Ten simple tricks to tame anxiety

The past year or two have really been… something. Anxiety, whether on a grand scale (climate, racial, social, pandemic) or smaller scale (motherhood, finances, work, clutter) can throw us off our game and leave us reeling. In my own life, anxiety has a tendency to spiral, where one worse-case-scenario after another ricochets around in my brain (all day, and, excitingly, sometimes all night).

It’s time to tame this tiger.

Below is a blog post I originally penned back in 2017.

Ah, life was so simple then. (wink, wink) Who knew anxiety could get this big, this fast, and for this many reasons?

The tips below have helped me for years to get a handle on my anxiety, whatever it’s roots. Try one of these tricks or try all ten, and see if they help loosen that knot in your belly, if only a bit.

I’m cheering you on, friend. You can do this.

Tame your anxiety tiger

As a kid I was anxious. Anxious that I’d get a bad grade or that my house would burn down, anxious that there was a monster under my bed or a murderer on the block.

Oh, and tornadoes. Those were really scary, too.

I spent my college years worrying about school, money, my future, and if my little house in the country had securely locking windows. Then onto motherhood and, well, you get the idea.

When anxiety shows up it hijacks my day, robs me of sleep, and makes it feel like everything is falling apart – though I can almost guarantee you that’s it’s not.

But now, in my 40’s, I’m finally getting a handle on it. Anxiety is no longer the order-of-the-day in my world. It’s a rarity, a call to action, an invitation to change.

I finally have some tricks up my sleeve so that when anxiety comes on strong I know what I need to do to get centered again.

And now anxiety has become a great reminder to get things back on track.

Needless to say, if you are in a mental health crisis please seek care with a trained therapist. This tools below are simply my way of dealing with the day-to-day of an anxious mind. 

Here’s my remedy. I hope it helps you.

Ten Ways to Beat Back Anxiety

Ten ways to beat anxiety like a ninja

1. SLOW DOWN

No, it’s not always possible to dash off for a beach vacation when you’re feeling anxious or to take a break from your day-to-day busy life. But taking charge of your agenda but cutting some obligations off of your to-do list – even temporarily – can help.

Think in terms of the flu. If your body was sick, what activities would you have to cut?

Find the courage to cancel a visit, reschedule an appointment, or simplify a meal to buy yourself a little space to slow down.

This mindful practice can help you get centered and can put things back into perspective.

Sleep is vital as well.

When I’m feeling anxious I go to bed as early as I can and rest as long as possible. Grab some herbal tea (tulsi, lavender, kava kava, linden, and milky oats are all helpful for calming the nervous system), light a candle to focus on for a bit before you lie down, then tuck in (without a phone or computer). Let yourself unwind slowly to welcome sleep.

2. LIMIT SOCIAL MEDIA

Social media can be a nice way to stay connected with far-away friends and family but it’s also an anxiety bomb waiting to explode.

Disturbing images, sharp comments, and just too much baggage are all easy to absorb when we’re feeling out of balance.

Take a media fast until you feel centered again, or simply create some limits on how much time you engage there.

Ten ways to beat anxiety like a ninja

3. CUT THE CAFFEINE

With apologies to my friends who own the coffee roastery, caffeine is a big contributor to anxiety.

I had another friend once confessed, “I just can’t drink coffee. When I drink coffee I instantly turn into a really nasty mom.”

I get that. When I’ve had too much caffeine I have a shorter fuse and am more prone to anxiety. It also depletes magnesium in the body which has a very direct effect on our anxiety levels.

Cut the buzz.

Wean yourself slowly or go cold turkey. It’s your call. I love homemade herbal chai as a caffeinated tea or coffee substitute. I make a big pot of it every Sunday but don’t add the milk. Then I can drink it for several days without having to make a fresh batch.

4. MAGICAL MAGNESIUM

(2021 EDIT: Now that I sell a Magnesium Mist, I’m rephrasing this section so as to not violate FDA regulations. I encourage you to Google “benefits of magnesium oil” to learn more.)

More than 80% of Americans are magnesium deficient – thanks to depleted soils, lifestyle choices, diet, and our health. (More on the reasons here.) Getting some absorbable magnesium in or on our bodies can be a game-changer to support a healthy lifestyle.

Magnesium is easiest for the body to absorb when applied topically, but if you are deficient you can use a combination of internal absorption and external application.

MAGNESIUM CALM

We love Calm. For an edible magnesium source it’s absorbable and clean. It’s also pretty sweet-tasting so I’m considering buying an unflavored bottle to cut a flavored bottle with it. Go slow with magnesium! Taking too much will result in epic diarrhea. You don’t want that. And please don’t ask me how I know. (Ahem.)

HOMEMADE OR PURCHASED MAGNESIUM OIL

Magnesium oil is simply magnesium chloride that has been dissolved into an equal part of distilled water. No, it’s not an oil, but it is commonly called that because of its feel of it on the skin.

If you are magnesium deficient the oil may tingle, itch, or sting after application, so apply to your feet if you’re a newbie (or using on kids). With continued use, this sensation lessons until after a few days it feels simply like applying oil.

To make your own magnesium oil simply boil 1 C distilled water and combine with 1 C magnesium chloride flakes. Stir to combine, cool, and transfer to a clean spray bottle. That’s it. For real. Or you can buy mine, already made! Apply daily to feet or abdomen.

Epsom salt (magnesium sulfate) baths are also helpful, but not as good a source of magnesium as magnesium chloride.

Ten ways to beat anxiety like a ninja

5. GET OUTSIDE

Nature heals. Getting outside and away from the overwhelming business of our day-to-day life is a game changer. Biophilia, baby. Carve out even a few minutes to walk and breathe and be in nature and you will find your anxiety taking a back seat to your gratitude.

Whether that means a walk around the block, a visit to a city park, or a hike deep into the wood, find the green. It heals you.

6. SOOTHE WITH THE POWER OF PLANTS

Herbs, essences, and essential oils are powerful for body and mind.

A few favorite nervine herbal teas and/or tinctures that throw me a lifeline day after day include:

Tulsi (Holy Basil) flower and leaf

Milky Oats

Blue Vervain tops

Valerian root

Motherwort tops

Linden (basswood) flower and leaf

I can’t encourage you enough to seek out these herbs, and learn about how they impact our bodies and minds.

Flower essences are also a wonderful gift. While I make my own, purchased Rescue Remedy spray and/or drops are readily available at natural foods stores and coops. I carry one in my bag and use it daily when I’m struggling.

Essential oils can also be a blessing. When I was a new (anxious!) mama I created an essential oil blend for my colicky, rough sleeping (read: not sleeping) baby.

I was amazed at how well these essential oils worked not only for him, but also for me. Enough so that I relabeled the blend for adults and offered it undiluted for diffusers and baths as well. I also recently released a limited edition Peaceful Mind Mask Mist for the current world we live in. It’s been a huge support for me when I’m anxious and out in the world.

If you are stocking your essential oil kit for the first time or want to treat your anxiety with something you already have on hand, the following scent are tops for anxiety and can be found at your local coop or natural pharmacy:

Lavender – if you have only one single essential oil let it be lavender! Helpful for anxiety, sleep troubles, and skin issues lavender EO has countless uses.

Tangerine – a wonderfully bright and uplifting oil. Helpful for those prone to depression as well.

Ylang ylang – A complex, rich, floral oil for depression and anxiety. One of my favorites.

Always use essential oils properly diluted on your skin, or put them in a diffuser or bath. Never apply undiluted.

Ten ways to beat anxiety like a ninja

7. SEEK CONNECTION

You weren’t meant to do this alone. Not parenting, not keeping a home, not the day-to-day grind of work and bills and life. None of it.

Find your people.

Call your mom, your sister, a friend, a counselor. Seek out like-minded people though a church, art collective, or parenting coop.

People were not designed to be solo, especially during difficult times.

8. FACE YOUR S**T

Get real about what’s troubling you. Money? Relationships? Impending doom? Sit with it and mindfully focus on what you can control to remedy the situation.

Make a budget. Have a difficult conversation. Ask for help. Protest. Donate. Volunteer.

Because at the heart of anxiety is usually a specific fear or group of fears for the future.

Saddle up and take it on.

You’ve got this.

9. WRITE A DIFFERENT STORY

Anxiety is usually one big game of make-believe.

It’s our imagination, hard at work, making up worse-case scenarios for the future.

Pull the plug on this self-defeating loop. Write a new story. One that you might not believe yet, but that you want to believe in. And then write it again and again until you begin to believe it.

And then watch it unfold.

Because if your anxiety can use your imagination, so can your optimism. Which story do you want to come true?

And while you’re at it, practice gratitude.

There is so much for us to be thankful for. But when we’re drowning in anxiety it doesn’t feel that way. We see messes instead of magic, lack instead of abundance, a cloudy future rather than a gorgeous sunrise.

Make a habit of practicing gratitude.

While you brush your teeth, while you wash your dishes, while you drive to work. Start with ten things each day that you are thankful for.

Because gratitude can change everything.

Ten ways to beat anxiety like a ninja

10. JUST BREATHE

Some days there is barely time to get food on the table, much less to meditate.

But slowing down – even for a moment – can be a game changer.

Take a few minutes (before you fall asleep if it’s the only quiet you can manage) to sit or lay silently and focus on your breathing.

Begin with your palms laid across your belly button. Breathe deep and slow into the place behind your hands at the very bottom of your lungs.

Feel your roots and your balance coming back.

Breathe.

Now place your hands across your upper chest. Breathe fully into your upper lungs.

And feel your heart again. Yeah, it might make you cry. But that’s healing work, too.

Be well, friends. Here’s to an anxiety-free future for us all.

Love,
Rachel

Manage your day-to-day anxiety with these ten simple tips. #anxiety #naturalhealth #healthy #healing

Originally published in 2017.

We went rogue and didn’t school our kids. Here’s how it turned out.

This is a post about homeschooling (interest-led learning/unschooling in particular).

It’s not a post about how one parenting path or learning journey is better than another (it isn’t). It’s not a post that assumes all of us have the privilege to stay home with our kids (though I wish that we did). This post says nothing about the incredible teachers out there doing magical things all year long in our schools (but holy heck do I salute them and the life-changing work they do in the world).

And though we live in the country now, that’s new(ish) for our family, and much of our homeschooling journey took place in a little house in town (because learning happens everywhere).

Instead, this post is simply about homeschooling. It’s for parents and caregivers just embarking on this journey, or parents and caregivers already on this path but whose confidence is shaken in their decisions to keep their kids at home.

This is the story of our family’s experience, some 18+ years in. Here goes.

We raised two kids and never sent them to school.

We denied them the childhood rites of passage of school busses and lunch boxes; class bells and recess; homework, tests, and graduation.

And sometimes I worried: what if we got the whole thing wrong?

What if there’s a reason the path through childhood almost always begins and ends with school?

Because when you stay inside the lines and live life by the well-worn rules, you’re doing as you’re told. And if everything goes sideways, at least you did what you were “supposed” to.

But when you go rogue and chart your own course? If your child struggles and falls then the whole unbearable burden hangs heavy on you.

So, yeah, it was a little terrifying.

We did it anyway.

Straight out of the gate we charted our own course. No school, and hardly any “school at home” either.

Just two kids raised wild and true and free.

A blacksmithing forge, a (weedy) garden, and some unreasonably long road trips. A flock of sheep, a library card, and more art and craft supplies than we could jam into the cabinet.

We had math that looked like baking croissants, history that looked like an obsession with Norse mythology, politics that looked like protests, biology that looked like farm babies and foraging excursions.

I recognize the privilege of this freedom that we have and am grateful to have been able to make this choice for my family. Countless parents don’t have the privilege to even make this choice. Life, circumstances, poverty, or oppression have already made it for them.

To those in this reality, I see you. Know that there are as many beautiful ways to raise your family as there are families. And this is simply the story of the path we have charted. It’s not The Right Path. It’s simply our path.

So what has it been like?

Honestly, we’ve had so much fun.

My kids and I connected–deeper than my wildest dreams.

They had the space to grow up as slowly as they needed to while we chased fireflies, slept in the yard, and spent our days following the luminous threads of their insatiable curiosity.

Our life was built brick by brick of their wonder, curiosity, creativity, and dreams.

We healed what was broken and learned side by side. Day after day, year after year.

A friend (who works with children) once said to me, “Well, you know that your kids are exceptional. They’re not like ordinary kids.”

And I told him this:

“No, my kids aren’t like other kids, but they’re also not exceptional. They’re simply normal kids who never had to fit into a mold that didn’t suit them. They’re just kids, unbroken, who never stopped asking their questions and chasing their dreams.”

And I believe that.

Ordinary kids are exceptional if we just let them be who they are, and live their messy, beautiful, non-linear lives.

And suddenly here we are, all these years later.

They’re 14 and almost 19 now (where did the time go?). And I suppose the questions you’re asking are: was it really worth it? Do you have regrets? Did going rogue really work out for them in the end or are they hopelessly prepared for life in the “real world”?

I know when I first set out, I was desperate to see the kids who’d grown up outside of the box. Show me the grown ones! How are they now? They could be my hope as I, too, broke the rules and forged my own way.

So here is my answer:

At 14 and 19, my children are thriving.

They’re both chasing dreams that are true to their hearts and living the lives that they’re called to. They have passion and friendships and depth and insatiable curiosity and know themselves better than most adults that I’ve met.

And as for the “real world”, that’s where they’ve been all along. They never stepped out of it and into those rigid walls.

So yes, they’re ready to get out there and in it, because they truly never left.

Are their lives perfect and is our home always ringing with four-part harmony? Of course not. Because we’re human.

We argue. We make mistakes. Sometimes we say hurtful words or do things we regret. But overall, our home is more harmonious and caring than I ever dreamed possible.

We truly like one another. Perhaps because of how deeply we know one another. And I credit that to the endless hours we’ve spend in one another’s company.

Did they suffer from their lack of school time? No. Indeed, it’s quite the opposite. Instead of suffering, they both truly thrived.

That said, this isn’t everyone’s right path, and that’s 100% okay, too.

Even if they have the resources to run with homeschooling, not every kid–and just as importantly, not every parent–is cut out for this ride.

You’ll never hear me say that’s one proper route forward. There are truly as many beautiful paths as there are people And for many, that path may shift with time. If you homeschool for a bit and then stop, that’s cool too. There aren’t any rules or litmus test you need to abide by. Just do you, and honor your kid.

Listen to your child, listen to yourself, then make the best of exactly where you are and what you’ve got to work with. I’m rooting for you, whether your path and mine are similar or not.

For those embarking on a similar path to mine, I’m rooting for you, too!

If you’re here for advice, I’d simply say this: stop worrying and start living. They’ll learn to read, they’ll develop social skills, they’ll become independent, they’ll follow their hearts.

Tell your neighbor that you don’t need a teaching degree to be qualified to teach your own; tell your mom that reading doesn’t need to happen at age 5 to be perfectly timed; tell your uncle that social skills are not tied to how much time your children spend with like-aged peers.

Hand out copies of “How Children Learn”, “How Children Fail”, and “Teach Your Own” like party favors to your nay-sayers.

And then get back to the business of living, playing, exploring, questioning, discovering, and learning alongside your kids.

I promise you this: you won’t regret it.

Mullein Tea for Lung Care

I’ve seen more mullein this year than ever before, and the timing couldn’t be better. This common weedy plant of dry, sandy, disturbed areas is a wonder for supporting healthy lungs–something so many of us can use this season.

Because mullein is abundant, easy to identify, gentle, and safe, it’s a great beginner’s herb for those exploring herbalism for the very first time! And now more than ever, this is an herb our bodies are calling for. (Read on for how to brew your own mullein herbal tea for weary lung support.)

When we’re inhaling smoke and other irritants (hello, wildfires) or even experiencing mild asthma symptoms, mullein goes to work to help us breathe easy again. Even here in Wisconsin, far from the ravaging fires out west and in Canada, the haze in the air is evident. And I’m deeply called to brew this herb to nourish my family and myself.


While I pause before I suggest we take more from this weary earth, I do believe in my heart that when we connect with the plants and the planet, we can help to heal our relationship to the Earth and begin the work of restoring the health of the planet we call home. As long as there’s reciprocity, the plants are here–just waiting for us to lean in and listen.

In my first book, Herbal Adventures, I give loads of mullein plant ID tips so you can confidently forage your own (clears throat and whispers: mullein≠lamb’s ear)! I also share several recipes (like herbal cough syrup, an herbal steam, and an herbal tea blend for cough and cold season). But it needn’t be complicated! Even a simple mullein leaf tea is incredible for soothing smoke-weary lungs.

And making your own couldn’t be easier.

Here’s how…

Mullin Lung Love Tea

Serving Size:
1 cup
Time:
10 minutes
Difficulty:
Easy-peasy

Ingredients

  • 1 tbsp mullein leaf (fresh or dried)
  • 1 cup freshly boiled water

Directions

  1. Place mullein leaf in your favorite mug.
  2. Add just-boiled water.
  3. Cover and steep for 10 minutes or longer (up to overnight).
  4. Strain and drink daily as desired. (Seriously, ya’ll. That’s how easy this is.)

Alongside dandelion, white pine, plantain, bee balm, and five other wild wonders, mullein is one of the ten plants I feature in my first book, Herbal Adventures! It’s out of print (sad face), but you can pick up a signed copy on my website (hooray!)/ And when you purchase directly from me, I plant two trees for every copy sold (Take that, Amazon)!

Lemon, Lavender & Yarrow Digestive Bitters Recipe

Most evenings you’ll find me either drinking a big mug of hot herbal tea (current fave: a blend of Tulsi, fresh ginger, plantain leaf, and wild peppermint), or sipping a mason jar of fizzy water spiked with either a dose of motherwort or blue vervain tincture or a squirt of homemade herbal digestive bitters.

I have a few favorite digestive bitters formulas (my go-to being dandelion + yellow dock + burdock + cardamom + date), but also love experimenting with new combinations of aromatic, bitter, and sweet elements. We ended up with a windfall of meyer lemons this month, and I decided to adapt an old recipe of mine to include some new elements. Today’s experiment involved yarrow, burdock, dandelion, lavender, chamomile, lemon, and honey. And I think it’s downright delightful.

Digestive bitters ease digestive woes while boosting our nutritional absorption from the foods we eat. I love including all manner of healthful, local herbs in my recipes, and encourage you to adapt this formula to whatever you have on hand.

Want to make your own? My recipe is below! Do let me know how you like it after yours is ready.

Note: if you’re using the photo for your recipe (versus the typed up version below it), you may end up bumping up to a larger mason jar after your bitters steep for a few days if you find that your roots were thirsty, or if you don’t have enough room to expand and properly steep.

Lemon, Lavender, & Yarrow Digestive Bitters

Makes approximately 1/2 pint of bitters

  • 1 1/2 small Meyer lemons (or 1 regular lemon), washed and thinly sliced with the peels on
  • 1/4 cup + 1 tbsp dried, sliced dandelion root (or 1 scant cup fresh)
  • 3 tbsp dried, sliced burdock root (or 3/4 cup fresh)
  • 1 1/2 tsp dried lavender flowers
  • 1 tsp dried yarrow flowers and leaves
  • 1 tsp dried chamomile flowers
  • 1 1/2 tsp raw honey
  • 1 1/2 cups brandy (=/-) – enough to cover herbs by 1 to 2″

Directions

  1. Combine all fruit, roots, and herbs in a pint-and-a-half-sized mason jar.
  2. Add raw honey, then top with enough brandy to generously cover the herbs and fruit by at least 1 to 2 inches.
  3. Cover with a non-reactive lid (or a lid lined with plastic, waxed paper, or parchment).
  4. Set in an out-of-the-way corner of your kitchen for 4-6 weeks, shaking daily or as often as you think of it. I strongly encourage you to taste your bitters throughout the process, so that you can participate in the magic and sense the subtle flavor shifts that happen over time.
  5. Strain your bitters through a mesh colander, squeezing firmly to extract as much liquid as you can from your herbs. Compost solids.
  6. Transfer bitters to a clean, dry glass bottle or jar (a dropper bottle is especially nice for daily use), then clearly label with name, ingredients, and date. To use, add to fizzy or non-fizzy water or (if you’re so inclined) to cocktails. If using to boost digestion (and why not?!), enjoy daily about 30 minutes before meals. Perfect to sip on while you finish making dinner!

Do you make your own digestive bitters? What’s your favorite recipe?

The Spring Simple Living Collection is here!

I’m delighted today to introduce the latest Simple Living Collection. Because now more than ever, the desire to slow down, reconnect, create more joy, and savor family life stirs deep within us.

Join me—along with a group of experts from across the globe—as we share the spring issue of The Simple Living Collection.

Along with my shrubs recipe collection (also known as “drinking vinegars), you’ll dive into over 40 tutorials, patterns, recipes, stories, and more. Projects and activities are included for all ages and every corner of the world.

The collection includes 7 categories:
– Create
– Grow
– Nourish
– Raise
– Wildcraft
– Family
– Healthy Home

Our spring issue is only available through March 22nd for $25 (valued at $550). With over 40 creators sharing their tried and true skills, everything from baking dandelion muffins, to learning to raise quail, to celebrating the spring equinox is packed inside. Creating nature shelves, growing a sunflower house, learning how to make a keyhole garden, making butterflies to hang in the window, plant life cycle stories, making rain gauges, green cleaners, crocheting, foraging, and so much more are tucked inside this digital collection!

Don’t miss out on this incredible opportunity to slow down, savor family life, and learn new skills! Find it all right here.

We can do hard things

During my second week of high school, I lost my battle against worsening scoliosis and was fitted with a back brace–the thing I’d been desperate to avoid since the 4th grade.

Made of leather and steel, my brace was a medieval thing that fit from chin to pelvis, holding my stock-straight (If you image search “Milwaukee Brace” you’ll see what this monster looked like. It’s pretty intense.).

I wore it day and night–to school, at home–even to sleep. I remember going to the theater (wearing my brace) to see Sixteen Candles with some friends shortly after I was fitted with it. There’s a girl in the film who wears a brace–a super nerdy kid, of course–and she’s drinking from the water fountain. Everyone in the theater was laughing except for me, simultaneously embarrassed & annoyed (as she impossibly bent at the waist to drink–such rubbish) while feeling deep shame for being that nerdy kid, & burning from their laughter.

Drinking fountains–like cars, sleep, and being a teenager in general–were all more difficult in a brace. But that was my adolescence. Uncomfortable, awkward, and harder than I wanted it to be.

In all, I was braced for 5 years, from the start of high school through my freshman year of college. And while a brace isn’t something I’d wish upon anyone, it was one of my most important teachers.

Because the truth is, we can all do hard things–things we’re certain we aren’t capable of.

Things we don’t want, and things we try to wish away. I suppose even now that lesson holds, some thirty years later.

Right now, life is damn hard—for so many of us, and for so many reasons. None of us wanted this, & none of us know how long it’s going to last, nor how long we can take it. And I can so relate to that feeling.

2020 is something of a collective back brace for us all. We’re doing the hard, uncomfortable, painful thing because we don’t have another choice. And sometimes it pinches, & sometimes we can’t sleep because we feel like we’re suffocating, & sometimes it brings us to tears when we least want it to. But in the end, we’re going to come out the other side stronger, more resilient, and even better for it in small, invisible ways. I’m certain of that. I really am.

I’m rooting for you, friend. This sucks, but please know you’re not alone.

Ireland herbal retreat dreams

Just for fun, want to dream with me?

A few days ago on Instagram I posted:

“New plan. When we can safely travel again, you come to Ireland with me on an herbal retreat. We tour off-the-beaten-path stone circles and burial tombs; connect with and learn from local herbalists, storytellers, and organic farmers; forage wild things; plant some trees; hike to some magical mossy groves; and ground out deeply on the Emerald Isle. Who’s game for this plan? ( She asks, fully lost in the dream/fantasy realm…)”

And your enthusiasm? Well, it was off the charts.

As it turns out, I’m not the only one who is dreaming of traveling again someday, of connecting with a small, intimate group of people, of going deeper into magic and medicine, history and her-story.

In short, I’m not alone in absolutely swooning over this idea.

And the more I thought about it (and quite literally dreamed of it), the more I felt like this is something that we could actually create. That I could plan this and together we could breathe it into life.

And I can’t get enough of this plan.

As many of you will recall, we spend a month in Ireland a few years back, and then another 5 weeks there just last fall. (You can browse a few of my blog “postcards” here if you’re curious to see more.) Our travels tend to be quiet, magical, historical, and very much off-the-beaten-path, with gems like isolated waterfalls, beaches strewn with polished, semi-precious stones, and stone circles far from the tourist travel rings around the island.

We forage wild things for tea and soup, make our own sea salt, and crawl deep into sacred tombs. And there is so much yet to be discovered!

So. Who’s game to dream this little dream with me? For a future day, when we can travel once more? We’ll even plant trees as a carbon-offset for our flights there and back again.

If you’re down with this fantasy (even a little bit), be sure to add your name to the email list below so you can hear about any plans that I post here on the blog (if you haven’t already).

And if you, like me, are literally dreaming of making this journey, then double down and drop an email to my Herbal Retreat mailbox, and ask me to add you to my retreat email list (that one I only send out herbal classes, gatherings, or book-related emails, so don’t fret–I won’t spam you). That way you’ll be the very first to hear as things begin taking shape (and perhaps you’ll even share an idea or to that will help to plan our path on this transformative adventure).

Because now more than ever, we need to make space for dreams. We need to thumb through our calendars and feel our chests swell with hope for all of the promise of a brighter, kinder, more deeply connected future for us all.

One full of the sort of adventures and relationships and experiences that will shape who we become… forever.

Love,
Rachel

Not my stories anymore

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When my children were small, I was delighted to share them through stories and photographs and blog posts aplenty. Nearly every day another entry in the journal of our simple, messy, joyful life.

But as they have grown, so too has my desire to hold them close to my heart, and share less and less.

Savoring childhood and family and the sacredness of this private world.

Indeed, the stories that I once shared so freely are no longer mine to give. And so you will rarely see Sage’s face here (as he dislikes being photographed and it’s easy to respect this simple and reasonable boundary). Don’t mistake his absence for any darker meaning than that! This kid is a bright point of light in our family, bringing wisdom and humor and countless random science facts to our everyday.

For those who have been around for a while, can you believe that he’ll be 18 next month? Oh, time. He was just 6 when I started blogging. Six! And Lupine (now 13) was only 1. And though she is still willing to be photographed more often than not, she is also growing up, and I’m feeling more and more protective of her privacy and providing here a safe and cozy space in which to grow.

And so I relearn how to share just enough, as I hold them close—here in the quiet sanctuary of home: as we honor and savor these final steps through childhood, as a treat for us alone.

Unplugged Family Summer Camp

Edited to say: As we enter the second week of Summer Camp, registration is now closed. Check back next year to participate!

I’ve been quiet here on the blog this week, in order to not distract from current events, and to honor the voices of people of color who have waited far too long to hold the mic in our collective consciousness.

Today, I’m going to pop in quickly to put this post out there, because if I wait, I fear the first week of content will be missed by many of you. I want to provide this resource to as many families as possible right now, and I feel children everywhere could use a little joy, a little magic, a little space to simply be small. 

Keep fighting, keep protesting, and keep changing the world, beautiful people! 

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How is your heart, friend? My, it’s been quite a season so far, hasn’t it? 2020 is one that none of us will soon forget. Or I certainly hope we won’t. Because where we now stand is a crossroads. And at this place lies the heart of change.

Yet even as I hold fast to the optimistic belief that current events will generate lasting, long-overdue change on a global level–from addressing police brutality and systemic racism to challenging how we live in and navigate the world–I know that this time has been excruciating for many.

I see you. I hear you. I stand with you.

Especially people and families of color who have been marginalized for centuries.

And so I’ve been quiet, though not complacent. As a white person, It’s my time to simply listen, act and donate. So that’s what I have done.

But today, I’m going to break my silence for just a moment, to put an opportunity on the table for everyone this summer.

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While what I have to offer during such difficult times feels minuscule in comparison to what our country and planet so deeply need, I believe there is space for each of us to bring our gifts and offerings to the community.

And now more than ever we are all being called to bring forth whatever we have to share. And so I have decided to offer up a healthy summer activity series for anyone who might need it right now.

A series to give you pause as a family, and draw you and your children away from screens (however briefly), out into the sunshine to reset your souls.

With Unplugged Family Summer Camp.

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What is Unplugged Family Summer Camp?

It’s an invitation to unplug, connect, and play with your child this season, away from the distractions that our screens so often hold.

Because this year more than ever (with most summer camps and other activities canceled and so much is in upheaval), it’s up to us to make our own magic, providing our children a place to simply be children.

And I suspect that many families are hungry for a few fresh ideas to get them moving in the direction of a little more unplugged family fun.

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What if we don’t want to give up our screens?

Great! Because The Unplugged Famly Summer Camp (and The Unplugged Family Activity Book, for that matter) doesn’t ask anything of the sort from you or require you to dive into an austere, screen-free lifestyle.

Spolier: I also appreciate my phone and laptop, and use them often!

What it does offer is resources, encouragement, and inspiration. It’s an alternative to our screens as the place to discover entertainment, gain knowledge, and have fun–together.

And we think that’s a delightful idea for the whole family.

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How does it work?

When you sign up for Unplugged Family Summer Camp, you will receive an 8-10 page downloadable booklet each weekend for five weeks. Camp will run from 6/13/2020 through 7/11/2020. When you receive your weekly content bundle, print it out (or download it to a phone, tablet, or laptop if you prefer), then dive in with inspiration, projects, games, and recipes for the whole family to enjoy.

That’s all there is to it!

And it’s self-paced, so if you don’t get to something in the week it is released, you can always come back to it later.

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What is included in each booklet?

Each booklet is broken down into four sections and contains:

Just for Caregivers

A favorite post from the decade of archives on my blog. These words are intended to inspire connection, acceptance, and presence in our role as parents or caregivers–this season and always.

Nourishing Recipes

Two kid-approved recipes to make together in the kitchen–recipes you’ll revisit again and again, and truly make your own. These are simple and fun and a great way to get started on cooking together–whatever your children’s ages. Snacks, treats, mains, and more.

Unplugged Family Fun

Activities, games, projects, or other adventures that require little more than basic supplies that you already have on hand. Some activities will come from my blog archives, others from my books, and still more straight from our family’s imaginations. Projects and play for backyard or park, kitchen or craft room.

Nature Exploration (bonus)

And finally, several bundles will also include a bonus project or idea to help you explore or discover the natural world around your own neighborhood. These projects may require special materials and supplies, and so we’ve added them in the bonus section since they require more resources and planning. (In the first booklet, we’re talking about raising and releasing native butterflies.)

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The Unplugged Family Summer Camp consists of five downloadable, full-color PDF booklets, that are yours to keep and use forever, plus access to an exclusive community Facebook group for making connections with like-minded families, asking questions, and sharing your completed projects with one another.

Best of all, I want to make this experience available to everyone. (Keep reading!)

In future seasons, I plan to price this 6-week summer camp experience at $25.00 to $30.00/family. But this year, I won’t be offering it for sale.

Instead, there are three simple ways to participate.

1. Book Preorder Bonus

First, I’m giving Unplugged Family Summer Camp away for free, as a thank-you gift to anyone who has pre-ordered a copy of The Unplugged Family Activity Book! (And there’s still time to pre-order.)

Since the book costs just $22.99, this year the book and camp will cost less than camp alone will cost next year. I think that’s one heck of a steal.

You can purchase directly from me, or from your local, independent bookseller.

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2. Donation

Make a donation of any amount to any of the organizations listed here who are fighting for equal rights and civil liberties. Donating directly through ActBlue, as we did, makes it easy to divide up your donation automatically, or however you see fit. Or head directly to these organization’s own websites and give directly.

Then email me with the subject line “Unplugged Family Summer Camp – Donation” and include a screenshot of your donation receipt. I’ll add you to the camp!

3. Scholarship

For those who do not have the means to purchase the book or make a donation, I am offering scholarships to participate. I am especially interested in offering access to the camp to children and families of color, who have been systematically shut out of countless opportunities in their lifetimes, and their ancestors before them.

Applying for a scholarship is painless. Simply send an email to hello@lusaorganics.com with “scholarship” in the subject line. Then let me know why your family wants to participate. There’s no need for you to disclose any personal details or finances. Just tell me why you and your kids want to play, and we’re set.

There is room for all in this virtual summer camp.

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For those who do have the means to purchase my book, I’d be honored to know it has earned a place on your bookshelf. I hope it (along with your five weekly summer camp bundles) becomes a resource your family treasures for many years to come.

Some have shared that they purchased copies to donate to local public libraries, which is an even greater honor. Thank you for that!

So… are you in?

I do hope you will join me!

We start next Saturday. 

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To sign up for summer camp as a book bonus (option 1 above), all that you need to do is pre-order your book from any bookseller (or directly from me–I’ll ship your copy signed). Then include your order number and the store you purchased from on your registration form below.

All camp registration fees will be waived, with my thanks for preordering The Unplugged Family Activity Book.

Or drop me an email with the scholarship request or donation receipt above.

Looking forward to summer camp with you!

Be well, friends.

Rachel

Are you drinking “too much” coffee, or just making space for self-care?

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Let’s pivot together.

Last week, one of my dearest friends lovingly challenged my language choice when I reported to her that during COVID we were “drinking unreasonable quantities of tea”.

She had called to check in on our emotional health; to see how we were weathering this collective storm.

“I’m going to challenge your word choice,” she said, sliding into her professional role as therapist. “What if instead of drinking ‘too much tea’ or ‘an unreasonable amount’ you are simply ‘enjoying tea together’ as part of your COVID experience? Because unless we’re talking about you pounding a bottle of vodka every night, drinking an extra two cups of black tea every day is a valid part of your coping strategy.”

Oh, yes. Language matters, doesn’t it?

And so her loving lesson settled in deep.

If you were to swing by our kitchen this season, you would indeed find us enjoying copious and frequent mugs of black tea during quarantine. And on the days when I’m really lucky, you might also find my kids cooking, baking, and churning out gorgeous loaves of bread, lofty and beautiful cakes, and rich rhubarb ice cream for us to savor as well.

Are we eating too much wheat, sugar, and other comfort foods these days? Last week, I would have laughed, and said, “YES!” But this week? I’m going to say no. We’re simply… enjoying a few treats during this time hunkered down at home. And not unlike our garden and house projects, foraging trips to the woods, and hours in the workshop, it’s just another piece of how we’re getting by. No judgment, no baggage, just us: surviving (and even thriving) during quarantine. How comforting it feels to put down that judgment and negativity. Exhale.

How about you? What are you gravitating toward this season? Is it more in the neighborhood of yoga or dark chocolate? Television binging or deep meditation? Lattes or herbal infusions?

All are valid. There’s no shame in your coping game, friends.