How was August 2020 for you? Mine revolved around realizing I needed to take an Instagram break. More about that later.
This is my second month of doing reflections. These arose from a desire to honor the markings of time. And I want to add photos of harvests, medicine making, plants and gardens because – what can I say – they are my favorite subject 🙂
I end this month feeling a “little wobbly”, as my 2 year old says (except she says it “whittle wobbly”), because I slightly sprained my ankle, and because this month was intense.
Rob just got a job offer after applying for over 40 jobs. He starts at the end of the month. Woohoo! As some of you may have experienced, being unemployed during the pandemic adds a whole ‘nother level to the typical fear and uncertainty of being jobless.
This is a relief and a blessing. I hope those of you who need job security find it with as much ease and swiftness as possible.
Another reason for feeling a little wobbly is that at the beginning of the month I went back on Instagram.
I was still needing an Instagram break
A big part of my personality is to play around and test things. I like to experiment. And I like to challenge myself to commitments and practices, because if I quit something too soon I don’t have enough data as to whether it worked.
Initially I committed to being on Instagram for 4 weeks. I wanted to test how it went for me, and what sort of strategy or guidelines I could create for myself. Other people having healthy relationships with social media, and I thought, I can too, right?
But even after 1 day I knew I wasn’t ready to be back. It just felt wrong.
After 5 days of being on, I took 2 days completely off and felt sooo good. I felt like myself again. Peaceful. At ease. Creating freely.
I craved to stay in that quiet, focused space outside of IG.
But I let myself go back on despite those feelings, partially because I was actually kind of addicted.
The urge to “check” pulled me in. The discomfort of denying the urge to check was irritating and anxiety-provoking. So, to feel better in the moment, I got back on.
I kept having dreams very clearly showing me how happy I would be without Instagram. See, this is what is waiting for you on the other side, they showed me. I felt torn between wanting to be on like everyone else (hello, FOMO) and wanting to be off.
After 2 weeks, I had to do another Instagram break.
If a test is unethical or unhealthy, researchers have to stop it ahead of schedule – and the same is true with all of us as mini researchers in the laboratory of our own lives.
Dopamine farming and cortisol crashes
My body couldn’t handle it. The rise and crash of dopamine and cortisol really set my body over the edge. I had a break out of 6 infections. If I was looking for a sign that this was too much, the infections were it.
I am learning more about the research about the effects of social media on our body and mind. One interesting thing that professor, author and programmer Cal Newport talks about is that the utility of social media is not the issue with its use.
Meaning, social media does have a purpose. When we question social media use, it is NOT the same as questioning its usefulness or worth in people’s life.
The major issue in question with social media is autonomy. People who use it feel out of autonomy when they use it.
Hearing this description has given me peace. I often feel Instagram is very much of use, and has value for building community, learning and healing as a collective, and making connections.
Because of the way the algorithms are created, social media will always support the rise of negative, heated, angry or fearful posts and news more than positive, peaceful or contented posts and news. That’s because algorithms can track reactionary behavior more readily than peaceful, contented, joyous, happy responses. Programmer and furtist Jaron Lanier talks a lot about this, here is one lecture where he talks about it about halfway through.
Instagram has VALUE even if it is hard for my body to handle. Both can be true.
In the past I felt badly about speaking up against instagram because I see how it has value and changes life. But it’s the PEOPLE who hold the value and change lives and society, not Instagram (also, it’s the power of the internet).
Now I have more clarity at precisely why I cannot handle it right now.
I need more autonomy in my life. I am still recovering from chronic illness and often feel out of control with the state of my body. One thing that brings me joy and helps me feel grounded is being creative.
When I am using Instagram, my creativity is absolutely zapped. I simply am not producing creatively like I know I can and like I crave.
I am so scattered and distracted when I am using Instagram, and I am not able to enter into creative states or to go deep with my focus. Yet another reason why I needed an Instagram break!
At this point I am dedicated to take a 5 month break. I’ll have to see how I feel about going back in January 2021. My gut tells me I might have to wait until I have a little more child-free time, which is not coming anytime soon. Oregon is doing homeschool until at least November 2020, although I think it will probably be through the entire school year and beyond.
Spiritually potent harvest time
End of summer and beginning of harvest season is a delicious time of year. The richness from the earth comes alive in a tangible, sensual, fruitful way.
My kids feel this, too. We are not typically religious, but around this time my kids start singing and talking about ancestors, god and great goddess, all on their own accord.
I see that they crave rituals, too. They crave markings of time, little celebrations. And they crave being outside as much as possible, and a lot of family time.
No doubt about it, this is a very connected and spirit-rich time of year.
“Divine Mother of Herbs” ritual practice
I am a part of a class called Healing The Witch Wound hosted by Lara Veleda Vesta on The Wild Soul School and for this month, featuring fellow Minnesotan Megan McGuire (okay, I’m also from Wisconsin if you want to get technical).
I have not been keeping up with the daily ritual practice per usual, but when I can, I do.
Megan’s specific practice from the Leo New Moon to the Virgo New Moon is to invoke the blessings from the Divine Mother of Herbs moving into what is known as the Feast of the 3 Sisters.
One of the interesting things I recently realized is that I can speak German to help me get in touch with my ancestral lineage.
This is funny to me, because I took three years of German in high school. I didn’t realize that this was an option to me because I tend to focus on my Swedish/Norse ancestry instead of the Germanic, and I thought I had to keep the ancestral lines in neat and tidy boxes. NOT true.
Granted, there are times when that is important and useful. Daniel Foor talks about a method of doing ancestral healing where you focus on helping one ancestral line become well, and then use that well line to help heal the others.
I have been called to explore one line and one line only. Or avoid other lines, perhaps we are not ready to or just don’t want to go there. All of that is our choice and our own path. But it’s also okay to bring a little of different lineages out whenever we are inspired.
August 2020 Reflections
Reflection is not about trying to achieve anything. It’s really just how you felt and what you thought.
What was meaningful to you?
What warrants your acknowledgement?
Your continued embrace and support?
What was your favorite thing?
Some things I thought about:
Which plants caught my attention? I had a craving to take a Mugwort bath, and harvested a nice bunch of Mugwort from my favorite wild alley. Drank a lot of St. John’s Wort tea.
What were my favorite nature spots? We went to the coast!! It was warm enough to (kind of) go in the water.
What were my favorite things to eat? Rob made a polenta bake that was as close to quiche as we have had for a while (Riri is allergic to eggs).
What did my kids say or do? Wolfie is just the sweetest. Very snuggly and loving. Riri’s talking has matured a little bit and she sure has a a lot to say.
What was my favorite creation? I am making an oil for to make some salves with the kids. I love having Comfrey at our house that we can harvest and use.
What was I reading? I started a new book called Permission to Feel: Unlocking the Power of Emotions to Help Our Kids, Ourselves, and Our Society Thrive by Marc Brackett
What was Rob playing on the piano? Rob has been composing some moody repetitive Philip Glass type riffs. He found a book of Bob Dylan sheet music at the free pile and has been playing it on the guitar.
What was I listening to? I am still reliving the 00’s with The Fray “How to Save a Life” album. Intuition too me there. First time I listened to this super popular album, so perhaps I’m not re-living the 2000’s but living it for the first time.
I am clairaudient – I get a LOT of intuition through music. Right when I got back on Instagram and I knew I shouldn’t be, I had an angry punk song come in my head, “The Lost Souls” by AFI. The day after I officially got off of Insta, I woke up with a cheesy pop rock song, “The Reason” by Hoobastank.
I think part of the reason I am clairaudient is because I find it so hilarious, it always entertains me. In that humor, I am able to accept and nurture it.
Earlier in the month, I had a dream that I was walking up a mountain. I had just published a book or zine somehow as I was walking, and then I reached down and grabbed a fistful of gravel and ate it. Perplexed by this dream, I asked for another dream for clarity.
The clarity dream was blackness followed by a baseline I knew well. It was from Queen, “Another One Bites the Dust.” I listened to the lyrics. Tried to dance it out, and still couldn’t figure out what it means. Yet every time I think of this song coming in a dream, I just laugh and laugh. With so much heaviness in the world, music is much appreciated.
And Freddy – what a gift to the world. Apparently he was not planning on releasing that song as a single. Somehow Michael Jackson heard the song and told Mercury to make it a single. He did, and it became a huge hit and Queen’s biggest single.
Notable dream? I’ve already talked about a few dreams above. I also had a couple dreams that had both bears and wolves in them. Mama bears and cubs, walking with a wolf pack with pups, and the wolves and bears were grooming each other, nuzzling muzzles, and snuggling in a hole.
I cannot precisely figure out exactly what they mean, but I do feel that I am being guided and to trust that guidance.
What else is there, really? And who are we not to listen? Our guidance never lets us down.
Health topics and herbs on my mind
I’ve been thinking REALLY deeply about anxiety in a new way. I felt little bits of anxiety when I was using Instagram, and those feelings made me think of how so many people feel anxiety much more strongly and on a very regular basis.
Moderate or mild anxiety seems to respond well to lifestyle, herbs and acupuncture (I am always pleasantly surprised when a single acupuncture treatment can completely shift someone’s anxiety). But I have had a few of patients with severe generalized anxiety and they were quite debilitated, and my heart wanted to help, but there’s not much I can do except be there and listen. Sometimes the anxiety is such that they are afraid to try anything.
I am thinking about how to really, truly address anxiety, what it is, and where it comes from.
I’ve also really been into thinking about the atopic tendency and eczema in particular.
I had a breakthrough in writing up a Materia Medica – which has been hard for me to do with the problems I’ve been having with my arm and hip. Due to these problems, writing, typing and sitting have been struggles for me for while now. This spring, one 60 minute writing session would throw out my hip for about 2 weeks. This is one of many reasons I am so lucky I haven’t had to keep a daily office job while having Lyme, and that I hadn’t had to commute.
The herb I did materia Medica research about is St. John’s Wort, and I am having a hard time fitting this herb into the Chinese herbal categories as I like to do.
SJW is such a powerful being, and is kind of above being classified in simple means. For instance, they are cooling being an anti-inflammatory and liver detoxifier, but they also are a warm natured plant of the Sun. St. John’s Wort is both cooling and warming.
I am trying to keep my curiosity and humor about the complexity of this plant. Because of this I was hoping I could do some straightforward plant write-ups, but it’s not so easy with this plant and I have to stay flexible.
SJW is requiring me to spend more time with them to learn more about it’s medicinal actions and spiritual nature, which is beautiful, and I am a willing student. I drink SJW tea daily and contemplate their nature and flavor.
Thus far I am not getting any clear intellectual answers, but instead I feel how this plant is a powerful nervous system restorative, which I need.
The medicine we need comes when we need it.
However, I kind of wanted a quick win of a write-up. Oh, humans and their expectations.
So, readers, have you taken an Instagram break? I’d love to know. Send me an email if you feel like sharing your experience firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thank you for reading.
Out with the end of summer, let her be. Shed the summer skin!
Take good care,