Saturday, November 17, 2018

Special Gifts Come When a Flower Essence Appears to Make Things Worse!

Speaking of Yarrow Flower Essence, I recently did a consultation with someone who was shocked and surprised to have that particular essence make her feelings worse! She was actually GUIDED to take that flower essence multiple times and not just by me. The problem is that she wanted Yarrow to help her feel less vulnerable to the negative influence of certain people around her—she thought she was too sensitive and needed help to cope with their disturbing behavior. But what she really wanted is for their behavior to stop impinging on her daily experience and a flower essence can't do that. Instead it made her irritation with them way worse! Meaning: it was pushing her to DO something about this situation!

We discussed several solutions. Making friends with the people involved and not assuming that they were aware of how they were affecting her was my first thought. After all, you might think that ANYONE would know better than to . . . . but, surprise, surprise, that's often not the case. Some people can sleep through anything. Some people are just so used to their normal habits because no one has complained before that they don't think twice about it. So sometimes a friendly encounter and honest conversation is what is needed most.

But what if that doesn't work? Well, there are many times when we can't change someone else's behavior! But we can always change our response. Earplugs and headphones are a great invention. That's how Paul and have solved our different needs for quiet time. And the saying "Good fences make great neighbors" didn't come out of nowhere! I live in an apartment complex where there is a great need to figure out how to get along because we're all packed together but some people don't seem to realize how their behavior impacts others. Sometimes it makes sense to say something — and that has helped! Other times people attempt to live and let live. This has led to the NICEST apartment balcony decor as people have created attractive barriers to assist in their personal comfort. One neighbor has put really nice outdoor curtains on the edges of her balcony so she has more privacy without being shut in. Another created a wild outside "room" complete with really fun art on the walls and bamboo screening for a visual barrier.

So don't assume flower essences can take the place of action. Sometimes they will push you to actually do something to change your situation! And that's exactly what you might want them to do.

Friday, November 16, 2018

Setting Appropriate Boundaries in a Long-term Crisis

Inner Strength and Protection Flower Essence Spray
I noticed a sudden uptick in requests for Yarrow flower essence products in my shop. That always makes me take notice and, because one of the largest requests was from Los Angeles, I wonder if the fires in California have anything to do with that. Yarrow is especially helpful for people feeling vulnerable to other people or to events happening in their immediate environment or in the news.

We've certainly been feeling vulnerable and completely immersed in fire-related crisis here in Chico! 50,000 people came down the hill from Paradise and surrounding communities hit by the Camp Fire. That's a lot of people for a relatively small city like Chico to support. And a lot of them are our family, friends and co-workers!

Chico mobilized an amazing amount of support in a short period of time. Several shelters opened up fast, an enormous amount of donations have been made, and many people jumped in to try to help. But with 95% of the housing destroyed, this isn't a short-term crisis at all. The entire community is going to have to figure out how to dig in and support each other over the long haul.

When I provided support to families doing caregiving for someone with dementia I had to have this conversation all the time. "Be sure to put your oxygen mask on first before attempting to help others!" Now this is literal advice. The air quality in Chico is currently at 556. That's off the chart of hazardous air quality. Again, literally. I came home with N95 masks for everyone in the family and we're hunkered down inside to keep out of the smoke.

I've been having to think a bit about how much I volunteer and what I do this week. I jumped in to help out at one of the shelters right away and was glad I did. It felt good, it was obviously needed, and it just felt like the right thing to do. I was planning to do it twice more this week. But then there was a Noro Virus outbreak at the shelters closest to us, our car needed to go into the shop for repair, and the air quality index went off the charts. Still, I felt guilty. But then I remembered another lesson from my Caregiver Resource Center days: let other people help! If you always do everything, other people don't feel the need to volunteer. But if you say "no" or "I need help" or "I'm just not available -- someone else needs to step in," more often than not other people will. Again, this is extremely important to know when you are engaged in a marathon like the one we have now in Chico. Pass the baton and rest!

So I gave myself permission and I'm glad I did.

In addition to Yarrow I recommend my Inner Strength and Protection spray for flower essence support. That one has two different Yarrows in it along with Red Chestnut and Star of Bethlehem. It helps you feel grounded and secure in yourself so you can set appropriate limits and boundaries and give of yourself without getting depleted.

Monday, November 12, 2018

In the Aftermath of the Camp Fire

If you can call it the "aftermath" yet—the fire is still blazing!

I live on the north side of Chico, one of the places where evacuees from the fire have been coming, and I felt compelled yesterday to go to the Elks Lodge, one of the evacuation centers, to help out. It was quite the heartwarming experience. A lot of people would think it a heartbreaking experience to be around so many people who have lost everything they own. But, honestly, nothing will help you see the goodness of human beings more than participating in a community disaster relief effort like this. Several people (evacuated people and volunteers alike) shared with me how moving it was to see the outpouring of support. They had truckloads of donations at this particular site—literally, true, we couldn't keep up with getting them off the trucks and into the hands of people needing them. But we did have enough people to offer comfort and help the evacuees find most of what they needed and assure them that help would be there in the days and weeks and, probably, years to come. Several evacuees and volunteers commented on what a necessary contrast the experience was to the distressing and divisive nature of what we have been seeing in the news every day for the past two years. 

I remember what it was like for me after the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake in Santa Cruz. I was too busy being a suddenly unhoused person to even notice whether there were evacuation centers or not. I have no idea! But my next door neighbor and I shared a large tent in our yard and ran around to help other neighbors shut off their gas so the neighborhood wouldn't blow up in the fires that we could smell springing up nearby. And the next day it seemed like the entire town walked round and round the devastated downtown to survey the damage—so many buildings turned to rubble!—and to hug each other and be thankful that most of us were still alive.

There was a giddy excitement in those first few days—like we couldn't quite believe we lived to tell the tale. We were all in a state of shock and it took a day or two longer (and a lot of traumatizing aftershocks) for the enormity of what we lost and of the task of cleaning up and rebuilding to settle in. But, for me, there was no point where I remember giving up in despair. It felt better to pick up a broom and just get started. It actually took my mind off the horror aspect of it all: the earthquake pushed my house off its foundation, shoved my now ex-husband's business off a cliff (literally), destroyed all the artwork I had leaned up against a wall ready to be hung for a show, destroyed the gallery where I had the rest of my work, and threw me out of my part-time day job because the building that housed it was now a pile of bricks. 

But I also remember the great things that came out of this period of my life. Being forced to start over led to me getting the skills I needed on an earthquake relief job that helped me afterwards get the BEST job I ever had in my life (my dream job), getting to build a nicer house (eventually after the FEMA money kicked in), and—most importantly—feeling part of a real community because people came together to help each other out. It's the thing I remember most 29 years later (omg, that's hard to believe) and I no longer regret that we had to go through it -- I've had too much good come of it along with the bad.

I've also gone through starting over one more time since then because of the Great Recession. That second one has actually taken much longer to recover from than the earthquake! The coming together and helping each other out wasn't so very evident except on a family level. (Actually, what sticks in my mind most is how victim-blaming the Republican Party became at that time and remains to this day AND how often the Democrats seemed to forget what happened to regular people who didn't benefit from the Wall Street bail-out)  But, again, it forced changes that I'm just barely starting to think may be leading to a more positive way of being. A better way of life? (I'm not sure yet. Life in Chico isn't like living at the beach was for me.) But there's been, I think, what looks like a necessary redirection of my energy that I believe may be important for the times we live in now. 

But back to the present moment. . .

I woke up this morning with these song lyrics in my head:
Chim chiminey, chim chiminey, chim chim cher-ee
A sweep is as lucky as lucky can be
Chim chiminey, chim chiminey, chim chim cher-oo
Good luck will rub off when I shakes 'ands with you . . .
Now as the ladder of life as been strung
You may think a sweep's on the bottommost rung
Though I spends me time in the ashes and smoke 
In this 'ole wide world there's no 'appier bloke

And I do feel happy even though the sky is white with smoke today. I have gotten to see our community come together to help and that effort has just begun! And I know the potential in this to heal some of the divisiveness and rancor that has occurred here in recent years. How to deal with the homeless population in this town has been explosive—but now we have more than 50, 000 evacuees to figure out how to support and most of them are people we've known and have worked with for years! I have a week off from my new job at Chico State because so many people are affected the school decided to shut operations down for a week, maybe two. People are waking up to the fact that homelessness isn't just about alcoholics and drug addicts and people who are "homeless by choice." It could be any one of us. In fact, if the winds change direction and bring that fire down the hill any further, it will be! 

Some favorite moments from helping out yesterday:
A dad told me they had 10 minutes to get out of their home so he told his kids to just grab their very favorite things, basically what they each could carry. His youngest son grabbed a toy fire truck and hasn't stopped hugging it. I looked up at that moment and saw a large donated teddy bear behind him and asked if any of his children might want that. He took it and broke down in tears because his daughter was heartbroken that she had to leave her stuffed animals behind.

I overheard a young man asking if we had any pillows. I was just at that moment putting a pillow into a pillowcase (the last pillow we had at that moment). So instantly that went to him and he called us his angels.

Many people are in a state of shock so even the slightest loving look and offer to help means so much. Some said they couldn't begin to think of what they needed. So we would take them around and gently suggest things. "Do you need blankets? Do you need socks?" Little by little they would typically come to themselves. "No, I don't need this, but I could use that, etc." They were very grateful to have a friendly person lead them through it all.

The biggest thing was how touched people are to see the outpouring of support. This coming together means EVERYTHING.

Addendum: As luck would have it, almost immediately after finishing this blog post, I got on social media and saw a homeless advocate who just lost her housing in the Camp Fire report that she saw someone on the news saying that he was going to all the shelters to "make sure the donations went only to the people displaced in this fire and not to any of the previously homeless." So much for MY assumptions! Some people are SO convinced that the majority of homeless people are drug addicts and alcoholics and criminals who are mooching off society that they have lost all compassion. Of course, I understand more than most that there IS a criminal element of long-time homeless people making parts of Chico unsafe. I had to deal with it on my previous day job and that has been happening increasingly often. I agree with those that say we need to set strict limits and boundaries on what we accept and what we don't as a society. But I ALSO believe in helping those who desperately want to get off the street get the help they need and deserve. I'm not sure that punishing people for already being homeless is the right way to approach this situation. If donations were in short supply, I might not be so clear about this. But that's not the case. There are SO many donations that have already arrived and individuals, businesses and organizations are collecting more every day.

Monday, November 05, 2018

The Mid-Term Election and the Intention of Trillium Flower Essence

Trillium Flower Essence
In my last blog post I mentioned how I've been enjoying a fair bit of flower essence synchronicity in relation to writing this blog. Whether I choose a flower at random to write about or go down my list in alphabetical order, there is usually something in the news or in my life that I can use to explain what that flower is all about. Sometimes I even feel like there is guidance in the selection.

Right now the mid-term elections in the United States are on everyone's mind. I felt like the flower next on my list to write about yesterday, Tiger Lily, was a wonderful omen for the prospect of bringing more female energy to Congress (and I hope it is!). Tonight the next flower on my list is Trillium and, in context, that is also a powerful vision of what could be coming next.

Trillium Flower Essence is for shifting an overarching obsession with power, ambition and materialistic concerns to one of selfless service and working for the common good. Wouldn't it be wonderful if our public servants could be depended on to do that? The person who needs Trillium most can't get enough! They're all about winning at any cost, acquiring as much money and material possessions as possible, climbing the social ladder, and accumulating more and more power. (Does that sound like anybody in power now?) The person might have been through a terrible time of poverty and never got over it, but often enough this is an inherited attitude or one picked up in the culture in which one lives.

Trillium cleanses the toxins that have clogged up the 1st chakra, allowing access to higher energy centers of love and spirituality. Instead of grasping onto power and possessions as a measure of one's self-worth and feelings of self-esteem, well-being can come from a higher place. Loving relationships, love for the world, acts of altruism and doing what is best for others replaces the self-centered perspective that Trillium addresses most.

Reiki infused dosage strength dropper bottles and sprays of Trillium Flower Essence are available in my Etsy shop.

Sunday, November 04, 2018

Is It Finally Time for Tiger Lily Flower Essence?

Tiger Lily Flower Essence
I've been having flower essence synchronicity for quite some time now. I try (but don't always succeed) to add three new flower essences to my Etsy shop a week and write about them on my blog. I started by bouncing around, choosing at random, but now I'm going in alphabetical order to fill in the ones I originally left out. And, weirdly, more often than not, the next flower essence I pick (random or alphabetical) tends to correspond to something happening in my life or in the news! And I'm very grateful for that because it sure makes it easier to think of something relevant to say.

So today is two days before what is being called the most important mid-term election in our lives and, understandably, I was wondering if the synchronicity would happen this time and what it would be about. YEP!!! And let's hope it's right because the next flower essence in alphabetical order on my list turned out to be Tiger Lily!

Imagine if we could transform the aggressively competitive, even openly hostile attitudes of those in power to a more loving, cooperative and inclusive way of being. THAT is what Tiger Lily is for! It is for balancing out of control Yang (male-dominant) energy with a sufficiently Yin (or female) point of view. It's not about replacing one with the other all the way—that would be out of balance in the other direction. But it is about healing that polarity and learning to use strength and power in concert with love and caring to create a world that works for the highest good of all. (Vote!! Make it so.)

Reiki infused dosage strength dropper bottles and sprays of Tiger Lily Flower Essence are available in my Etsy shop.

Read more about Tiger Lily Flower Essence here.

Sunday, October 28, 2018

A New Chapter Beginning

Pelican Rock, Santa Cruz © 2008 Sheryl Karas
When I was pretty young, I believe sometime in the 4th or 5th grade, I read the book Silent Spring by Rachel Carson. It had been out for some time but had recently been in the news because pesticide manufacturers were fighting to keep DDT from being banned by the EPA despite mounting evidence that it was pushing several bird species to the brink of extinction and was harmful to human beings.

Back when I read Silent Spring I didn't know that DDT would be successfully banned. In fact, I was probably too young to be reading that book because I was truly devastated by it. And I was positively horrified by certain politicians who were taking the side of the pesticide producers.

I didn't know what to do about that situation. Nobody else I knew, except perhaps my mother, seemed to care and that horrified me most of all because it made me feel like all was lost. But it wasn't. Within a year or two, DDT was taken off the market and by the time I was in college the birds that had been on the edge of extinction were making a comeback. By the time I moved to Santa Cruz, CA in 1984 the Brown Pelican had rebounded to such a great extent that they were happily taking over the wharf and coastal rocks and I got to see the results of all the hard work people had done to save them with my own eyes.

Fast forward to today. I did not become an environmentalist but sustainable lifestyle choices from organic gardening and recycling to mind/body/spirit approaches for health and wellbeing have always been extremely important to me. My Mama Love flower essence and aromatherapy products are all organic. But I rarely talk about it. I think my customers often care about my products being organic but that's not the main reason they buy them. It's part of my history and set of interests but it hasn't been at the forefront of my mind. In fact, you could say that I forgot what initially set me on the path of sustainability because it's been so much a part of my orientation that I don't think about it. Meanwhile, readers of my blog know that in addition to what I do for self-employment, I've been feeling stuck in a dead-end low-paid and frustrating day job.

In recent years, however, my political interests have been reignited at first with a passion (Bernie!!!) and then with that same sense of abject horror I felt as a young person. I don't feel like we can take the fate of our planet for granted anymore, especially when our current government has been actively working to undermine so much of what we've worked to create in my lifetime. So I decided a little more than a month ago that I would like to have a paid position working for some organization focussed on making positive change. And almost immediately a job that fits that description appeared in my email. I applied and I got it!

I'm now going to be working for the Regenerative Agriculture Department at Chico State. That's a form of organic agriculture that actually restores the topsoil that has been destroyed through conventional agriculture and even might help limit the effects of climate change by drawing down greenhouse gasses from the atmosphere. I'll be providing content for their website, editing a journal, and assisting with a campus wide Sustainability Conference among other things.

Of course, I'll still be doing Mama Love and intend to keep doing art of various kinds. But now what I spend the most time on to make sure we can make ends meet will be in alignment with what feels most important to me, too! I started this week and I haven't felt this good about how I make a living in years.