Sunday, September 14, 2014

The Season of the Metal Element

   Autumn is approaching as the sun casts longer shadows and the quality of the light is growing more golden in color. The transition is now from the earth element to metal element in Chinese medicine. 
It is a time for gathering Qi, harvesting the bounty of the Summer and preparing for colder weather. 
This week I gathered small dried flowers from my garden and made this collage. A dried rose, Angelica seeds, Agastache, Nicotiana pods, Tithonia diversifolia, and Lantana seeds.
 The collage feels like Autumn so I went to my favorite series of books on Chinese medicine and began reviewing the Claude Larre and Elisabeth Rochat de la Vallee translations of the Su Wen. 
The Huangdi Neijing of the Yellow Emeperor's Inner Canon is an ancient medical text that has been referenced, studied and used in Chinese medicine for over two thousand years. 

                                                       According to the Su Wen, Chapter 5 

                                                   The western quarter gives rise to dryness,
dryness gives rise to metal,
metal gives rise to the acrid taste,
the acrid taste gives rise to the lung,
the lungs give rise to the skin and body hair,
the skin and body hair give rise to the kidneys,
the lung masters the nose. 

In heaven it is dryness, on earth it is metal
Among parts of the body it is the skin and body hair.
among the sang it is the lung,
among the colors it is white,
among notes it is shang,
among sounds it is sobbing,
among movements which react to change it is to cough,
among the orifices it is the nose,
among the tastes it is acrid,
among expressions of willpower it is grief.

Grief injures the lung,
joyful excitement prevails over grief.

Above is the Ideogram for the lung. Also known as 'fei'.

It is during this time that the lungs and large intestine are in their peak time of year.
I really like this description of the seasons and their relationship to internal organs by Ms. Rochat.
"In the the seasons we can see the unfolding and progress of time, and time is nothing other than a succession and movement of different qualities of qi. And the same succession and movement of qi occurs inside the human body in order to organize and maintain life."

Wishing everyone a fruitful Autumn.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

The Great South Channel

This past week I traveled to the Great South Channel to visit the whales. It was one of the most magical experiences of my life. Upon boarding the Viking Starship in Montauk, we traveled out to the channel at night via Martha's Vineyard. The invitation to join the CRESLI trip came through Dr. Carl Safina of the Safina Center.
We left the dock as the glowing full moon began to rise.

 After a sleepless night I went on deck to see the super moon setting and first light revealing itself after a misty night. The water was glassy, the pelagic birds were flying with grace across the flat ocean surface and the smell of coffee filled the air. Dreamy eyes emerged from sleeping bags and met the amazing glow of sunrise.

In the early morning hours I met a beautiful mer friend at the bow of the boat who sat upon coiled rope. She told me about what the day might bring… she advised me to be prepared… for the magic of the moment when the whales would begin to breach. She suggested that I have everything in place beforehand… extra snacks, cameras, clothing... because when we meet the whales we will not be able to leave the deck of the boat.
And she was right.

First, the Minke whales showed up, they are elusive and very mysterious. Fast. One passed under the boat, in the blink of an eye. Then the Fin whales and finally we met the majestic Humpbacks.

The great South Channel lies between Nantucket and the Georges Bank. The waters are filled with nutrients and sea life that provide whales with great quantities of food for them during their feeding season. They may consume up to one and a half tons of food per day which is necessary for their long journeys. They may travel as far as 1,000 miles per month during migration season.
Humpback whales can grow to 16-17 meters in length. Their average lifespan is 45-50 years of age. They were originally named by naturalist Georg Borowski in 1781 as Megaptera novaeangliae, meaning 'big wing of New England'.

Breaching, bubbles, floating calves, tail slaps, and the sounds of deep breaths followed by watery rainbows greeted us at the edge of the canyon.
We all were absorbed by the magic of the Atlantic Humpbacks.

Thank you CRESLI, your wonderful volunteers, the crew of the Viking, amazing Captains, Dr. Safina.  and all of the fellow nature lovers for making this such a special trip.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Gratitude for the Sea

It has been quite a while since I wrote a blog entry. Sometimes taking a break allows us to come back to what we left behind refreshed with new and different perspectives. At the moment I am feeling a deep sense of gratitude and appreciation for many people, places and things in my life.

In addition to working in my private practice, I have been taking pictures daily and making collages with treasures from the sea. 
For this entry I am writing about my gratitude for the ocean. By sharing,
I hope to spread the inspiration just a little bit farther…

At the moment, I am grateful for the gorgeous photography of John Weller. I met John in the Kingdom of Tonga several years ago while we were photographing Humpback whales. He, Marshall Lally and Shawn Heinrichs, ( all extraordinary photographers ) were guests in the same hotel in Vava'u. At the time, I was traveling with Tony Wu, Patrik Nilsson and my special mermaid friends Rachel Teo, May Foo and Serene Khoo from Singapore.

One night, John gave a talk and shared his pictures of the Ross Sea, Antartica. Mesmerized, I could hardly believe my eyes. The pictures were beyond anything that I had ever seen. I later learned that these pictures went into a book The Lost Ocean. This is one of the most gorgeous books that I have ever owned. Time and time again, I go these pictures and try to imagine what it might be like in such a beautiful and pristine place on earth.

Dr. Carl Safina wrote the forward to this magical book. I did not know that Dr. Safina and John Weller knew one another and so it was a happy reconnection with very special people whom I admire deeply. 
Here are the links for both John Weller's and Dr. Carl Safina's websites. I hope that their important messages and work prosper. They are both luminaries and great heroes in my world.

I am also grateful to Roberta Goodman. She is a rare and special gem who has literally taken me by the hand and introduced me to the wonders of the ocean. I met Roberta at a very delicate point in my life after I had lost my only sister to suicide. I flew to Hawaii not knowing exactly why I was going but in my heart, I felt the call to be with cetaceans. 

The first day that I left the comfort of the boat, I gently whispered to her that I was 'a little bit nervous about meeting the dolphins'. Her soft and gentle hand held mine and we greeted a pod of dolphins together. She let my hand go slowly into the gentle sway of the ocean. 
Those first encounters left a profound imprint on my soul, while an ancient salty memory woke up inside of me.  
Roberta has a gift in her capacity to connect with and communicate with cetaceans. I have been in the water with her countless times  ( I've now lost track exactly how many ) and each time that we are together something magical and unexpected happens.

I have had the privilege of watching Roberta and the dolphins with and without my camera. It seems that the dolphins somehow know when the camera has been left on the boat and it is time to play. There have been numerous times that we have been together and I have seen amazing grace between her, the Spinner and the Atlantic Spotted dolphins. It has been breathtaking and heart breakingly beautiful to be by her side when contact is made between cetaceans and humans. 

I am deeply grateful to Roberta, she has shared her wisdom with me as well as her open heart. Roberta is a generous teacher,  a visionary and a very dear friend.

Thank you John, Carl, Shawn, Marshall, Tony and Roberta for sharing your gifts with us!

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Dogwood (Cornus Florida)

The Dogwood trees are now opening and gracefully revealing themselves. 
I have been photographing them over the past two weeks. It has been a beautiful study. 
These buds were forced indoors and opened slowly, but when they did unfold, it was quite a treat. 

The little sweet cardinal was photographed two days ago on a morning walk on Hog Creek Road in the Springs. I made several layers of images including a Dogwood as I felt it conveyed energy of Spring. 
These trees always make my heart sing. 

What appear to be 'flowers' are actually called 'bracts'. The true flowers are inside the white or pink bracts that are often referred to as petals. 

The Dogwood was used by Native Americans as a remedy for malarial type fevers that were intermittent. A tea or infusion was made of the white bracts, the green leaves and the interior bark. I do not use this as a remedy in my practice but researched its medicinal properties as I was curious about the historical uses of this tree in medicine. 

These pictures were taken in the afternoon light of the Springs. 

Above is a cardinal with the overlay of dogwood flowers from my back yard. 

Below are Dogwood flowers, Agate, Malachite and Amethyst. 

Wishing everyone a lovely Spring.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Louse Point, East Hampton

Dreamy foggy morning. 

Mysterious and beautiful light today at Louse Point.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Reflections on Nature

Today the most amazing gift arrived in the mail from a beautiful and thoughtful friend,
a book titled Four Elements, Reflections on Nature by John O'Donohue. I fell in love with it the moment  that I opened to the first page. The Forward was written by Pat O'Donahue, the author's brother. The first sentence reads:

"As we journey from the womb of the sea with our gaze of longing fixed on the stars, we have stopped off this earth for a short spell of belonging."

These gorgeous words went into the center of my heart and filled my breath with joy. This sentence beautifully sets the tone for the rest of Mr. O'Donahue's poetic book.  I am now savoring each page like a piece of exquisite dark chocolate. Mr. O'Donohue writes of the elements, nature, folklore and even mermaids! 

"One of the most amazing shapes that water takes is that of the ocean. The presence of an ocean is so huge that it resembles the divine, its constant movement and soundings signal a powerful inner life".

In my recent walks along the waters edge, I have been appreciating all of the amazing secrets and gifts that the ocean has for us if we are willing to take the time to sit with them and listen to their stories.  I have been photographing these treasures at my kitchen window in the new light of Spring. I gathered these specimens at the end of Springs Fireplace road and the bay beaches of Amagansett, creating little vignettes of these magnificent life forms. 

The following excerpt is from Mr. O'Donohue's chapter titled 'The Ocean As Immense Divinity'.
I love his description of the sea and the seashore.

"One of the most ancient conversations on the planet is that between sea and seashore. This conversation is a sublime metaphor for expectation. The land is trapped where it is. It can never move anywhere. This zen-like stillness and thereness of the land makes it vulnerable; it cannot get out of the way. But the ocean has a fluency, it can travel anywhere, even deeper into its own self."

Thank you my beautiful friend for this perfect gift. 

With love and appreciation. 

Friday, March 21, 2014

The Welcome Fragrance of Spring

Today my heart skipped a beat as I saw this beautiful purple crocus peek out from under the leaves. I photographed it in the afternoon light. The presence of this beauty reassured me that Spring has indeed arrived and that from now on, more beautiful colorful flowers would appear in many different shapes, sizes, and fragrances. 

Over the winter, I created many scents that I recently poured into sample vials that are now for sale. These precious perfumes have been melding for quite a while. My Pink lotus and Vanilla perfume took me two years to get to the point where I was happy. I also created a Hay and Rose liquid  perfume, and Pear and Pink Lotus. These are just a few. Within each recipe I use between nine to fifteen botanicals. These liquid perfumes are created in very limited quantities.

 I have recently completed several custom scents for clients in different parts of the country, mostly in the form of solids. I love how the process unfolds as I work with each botanical and explore how they behave with other oils, concretes and absolutes. There is a beauty to the alchemy of matching botanicals to the desires of the client. The most popular combinations this winter have included Cistus, Lemongrass and Chinese Rose. 

In honor of Spring, I am now working on a Saffron and Ylang Ylang perfume. The Saffron is from India and the Ylang Ylang is from Madagascar. The stigmas, or threads are what are dried and used for the spice saffron. 

These threads come from a variety of crocus known as Crocus cartwrightianus, believed to be a native to Asia and Crete. It is also a member of the Iris family (Iridaceae). It is one of the most costly spices in the world. In perfumery, it has a rich buttery flat scent and is a deep red color that is employed as a top note. Combined with the Ylang Ylang, it tells a new and curious story, about a far away and exotic place. The two together compliment one another and now I will explore new combinations to see how I can translate this into something beautiful to wear. 

Wishing everyone a very happy Spring!

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Winter Wisdom

  As we are now experiencing a true Winter, I have been exploring the Classics of Chinese medicine through the translations of Claude Larre and Elizabeth Rochat de la Vallee. I am currently reading their book titled, The Kidneys, which discusses the element of water, and the energy of seasonal stillness. 

I just came across this passage which so elegantly conveys my understanding of this season. It contains beautiful instructions for how we should live during this time of year. 
On these beautiful snowy days I have been taking pictures that reflect the mood and energy of the winter light.

This translation is from the Su Wen, Chapter 2. 

'Three months of winter
are called closing and preserving.
Water freezes, the earth is broken up,
there is no longer any communication with the yang.

One goes to bed early, one gets up late,
doing everything according to the light of the sun;
exerting the will as if buried or hidden,
taking care only of oneself,
falling back on oneself, in possession of oneself.
One must avoid the cold and seek the warmth, 
letting nothing flow out of the layers of the skin
through fear of losing qi. 

This is the way that is natural to the qi of winter 
which thus corresponds 
to the maintenance and preservation of life. 
To go against this current would injure the kidneys
causing weakening in spring
through insufficient contribution to the generation of life.'

Tuesday, January 21, 2014


As a child, I was gifted many little envelopes and preciously folded pieces of paper filled with seeds from my grandmother Isabelle who was a botanist. 
It was not until I read Seedtime by Scott Chaskey and heard his interview with Stefanie Sacks on Stirring the Pot that I had a full appreciation of the many gifts that my grandmother had given to me. 

It was as if a light bulb went on in my head and my heart. I saw my grandmother's legacy in a completely new light and my appreciation for her presence in my life deepened. 
Seedtime is a similar gift, but it is for all of us. This is an important book that we must share with our friends, families and communities. It is deeply meaningful and masterfully written by a luminary in the fields of organic farming, poetry and botany. 

Last year, Scott asked if I would be interested in submitting some of my work to Rodale Press for his book on seeds, and as I recall, I said "yes!" in the blink of an eye.
I am deeply honored that my photograph of a milkweed seed is on the cover of Seedtime. The seed came from a pod that was collected at a nature preserve along Accabonac  harbor in the Springs, East Hampton, N.Y. It was photographed in natural light on a precious piece of black velvet in the Winter sunlight. 
This book is a beautiful and poetic exploration of the history, husbandry and promise of seeds. It is a celebration of the very essence of the cycles of nature. As I read each page of this book, I felt that I was going on a journey through time, from the ancient tombs of the world to the current accounts of GMOs and how they are impacting our agricultural industry.

The very first sentence of the first chapter reads…

"Encapsulated in each seed is a story, a story held in a state of rest until released. Only with significant patience and effort can we interpret this language, which gradually is revealed as the cotyledons, or first leaves, unfold from a seed's invisible center."

In this book, there are many gorgeous and poetic sentences that ask for us to put the book down, if only for a moment, to relish in the cadence of the words and take in the magic of Scott's vision and lyrical expressions.

There are many curious and amazing historical details about ancient seeds, Native American traditions and the evolution of seeds through time. Scott masterfully weaves personal stories, personalities of plants, along side important information about botanical history. 
I have been deeply moved by the sincerity and the depth with which this book was crafted and published.
Rodale Press did a lovely job in the design and printing of this book. It is a book that you want to hold and read with time so as to savor the depth and richness of the words.
Thank you Scott for sharing your magic with us!
This book may be purchased locally at Canio's book store in Sag Harbor, N.Y.

It is also available through Amazon books.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Saturday, January 4, 2014

The Courage to Heal

The snow has made the light particularly beautiful here in the woods, and while the air has been crisp, there has been time for many hours of reflection and internal stillness. In my quiet time, I have been exploring the topics of courage and healing. I have been remembering moments in my own journey when I followed my heart onto a new terrain and trusted my internal compass to lead me in the right direction for my highest good.
In my own process, the greatest moments of courage were initiated by stillness. It takes a very brave heart to open up to the of healing trauma of any kind and wounds that are sometimes inherited by our lineages. Along the journey, many may stop. It requires steady patience, inspiration, hope, and great self care. It also requires a community of loving and supportive people who understand what it means to the person on this deeply personal journey.

As Dr. Peter Levine so elegantly suggests, we are naturally 'restoring our bodies to goodness'.
In the new year, it is my intention to bring together a larger community of likeminded people that understand this critical work especially in these  turbulent times. Creating a safe space, or sanctuary is the first step to healing work. Our nervous systems settle with more ease and grace when we are comfortable.

Healing trauma is a sacred process.

 In our current culture it is often difficult to take the time to allow our nervous systems to truly heal.  We often need a lot of space in our lives for much needed stillness and integration of the work. We are delicate, yet resilient. In my current study of healing trauma through a three year training of Somatic Experiencing I am learning so many new aspects of our system and our amazing and often mysterious capacities to heal.
As I move through the grace of this training, I too am being transformed.

Once someone commits to this path, miracles can happen. But this process may take time, often years. There are moments of challenge and there may be internal activations that require attention in our lives. It also requires the slowing down to listen to the subtle needs of our bodies.
We must also have safe environments where the people around us understand that we are in a delicate and meaningful process. We often come to this path because there were aspects of our lives that were not working for us, we may have been in pain or we felt the pull to experience life more deeply. 
During this time of exploration, we are committed to living in the land of the heart and exploring the terrain of the body. 
The heart, is the Emperor in Chinese medicine. It may lead us along a new path if we listen to the whispering of the call.

In my personal journey, I have also found mother nature to be a beautiful healer. She frequently opens her heart to me and sends me courage through beautiful messages. It may be the unexpected arrival of a marsh hawk, a butterfly or the chance meeting with a beautiful lady bug.

For more information on this particular process of healing trauma, Dr. Peter Levine he has written several beautiful books and has also created a CD workbook.
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