Solstice Rose Essences

Happy Summer Solstice!

Two years ago when I met my sweetie, Andrew, summer solstice has evolved into birthday celebrations, strawberry picking, and anniversary honoring. He’s a Solstice baby, born on the longest day of the year after 48 hours or labor – bless his mama!

I am filled with gratitude for his birth, our relationship’s birth, the blossoming flowers becoming fruit, and the peak of the summer solstice all culminating on this beautiful sunny day.

Our roses are in full bloom so I’ve decided to share this experience of making a flower essence and glycerite with you all.

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Flower essences bring me into the present moment immediately. They involve sitting with the flower in a clear glass bowl of spring water for 15-30 minutes on a sunny day. While meditating near the essence, I do my best to let go of the left brain’s attempts to figure anything out. Just be, breathe, and listen to the inner and outer world.

What are the birds singing about?

Is there wind?

Who are you, Rose?

What’s your medicine for today?

How is your body changing by simply sitting with an open mind and heart next to Rose?

This can be done with any flower or gem stone. I added a selenite crystal to the essence for reasons I don’t yet understand, but the selenite guided me to put it in there with Rose.

Little buddha baby wanted to join in the fun, too. It is no wonder that an hour later I was informed my dear friends had given birth to a baby boy while I was preparing this essence! Oh, the beauty of attunement to the oneness of everything.

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It’s truly a gift to slow down enough to hear what the plants and subtle energy spirits are saying to us.

I let the essence sit alone outside, where it’s never truly alone with of all the plants, insects and animals, but I give it space to absorb the beautiful energies of the land. It wanted to stay out all night, too, infused by the crescent moonlight and lightning bugs flickering magical wisdom. So I let it be.

My prayer is this Rose Selenite Essence will bring joy and compassion to all who encounter it – both in reading here and by taking it physically. All you need is 1-3 drops under the tongue to receive the affects of its subtle yet powerful medicine.

Your turn to make one!

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Send me an email if you want a bottle of Rose Selenite Essence or any others:

Daisy – heart opening pure bliss unafraid of being seen

Tulsi – embodied Queen & Wei Qi immune support

Lady’s Mantle – self-compassion during recovery from sexual trauma

Trillium – triad for Women’s womb healing

Buttercup –  nourishing confidence

Yarrow – boundaries with self & others

Elderflower – respect what is sacred especially our Elders

Vogesite & Rhodocrosite- balance the Feminine & Masculine energies

Emerald –  attracting abundance & financial stability

Calendula – radiant lion who dances inside the soul

Aster  – soft gentle awakening into your inner truth

 

Rose Glycerite Recipe

The gift of heart spirit support and emotional upliftment straight from the garden

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2 cups rose petals (wild rose, rosa rugosa or organically grown garden roses)

2 cups organic vegetable glycerine

1/3 cup spring water or distilled

1/4 cup brandy (optional)

Macerate the rose petals in a mason jar with the vegetable glycerine for 3-5 minutes. Add the water and mix well. Place in a double boiler on low heat to warm the mixture for 1-3 hours. While warming, place a lid over the jar without the screw top to keep the volatile oils and fragrances inside the jar. Remove from the double boiler, place wax paper between the lid and jar to prevent corrosion and screw on well. Shake vigorously until all the liquid coats the roses. Label with date, name, and where you found the roses. Let sit for 4-6 week on a shady shelf. Stain through a fine mesh sieve or cheesecloth and pour into an amber bottle to keep light out.

Enjoy this heart nourishing treat mixed in fizzy drinks, herbal tea, or straight from the bottle! Lasts one year out of the fridge (if Brandy is added) or inside the fridge without an alcohol preservative. Great for kids, too!

 

Blessings on the Solstice,

Hannah

 

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Wild Spring Soup

One of my favorite ways to welcome in the spring is foraging for wild edibles. Having grown up in Western Massachusetts where I’ve apprenticed with foragers and herbalists, I feel confident in my identification of most wild foods and herbs. Although, I only eat what I find if I am 100% sure it is edible. Before making a meal out of anything, I suggest confirming with a local plant identifier, especially when it comes to mushrooms. Books can be helpful, but I never rely on them entirely. The best way to learn what to eat from your backyard is from the people who are well versed.

Two delicious and highly nutritious spring edibles are nettles and ramps (wild onions). Nettles are easily cultivatable by transplanting established clumps or starting from seed. They love to grow in old manure piles near horse barns because they are heavy feeders, which means they are also densely packed full of nutrition.

Nettles are one of the best ways to consume minerals and vitamins after a long winter without fresh greens. They are a mild diuretic which aid the kidneys in flushing out toxins from the body. I put nettle tincture in my Allergy Relief formulas for their anti-histamine properties. The stingers contain formic acid (same as red ant bites) which can be annoying to some, and cause more severe rashes for others depending on sensitivity.

I purposefully sting my wrists and other joints to promote blood circulation. For the past six years I have been stinging my right wrist, which has a ganglion cyst and I do not suffer from tightness or pain any more. It’s similar to bee sting therapy! Try a small section on yourself before going too wild.

You can use gloves to harvest stinging nettles, though I prefer to be gentle and take only the top 3-5 inches. The more mindful and careful I am, the less stings I receive.

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Remineralizing the body promotes strong healthy teeth, hair, skin, nails, and bones. Nettles is your ally here!

It’s so simple to make a mineral rich tea:

  1. Lightly pack a quart of half gallon mason jar with fresh nettles (fill 1/5 of the way if using dried).
  2. Pour boiling water over the leaves, cover, and let steep for 8 hours until cool. This long steep can be done overnight. Allowing the infusion to cool allows the minerals to be extracted. 
  3. Drink 2-3 cups of infused nettle tea for 3-6 weeks as a daily mineral rich tonic. Cheers to healthy bones and a healthy urinary system!

** Other spring tonic plants I suggest adding to this tea are: cleavers, chickweed, milky oat tops, raspberry leaf, and red clover.

Another way I enjoy nettles is in soups and stir-fries the same way you would use kale or spinach.

WILD SPRING SOUP

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Ingredients:

1 onion, chopped

3 garlic cloves crushes and chopped (set aside for 5 min before adding)

2 carrots, chopped

4 potatoes, chopped

1/2 cup shiitake or oyster mushrooms (Fungi Ally in Hadley is awesome!)

1 TBL ghee (I like Full Moon Ghee, of course)

1 tsp. each of cumin, coriander, curry

4 cups chicken or vegetable stock 

1 can coconut milk

1 cup fresh nettles

1/2 cup fresh ramp (wild onion) leaves***

salt & pepper

Combine the veggies and ghee in a soup pot and cook until onions soften. Add spices and cook for 1 minute. Add stock, cover and bring to a boil. Let simmer until carrots and potatoes soften. Stir in coconut milk, nettles and ramps and let simmer on low 5 minutes. The stinger of nettles disappears once it hits hot liquids. Add salt and pepper to taste. Enjoy!

This soup is delicious with a slice of home made or Hungry Ghost bread slathered with ghee, yum!

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home made sourdough bread made by Andrew

 

*** Ramps Disclaimer: whether foraging or purchasing at a local farmers market, NEVER EVER take the roots, only one leaf per plant. If the vendor has plants with the root in tact, kindly explain that ramps take 7 years to reproduce so leaving the root in the ground is crucial for sustaining the delicate populations. Buy the plants and re-plant them in a shady forest near a spring creek because they love growing near water.

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Spiral of Gift-giving and Receiving

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The level of generosity and kindness was truly astonishing while Andrew and I drove across the country. We were on the road for almost four weeks, and every person we stayed with along the way opened his/ her home and heart to us in ways I did not expect for such short visits.

We were showered with gifts, hearty meals, comfortable beds, and even a full tank of gas. I was given necklaces, pottery, tobacco seeds, a medicinal plant book written by a Laguna Pueblo woman, handmade bags, and paintings. None of these items I asked for, only given as a blessing for making the journey.

What I am now able to see is the infinite spiral of giving and receiving. What does it mean to truly receive? Similar to our digestive process of food, our bodies know how to assimilate nutrients and pass on the waste. The wisdom from Milk Thistle plant spirit captures it so well:

For me, really allowing myself to feel the blessings I was given on this journey means trusting that I am worthy of each gift. The moment I forget my true worthiness, I am not only bringing a dishonor to myself, but also to the giver. Breathing deeply while looking into the eyes of the giver and saying, “Thank you,” is creating space in my heart for the gift. And, the more I receive, naturally, the more I want to give. What if our world was built on this level of gift-giving and gift-receiving?

Particularly in Navajo Nation, I recognized a pattern of emptying our gift box to the many hosts along the trip, then filling it back up before our departure. Our box would never be empty. Loading the car up with even more gifts than when we arrived became tradition. It was not an expectation, it was a surprise.

One evening, after I handed a tin of home grown tobacco to the Laguna Pueblo Grandparents we were visiting, the Grandma turned around and brought back tobacco seeds in a small container.  “Here,” she said, “these are from our garden to yours. I hope they grow.” Tears formed on the edges of my eyelids like clouds swollen with rain, eager to water those seeds already.

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Hopi Blue Corn & Mohawk Tobacco from our garden – Sweetgrass and Creosote bush gifts

We brought our hosts, or relatives, as we began referring to each person,  ground Painted Mountain and Hopi Blue Corn from our garden in small pouches for prayer and offerings. I watched the Grandpa receive the corn by first blessing his own body. He held the pouch up to the sky and then the earth and then his heart, dabbing a taste on his finger, inviting the medicine to enter his body.  Grandma showed us her grinding stone, then they took us outside where Grandpa offered us a very large flat volcanic stone from the yard. “Here,” he said, “now you will have a stone to grind your corn.”

Grandpa goes on to tell us the stories of women singing songs while grinding corn for ceremonies. Tears welled up once again, reminding me of the dozens of stories Andrew tells about meeting relatives during his walk across America when he was 23-years-old. “It’s happening again,” he says, referring to the endless generosity washing over us.

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The next evening we had dinner with a father and son who met Andrew during his walk in 2012. Not only did they bring him a bag of Snickers bars and water bottles while he walked across the unforgiving desert, these relatives flew to California where they greeted him at the ocean upon completing the 4,000 mile journey. Then, they led a ceremony for him back on the East Coast at Andrew’s starting point to symbolize the entrance into manhood. They said, “When you walked through our land, we called you ‘boy who walks.’ Now, you have a new name, ‘man who walks for us.'”

Andrew hadn’t seen these uncles in six years. When we arrived to their home north of Window Rock, they wrapped a beautiful wool blanket around us, sprinkled corn pollen on our heads and pulled us in for a long hug. To be in honest, I was thinking, “Is this really happening, again?” Complete “strangers” just wrapped me in a blanket in a place I’ve never been before. I now know that family is every where. And we’re all just like corn pollen, floating through the wind, hoping to land somewhere full of love, generosity and kindness. The more we can receive the love, the more we can give others.

 

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Armed with Compassion

IMG_0281In all honesty, I’ve considered changing the name of my blog or starting a new one many times because the word “justice” can be misunderstood. Justice, to me, does not imply there is a good side and a bad side; an evil enemy and a loving hero, or that anyone needs to be condemned. Justice lies in the equity of all people and beings we live with on Mother Earth. To me, the root of justice is peace and interbeing.

Part of living in peace means remembering our interconnectedness with everything. We are visitors here, on Earth while we’re embodied as human, plant, animal, fungi, rock, or microbe. There is no “better than,” or “less than” for being an ant or the tall tree which the ant crawls upon. Suffering occurs the moment we believe we are separate from one another, separate from the Pachamama, Great Mother Earth. This quote by Thich Nhat Hahn describes interbeing beautifully.

In the midst of another tragic school shooting, I watch my mind attempt to blame, shame, and separate myself from the President, the NRA, the Shooter. “This is insanity!” I want to scream until “they” wake up- as if I’m awake and separate, even better than those men and women in support of arming school teachers.

Once I’ve allowed myself to feel the rage and judgments, because shoving it down is merely fuel for violence in the future, I dig to find the truth beneath my anger. I try to imagine myself in the shoes of the Shooter. I recall a poem, Call Me By My True Names,  which Thich Nhat Hahn wrote after receiving a tragic letter.

“I am the twelve-year-old girl, refugee on a small boat,

who throws herself into the ocean after being raped by a sea pirate,

and I am the pirate, my heart not yet capable of seeing and loving.”

I believe the line, “my heart yet not capable of seeing and loving” is the root of suffering, the root of violence, the root of school shootings. I ask you all, beloveds, what is your heart not yet capable of seeing and loving about yourself, your community, your work, your country?

My hope is that this inner exploration can be shared together, that we may be vulnerable enough with one another so that we can open the door of our hearts to compassion. This is not a time for being passive or believing we are separate, isolated, alone.  It is another opportunity to find compassion in our hearts for everyone. Instead of arming our teachers with weapons that have the potential to end another’s life, why not arm them with the wisdom to teach our children the bravery of non-violence?

Nonviolence means an ocean of compassion. It means shedding from us every trace of ill will for others. It does not mean abjectness or timidity, or fleeing in fear. It means, on the contrary, firmness of mind and courage, a resolute spirit.” – Mahatma Gandhi

Let us join together to envision and activate plans for rebuilding our nation, our schools, and our minds from a foundation of peace and justice for all. Everyday is a new opportunity to begin again. This time, let us include the voices of our Children, our Mothers and our Sisters. The Founding Fathers needed all of us back then when their hearts and minds were clear enough to say:

Observe good faith and justice towards all nations. Cultivate peace and harmony with all.” —George Washington

and

“Educate and inform the whole mass of the people. Enable them to see that it is their interest to preserve peace and order, and they will preserve them.”

—Thomas Jefferson

Unfortunately, they were still far too distressed to see their innate interbeing with the original inhabitants of  land upon which America was founded. Sadly, this lack of compassion or foresight led to the genocide of indigenous tribes who lived here long before white immigrants arrived.

Now, this nation needs all of us more than ever. Our children need us. Listen to them, listen to their screams. Open your hearts to one another. Show the children that you care and trust that they, too, have potential to lead this nation. The end of war is only possible when we create peace within our own homes.

Feeling discouraged already? I’ll never forget the moment I expressed grief and despair about the violence in our world to my friend Darryl, a Navajo medicine man.  He said, “You have a beautiful garden, so water your garden.” I understand this offering as a reminder to take care of your home, family, community, and the land which gives you life. Start with the place you can have the most influence – with yourself.

Grab a trusted friend and be seen in your fears, hopes, and emotions together. Cry, a lot. It helps move walls damming up your inner courage, your brilliance. Peace begins inside you and ripples out further than you’ll ever know. I believe in you. You are so brave. I invite you to be armed with an indestructible weapon, compassion. 

If we are to teach real peace in this world, and if we are to carry on a real war against war, we shall have to begin with the children.”  – Mahatma Gandhi

 

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In Service to the Heart

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“When it comes to healing, when it comes to aging, we admire that eighty-year-old guy who runs a marathon. We want to see that proof that mind can overcome matter because the body is going to be what ends up shutting down. But you need all kinds of strength. You need to be able to also- and it’s an overused word- ‘surrender.’ Being more present, surrendering into the world, feeling more. I don’t mean intellectually. I mean literally having your body as if you’re getting hugged like my son. But your heart feels vulnerable when you let yourself be in the world like that. That’s why we avoid it. Dominance over our bodies is what human beings have done for thousands of years, whether over nature or over each other. That’s one thing we want in our tool belt- to use will when you need to have it. But we are just on the beginning of realizing that there are many other ways to integrate with body. And, in fact, I believe our human survival over time is going to depend on getting much more subtly aware of bodies.” – Matthew Sanford

Bodies. How many of you have cultivated a relationship with the body you’re in? What is that like, to be in a body that is finite? For me, it’s mostly humbling. Each day, each moment, each millisecond, our bodies are doing things we can hardly understand. That is why I slow down and listen to the silence. Because inside, under the flesh, magic is happening. What is so humbling about being in a body is that I will never be 100% in control. When I think of the word “surrender” as Sanford uses above, I feel gratitude to even be here, right now, on planet Earth, inside this temple called body.

In Spanish, “cuerpo” means body. “Cuerpo y alma,” body and spirit, which also is used interchangeably as “heart and spirit. Body is heart. Similar to how the Five Element Chinese System views the organs and how they relate to one another. Everything is in service to the heart. The heart is the Queen, your Queen. So, treating our bodies like Queens and Kings, or Temples, whatever you find to be most special, is the path toward love, the path toward freedom.

Suffering. How many of you experience suffering inside your body? Suffering can be utilized to create awareness of how powerful the mind is. The mind, too, is a great gift. More like a monkey than a beautiful morning dove, the mind can also become a dove. That is in your hands, however. The mind asks us to step into our power, to claim who we are, who we want to be. Surrender to any attachment of this notion of “I am,” and suffering is released, like a flock of caged pigeons freed through an open window. Your heart is that caged pigeon, so free it.

Beloved. You are your own beloved. Look no further than your own body- your beautiful, challenged, aching, weary, innocent body. You are here to serve one another. Befriend your heart. And the body melts into a pool of honey soaked tulsi blossoms. You are nothing but sweet nectar for the bees, anyway.

How will you honor the sacred body you’ve been blessed with today?

Love to each of you beautiful sweet nectar beings,

Hannah

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Love your neighbor

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The hill on the other side of the road, to the east, is called Mount Moon. I discovered this while wandering the forests and coming across a map of what was Hemenway Farm. Learning a place is something I cannot live without. I crave connecting the dots of rivers, hemlock groves, swamps, and ravines. I want to know the land as much as I would a person.

Before deciding to venture outside, the voice of reason says, “Don’t waste your time wandering, there’s work to be done.” If I am present enough to listen deeper, the voice of freedom says, “This walk will change you, take the first step and don’t think too much.”

After the walk, I yearn for more. I want to know what it’s like to connect Mount Moon to those cliffs in the distance. So human of me, to want more instead of sinking into the satisfaction of each moment. My mind wonders where the Moose live and if I will ever come across one? The sun is setting, illuminating the hill with violet blue. It’s time to go home.

IMG_9900Upon returning my neighbor, Jay, is near the driveway. He felled an Ash tree that was nearly dead. The grief in his voice is like the grief of the Ash’s fellow trees, how they will miss their friend of nearly 40 years. In one deep cut of the saw, it is down, the sound of ancient wisdom crashing onto the frozen Earth. It’s weak brittle limbs scattered throughout the snow like shards of glass.

I ask if he’s planning to fell the mighty Birch next to it, who I have grown accustomed to gazing at from my window each day. It’s white bark against the dark forest is like a lightning strike, but longer lasting. It even has a small Chaga mushroom growing from its side, which I will never take for it belongs to the mighty Birch, and I’d rather look than take. What is mine to take? The satisfaction after a long scramble uphill beneath the pines, that is all I need from the forest.

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He has no intention of cutting down anything other than the dead Ashes. He goes on to tell me a story of the first dweller of my house who would stare out his window at the Birch each day. Maybe he and I were not all that different.

“You don’t have to shovel the driveway,” I said. “I’ll take care of it. The snow drift had blown over the drive causing the plow’s efforts to be unnoticeable since the big storm. I had intended to clean it up eventually, but shoveling a 200 ft. driveway by hand can feel daunting.

“How are those chickens fairing?” Jay asked.

“They seem happy,” I replied. “Laying a dozen eggs per day and so far no sign of predation.”

“Ah, well, good,” Jay said. “I’ve been watching the foxes check them out, but I’m glad to hear they’ve respected the fence boundaries.”

Jay was born and raised in the same house where he and his wife live now. He’s never flown anywhere, which for a man in his mid 40s is rare. He is of this place. His knowledge, stories, and skills show it. We feel blessed to have him as our neighbor. He reminds me of my Grandfather, who had a most generous heart.

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Andrew with the ladies – photo by Therese Jornlin

Jay asks if I’d like an extra set of nest boxes for our new layer hens. It was his father’s, who passed away about 4 years prior, and the grief is still heavy on his heart. He was going to bring them to the scrap metal center, but would rather them be put to good use. I imagine him carrying out his father’s legacy on the land here. Tapping the sugar maples, clearing brush, hanging garlic to cure, tracking wildlife, and reading the trees for when they are ready to be felled.

“Yes, we could certainly use it,” I said. “Thank you.”

“ I’ll drag it over. Good luck getting up the driveway, now,” he said as he heads for his yard.

I handed Jay a few eggs for his offering the nest boxes. There is nothing more satisfying than when generosity meets generosity.

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The end of the outbreath

She arrived in a snow storm. Carefully carried home by my sister as the roads slickened with ice. I found her by the grace of god and internet searching. What a world we have been brought into. Quiet as a church mouse was the description the shelter gave her, and a sweet, sweet demeanor. No physical abuse, only abandoned. Her brother, too.

My beloveds backed my readiness for raising this young pup of 3 months. With muddy paws and seal whiskers, she was called Bella. Beauty. Like the way the autumn sun hits the bright red leaves at the most beautiful angle illuminating the ordinary. She was extraordinary. All love this one precious soul.

Placing her paws one at a time into your hands as she greeted you. Person, oh, yes, let’s connect. She pulled people into her love and wrapped them with soft nose kisses. Intelligent as can be. She learned to sit, down, stay, and come in less than two weeks. She was hungry for more ways to obey my voice, which was an invisible leash, or a bond between us. When she listened to me, she was safe. When she ignored my call, it was only for a short while because she knew her importance in the pack of us wild wolves of Windy Hollow.

Two days before she knew me there was Greg and 15 other pack members, maybe 20 including the other dogs. She stayed in the pack, hiking over streams and thick meadows, smelling the life inside each rodent hole.

I dismantled the crate and lay down a sheepskin at the foot of my bed for her. She did not cry at night any longer. She was home, with me, and we found each other, and that is all that mattered. I woke in the morning with her little nose nudging the side of the bed. She never jumped up, only wanted to be the first spirit to greet me for the new day.

It took her several weeks to learn to love walks. To trust that walks out back meant we were going for pleasure, always to return home. She gathered dozens of ticks, dug up holes, leaped over the brook not always making it entirely, her hind legs sopping wet. She shook off the water and sprinted up the hill to the greening pasture. She always knew the path home. And when she was ready, she would take it regardless of where I was, waiting in front of the barn. I learned to love her love for the comfort of home.

Bella Luna was the name she grew into during a visit with family. Only a few minutes with her light and they heard her name in full. Beautiful Moon. We joked that when she’s gone someday we’ll look up at the moon and there she’ll be. We did not know at that time she would make that departure sooner than we’d like.

She taught me to open my heart even when I could not bear the imminent pain of her leaving. She taught me that healing does not mean cured, it means loving the way I know how and listening to the one who has come to my door. When the root of illness is nothing I can touch, I can still offer comfort, full body strokes, kisses on her forehead, my song. Plants are powerful allies, and they do not always cure the root cause of illness. They can offer comfort and ease the body’s suffering as it disintegrates.

Bella Luna was born with a small deck of cards and her time was limited. Her light burned twice as bright for her short time here. The archetype and size of her kidneys would not support her body as long as we’d assumed. “Hope for the best, expect the worst,” was the motto she gave us. “My spirit will always be here with you even if my body fails me,” said this most enlightened little being. Her brave soul did not fear the transition. She lived in the present. Therefore, each moment was an opportunity to love her even more.

Loving someone or something is a risk because they may die. I am willing to take that risk. The heart breaks are always worthy of feeling, rather than closing down, swallowing the fear of abandonment. Deep down I knew she was destined to depart much sooner than I could imagine. She was a puppy, less than one year and still so much ahead for her. And her destiny was out of my control. Regardless, she and I, and Papa Andrew did our best for one another. We loved each other and did not want to be apart.

We boiled strong brews of herbal tea, we formulated tinctures, we made castor oil packs, we cooked every meal from scratch, we grounded vitamins into her food, we harvested nettle seeds, we sourced local meat, we read books, we gave her shiatsu and cleared her chakras, we sang, we brought her to healers, to veterinarians, to gatherings, to rivers, and we prayed.

She lived two months longer than her prognosis. During that time she was allowed to be in any room on any soft surface of the house. She slept in our bed, she cuddled onto the couch, even had her own little throne near the kitchen so she could keep her eye on us while we cooked for dinner parties. She wanted to be part of it all. She knew she belonged. Bella Luna claimed us, she claimed her space and allowed her body to be as it is. She never gave up, as we say, she surrendered to the essence of Being. I called her Baby B, and she truly knew how to just Be.

As part of letting go, we also stopped using the word, “No.” Our puppy training morphed into only love, only positive affirmation. My need to control her dissipated. I wondered why I ever felt like I had to be in charge all the time? I wanted to protect her from harm.

I wanted to write this story of miracles. I prayed the doctors were wrong and that I could heal her with herbs. I bow to the truth of healing. I bow to the false guidance of right and wrong. I open to the impermanence of bodies. I forgive myself. I honor the wise woman inside who is trying to her best. I honor the brave partner I am blessed to experience it all with. Andrew gave it everything he could to care for Bella Luna. When I was hopeless deep in despair, he stepped in. When he was grief struck and questioning everything, I stepped in.

Our strength grew and Bella affirmed us each time we embraced. Andrew recalls the moment we learned how ill she was. We lay on the couch weeping. She came over and nudged his hand into mine. Wagged her tail and walked away. She knew our love. And she praised our love.

Baby B took her last breath inside that frail aching body during a monsoon of rain. The winds howled, calling her home. The foliage broke free and whipped through the air before landing on the earth to decompose. The sound of water pummeled our windows as if the ancestors were cooing her back to the mystery.

While I slept by her side, I dreamt she morphed into a giant blue whale and leaped over my head, diving deep into the ocean. Upon waking, we sang her the song, Baby Beluga.

I gathered mullein, yarrow, dandelion, red clover, sweet birch, tobacco, goldenrod, and white sage for her grave. A tennis ball which she loved to fetch, too. While placing each item to form a soft bed for her, I called in each direction. The wind responded with a force greater than my mind can comprehend, but I felt it in my bones. The rain soaked my coat and seeped down my vertebrae. Who am I but a river flowing down into this deep hole where the earth will soon hold my sweet B?

She went fast and with grace. Dignity, courage, strength, power, forgiveness, light, playful, tender, vulnerable, trusting, she returned. I surrendered as her spirit rose, trusting the heaven and earth will hold her now.

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