Monthly Archives: June 2011

STRESS, the disease of discontenment?

In 19th century Sweden the “torpare” or crofters were farm-laborers with a cottage. This already brought their status up compared to the ordinary laborers. They had the use of a tiny cottage; 1 room and a small kitchen with dirt-floors and some land around it for planting crops. The “rent” for the cottage was to work for the landowner and sometimes also with payments in the form of  crops. The families were usually large with 6-12 children and everybody had to work; man, wife and the children over a certain age. The average working-hours were from 4am – 7pm. They were allowed 13 Sundays  per year to go to church. For each hour of missed work, one entire work-day was demanded. Besides this, the rules for how to run the cottage were very strict; the lands and cottage had to be well-tended and in perfect repair. Their food and survival came from the crops they grew at the cottage, usually on very meager soil. Pregnant women usually worked until the contractions started and a day after giving birth, they were back at work. Smaller children were tended by one of the older. With all this work for the landowner, when on earth did they manage their own land? Herculean effort 24/7, 352 days/year. Oh, almost forgot, the landowner also had the right to beat them if they did not perform. Slavery? not quite, for extra work (extra work? you’ve got to be kidding, right?) they would receive a pittance. And these were people that were enviable to others…

This kind of living ended as late as the early 20th century, there are still people, albeit old, who have some memories of this kind of life through the stories told by their parents. The industrial revolution came as a blessing; regulated working hours, regulated salaries, medi-care, insurance… still, to us living today, even the industrial era is an unimaginable hardship.

Hard life? Stress?

In comparison our lives today are comfy, lazy, luxurious ….and whiny. How did these people survive such a hard day-to-day life? And what about when really tough times hit? Drought, famine, death, inability to work… they would be out on the street, entire families with no possibility whatsoever to feed or clothe themselves, let alone all the children. From my point of view this kind of life would induce such tremendous stress; people must have been constantly in a state of burn-out, heart-attacks galore, aches and pains, sleeping problems, nervous break-downs, psychological wreaks and what-have-you.

I see people every day that complain of stress and sometimes I honestly wonder “what is their problem?” Over time I have found a red thread: dis-contentment. Society today showers us with ideas of what we could have. And everybody is believing it. Nothing seems quite good enough and everything is exchangeable. Tired of your sofa, car, man, woman, house, stereo, TV? …exchange it. Values disintegrate and the rat-race is on. Now we talk about sustainable living, 6 hour workdays and our rights. What rights? Who’s rights? Who are going to give us these rights? Aren’t we all responsible for our own reality? You want to be sustainable? Keep your stuff until it falls apart, don’t throw your food away, be grateful for all that you have and repair!

We complain about stress, how awful it is, how it is the new disease. Still, we all know about stress, it doesn’t come as a surprise and with this knowledge we should be able to nip it in the bud, don’t you think? If you know that you will break your leg by jumping off the roof, will you still jump? With the basic living quality we have today…how can we have such huge personal problems with more or less everything? Don’t accept stress, say no. Keep remembering your “good place” and pay attention to stay there and most of all; find contentment. I believe today’s stress has more to do with dis-content than actual pressure. And if you are angry with me now for saying this, maybe you should read the first paragraph again.

Be grateful you have a car, even if it looks like shit and you would like a Mercedes. Be grateful for your health and, when you fall ill, that you get medical care and are not left to die by the roadside. So you have to wear last year’s dress…at least you have one or two or more. Every time you run your washing machine, give thanks that you don’t have to wash by hand – all that extra time saved. Next time you are about to throw out the left-overs, think again and turn them into another meal. Take a moment every day to think about all the blessings in your life and feel the gratitude. Your ancestors worked themselves to death to create this abundant life for you. I think they’re turning in their graves at how ungrateful and whiny we have all become. Find contentment and you will beat stress faster than a cat sneezes.

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SPIKENARD

Spikenard or Narde (Nardostachys jatamansi / N. grandiflora): It belongs to the Valerian family and has similar properties as its cousin Valerian (Valeriana officinalis). A flowering plant that grows to a height of about 1 meter, the rhizomes are distilled to produce the essential oil. It is native to the Himalayas; China, northern India and Nepal, mostly cultivated in Nepal and India. The best quality oil comes from Nepal. Spikenard is a slightly viscous, greenish-brown oil, darkening with age. The scent is deep and fresh, reminiscent of earth after rain, with a hint of fruity overtones.

History: Nard was (and is) used in the Indian tradition of Ayur veda. In ancient Egypt it was a luxury perfume and upon investigating the tomb of Tutankhamun in 1926, small alabaster vessels were found with a solidified, scented unguent (ointment, solid perfume) which turned out to be perfumed with spikenard and frankincense. Spikenard was also one of the ingredients in the ancient Egyptian perfume “Kyphi” that was burned at dusk to make sure the life-giving sun would return the next day. It was an important part of the Hebrew traditions where it was a component of the sacred incense, HaKetoret, wich was burned in the Jewish temple of Jerusalem. Spikenard in Hebrew is Nard and translates as Light. Most people recognize the name due to its mention in the bible (Song of Solomon, Matthew 26:6-13, Mark 14:3-9). Spikenard was the oil used by Mary Magdalene to anoint the feet of Jesus at the last supper (John 12:1-10). At the time, spikenard was extremely costly and Judas Iscariot was outraged by the fact that it was used, seeing as the amount used was worth about a year’s wages for an ordinary working man. The Greek word for Spikenard means genuine and pure.

With such an illustrious history from ancient times, Spikenard is bound to tickle the imagination. Many believe that its claim to fame is due to the high cost it carried, but spikenard was not the only costly scent at the time; myrrh and  frankincense  were also extremely costly – even more so than gold. On researching the oil I find a red thread which points to the spiritual properties of the scent; Spikenard connects us to the divine.

USES:

  • SKIN: Balancing, regenerating and healing. Mature skin, psoriasis (1% blend), allergies, itching, skin-problems. Healthy skin maintenance.
  • DIGESTIVE SYSTEM: Antispasmodic and digestive: nausea, constipation, colic and cramps.
  • CIRCULATION: Harmonizes & stimulates circulation. Haemorrhoids, varicose veins. Regulates heartbeat.
  • NERVOUS SYSTEM & EMOTIONAL: Balancing, calming, grounding, harmonizing: Insomnia, migraine, stress, nervous tension, insecurity, anxiety. Deep emotional wounds. Can be of use in working through addictions, especially drugs.

Spikenard works on the solar plexus in a deeply calming manner. It is liberating and profoundly soothing. It releases emotional tension and being  at the same time grounding and opening it bring us in touch with our inner spirituality.

Personal: The word that comes to me is surrender. Spikenard brings us to a place of such peace and tranquility, enveloping us in a deep sense of safety. In this place we can allow ourselves to let go of emotional wounds, fears and insecurities. It connects us to the divinity within and lessens the stresses of the outside world. It shows us the way to heal from within. I mainly use this beautiful oil for emotional work. Its wonderful skin-care properties make it easy to incorporate as a releasing agent in the every-day life. Used as a facial oil you have the healing emotional benefits as well as excellent skin-care.

This oil resonates deeply within me. The first time I met Spikenard I was in the midst of a tremendously painful and difficult period of my life. It transported me to a place of such calm serenity, that all the difficulties fell away and I could see – for the first time –  solutions and possibilities. This moment brought me forever out of the worst trauma of my life. Till this day Spikenard is my doorway to assurance, peace and spirituality. It is probably the one oil I would always carry.

Considered a safe oil to use. As it has a ovary-stimulating action, I avoid using it during pregnancy. Spikenard is sometimes used in natural perfumery as a fixative.


EVERY CLOUD HAS A SILVER LINING

You know how little irritating things happen that might throw the day of course? Like forgetting your keys, taking the wrong turn or dropping a glass that explodes in one million shards… It’s really annoying and can put you in a bad mood for the rest of the day. We get hooked on that first negative moment and then we are blinded for all other possibilities. I have been working on a way around this, I look at the other side – the silver lining of the cloud. Sometimes, admittedly, I have to look really hard to see any redeeming qualities in what happened, but they are always there, or maybe I have gotten really good at finding them (what else can a desperate girl do?).

I made a poster where I write such situations, minor stuff. (see pic) To the left is “negative”  in red and on the right is the “silver lining” in green. Some things are really obvious when they happen, others take some pondering 🙂 I have 3 such “obvious” silver-linings:

  • – Falling    + Not hurting myself and realizing that I can fall without hurting myself 🙂
  • – Stomach illness    + Lose some pounds
  • – Make a mistake with a recipe    + A new exiting product

The thing is that it sits there, the poster, reminding me of little silver-linings and inviting me to write more. I am having a tough one right now and I don’t know how it will end up, but I am sure there will be a silver-lining and then it gets easier to handle.

 

A MOST UNEXPECTED PARTY UNFOLDED ITSELF

I just had a party for my birthday, which is a really big deal for me. I don’t like throwing parties for myself, feeling uncomfortable as the center of attention. A dear friend of mine offered up her gorgeous house and simply told me that “the girls” wanted to party with me; I did, after all, turn Funky Fifty. So I went for it. I invited a bunch of people and left it at that. I was still not entirely comfortable. At one point I realized I had not RSVP’d the invites, so I had no idea how many would come. The invites read more or less only; “Come make a party with me, bring food and drink but no gifts”. Some people asked me for “the organization” to which I had no answer. I said “bring what you want, then at least you will be happy”, figuring this would be a good way to go. Normally parties here in Luxland are well-organized with food and drink or even catering. I totally broke the mold, and maybe this is sort of freaky?

On the day of the party I was nervous; what if nobody comes? What if it’s a disaster? Maybe I should have organized it better? Then I let it go; too late now, just allow it to happen as it will. And it happened, oh how it happened.

People came, everybody organized the eateries while I was getting high on bubbly. There was a mix of people who haven’t met before, people from all walks in life and many different nationalities and everybody hit it off. The party was magical! I went floppy dog and went with the flow, the hugs, the love, the singing and the dancing. All around me the party was happening and creating itself through the people there. Everybody was the center of attention and everybody was the party.

Paper plates makes for no dishes, mixed foods brought by people make for an exciting buffé and there always seem to be more than enough for everybody. En plus, it opens up for conversation and a laid back atmosphere. Before you know it, the most astonishing love-in is underway and magic is in the air!

Love ❤