Evening Poetry, January 21

White-Eyes

by Mary Oliver

In winter
    all the singing is in
         the tops of the trees
             where the wind-bird

with its white eyes
    shoves and pushes
         among the branches.
             Like any of us

he wants to go to sleep,
    but he’s restless—
         he has an idea,
             and slowly it unfolds

from under his beating wings
    as long as he stays awake.
         But his big, round music, after all,
             is too breathy to last.

So, it’s over.
    In the pine-crown
         he makes his nest,
             he’s done all he can.

I don’t know the name of this bird,
    I only imagine his glittering beak
         tucked in a white wing
             while the clouds—

which he has summoned
    from the north—
         which he has taught
             to be mild, and silent—

thicken, and begin to fall
    into the world below
         like stars, or the feathers
               of some unimaginable bird

that loves us,
    that is asleep now, and silent—
         that has turned itself
             into snow.

Sinus Health (Winter Wellness)

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Today on Instagram Live (watch video below), I shared some herbal, Ayurvedic, and aromatherapy remedies for keeping your sinuses healthy through the winter. If you live in place that experiences cold winters, you probably have indoor heating. This can dry out your sinuses quite a bit, which can lead to sinus congestion, sinus pain, nosebleeds, and even ear pressure/congestion/pain.

Allergies can also irritate your sinuses. Mold, dust mites, or animal dander could exacerbate this problem. I invested in a good air purifier a few years back, a suggestion of the allergy doctor I go to. As long as I keep the filters clean and change them when needed, it helps to lessen allergy symptoms. I also diffuser essential oil blends that are beneficial for sinus and immune health…you can read through the list of some of my favorites below.

In Robin Rose Bennett’s book The Gift of Healing Herbs: Plant Medicines and Home Remedies for a Vibrantly Healthy Life she mentions Elder Flower as an immune strengthener and a help for draining congestion from the sinuses and even the ears. She has recipes for an Elder Flower infusion (tea) and an Elder Flower steam to help clear sinuses. You can watch the video below for specifics.

Ayurveda recommends using oil in the nose (and ears) during the cold, dry months. You can purchase a Nasya oil from an Ayurvedic brand like Banyan Botanicals, (US only), but you can also use any plain vegetable oil you have on hand: olive, sunflower, coconut, avocado…All you do is take a little oil on your pinky finger and gently massage it into the inside of your nose several times per day.

There are also many essential oils that will support sinus health and keep your breathing open and clear.

My list of favorites includes:

  • Rosemary
  • Spike Lavender
  • Niaouli
  • Scotch Pine (or any pine)
  • Black Spruce, White Spruce
  • Siberian Fir, Silver Fir (any fir)
  • Eucalyptus radiata
  • Cardamom
  • Bay Laurel
  • Helichrysum gymnocephalum

How do I use essential oils this time of year? Mostly, I diffuse them. I have diffusers in my bedroom, on my desk, and in the kitchen. I highly recommend the cool-mist water diffusers, especially during the winter months, because they add some much needed moisture to the air.

But another great way to use essential oils for sinus health is with an inhaler. It looks a bit like a lipstick tube and has a cotton wick inside which you can apply drops of essential oils onto and then breathe it in as often as you’d like. You can also get a cotton ball or cotton pad, apply drops to that, and hold it up to your nose.

In my shop, I offer three diffuser blends that are excellent for sinuses: Forest SongWinter Wellness, and Breathe Clear. You can purchase them separately or at a discount together in a Winter Sinus Health Bundle.

I will be sharing a video on how to make Elder Flower infusion in Week 2 of  Winter Vitality & Renewal Program. You can sign up and get access to that and so much more! 

If you have questions about the program or content in this blog post, please email me: delicatahouse@gmail.com.

Books I’m Starting with in 2021

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If you’re a book lover like me, you probably feel the thrill of gazing starry-eyed at your TBR pile and choosing a few books to begin with. And you might pick an overly-optimistic number of books to read for your 2021 Goodreads Reading Challenge as I often do as well.

OK, on to the good stuff: I have a list of eight books that I might be reading until April, at least the non-fiction part.

My first few choices for fiction are: The Night Country by Melissa Albert and Moonflower Murders by Anthony Horowitz. The first one is the sequel to The Hazel Wood that my daughter and I read last year. A dark, fantasy YA novel that we both enjoyed. The second is a sequel to The Magpie Murders that was so like Agatha Christie mysteries that I rejoiced and read it several times through.

For nonfiction, I’m going to read Untamed by Glennon Doyle. I bought the book many months ago and it’s been flashing its many-colored cover at me from the shelf ever since. I heard Glennon interviewed on Unlocking Us, Brené Brown’s podcast and immediately ordered the book, intending to read and then share it with friends. Ah, the confidence I always have when it comes to reading.

And Ta-Nehisi Coates’ Between the World and Me was one of the many book gifts from my husband this Christmas. It’s been in my wishlist for a while, so now that I have it, I will be able to read it and join in the conversation.

Two books that I purchased before the holidays were One Small Step Can Change Your Life: The Kaizen Way by Robert Maurer and Designing Your life: How to Build a Well-lived Joyful Life by Bill Burnett and Dave Evans. After listening to several Yogahealer podcast episodes where Cate Stillman referenced Kaizen, I decided I needed to learn more and purchased the first book. The second one came from my desire to delve deeper into joy.

Ever since finishing Braiding Sweetgrass, I’ve wanted to return to nature writing. I discovered Vesper Flights by Helen MacDonald and thought it might satisfy this craving. The Gift: How the Creative Spirit Transforms the World by Lewis Hyde has been another book waiting patiently on my bookshelf for a few years. I need a book on creativity, although Big Magic is king in this genre.

Lastly, my son keeps giving me Wendell Berry books for Mother’s Day and Christmas gifts because he knows how much I love reading Berry’s words. No complaints here! Thanks, Judah!!! Anyway, this Christmas, he gave me A Timbered Choir, a collection of poetry.

And I better not write down any other possible titles I’ll be reading because then I’ll be writing a blog post of purely fiction. I would love to hear about what you’re reading this January!

Evening Poetry, January 3

Starlings in Winter

by Mary Oliver

Chunky and noisy,
but with stars in their black feathers,
they spring from the telephone wire
and instantly

they are acrobats
in the freezing wind.
And now, in the theater of air,
they swing over buildings,

dipping and rising;
they float like one stippled star
that opens,
becomes for a moment fragmented,

then closes again;
and you watch
and you try
but you simply can’t imagine

how they do it
with no articulated instruction, no pause,
only the silent confirmation
that they are this notable thing,

this wheel of many parts, that can rise and spin
over and over again,
full of gorgeous life.

Ah, world, what lessons you prepare for us,
even in the leafless winter,
even in the ashy city.
I am thinking now
of grief, and of getting past it;

I feel my boots
trying to leave the ground,
I feel my heart
pumping hard. I want

to think again of dangerous and noble things.
I want to be light and frolicsome.
I want to be improbable beautiful and afraid of nothing,
as though I had wings.

You can find this in Owls and Other Fantasies: Poems and Essays.

A New Year’s Intentions

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Happy New Year, readers! I’ve been so quiet here and missed this space every day. I hope you all had the best holiday season possible (if you were celebrating a holiday). And if you still are celebrating (like I am), or looking forward to winter holidays, I hope they are happy and that you and your loved ones stay healthy.

The month of December flew by as it so often does. One of my intentions for the future is to have my life so organized that I can take time in December to observe Advent more fully. Usually, it’s a blur of activity. That is something that I will work toward changing.

Looking at January and beyond, I am slowly thinking about what intentions I want to set for the year. I definitely will be focusing on building my business mainly through consistency. That’s an area I’ve failed miserably at in blogging, being present on social media, and in product development for my business. Having to show up for people forces me to be more consistent.

Because I know this, I created my first ever online program that opened up today! It’s called Winter Vitality & Renewal and the focus is on vibrant, healthy living in all areas of life. I’m drawing from my background in Ayurveda, Yoga, and herbal medicine, but I’m not stopping there! Also included are book recommendations, poetry, quotes each week, videos, and podcasts, from many sources. Like I mentioned, wellness includes all of life, so we will be discussing relationships, creativity, seasonal eating, physical exercise, sleep, digestion, immune health, and more. I’d love to have you sign up and participate if you’re interested in any of these topics.

In addition to this, I am working part-time for the local non-profit I interned at last summer. It’s a wonderful opportunity to connect with local residents and share what I’m learning about wellness with the community.

This will also be a year to finish things, or to work toward completion. I’ll still be a student in the Ayurvedic Practitioner program at Yoga Veda Institute for another two years. I’ll be finishing up a second yoga certification with them, my second Aromatherapist certification at the School for Aromatic Studies, and a Liz Steel watercolor course I signed up for three Januarys ago (can it be?!?).

I love to work, but this year I am scheduling in a weekly artist’s date (a practice from The Artist’s Way) for myself as well as at least one of the watercolor classes. The artist’s dates will likely be videos of museums or gallery shows or ballets or musical performances, but that’s ok.

If you are familiar with Elizabeth Gilbert’s book, Big Magic, you’ll remember how she addresses the voices that tell us we’re wasting time/being silly when we do anything creative and the fear that others will think we’re not good enough. Actually I’m listening to the audiobook for the third time because I so need to hear it!

And of course, I’ll be reading plenty of books this year! I LOVED The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V.E. Schwab. I gave it to my daughter for Christmas and she read it in four days and loved it too. I’m currently almost finished with The Midnight Library by Matt Haig, which keeps getting better the further I go. I’m also finishing up Belonging: Remembering Ourselves Home by Toko-pa Turner. This book has gently supported me as I have intentionally worked on inner healing for the past five months. I highly recommend it. And I’m also almost finished with Richard Rohr’s The Wisdom Pattern which put into words what I had been feeling about faith and the church over the past five years. Order, chaos, and reorder are a normal part of life, and especially a spiritual life.

On Tuesday, I’ll be sharing some of what else I’m reading this month. If you’re on Goodreads, I’d love to connect with you and see what you’re reading. Feel free to comment here as well.

Evening Poetry, December 14

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[little tree]

by e.e. cummings

little tree
little silent Christmas tree
you are so little
you are more like a flower

who found you in the green forest
and were you very sorry to come away?
see          i will comfort you
because you smell so sweetly

i will kiss your cool bark
and hug you safe and tight
just as your mother would,
only don’t be afraid

look          the spangles
that sleep all the year in a dark box
dreaming of being taken out and allowed to shine,
the balls the chains red and gold the fluffy threads,

put up your little arms
and i’ll give them all to you to hold
every finger shall have its ring
and there won’t be a single place dark or unhappy

then when you’re quite dressed
you’ll stand in the window for everyone to see
and how they’ll stare!
oh but you’ll be very proud

and my little sister and i will take hands
and looking up at our beautiful tree
we’ll dance and sing
“Noel Noel”

You can find this poem in e. e. cummings: Complete Poems, 1904-1962.

Evening Poetry, December 11

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The Magic Apple Tree, The Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge

by Malcolm Guite

Someday make a journey through the rain

Through sodden streets in darkening December

A journey to the magic apple tree.

And journey also, darkling, through your past

Journey through your seed time and your summer

And through the fall of every fruiting time.

Journey through the pictures packed like loam,

The rooting places of your growing soul,

The subsoil of your oldest memory.

Walk through the outer darkness of the world

Towards a buried memory of light

Whose faded trace no photograph records.

You glimpsed it once within the garden wall,

The image of an ancient apple tree,

The fall of light through branches and the fling

And curve of colour on the golden fruit…

All buried in the rubble of your fall.

Walk through the present darkness till you come

To the stone steps, the lions, the façade,

The white Museum with its plate-glass doors.

Through these you pass and up a flight of stairs,

To find the case and lift the dull brown cover

To see, at first, your image in the glass.

You see yourself, and through yourself the tree,

And through the tree at last, the buried light.

Boughs form an arch, the painting draws you in

Under its framing fringe of rich green leaves,

Beyond the music of the shepherdess,

Down through the dark towards the grey church spire

In to its heart : the arching apple boughs…

The sky is dark, intense, a stormy grey,

But just beneath the darkness all is gold:

The slope of hills, the fields of barleycorn.

The loaded branches of the apple tree,

Glow red and ripe and gold and bow themselves

To bless the fruitful earth from whence they spring.

These colours seem to fall from Eden’s light,

The air they shine through breathes a change in them,

Breaking their sheen into a certain shade

Particular and unrepeatable.

Some golden essence seems to concentrate

From light to air, from pigment into paint

In increments of incarnation down

to burn within these apples and this bough,

Which here and now at last, you recognise.

This is your own, your ancient apple tree

And here the light you buried for so long

Leaps up in you to life and resurrection.

You can find this poem in The Singing Bowl.

Evening Poetry, December 4

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4. Hymn

by Eavan Boland

Four a.m.
December.
A lamb would perish
out there.

The cutlery glitter
of that sky
has nothing in it
I want to follow.

Here is the star
of my nativity;
the nursery lamp
in that suburb window,

behind which
is boiled glass, a bottle,
and a baby all
hisses like a kettle.

The light goes out.
The blackbird
takes up his part.
I wake by habit.
I have it off by heart:

these candles,
and the altar
and the psaltery of dawn.

And in the dark
as we slept
the world
was made flesh.

You can find this poem in Outside History: Selected Poems 1980-1990.

Evening Poetry, November 25

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Woman in Kitchen

by Eavan Boland

Breakfast over, islanded by noise,

she watches the machines go fast and slow.

She stands among them as they shake the house.

They move. Their destination is specific.

She has nowhere definite to go:

she might be a pedestrian in traffic.

White surfaces retract. White

sideboards light the white of walls.

Cups wink white in their saucers.

The light of day bleaches as it falls

on cups and sideboards. She could use the room

to tap with if she lost her sight.

Machines jigsaw everything she knows.

And she is everywhere among their furor:

the tropic of the dryer tumbling clothes.

The round lunar window of the washer.

The kettle in the toaster is a kingfisher

swooping for trout above the river’s mirror.

The wash done, the kettle boiled, the sheets

spun and clean, the dryer stops dead.

The silence is a death. It starts to bury

the room in white spaces. She turns to spread

a cloth on the board and irons sheets

in a room white and quiet as a mortuary.

You can find this poem in Outside History: Selected Poems 1980-1990.

Evening Poetry, November 24

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For Presence

by John O’Donohue

Awaken to the mystery of being here
and enter the quiet immensity of your own presence.

Have joy and peace in the temple of your senses.

Receive encouragement when new frontiers beckon.

Respond to the call of your gift and the courage to
follow its path.

Let the flame of anger free you of all falsity.

May warmth of heart keep your presence aflame.

May anxiety never linger about you.

May your outer dignity mirror an inner dignity of
soul.

Take time to celebrate the quiet miracles that seek
no attention.

Be consoled in the secret symmetry of your soul.

May you experience each day as a sacred gift woven
around the heart of wonder.

You can find this poem in To Bless the Space Between Us.