Horsetail Happiness

Today’s herbal angel is Horsetail (Equisetum arvense-[literally horse of the grass or meadow] you can always count on Lineas for creativity….NOT)

Equisetum arvense
Photo credit: The Internets (http://luirig.altervista.org/schedenam/fnam.php?taxon=Equisetum+arvense

This is a Silica jackpot with up to 70% found in these plants!! AND Silica is GOLD when it comes to bone formation- which is exactly what I am working on; I currently have 209 bones while the normal adult has 206.  And while I’m trying to piece those four parts back together I require lots of silica, calcium and magnesium. So besides horsetail, I am ingesting TONS of raw spinach (future Popeye the sailor, here) and getting sunshine to absorb that vitamin D that metabolizes Calcium.

And if you’d still like to make use of this intriguing cousin of the fern, the silica is also useful in polishing metal! ( I will use that AFTER the cast comes off to polish the screws keeping my bones in place) .

This plant is also amazing for stopping bleeding and treating ulcers and inflammation. Ironically enough the this plant also contains enzymes (called thiaminase) that can be harmful to horses.

          Does anyone else feel like a doctor when they get hurt and suddenly read up everything there is on their malady? Just call me Doctor Dawn 😉  

 

 

Coffee Withdrawal…..

19073624_10155381037123524_1286581195_n
The most delicious of coffees and views

Coffee…..nope unfortunately, coffee is not considered an herb for bone healing and what’s worse, IT actually can negatively affect the repair of your bones, so it’s a no go…for SIX WEEKS. Now, this would be hard for any average American coffee drinker, but humor me with your sympathy for a moment. I have been living in a country with the finest coffee (granted they export most of the best, but I had my go-to people for the best caffeinated goods ;)), and I walked to work through streets where coffee (“tinto”, rather) was wheeled up to you in a cart and handed over for a mere 500 pesos.

              By now your sympathy has run out, I understand, but this means my coffee addiction had risen to nearly 6 cups per day which means cold-turkey coffee cut-off is KILLER. I’ve tried to replace it with teas or even decaffeinated coffee, but it just isn’t the same.

        Anyone who has overcome the powerful clutches of a caffeine addiction, please impart upon me your great wisdom!

19073674_10155381037178524_344552209_n
Harvesting Fresh Coffee Beans in Colombia….when I could walk without crutches

Kicking off My Cast With Herbs

          As a blooming ethno-botanist, I will find a herbal cure or experiment with some sort of concoction long before turning to any sort of Western medicine.

        And now that I have some mandatory rest-time (thanks to a shattered ankle and a heavy, fiberglass cast), I have all the time in the world to learn and write more about herbalism!! I appreciate any comments, feedback and input as I am starting to learn!  Particularly as it pertains to piecing my shattered ankle back together and into yoga/running/rock-climbing/hiking/surfing/adventure/whatever-else-I-can-imagine shape!

        For starters, the swelling was miserable for the first few days, (granted I walked for about half an hour on the ankle, thinking it wasn’t broken-I DON’T recommend such a thing). Not to mention, healing can only occur after the swelling has subsided since the swelling decreases the blood flow to the wound site, and the blood is carrying all the necessary nutrients necessary for repair to get to the site(s) of the break. And while elevation and rest are helpful, here’s some splendid herbs that have helped alleviate swelling and hasten the healing. 

turmeric
Raw Turmeric Roots

Turmeric(Curcuma longa for those Lineas fans in the house): It’s pure magic! It’s an incredible herb for it’s anti-inflammatory, anti-parasitic and blood-purifying properties. It can be used to treat digestive issues, parasites, or applied in a paste with chickpeas to speed up healing of cuts (it’s like hummus for your wounds!! YUM!) Thankfully, today, I only need it for the anti-inflammatory properties to bring the swelling of my ankle from size 12 to it’s normal size 8W (I have hobbit feet, don’t judge me), so I’m ingesting it in the form of tonic.

AND did you know that in India, the regular use of Turmeric in cooking is connected with the decreased rates of cardiovascular problems and cancer rates! The only catch is it’s bioavailability. What in the world is that you may ask? It’s the ability for your body to metabolize and use the active ingredients in Turmeric (which in this case is Curcumin (diferuloylmethane)). Typically, in Indian food pepper increases the bioavailability of turmeric, but since I’m not into highly peppered pills, I’m taking the tonic version!

 

Just be careful, turmeric will stain everything you own, which IF you like a yellowy tint to your world, should be just fine!

comfrey
The Lovely Comfrey Flowers

Comfrey (Symphytum officinale-literally meaning “combined together plant officinale) – This is the go-to herb for skin and bone-healing as it was used for this purpose by the ancient Greeks centuries ago. It is typically made into a salve and applied to help everything from wounds and scars to muscle aches and wouldn’t ya’ know it: broken bones. Unfortunately, the doctors glued a giant cast on my ankle to ensure I won’t wiggle this thing around, so I am taking comfrey as a part of a tea, in order to ingest properties from comfrey root that encourage healing from the inside-out.

Comfrey is also essential for reduction of inflammation in the joints, so with Comfrey and Turmeric teaming-up, I have all the swelling to a minimum!

New Adventures, New Families

IMG_3624

Each summer is a new experience and even more than that each summer I get to make a new family.  Whether it’s a group of crazy gals on an Island in Greece, a house full of goofy humans working at SeaWorld Orlando together or a group of urban farming gals as it was this year.

I love my summer families. We talk about everything and tackle life together, day in an day out we share food, fun and frustrations. We argue politics, beliefs, redefine our perspectives and furiously defend our feminism together. And it’s beautiful.

I am elated for one member of last years family to be getting married this fall as I got to be there for the adorable proposal and I got to witness another amazing young woman fight for food security and make it into the New York Times. Another family member is moving to Lebanon to tackle international relations while another is making our world more sustainable. These are some incredible young women and men who inspire me and make the experiences of my summer more incredible and educational than ever before.

This echoes so many experiences in life from internships, to travel to school: it is the people that matter most. From those five second interactions that change your world to those eternal friendships that cover thousands of miles. And this summer just as the summers before (and most certainly the seasons in between) remind me that in the next steps of life, the scary, exciting NEXT that is before me there will always be a new family to be made.

There will be those humans so inspiring and wonderful whose world with collide with my own, and I am so grateful for the humans who are already a part of my world. And as we each adventure off into our own city, country, continent, and worlds, I am so elated to see what each of our journeys hold.

 

Lessons from the Garden:Suckering Tomatoes

It’s 9am in the high tunnels and we are eager to beat the heat. With hundreds of tomato plants to be suckered, we set a pace to get out of this humid houses before 11am. Yes, we are suckering tomatoes. I started laughing when I heard this term, but this is the official term for the removal of those tiny parts of the plant that will grow into new stems and start sprouting their own flowers, which will result in more and more fruit. So, this seems like a good thing, right? Wrong.

These suckers grow so rapidly that, left to their own devices, we would have hundreds of flowers per plant and tons of beautiful green tomato leaves, but the fruit would be tiny and flavorless. Because just as it is in life, in the greenhouses and the botanical world, it’s all about allocation of resources.

As I sort through the rapid excitement of my next steps in life, with visa applications and tickets, I feel the need to ensure that my life be focused on a few, simple parts. If we don’t, we are left with tons of beautiful greenery but no delicious fruit in our lives. And if we’d like to extend that tomato metaphor, the leaves can be toxic, so while beautiful and ethereal in scent ( to my own nose, at least) the effort put into growing so much lush greenery is wasted as an inedible visual delicacy.

Our hours of suckering, gives me plenty of time to visit the important elements in my life. Time spent with plants and in the earth enable me to sort out the priorities. And as we end another successful Monday morning with plants whose fruit will be bountiful, I feel the same is reflected in my own life.

Happy suckering!

 

 

 

No Use Crying Over Shattered Glass

I know the phrase is spilt milk, or is it is spilled milk, maybe I don’t know the phrase, but the point behind it stands regardless. There’s nothing we can do about the milk being on the floor, so we might as well not waste time crying over it and just clean it up. Today the spilled milk was shattered glass. And that glass was the passenger side window of my car  that was strewn throughout the entire car. A few things were stolen, nothing irreplaceable and the things of the most personal value were precious books. But the violation of privacy and the shards of glass that lay across the floor, seat and dashboard (seriously, how did that spray pattern even work with so called “safety glass”?) were a small dent to my confidence in my fellow humans.

But shattered glass is all it was and when I found it at my lunch break, I knew that the damage had already been done and there strongest emotion I felt was inspiration. I know the area that I am investing a large amount of time is one of high crime rate, economic challenges and severe financial depression, so this shattered window was assurance that the personal investment I am making in this area is, in fact, necessary.

Maybe they were simply bored and had nothing better to do than shatter a few windows and steal other peoples possessions, but from my understanding of the world, most people don’t end up with such a hobby merely out of free time. Too often it is a need for drive, education, and passion that leads to these things, and when the basic needs of comfortable housing, education and healthy food aren’t met, how can we expect anything above this base level of Maslov’s heirarchy to be met?

I blame no single person for this event but rather years of divestment and neglect for a community that trickles over into so much more. I know that where I work in the food security of this area I am investing in the potential of so many incredible lives, lives that don’t need to shatter glass to find something of value. So, there’s no use crying over shattered glass, only inspiration to be found.

 

Checkpoints & Post-Grad Plans

I am excited and nervously started my last semester of undergrad. Two full weeks in and I feel like I finally have the hang out this whole undergrad-college thing, and it’s almost over. You know when you finally get used to writing the correct year on the date and by the time it’s a habit, it’s a new year and you have to start all over again? Well, that’s the sensation I have, but we’re going to enjoy this “understanding college” thing as long as it lasts.

I am also in the world of post-graduation plans, which mostly consists of trying to figure out how to make your LinkedIn look fantastic, or just good, I’ll even settle for decent at this point. It also comes with an array of interviews (like ones at Princeton that you’re convinced you botched but won’t know for another few months…), and essays to convince future opportunities that you are a killer candidate because you found a creative solution to a problem “that one time”.  And in the midst of all of this, I am being thrown back to high school with my portfolio and essay that describes my career plans from the view of 18 year-old me and it’s delightfully hilarious. And it is about this that I would like to briefly write: checkpoints. ( BTW, I am also listening to middle school/high-school  songs and it’s awesome, Kelly Clarkson anyone? Maybe some Avril?)

Seeing the essay that I wrote in high school reminds me how important goals are and checkpoints to see where you are with those goals and the direction you are going. Reading the paper, I can hear myself rolling my eyes while writing that essay my senior year, but now I see the wisdom my teacher had. She didn’t ask us to write an assignment, she had us write a letter to ourselves. And it’s a perfect checkpoint for right now.   Am I  closer to the person I wanted to be? Or am I someone happier? Have I changed directions altogether? Have I done so many of the incredible things that I told myself I would? And if not, why? If so, how does this continue? Look at the old checkpoints, make new ones and get excited for what is next, even if what is next might be more uncertain that ever before. : )

 

 

 

 

 

The Wonder of Watercolor

As I sit at my wall immersed in my mycology mural, I’m overwhelmed by how impossible watercolor is to control and I can’t help but allow my challenges to be a metaphor for life. I was rejected from one of the post-graduation programs I applied for and it makes sense as I applied feeling well under-qualified. But it left me realizing sometimes life isn’t in your control, and that can be beautiful.

Watercolor is barely in the control of the artist. Can you calculate the precise amount of water your brush will gather or the precise way in which the pigments mix with water? Can you predict the way in which gravity will draw the water droplets from your paint strokes? Or can you perfectly pinpoint the capillary action of the water colors through your canvas fibers?

Life isn’t always up to us and sometimes that is more than okay. Sometimes the way the colors disperse and the water flows make the painting more beautiful than you imagined. A program at Princeton University that I applied to invited me for interviews in January, and while it’s only a hunch, I think these colors will spill into my own, magnificently vibrant mural.
.

Graduation Day- Round One

(I’m behind on my writing updates!)

Today I skipped across the stage, and was handed my first of many colllege diplomas, I’m starting a collection. It was an odd sensation being back in the world of Columbus State but so reminiscent of the many changes.
Laura, Meredith and the STEM Club wasn’t there as they were the spring before last, it wasn’t the anticipation of going to Ohio State suspending in the air, but a mild anxiety of my OSU finals this coming week. And I wasn’t sitting there with old friends from two years of CSCC, I made new friends in the seats beside me and my best friend sat in the stands beside my mother cheering for me, picking me up to spin me around when it was over 🙂

As my sister and I both obtained our Associates, it was a moment of togetherness that I hadn’t felt since she was married. And as Dr. Harrison spoke with pride of my accomplishments, and hugged me before shaking my hand, a wave of confidence was reinstilled within me. I can do this. Whatever this is, I can do it. I have done it before and I will do it again.

The feelings were different but the moments just as precious, joyful, delightful. It’s the people we meet, connect with, and interact with, at the end of the day, at the end of two years (or more) of work, it’s the hugs you get that day from the people you love that matter more than the piece of paper 🙂