Thursday, October 20, 2011

Filled and then some

Today it is cold and it is raining...our front door (remember the photos from way back in September?) is still unfinished, leaving holes in the surrounding wall large enough for slugs to crawl through (and they do - the poor kitties have found out the hard way that licking a slug makes your tongue numb...). There is a large pile of laundry to fold, another to go in the wash, and several piles of Stuff needing to find their way home. The kitchen floor is dirty with leaves from the back yard, there is kimchi needing to be put in a jar, and projects whining from their corners....

I'm leaving it. 

I have days when I follow the mess from one corner of the house to the other, ending up tired and wilted instead of refreshed. Days when the Have To is oppressive and overwhelming and n-e-v-e-r-e-n-d-i-n-g. You know what I mean.

Not today.

Today I'm going to dwell a bit on the weekend past, and make hot cups of tea for my foragers who are roaming the back yard duded up in their snowpants and boots, making something out of sticks and leaves bottles?...

There is no way to tell the whole story of the weekend, are some random, important bits that are staying with me into the colder days of autumn.  Enjoy.
 We drove through miles of beauty - through West Virginia, Virginia, Tennessee, to North Carolina...We were a part of the work crew, which meant we got some quiet before the throngs, and a ridiculous assignment to help people find their way on the top of a mountain. I mean, wow. What a beautiful way to spend the morning!
Jen's way to greet the dawn (and stay warm)
This was The Southeastern Women's Herbal Conference. We were there to learn about herbs, right?
 Turns out "herbs" were only the smallest smidgen of what we learned. I have a feeling each woman got from their experience what they were really looking for - does that make sense? So when I saw classes called "Conscious Dying" and "Earth-based Psychology" in my program and weighed them against "The Art of Wildcrafting" or "Elderberry Tonics" - things I highly value but  that already have a central place in my life - there was such a strong pull toward the former that I found myself sitting in class after class where words like "intuition" and "energy" were passed around.  Where the message, over and over, was Do Nothing. Be Still. Listen.
The message given, over and over, in different ways, was: Find your own Power. Own your Power. When you take responsibility for the Power  you have, then ask for what you need.  We sat there, steeping in the Wise Women still. Listen.
stone medicine
There were what I might call more concrete, "practical" lessons for the having as well.  In a class on the Chinese Water element, I learned about the adrenal system and the kidneys, how to read the signs of a water imbalance, where the kidneys are being depleted, and how to rectify that with herbs and nutrition, exercise and enough sleep.  A class on fermentation gave me a few clues to ways to improve the fermented foods we already eat (and we got to taste some lacto-fermented lemons!).  Conscious Dying not only had us calling on the memories and spirits of our beloveds who have died, drawing our own "death plans" (which looked a lot like our birth plans to me), and writing our own obituaries, but also addressed a document called The Five Wishes, which walks you through making decisions such as who should act as your power of attorney, in what circumstances you would wish to be kept on life support, what words or music or smells you would wish to have around you during your dying days.  She also spoke about green burial, dying at home, and embalming laws (it isn't required, did you know that?).  We learned about the signs of imminent death and which herbs help ease what symptoms for someone who is near death (lavender for anxiety and pain; lemonbalm for confusion; clary sage for sleeplessness).

 The setting was gorgeous, and once the first night of strong winds had passed, the weather was divine. Chilly in the shade, warm in the sun, the moon rising before bed and setting just after we woke for yoga or work duty.
 I was impressed that the demographics of women - 950 or thereabouts attended this year - were so evenly spread across the ages.  Young women, even some teens who had their own program to attend within the conference, young mamas with their babies (oh, brave, young mamas! It was soooo lovely to see them already on this path of connecting and supporting each other), women in their powerful middling years (is that me already???), and the older wiser women, the crones. 
 Quiet women, loudly joyous women, dancing women, wild women, cranky women, curious women...
 There were some events that pushed my comfort zones, which is always good. And there was bhangra dancing, did I mention that??? Oh yeah, that was a highlight for me (no photos - too busy dancing and sweating) (and now I just spent a good half an hour looking up bhangra videos on youtube...the one I've linked to is a troupe from VCU in Virginia, where we were before we moved here. We came across this troupe at a street festival and WOW! Intense).  There was new music (Rising Appalachia - two sisters with some damn fine harmony), beautiful artwork, delicious food, quiet pockets here and there...
 Magic, tearful laughter, deep sighs, surprises, remembrances...
 So happy to have gone. Filled, filled, filled.
some haaaaaappy women


alissa said...

so awesome. I can't wait to hear more about it!!! 3 weeks!!!

slim pickins said...

ali - yes, as you can imagine, i will talk your ears off about this...prepare!!!

JessicaBliss said...

Will you talk my ears off too? Wow Debbie, this sounds amazing. And that sky!

ps my word verification is "pancys". Pants-ies?

verdemama said...

Sounds like a magical weekend, and I'm also prone to leaving the Have To's until I'm ready for them :) Thanks for the link to bhangra dancing. My two youngest saw me watching and had to give it a try themselves. We had a bit of a living-room dance party :)

Anonymous said...

hey, I would like to get to have that picture of you and jen, my sweet sweet friends!