Manitou Healing

I’ve been drawn to Manitou lately. Drawn to it’s earthy, solemn, calming vibrations. Manitou Springs is a beautiful little town right outside of Colorado Springs. It’s a ten minute drive from home, but we usually avoid it due to the overwhelming crowds. However, I’ve been recently feeling more and more connected with this magical place. With the tourist season dying down, I can finally feel the energy I’ve heard so much about. Soaking in the healing powers of the spring water, taking part in ceremonial crystal cleansing, discovering the expressive dance and yoga community, and exploring the mountains and trails long ago discovered by the Ute tribe. Luke, the imaginative archeologist that he is, helped me connect with this part of history on the Ute Pass, looking down from the top of the ridge to greet the new year. The spiritual connection I’ve felt since the crowds have dissipated make me wonder if the historical and sacred significance has been somewhat desecrated by tourism, the endless streams of traffic and commercialism, overpowering the subtle flow of the spring, the whispering voices of the past. There’s a spiritual piece to this quirky little town that seems to be disappearing, lost in the shuffle. There appears to be a specific attraction to the healing properties of the spring water, but how can we ask the earth to heal us and offer nothing in return? Respect for the natural earth is fading all around us. It’s time to reconnect with our planet, to appreciate and protect her, and to reverse this cycle that we’ve created.

 

 

I want to dedicate this post to my partner, Luke. Thank you for your endless inspiration.

Hello, Winter

The temperatures are steadily dropping out here in Colorado, and I’m loving every second of it. Snow, candles, and snuggling are on the top of my list this time of year. Last weekend, Norah, Molly and I welcomed winter early with a scenic snowy hike, followed by a mug of hot rosemary cider.

Yesterday was the solstice. The longest night of the year, the beginning of winter. Since I had a full day of clients, I’d been wondering how I was going to celebrate. As fate would have it, I happened to stumble upon a local yoga class honoring the winter solstice in Manitou Springs last night. Of course, I had to check it out. The sequence emphasized alignment, as well the balance between light and darkness as we begin to move toward the sun. The class ended with live music, expressive dancing and a crystal/water ceremony. It was an unusual, freeing, beautiful way to honor the solstice.

How did you celebrate?

Royal Treatment

I felt like a queen this weekend. Why? Could’ve been the castle. 

After a winding drive through the mountains, a gap in the pines revealed Bishop Castle, a towering structure of metal and stone, dragon included, of course. I abandoned my fear of heights for the day and climbed the delicate spiral staircases, to the top of the world, it seemed. I became enchanted with this mysterious place. It was right out of a  fairytale. After a cold day of romping around the mountains, still in my fairytale-castle-mindset, all I wanted was a warm bubble bath… & while self-care is about so much more than “pampering”, I think it’s necessary to indulge every now and then. Everything in moderation, right?

How do you indulge?

Home

When do you feel most at home? For me, it’s right around this time of year, no matter where I am. Moving around so much the past five years or so, I associate so many places, and people, with “home”.  When autumn hits, I want to surround myself with people I love, and this year my heart is so full. After my cousin came to stay with us in September, Luke and I visited North Carolina for a wedding. We got to reconnect with friends and family and revisit Asheville, the place where we met, on the same week, two years ago. Autumn makes me feel at home, even when my heart is torn between so many places. Little fall traditions remind me of childhood, of warmth, of magic, of home. This past week was perfect for that, and it was the perfect for my self-care. Revisiting some of my favorite places and people, hanging in our hammocks beneath giant oak trees, hiking and collecting fall wildflowers in the rain, and seeing my rolling Blue Ridge Mountains in their glowing autumnal beauty.

It has been amazing to catch some of the peak colors of Carolina and Colorado, both so unique and beautiful in their own way.

No place like home

Autumn. Mother Nature’s beautiful, magical, colorful transformation. I’m getting my first true glimpse of fall in Colorado, and it is breathtaking.

Friday was the autumn equinox, a time for balance, transition, abundance, and appreciation. While planning a celebratory weekend filled with camping, fire dances, and Mabon festivities, the universe laughed as the sky opened up Friday afternoon, and the rain poured down. In an attempt to flexibly transition with the season, I packed up my camping mugs and moved the party inside. Cozily stuck indoors, I thought, what would be perfect for looking out at the rain? Autumn inspired lattes. Keeping with the blog’s coffeeless tradition, these easy lattes are the perfect cozy compliment to the cool weather and changing leaves.

Warm & Spicy Cacao Latte

  • 2 cups Water
  • 2 tbsp Ground Chicory Root
  • 1/4 cup Cacao Nibs
  • 1/4 cup Steamed Almond Milk
  • 1 tsp Cinnamon
  • 1 tsp Cayenne Pepper

Brew the chicory root grounds, cinnamon, and cayenne with water using a coffee maker, pour-over, or french press. Place cacao nibs in the bottom of a mug and add hot chicory “coffee”, stirring to melt cacao. Add steamed milk and top with cinnamon, cayenne, and nutmeg (optional).

Pumpkin Spice Root Latte

  • 2 cups Hot Water
  • 2 tbsp Root Tea Blend
  • 1/4 cup Almond Milk
  • 2 tbsp Pumpkin Puree
  • 1 tsp Pumpkin Pie Spice

Steep root blend in hot water for 5 minutes. (I use a local blend made with dandelion and licorice root.) In a saucepan, gently heat almond milk, pumpkin puree and pumpkin pie spice, stirring constantly. Add steamed milk to tea and top with pumpkin pie spice.

Green Tea & Ginger Latte

  • 2 cups Hot Water
  • 2 tbsp Green Tea, Yerba Mate, or Matcha Blend
  • 1/4 Steamed Almond Milk
  • 1 tbsp Ground Ginger

Steep green tea in hot water for 5 minutes. Add steamed milk to tea and top with ground ginger.

Happy Autumn, my loves

On Being Present

My mind has a habit of drifting, wandering, and I find myself carried away. Either into a warm, nostalgic memory, or some vision of the idealized distant future. I love teaching and practicing mindfulness with my clients, but I have to ask myself, how often am I utilizing this technique for my own self-care? During a short visit to the Carolinas this past week, I had an insightful conversation with my grandmother. She asked me a simple question: “are you satisfied with your life?”. A question that I’ve been hesitant to ask myself lately. Living so far away from my birthplace, I was infatuated with this brief homecoming, basking in past memories, taking in the golden, feathery sunsets and lush greenery, gazing up at the massive old trees, comparing it all to the scenery of my new home. As if I were trying to decide which landscape I prefer, which one feels more authentic, which one reflects where I need to “end up”, or “settle down”. Which is why this question seemed so daunting. Am I satisfied? Expending energy hazy with nostalgia or hyper-focused on future plans, will I ever be? Life never turns out quite the way we plan or imagine (although sometimes, it’s even better), and obsessing over that can be self-destructive. In my graduate program, we often discussed a phenomenon called Destination Addiction. It’s the unattainable idea that whenever a certain goal is reached, happiness will automatically follow. We also discussed the theory that we remember events in a better light than when we actually experienced the event. These cognitions are what can keep us disillusioned and distant from the present moment, from current, ongoing happiness. Practicing mindfulness (being present and nonjudgmental in the moment), appreciating the little things that make us feel at home, and focusing on the amazing aspects of everyday life, these are a few basic essentials for self-care and feeling satisfied. Sunsets are beautiful anywhere, but we have to be present in order to appreciate them.

How do you stay present?

Moon Journal

The moon. La luna. It influences the tides, our bodies, agriculture, sleep cycles. I find the moon presenting itself in a lot of my expressive artwork, and I want to document how it affects me personally.  Last night was the Leo New Moon. I noticed how much it was affecting me, so I started looking more into its meaning, and realized that next month, at the end of this moon cycle, holds a solar eclipse. This is an important lunar cycle to pay attention to. Today, I created a moon journal to document my mind, body, spirit, and sleep for each day and night from the Leo New Moon, through the Full Corn Moon on Monday, August 7th, 2017 until the solar eclipse on Monday, August 21st, 2017.

I would love to hear from and share this experience with anyone wishing to join me on this lunar journey!

Garden Compost

The garden is getting huge. In late spring, we planted tomatoes, zucchini, yellow squash, beets, carrots, pumpkins, watermelons, corn, okra, quinoa, beans, berries, onions, and a variety of peppers including purple cayenne, habanero, and jalepeno. The list goes on and on, and we just harvested our first zucchini! Shortly after we planted, I began composting using an old compost spinner from my landlord. (I’ve also created one in the past by drilling holes into a plastic outdoor trashcan). Compost can be a great additive to any garden, but it took some research to learn the best (and worst) things to add to my compost. Below is a guide on what I usually toss in there:

I make sure to NEVER add animal products or waste, oil, or charcoal. Being vegetarian, it’s easy to monitor what goes into my compost by keeping a big, airtight jar on the kitchen counter for food scraps. I just empty it into the spinner when it gets full. I also toss weeds and greenery in the spinner pretty often. It’s been so exciting to watch the garden take off, and I can’t wait to share more with you as the harvest continues!

Floral Creamers

It’s wildflower season here in Colorado, and it’s unbelievably beautiful.

All of those gorgeous, colorful blooms and blossoms come and go so quickly, I had to capture them somehow. I’ve been creating some floral-based concoctions, and so far this is my favorite: floral scented creamer. This time of year, with the sun shining, birds singing, and adventure calling, it can be hard to stay focused, especially during those busy, early mornings. These vegan, sugarless rose petal, lavender, and orange blossom creamers are like a little morning oasis; a sweet summertime escape. Add them to coffee, tea, or perhaps a caffeine-free alternative, and start your day imagining yourself in the middle of a wildflower field.

Rose Petal Creamer

  • 2 cups Unsweetened Nut Milk of Your Choice
  • 2 tbsp Dried Rose Petals
  • 1 tsp Concentrated Rose Water
  • 1 tbsp Agave Nectar

Combine all ingredients in a saucepan and barely bring to a boil. Immediately remove from heat and let rest for ten minutes. Strain out rose petals and serve.

Lavender Vanilla Creamer

  • 2 cups Unsweetened Nut Milk of Your Choice
  • 2 tbsp Dried Lavender
  • 1 tsp Vanilla Extract
  • 1 tbsp Agave Nectar

Combine all ingredients in a saucepan and barely bring to a boil. Immediately remove from heat and let rest for ten minutes. Strain out dried lavender and serve.

Orange Blossom Creamer

  • 2 cups Unsweetened Nut Milk of Your Choice
  • 1 tbsp Dried Orange Peel
  • 1 tsp Concentrated Orange Blossom Water
  • 1 tbsp Agave Nectar

Combine all ingredients in a saucepan and barely bring to a boil. Immediately remove from heat and let rest for ten minutes. Strain out orange peel and serve.

Good morning, summertime!

Elements

As I sit here writing, I notice the scent of tea tree lingering from my hair, slightly damp from my shower. I breathe in the warmth from the green tea in my favorite mug. I am safe. I am clean. I am comfortable. Unexposed to the elements on this unusually chilly night. I feel cozy tonight, but my mind wanders to a recent camping adventure in which I was almost completely exposed to the elements, at the mercy of Mother Earth. With the promising forecast of clear skies and decent temperatures, five of us headed out with our camping gear, unfazed by the unpredicted grey clouds looming in the distance. A few hours into our trip, tents built and campfire blazing, those clouds opened up and the rain began to pour. We ran into our tent and huddled up together, waiting for it to pass. These unexpected but temporary downpours continued on and off throughout our trip, producing the most beautiful sunset and sunrise. We were exposed to the elements with few options for shelter, nervously hoping that the tent enveloping us would hold up through the periodic storms. It is eye opening to get a glimpse of what so many people are forced to experience on a daily basis, exposed to wind, rain, cold temperatures. However, we were doing this for fun. We chose to wait out the rain and thunder for the joy of camping. There seems to be a common nomadic daydream among many in our generation. The dream of living on the road or off the grid, a form of chosen homelessness. There is something that feels so natural and primal about living in such a way. It feels magical to wake up in a forest, making your breakfast over the fire you’ve built, cooling off in a nearby stream, completely surrounded by nature. I feel that while living our chosen lifestyles, whatever they may be, it is important to remember that we are lucky enough to get to choose that lifestyle. As someone dedicated to a helping profession, I wonder how many ways we can find to reroute our daily activities in order to give back, to waste less, to show compassion? Volunteering, recycling, composting, donating, leaving no trace, etc… I would love to hear your thoughts on this! What aspects of your lifestyle are dedicated to bettering the planet, or what would you like to start doing and learning more about?