Quo vadis?

The end of the calendar year is coming quickly. It’s time of balancing and planning. We look back to analyze mistakes, recall successes and compile list of resolutions to make following year even better.

How far does the influence of our will go? I have no doubt that will and determination are essential but not absolute. For example, I experienced how one infected tick bite ruined my plans for many months. I had to slow down my lifestyle, change priorities and focus my will in new directions.

And you know what? As soon as the body began to recover, the most difficult part was to stop fighting with destiny. I lost other months by trying to get myself back instead of going forward and accepting the change of course.

I wish to be more flexible and less proud, so I drew the picture to remind me, that limitations exist and some of them must be accepted.

And maybe in the future I will even understand that the small infected tick was an important tool of destiny, leading to happiness and prosperity. Who knows?

So I would like to wish all of us what somebody wise has already said before. Keep courage to change things that can be changed, keep humility to accept things that cannot be changed, and be wise enough to recognize the difference between.

Happy New Year!
Ivana

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Mistletoe

When I was a small girl, we didn’t keep many traditions in our family. But having a Christmas tree and mistletoe was a must. I loved colorful lights and gifts, as well as the scent of fresh needles, but I didn’t care why people cut trees and moved them into their homes.

However I was curious about the mistletoe. Where does it grow and why does it look like a bird’s nest? What are the white mini-balls? And why people paint the mistletoe with gold or silver color? Isn’t green good enough for holiday’s decoration?

My mother patiently explained to me that the mistletoe grows high in the trees, so it’s not easy to get it. It symbolizes happiness, health and prosperity, which is also not easy to get. And some people are painting mistletoe silver or gold to increase the probability that it happens.

Much later I learned that mistletoe belongs to the medicinal plants and that people from ancient times attributed extraordinary and even magical qualities to it. I always felt great respect for the mistletoe, but my curiosity was always stopped by the knowledge that this plant is poisonous. Plus there were plenty of other plants I could play with.

Of course I noticed several nests of mistletoe in my neighborhood – high in the trees, difficult to access. Exactly how my mother said. But recently, I found mistletoe on the path, fell down in windy weather. It reminded me, that although happiness or prosperity seems to be far away, sometimes the opportunity falls down right under our feet. Then it depends if we catch it and make use of it.

I picked it from the path, brought it home and drew picture of mistletoe with the bird, responsible for spreading seeds of it. I hope you like it, and I double hope it brings you happiness, health and prosperity as my mother promised 🍀

Happy holidays!

Ivana

Pink beauty for healthy lungs

It looks that spring is finally ready to manifest itself! Despite strong frosts and snowfall recently, sunshine calls nature to start unrolling buds. Even though it’s too early, I’ve been already checking my places and searching signs of new life among dry and brown last year’s leaves.

First what I’m looking each spring for, are wonderful flowers of Lungwort. I’m hungry for the moment when I see the incredible tenderness of pink and purple. In my daily life I always prefer yellow before pink, but the first spring flowers of Lungwort are probably the only exception.

I really love the unique colors of Lungwort, sweet to look and also sweet and juicy to taste. It’s like a promise that the whole season could be such sweet and delicious. Once I discover the first Lungwort flowers of the year, I gather them directly to my mouth and eat them immediately 😋

My second choice for Lungwort flowers is still eating them directly, but in more civilized way like adding them into salad or put them on potatoes with cottage cheese. It looks and tastes fantastic!

Lungwort belongs to the plants that bloom before their leaves grow fully. So you can enjoy the beauty and taste of flowers before serious harvest for healing purpose. And there is one big purpose of the Lungwort, clear by the name, the healthy lungs!

Lungwort has strong anticarrhal and demulcent effects, so you can successfully use it in case of cold with cough. It reduces unwanted mucus caused by pathogens and protects irritated tissues. The content of silicon and allantoin accelerates skin regeneration, so the Lungwort can be also used externally for longterm wounds even with pus. But the most common use of Lungwort is still in wide range of lung diseases like bronchitis, asthma, pneumonia, etc.

Even though the Lungwort looks so useful and kind, there is one warning for all who have problems with blood coagulation (clotting) because the Lungwort slightly increases the level of it. A few fresh flowers should be fine, but be careful about longterm use.

I hope to see the pink and purple flowers soon and this year herbal season will really start!

Which plant is the sign of spring for you?

With love, Ivana

Obsessed with sour taste

Although winter wasn’t strong this year, we expect another wave of frosty weather next week. My body is already exhausted from endless wait for spring and more and more often calls for sour taste.

On the scale of tastes I usually prefer the bitter one. Sweet probably occupies the second place. Salty is in the middle, sometimes alternating with the sweet. But spicy and sour are definitely in the end of my selection with the only exception. When spring slowly awakes from winter sleep, I am obsessed with sour taste. I need to add some acidity to every meal and it doesn’t matter if it’s sweet or salty.

At this time, sour taste helps me to overcome the last winter days, it keeps me enough alive. What coffee makes for mind in the morning, the sour does for body before spring definitely comes.

Now, the opportunity to really use what I’ve done before came.

Rosehip chips are simple, tasty and sour enough to keep you from eating so much of them. Actually, I made them by accident. I originally wanted to make jam, but I harvested more fruits than I had sugar. So I cooked and mashed the rosehips without sugar, pushed through the sieve, placed a thin layer on a sheet and dried in oven at low temperature. Efficiency isn’t high, but I don’t like to waste the harvest.

Except of lemon, what do you imagine under sour taste? Yes, vinegar!

Perhaps some or most of you have tried to make homemade apple vinegar. It’s nothing complicated as soon as you have apples, big jar and patience.

Based on the same technology, I made also other kinds of vinegar – from the hawthorn berries and from elderberries. And I must say – I love both of them!

Homemade vinegars are great as they are, or you can add some herbs to extend their taste and flavor.

I have three types of apple vinegar – with common wormwood (Artemisia vulgaris), rosemary and onion skins. They are great fresh or cooked, for eat or hair rising.

The hawthorn vinegar is a kind of medicine as well, having a tonic effect for heart and blood pressure. I divided the final amount into three parts – pure hawthorn, with sage and with speedwell (Veronica officinalis), which also helps to keep heart and veins in healthy condition.

But the elderberry vinegar, it’s a treasure! I love even to watch it! It looks like a good red wine or magical elixir. I feel the taste in every cell of my body, awaking me for life. I put it into porridge in the morning, into the soup at noon and into legumes in the evening. As I said, I’m really obsessed!

I’m going to make bigger amount this year, especially after I used the elderberry vinegar instead of lemon juice into the herbal candies. I mixed it with cloves, cinnamon and star anis and it became a heaven in the mouth! They were gone before I took a photo, so you have to imagine or make it yourself 😀

What kind of sour ingredients do you like? I would appreciate more inspiration for my actual obsession. Thanks in advance!

With love, Ivana

Playing with the Elements, Part 3 – Water

Water is lazy, quiet and cold. Therefore it represents sleep, silence, darkness and even death. Water cannot move on its own. Its movement is always caused by external forces such as gravity or Moon in the case of high and low tides.

So, why we do say that healthy water must flow? And that standing water is an opportunity to grow molds and diseases? Because the external forces of nature and the Universe never stop. And if the water stands, then something acts against those natural or universal forces.

We humans love to act like this. Here are some examples of how we block the natural flow of water in our civilized lives.

On a macro scale, I would mention a boom of concreted riverbed which didn’t respect the original streams and which, a few decades later, cause disastrous floods.

Inside of human body, we often block natural sweating, which is the most effective way to get rid of toxic substances through the largest body organ – the skin. Instead we massively use inappropriate deodorants that block the sweat glands and forbid them natural working, which is the exact parallel to the amount of concrete used in the artificial riverbeds.

I understand that the sweat can smell badly and we live close to each other, especially in cities. On the other hand, the amount and smell of sweat depends on what we drink and eat, how our metabolism works, and how much stress we live in. If we focus more on these improvements, we don’t have to use devastating deodorants, but only light natural versions.

Emotions like sadness or regret require natural flow of tears to overcome difficult situation. But the common social habits often demand to hold tears back. Again, it is close to the parallel with concrete riverbeds. If you block the flow of tears for a long time, there is born a retention tank of emotions that will rupture in future for sure. And then all the pain pours at once.

Sleep is another good example inside the water element. Naturally we are set up to sleep at night, silence and darkness. In such conditions, the body really rests and gains enough strength for the next day. How many of us respect biological clocks and go to sleep with the sun? First I admit that I am a night creature and I don’t want to get up early in the morning. Even though I know it is bad, and it spoils my metabolism and water levels in my body. This is definitely my weakness.

But that’s not all yet. Night sleep should be in silence and in dark. But where to look for them, especially if we live in cities? Unfortunately we live in constant light and sound smog, so darkness and silence become unachievable ideals. And so the water element is spoiled a bit more every day, and thus our physical and emotional health. In the long-term it is definitely worth to invest in the light and soundproofed bedroom.

I prefer to stop with negative examples now and present a few positive tricks how to improve the quality of the water in our lives.

Dreaming is a nice quality inside of water element. And it could be a lucid dreaming even though it seems very useless. Fantasy is an eternal ally of water, so use it as much as possible. You can start with drawing or painting, let be inspired by fantasy rather than reality. No matter of the outcome, the process is beneficial.

Being alone and in silence is always a tool for harmonizing the water element in your life. Therefore, prayer, meditation and relaxation techniques are so effective.

And how about influence of the previous elements?

Fire and water are of course opposites. But the life needs both of them. Water is quiet environment, which needs to get a fiery spark to create a fetus. Water represents woman, waiting for male (fiery) sperm. And do you remember that Air represents socializing? If a man and a woman socialize well, then they create a new life.

Frequent topic is the relation between emotions and mind, i.e. water and air. Take real elements for help. If you don’t saturate water with oxygen enough, your water environment would be dead, even it has appropriate temperature (fire). So using only emotions without oxygen of our minds doesn’t keep us alive. Then we could tend to stay alone, dreaming, without connection to other people. So much water takes the life spark out and we become more dead than alive.

In the case of too much oxygen in water you can see big bubbles, so the water looks more like soda water full of wild whirlwinds, where isn’t even one quiet thing. This is a parallel of overestimated mind and underestimated emotions, which means a stressful life without rest.

And both examples above worked with appropriate temperature. Imagine there is not enough fire, so the water becomes ice. And this represents situation, when emotional person doesn’t put fire into the water. From warm feelings, hardness or even cruelty become.

And that’s why we should maintain balance among the elements. Sometimes is useful to implement small tricks and so to change the sequence of other events.

Next, I will speak about the Earth and the mutual influence with previous elements.

With love,

Ivana

In case you missed Playing with the Elements, Part 2 – AirPlaying with the Elements, Part 1 – Fire

 

Herbal magic for healthy hair

There are many useful herbs to improve quality of your hair. I took an example of my local herbs, divided in groups according to the type of hair. I’ve been testing them by myself and few of my friends.

Blond and/or thin

The key herb of the group is definitely Chamomile (Matricaria Chamomilla) from the family Asteraceae. Trying to sense the energy, it makes clear that Chamomile brings a floral softness and asterisk lightness into the hair. Don’t expect hair thickening from it! Chamomile is proud of its gentle quality and ready to share.

Other herbs could make a good company to Chamomile. Usually I choose a birch leaf or linden blossom. Both of them are a good companion for another group of hair too.

Red and/or middle

The leading herb of this group is hops, either alone or processed in beer. At least in Europe, using beer for strong and shiny hair has a long tradition. Try to imagine growing hops (Humulus lupulus) and you will see long lianas, richly covered by leaves and small green cones called strobili. They are highly aromatic, full of useful components for your hair and skin. No wonder, hops belongs to the family Cannabaceae and is completely legal worldwide.

Longterm use of hops makes your hair thicker (like lianas) and your scalp healthier. But it doesn’t make sense to use it for really thin hair. It seems to me that the strong aroma of hops and fullness of the compounds are too hard (aggressive) for thin hair.

Birch could be a reasonable support for thin hair thickening and is a good companion for hops too. If you imagine birch tree (Betula spp) you will see long but light branches with small, heart shaped leaves. The birch has a beautiful and lifted hairstyle and you can achieve that for thin and middle hair.

Rich look of your hairstyle could be also supported by linden blossoms (valid for thin and thin/middle hair). If you imagine a flowering linden tree (Tilia spp), it will be clear to you. At the time of flowering the linden tree increases its volume and beauty. Blossoms shine with color and scent, attracting attention of bees and humans. It can work for you in the same way – except of insects 😃

Dark and/or thick

This is the group of hair with a good quality, sometimes too strong or thick to style them. Could you imagine a plant with a similar energy other than nettle? The nettle has tiny stingy hairs in huge amount and is ready to share the same quality with you.

Nettle (Urtica dioica) is the leader of the group and it is probably the most famous herb for a hair promotion. But as I have mentioned several times, for some hair (or hair skin) types, the nettle is too rough. For example, my scalp every time turns red after using nettles and it doesn’t matter whether it was in a decoction or processed in soap. The stinging power of nettle is simply too strong for me.

In case your hair isn’t extremely thick or you have a problem with nettle, a suitable alternative for you could be the wild thyme. The purple color of its flowers is a good guide where to use this herb. Disinfecting aroma helps to remove toxins from hair and scalp, and sometimes also from the mind beneath. I like adding the wild thyme for the red hair blends in the winter when they need more protection.

Method

You can easily prepare decoction (like more concentrated tea) and rinse your hair after washing. Or you can even wash your hair with a special soap that contains a suitable blend of herbs. And because it is much more comfortable, I prepare such soaps at home from the herbs I personally gather. Then it is a great pleasure to wash my hair.

I must say that it might be tricky to choose the right combination for chemically colored hair. They usually don’t cooperate well with herbal soaps, decoctions could be fine.

My originally red hairs (treated with henna) are more than happy with the herbal soap (hops, birch, linden blossoms) for more than two years. Even my hairdresser confirmed improvement of their quality.

I’m curious about your experience if you like to share it.

With love, Ivana

How to reach perfection?

Everybody knows that being perfect is an illusion, but each of us is trying to get as close as possible. The desire for improvement is natural, and because of this tendency we have a lot of good in our lives.

But there are people who are obsessed with perfection. They usually would not agree and immediately highlight all the imperfections they have and need to improve. As long as they live inside of their obsession and don’t bother others, it is dangerous only to them in terms of mental and later physical health.

What I consider to be a problem is a lot of people who are paralyzed by the obsession. They are standing at the life crossroads and wondering which way leads to perfection. They want to avoid mistakes so much that they prefer thinking instead of acting. These people are always waiting for some UNTIL. Until I get this and that I can’t start doing this or that. They often become collectors of certificates with zero practice.

I believe in the power of practicing. My drawings are best proof of it. People ask me how I blend the colors, if I have special pencils for it. No, I don’t. I have the most common and cheap pencils, but I patiently put on many light layers until the drawing gets rich in color.

And this is my conclusion for today. You can get close to perfection by unlimited range of imperfections. Being imperfect means that you are on the way. Keep doing!

With love, Ivana