Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Exploring Body Wisdom

As I slow down for a moment to notice my cherry tree is opening its blossoms today, I'm reminded of the value of noticing the moment.  Each year this tree only blooms for 3 or 4 days.  It's a special time to be with it emerging in its newness once again!  My body journey continues, the spot I spoke of last month, it has changed, revealing a new layer.

Listening to My Body


My hands meet it, listening, my body moves with curiosity, inquiry...  I draw, expressing what I feel as I notice the shift.  I notice the widening, a softness.  Can I allow the support of my family in? Can I receive loving forgiveness from myself?

Do I have all the answers...no!  This is still a part of my exploration, yet I've learned so much in the process. In what ways is your body communicating with you?  Do you find it hard to discern the resistance from the authentic voice?  To trust?  This path of deeply listening to my body I have found to be one of the most mysterious yet deeply satisfying and hard to convey with words.  The first time my mentor even asked me to check in with my body over 15 years ago I was at a loss...what do you mean?  My head guides me, I don't know what my body is saying!  Since then, much has opened up in my path and I feel so called to share this journey of possibility, this path of self-realization with others.  If this is inspiring you, join me in a private session.  I would be honored to be your guide :-)

And I am so excited to announce a new weekend of sacred sexuality classes I will be offering in Ohio!  The beautiful beings at the Great Lakes Energy Exchange have invited me to their space in northern Ohio to share a deep and powerful Tantra Weekend experience.  I know many of you are in or near that area, I highly encourage you to check this out and join us.  They have created this at a super reasonable rate, see their website for more details.

(Excerpt from April 2016 Newsletter, to receive these directly in your email inbox click here to: Subscribe!)

Monday, October 12, 2015

Listening to My Body: A Food Journey with Orgasmic Results!

"A whole new door to a whole new level, a whole new Universe just opened!

My Love!  Making love with you this morning!  

<I am joyful, breathless and sounds move through me, shamanic, wide, settling, easing... I SING...> 

My body!  Gratitude!  Your body gratitude!  Thank you Spirit, Earth, Divine!

Yesterday on the Land, was one of the most powerfully wide, and present with my sexual energy in delight with ease and spaciousness in nature than I've ever felt [having had many prior experiences with running sexual energy in nature]!

And today, my pelvis, my body, opens even more in deep love making...we step through a whole new door!"

The Food Journey - It's Time!

As I have been living and sharing in the path of Sacred Sexuality for well over a decade, I now see the thread weaving through it all.  The spiral that connects my journey and that I offer to others is one of feeling good, connecting with your power, and a path of self-realization by Listening to Your Body!  There have been many, many examples of this in my own journey...and the one that is alive in this moment is about food and nourishment.  I am now 10 months into a whole new relationship with food, a deeply embodied experience of Listening to My Body that has once again changed my life. This profound Body Listening experience has been very multi-dimensional and has literally changed my physical and energetic bodies in ways that have expanded my joy and presence in life as well as my orgasmic repertoire (yes, they're connected!), and it is now time to share in more detail.
As I do, some of the core principles that I rest in:

  • Each of our bodies have something different to say, what mine says will be different than yours
  • Time and journey and where we're at on our own spiral will impact what's right for us now
  • This is NOT about: "I gave up eating this food and I ate that food and I followed these steps and it worked for me therefore you need to follow them"  No, I invite you...Listen to Your OWN Body for what is right for you in each moment!
  • This IS about: possibilities, things to consider, new perspectives.  I've seen over and over in my path that when I could see someone else doing something or being something it made it easier for me to step out of my box and try something new on for size.  
  • It IS about authenticity...discerning the messages I get from my body, my intuition and Spiritual guidance from those that come from my wounded places, my ego and my control-freak self.
  • And this is what I call a "YES, AND!"  You are amazing AND there may be new possibilities to expand in your power and brilliance.  You're not broken, there's nothing to fix.  This is not about having to DO anything nor about beating yourself up as you start to notice things you may want to change.  Be gentle on yourself.

With all that said, I'd like to share my story, and, I will give some specifics.  I do that as an offering of possibility...there are themes that I have learned about and noticed that are important to the human body.  And the way I did it may not be the path for everyone...I invite that you too can feel really good about who you are by Listening to Your Body!


The Food Backstory, Seeing the Patterns


For me, I noticed the food spiral in my life looks a little like this:

As a kid in the 70's and 80's I ate very much white refined flour stuff. My favorite foods: white bread, white rice with butter, mashed potatoes and gravy, grits with butter, noodles, stuffing, macaroni and cheese, pizza, tacos, pop (soda), ice cream.  Pop and ice cream were considered "special treats", and there was an emotional attachment to them.  I remember being very young watching TV with my Dad and sister, having popcorn and laying on the living room floor and he would allow us to have pop in a cup on the counter to drink because it was a "special treat", but my parents didn't want to risk spills in living room.

Refined packaged stuff was common, eating from boxes and mixes, casseroles and condensed soups. Mom working full-time, now raising two hungry teens alone, as we were whining and complaining "what's for dinner?!" "we're hungry!".

Not a love-filled experience.

There was no gratitude practice for food.

Meals were rushed and hurried.  Fear of "not enough", I gotta eat more, if I don't eat it now Dad will eat it off my plate.  Desperation to bring it in fast.  When we'd go out to eat, which was a rare treat, I chose the deep fried captains platter at the seafood restaurant (the bigger the better).  I chose the fettuccine alfredo at the Italian restaurant, with lot's of bread, and ranch dressing.

In college (late 80's early 90's): I was binge drinking heavily to numb out, and food was an emotional comfort thing, a layer for building armor around my body, and it had to be the exact thing.  I remember a time at my later to be in-laws place where I didn't have a certain cheese for a meal that I wanted and yet when someone ran out to get it, they came back with what wasn't the "right" one and I felt such frustration and anger.  I was in tears, and I simultaneously felt awful for coming across as so ungrateful.  Guilt and shame were now also tied to the food experience.

I ate fast foods often, Taco Bell, processed foods, heavy on refined flours, sugars, grains, cheese, dairy, pizza, deep fried.

Gained a bunch of weight in college.  I saw my weight approaching 200 lbs when I left to begin my career.  Aack!  It freaked me out to the point of action.  I started swimming again. Lost the weight with exercise and a low fat diet - I recall Snackwell's cookies, gummy bears, Swedish fish, fake sweeteners, and very little fat.  All I was worried about was the "Counts"...this is a mindset I see really common in our society, even when someone truly wants to make healthy changes.  Often all that is taught is about the "Counts": how many calories?  How many grams of fat? Protein? Carbs?  So often that's just all we know.

I want to invite a shift of awareness from the "Counts"...to instead what IS the food we're bringing into our body?  Is it clean food, real, whole, as close to the Earth origination as possible?  Not just super-super refined. YES there's a difference in quality, YES there's a difference in the way our body works with grams of lab-generated protein in a shake versus really exquisite healthy, straight-from-the-Earth FOOD (vegetables, meats, fruits, etc).

This mindset is one of the hardest ones to overcome because it's everywhere around us.  It's even the basis for the government required labeling on all of our foods.

So while I USED to only check the "Counts", when I read a label now...it has nothing to do with fat grams, protein grams or carb grams or calorie counts, I don't even look at that section of a label anymore.  What I look at are ingredients...what's IN it?  How is it processed?  I pay attention to whether it's organic or non-GMO or if it has gluten, if it has hidden ingredients (what are the "natural flavors" listed?) and these types of things are harder to assess sometimes.  There are assumptions I have to make now...that most corn and soy for example in this country is genetically modified...so unless it's explicitly labeled as non-GMO, I make the assumption it's GMO.  If I can assess what ingredients are in the food and how it was processed, I can make choices.  If I can't get enough clarity from the label or other sources, the choice is usually to skip that food.

And there's another piece of misleading information.  I see an unfortunate trend in the medical world (and mainstream viewpoints as a result).  I also heard it straight from the voice of my father, who underwent a year of intense chemo- and radiation treatments, the general mindset of nutrition for disease and cancer treating in hospital environments is to take in as many calories as you can, "we don't care what they are".

There's often no acknowledgment or recognition of the quality or energy or vibrancy in the food...no acknowledgement that it matters!  I think this is huge detriment to general wellness, let alone recovering from deep illnesses like cancers.  Our bodies use the food we eat as building blocks for maintenance and repair...so imagine the difference of taking an empty calorie to rebuild a foundation versus the vibrancy of a whole food.  It feels to me like the difference in cheap building materials versus a solid structure in the maintenance of a building.  It can make or break the longevity and well-being of the structure!

So I was grateful to find, and delighted to read about Coco Newton's work in advocating to shift this mindset in the big power centers of mainstream medical.  I have hope that perhaps things will shift to better support our human bodies.  I'll come back to Coco and her work later.

Now back to my food spiral... yes I lost the weight, but I lost it in a gripped way.  I was constantly doing more more more, I embarked on a decade long experience of being an endurance athlete.  It felt as if..."Oh no if I eat one wrong bite it will all come back!"  Instability and gripping, do more more.

Clenching.

Quick convenience, processed foods, wrappers, boxes, plastic, microwaves, working mega-hours, anything I could grab fast was what I would eat.

Diet Cokes. I had been drinking one or more a day through childhood and teens into college. I recall this as my first crack into changing food, I gave them up in the early 90's.

My body released the headaches that had been so common, wow!  A glimmer, I saw only in retrospect more than a decade later, that my Body appreciated the change.

I began drinking more water.

I saw a nutritionist when I was endurance athlete (late 90's), and she suggested healthy snacks, cheese, nuts, dried fruit, instead of the empty calorie, low fat things I had been consuming.  This felt good to my body, I felt more sustained energy in my day.

Then I released my microwave after it broke in the late 90's, and have never had one since.

Indeed, I see now that these have been food shifts on my spiral, one piece at a time.

Opening to New Possibilities


Fast forward now to a time after my Spiritual awakening (I share more on my story on that elsewhere) (~2000):

As I'm traveling around world, I begin witnessing people relate to food differently.  Saw people with their hands over food, praying, mindful.  Songs and prayer circles to share gratitude, during preparation, before meals.  Meditation & yoga retreats in 2004, 2005, Peru in 2006, Egypt 2007, First Vision Quest 2008, ah!  There IS a different way!

At my first Vision Quest in 2008, I had a life changing experience with an avocado!

For the first time I felt held in love around food, being supported, being offered nourishment.  After three days of solo fasting on the land, I returned to receive the most exquisite avocado I had ever experienced.  It tasted so amazing, that I was really shocked.  I couldn't believe something could taste this good!  I asked the chef what he had done...he shared..."well, it's one part your desperation! And then, well ok a little sea salt and lime" :-)  My own body found it magical to receive this nourishment.  I realized it wasn't only about the spices, it was about the love.  As I slowly brought food back into my body after those days fasting, I had deeply embodied experiences that repatterned my awareness around mindful eating.  It opened a door that day, one of the major turning points in my life around food repatterning.

After that I danced in different explorations through the years of 2008-2014:
Vegetarian
Vegan
Raw foods & juicing
Green smoothies
Live fermentation
Never was I rigidly in a place that said "yes this is the only way", it was very flexible for me.

After a significant stretch as a vegetarian, I learned meat felt important to my body, AND then I had an awareness reset around meat, mindfulness in meat.

Started first with choosing meats without chemical processing, avoided added nitrites, nitrates etc.

It became clear to me that I wanted to ingest not just any ol' meat, or unhealthy processing or animals that weren't respected in their lives.

Instead I sought out ways the best I could...Can I mindfully really honor this animal that gave it's gift of life?  Yes!

Can I also find an procure meats from farmers who are local and intentional; free-range chickens, grass-fed beef, sustainable farming practices, wild caught seafood?  Yes, Pure Pastures (It was such a synchronicity that this beautiful store opened right near my home!) is one wonderful example, aho!

I had even released breads & pastas to an extent, but I had not stopped them completely. I avoided foods with artificial colors and sweeteners and flavors.

We considered ourselves "Flexitarian".

Mostly we ate fairly seasonally, root veggies, squashes and roasts in fall and winter; greens, sprouts, berries in spring and summer.

Organic and local fruits and vegetables were my preference whenever possible/reasonable.  I asked the Universe for help in eating more healthy and fresh foods back when I was steeped in a hectic corporate career.  What manifested was the discovery of Door-to-Door Organics in spring of 2007 and have been a regular subscriber to receiving fresh organic fruits and veggies delivered weekly right to our home ever since.

Eating wild!
In 2011, I had what I call my Herbal Awakening!  I began eating wild, drinking nourishing herbal infusions daily and coming into new relationship with the plants right outside my back door.  And I learned a perspective around supplements and capsules that I've carried with me since (reference: Susun Weed).  What resonated was the concept of not using capsules because they bypass the natural body's way of telegraphing information from the mouth and tongue to the rest of the body and the liver as we taste food, so that the appropriate enzymes and body readiness for digestion can begin.  A capsule bypasses that and plunks into the stomach and once dissolved, the liver goes "aack, what's here?!" then works hard to get rid of it fast.  Instead, Susun encourages accessing nutrients from the very bio-available process of nourishing herbal infusions.   That said, I'm now sitting with this a bit as I am currently taking some supplements to support my body to digest some things it was having a hard time doing on its own.  And I am finding tremendously positive results.  So as I always say, it's all about balance.  I am currently feeling out what is right for me, and have actually shifted away from some of the capsules in favor of ingesting the contents directly.  Yet for some, the capsule feels right.  A little bit of both.



In summary, I reflect back and see how old patterns and limiting beliefs set the stage for how I related to food and the building blocks of my body.  As I woke up to see things differently, I began to make changes.  I felt like I ate in a fairly healthy way in most phases of my life (post Spiritual Awakening) when I was actually in them, then an opportunity to see something differently would come in, and I would notice that it was time to change something.  What "healthy" means varies a lot.  I am inviting another way of looking at it...what feels deeply nourishing to support your body with love in each moment?  And acknowledge that this will change over time.  During all of these years that I've just described of my food spiral- in a parallel spiral, I was also on a journey of many body awakenings [these are stories for another time, book underway!] and shifts on my path of self-realization.  The path of Listening to My Body was opening in a whole spectrum of ways.  This deep Listening to My Body unveiled another layer....and in January 2015 I got a hit (my word for when I get spiritual/body guidance that says yes to something!) to do another food shift.  February 2015 begins that journey...

The Cleanse (Phase 1, February 2015)


During the last weekend of January as I took part in a training module of a profound three year program (Biodynamic Craniosacral Therapy training, more on this another time), Spirit gave me a hit...candida?  Another synchronicity... the third hit (I've found when something comes around 3 times, I need to listen if I haven't already!).  I now had a clear knowing to do something to shift my food, and I was guided by a candida cleanse.  There was no specific diagnosis, I had not consulted a doctor in years.  I had been feeling various levels of inflammation, my left foot itchy, my left big toenail lost from marathon running years ago, grew back with a fungus, perpetually on-and-off a struggle, other little itchy things on-and-off, vaginal itching, the inside of my belly button would get smelly, red, inflamed, itchy; weird rashy things, skin strangeness.  Constipation was a problem and had been to some extent much of my life, including bloating and gassiness. Different things at different times, lots of gastro-intenstinal (GI) stuff.  Sometimes gassiness that smelled really foul. Also levels of anxiety and stress, sometimes overwhelming to the point of tears and hopeless feelings.  Most of the symptoms I thought I just had to tolerate... I assumed they were just normal part of eating and living.   I figured I just needed to sort of suck it up and "deal" with them.  I recall a doctor asked me once back in my corporate engineering days whether I had any stress in my job and I kind of shrugged it off, "nah, not anymore than everyone deals with right?" was my answer.  In reflection, I was tolerating ENORMOUS levels of stress and had the body tension to prove it.  I just thought it was "normal".

So I got the hit, I'm supposed to do a candida cleanse.  Did some research, one website I felt resonated is here and I used it for some guidance, in conjunction with my intuition.  Learned this was going to involve eliminating sugar, among a lot of other things.  Hmmm, that shouldn't be so bad, I don't eat much sugar anyway.  Oh wait...until I looked closer...sugar shows up in A LOT of foods.  And the one in particular that the idea of letting go of scared me....Chocolate.  I was a daily chocolate eater, multiple times a day.  I was bound and determined to still have chocolate even without sugar.

Also, the cleanse included no grains and no potatoes which meant - no crackers or chips or what I call "crunchies".  Oh no!  It was a texture thing and I felt it was going to be important for me to have this texture.  I felt I needed Chocolate and Crunchies and I knew I needed to find a way to handle still having them.

 So what I did for months:  I started making my own chocolate out of high quality cacao, cocoa butter, coconut butter and agave nectar or honey.  I remained a daily chocolate eater, it just didn't have sugar, it was high quality, dark, often raw, but it was still chocolate, multiple times a day.

And I made my own raw crackers out of red onion, sunflower seed, almonds, cumin, tomato, salt and flax [gratitude to Victoria Boutenko for the recipe I found at a website that no longer exists, I see her work can be found here].

Awesome!  I've got my Chocolate and my Crunchies...whew!  This helped me feel safe to proceed, it was the container I needed to feel safe to let go of the other pieces.  And so I did, it was a great transition, and in fact shortly my need for the crunchy texture dropped away, so the crackers dropped away.  Yet the Chocolate remained.  In fact, it grew in importance.

With this guidance and my new-found container, as of Feb 4, 2015 I released:
Sugar
Grains
Legumes
Beets
Potatoes
Mushrooms
Peanuts (legumes)
Pistachios, cashews or other mold content concern nuts
Vinegars (mayo, mustard, etc)

Nearly eliminated fruits, then brought them in a little bit...(only about 1 serving or less, low glycemic ones, apple, grapefruit)

At the time I wasn't eating much milk or cream anyway (lactose intolerance), but I was still eating butter and cheese!  We'll come back to this later.

I was eating:
Healthy veggies, lots of them
Clean Meats
Healthy fats
Olive oil
Avocado
Almonds
Pecans
Coconut oil
Sesame, tahini
Cheese
Eggs
Butter
Ghee
Chia seeds
Cacao
Fruits (low glycemic ones in small amounts - grapefruit, apple)
Live fermented foods (Brinery items, homemade Yogurt from whole, non-homogenized, organic, grass-fed cow's milk)

I go for about a week or so, have a bit of withdrawal, achy, uncomfortable.  Some bouts of flu-like symptoms, which I knew to expect as organisms in my body that were no longer of service were dying off and leaving my system.  Then I started feeling better.

About a week or two in...my friend Brian (who happens to be a nutrition/healthy eating coach) asks, "well you gave up dairy too right?"  I felt my resistance, anger, it felt like..."you can't tell me to give up cheese, I mean look at all this I already gave up"  then right away I recognize it as resistance, this was not an "authentic no" message of the body.  It was totally from a wounded-self place. I quickly noticed and felt a recognition "oh!...yeah I need to do this", and I kind of giggled at myself (I knew he was right, as much as I didn't want to admit it!)

So my body said yep, let's try this.  He had suggested just try it for a week and see what happens, and Listen to Your Body!  I felt this as a truth for me.  And so I did!  I released cheese.

The Epic Poop


After 10 days of releasing cheese (released now all dairy, except for butter/ghee and my live yogurt) I had what I now call the Epic Poop!  It was totally amazing, it changed my life!  Wheee!  I remember going "I had no idea my body could process so cleanly so powerfully so smoothly and completely!".  I realized, oh, yes I need to keep eating this way.  And I did.  I started to eliminate in a much more regular way.  Cleanly, where there was a clear urge, a complete cycle, where it was smooth and long.  Instead of in the past -  what I had known was a little bit here and there, feeling super-bloated, bound-up, heavy, feeling like I couldn't push things out.  Or sometimes it would be loose and explosive and uncomfortable.  Not a whole lot in between.

When this new clean elimination started to happen and I started to feel so much better, I was amazed!  And I continued this way for awhile, and then noticed I was struggling with some pieces of it: feeling tenderness on my right side near my liver and that wove into my emotional and family history around anger and the way I carry things. I realized it was mostly working well, then things would happen that would pop me back into constipation again, and I wouldn't know why.  Sometimes, while the poops felt amazing, they were also connected with extreme urgency which made it awkward if we were away from the house.  Or I would accidentally ingest sugar and find out because my foot would light up with itchy redness and I'd go back and check and find it hiding in something I had eaten...ARGH!




The other piece that was happening during this phase was emotional...a huge frustration around having to make everything myself.  Going out to restaurants had been a pleasure of mine and a joy with my family, to occasionally take a break from preparing food and go out as a special treat.  Eating out I couldn't do anymore, not in the same way.  It really became almost depression-like, a real downer. Times where I would just collapse in tears..."really?! I have to spend all these hours and do it all myself?"  It felt so daunting and overwhelming to try to do all this, to eat in this way...and yet I knew I HAD to do it.  So I bumped up hard against some emotional stuff, and what that did was open up some healing.

I had the awareness that while I had been living a life where I had shifted my mindfulness around eating, it was only part way.  When I would be at the point of taking food into my body, I would hold loving gratitude.
Our gratitude stone feels heavy and warm in my hand

For years now when my family and I sit down for a meal, we take a breath together and share gratitude.  However, at the same time, and I didn't see it until then...I was stressing about the preparation.  I wasn't bringing the same mindfulness and spiritual awareness to the planning and preparation.  So basically what would happen...I would wait until the last second, I want to eat in 15 minutes, I don't have anything ready, and I feel stressed and maxed.  Because in the past I could grab that pre-packaged thing from Trader Joe's and heat it up and be done and be fed. And I couldn't do that anymore.


(Click for more information about Rose Khalsa, her Vision Quests and her work)

And so I would be overwhelmed.  I realized it was connected back to my childhood.  Hurry up and get food on the table, and do it fast, and wasn't with love or caring, and there was anger and frustration surrounding the whole thing.  And it was all this really uncomfortable experience.  And I noticed now that I was replaying that, I was doing it to myself!  I was the one waiting until the last minute to even think about what the meal might be, then feeling like I can't get it on the table, and then doing some rushed thing putting it down.  And finally NOW pause, and take a breath of gratitude, only after the prep was done and it was time to eat.

So my eyes had opened to a new way that my body could feel, it was real and amazing and I knew I needed to explore how to make it sustainable.  And I needed some help through the emotional and logistical changes.

I realized I needed some guidance to really navigate this territory.

First some beautiful friends in my life, Janine and Milagros, helped me to start to see that food could be about Loving my Body.  And part of my spiritual practice.  And so I started to shift my awareness around the preparation... as deep gratitude for myself for creating the possibility of nourishing and loving my body in the way I wanted to.  And as I started to do that I went "Oh!" in recognition!  It shifted things drastically, still difficult, but I was able to find a new rhythm, find ways to manage and balance my time in the kitchen.  I began to take days where I would spend an hour or two in preparation that would set things up for the next several days.  Instead of trying to do everything before every meal, I found a new cadence.  That was shocking to me, I had never done it that way before regularly.  It does take a little time, but what I found was as I give myself permission to honor that time, it does not take away linear clock time from my day, it's weird, it's actually creating more energy and time by nourishing my body!

Also, after eating this way for 3 or 4 months, I reached out to friends for recommendations on how to navigate this realm of food shifting with some professional guidance and started to do some research.  I found an article in the Crazy Wisdom Community Journal on Coco Newton, and her work on functional nutrition and functional medicine.  She had been recommended to me by two dear friends, and this article became the third touch point. Yes, time to listen! It resonated deeply as part of my calling!  I was blown away, I saw her with a background in the traditional western medical world, also share about treating our bodies in ways that resonated deeply with me.  That we are whole beings, how we move and process and relate with food and the world around us are all connected.  So what our childhood life was like is absolutely going to have an impact on how our body processes things.  The approach being taken with functional medicine was one of nutrition and wholeness as balance for wellness, AND for treating physical ailments.  Coco wasn't available for new patients, so she referred me to Aarti Batavia a Registered Dietician and Functional Medicine Practitioner.  I was excited, I could feel the potency as I reached out to connect with Aarti!

The Reset (Phase 2, June 2015)


Aarti and I began with an extensive intake and life timeline
Aarti and I started our journey in June 2015, where she had me complete a 20 page intake and a 3 day food diary, that captured my whole history.  This was not only the typical family medical history questions, but also included my own journey of my whole life, emotions, mental, physical body, my spiritual journey.  The holistic view.  She created this exquisite timeline that showed how this journey through my life wove together with relevance to my present experiences, and she was able articulate back to me so much.  In our first session, I was blown away, the first thing that came up...she invited me to go back to the place of my grandparents, to find forgiveness in my lineage! And wow was this so true!  I could feel it resonate, she hit a theme I had been stuck with and had been working with for myself.  That emotional & spiritual piece in balance with the mental and physical.  This was the beauty, the balance of the planning and analytical with the intuitive and holistic and spatial, the balance of complementary approaches is what is so important for me, and I saw this in my relationship with Aarti, her capacity and willingness to bring in both.  So now in addition to those broader emotional body messages, she encouraged doing some testing to get into some specifics.  She recommended a food sensitivity test of 150 items (120 foods and 30 chemicals?).  It's a Mediator Release Test...testing a facet of the body's immune response...ranking each of the tested substances by my own personal reactivity to them.  The results are different for each person, and they are the basis for a unique food re-introduction plan that follows.  The idea is that for the next several months I will be eating nothing that has not been tested, and I will begin, gradually, with only the foods my body says "Yes" to as indicated by a low immune reaction.  The test required a blood draw at the lab, then a trip to FedEx where I dropped off my blood for an overnight journey to Florida, sending it off with gratitude and blessings!

Once the results came back, we met again and reviewed them.  At first she showed me the list of foods to which my body had reacted (had a "Food Sensitivity" immune response).



Those with a Moderate Reaction were noted in Yellow, and those with a Strong Reaction were noted in Red, with the remaining low reactive items noted in Green.  The full list of Yellow and Red is below.

   The plan was to eliminate anything that tested highly reactive (Red) for 6 months, and eliminate those that tested moderately reactive (Yellow) for 3 months.  I felt huge resistance again!  The things that showed up that I was sensitive to, some of them were foods that had become staples for me in the way I had been eating since February!  To name a few:
Avocado
Almonds
Sesame
Grapefruit
Yogurt
Pecans

Plus, to my great dismay, two things showed up on the list that I feared.  I feared it because I knew it meant I had to eliminate something else.  Something that had been a daily staple for many years.  The very thing I worked so diligently around when I did the last food shift. The two things were:
Cocoa
Caffeine
I was in disbelief...my body was reacting to two components of my favorite food...Chocolate!



So I was like "What do you mean?  This is all I've been eating, how am I going to eat?!" Aarti smiles and shows me the list.

My game plan, food logs, lists of allowed foods, planned added foods,
supplement spreadsheet all found a home at our dinner table!
Aarti recommended a protocol to reset my diet to eating nothing other than about 30 of those foods that my body indicated caused the least reactivity.   I call this phase of my journey "The Reset".  The Reset began with the calmest ease for my immune system.  This concept resonated deeply, "ImmunoCalm" was one of the words in the paperwork about this food program, ah yes!  That feels right.  Let's calm the noisy messages of reactive responses, Listen to My Body, and let it be heard in relative stillness!

So on July 16th, I begin with eating only those foods on the low reactive (green) list, bring in from the bottom up, slowly.  We even brought in items in categories I had been avoiding during my Cleanse phase: grains and legumes, this surprised me and I wasn't sure how it would feel yet I trusted the process, it felt right.  The initial list consisted of about 30 foods.



For the first 3 weeks, I reset to eating only these.  I ingested nothing that was not on that list.  I even brushed my teeth with baking soda instead of what I considered to be a very healthy option toothpaste I had been using (Fennel, non-fluoride from Trader Joe's).

And with The Reset, I eliminated all those others on the Yellow and Red list that I was reactive to.  And those included Chocolate.

Recall that chocolate had continued as a daily thing, even as I did the Cleanse in February through June.  So now as I start the Reset - Phase 2,  I had to give up chocolate?!  At first I was like OHHH NO!  That was the one last thing!...having given up grains and pasta and cheese...I just didn't think I could do it, really?  I'm reactive to chocolate?!...and yet as I moved quickly thru that denial phase (only a few minutes to an hour or so this time!) I realized yep, that's absolutely what I have to do.  And so I did.  And I did ceremony to do it.

Releasing Chocolate -  Another lesson in Letting Go!


Recall it was not just cocoa, but also caffeine that sparked the elimination of chocolate.  I had to take a moment to reflect on caffeine for myself.  I realized I had not been eating any other caffeine sources.  Never was I a coffee drinker, or caffeinated tea drinker...I always drank herbal teas, if any at all.  I used to have caffeine in the Diet Coke days but that ended in the 90's.  So I never thought of myself as ingesting much caffeine, except for the chocolate of course, but it didn't seem like I was eating the chocolate for the caffeine it was for the chocolate.  For what that is worth, anyway!  Now I knew I had to give up both cocoa and caffeine.

There were times back in The Cleanse Phase that I would eat so much cacao, I would max out.  I found my limit. I had a day back then that I was grasping at, I had eaten so much cacao thru the course of the day...I maxed.  Zingy, wired, anxious, I couldn't fall asleep and I couldn't understand what was going on and the next day I figured out how much I had eaten (by reviewing my food log) and I was like OMG I think I found my maximum.

So as much as my ego didn't want me to give up chocolate, I knew I needed to...at least to explore it.

So the day before I was to begin The Reset diet, it was a Wednesday, I remember it well.  That morning I ate a little bit of cacao...then I decided "I'm done".  I did ceremony, held open space and asked Spirit "please support me to release this for as long as is needed and to hold me safely in this journey of resetting my food".  And as I did the prayer and did the release, my body pretty instantly said ok, and I let it go and I didn't have any more chocolate even that day.  This was unusual, I had been eating it multiple times a day.  And then Thursday when I officially started Phase 2 - The Reset, I didn't have any.  And for awhile it was awkward but more from a habitual sense... after dinner I always had chocolate, so the habit of wanting to have it was still there, yet I was able to witness it and not get carried away by it.  And that dropped away over time.  Never did I really have a true craving for it as I had in the past.  That was pretty miraculous to me, being a daily chocolate eater and, frankly, being so addicted to it.  I ate it so much that I just didn't think it was going to be possible.  To me this ease of release of chocolate was such an strong indicator of how authentically my body was saying I need to make these changes for myself.

Yes, I want to point this out.

There are going to be times when we do something that DOES feel right and yet it's REALLY HARD.  And when we ask ourselves for support, and give ourselves the support we need, receive support from our "tribe" of friends and chosen family, and ask Spirit for support, it is possible...and even easier that perhaps it first appeared!  Things don't have to be hard to be good for you!  And that said, we don't have to do it all at once, it doesn't have to be this overwhelming suffering to make some change.  We don't have to do it huge.  The things I was doing, I had phased in over decades.  If I had tried to make all of these changes to my diet at once, I can't even fathom how hard that would have been for me.  In fact, what would happen in the past, as I tried to make changes that weren't authentic or too much at once, they wouldn't stick.  By truly listening authentically to my body in the course of time, it becomes something I can truly make as a part of my life, instead of bingeing up and down, trying one thing, finding it doesn't work then forgetting it... then trying another thing...

This felt MUCH more sustainable.

Recall the emotional struggles when I was feeling the limits of The Cleanse Phase, now in this Reset Phase, the limits became even stronger!  Literally only 30 things on my list that I could eat.  This meant NO eating out as I could not risk the uncertainty of what ingredients were used or how things were prepared or sourced.  It meant bringing my food with me everywhere, not even eating at friends house most of the time.  Except for my few friends that actually understand this stuff with me, like Janine who made a meal for me and I cried with joy and relief because I didn't actually have to make it and it was delightful!

However, with the healing shift of bringing loving mindfulness to the preparation, the work in advance for trips and going out became manageable, I found that I can do it!  I changed my life, changed my rhythms and my cycles of interaction with food, and interaction with my kitchen and how I organize my kitchen.  I also changed how I organize my food and how I organize carrying my food.  I bought some great containers from Life Without Plastic.  It was fun to explore new ways to carry and have food with me so I can sustain myself when I am out for the day.  I also found an old cast iron skillet at an estate sale, re-seasoned it and feel in love with how food cooks with it.  I started using it almost exclusively.  These were all profound shifts that started to happen as I made the changes.

And I realized this experience fit right in to what I call the value of creating a Container!  It's not that the list of foods being so small was a restriction.  In fact, it became the opposite!  By really settling in to the structure of the container, the boundaries, I was able to relax fully into the creative flow.  I
discovered and created whole new recipes from my list of allowed foods that were incredibly flavorful, nurturing, filling as well as healthy and clean for my body.  I liken it to an improvisational score, it gives enough direction and structure to allow the freedom for lot's of creativity and movement within the framework.  Whereas, when the list of options is infinite, it can feel overwhelming to try to narrow down and often the reaction is to just not bother trying.

New nourishing, flavorful, beautiful creations!
Also, the sense of time was important.  By creating the structure that had specific time bounds (3 weeks for the first part, another 3 weeks of adding in new foods and supplements, then another 4-6 weeks adding in more foods), I found it really helped to let my body sink in and trust the flow.  As I often share with clients, it takes the brain at least 21 days to pattern in a new behavior, the neurons that fire together wire together and we have to give our brains a chance to repattern old grooves that may have been there for decades!  This takes time!  By having predetermined stretches of time and a plan, I noticed that my body could relax into letting that rewiring happen.  This made a big difference for me in being able to move through the process emotionally as well as physically and mentally.  It all comes back to creating a Self-Practice...I found the testing and time plans to be the structure that balanced with my body awareness, intuition and fluidity.

This was definitely a case where that structure supported me.

Another part of what made this possible, is having a support network.  I've mentioned the friends who opened my eyes to new ways, and there's also the profound power of the love of partners and family.  I am so grateful to have the support of my "tribe"!  An exquisite example of this came shortly after starting the Reset. My Love (Dixon), my daughter and I went on a family vacation.  I had to bring every bite of food with me for a 5 day trip.  So I planned and prepared meals ahead of time, then packed up two coolers full of food and a backpacking camp stove.  We stayed in a lovely, rustic cottage that had a mini-fridge, but no other kitchen amenities.  So I would heat my meals on the camp stove, my Love would bundle up the pot in a towel like an adored baby (to keep it warm), put it in a bag and off to a restaurant we would go, bundle in tow.  We'd explain to the server that I am on a restricted diet and needed to bring my own food, while the other two of our party would be ordering from the menu.  Every single time we were well received!  The restaurant personnel had no problem with the arrangement, and would often bring me a plate or other requested items to support the meal.  It took a bit of extra time and planning, and yet made it possible for me to makes the changes my body was asking for while still getting to enjoy time away with my family.  Aho!

And I am noticing the benefits indeed!

Benefits I Began Experiencing

Mindfulness, Expanded Sensory Awareness


Resetting my food, meant resetting my taste buds and awareness!  I began to notice subtle flavors and sweetness that had been overwhelmed by all the noise in the past.   At times now, I sit in ecstatic joy as I receive food into my body...the color, the texture and the taste filling me with sensory delight...a powerful facet of Sensual Living!    It has become such a joy to receive the simple delights of cool watermelon blended with fresh mint and an ice cube for example...a sweet delightful treat of a drink that I was able to savor on day 73 when I re-introduced mint after adding watermelon on day 72!  This has been a delightful journey of no longer taking ingredients for granted.


Unwinding, Creating Ease in my Body


"I catapulted quickly through the denial of giving up chocolate... granted it's only Day 1, but it feels really good!  Feels like Spirit has got my back!  I realize, we fight ourselves, by shoving the practices into a part of our brain that's about the to-do list.  Often what's simply being asked for is to change the place in our brain from which we are resting our awareness."  [See "Food Phase 2 Reset Aha moment insert below] 
~ My Day 1 voice note to myself

There was a little transition again at first, (the big transition had already happened when I shifted in February, flu-like symptoms, etc)  This time there was a little weirdness, because frankly I was eating grains and chickpeas again and I hadn't been eating any since January so I felt some digestive stuff for a short time (grumbly belly, gassiness, only for a few days).  The grains were all gluten-free, Oats (gluten-free only), Millet and Amaranth, at first I only started with Oat and Amaranth to take it slow.  And I did experience a little headachiness in the first few days, that I attributed to letting go of chocolate.  That subsided by about Day 4.



About 10 days after the Phase 2 Reset began, I had a miraculous moment again!

"Sleepy!  Waking up!  Yummy, Day 10 of Reset.  And right now in my body I awoke feeling new levels of no popping or bound feeling in my jaw anymore.  Spacious, delightful, ease throughout the torso fascial system, has let go a bit.  I can rest in my bed or against my love with ease, not as much gripping in my body in general.  More spacious in my head!  As if the dura mater has let go a bit the twisting winding sensation of birth that I was noticing awhile ago has eased.  I am feeling clearer, waking in the morning, with a "bing!" a bright clarity of readiness to get up.  Typically before the alarm even goes off right now and with a lot of energy, and that's so weird, usually I need my half hour of alarm process. 
Noticing less zinginess and anxiety.  I think I'm falling asleep easier, even though I'm also quite ebullient at night too!  Just higher levels of energy all around, which is really a blessing.  One downside I'm noticing right now...anal itchiness, feels like contact as I poop or near a poop, feels like something there is making my anus really itchy, quite uncomfortable (figured this out later and resolved it by avoiding chickpea flour by Swad, made on equipment shared with sulfites and others, instead I began using Bob's Red Mill brand and this worked great). 
The whole dural system has released, like patterns from birth and rebirth have let go, things that were holding, twists and engagements that were holding in my body my whole life have started to let go! And its the most freeing spacious experience of ease!  Ahhhhh!  Settling, twists and turns in binds in my jaw and my head are all finding their way out...I'm flabbergasted!  I think it all this has been a combination of the BCST (Biodynamic Craniosacral Therapy - training I have been in for about 1.5 years at this point), and awareness and settling for myself, and receiving sessions, noting how lasting and cumulative the effects are (positive changes in my body from the work).  And because of the food shift, I think its no coincidence that the 1st day of my July Reset food shift landed on the 1st day of module 8 (of the BCST training).  And I think... 
I'm going to say this and record it now, just in case I don't believe it in the future, and with Dixon as my witness, 
"I had to release chocolate for this to really find its space, and that I am grateful for having released chocolate." 
Yes I am recording this! 
Yes, I am happy I released chocolate!  My body is finding great joy in it!  And I can't believe I am saying this out loud, let alone recording it and being witnessed by my sweetie! 
I love you!  (Dixon says to me) 
It's amazing, its like blowing my mind!  Combinations of listening to my body and this is the culmination of my work to date ...Listening to My Body...and the food shifts
and the Authentic Movement taught by Stefanie Cohen  (a regular part of my practice for the past year and a half) that gives me space to Listen to My Body
and the Biodynamic Craniosacral Therapy training taught by Jan Pemberton which gives me tools and ways to Listen to My Body,
among so many other pieces of body awakening and awareness in my journey!
I got intuitively guided into this, it was totally a "Listening to Your Body" thing to begin with...I just can't believe this!
 
I CAN believe it though...because I listened!" 
~May Day 10 voice note to myself

To me it was all about balance...in this case balancing objective with subjective data.  We were doing bloodwork and lab test (objective data), and also noting experiences I had been capturing in my food diary (I'd been keeping one since February) which included symptoms and things I am noticing and feeling in my body, and my intuition (subjective data).  Making this really balanced choice of how to move forward.  We involved my Primary Care Physician (PCP), who ordered the lab tests that Aarti recommended for me.  In the results, Aarti noticed I wasn't digesting fats well. So we took a two-pronged approach... supplements were added to rebuild my gut body and its health and invite my body to digest fats that it wasn't doing well on its own, and the second prong was to go see a specialist, a Gastroenterologist to see what he had to say.  Why is my body not digesting fats super well?  We did all these pieces.



After about 3 weeks, we started to add a protocol of adding a food or supplement back in to slowly (one per day each day for the next 4 or 5 weeks) now listening for changes.  As I started supplements, I was a little torn I hadn't been a fan of supplements in the past.  But this was a really intentional way to do supplements, I hadn't done this before.  They were specific to my body needs, not random or generalized.  I began taking ones selected specifically for my body to:


  • Support digesting the fats I didn't seem to be doing well on my own (digestive enzymes),
  • Repair the lining of my gut (L-Glutamine - I could literally feel my gut body saying YES please to receiving this as if a way to rebuild the structure of the gut lining),
  • Clear out the microbes that weren't supportive (anti microbials: turmeric, berberine, Lauricidin (monolaurin), oregano oil),
  • Bring in extra microbe support to re-establish balance in my gut microbiome[ https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Microbiota] (probiotics),
  • Bring in extra nutrients of the variety that had been low due to the maldigestion issues I had been having (when our gut can't process, it doesn't matter how well we are eating, some of the good stuff just doesn't get absorbed!).  Those included: Magnesium, Vitamin C, Vitamin D3, Vitamin B complex to support brain and body functioning.

And the exploration continues!


Conclusion


I am literally feeling more alive, more aware of my subtle body energies, more clarity in my pelvis, wider orgasmic repertoire spectrum (yes, more sexual energy and aliveness!), less bound-up, less tight and wound-up.  Literally, I feel my body unwinding through my fascia, my muscle, my dura (the tissue that surrounds the brain and spinal cord), and my gut body.  Plus I am eliminating (yes poop!) in this really balanced and beautiful rhythm of roughly daily, sometimes a little more than once per day.  Bowel movements, that used to be rare and forced, are now present with a clear urge, usually in the morning.  Often now I drink a nice big glass of water first thing, with a little body movement (walk, stretch), then the urge is clear, and the process of elimination is now a clean, long, thick and heavy poop that sinks, feels clear and complete.  Wow!  It gave new meaning to the phrase bowel movement!  In the past I would often feel stuck, like there's more to push out and I can't, that rarely happens now because the natural movement of my gut body is providing the action, all I need to do is relax and allow.   No longer am I having bouts of gassiness or bloating.

I have a clearer picture when something does flare up and am able to work with it sooner, before it becomes a longer term issue.  My whole being has changed and sunk in, I feel more ease in my body...and more at ease in my body.  Pelvic clarity, whole new doors of orgasmic repertoire have opened.  Yes sexual energy and orgasmic benefits...this is pretty profound.  Note that the food changes I made are unique to my body, by listening to what it needed - both intuitively and with testing.  So while I noticed eliminating chocolate, sugar, dairy along with eating healthy meats, more whole vegetables in higher ratios to other servings (way less grains for example) were super supportive for my body, along with temporarily establishing a supplement plan to heal my gut body and encourage it to receive more of the nutrients from my food  - that does not necessarily mean these are the right answers for everyone.  Which ones are right for you?  Listen to Your Body for the answers.


For me to-date, this has been one of the epitomes of the value of Listening deeply to My Body!  I have been able to tap into new levels of aliveness, physical body ease, subtle body clarity, sexual orgasmic pleasure and ecstatic awareness.  You too can feel really good about who you are, I encourage you to Listen deeply to Your Body and connect with your bliss!







Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Celebrating the Weird!

I am Light Bearer, this is a story and account of the weirdness I feel.

I was born with and still have a traditionally female body.  Yet, I am both female and male in some ways. I am both the analytical engineer and the fluid artist.  I have never felt one box of anything defined me... I always feel like I'm different even than the deep differences I step into.

As an engineer I was one of few women in a highly male-dominated field.   As a mother and an aunt, I am “weird” (a direct quote from my nephew, which I delighted in and responded with a large smiling thank you!).  As a healer I am now in the unique field of sexuality... in the field of sexuality I'm in a unique role... I am the only one I am aware of sharing this work in this way in the midwest.  

I’ve come to terms with my levels of weirdness often being the weird of the weird.

There's very little traditional about me.  My traditional gender is female. I was raised female yet even as a child I preferred playing football with the boys in the neighborhood well over playing with dolls with the girls. My hair, skin and eye color was so different from my family that I was teased to be the “adopted” one.  I dressed in jerseys and wide armbands and shorts. I preferred the concept of tomboy over the concept of being a girl.  When we played Batman, I was the one that had to be Batman... I was never Catwoman I was never Robin, oh no,... I must be Batman!   As an adult, I struggled with my body for years, trying to make it something I thought I should be, thinner, stronger, tighter.  

Even in my traditional career I was the unusual one... the only woman in the room or the one who used the word “feeling” and got derided for it.  

In my spirituality I've never fit into a box. It started with a traditional Christian beginning... Sunday school, going to church on holidays & funerals.  I never felt at home there, I always felt guilt and shame or just this icky feeling of not feeling right in my skin.

I've since found my way with my Spirituality from within my Being.  The new ease and grace of connecting with who I am... connecting with the world around me, connecting with Spirit, the Universe with this vast Other with which I am also One.

From this new place of deep embodied presence I now feel confident and capable in being truly who I am and letting the boxes of descriptors & categorization be what they are without feeling such a call to force fit my way into them. I no longer feel like I must fit only into those boxes. I feel delighted in my body, learning new things about it all the time.  I let go of force fitting it, my weight found a natural balance, my curves took new form.  I let go of shaving my legs several years ago, and the joy in the smoothness in my skin is delightful.  I was worried about that...what would people think, what would I think?  Having been steeped in such a traditional climate of what women "should" look like...it was difficult.  I've since repatterned my own awareness and stepped into my choice...acknowledging I always reserve the right to change my mind!

I've also learned to really face the shadowy aspects in my life the things I didn't want to see or the unknown mysteries that either brought in fear or curiosity or the stiff arm of holding it away.  And in my sexuality that is included things as connecting with multiple partners, with partners of various gender identity and sexual preference, with seeing BDSM in a new light with acknowledging the sacred intent of choice in many people.  And in all that some of the deepest fears being those of the deep emotionally connected experience with my Love.

I see many people afraid to be who they are, afraid to enjoy what they enjoy because of fear of how they will be perceived. I see that in me and I see in me the calling and the clarity of being a bridge... being the Light Bearer...shining the light in the shadowy places of possibility.  Encouraging that it's all okay, that it's safe to be who we are and who we are doesn't ever have to fit into standard societal boxes and norms.  Even something as rooty and base to our Being as gender is misunderstood as being two boxes... there are even little boxes to check on forms... are you female or male?  What happens if we don't fit into either one of those boxes?   See my video: Gender Identity & Sexual Preferences - Inviting a New Model!


I invite us all to be authentically who we are, to trust in our Light and to hold ourselves and others in the deep compassion of that authenticity.  When you feel something rise up in you as you see someone else doing or being something you didn't expect...pause for a moment...reflect inward, what is this reflecting in you, for you? What are you afraid might happen? Is there something in there you've wanted for yourself and been afraid to acknowledge?  Is there something in there you see in you and have been afraid to admit?  What would it be like to love yourself and others in a way that finds you in ease and compassion?

Friday, November 15, 2013

Nourishing Herbal Love!

Eeee!  I have been raving about my newfound connection to the natural world around me...coming into new relationships with plants has been very alive for me recently.  This began with my experience at the Midwest Women's Herbal Conference last June where I was honored to present on Sacred Sexuality and share my workshop on How Boundaries Support Freedom.  Honoring that we are all beautiful divine beings that can connect with our health and wholeness from within!

What bloomed open for me was a shift in my awareness of herbs and what I used to call "weeds" in my yard.  I've begun a regular practice of eating wild edibles right from my backyard...starting with a leaf a day,  now often more.  I started noticing which plants were flirting with me...and opened up to learning about them. Like Lamb's Quarters, and Lady's Thumb...both profuse in my back yard, yet little did I know how supportive for me they would become!  I think I ended up identifying and eating (or making medicines with) over 10 wild edibles that had just shown up in my yard this season!!  This doesn't even count the plants I intentionally planted for food, like tomatoes and oregano.  The plants that grow near us, live and flourish in the same environment we do.  So they are working with the same building blocks, as well as toxins that we are most exposed to.  By eating the wild plants near me, I receive a great gift of new ways to work with the world around me in my body.  A longer story for another time.

I love the soothing, golden, yin yumminess of Linden!
For now I wanted to share another practice that is nourishing me, inspired by Susun Weed and her teachings.  Almost daily, (about 5-6 times per week) I drink a quart of nourishing herbal infusion to support my health, and I share this with my family as well!  This feels so good for my body, it's really about accessing the rich nutrients of the plant...things like calcium and protein and other minerals....these are heavy constituents.  Think about it...minerals are rocks!  So a quick steep of a tea with a tiny amount of herb is not going to access these nourishing constituents.  Teas have their own amazing properties too, don't get me wrong.  They are providing medicinal components and taste.  Yet they just don't carry the nourishment boost that these infusions do.

Nettle infusion starting to steep for the night! 
It also resonated with me, that taking a pill or a capsule (supplements) is also not supporting the body in the same way.  It's skipping past the "coming into relationship" process of taste, and connection with the tongue and tissues in the mouth that allow the body to telegraph to the rest of our system what's coming, so as to really invite it in for nourishment...rather than quickly process it right out of our system through elimination.

Drinking these feels amazing, and my body is quite happy with the changes I am feeling as I support myself in this new way.

I found myself so often sharing links and resources with people that I decided to create this post!

Here’s a link to information about nourishing herbal infusions and how to make them:

http://www.susunweed.com/How_to_make_Infusions.htm

Red clover I harvested from wild in Detroit
and dried over several weeks...
And more about how they support our health (for all men and women, even if we are not women in menopause):

http://www.menopause-metamorphosis.com/An_Article-healthy.htm

I have been alternating between nettle, oat straw, red clover, and linden flower (for linden I only use 1/2 oz dried herb instead of 1 oz for the others, I also usually only use 3/4 oz for nettle and clover).  Susun also talks about Comfrey leaf, although that hasn't resonated yet for me.

Drinking the beautiful infusion I
made with the clover I harvested!
I even harvested and dried my own red clover!  It was enough to make one batch of infusion, and it was a lot of fun.  For me what's a bit more accessible and sustainable right now is buying my herbs in bulk.

You can buy bulk herbs at Mountain Rose Herbs, or Pacific Botanicals (wow am I impressed with the quality of their nettle!) online, or there’s a great local resource here in southeast Michigan called Nature’s Products on Conant near 8 mile in Detroit.

Enjoy!

PS.  Note that oatstraw is great for supporting libido!  Yay, sexual yumminess!

Sending love and light to you all!
Mmm!  Dandelion flowers and a
linden herbal infusion snack!

Leslie
Light Bearer