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So… why “Resilient Existence”?

The name of this blog is a mouthful.
I know it better than anyone when I have to type it into the address bar, ftp server, etc.
But the name is purposeful and has a lot of meaning.

If you look at the right side of this blog, under “RECENT POSTS”, you’ll see the “TOOLBOX”, which is chock-full of awesome tutorials, videos, podcasts and other resources. It’s all there to help you figure things out on your own, do things yourself (DIY) or do things with others(DIT, Do-It-Together)!

In recent years, there has been a subtle undercurrent that I feel has been diluting the solution-driven, permaculturist movement, and the name of this blog also addresses that on some level.

The reed that bends does not break...

The reed that bends does not break…


You see, there are a whole lot of Lone Wolf types out there, who think that the way to address breakdowns in culture and infrastructure is to hole-up, hunker down, create a wall of resistance, and hoard. They might apply this approach to many different situations – a hurricane, new neighbors, or even general overall uncertainty.

I’ve seen the “I’ll protect me and mine” mindset one too many times, and I believe that it creates more problems, because it’s furthering the idea of scarcity and rigidity. Rigidity is not Resilience, but is often mistaken for it, when paired with a huge body of DIY-type knowledge.

But knowledge is not wisdom. And rigidity is not resilience.

The name of this blog is about what it says- “resilience”, and applying it to how we “exist” in the world. But also, if you remove a bunch of the letters, you are left with the word “RESIST”.
It is a reminder that there are a whole lot of options to go through before one must resort to simply resisting. I do believe that resisting has its time and place, but I am of the firm belief that energy flows wherever your attention goes. If you put your attention and energy into resistance, you’re going to meet a wall. If you put your attention and energy into creating alternatives and solutions, you may get better results.

I was once involved with creating a public charter school, and the biggest lesson I learned from that experience was gleaned by watching not the kids, but the parents. I recognized that there was a distinct split into two types of parents. On the one hand, there were the parents who totally believed in the mission of the school and wanted their children to be in an environment that encompassed the ethics, processes, etc. that were our vision. On the other hand, you had parents who were dissatisfied with the local public schools, many having had bad experiences, and just wanted their kids to go “somewhere else” that wasn’t an expensive private school. The first group may have also had bad experiences with other schools, but were more focused on building what they WANTED. The second group was more focused on what they DIDN’T want. It was often this second group that created drama, made it difficult to get through a board meeting, issued unrealistic demands, and in the end, even caused one incident that cost the school tens of thousands of dollars! I realized that this was a prime example of creating what you put your energy into.

So… once again, I’ll just mention that I think resistance can be useful. For instance, I think it is sometimes necessary when being applied to very large scale issues, like civil rights and social justice, when you really need something to give, shift or heave. Resistance can be non-violent and still work – just ask Ghandi or MLK Jr. But we’ve been conditioned to think of resistance as violent, so that is why I think that other options must be used first, even if they are just buying time while we are reflecting and looking ahead to the possibility of perhaps having to use any kind of resistance. The time that it takes for the “other letters to be removed”, is necessary in order to properly assess what is needed and what would be useful.

Hidden within the name of this blog is a reminder to “slow down” and make sure that any resistance will promote resilience rather than rigidity, and also nurture the existence of all, rather than undermine it or create competition.

I hope this makes sense!

Cutural Capital and Other Forms of Exchange

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the different forms of exchange available in the world.

There’s been a lot of noise about Bitcoin in the past year, and the weather is also getting warmer, which finds me at more swap meets, flea markets, etc. where I tend to barter.

But what has really been nagging at me is all the fuss that is always being generated from Facebook, Twitter, and other social media. I started to think about all this fuss as capital.

It seems that a whole lot of people want it, which puts it into the realm of commodity, and any business who has ever looked to promote themselves knows that “buzz” is a form of exchange that converts into financial capital. Hell, Google’s building an empire based on Search Results, a form of this kind of capital. I am personally beginning to think that we could eradicate the national deficit if we were to tax all of the invisible, freely-given capital that we give to Facebook, Google, Twitter, etc. every day in the form of marketable demographic data and intelligence. But I digress.

What has been the most revealing to me, is how individuals are valuing their Facebook “share”. No, not the “Share” button, but actual share, as in, their slice of the Popularity Pie. People are crazy about this shit. Facebook “Likes”, have become a commodity, as people’s self-worth becomes attached to them. This has been steadily growing to the point that it is a widely accepted practice, and I recognize it as another form of social and cultural capital.

A friend recently forwarded the following link to a list I’m on, which started to take the conversation even deeper.

Scientists link selfies to Narcissism, Addiction & Mental illness

As I read, the following sentence jumped out at me:
“The more likes we get on social media sites the happier we feel. Is this sustainable?

Hmmm.
I realized that this concept goes back to another conversation I’ve been having in the general permaculture community, regarding economic permaculture initiatives.

If the structure or framework that we are working within is unsustainable (the global economy, perhaps capitalism, depends on your views) , then perhaps continuously trying to implement sustainable initiatives within a larger, unsustainable context is not the way to go. That’s like using “holistic” medicine for lung cancer, but still smoking…

I think it’s the same here, but it is within a cultural framework, rather than economic. Our general culture is unsustainable, hands down. It does not sustain or regenerate our emotional/spiritual/mental/physical/generational health. It has largely become saddled to the idea of profit/gain/resource hoarding. The hoarding of resources can include social “capital”, too (Facebook Friends, Likes, etc.).

It has been my understanding that MANY things can abstractly be considered social capital, or commodities. For example, just as Facebook friends can be thought of as a resource for the ego, gossip can also be considered a form of capital when it is exchanged between people and they receive some social/emotional benefit from it (profit).

The idea of being an “expert” or “know-it-all” in social circles, can also be a form of attempting to hoard or exude authority, which in turn, affects people’s social interactions and is a form of control (profit for the ego). Both of these require more and more information, and at some point it becomes unsustainable. It’s not a loop unless you’re going to gossip about yourself, which I’m betting won’t work very long. ;)

So, the way I see it, since our culture nurtures these behaviors through emphasis on media, ego, disconnection and polarization of views/”other-ness”, and rewards us for doing these things in the short term, we are left with what I think is the greatest re-skilling challenge of all: understanding, using, and developing tools of SELF, and also in/with our families/tribes/communities, to navigate the current culture and transform it into a sustainable/regenerative framework that promotes our health and well-being.

If we remove the need or pressure to stroke ourselves so much, then selfies will just feel pointless.

To me, it seems that it always goes back to Culture in the end. It’s the framework we all are trying to live within, since no man (or woman) is an island.

As if by fate, a few days later the following article tumbled into my Inbox and added another layer to the conversation.

8 Forms of Capital – Ethan Roland, Peak Prosperity Podcast

The section concerning cultural capital in regards to New Orleans and Japan during recent disasters is especially relevant to the discussion. I’ve often observed how Americans will pull together immediately after a disaster (Hurricane Sandy), and when there is a general time frame where things are expected to return to normal (Boston Marathon). However, when the effects of a disaster perpetuate indefinitely (poverty), or there is no help on the way (umm… poverty?), they are more apt to cannibalize each other in some form. It seems directly tied to the idea that we are living in a scarcity model, rather than an abundance model or something else, and I view this as cultural (the idea of “bigger, better, more”, “keeping up with the Jones’”, etc.).

How do we assess our cultural capital as a nation, a globally spreading cultural influence, a planet…?

How do we tie that capital to other forms of currency so that we are receiving regenerative returns in other areas and demonstrating a regenerative abundance model? (emotional, spiritual, social, etc.)

Healing Maiden Soup

Healing Maiden Soup

Healing Maiden Soup

OK, ladies.

It’s that time of the month and you’re feeling crampy, bloated, and maybe also dehydrated all at once. Maybe you get headaches and are a little weepy, too.
I’ve found that sometimes, the right food can really help. Hence, my Healing Maiden Soup.

This soup is nourishing, has lots of vitamins and minerals, and is comforting and re-hydrating.  I may be called a blasphemer for this, but… once in a while, there are just some things that chocolate can’t fix. For those times, there’s soup.

Our first ingredient is Stinging Nettle. Nettle is a treasure trove of  nutrients! The dried leaf of nettle contains 40% protein, and also vitamins A, C (perhaps fresh only), D, E, F, K, P, b-complexes, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, vitamin B-6, high content of the metals selenium, zinc, iron, and magnesium, and also boron, sodium, iodine, chromium, copper,  sulfur and sixteen free amino acids.
Source: http://www.herballegacy.com/Vance_Chemical.html

During this particular phase of a woman’s moon cycle, she needs all the extra nutrients and metals that she can get, particularly iron and selenium. This is what makes nettle such a great ingredient.

But there’s more…

Reishi mushrooms have been known to boost the immune system (which can take a hit when your body is using most of its energy on your moon cycle),  fight viral infections,  help with fatigue and stress, and a whole host of other things. Reishi is also known for emotional and spiritual healing, and can be useful during a time when we are more susceptible to the emotional tides of our moon cycles.

Shiitake mushrooms are good for the kidneys and liver, which helps with the overall load of stress your body is delegating to those organs.  I would theorize that it may also aid the nearby adrenals, which sit atop the kidneys and are considered part of them, in Chinese medicine. Overworked adrenals make handling stress a nightmare, and who needs that?

Sidenote: All mushrooms produce vitamin D2 upon exposure to the UVB rays of sunlight or broadband UVB fluorescent tubes. You can literally take mushrooms you just bought or grew, throw them in a window gills-up (try not to heat them up) for a day or two, and get a higher Vitamin D content from them. This is a great trick in the winter, when sun exposure is lower.  You also always want to heat mushrooms in order to receive their nutritional value. Uncooked mushrooms are essentially just fiber, as the nutrients are not available to our bodies without being heated in some way.  High heat and alcohol also kill those nutrients, so a simmering tea or soup is best, rather than frying or tincturing.

Next, we have some roots. Ginger and turmeric add flavor, but are also great anti-inflammatories, which can help with feelings of being bloated, and also with cramping.

Escarole, the featured green in this soup,  is a member of the chicory lettuce family, and its nearly 50 micrograms of vitamin K per serving supplies between 60 and 74 percent of an adult’s daily vitamin K requirement. Vitamin K is essential in proper blood clotting, which is important for menstruating women.  It also contains approximately 1.9 milligrams of vitamin C and 64 micrograms of folate, as well as 16 milligrams of calcium — 1.6 percent of the RDA of calcium for all adults — and 0.46 milligrams of iron. This amount of iron only fulfills 2.5 percent of the RDA of a woman’s RDA of iron, but having a high iron content is not always good, so in conjunction with nettle, we have multiple sources available, without risk of too much.  Escarole is also high in calcium and potassium, two essential nutrients that we are often lacking sufficient amounts of.
Source: http://healthyeating.sfgate.com/benefits-escarole-lettuce-2188.html

Leeks contain 52.2%  RDA of vitamin K, and together with the 60-70% found in escarole, make sure that our blood remains healthy. They also contain important amounts of the flavonoid kaempferol, which has repeatedly been shown to help protect our blood vessel linings from damage, including damage by overly reactive oxygen molecules. They are also high in folates and manganese, contain Vitamins A, C, and B6,  calcium,  potassium and iron.

As you can see, this soup is a powerhouse of nutrients, so without further adieu, here is the recipe.

Healing Maiden Soup

Ingredients:

Water
Reishi mushrooms – dried
Shiitake mushrooms – fresh
Dried Nettles (can also use fresh, instead of Escarole)
Fresh Escarole
Rice noodles
Leeks
Fresh ginger root – 1/2 inch (do NOT use ginger powder, as it is too strong. If no fresh ginger is available, skip it.)
Sunflower, sesame or other oil – 1 TBSP
Turmeric
Applewood Smoked Sea Salt (Yakima), or other flavorful sea salt – 1 Tbsp or less, if desired
Tamari soy sauce (gluten-free version is available)

  1. Fill a small-medium sized saucepan with water and heat on medium-high setting until water begins to boil slightly.
  2. In the meantime, cut fresh mushrooms, ginger and leeks. Slice escarole into ribbons and then chop in half, so they’re not too long to eat.
  3. Crumble the dried reishi mushrooms or pull into pieces and set aside.
  4. Once the water is boiling, turn it down to a simmer.
  5. Add all mushrooms, leeks, ginger and escarole, and simmer on low-medium heat for about 10 minutes.
  6. Add the dried nettles, rice noodles, oil, turmeric, and sea salt and simmer until rice noodles are done.
  7. Add Tamari to taste, and serve.

Enjoy!

 

Making Gumweed (Grindelia) Tincture

Last year I planted some Grindelia, and they never grew. I tried not to be disappointed, as I know sometimes that’s just the luck of the germination draw.

But, like so many of my perennials, they popped up this year as a pleasant surprise in my garden (yay!).
So, what was Grindelia supposed to be good for again? As it turns out I think I’ll be using its gifts mostly in the autumn and winter. It seems that it’s good for a dry, unproductive, sticky cough, which happens sometimes when the air gets colder.

Gumweed (Grindelia) ready for harvest

Gumweed (Grindelia) ready for harvest

Gumweed is a stimulating expectorant and antispasmodic, which will help “unclog” anything rolling around in the lungs and  promptly escort it out the door, and also keep a spastic cough from becoming a drain. I don’t know about you, but I just hate those coughs that make your ribs sore and your lungs raw from all the hacking.
I’ve also heard from folks that this is a great remedy specifically for a dry cough associated with dust inhalation, or the cough that lingers after a cold.

Grindelia is also a urinary tract disinfectant, so if you have issues with that, you might want to add a few drops of gumweed tincture to your cranberry juice.

So, on to the HOW:

I waited until the Gumweed buds were JUST about to bloom. It’s ok if some are already in bloom,  but the buds are full of gum and have not opened up to allow the gum to dry out yet, so they’re the best.

I chopped the buds off  into a jar, and then rinsed off all the critters and debris and strained them. Then I cut the buds in half, and the flowers into quarters with a scissors and mushed them up a little.

Next, I filled up a small mason jar about a third of the way with buds, and the rest of the way with grain alcohol and a little vodka (I was getting low on grain, and both alcohols have alcohol-to-water ratios that are suitable for tincturing).

Gumweed (Grindelia) Tincture

Gumweed (Grindelia) Tincture

Then the usual tincturing practices – shake it up, put it in a dark cabinet, shake it once every two days or so, and leave in there for about 6 weeks.

Once 6 weeks are up, strain the tincture and bottle it in dark glass or put it in a mason jar and store in the dark (this keeps the sun from breaking it down faster).

There is little info on tincture dosage, but I never take more than half a dropperful (MAX!) of anything when first testing out.

Ryan Drum has experimented quite a bit with Grindelia, and suggests using ”5 drops tincture under the tongue or in strong hot steeped yarrow tea.”
So, I would start off with 5 drops and see how that works for you.