The Transformative Power of Journaling

I am a firm believer in journaling as a form of self therapy. From a very early age I was questioning the world and myself on the pages of a spiral notebook. I remember distinctly the first time I could feel the answers flowing through my own pen.  Was it the voice of God, my own psyche, or just my brain organizing my thoughts and flowing forth wisdom?  I can’t really tell you.  But I do know that journaling always helps me find balance. About four years ago I read a book called The Artist’s Way.  To simplify it, it is a guided journey into your desires.  Through little tasks set out for each week, spending time alone with your inner artist, using mantras and self encouragement, and journaling three pages every morning, the book helps you find your calling as a creator. Since completing The Artists Way I have written a book, become best friends with a writers group I cannot imagine my life without, started Flora Forager, and signed a book deal with Sasquatch Books…for a journal!  It’s all come back around, and I am so thrilled to be creating what will hopefully be a catalyst for those seeking their own inner voice. People can make it a prayer book, make it a forager field guide, use it to press flowers, or simply write their morning pages. I am so happy to be giving my heart and soul for something I truly believe in.  The journal will feature nine new scenes and approximately twenty-four new animals.  I can’t share any of it online, but I’ll try to give as many sneak peeks as possible!

  

Remembering France

My friends Rachel and Stephanie both went on french adventures in the last couple of years. Steph just got back and her stories had me reminiscing back to my road trip there with Beau.  We were 20 years old, freshly married, and unseasoned travelers.  It was crazy, emotional, and… ridiculously beautiful.  It was one of the first times I realized the best, most memorable experiences are the ones unplanned. travels9-001travels9-002travels9 travels9-003 travels9-004 travels9-005 travelstravels9-006 travels9-007

Three days in the Garden State

This week I was treated to a lovely few days in Lambertville New Jersey to create cover art and chapter titles for Danny Seo’s new cookbook: Naturally, Delicious. Danny Seo is the leading Green Living expert and editor of Naturally magazine, and our photographer was Armondo Rafael who does work for the a Wallstreet Journal and assigments all over the world. (I was a little awestruck!) It was a lot of hard work, inspiring play, a learning experience, and of course…incredible food. I stayed in the Lambertville Station Inn along the Delaware River, where George Washington made his crossing. Everywhere you look in this green county there is quaint beauty, from the Wildflower Preserve to the colorful row houses filled with antiques. I wish I’d had more time to explore, but when the book comes out you’ll see why I was preoccupied. Here are a few shots of my very first business trip.  (If business looks like this, bring it on!) 

    
    
    
    
    
   This last shot was a reject for the book so I got to keep it. The pop corn is begonia flowers! 

Clocks. Lion Fang. Thieves. Cotton Hair. Milk. Child-chain-grass. Blow Flower. Little Bunny Fufu. Wish Bubbles. Fairy wands. Little messengers. Wishies.

 Last night I asked my Flora Forager followers what they call Dandelions gone to seed, and if they have any traditions with them.  

 I could not have *wished* for a better response. People from over 30 countries gave me their names and childhood memories!  

 Children the world over have been spreading those lovely fairy seeds across the continents for generations. Wishes and dreams in every language have floated on the wind over every sea. It was a beautiful conversation to read, and lovely imagery to fall asleep to. Magic.   One person said they had never seen a Dandelion before and it made me so grateful for all those multitudes of weeds growing in my grass. A new beautiful perspective! 

 

A Poem

Fuzzy gray tufts froth around me,

Silver moon, violet sky.

Dark scatters of branches jumble with cold stars,

I breathe crystal air and sharp shadows,

Ice shards cut and ache.

 

Brilliant sparkles scatter through the silver,

Soft mist,  yellow light,

Heat radiates slowly from the pink horizon,

I breathe deeply of honeyed air,

The shards melt and dew clings to my cobwebbed caverns.

 

I, like persephone,

eat my jeweled seeds,

And plunge into darkness for a time,

But Demeter waits for me in her flowered Spring,

And I once again take up the light and beauty that is mine.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The murder of my confidence.

“You wouldn’t understand… It would be too hard to explain it to you,” said the manchild checking my groceries. I had asked him what he was studying at the university. There it was again, my confidence murdered by the quick summation of a stranger. My pigtails, my children, or perhaps just being a woman somehow pigeonholed me. My shoulders sunk a little and I fidgeted. What about me makes people assume I’m stupid? I thought. Beau once said he thinks I love Miss Marple because we have being underestimated by others in common.

Deep breath. I gave the manchild a slightly surprised face and smiled. “Oh?” I asked, challenging him. It was poetry theory. He gave me a weak (and unnecessary) explanation about what poetry theory was.

“Oh that sounds interesting,” I said cheerfully. “What kind of poetry do you like to read?”

He used a bunch of big words and spewed off a few names of men I didn’t know. “….that’s the kind of poetry I like to write.”

“Oh you write poetry?” I reiterated.

“That’s what I just said,” he scoffed.

Silence. I looked down at the credit card reader, my eyes wide, as if to tell the machine, “Can you believe this guy?” Then I signed it with my finger. I looked up and smiled. With all the passive aggressiveness this Seattle girl could muster, my face said, You’re a jerk.

“Do you read poetry?” he asked me. Probably to fill the silence.

“I do.”

“Oh really?  What do you read?” I think he may have rolled his eyes as he grabbed another thing out of my cart.

“I love romantics like Keats and Shelley.”

“huh…yeah they’re ok.  I don’t really like Keats. But the poets I like are a little bit influenced by them. They’re able to walk into a garden and notice the tiniest details like petals and…”

I inwardly smirked as Miss Marple flashed across my brain. Always being treated like a sweet old lady who wouldn’t understand, and much less someone who might hear them give away clues to a murder she knew much more about. I knew a thing or two about petals.

“Have you read Mary Oliver? She writes poetry like that.”

He looked taken aback. I’m not sure if it was because I knew a name he didn’t know, or surprise over me saying the name of a woman….or any name at all.

“No I haven’t.”

Receipt, my groceries were bagged and in the cart.

“Oh, you should check her out.  She’s great.” I was halfway out the door. His mouth was gaping.

“Hey what’s your name?”

I stopped and turned my head over my shoulder. “Bridget.”

“It’s nice to meet someone who actually knows so much about poetry. Maybe I’ll see you around.”

I don’t actually know all that much about poetry.  But my heart burst to see his opinion of my brain go from one end of the spectrum of miscalculation to the other. A tiny and insignificant triumph, and probably silly to write for a blog post, but I felt like I solved a murder.IMG_2008

Beeswax and rose oil and copper and dew.

So I got it in my head that I wanted to make my own scents from my garden. I have always been fascinated by capturing the soul of a place, creating a perfume or spray that has all the scents of say, a campfire under the stars, or a mountain Meadow, or forest flowers in your hair….

At first I thought I’d infuse oils.  My mom and I tried infusing oil with different kinds of her roses.  It was Mother’s Day afternoon and we labeled, cleaned, documented, and heated our rose oil.  It was disastrous. We used the wrong kind of oil and had to throw it all out.  But it was fun! And it was only the beginning.   I went straight home and bought a copper still online. When it came I got so excited I went straight into the garden, picked anything scented, and made my first batch of hydrosol. (The watery essence of the plants that comes from the mist boiled off of the plants.)


  What resulted was a sweet, fresh, strangely scented water.  It didn’t smell like anything in particular, but it was familiar.  I put it in a spray bottle and sprayed it on my wrist.  After the initial strong scent wore off I figured out the scent: 

The scent of my garden in spring! It’s the scent you smell when you walk out the door…bluebell, lilac, honeysuckle…but also earth and meadow and dew.

I’m hooked. 

 My next endeavor was making lip balm.  It will take lots more experimenting before I get it just right, but this morning I made a rose, beeswax, almond oil, beet (for color), and honey lip balm!  

   

 I made one yesterday with lilac and clover petals and geranium flowers for color, but I thought it would be fun to put petals in it, which was just messy so I scrapped it.  Pretty though!  

 And then something wild happened. A mystery rose that has been growing slowly in my garden finally bloomed after two years today. I posted it on Instagram to see if anyone recognized it, and a woman in France recognized it as one used for rose oil in her area.  How synchronistic is that? Just when I want to make rose oil, a rose blooms in my garden that will provide me with it. I guess it’s meant to be! 

Beau says next we need to keep our own bees so we can make our own wax. 

All in good time :)

  
 

The threat of life.

I posted a picture on Instagram that cost me 200 followers and my sanity. People were so upset by it, calling me evil and threatening to kill me. The picture, since taken down because my tender heart couldn’t handle any more, was my butterfly wing pyramid.

Now, after being shocked and hurt by the comments, I began to be very fascinated by the strong visceral response such an image created in people. I had a disclaimer on my subject line (These butterfly wings are recycled from an insect artist who had no use for them for one reason or another. She assures they were farmed and died of natural causes.)

So besides the fact that butterfly farming is a lucrative business for people who might otherwise cause deforestation with other types of farming, and besides the fact that no wild butterflies were harmed, and that the farmed butterflies were not even harmed, these people writing hateful comments to me were bothered by…

The severing of a wing of a dead insect.

(The wings came to me personally as wings, but someone along the line must have either cut them off of the insect, or they fell off and that’s why they couldn’t be used.  I’m not sure).

So my question is this:

Why doesn’t a leather hand bag cause the same kind of reaction?  Or milk? Or the use of antlers in decoration, even the ones fallen to the forest floor?  Or bones?  Or cut hair?

Why do butterflies in particular cause that kind of reaction?

I think there is a deep meaning here that these people aren’t even realizing exists.  I believe butterflies symbolize life after death.  They are this worlds closest thing to magic: wings from a chrysalis. 

I think the thought of a butterfly being harmed makes people feel like a soul, like beauty itself, is being harmed. Their bright colors and patterns, their searching for sweetness from flowers and starlight.  They are our world’s fairies, pointing towards a greater power, mimicking another voice.

I think this world fears death in ways we cannot truly fathom because we cannot truly understand life.

If my butterfly wing pyramid bothers you, I want you to search deep within yourself and ask yourself why. Perhaps there is an answer there waiting for you.

But don’t write me a death threat.  At this point, don’t write anything negative.  Believe me I’ve heard it all.butterfly pyramid