Sunday, April 11, 2021

Hooray for Yesterday, and My Perspective Today.


The one thing I've missed most of all during this pandemic is visiting with my niece, her beautiful young family and my wonderful sister-in-love.  Aside from the usual precautions being observed by most of us, and being parents of two small boys, the family has been especially careful.  So, we stopped seeing each other.  

I'm not much for most social media, nor am I free of concerns over the massively increasing and now ubiquitous exposures of electromagnetic frequencies, (EMF's.)  So, for that reason and a myriad of other concerns, I don't choose to own a cell phone.  So, I don't text.  And most young people, these days, truly dislike using their phones as phones.  So, unless we make time to see each other, I'm literally completely out of touch with my niece and her family.

But yesterday, joy of joys, with the onset of spring and the drop in COVID cases, an exception to our 'No Visiting' stance opened with a window of opportunity and we all jumped through.  We didn't hug, but we spent a truly glorious day together out in their charming little backyard.  

The boys had dump-trucks and blocks and a mini, light portable swing-set, along with a delightful elevated circular plastic trough that Gram-mama had just filled with water for them to stand at, pat and splash in, with their toys.  We brought some little celery snacks and some tomato based veggie drinks, which were a big hit.  And we found that we all just delighted in the moment, each moment, all day long.  

The weather was beautiful, the company superlative, and the joy factor was spectacular.  Despite our many vague attempts to speak of ideas or ideals, the boys religiously pulled us back to the present moment of now.  

May we all be so blessed as to have such great fun with our families or friends, catching those golden moments of relaxed love and joy, whenever we can.  As the Buddha said, "Do nothing.  Time is too precious to waste."

I'll leave you with this snippet from a Mary Oliver poem that I love:

The god of dirt
came up to me many times and said
so many wise and delectable things,
I lay on the grass listening
to his dog voice,
crow voice,
frog voice;
now, he said,
and now,
and never once mentioned forever. 


Sunday, March 14, 2021

Simple Natural Skin Care



Please enjoy this three minute video on how you can make a very simple skin cream that will nourish your skin and keep it happy after spending a day outside.

Also, please see my disclaimer on the "About" page of my "Josephine Laing YouTube" Channel before viewing this video. 

Monday, February 22, 2021

Building Soil

Seriously, this is what is bringing me joy right now.  I love the smell of dirt.  I'll often lay right down on the lawn at the park and delicately part the grasses, then I put my nose in there, so I can inhale that fresh bouquet of the soil.  Our park gets watered a couple of times each month, so it has the life giving moisture that all soil needs.  Some dirt is nearly dead, with little to no rainwater or irrigation, and subsequently no plant cover to protect it from the heat of the sun.  But when soil is moist, it is alive with possibilities and full of the promise of fruitfulness.

Twenty or thirty years ago, I learned of the drastic loss of top soil that we are experiencing every year, in America.  The tilling, and consequential erosion of wind and water, carries it all out to the sea.  So, I decided to learn how to 'build soil', right here in my own backyard, so as to do my own little part to reverse that dangerous trend.

I started by saving all of our kitchen scraps, in lidded, five-gallon buckets, just outside the back kitchen door.  Melon rinds, broccoli stem ends, onion peels and more, are all gathered in a little quart sized plastic container by the sink and then dumped into one of the buckets at the end of the day.  (During the summer, this always has a good fitting lid when the fruit flies abound.)  Everything gets pretty ripe in those buckets as the weeks pass by.  And after filling all four or five of them, the contents have sunk down and I can add some more.

On my mother's farm, the "slops" would have been fed to the pigs or to the chickens, fresh each day, and turned into vegetarian poop, otherwise know as great fertilizer for the garden.  But here in the city, we don't keep farm animals and so I let my compost pile, with it's lovely array of healthy worms, do the job of breaking down our veggie scrap slops into rich living soil.

Egg shells are a great addition to any compost pile, but we avoid any and all meat scraps, as that invites the maggots and the flies.  They might do just fine in a different situation, but here, in our little backyard operation, we stick to plant materials for our compost pile.

Way back when, while I was originally researching compost and how to make it, I came across, "The Rudolf Steiner Method."  Rudolf was a scientist and philosopher from the last century who started a whole movement of natural and intuitive methods for supporting life.  His is a spiritually-holistic approach to health and vitality in both the home and in the garden.

For his compost, Rudolf preferred a no stir, layered pile method.  He chose a number of specific plants to encourage the growth of the main families of bacteria found here on earth.  They include: the flowers and leaves of Yarrow, German Chamomile, Dandelion and Valerian along with the stems and leaves of Stinging Nettle and the bark and leaves of White Oak.  All of that seemed like an excellent idea to me.  So, I set about gathering each of the ingredients and I layered them in generously with my fall leaves.  On his recommendations, I also used a base of dried mustard stalks, to allow air to continue to penetrate under the pile.  

Every year, I re-seed my new compost pile with at least a few big healthy scoops of the previous year's rich black mulch, scattered in between the layers, to carry that original intention forward with it's energetic and bacterial components.  I've since found out that you can purchase little bags of Rudolf Steiner's compost mix to use in seeding those wonderful plant energies into a layered pile.

Sometimes I'll use corn stalks or some other air-filled plant stems at the base of my pile, instead of the dried mustard.  I also like to include alfalfa in my compost.  Alfalfa leaves are rich in nitrogen, which is the main nutrient for healthy plant growth.  With it's long leafy stems, alfalfa also adds stability and structure to the pile, so I arrange it nicely as I'm layering on the various materials.  And, nitrogen helps organic material to decompose.

Pine needles are acidic in nature.  As most of our soils tend toward alkalinity, pine needles, that have broken down into compost, help to balance the pH of the soil, thus making all of the minerals and nutrients more available for uptake by the fine root hairs on a growing plants tiny little roots.  

A good compost pile also needs one other vital ingredient, something to help it get hot and cook everything awhile.  This ingredient is moisture.  And this is where my slops come in.  I make a nice mashed potatoes hole in the top of the pile and pour all of those slimy, moldy, decomposing veggie bits right in there, stinking to high heaven.  To put an end to that fecund stench, I have a nice pile of dry leaves, at the ready, to plunk on top.  This caps the smell.  And those slops invite the worms to come in from all around the garden and do their job of breaking everything down, swallowing it and pooping it out as worm castings, all through the matrix.

If I have a lot of leaves and they are all really dry, I'll put a little sprinkler on top of the pile and let it run overnight.  Either that or a good soaking rain will help to get things going.  Another abundantly available item, that can add moisture and heat to a pile, is freshly-mown (non-stoloniferous,) lawn grass clippings or wild soft spring grasses, pulled or harvested before they have set seed.  These can either be added to the pile as layers, while it is being built, or they can be carefully massaged down into the center of a pile after it has been formed.  The tender, fresh, moist shoots will break down right away and generate the heat needed to really speed a pile along.  Horse or cow manure can do this too.  I'll often top my pile with a blanket of black plastic sheeting, which I hold in place with a smallish fallen branch or two.  Here in dry California, this helps to hold both the heat and the moisture in.

Generally, after summer has come and gone, when the leaves begin to fall, I gather them up in my wheelbarrow and stow them somewhere near my pile.  I pick out all of the sticks, that are bigger than a pencil, as these will take too long to break down.  I might also visit a local horse farm, with an empty trash can, for a little manure, and perhaps I'll ask if I can clean up some of the alfalfa scraps from the hay barn floor.  I keep my eyes open for roadside banks of pine needles and fill an old trash bag full with them.  Then along comes the day, usually in the early spring, when I feel inspired to jump in there with my trusty pitch fork and shovel and start the layering process, taking first a little of this then a little of that.  I also sprinkle a few shovelfuls of my own native soil, to enrich my compost pile, with all of the microorganisms found there, as well.

I used to have a nice bin with a concrete floor and a single row of concrete blocks around the sides and back, with a plank board wall on top of the blocks about five feet high.  But then we needed that space for another use and now I build my pile free standing on top of an old piece of plywood.  Rudolf Steiner didn't have a floor under his piles.  But, I find it helpful to have something under there to discourage all of my tree roots from reaching up and taking advantage of all that good nutrition, thereby congesting my pile.  

Most of the decomposition takes place within two or three months, especially if I've added a lot of manure or fresh spring grass to the pile.  Unlike Rudolf, I'll let my pile sit idyl for up to a year, until the following spring planting season gets into full swing.  I might raid it two or three times for various mulching or potting projects.  But I only completely dig it all out, casting it around the garden, replenishing my vegetable boxes and mulching the trees, before I completely rebuild it, generally only once a year.

The amazing thing about this composting method is that the pile looks the same all year round, as if nothing is happening in there.  It may shrink down a little, but all of the leaves on top seem perfectly intact.  However, if you brush them aside, and dig your hands in below the surface, you'll find dense rich living compost ready to enrich your garden and add beautiful layers of nutrient rich soil to your life and home.  Enjoy.

Friday, January 15, 2021

Do It Yourself CBD Oil



Please enjoy this short video on how to make your own CBD oil, otherwise known as Cannabidiol oil, which is derived from natural chemicals found in marijuana or cannabis plants.  CBD has been shown to help relieve pain, reduce anxiety, alleviate cancer symptoms, and improve neurological disorders along with a number of other potential benefits.  This recipe is designed for topical use and  can be relatively inexpensive and easy to make.

As a Clairvoyant Healer, Spiritual Counselor and Intuition Instructor, I share many tips for leading a healthy and fulfilling life.  Please be advised that I am not a doctor. Nor am I licensed in any healing modality. However, I have had years of experience in alternative and complementary health and healing. All healing programs, including standard western medical protocols in addition to natural therapies, can cause harm rather than the benefit that you may be searching for. After all some people can have a strong reaction to something as seemingly innocent as peanuts or strawberries. Therefore, anything that I may recommend in these blogs and videos could be dangerous for you to try. So, it is important that you Ask Your Doctor First before trying any natural healing protocol. However, most medical doctors have little experience regarding natural healing programs and herbal medicine. So please understand if your doctor is unfamiliar with these ideas.

© Josephine Laing 2021

Wednesday, December 9, 2020

The Not Yet Entirely Lost Art Form of Letter Writing



Decades ago, before he passed, our friend Doug used to write great Christmas letters.  They were not the common parade of achievements or lists of places visited far and wide, but were filled instead with poignant slices of life and his sincere responses, along with a generous sprinkling of humor.  We saved every one of them.

Like a gift, a good letter is something that can be cherished.  It is a testament of friendship and love, and carries with it the depth of our spirit and our true self.

Different from typical electronic communications, letters begin with the word, 'Dear,' followed by a name.  Even business letters have their, 'Dear Sir,' or 'Dear Madam,'.   This is the greeting.  Letters then progress to two or three or more paragraphs, each covering a pertinent or interesting point.  They can begin or finish with a summary or final thoughts  and close with a salutation like 'Gratefully yours,' 'Respectfully,' or 'With love.'  Though all letters deserve to be well crafted, personal letters can and often do take this to a level of being an art form.  They may even sometimes include little sketches, or arrows or even occasionally photographs.

When I sit down to write a personal letter, I give it my full concentration, free from interruptions.  Though the cat may be on my lap or the dog at my feet, as the sentences and flow of ideas arise, they can be lost if interruptions break the silence of my thoughts.  So, I generally sequester myself away somewhere with a nice cup of tea, appropriate paper and a good writing pen.  Just like an artist gathering her pallet and supplies for a painting, or a lyricist sitting down with his guitar, the space of creation is the same: quiet, comfortable and private.  We bring our full presence to the communication and it's fun.  It feels good.  It is satisfying.

So during this time away from ordinary time, perhaps consider giving it a try.  Set aside an hour or two to be creative, to give the gift of your self, of your love for the other and remember to include what has made you smile.  It is guaranteed to bring them a chuckle too.  Tell them something like when you were taking the kids to class the other morning you asked them,"What did the mama buffalo say to her little boy buffalo when she dropped him off at school?"  "Bye son."  (Bison.)  Tee Hee.  Okay.  "What did the zero say to the eight?"  "Nice belt."  I know, go ahead and groan.  I couldn't help but share two of my favorites with you.

 Reading a good handwritten letter can be surprisingly warming for both of your hearts on some of these cold mid-winter nights. 

Enjoy.  With love, from me.


Thursday, November 19, 2020

Holiday Gifts ~ How to Make a Simple Healing Salve



The winter holidays are coming and homemade gifts are so appreciated.  Please enjoy this short video on how to make a lovely herbal salve for nourishing and healing the skin.  Commonly used herbs are: chickweed, cleavers or calendula, but many other skin healing herbs can be used as well, either fresh or dried. This age old recipe is relatively inexpensive, simple and easy to do.

As a Clairvoyant Healer, Spiritual Counselor and Intuition Instructor, I share many tips for leading a healthy and fulfilling life.  Please be advised that I am not a doctor. Nor am I licensed in any healing modality. However, I have had years of experience in alternative and complementary health and healing. All healing programs, including standard western medical protocols in addition to natural therapies, can cause harm rather than the benefit that you may be searching for. After all some people can have a strong reaction to something as seemingly innocent as peanuts or strawberries. Therefore, anything that I may recommend in these blogs and videos could be dangerous for you to try. So, it is important that you Ask Your Doctor First before trying any natural healing protocol. However, most medical doctors have little experience regarding natural healing programs and herbal medicine. So please understand if your doctor is unfamiliar with these ideas.

© 2020 Josephine Laing

Monday, October 12, 2020

Moving Beyond Divisiveness


Recently a favorite cousin of mine was pushing hard to have me change my perspective on a topic of contemporary interest.  We found that we were both standing on opposite sides of the issue.  She wanted me to embrace her viewpoint and she was quite fervent and persistent about it.  This was something that I had already suffered for years, in conversations with other close family members, regarding their political views.  I realized that I almost had post-traumatic stress disorder-like symptoms from those continuous attempts at trying to get me to, 'Pray with them at the altar of their beliefs.' 

These earlier conversations were always stressful, trying, and definitely not fun for me.  I was made to feel inferior and was ridiculed.  It got so bad that I chose to no longer speak with them for more than just a few minutes.  Though I do try to always be patient and kind with everyone whom I encounter, in general, I prefer to be with people who are positive and uplifting, rather than allow myself to become bogged down by negative thinking.  This is because I do think that we are able to accomplish our best work in life when we are in a happy and loving environment.  So, with my dear cousin, who I really resonate with on so many other topics, I was inspired to take a different tack and find a way through it, rather than simply avoiding it, as I had done in the past.

It is my belief that everyone is doing the very best that they can, given the experiences and information that they have encountered thus far in life, and that with few exceptions, we are all basically honorable and trying to create a better world.  So, I began by letting my cousin know that I was familiar with the many points of her position.  I explained that though I respected her perspective, I wouldn't be true to myself if I was to agree with her when I really didn't think or believe that way.  I also said that I thought that it was okay for us to have differing points of view.  We live in the world of duality, with light and dark, day and night, up and down.  We humans have lots of opposite beliefs, along with all of the shades of gray in between.  I think that our varying perspectives add color to our lives.  And though I found her differing views of interest, I didn't want to be forced to embrace them and so I asked for what I wanted, which was to continue to meet in harmony on the topics that we both love.  I also shared a few more points with my cousin, all of which seemed to help.

While I was in college, I studied statistics.  I only did so for about a week or two, before I dropped the class.  But the one thing that I learned during my brief time in that course, was that you can statistically prove anything.  Anything.  There will always be the 'facts' to fully back up and support any point of view.  Then, years ago, while gardening, I had a rather astounding epiphany.  I realized that what is right for a cat, may or may not be right for a dog.  And what is right for a dog, may or may not be right for a cat.  This shows that...   Diversity Negates Right and Wrong.  And thank goodness it does.  Furthermore, no two snow flakes are exactly alike, nor are any two roses.  We are all beautifully distinctive individuals, with our own brightness, and we each shine in our own unique way.  

Over the years, I've noticed, that with couples, one may have certain traits that are quite different from the other's.  Their differences are part of the attraction.  He might want to be more spontaneous and she might wish that she could be more organized.  The trouble starts when each trys to make the other behave more like themselves,  unable to understand how their partner could continue to think or be that other way.  When we loose our appreciation for our uniqueness, and no longer see or appreciate the other's shine, we can fall into an adversarial relationship.  And that's not fun for anyone.  

One of my mentors, Peace Pilgrim, used to say, "We are all cells in the body of humanity."  And there are many different types of cells in a body.  Embryology teaches us that after an egg is fertilized, the cells begin to divide.  At first most of the cells look the same, but then some begin to differentiate into the precursor cells for the various organs and parts of the body.  They were once all the same, but then they become differentiated.  There are liver cells, muscle cells, bone cells, etc.  Each one is different, yet every one is precious and all are a part of the same person.    My baby finger is different from my thumb, yet both are a part of my hand.  My nose is different from my ear, each one has different reactions and priorities, yet both are a part of my face.  And all of it is a part of me and they all serve the one, me.  Most all of the world's spiritual traditions teach that "We are all one."  We may be different but we are not separate.  So, learning how to appreciate and accept one another is a good idea.  

As I look at humanity's collective psyche, it seems to me that we are leaving an old paradigm of separation, and moving into one of acceptance with an acknowledgment of our interconnection.  Our former way of being, the way that my closest family members approached me with regard to my different points of view, involved a lot of shame and blame and guilt, predominately directed at me.  (Of course, finger pointers are typically most critical of their own selves.  They are their own worst judge and so to bring themselves some relief, they find fault with others.)  In that paradigm of separation, we find isolation, loneliness, competition along with struggling against life and each other as the norm.  And, when we see ourselves as separate, we can imagine ourselves as better than others.  Herein lie the roots of war.  Our new way of becoming, the way that I was able to bridge the gap with my dear cousin, harbingers a time of allowance, of respect and of love.  Togetherness and collaboration, with each uniquely contributing to the whole, is the way that I think we are headed.  It is how we become when we see ourselves as one.

It is good to remember that we are a relatively young species here on earth.  I've heard it said that if all of life on earth was equivalent to one year, homo sapiens would have only arisen on the scene in the last 15 minutes or so.  We are just starting to learn how to live life and about how life works.  It is like we are barely at the tricycle stage when there are years of beautiful skills and exceptional mountain bikes to come.  We are just beginning to be able to understand how wondrous life can be.

So, how might we navigate the waters to this new end?  Well, we can try to imagine how the world appears from the other's perspective.  We can try on their reality as if it were a coat.  Put it on, look around, take it off and hand it back.  We can be supportive, in each moment, respecting the other and encouraging them to be who they already are.  In situations like these, where someone has a perspective that is different from my own, I often ask myself, "I wonder what it is like to be them?  How does their interaction with me feel?  How can I help them to know that they are seen, loved and respected by me, all the while remaining true to myself?"  Rumi said, "Love is the bridge between you and everything."  That is the key, being kind and compassionate.  And it is love, at this level, that helps us to mid-wife a new human consciousness into being.