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Sunday, February 27, 2011

Attitude Can Make All The Difference


I keep this anole picture handy whenever I want to remind myself or my loved ones of the above bit of wisdom. The truth of that line can do wonders for a tortured soul to rid themselves of the weight of dealing with circumstances in their lives.

There are often occasions that we are up against the wall and finally realize that we just have to "accept the things we cannot change, courage to change the things we can, and the wisdom to know the difference". Once you fully accept "it is what it is" a tremendous burden will be lifted, and you'll be amazed how much better you feel.

Imagine how FREE you'll feel after shedding those old layers of either negative thinking or the wall of hurt built up from banging your head against the wall.
Once you do that, stand back from the situation and take a look at the new you.

When two people both hold their ground over their differences, emotions tend to escalate and things just get worse. Whether the other person is "wrong" or just a fool about a life choice isn't the point. The point is that the only thing we can really change is our attitude about the situation. People have to look at themselves and be ready for change. We cannot force it. Then again there is the chance it is we ourselves who are driving the other party crazy.

We had an interesting weekend with relationships.
My 18 year old son is very involved in the musical world of bands, gigs and all that goes with that lifestyle. He has a wonderful girlfriend who adores him but from what I can see is letting the typical female insecurities butt up against the differences with how guys and girls think.

Put a guitar in the hands of a guy and for whatever reason it is very attractive to the opposite sex. So you have a fan base who follow using the many means of social networking now a days. You have other musicians who happen to be female who of course will be either part of a guy's band or just around in the musical scene.

My son doesn't see the need to let his girlfriend know every little detail of who he is associating with since it is just part of the whole deal and in his mind means nothing. Sure, any guy probably loves the attention and hopefully harmless flirting, but once a guy's heart is committed to a relationship, there is usually nothing to worry about.
So why do girls have to let their own insecurities slowly whittle things down to the point where they almost create the very scene they sorry about.

It is the attitude that needs to change, the situation is what it is.

Of course, there are dysfunctional relationships where it would be a lot healthier to stop being a codependent and just shed the whole package and start totally fresh.
Stress will wear down a person physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. Don't lose your looks or your health over worry. The subject of our church sermon this past Sunday was "you can't gain one extra hour in this life by worrying".

So take the burden off yourself and turn the situation over to God, your female goddess within, or whatever higher power you put your faith into. Ask for the strength to shed old destructive patterns and make your life what it is you want it to be. Ask for the strength to make do with what you have and find satisfaction in that. Ask for the strength to be happy with who you are, stop comparing to others, and just be the best you can be. Take care of yourself, your mental, physical and spiritual health!

Spring is so close! Observe, share and appreciate the renewed life and energy so abundantly surrounding us.
Check these out for ideas to bring forth the true beauty you already have!

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Honey, How Sweet You Can Bee!

Ask someone knowledgeable in herbal lore what is a favorite, all-around practical gift from mother nature, and he or she just may say the wonders of honey!
Honey is just plain good for you inside and out.
Just look at this list!

1. Honey is an ideal first-aid dressing material. Great for those wounds that just won't heal.
Unprocessed honey can heal wounds, reduce inflammation, soothe the pain of burns and bee bites, all while keeping a wound sterile. Honey dressings won't stick to wounds, which is great because that means no pain when changing the bandages, and no tearing away of newly formed tissue.

2. Honey is great for our metabolism.
Honey does not have to be digested before it is absorbed because it is already the two simple sugars, fructose and glucose. This means the sugars go directly to the bloodstream and give that much needed energy boost.

3. Honey can help with a hangover.
Honey can speed alcohol metabolism to sober a person up and ease the fatique that goes with it.

4. Honey allergies can be helped with honey.
Eating locally produced honey to where you live can help relieve pollen allergies.

5. Honey can relieve indigestion.
Honey enzymes enhance the digestive process to help relieve symptoms of indigestion.

6. Honey is full of nutrients.
While table sugar has no nutrients at all, honey is an additional source for potassium, B vitamins, magnesium, phosphorus, iron, and calcium.

7. Honey can help with sleep problems.
Honey right off the spoon or in a hot cup of tea can help relax and encourage sleep.

8. Honey can help with weight loss.
Folk remedies for good health and metabolism recommend a daily dose of a TBSP of honey and a TBSP of apple cider vinegar in a glass of water.

9. Honey is the ideal beauty treatment for glowing skin and wrinkles.
Honey softens and moisturizes for an improved complexion.

Help your local beekeepers by either planting or just not mowing the many natural plants which attract bees! Two of the most commonly gathered types of honey are wildflower honey and clover honey. Wildflowers do include the many so called weeds that grow along roadsides, fields and meadows. When they flower they attract many beneficial pollinating insects. White clover is a wonderful ground cover and is such an attraction to bees that I often try my best not to mow over them when cutting the grass.

Please avoid herbacide and pesticide on your lawns and gardens. Too often they destroy as many good guys along with the pests. The beneficial insects help keep the pest population in balance, as do the birds. Remember that many of those caterpillars will become the "flying flowers" we so enjoy fluttering around. A healthy balance of prey and predator keeps things in check without us humans feeling the need to interfere and control.

In case you worry about an increased risk for bee stings, from my experience these types of bees mainly mind their own business and usually only sting if they feel threatened. They just do their thing and I do mine. Familiarize yourself with the common weed called plantain. Should you get stung, gather some of this plant and chew it into a poultice and apply to the bite. You'll be amazed how quickly it can neutralize the pain.

Here is a list of ideas for your landscape or garden plans

Perennials: Milkweed, Goldenrod, Coltsfoot, Lavender, Thyme, Mints, Melissa, Tansy, Yarrow, Asters, Veronica, Globe thistle

Annuals: White and Yellow Clover, Borage, Coriander, Sunflowers, Cornflower

Shrubs: Wild Rose (Dog Rose), Elderberry, Barberry, Hawthorn, Willows

Trees: Black Locust, Willows, Oaks

Meadow Muffin Gardens carries two wonderful honey items!

Should you ever visit an apiary take note the condition of the beekeeper's hands during honey season. Most likely they will be soft and smooth. Honey is a natural humectant which means it retains moisture. Exposure to environmental factors and chemical agents hinder our skin's ability to stay hydrated. Not only does honey help dry skin cells to plump up and wrinkles smooth away, it also contains natural antioxidant properties that aid in skin rejuvenation. Watch minor acne flare-ups disappear as honey's antimicrobial properties hinder bacterial growth.

Honeybee facial wash combines the beauty aid of honey with another humectant, glycerin, and the gentle action of castile soap. Castile soap is a basic liquid soap without harsh ingredients that strip delicate skin of its natural oils. Add the uplifting aroma of sweet orange essential oil and you have a very beneficial cleansing product. Splash warm water on your face to open the pores, massage a bit of wash and rinse. You'll find your face feeling soft and refreshed without that dry, tightness which often follows the use of facial cleansers. Apply a bit of moisturizer if desired and enjoy your glowing complexion.

Let the bees help you maintain a beautiful complexion. Wildflower and clover honey already have the beneficial attributes of these herbs within the honey itself.

Honey is a natural humectant which means it retains moisture and plumps up skin cells. The high sugar, low protein content create an acidic environment with limited availability of water therefore bacteria cannot thrive.

Raw honey has a different look than pasteurized commercial honey. It has not been heated or filtered therefore it looks a bit cloudy and has flecks of the activities of the hive, such as honeycomb bits and pollen. Having a high anti-oxidant level and being the natural enzymes have not been destroyed by heat, raw honey is a much healthier product.

Trying to control oily skin by washing too frequently with soap can backfire resulting in dry irritated skin while further increasing the production of oil. Some acne treatments are just too harsh and drying.

Honey all by itself is wonderful but our treatment utilizes the properties of two essential oils. Tea tree oil is a disinfectant and chamomile is an anti-inflammatory, both great for soothing and healing irritated or infected skin. These two essential oils are strong so spot treat first to be sure your skin isn't sensitive.

Ideally you should begin this treatment with a facial steam to open up your pores which will enable the masque to penetrate more deeply. Apply a thin film onto your face and neck and relax for about 30 minutes. Wash off with warm water and observe how fine lines seem to vanish and your face appears more vibrant and supple.

Masques can be used two or three times a week. Take note that it is normal for honey to crystallize. Use as is for a bit of exfoliation as you apply the honey or microwave for just a few seconds.

Being honey naturally crystallizes with time, you can then also use as you would a sugar scrub. Apply a bit to finger tips or facial cloth and use gentle circular motions to cleanse.

External use only.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Mud Season

Early signs of Spring are finally here! Those teasing glimpses aren't yet those pretty peaking crocuses or flash of the first bluebirds. It is when the lawn and gardens are finally exposed again, the snow has turned to mud and I can gaze out at all the clean up to be done.

Branches and twigs are everywhere, needing to be collected for next years kindling before the mowing can begin.

Broken, trailing tree limbs need to be pruned before they rip down the tree any farther.

The grass is a beaten down mess along the paths we shoveled to get to the necessary areas like the barn, birdfeeders, and driveway. The grass always seems to repair itself which is a wonder in itself of how tough a lawn can be.

Scattered stones from the snow plow need to be raked back into the driveway where they belong.

Evidence of having dogs is now quite obvious. At least I know they're staying in their own yard to do their business. We have an underground fencing system which I know is working and try to pay attention to keeping fresh batteries in the dogs' collars. But it so easy to just let them out and not pay full attention to what they are doing.

Today the winds will reach 50-60 mph which to us means the dogs suddenly have found so many new toys to drag around...trash can lids, buckets, battered Christmas decorations. All stuff from who knows where it came from.

I tell the family it's all in the name of exercise. Bend, bend and bend those knees again! Somehow they don't see the humor in that and still prefer going nowhere on the treadmill.

What I am anxious to do now that the snow is gone is walk around and take cuttings from the Pussy Willow trees and Forsythia bushes. Putting them in vases and watch for them to open their sleepy buds is so welcome.

I love to wander around the garden areas and watch for the first peak of green from the garlic and start scoping out this years layout.

Though considered pesky weeds to many people, I look forward to those early edible and medicinal plants. When I start bringing those early tender greens of plantain, chickweed, dandelion and violets to our guinea pig, he is in his glory. Those who are familiar with the sounds of an excited guinea pig can appreciate the humor in that.

Those early greens have been sought out by people for eons for their cleansing and nutritional benefits after a long winter of heavier foods. Young nettle leaves, dandelions and wild garlic are so very good for you. To say the least they add interest to your salads. Chickweed has the reputation for helping with the battle of losing those extra pounds put on over the Winter months.

Have to get out there, the bird feeders are empty and I can hear the chickens squawking. The dogs are ready to come in and we're back to wiping muddy paws and underbellies.
When I have to switch my head gear from my hood to my brimmed hat, then I know there is no turning back, Spring is really on its way.

Two more neat treasuries to check out!

Friday, February 11, 2011

Love and Be Loved

Sensuous Bath Oil

Contentment in this life basically boils down to the need to love and be loved. To feel productive, have a role in something that matters. Should we just disappear, that someone would notice. Even those who like being alone need social stimulation once in a while.
Doing for others for the sake of helping isn't purely altruistic, since if we really examined ourselves we do what we do not only for that other person but because those actions make us feel better about ourselves. The desire to please and help others are wonderful qualities, but if you go into it with expectations of the other person's reaction, you cannot be overly sensitive. Trying to understand why people don't behave the way we think they would, or should. will drive you crazy.

Perhaps that is why Valentine's Day can range from being a day of fulfilled expectations to heart shattering disappointment. As long and men and women are wired so differently, men will always feel they did something wrong and women will always have their hearts in an unrealistic reality. If men could just remember that most of the supposedly irrational behavior of women all stems from the plea to "notice me"! Feeling appreciated and noticed goes a long way in the love bank point system. It's the little everyday things that matter, not the seesaw of going overboard just because it's a Hallmark holiday and then slipping right back into indifference.

As long as we remember that love is a verb; an ongoing stretch of efforts, highs, lows, tears, joys and rewards. What it is not is fleeting feelings wrapped up in emotion or temporary passion. Keep those moments in perspective and you'll be on your way to wisdomville. In order for romance to remain alive and full of hot energy we must periodically add some fuel and stir up the simmering ashes. Remember the actual meaning of the word "passion" is an intense, burning desire for something. Those embers don't spark all by themselves. Throw some of yourself into the relationship once in a while and see how hot your fires can get!

A bit of information on St. Valentine history:
Valentine's Day History

Pagan festivals, Christian saints, Chaucer's love birds, and the Greeting Card Association of America

by Borgna Brunner

Roman Roots

The history of Valentine's Day is obscure, and further clouded by various fanciful legends. The holiday's roots are in the ancient Roman festival of Lupercalia, a fertility celebration commemorated annually on February 15. Pope Gelasius I recast this pagan festival as a Christian feast day circa 496, declaring February 14 to be St. Valentine's Day.

Valentines Galore

Which St. Valentine this early pope intended to honor remains a mystery: according to the Catholic Encyclopedia, there were at least three early Christian saints by that name. One was a priest in Rome, another a bishop in Terni, and of a third St. Valentine almost nothing is known except that he met his end in Africa. Rather astonishingly, all three Valentines were said to have been martyred on Feb. 14.
Most scholars believe that the St. Valentine of the holiday was a priest who attracted the disfavor of Roman emperor Claudius II around 270. At this stage, the factual ends and the mythic begins. According to one legend, Claudius II had prohibited marriage for young men, claiming that bachelors made better soldiers. Valentine continued to secretly perform marriage ceremonies but was eventually apprehended by the Romans and put to death. Another legend has it that Valentine, imprisoned by Claudius, fell in love with the daughter of his jailer. Before he was executed, he allegedly sent her a letter signed "from your Valentine." Probably the most plausible story surrounding St. Valentine is one not focused on Eros (passionate love) but on agape (Christian love): he was martyred for refusing to renounce his religion.
In 1969, the Catholic Church revised its liturgical calendar, removing the feast days of saints whose historical origins were questionable. St. Valentine was one of the casualties.

Chaucer's Love Birds

It was not until the 14th century that this Christian feast day became definitively associated with love. According to UCLA medieval scholar Henry Ansgar Kelly, author of Chaucer and the Cult of Saint Valentine, it was Chaucer who first linked St. Valentine's Day with romance.
In 1381, Chaucer composed a poem in honor of the engagement between England's Richard II and Anne of Bohemia. As was the poetic tradition, Chaucer associated the occasion with a feast day. In "The Parliament of Fowls," the royal engagement, the mating season of birds, and St. Valentine's Day are linked:
For this was on St. Valentine's Day,
When every fowl cometh there to choose his mate.

Tradition of Valentine's Cards

Over the centuries, the holiday evolved, and by the 18th century, gift-giving and exchanging hand-made cards on Valentine's Day had become common in England. Hand-made valentine cards made of lace, ribbons, and featuring cupids and hearts eventually spread to the American colonies. The tradition of Valentine's cards did not become widespread in the United States, however, until the 1850s, when Esther A. Howland, a Mount Holyoke graduate and native of Worcester, Mass., began mass-producing them. Today, of course, the holiday has become a booming commercial success. According to the Greeting Card Association, 25% of all cards sent each year are valentines.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Let Go, Let God

Every crack was followed by a shattering crash of splintered wood and ice crystals.
Fascinating how drawn we are to witness destruction by nature herself.

Such similarities to our human condition.
Tree limbs are designed to give and flex amidst a storm.
Given the right conditions even the mighty oak will be pushed beyond its limits.

So as we build up our safety net of walls, something changes within our very hearts.
Just as the tree limbs are encased in these shields of ice, our inner souls begin to withdraw.

Smiling to the world, though one step out of reach.
The icy weight pulls down a little,
a little more 'till we snap.

Broken branches litter the ground, the fury of the natural world is spent.
Those tears too need to fall, surround you in a pool to drown the hurt.

Show the dark an open door,
Allow in the sun, so full of cheer.
Tears may be jewels, our own to keep,
But let them melt, and smile as you weep.
Let it go,
Let it all out.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

It's Groundhog Day in PA!

Considering here in PA we've been blasted with an icy storm there hasn't been any sign of the sun on this slip sloshy day. So if the good old groundhog did emerge from hibernation, it is doubtful he saw his shadow. Which supposedly means old man winter is nearing its end. Somehow I doubt it. It's been 12 hours and we are still without power, relying on our wonderful generator (which started on the first pull...yeah!)

If you are not from Pennsylvania, you probably wonder or maybe could care less where this silly tradition started anyway.

Groundhog Day all started in Germany as one more way people tried to figure out the earth's cycle based on observing the wildlife. In Germany they have the Badger rather than the groundhog, and when the immigrants settled in Pennsylvania they discovered the eastern part of the country didn't have badgers but did have a similar looking animal, the groundhog.

The Punxutawney Groundhog Club has been watching the groundhogs on Gobbler's Knob since 1898. Another group joined them in 1908, the Slumbering Groundhog Lodge of Quarryville, PA. The theory goes like this..
A groundhog emerges from hibernation on February 2. If it is cloudy, winter is nearing its end. But if it is a sunny day and the groundhog is spooked by his own shadow, he'll jump back into his hole for another six weeks. The point was that farmers were to observe and time the planting of their crops with the true arrival of spring. Weathermen claim Punxutawney is only correct 30% of the time, but its fun for those who get into predicting the weather.

This humorous treasury hits home with how many of us on the east coast feel about our weather.