When I Was Small
By: Erica Smith
When I was small, What I thought I needed Was to grow bigger. And then I got too big, And then I got much too big, And then all I could do was to pray And to weep and to try and whittle myself down Every second of every minute of the day When I was small, What I thought what I needed Was to be noticed Instead I learned I needed to hide, But I took up too much space And there was no hiding for me Except in plain sight, where no one was looking When I was small, What I thought I needed, Was someone to love me, be on my side, Protect me from harm. But harm came just the same And no one was there, There was just me. And I was alone in my hurts And solitude hurt more than the wounds themselves. When I was small I had so many dreams. Where did they go? Why did they stop? When did I stop imagining more for myself Then just scraps and what’s left? Never asking for more, Because dreams like these are only for kids. And I’m not a kid and I should know better. A child does not know not to ask Not to want, Not to yearn, Not to wish. Does not know that dreams don’t come true. That dreams are sharp and dangerous things That cut every time and leave you diseased. The less you demand, The less you will be disappointed, The less they can withhold, The less you will be denied, The less you will need anesthetic, To numb your wounds, Left gaping by your wanting. But still somehow, I miss this small me, Who was so much braver Who was so filled with life and hope, Who thought anything was possible Who believed in the me, who would come. The me that could make her dreams real. That would make a life for us both. I want to live up to that little girl, Who still dreams up dreams for me, Now that I’ve forgotten how.
I fell under the spell of macho meditation practices as a younger woman. My back ramrod straight I did not move. I did not speak. I did not think. Day after day. Sesshin after sesshin. I would master my mind, focus my intention, attain enlightenment.
Only I became a mother instead, one child on my hip, a baby at my breast, kicked out of the zendo when my sucking child cooed once too often along with the birds.
I had been looking for a peak experience, a revelation, I wanted to get it, and I didn't realize how utterly my aspirations had been coopted by patriarchal spiritual delusions that privilged silence over storytelling, the mind over the heart, celibacy over fertility, enlightenment over the healing wisdom of the darkness.
There is reason to believe that meditation evolved from the hunting behaviors of men--the need for radical stillness and the readiness to act whent he moment was right.
But there are other ways, long poo-pooed and dismissed by the spiritually adventurous...women's ways. Yet how man of us admire the shaved headed robed powerhouse macho zen women and overlook the old grannies their beads wrapped around their wrists muttering prayers and spells? I know SO many women who can't stand to meditate and yet still think that somehow mindfulness is a good idea and that they "should" be doing it.
Maybe not. It turns out in those hunter-gatherer societies the bulk of the food was gathered. Yes, you need a few hunters and the occasional mammoth steak but it's the gathering of seeds, berries, nuts, roots, and little critters that is what really sustains us. Women's work sustains us. Prayer sustains us.
Those little old grannies with their beads knew how to birth babies, feed families when there was no food, pray away illness when there was no medicine, ease the passage of the dying, settle quarrels among the children, and rock a baby to sleep.
This is why I pray the rosary. It's women's work. It's gathering and muttering and telling and spelling. It aligns me with those old grannies, dismissed, overlooked, forgotten, who sustained us and held us and tried to make sense of a world gone wrong.
They hid their devotion to the Great Mother, the Great Granny, in those beads, even as the Church (and all the patriarchal priesthoods) told them that silence was best. ie Shut the fuck up.
What we need now are voices telling stories, people who can speak to their hearts again, a world fertile and reborn again.
I don't want to be the Dalai Lama. I want to be my grandmother.
by: Perdita Finn
Notes on Oat Straw
TODAY’S SPECIAL HERB IS OAT STRAW aka Avena Sativa
Oat straw is the young grass of the plant that gives us oats.
Oat Straw is an amazing nervine and nutritive.
Nervines are herbs that help calm our nervous systems.
Nutritives are exactly what they sound like- abundant in nutrients.
Oat straw is prized as a gentle and supportive herbal medicine.
As I’ve mentioned before, our nervous system cannot be separated from our immune system. The two are intrinsically intertwined. Being in a chronic, sympathetic fight or flight dominant state impairs our immune functions. For this reason, especially right now, I like to talk about herbs that soothe and support us in this way.
You can think of oat straw (and other nervines) as the opposite of stimulants like caffeine.
Oat straw soothes our adrenals- which will also be great for us when we go back ‘into the world’. If we start to fall back into burning the candle at both ends, we can deplete our adrenals. Oat straw is a great ally for depleted adrenals and workaholics.
Oatstraw is highly nutritive, containing minerals such as iron, calcium, magnesium, vitamins, and a variety of other nutrients which deeply nourish the entire body.
She’s a gentle restorative herb- wonderful for those that are cold, depleted, or tired, or for the type of person who drinks too much coffee and is chronically burnt out.
Milky oats are the oat tops, harvested when they’re in a ‘milky’ stage, during which the oat tops release a white, milky sap when squeezed. The milky oats are generally believed to work more quickly in an acute situation. To make medicine from the plant at this stage, it has to immediately soaked in alcohol to make a tincture. Tincturing the milky oats while fresh preserves their bioactive potency.
Herb Pharm is a reputable company that I like to get a lot of my tinctures from. They grow all of the plants they use in their medicines on their own organic farm in Southern Oregon.
You can also buy dried oats and make an infusion from it. An infusion is basically a ‘strong’ tea. You can fill a jar about 1/3 with plant matter and pour boiling water over it, letting it steep for up to 4 hours. offers support over time. Hence the tea of the oatstraw is a better building tonic than the tincture.
Frontier Natural Products is who I buy a lot of my bulk, dried herbs from
Either of these preparations are good for the type of person that has, according to the herbalist and teacher 7Song, " pushed and pushed and now feels tired, out-of-sorts, or just plain disconnected much of the time no matter how much they rest or sleep."
Oat straw is safe for everyone, from babies to pregnant or nursing mothers to elderly folks. The only contraindication is for people with celiac disease; however, people who are gluten-intolerant typically do well with oatstraw infusion
Although I haven’t tried it, I’ve heard that growing oat straw is relatively easy and is a great choice for a permaculture garden as it prevents soil erosion, making it a great cover crop.
These few words are enough.
If not these words, this breath.
If not this breath, this sitting here.
This opening, to the life we have refused
Again. And again.
-David Wythe from the book- “The Heart Aroused”
Love is needed. Needed in this hostile world of people.
Love is needed.
Needed by those lost and alone and just seeking a hug.
Love is needed.
Needed by children that feel unloved.
Reach out to them.
You just might be a blessing for them.
Love is needed. Needed by those who feel so many against them.
All because the life they live,
Or the choice they love.
In church, many ministers preach it, teach it and more.
But sometimes you wonder about their message,
If it's not according to their view.
Love is needed.
Needed by the person constantly abused.
What we want?
Isn't always what we need.
And what we need?
Isn't always what we want.
But the world needs love. It's needed.
by Jeffery Conyers
"I will learn that love is not always a loud parade of a thing; it can be strong and silent. It is not the throb of my name across a football field, but the low tender call for me across a sterile room, a call from a person who knows that they might never be heard but chooses to speak anyway. It is not the presentation of shiny crowns and shiny roses. It is the table filled with wrinkled pettles and dirty water, the flowers that people brought not knowing if I would ever wake to see them. It is not sitting on the sidelines in a nice sweater watching me blossom, it is sitting beside my bedside dishevled and barefaced, watching me wither. I will learn that love is one person becoming undone for another. Its being stripped of the armor we've worked so hard to fashion for ourselves to become the armor for somebody else. Its standing naked...."
by Ruthie Lindsey From the book There I am: The Journey from Hopelessness to Healing- A Memoir