I've been thinking, as you do at the end of December, about the last twelve months. Rough yes, but also beautiful. For every loss I can think of a positive. The icons lost this year were all people that touched my life at some point of my upbringing with their music, acting, words. I am broken hearted to lose each, but the way they touched my heart and helped to form who I am will always be part of me. There was a young man that was a big part of our mountain community who died last spring. He touched so many hearts with his generosity and his music up here. As we looked around at the people of our community during the memorial service we realized just how lucky we were to be part of this place. We think about moving every so often, but in that moment we realized we were part of something very special. Just the other night our community came together for an open mic night. It began with a band of high school kids. They have a ways to go in the talent area, but there were 50 people that came to support them. I could feel Josh's presence in the room. A bit of each of our energy stays behind in the places we've touched. It's sad that it takes these passings to look at a larger picture. That is how I look at the political upheaval of this year as well. I'm sickened by the outcome, but also that so many in this country feel such a deep level of disenfranchisement that they would rather listen to pundits and hate mongers rather than seek out positive change for themselves. The larger picture? Those that had their eyes closed to the violence and discrimination against minorities in this country can no longer turn a blind eye. Our voices are louder than they have been in decades. People that want change or want to protect the changes we have won in recent years are more organized. It sometimes takes a horrible outcome to wake up the masses. But we are awake! I love the conversations I'm hearing about rallies people will be attending, about donating to organizations they know can make a difference, about educating their children instead of protecting them from what is happening to less fortunate children. Let's make our future generation a compassionate one! Our family of women will be joining my mother on her 75th birthday (January 21) to march in Portland in solidarity with the million woman march in Washington DC. Four generations facing forward. Ready for the future.
There were many moments in 2016 that had no ying and yang. They were just plain wonderful! The most important was the birth of our first grandchild. Welcoming a precious little girl into the Accuardi clan (the first girl in 21 years) in the late summer brought hope, wonder and a deepening sense that we can only move forward in love and celebration of life. That celebration of life must be protected. And while I do mean the lives of these next generations, I also mean the life of our planet. I am an Animist at heart. I believe there is energy (life) in every tree, rock, plant and drop of water. What would this world look like if we treated all life as precious as the newborn babies we welcome with promises of protection. I, for one, plan to pass these beliefs and teachings of love for the earth on to miss Fae Adele in hopes that she will then pass that love on to her children. What fun these next years will be watching her discover each new plant and taste and experience for the first time.
Other terrific moments of the year for me: my writing which deepened greatly. Especially in April when each week I dedicated my writing to a specific plant and then in May wrote shorter pieces by choosing a different plant each day. These writings were guided during classes with Cynthia Morris. She leads wonderful classes. I look forward to taking what I glean from her into the next many years. Learning about herbs never stops. I began study of herbs in 1988 and will never stop. Each plant is like the layer of an onion. In 2016 I took online classes with Rosemary Gladstar and KP Kahlsa. Continued course work here in Oregon with my teachers in the Alchemy of Spagyrics. The work I'm doing with the teachers and students has allowed me to learn more about myself as well as the plants. I so look forward to bringing new medicines into the world next year as I continue that work. I'm very excited about the new website my niece helped to build. She and her friend helped to rebrand Chicken Coop Botanicals creating the clear and simple look that I think exemplifies what I do. There was also camping along coast and river and forest, foraging, gardening, making new plant and human friends. Yes, if we look deeply I think we will each find wonder in the year behind us. Keeping these memories close will help me move into 2017 with positive energy and projects to help us all find that deep connection to earth and plants that makes us strong and resilient.
Almost a year ago I began a daily practice that I look forward to continuing. I begin my day with gratitude. I walk outdoors and offer three breathes in gratitude for three things. Some of those may be that each new day is unique in weather, that I know there will be new lessons to learn, that I am lucky to have what the bounty I do as so many do not. This practice centers me, grounds me to this earth, allows me to pause and smile before moving on with my day. Join me?
And next year? I'll be writing about moving forward into 2017 in my Year End newsletter. Make sure you are signed up. I am very excited about my plans for myself and others going into 2017. I am not a resolution person. I am a planner and list maker. I am all about projects and activities. Many could include you. Sign up here.