Links I Love

Here is where I will share my sources of inspiration and food for thought from the past week.

Podcasts:

Roxanne Coady’s Just the Right Book had two fabulous episodes I listened to this week: Searching for America’s Moral Imagination & ” The Common Good” in which Roxanne interviews former Secretary of Commerce Robert Reich in a very interesting conversation that includes Capitalism, Progressivism, Trump, and more.

The second episode was her interview with author Dani Shapiro about the uncovering of a family secret that led to the writing her latest memoir The Inheritance.

And Dani Shapiro now has her own podcast, in its very first season! It is called, very appropriately, Family Secrets. Give it a listen!

I discovered another new podcast this week: Flowerlounge with Katie Hess. I listened to the latest episode about the dangers of the birth control pill. And as someone for whom the Pill was not an option, due to miserable side effects, I am glad there is information and discussion about alternatives, if you know where to look.

Blog posts:

Seth Godin’s post How big is your unfillable hole will take some time to think about. What are my weaknesses and how can I learn to dance with them?

Books:

How to Change the World: Social Entrepreneurs and the Power of New Ideas by David Bornstein. I haven’t read this yet, but I have many questions. I have a small business and a big dream for serving people in our community and much to learn!

Building a Storybrand by Don Miller. I listened to him interviewed on Amy Porterfield’s podcast this week and immediately set to work clarifying my message. I need to get a copy of this book to work through the steps and make sure I’m doing the work to tell my brand’s story in a clear way that is easy for potential customers to engage with.

So what is inspiring you this week? I’d love to know!

In So Many Words, (or A Roundabout Way To Write About the Last Three Years)

It’s not easy to walk toward authenticity, to pursue that will o’ the wisp

happiness. She’s elusive. You have to come at her from another angle

entirely. You waver for years wondering is she worth it, are you brave

enough. And one day, you get a glimpse of the other side, and you start

walking. Break with false selves and all the pretenses. Strip away the

supports and crutches, raze all the monuments you built to your good

name. You let go the loves you have known, their faces forever in your

soul’s vision. Look deep into the black river of your fear, and plunge in.

Like a stone you sink with your guilt and grief, into bottomless night.

No way to breathe through the pain, nothing to grasp. You fade in and out

of the senseless dark for a lifetime. Maybe you never were alive or

shouldn’t be anymore. Fading, fading, until hands catch at yours and pull

you into sunlight. It’s been so long since the sun kissed you, since you’ve

been held and known. Someone is holding you and calling your name,

singing. You allow yourself to be sheltered, fed, and comforted. Like an

injured bird you are tenderly cared for. Your many wounds begin to heal

and each day you can let in a little more light. One day you feel possibility

playing with your hair, like a breeze from the open window. Someone

stands at the door and calls to you. You smile at him and he comes close.

You are being told how loved you are, how lovely, how much you are

cherished, and what you mean to him. You’re dimly aware of his tears.

He is kneeling before you and you slowly comprehend that you are being

asked to make a home here. To belong. This house is spacious and set on a

hill. The one who saved your life has patient, joy-filled eyes that crinkle as

he laughs. He is gentle, kind, gives you the best rooms in the house, gives

you everything he has. You melt into his love. You are made new.

You think about the people you love across the river and your heart aches.

Months pass, and one day you see two figures coming toward you and it is

your loves. When you look into their eyes you see how they’ve been

marked with the pain of your leaving. You see how they try to understand,

how they’ve forgiven you. Tears come but they embrace you. You

bring them into your new home and feed them and listen to their beloved

voices. They meet this new man and graciously accept him. Your heart is

full, and at last, there she is–happiness– flitting around the table and

shining on every face.

Poised for Spring (Wellness Wednesday)

Happy First Day of Spring! We have sunny, cloudless skies and slightly milder weather today, so I’m soaking up the cheer and enjoying birdsong.

Interestingly, in the middle of all this sun and hope and good vibes, I am dealing with anxiety. If you struggle with depression and anxiety, do you find that anxiety heightens during months of fluctuating weather, such as Spring and Fall? Mine does. And as a result, I am always looking for tools that I can use to settle my mind and emotions. I do yoga, drink herbal teas, take an herbal supplement and use essential oils in various ways to alleviate anxiety.

Today I have two aromatherapy blends to share with you that combine some of my favorite oils that will help with grounding, calming, centering, steadying, etc., along with plenty of other benefits.

First, is a massage blend. I chose four essential oils for this blend:

Vetiver: Vetiveria zizanioides; Part of plant used: Roots of grass; Botanical family: Poaceae; Vetiver is strengthening to the immune system, eases muscular aches and pains, helpful for anxiety and depression, nourishing and healing to the skin, is grounding, centering, gathers your thoughts together when you feel scattered in your thinking, is balancing and stabilizing.

Black Spruce:Picea Mariana; Part of plant used: Needles; Botanical family: Pinaceae: Black Spruce is a decongestant, eases minor pain and inflammation, is antimicrobial, antispasmodic, builds confidence, is revitalizing to the mind.

Lavender: Lavandula angustifolia; Part of plant used: Flowering tops; Botanical family: Lamiaceae: Lavender is anti-inflammatory, is good for wound healing, eases muscular aches and pains, is calming and soothing, eases and helps with nervous exhaustion, anxiety, depression, and panic attacks.

Green Mandarin: Citrus reticulata: Part of plant used: Peel/zest of fruit; Botanical family: Rutaceae: Green Mandarin is useful for easing nervous tension, anxiety, depression, headaches, stress, is nurturing, warming, calming.

Steady Spring Massage Blend

In a 2 oz. PET plastic bottle or glass bottle, combine the following:

5 drops Vetiver

8 drops Green Mandarin

13 drops Black Spruce

18 drops Lavender

After you add the essential oils to the bottle, fill the rest of it up with refined sesame oil, olive oil, sweet almond oil, or jojoba. Screw cap on tightly, shake well, and store in a cool, dark place.

To use: Massage into back, shoulders, chest, arms, legs, feet.

The second is a diffuser blend. Here are the essential oils I chose:

Frankincense: Boswellia carteri; Part of plant used: Resin; Botanical family: Burseraceae Frankincense relieves anxiety, tension, supports reflection, contemplation, and prayer, alleviates feelings of despair, is anti-inflammatory, a wound healer, good for respiratory system.

Cypress: Cupressus sempervirens; Part of plant used: Leaves, twigs, cones; Botanical family: Cupressaceae; Cypress is a decongestant, supports healthy lung and airway function, is calming, helpful for alleviating feelings of sadness and during times of transition and bereavement.

Black Spruce: see above

Lavender: see above

Steady Spring Diffuser Blend

2 drops Frankincense

2 drops Cypress

4 drops Black Spruce

5 drops Lavender

Drop into diffuser, fill with water, and diffuse for an hour at a time.

The information I’ve shared with you today comes from my Level 1 Aromatherapy Course from New York Institute of Aromatic Studies.

I’d love to know what you think of either of these blends if you make them. Also, let me know in comments what essential oils you want to learn about or what kinds of recipes you are looking for.

Turmeric, Two Ways (Recipes)

Some of my readers may remember my post from last year, when I wrote about living with Recurrent Corneal Erosion Syndrome (RCES) and how juicing is one of the main ways I keep that beast under control.

The importance of juicing is primarily about lowering inflammation in my body, but I don’t rely on juicing alone to do this job. Enough sleep, exercise, proper overall nutrition, and managing stress levels are also factors. In the past six months, I’ve been regularly drinking green tea and taking Turmeric to assist with inflammation reduction. I actually buy Turmeric by the pound both to use in cooking and to fill veggie capsules myself–it’s much more economical this way.

I love simple ways to incorporate Turmeric into my diet, so today I am sharing two quick and easy recipes: one is a Thai Yam-Carrot Soup recipe and one is Turmeric Hot Cocoa recipe. I’m guessing by now, you’ve heard about Turmeric’s amazing benefits, but in case you haven’t, here’s a link to get you started.

Thai Yam-Carrot Soup

Serves 8, Dairy Free, Gluten Free, Vegan

2-3 Tablespoons olive oil

2 large onions or combination of onions, shallots, leeks (basically whatever you have on hand)

2 inches fresh ginger, peeled and grated, about 2 teaspoons

1 Tablespoon of curry powder

1 teaspoon salt, or to taste

4 cups broth or water ( I used Not Chick’n bouillon cubes)

1 large or 2 medium-sized yams, peeled and cut into half inch pieces

2 lbs carrots, peeled and sliced

1 can coconut milk

Juice of 1/2-1 lime, depending on taste

1/4-1/2 cup chopped cilantro, optional

Heat oil in pan, add onions and cook for 5 minutes on medium heat, stirring often to prevent sticking/burning.

Add ginger, salt, and curry powder and stir to coat onions. Add water or broth, yams and carrots, bring to a boil, reduce heat to a simmer and cook until yams and carrots are soft. Turn off heat. Add can of coconut milk.

Blend with an immersion blender or regular blender. (Make sure you take the center out of the blender lid and cover with a towel if you blend while the soup is hot!!! Otherwise the top will burst off and hot soup will fly everywhere. I learned this the hard way).

Recipe adapted from www.comfybelly.com

Turmeric Hot Cocoa

Serves 1, dairy free, gluten free, vegan 

Ingredients

  • 1 cup unsweetened almond milk
  • 1 teaspoon coconut oil
  • 1 tablespoon cacao powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric 
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/3 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup or honey
  • A pinch of black pepper

Instructions

  1. Add all ingredients to blender. Blend well. 
  2. In a small saucepan, bring to a simmer, whisking often, remove from heat, taste, and adjust sweetness if desired.adapted from https://www.natalieshealth.com/cacao-turmeric-maca-hot-chocolate/

If you make either of these recipes, I’d love to know how it turned out! Or if you have favorite anti-inflammatory foods you recommend, feel free to share in comments.

What is Saving My Life Right Now

How was your Monday? I felt like I didn’t move very quickly from one task to another today. My theory is that my body gets to the point where it just has enough and purposely slows down. The weekend was full with late work hours and going to see my daughter in The Addams Family Musical at her high school on Friday and Sunday.

On Sunday evening after the show, Alan and I made a Vegan Shepherd’s Pie and Gluten Free, Dairy Free Irish Soda Bread while listening to Celtic music in celebration of Saint Patrick’s Day. It felt good to return to a tradition I enjoyed with my children when they were younger and had let go of in the past few years. I am looking forward to the rest of this week and to another celebration– the first day of Spring!!!

So here is where I follow several bloggers who have taken a cue from author Barbara Brown Taylor to answer the question: “What is saving your life right now?” Here is my list of current or ongoing lifesavers.

My Bullet Journal Notebook: I’m not going to stop singing the Bullet Journal’s praises, so if you’ve never heard of it, here’s an in-depth delve from Lazy Genius into the Bullet Journal world. (It really is the ultimate guide and will answer lots of your questions.)


The Bullet Journal is this ridiculously simple analog method of keeping your life together in one place. It works for everyone, is completely customizable, and once you start using it, you will be lost without it. This year, I got Alan on the Bullet Journal train and he’s enjoying using it to keep his life organized. This is my fourth year and I am continually finding new ways to entrust my life to its pages. The good news is, you can start it anytime. Check out the Bullet Journal website for short videos showing what it is and how to use it. Once you start, you won’t look back.

My diffuser: I haven’t been sick once all winter and I credit my diffuser, as well as my diet full of whole and green foods and low in sugar! I have several essential oil blends I’ve made and tested to keep me healthy. I’ll be sharing a few blends this week on Wednesday’s post.

My Blackwing Palomino 602 Pencils: as a left-handed writer, my hand tends to cramp up and get tired fairly quickly. There is a fluid elegance and ease to these pencils that have earned them high praise from many famous creatives.

Glo, formerly YogaGlo, is the primary way I practice yoga. In early December, I signed up for the free trial and never looked back. From 5 minute meditations, to 90 minute yoga classes, from super chill restorative Yin and gently Hatha to a sweaty Vinyasa Flow, there are choices for everyone.

You can search by time length, by instructor, by style, by body part you wish to focus on, by time of day, etc. As I work toward my goal of yoga and meditation everyday, Glo provides me with a feast of opportunities to practice.

Barre3 is the other exercise life-saver that I am in love with. It is a combination of ballet, Pilates, cardio, and yoga and is always low-impact. You will sweat, but you will never jump. Even their Barre3 Burpees are slow and much attention is paid to proper alignment, so my wrists and knees have never been sore afterwards. My butt and legs have, though!

It is a workout unlike any other I’ve experienced and the Barre3 message is body-positive and affirming. They’re never pushing you through a workout so you can look great in a bikini. Their language is aimed at building strength, confidence, and feeling good in your own body. They encourage people to pay attention to how they’re feeling (example: “If there is any tension in your neck, lower your arms, etc.”) and to modify each move to make it their own. Here is $10 off if you decide to join!

I’d love to hear what is saving your life right now! Please share in the comments below. Also, I will be giving away my copy of The Bullet Journal Method by Ryder Carroll and a couple other goodies on Instagram this week. So head over to my Instagram tomorrow Tuesday March 19 to enter. (US only)

The Heart’s Necessities (Book Review)

I recently finished reading The Heart’s Necessities: Life in Poetry by Jane Tyson Clement and Becca Stevens. It shares the story of Jane Tyson Clement’s life, which was woven throughout with poetry.

She began writing poems as a teenager, and that is the way she seemed to best express herself. As a young woman, she married, had children, and, for a season, moved from the States to a Bruderhof community in South America. Jane was a lively teacher and a loving wife and mother, who always had poems singing through her head and heart. Her poetry was wound up in Nature and in the intricacies of her daily life.

Becca Stevens is a songwriter who has been influenced by Jane’s poems and wanted to share these quiet and beautiful gems with the world. She wrote the book with a chapter on Jane’s life, interspersed with snippets of poetry, lovely photos of nature, several poems at the end of each chapter, followed by Becca’s reflections on Jane’s life and poetry.

Like many other offerings from Plough Publishing, this book would make a wonderful gift for a poetry lover or songwriter, or for anyone longing for a glimpse at how the ordinary life is transformed through poetry. It will be released on April 22 and you can preorder it here.

Links I Love

Here is where you will find some of my current sources of inspiration. I’m going to enjoy this windy, wintery weekend, listening to and looking out for the newly returned Redwing Blackbird and Eastern Bluebirds, and keeping busy in my studio making new products for my online shop and Etsy shop.

Music: Alan and I were fortunate to see The Punch Brothers at the State Theatre in Ithaca this past week. Chris Thile is the genius mandolin-playing front man whose voice can soar almost as high and sweet as his instrument. He plays and sings with such fluidity, grace, and energy that the crowd was riveted the entire evening. The rest of the band are all incredible musicians as well, and together they made it a joyful, memorable night for everyone.

Their latest album is called All Ashore.

If you are a fan of English folk singer Kate Rusby (You should be!!!) then you will enjoy Changeable Heart, the newest album by Ruth Notman and Sam Kelly released by Pure Records, Kate’s label. The singing and production styles are similar to Kate’s and made me smile!

Also, since it’s St. Patrick’s Day Weekend, here are a few of my favorite Celtic albums:

Island Angel by Altan

Roses and Tears by Capercaillie (Scottish, I know, but similar style)

Reunion: A Decade of Solas by Solas (Irish-American band)

Podcasts: I discovered a new podcast this week called Herbs & Oils by Aromaculture.com

I listened to an episode on Flower Essences, which opened my heart up to the possibility that there may actually be something to them. There are so many episodes I plan on listening to, so if you’re into aromatherapy, herbalism, or alternative medicine and want to grow your knowledge, this is a good place to check out.

Rachel Hollis’s Rise podcast: The guest on Episode 87 will clear away plenty of excuses for why you can’t do something. After listening, you’ll feel fortunate and ready to take on the challenges in your life.

Books:

The Gown by Jennifer Robson is a beautifully written story that alternates between post-WWII era and the present day. It centers around women that worked on Queen Elizabeth’s wedding gown and although I’m only about six chapters into it, I am completely spellbound and committed.

The Heart’s Necessities: a Life in Poetry by Jane Tyson Clement and Becca Stevens tells the story of poet Jane Tyson Clement, with songwriter and musician Becca Stevens commenting on how the poems affected her life and writing style. Several poems are included at the end of each chapter, making this a lovely gift for poetry lovers.

That’s it for this weeks’ links! Enjoy your weekend, friends!