This morning I was jolted awake at that vital moment, during a horrific nightmare. It took me a minute to realize I was alive and safe. Once I did, a wave of gratitude flooded over me. As my beingness became more tangible, I realized what a blessing that nightmare had been. I was reminded how very precious life is, and how I should be giving thanks for every moment that I am alive, healthy, have good food, warm shelter, and loving and loved family (blood and chosen). Every day is a gift, and sometimes our memory has to be jolted into remembering that.
Last night my sweet daughter encouraged me to wear my pajamas inside out so it would snow. It is incredible to me that she still does this at 14, and I hope she will never lose this! It is more of this innocent wonder, belief, and play that I want to bring into my life. One of the first things I remember thinking in the dream, when I thought my life was over, was that there was so much more I wanted to do, and I wished I had time for big, bold adventures.
When I do my yoga in the morning, I usually listen to some kind of inspiring podcast. This morning's was The Art of Creation through Desire. The part that most hit home for me was near the end, (spoiler alert) when they talked about how playtime is vital to a creative life. I think we all probably know this, though maybe subtly, and even if we do, it can be easy to forget. It can be so easy for me to get so stuck in planning and doing mode that I start running on empty, with no inspiration, which doesn't accomplish anything.
Winters can be hard for me: cold, a lack of vibrant, growing flora, lots of time inside spent planning, often in front of the computer. I honestly think the only way I survive the season is by ingesting a healthy dose of Vitamin N: Nature. A friend recently posted something about how native cultures often don't have a word for "nature" because there was no separation in their minds between us and nature. I believe it is that separation that creates a lot of the depression, seasonal affective disorder, and many other current issues in our culture.
It can be so tough for me to get motivated to get outside this time of year (yes, even me). But once I am out, it can be tough for me to motivate myself to go back inside. So, this morning, before an impending snow storm, I motivated myself to put on my insulated Carhartt's, my hat, scarf, gloves, boots, and big puffy jacket, and head out. A friend ended up joining me, and we kept remarking during the walk about how glad we were we got into the forest, and how great it was to be there. As we left, the first snowflakes dropped, like an affirmation that the hike was meant to be.
I wanted to make getting outside the focus of this whole blog post because I believe it is so vitally important to our lives to do it every day. I wish for you to not have to look back and wish you would have taken more adventures.
And just to give you a little herbal nugget before I leave, elderberry syrup (from the fabulous elderberry that actually binds with the flu virus to keep it from entering your cells), wild mushrooms (in tincture, tea, or stock), and Vitamin D, can all be great supplements to help you stay healthy this winter. Make sure to listen to your body, and get a little extra rest or quiet time for introspection, if that is what your body tells you it needs. Some antioxidant boosters, besides elderberries, include citrus, of course, but also sumac berries, rose hips, and evergreen needles (most pines, spruce, and fir). More on that next time...
What keeps you healthy and happy during the winter? Let me know in the comments. Wishing you much wonder, frolicking, and Vitamin N!
Founder of the WANDER (Wild Artemisia Nature Discovery, Empowerment, and Reconnection) School, Botanist, Herbalist, & Professional Forager, Abby Artemisia, lives in rural Appalachian North Carolina. She learned about plants playing in the Midwestern woods of Ohio, working on organic farms, an herbal apprenticeship, a bachelor's degree in Botany from Miami University, and running her own tea business. She teaches about plant identification, native plants, and working with plants for food and medicine throughout the country. Her mission is offering nature and herbal education to create healing through connection with the natural world and each other. She is the author of The Forager's Wild Edible and Herbal Plant Cards and The Herbal Handbook for Homesteaders. She is the host of the podcast Wander, Forage, and Wildcraft, founder of The WANDER School, and co-founder of The Sassafras School of Appalachian Plantcraft.