Friday, January 16, 2015

With a Little Help From My Friends

On Sunday, I fell. It was a nasty fall, in a public place, a store, and was one of the most embarrassing moments of my life. As shoppers and clerks rushed to my aid, I blew them off with brisk replies of "I'm okay. Really, I'm fine." But I wasn't. I knew I wasn't fine or okay. There was an awful pain in my ribs on the left side and a burning throbbing pain in my right shin. I went about shopping, realizing that with each passing minute it was becoming more difficult to take a deep breath and that, when I attempted to breathe deeply, the pain gripped my chest. By the time I got home about an hour later, I was in bad shape. In my line of typing medical reports, I would note that my pain was "10 out of 10 on a visual analog scale". Also, being in the medical business, I knew this subjective complaint translates to "head to the ER".

There I sat in the emergency room for two hours, waiting to be seen, with a sea of flu patients around me. My husband kept making me laugh, the kind of laugh that required a lot of lung and chest movement, Not good! But it lifted my spirits and made me tune out the illness and injuries around me. After a quick exam, a few x-rays, a pain pill and some more hysterically witty comments from my hubby, the doctor came in and told me that, "although fractures could not be visualized on the x-rays as rib fractures so often are not", he was convinced that I had fractured a rib or two but had not punctured a lung. The shin was "no biggie" and just needed some cleaning up and a few ice applications. I was sent home with a prescription for pain meds and instructions to rest, apply ice frequently, and an apparatus to exercise my lungs so pneumonia would not set in.

Back home I went and, as news of my injury got around either through me, the hubby or other family and friends, offers of help, prayers, meals, you name it, started coming in. The house phone rang all evening. My cell phone buzzed with text messages every few minutes, and my Facebook page filled with well wishes and intentions of healing energy coming my way. I was so touched by the outpouring of love and positive energy being sent to me. And with all of that, I settled into healing and recovery.

By Tuesday, I was in a complete fog from the pain killers. I could not move off the sofa, could not speak right, and could not focus on anything. To be completely candid, I was stoned off my ass! I had never reacted to pain meds like this before! As I lay there, trying not to move too fast for fear of hurting my ribs or making myself dizzy, I realized that the reaction I was having was probably my body's way of saying, "Okay, Woman! That's enough! You don't need this crap anymore! Get back to nature!" No more pain killers for me! I started a regimen of a tea for respiratory health, slathering on a mixture of arnica gel and Biofreeze, healing meditations, eating calcium-rich foods, and gently pushing myself to move more, to breathe deeper.

Wednesday I awoke with less pain. I could cough, yawn, sneeze, and laugh without that sharp pain shooting through my chest. I set about my day slowly, carefully. I smudged the house with sage, ridding it of the negative, icky energies of illness and pain and replacing it with the white and blue lights of healing. I played with my store of herbs at the kitchen table, mixing up a bath soak of epsom salts, dead sea salts, essential oils, and some lavender buds, as well as an herbal bath soak of healing and relaxing flowers and herbs. I refreshed the vases in my home with fresh pine branches cut from our Yule tree. I tended to my houseplants, picking out dead leaves and dried up flowers, gently talking to each one of them. At the end of the day, I realized that all of these actions, all of these herbs and plants, had helped to make me feel even better.

On Thursday, I was up at four in the morning, restless, unable to sleep, my mind racing through all sorts of thoughts, from finances to herbal blends for teas to upcoming obligations and back to finances. I got out of bed and struck out on another day of recovery. Being cooped up in the house for the past four days had created this restlessness. I was sure of it. So, I got outside, pushed myself to walk to the local convenience store three blocks away and back. It was cold and slow-going, painful at times and easy at others, but I did it, taking in deep achy breaths of fresh air, filling my lungs with the crisp scent of winter, letting the low-lying sun shine what beams it could upon my face. I strolled along in my best grippy sneakers, chest bundled from the chills of January, taking slow deliberate steps, conscious of every crack in the sidewalk, menacing patch of ice, and sneaky branch in my path. But I did it. I came home to a restful day of watching old movies, reading up on soap-making, paging through gardening catalogs, and chatting online with Facebook and Master Gardener friends, all still offering help, love and, what else, plants to cheer me up! More tea, more arnica gel and Biofreeze, more healthy foods, and a handful of different vitamins and supplements were had throughout the day. By bedtime, I was exhausted and had a really hard time finding a comfortable sleeping position (which for the past few nights since my fall had been propped up with pillows, nearly seated!) but I finally found it and, somewhat snuggled up with my hubby, I fell into a deep, sound, dreamless sleep.

Now here I am today, still a bit sore and stiff but definitely on the mend. I took another walk this morning, this time with a bit more pep in my step. Today is a day of studying and preparation. I am reading up on some more soap-making hints and ideas, making lists of ingredients and techniques. I have another notebook open to a blank page to be filled with incense blends to create. My Book of Shadows is nearby for reference and inspiration. I'll spend the coming weekend making soaps, mixing up incenses for the year, and crafting a few other herbal products. A load of laundry awaits folding and the bird feeders call to be filled again but I am waiting for the hubby to come home from work to help with those chores. Yes, I am beginning to feel much like myself again.

Through all of this, I have discovered the depth and diversity of my friends. They are not only human beings, those people in and around my life, my family, people I have known for years or those whom I have never met face-to-face. My friends are many more! They are the plants in my life - my houseplants, the herbs I grew, harvested and stored, and the botanical sources for my healing. They are my books, those that bring me comfort, knowledge, and new worlds. They are the elements - the warmth of the sun's fire, the breath of fresh air, the healing waters in which I soak, earth's botanical bounty, and the spirit of love and caring that surrounds me. All of these people and things are my friends. Without them and their help, I don't think I would be healing so quickly. I am truly blessed!

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Sacred Spaces

"My next house will have an office!" I yelled from my spot at the kitchen table where I tapped away at the keys of my laptop as my son and husband talked right behind my chair, getting themselves drinks and snacks, as I desperately tried to find the right words for what I wanted to say next in an article.

This has been par for the course here in my house for, oh, maybe a year. I abandoned my old work space, a desk in my dining room but a very peaceful spot, when I got the lap top. My desktop just was not working well for me anymore but is the "storage" space for all of my family's cyber-life. It holds years of pictures, old but maybe eventually needed e-mails, some of my writing, several school reports, and a library of music, none of which, may I add, has been accessed in a very long time. I used to love writing the day away at my desk, surrounded by my bookcases of magical books, my altar a few steps away, with candles lit and emanating positive and creative energies. So there sat my desk, the old desktop and all of that energy in my dining room, unused and untapped, until Sunday night.

The full moon rose that night, although the clouds obscured it from full view, and I set about my usual January full moon ritual, working to bring renewed creativity for my writing, financial recovery after the holidays, and good energy for the second half of the school year for my son. As I created the sacred space for my ritual, something began to nag at my brain. I kept hearing the words "sacred space" echoing in my head, calling to me. asking me to look at it more closely. It dawned on me about half way through my magical workings. Sacred space is everywhere, all around me, within me and without, wherever I am and whatever I do.

Sacred space, for me, is so much more than just a circle cast for magic, that place in between worlds, in between time. It is a feeling generated by a place, by a time, by an action. It is that feeling of peace, acceptance, safety and love I get when I walk through the door of my home at the end of a long day. I am home. It is that leap of joy my spirit does when I am in the garden, planting, sitting, strolling or harvesting. I am one with Mother Earth. It is there when I am curled up with a good book on the sofa, all sense of my own world drifting away as I enter another world. I am living a different life. Sacred space is created when I draw that hot bath and slip into the lavender-scented water to soothe my aching bones on a cold night. I am at peace. It is there when I cook a meal, adding a dash of this or spoonful of that to the simmering pot on the stove, for my family. I am brewing up love. It is there when I am wrapped in my husband's arms. I am one with him. It is around me when I am writing, deep in thought and typing away at the keys. I am in my mind. Sacred space is there around me at all times. I am.

My sacred spaces have just been a bit cluttered, a little frustrating, and a little less energetic lately. They needed some tweaking, some fine-tuning, and some clearing. Last night, I asked my husband to clear off the desktop monitor, speakers, and mouse. After he did that, I dusted, straightened up, and smudged the room. I placed a few crystals and a jar with two feathers - a crow's and a hawk's - on my desk, to help the creative energies to flow. My sacred writing space is now back up and running smoothly. Ahhh, that feels so much better! Soon the holiday decorations will be down and away, which will restore the balance of my home's energies and will make things around here feel less cluttered. Slowly but surely, my husband is working his way through the basement, organizing, repurposing, recycling, or trashing, section by section, shelf by shelf. Just knowing how much stuff is in the basement throws off the sacred space of my house for me! We are back to healthy eating and exercising after all the sweets and carb-loaded foods that were synonymous with the holiday season. That will make the sacred space that is my body feel less bloated, less achy, and more energetic. I have started making herbal products, like teas, facial toners, aftershaves and bath salts, as a test run for a possible future home business. This has allowed me to continue working with the herbs from my garden in these colder darker days of winter, restoring my connection with the earth until spring arrives. I am back to a decent schedule of writing obligations, creating a sacred space of my time too.

So sacred space is more than a circle cast for magic. It is there always, just waiting to be cleaned up a bit to feel sacred and empowered again. Make this month about clearing up all of your sacred spaces, whether it be your home, your office, your body, your mind or your spirit. All of it can use a good cleaning out, a smudging and a little attention. It's made everything around me feel sacred again!

Happy New Year and blessings!