing you can do for yourself and by extension everyone around you. This is free. It's absolutely within your power because you are the only person who can do it. You are the super hero who can save your own world from all the enemies in your head. Simply choose to live in abundance. See it everywhere. See it even in scary scenarios that would normally seem evidence of the other fear based world. Generosity exists everywhere. Love exists everywhere. It's on full display as long as we are looking for it. Look for it. Expect it. Foster it. Encourage the abundance you know is the basis of our planet and our beings. I promise you that when you are looking for it that it will be a constant delight to meet the next person or take on the next challenge. It is excellent self care too because living in abundance means that there is enough time, enough money, enough peace to go around. We can ease up. Relax. We can stay present in our bodies and start enjoying this amazing beautiful life we have been gifted. When we expect abundance it arrives in piles and heaps. Smiles, new friends, new experiences, open minds, beautiful vistas suddenly appear everywhere. The fear and hate mongering no longer have a hold of us. We are not tired because we are receiving all the energy we need. 

fear.jpeg

Now I hear some rumblings from the old fear based world that this is not practical- this is only something rich people can afford to do- only something privilege allows you to do. The real world is dangerous, hard and scary and we need to be on the defensive at all times. This is born out of experience and so it must be true. To this I say it is true. But truth is what we make it to be. There really is no risk here of choosing abundance. What have you got to lose? If you want to fight the powers that be this is the most revolutionary way of all. You just step out of the reality in which they control your experience. Free your mind and the rest will follow. I am not suggesting we ignore the problems of the world, I am suggesting that we see and respond to them with a completely new awareness. I would also suggest that anything else but this just reinforces the fear reality (no matter what story you choose to believe within it). 

So easy but not so easy. Changing your reality is uprooting some deeply held perceptions. This is the undoing of habitual thought. We are also hardwired through our limbic (our primal) brain for fight or flight survival instincts- just like any smart animal. It takes practice. Becoming happy when we are used to being stressed takes letting go of what we think makes us who we are. We define ourselves by our ability to fight, to be strong, to make it, to push, to succeed etc. This is what our culture hands out metals for- what wins trophies. Being happy and at peace is not something we have good role models for is it? That's because to be happy you just need to drop out of fear and you realize that you don't have anything to prove or to struggle for. You receive your life as your divine right and not as something you need to earn. It's pretty radical. My hope is that everyone starts practicing radical self care and abundance as a political strategy. The power of the people to change the world starts in our realization that world is not in need of changing- our own heads are. 

bunnycarrots.jpg

How? Choose meditation whenever you can. Choose positive affirmations daily. Listen. Observe your thoughts and slowly you can start to adjust them from fear based ones to ones that based in wonder, gratitude and happiness. Stay in the present moment. Notice what is going on right now. Slow down. Appreciate your food. Take time to do kind things for others. Stay checked into your body and treat it with respect. Trust that life is what you make of it- so make it awesome! Now go forth with your new super power and see how much happiness you can manifest for yourself today! Seeing you shining will remind me to remember abundance too. We are all in this together. Inspire each other to see our way clear of delusion and embrace this gift that is life. 

Self Care and the Revolution

It's been a wild week. The women's march was so big, so bold, so beautiful that the whole world stopped for a day to acknowledge the awesome power of the female. I went up to my local march in Astoria Oregon instead of going to Portland because I feel that the local marches need the numbers and energy more than the cities. I was right. 100,000 marched in Portland. 1,200 marched in Astoria (and that is huge for such a small town). I might have taken it on as my personal responsibility to make enough noise for another 1,000 people but hey- If you have a drum and voice, use them! it is always a high to be in a sea of energy like a global day of action. For many folks it was the first march or protest they had ever attended. For many others it was one more in a lifetime of activism for a better planet, equal rights, peace and visibility for women's issues. 

The aftermath of the inauguration and the marches is in full swing. The right wing folks on face book are offended that women marched at all. That we aren't grateful to be living in country where we aren't forced to wear the burka. Also- how disgusting that women wore pussy hats and vagina costumes, no self respecting female talks about her own parts in public. It wasn't inclusive enough of republican women who voted for Trump or Pro life advocates. (who often wave around bloody fetus dolls in front of Planned Parenthood- but I guess to them that is less gross than pussy hats.)

The other and more salient arguments are that the march was too identified with white women and not with the larger female community (including trans women and indigenous women and WOC). This is an important reaction and one that I have been reading about with interest. The voices that are ignored in the mainstream were also sidelined in a mainstream march. It speaks to the lack of understanding among most Americans at how much suffering and rights abuses take place outside of middle class, straight, white America. At first, i will admit it, I felt like, "damn- can't women just be proud to march against hate for one day without getting slammed for not being all things to all people? Why are women always the ones who have to say we are sorry for everything we do." And then I realized that the deeper opportunity from this march is that these arguments are being made. On all sides. Because that is where we are. We are not in a self congratulatory world where our marches are going to make a difference. We are in times where our ability to listen and not react, to have empathy, to do the learning and reading to stretch our awareness is more critical than ever. It is also critical to be able to articulate our views in a way that makes change and not enemies. So I am trying to set aside my own anger at the man who was elected and instead reserve my strength for the love that is needed to unite this country. With love we can resist the divide and conquer strategies that the media and the politicians have perfected to keep us polarized and powerless.  

From the right I hear women wanting the country they were promised somewhere along the line to manifest. To be able to have a man take care of them and to have defined gender roles that make the world safe and understandable. I hear fear of the unknown. I hear anger at the rejection of their definition of what womanhood means to them. I hear the need for safety and a lot of repeating of media rhetoric. I have scratched a few surfaces and found that most of these women communicate only in their own circles and are surprised to hear from a woman with a different way of viewing the world. My challenge is not to react to the rhetoric and to look for common ground. I am batting about 50/50 on this so far. 

From the left I hear women angry that the oppression that they have been living under white culture is only recognized when white women get their rights infringed upon. Where were all the white women standing up for Black Lives Matter? Where were they for Indigenous Women for the last 500 years? The Democratic party and mainstream women's movements have failed to address any of the issues that face trans and queer women at the level of fervor it makes over  heterosexual women's rights. Racism and classism and Homophobia absolutely exist within women's movements and a huge march just shines a spotlight on those injustices in action. 

I also hear everyone declaring the beginning of a new and united resistance movement. I fancy myself a Star Wars resistance fighter (RIP Leia) so I think that sounds pretty cool. And I also admit it can make me feel exhausted again- because god damn it I just started a self care program and now I have a million more things to stress out about. Attacks on global healthcare for women and the Standing Rock reservation were the opening shots of what will be a long fight with big consequences. I cannot stand aside and watch.  I make calls now everyday to congress and other folks like the gov. of North Dakota. I found that I can walk my dog on the beach and make these calls as part of my self care walking routine. Self care- Earth Care. 

women'smarch.jpg

My point here is that self care can't be selfish. It's not about "we protect our rights and our time and money but once that's over we don't give a crap about yours." We are all in this together. Just like it's hard to describe oppression to people who do not experience it. We can't really understand empathy unless we have it for ourselves first. So everyone please take care of yourself. Do your yoga. Eat well. Drink water. Meditate on the big picture. Pray in whatever way you do for a better world. Commit to kindness for yourself and everyone else. Then get your light saber out and kick some ass in defense of all the things you love. I'll be right there beside you making enough noise to blow up the Death Star. 

2017: Self Care, Abundance and Friendship

On the eve of the presidential inauguration the three words that I chose of 2017 keep emerging in my thoughts. Self Care, Abundance and Friendship. At the beginning of each year I have a walk on the beach and I choose three touchstone words that I feel I am ready to focus on for the months ahead. This little ritual allows me to invest a bit of energy in the directions that I feel I need the most. 2017 will be a year to remember for sure. 

2017 is going to be a year that life as usual will not be an option for heart centered folks. After a horrible drawn out and divisive election season where it seems no one was happy with either candidate but nevertheless became fiercely polarized around them- I think I speak for many when I say that I am exhausted. I am tired of people calling each other names and of the mean spirited manipulation by the media. I am tired of feeling helpless in the face of so many injustices and still struggling to make ends meet in my own life. I am tired of losing people I love to cancer. I am so tired that it seems tired is the only emotion I have space for some days. 

This leads me to my first theme of the year Self Care.

At first self care seems ridiculous to write about in the face of so many serious issues going on at the global scale right now. In truth it would be much more comfortable for me to write about the Trump Administration picks or the Monsanto-Bayer merger and how it affects farmers, than to write about this topic. Recently however, I have begun to accept that Self Care might simply be the most revolutionary thing that anyone can do in these trying times.  Why? Because we are all part of the problem. Just as importantly we are all part of the solution. It is nearly impossible to bring about the solution without first understanding the problem however, so to find the source of our dis-ease we must turn away from our social media feeds and gaze into a mirror. 

When you find that mirror I recommend looking yourself in the eyes and telling yourself "I love you". If that seems hard or silly or absolutely intolerable even as a suggestion you probably need to do it at least 3x a day. I love you. If we can't stand the sight of our own faces in the mirror than how can we honor the pain, beauty and magnificence of the humanity around us? No one is harder on us than ourselves. We are pros at judging ourselves, and bullying ourselves and abusing ourselves with self hatred- I am so ugly, I'm fat, I'm such a failure, No one understands me. I'll never get anywhere. I'm so alone. I can't ever get it right. Nothing I do matters. I suck. I'm so broke. etc etc etc etc. (we all have our own versions of this record playing on low volume under our conscious thoughts day in and day out). They could be the voice of our parents, or ex partners or kids at school. The media echoes these voices daily, as do advertising firms in order that they might get us to buy products that make us more like able and beautiful, happy and successful.

No product of course is a match for that mirror and an "I love you". The reason self care/love is revolutionary (or R-evolutionary if your prefer the long view) is because much of the oppression we want to rage against, be it large corporations and corrupt politicians or social constructs like race and gender and class that keep us feeling divided and polarized, all stem from our own minds. We have internalized the negativity so deeply we oppress ourselves first before anyone else even gets a swing at us. We overwork, we stress, we rage, we eat crappy foods, we drink, we take medications, we fight, we judge, we hate, we envy, we fear and we fall into depression and apathy. This is the American of 2017. It's really doesn't matter who takes office because let's face it, we were already busy doing this to ourselves. I would say that if anything, having external bullies rise to power gives us an even bigger mirror to look in or an easy target onto which to project all our internal bad stuff so we can avoid the mirror entirely.

Self Care is about owning your own stuff- the good, the bad and the ugly. It's also about loving all that stuff unconditionally because it's a part of you. We love it and then we can choose to change it. We avoid it and it controls us in ways we don't understand- compulsions, addictions, trolling on face book.  Self care is about having healthy boundaries. Boundaries and self love let us stop feeling helpless in the face of oppression. For example, the first thing we can do is decide to not keep judging ourselves. This is huge. This is life changing right there. From there we can decide not to take on other people's judgements of us and to stop judging those around us. (Can you see how this stuff leads to real social change really quick?) 

We have to take back the power that we have given away at a core level. Take back your love. Give it to yourself in such abundance that it overflows onto those around you. If you think this sounds stupid easy then try it. It's much easier to go to a protest, to write a blog post, to walk your dog. to clean your house or drink a beer than it is to take 15 minutes each day in self love. It's free. It's simple. You don't have to go anywhere. No one can take it from you- even if you are in jail. But it takes a reprogramming at a deep level. I am calling it R-evolutionary Self Care. To change the world we change ourselves. One "I love you" at a time. 

Over 2017 I will be your living and breathing experimental guinea pig of R-evolutionary Self Care. I do this gently and with compassion for myself because I am aware that for all my years of activism I have never tackled a fight this big. I also will bring my drum to the women's march tomorrow and join in some collective self care around speaking up for our rights, our bodies and our dignity. I invite you to join in on the conversation and on the R-evolutionary Self Care exercises I experiment with along the way. Let's Be the Change we Want to See.  Only from a place of love and health can we manifest a loving and healthy future for generations to come.