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August 2015

Beating Swords into Plowshares.....


It's been a very interesting 24 hours in my life.  It's almost too long a story to tell. Let it suffice to say that when you say that you are done with a certain behavior, if you cross your own boundaries you are in big big trouble with the universe.  I decided a couple of  weeks ago that I was going to stop reacting to every political and cultural shit storm that I saw.  I had begun to feel like fighting about any and every issue was getting in the way of my emotional and physical health. It's truly been much more emotionally satisfying to talk about the things that make me happy.  I'd pretty well decided that I was only going to worry about transforming me. I  put myself on the equivalent of the 12 step programs for activists. "I am powerless over my lust for political and cultural controversy"...it goes on and on.

So yesterday I woke up to a Facebook post that was bound and determined to trigger all of my worst behaviors and instincts. I'm not even going into the details but you can probably figure out if you know me well that it had everything to do with current Republican and Democratic political chaos. I went into blame mode, activist mode and even worse, teaching mode ; the political activist methodology and manifesto of "you're too stupid to be able to comprehend this unless I throw it in your face" mode. 

As the day progressed it got worse. I fed the addiction by looking at Facebook constantly and editing the post....feeling the shame, feeling the righteousness... all of it. 

Then we went out to dinner with a couple we'd just met, one of whom really reminded me of my mother. My mother was many wonderful things and I really loved her. One of the things that she was the most ego-identified with was her activism. We marched together many times in Washington, she was always rallying about something. I loved that about her and that part of her nature was easily imprinted on me.

That being said, she was a fighter and she never learned the art of surrender. She always played to win  but the shadow side of her personality was when she didn't win it left her  very bitter, fearful and disillusioned. 

 By the time she died she was exhausted from fighting , sick and very very angry. She had (in the Doc's own words) one of the worst strokes they'd ever seen. It was terrible to watch. It was her way of finally escaping a world which she perceived as spinning to quickly out of her control. I know that if she'd simply slowed down, stopped taking it all so personally, stopped trying to control what she couldn't and instead accepting all of the wonder life had brought her, that she might be with us still. 

Moving forward, last nights dinner conversation turned into a diatribe about white entitlement, and then how crazy the current state of the Republican party was. It quickly morphed into railing against Monsanto and of course climate change. The only thing that we didn't chew on was factory farm animals because they were eating meat. It was self serving gluttony at it's finest. It went on for hours and somewhere during the night I began to feel a pain in my eyelid. 

I went to bed feeling as if I'd really overindulged and the pain in my eyelid continued to get worse, swelling larger by the second. I awoke at 3:00 am this morning and it had gotten unbearable, my eye was practically swollen shut. I began wondering what it was that I wasn't willing to "see"?  It was then I'd realized that instant karma had bitten me once again. I went to Facebook, saw that I seduced others into participation and quickly deleted the offending post. Within minutes, the pain began to subside and the swelling began to decrease. It doesn't hurt any more, but what's taken it's place is a small spark of enlightenment.

I participate over and over again with the world in this addictive fashion.  

I'm totally boring to myself and probably others because of it.

What I noticed in the wee hours of the morning is that us self identified liberals, vegans, conservatives, animal rights, gun and planet activists - you name it... there's a crack for it, engage with each other in ways that are just plain mean.  We bludgeon each other. I will always believe in equal rights, fair treatment of animals, fair wages, ending racism, freedom of religion, making love not war...my list goes on and on. I'll always sign petitions, vote, make my voice heard whenever I can. I'm sure that if the spirit moves me, I'll be back in Washington someday , marching for something I believe in.

That being said...I don't think that anyone gave me the right to be a complete and total bully. To hate someone that I don't even know because they might have the audacity not to agree with me. To violate someones energetic, physical and emotional boundaries because I do not approve. 

About anything. 

I don't appreciate having policies and ideologies slammed down my throat, but the irony of that is that I fight back with the same ferocity. I might as well be my own religious zealot and I have that that to thank for my black and swollen eye. I beat my self up with hypocrisy.

The funny thing is? All of this fighting that we're doing with each other is just making the energy that loves to divide us even stronger. 

We will never free the whales, stop the trophy hunting, end the needless abuse of factory farming, stop nuclear proliferation, curb terrorism,  end racism and religious intolerance, let alone save the planet and all of us on it, if we don't find another way to communicate with each other. 

Currently, I've started to wonder if many of us aren't using the smokescreen of "activism" for evil. You know what I mean...it's the thrilling high you get when you've made someone wrong about something they believe in, that of course you're right about. It's the gossip you indulge in about the behavior of liberals , conservatives, gun owners and meat eaters and vegans gone wild.

Political activism is my crack and I give it power over me that instead I need to own in the name of love.  

I find myself wondering how much further ahead we'd all be if we stopped shouting and started listening to each other for a bit. I am wondering how much more effective we'd be if we stopped feeding our addictions to self-righteousness? What life might be like if we asked "why" instead of screaming "wrong". What would happen if we slowed down enough to look at the whole, instead of expecting the world to be fashioned in the way that we wanted it to be? I have no clue how I could expect anyone to listen to my point of view when I'm very loudly making them wrong for their own. 

Right now these are just the questions that I'm asking myself. I don't expect anyone else to agree.

That being said I woke up this morning remembering the day that my mother died. She'd been in a coma for a week after succumbing to the stroke that put her there. We moved her from the hospital into Hospice.  By that time, she had horrible and deep diabetic ulcers the size of quarters all over her legs, because she was being too stubborn to stay off of her feet long enough to let them heal. I spent that week putting lipstick on her and brushing her hair and perfuming her because she would never have wanted to be seen without her makeup and that morning was no different.

 All of a sudden, her robe fell away. 

The sores that had plagued her for several years had cleansed themselves,  healed and were almost completely closed, so much so that if she'd been at home we would not have had to worry about them really at all. 

Six days...that's all it took.  Six days of putting down the sword. Six days of rest and surrender.

We have problems in this country and in this world that are not going away.  We have to ask ourselves why and moreover, we have to do it together. We all have to be 100 percent accountable for each other....not just those who agree with us. Ask yourself how you really feel (in your heart and soul) after you've made someone terribly wrong for something that they don't believe in or simply hadn't thought about enough to know how they'd feel one way or another.  Lets stop tearing each other down and start instead building each other up. Even when we don't agree, perhaps we can start by agreeing to love one another.  

I heard you this morning mom. Loud and Clear.

This is my white flag of truce.






I do not know who to attribute this flag picture to, but I did not take it. 

Claires Herbs ~ Garlic

I can't even begin to list all of the reasons that I love garlic! Besides its obvious deliciousness , it's so incredibly good for you. Not to make you squeamish but it's said that a clove of fresh garlic a day keeps the intestinal parasites away, and a poultice of garlic and raw honey under a bandaid has helped me heal many a wound when neosporin just wasn't available! Come fall when the weather is turning I'll always make a hot soup of fresh garlic, green herbs, , shrimp chili and coconut milk to help beef up my immune system in time for the cold and rainy weather that October usually brings! Some of this particular batch is going to be pesto for a potato and mushroom pizza tonight! Bon Appetit! @herbalacademy #myherbalstudies #MiladysOutlanderHerbCampCulinary #MiladysOutlanderHerbCampMedicinal

A photo posted by BethSchreibmanGehring (@bethsgehring) on

Love Potions ~ Guerlain Shalimar



I think that everyone has a perfume that is so completely evocative, so emotionally relevant that a simple waft of it can spin you back decades. Such is it with me and Shalimar. So many have such a strong love/hate relationship with this scent, but I have always loved it and it me. It was the fragrance that my mother wore for her entire married life and my father used to buy it for her constantly and in every form because he adored it! I always assumed that she did too, but she confided in me several years before her death that she’d always hated it. I was surprised because it smelled absolutely devastating on her. She was an excellent wife in that respect and a bit of a contradiction , a feminist to the core and way before her time , however making my father happy was as she saw it” her most important job”. Fortunately she passed the knowledge on. The day that I married my husband, she pulled me into the back bedroom and said “Remember darling, you can buy your own things....so whatever he gives you, wear it to bed, even if it’s a toaster!” That alone has been the best piece of advice that I ever received from her with the exception of one other that I can’t share here...if you want to know, write me privately:)



So wear Shalimar she did and some of my earliest memories of her are of that scent. Until about 2 years before her death, my parents went to hear the Cleveland Orchestra every Thursday night. I loved watching her dress for the symphony, she was unbelievably elegant. She would slip on one of several black dresses, comb back her raven colored hair and spray it into submission. Then she would put a bit of blush and paint on her lipstick, always the same “Fire and Ice red and then pick up her bottle of Shalimar. She had a ritual for it, a little behind her ears, a bit in her hair , her cleavage and around her ankles. To an impressionable 8 year old it was the most glamorous act ever. Then she would put on her opera length gray pearls, knot them twice and walk into the kitchen to find my father who would always be enchanted simply by the sight of her. She was completely gorgeous,when she was younger she looked just like Hedy Lamarr. My father would whisk her off into the night and I would be left to wonder about that magic, hoping someday that it would be my birthright too. She shared all of that part of herself with us, it was important to her. She was very generous in that way, a powerful priestess of love.

She had a beautiful closet for us growing up, a dress up closet filled with all kinds of wonderful things that she’d outgrown. Velvet capes and beautiful high heels, shawls and scarves. We would play in it for hours and when I had put together the perfect outfit she would take me into the bathroom and fix my makeup, always finishing with just a touch of her perfume. I loved it, especially the black and burgundy velvet cape that I would always wear. But most of all, I loved her Shalimar. I have always found it to be a warm and enveloping fragrance, very very sexy. Shalimar lingers like a kiss from just the right man, one who knows you well and yet adores the mysteriousness about you that he can’t quite understand. Wearing Shalimar reconnects me with the old stories of the Sacred Prostitutes of Isis, who spent hours preparing themselves in their temples to receive the passions of strangers coming to worship them embodied as the sacred feminine on earth. I can imagine spending hours brushing my hair, anointing myself with sacred oils, preparing myself for that passion. I love it’s vanilla qualities, the musky balsam and benzoin with the hints of leather and the strange seductiveness of orris. I love that when I wear it I feel absolutely gorgeous and ready for love.

Shortly after my mother’s death I inherited her gray pearls. Receiving them was only one of the many rites of passage associated with my mothers dying but putting on those pearls felt more than a little strange for they sang of her soul and I wanted her to be there with me instead laughing and putting on her lipstick. With a deep sigh I looped them around my neck, knotted them and took a deep breath and there it was, the scent of her Shalimar leaving me spinning happily back in time suddenly and completely unafraid and no longer alone.




This Post was originally published in the Perfume Magazine in 2010

Claires Herbs ~ The Beautiful and Deadly Datura