Evening Poetry, April 19

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Out of the Mist

by Lahab Assef Al-Jundi

Out of the mist of a million probable worlds,

Out of the dizziness of a long dream,


Like a bee that found its nectar in a field of stones,

Or a poet who heard his heart’s music amid cries of war,


The precision was that of divine intervention,

Art born of deeper beauty,


And just like birds find home after a long winter,

And a smile finds its way to a melancholy face,


I found you.

You can find this poem in Healing the Divide: Poems of Kindness and Connection.

Evening Poetry, April 18

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Messenger

by Mary Oliver

My work is loving the world.
Here the sunflowers, there the hummingbird – 
equal seekers of sweetness.
Here the quickening yeast; there the blue plums.
Here the clam deep in the speckled sand.

Are my boots old? Is my coat torn?
Am I no longer young and still not half-perfect? Let me
keep my mind on what matters,
which is my work,

which is mostly standing still and learning to be astonished.
The phoebe, the delphinium.
The sheep in the pasture, and the pasture.
Which is mostly rejoicing, since all ingredients are here,

Which is gratitude, to be given a mind and a heart
and these body-clothes,
a mouth with which to give shouts of joy
to the moth and the wren, to the sleepy dug-up clam,
telling them all, over and over, how it is
that we live forever.

You can find this poem in Thirst.

Evening Poetry, April 17

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When Giving is All We Have

by Alberto Ríos

One river gives
Its journey to the next.

We give because someone gave to us. 
We give because nobody gave to us.

We give because giving has changed us.
We give because giving could have changed us.

We have been better for it,
We have been wounded by it –

Giving has many faces: It is loud and quiet,
Big, though small, diamond in wood-nails.

Its story is old, the plot worn and the pages too,
But we read this book, anyway, over and again:

Giving is, first and every time, hand to hand,
Mine to yours, yours to mine.

You gave me blue and I gave you yellow.
Together we are simple green. You gave me

What you did not have, and I gave you
What I had to give – together, we made

Something greater from the difference.

You can find this poem in A Small Story About the Sky.

Saying Goodbye to Etsy

I don’t mention my business very often on this blog, because books and reading are so much fun to write about. But because some of you have shown interest in aromatherapy, herbalism, Ayurveda, etc., I wanted to share this update.

Today I closed my Etsy shop. Although it was a good place to learn about online marketing, I’ve known for a while that I would eventually leave. The algorithm is always being changed. The fees keep going up. And the policies grow ever more restrictive.

But, I kept hanging on for the sake of my faithful customers, with hopes that perhaps things would improve. But yesterday I received an email about an update to their “Prohibited Items Policy” that would impact most of my listings. I was informed that as of March 2nd, I would no longer be able to say that my products could sanitize or disinfect, had any antibacterial, antiviral, or antimicrobial properties or could in any way prevent or protect from flu, virus, bacteria, etc.

As an aromatherapist and herbalist, I know that many essential oils and herbs do have antibacterial and antiviral qualities. They can clean the air or surfaces. They can build immune strength and are effective allies that help the body to defend itself against colds and flus. This is not just my opinion, but a growing number of scientific studies continue to show that plant medicine can be very effective.

I realize Etsy is trying to protect themselves from legal action, and that’s their choice. My choice is to stay true to myself and the products that I make. So I closed my Etsy shop and will now focus solely on my Delicata House shop, which is what I want to do anyway.

So that’s my story on this snowy winter evening. I hope you are staying warm and well, wherever you are!

Here’s a photo of my sleeping garden.

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.