Meet my little friend Pulmonaria

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Blue Ensign Pulmonaria

 One of my early thoughts after being diagnosed with cancer, among the fears, anger and bewilderment, was “I don’t think I’ll be so ‘into’ spring this year.” I felt cheated by this thought. Cancer has a way of forcing itself front and center, diminishing the importance of everything else in life. But it turns out Spring trumps cancer, at least for me, and I hope for others I know challenged by the demands of cancer or other serious health issues.

There are no answers, I’ve looked and asked, to the cancer questions that run amok in my mind.  Is it gone? Did the surgery get it all? Will it return? Soon? Later? Are the protocols and supplements I’m doing going to work to ‘mop’ up any left over cells or prevent re-occurrence?  With no answers, the questions get boring.  And when compared to the daily evolution of brilliant greens, bright colors, bird songs and courtships going on in our yard……Nature wins, it is a much better show!

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So let me introduce you to a little plant I love that grabs my attention every time I step outside. Some of you may be familiar with Pulmonaria officinalis or Lungwort.  I highly recommend it for those who want the satisfaction of early spring color, regardless of the weather.  Like primulas, Pulmonaria is an early bloomer, is very happy with shade or partial sun, and though garden books say it does best in rich soil, in my experience it is quite happy in clay soil, maybe not as prolific as it could be, but happy, because it also likes moisture and if you grow it in soil that drains well it will need a lot of watering.  My Pulmonarias seem to need, and get, no care, but magically reappear each spring.

The Latin and common name both indicate the traditional use of the plant in herbal medicine. It was used to treat lung conditions such as bronchial infections, asthma, coughs, etc.  Modern herbal medicine does not recommend internal use of Pumonaria due to a toxic alkaloid found in the plant.  It still has a use externally for wounds, burns, and other skin treatments.

A hardy perennial, it is a rhizome plant best propagated by plant division.  Although it does produce seeds they are difficult to germinate.

If you love plants that bring visions of old cottage gardens, this is the time of year to scour nurseries for Lungwort in shades of pinks, blues, and white. There is also variety in leaf color, adding interesting foliage to a garden even after the plant has bloomed.

You were looking for a reason to go nursery shopping weren’t you?

Whoops! Forgot to mention – one of the most dear proof plants!

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A Season of Celebrations, A Season for Forgiveness

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went looking for color today in Nature, these lovely primroses, in yellow & pink, are a carpet of bright cheer in our garden.

This is a week of celebrations. Whether you are celebrating Holi, the Hindu Festival of Color, a time of mirth and playfulness, or the Christian Holy Week, in observation of the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ, or the Jewish Festival of Unleavened Bread, or Passover – it is a season associated with renewal and rejuvenation, a time of rejoicing and liberation.

Here in the northern hemisphere spring officially arrived last week, an event celebrated for eons by most cultures with rites and rituals.  As with Holi festivities, Nature celebrates with the arrival of rainbows of color – in the sky during spring rains on a sunny day, and in plants bursting forth with vivid colors to attract waking pollinators. “We’ve survived winter!” said our ancestors, “its time to get outside, plant, work hard, and start the cycle all over. But first let’s celebrate!”DSC00725

Hindu celebrations of Holi have an abandonment to them, a loosening of decorum as women join together with men in rambunctious festivities that involve spraying powder or liquid color on one another and other prankish behaviors.  I’ve read there is a saying “It’s okay, its Holi!” There is forgiveness build in to the lightheartedness.  There seems to be many legends as to the origin of Holi, most have to do with Krishna, perhaps the original prankster who, as a young man, would tease the Gopis and steal cheese from the village women, but he was always forgiven due to his loving sweetness (of course there were, and are, spiritual lessons to be taught through his behavior.)

Easter also has a strong element of forgiveness, what greater example of forgiveness is there than Jesus’ proclamation, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do” as his crucifiers gambled for his clothes.  The spirit of rebirth and hope celebrated on Easter Sunday follows the act of forgiveness on Good Friday.DSC03212

Forgiveness often has ’heaviness’ to it as people ponder the act of forgiving small slights to huge atrocities committed by individuals or groups.  Sometimes the most difficult is self-forgiveness for our own shortcomings.  If you read stories of people who have forgiven those who committed heinous acts against them, there is always an element of release so they could move forward, lightening up to begin anew.  I would suggest you know when you have truly forgiven by those attributes – the letting go of bitterness and being able to move forward.  On the other side of forgiveness is a place of light and lightness, ‘spring cleaning’ ones heart in preparation for rebirth and rejuvenation.

Is there forgiveness in Nature? I believe so. When I see a clear-cut, previously scarred, and often burned, full of blooming foxgloves, or watch a dog wag its tail, ready for a pat after being yelled at, I think Nature sets a fine example for forgiveness. (Flowers covering human scars on the earth, animals instinctively showing loyalty for what could be considered the need for food, may not be your idea of Nature exhibiting forgiveness, but try to imagine it as such, and indulge me!).  There have been studies of chimpanzees who clearly exhibited acts of forgiveness. They share 98.4% of our DNA, apparently forgiveness is in that shared DNA.

Though International Forgiveness Day is in August, I would venture that this season of joy and renewal is also a season of forgiveness, for in the forgiving we open ourselves to, and leave room for, the joyousness of rejuvenation. The theme of triumph over evil is present in the Easter story of Jesus and many of the Holi stories of Krishna.  Passover, another spring holiday, celebrates liberation from oppression. Spring rites, older than all of these religious celebrations, celebrate victory over the darkness and harshness of winter. A victors heart is a forgiving heart.

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bright spring colors
for Holi, the Festival of Color!

Whatever you celebrate this week – Holi, Easter, Spring, or one of the many other spring holidays and celebrations found throughout the world, begin with forgiveness – feel the freedom of a “lightened load” – then let the joy in!

You are encouraged to share in the comments sections your own religious, spiritual, personal spring celebrations of renewal.

International Women’s Day

There no doubt will be many blog posts and articles written today about the state of women throughout the world. It ain’t easy being a woman in so many ways, and in so many places, but the world, and my life, is full of awesome, remarkable women of all ages and in all places. I share my facebook post for the day with my blog readers……for all the amazing women of my life! (As for the men among my readers, I know you have raised remarkable daughters, loved extraordinary women, appreciate your own ‘inner female’!)

International Woman’s Day…..To my woman friends, nieces, soul sisters, sister-in-laws, cousins……celebrate yourselves today!

womenYep, this is one of my doodle girls. I have a series of cartoonish character’s, doodling seems to be the upper limit of my artist talents, I’ve come to accept that! :o)  For more doodles you can check out my Doodle Page!

To read something a little more ‘substantial’ about International Women’s Day check out last year’s post. International Women’s Day, 2012

A Pause in the Dance

The outcome of  seeing the radiation doctor yesterday was rather stunning, literally.

Not sure whether I should celebrate or freak out. I came home and made soup. I needed comfort.

(Did you know I had a “recipe” page? So far just soups on it, will add more as the food muse moves me.  Last night’s: Tahini Cauliflower.)

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Created by my friend Phoebe, this delightful sphere showing the 5 elements sits outside my window & reminds me of the healing power of Nature.

I was ‘rejected’ by the radiation doc. A very thorough, nice guy, he thought the risks of radiation to my body were greater than to most. If I twisted his arm, or found another doctor, I could still get it.  Strange how this left me feeling both relieved and abandoned.  I thought he would be convincing me it would be ok, I would do fine, etc.   That leaves Tomoxifen from the allopathic treatment point of view, which I do not want to take, I thought radiation a better choice, but I respect his reasoning, he was referred by both surgeon & oncologist as a very good doctor. Not going to seek out another doctor.  He said he has told maybe 10 women out of a 1000 or so he has treated in 20 yrs.  I figure there’s a reason I was to hear it.

IMG_5523Not sure what’s next.  Need time to think, or maybe not think, though that’s always a challenge for me!

Some well researched ‘alternatives’ to hormone drugs that help the body metabolize estrogen seem to be giving me side affects. Another option ‘down the tube’.

Will be using Ayurveda and Naturopathic remedies to help build the immune system as I wait and see what the next step in the dance is going to be.

Thank you all. Continued prayers, good thoughts and good vibes always appreciated.  I pass them back to those in need of their own healing, and pass them on to those with their own challenges. ♥

(pardon the oddity of this post, it is meant only to be a follow-up to yesterday’s, not a witty creative writing piece! :o)  Hopefully you enjoyed the pictures and clicked to get my delicious soup recipe!)