White Heart Henna & Holistics Blog
For those who recognize the wheel of the year, we have just celebrated Imbolc, which commemorates the lengthening of days and the return of the light after the dark of winter, and welcomes the first signs of spring. It is a time of purification, renewed hope, and potential. We begin to feel a release from the frozen grip of winter, and dream about and nurture what will sprout in the spring. Valentine’s Day is also on the horizon. In honor of the newness of spring, and the designated day of love, I am sharing some concepts and a list of ways you can inexpensively and intentionally practice more self-care/self love in your daily life.
1. Practice Self Acceptance.
You are perfectly imperfect. Acknowledge your strengths and your shadows. Even your weakest, darkest self is worthy of love and compassion. While you can’t necessarily persuade others that this is true, you most definitely can show compassion to yourself. It’s easy to fragment ourselves and present what we feel is the prettiest version of ourselves is to the world. Your story is complex and rich with history. Stop comparing yourself to others and judging yourself harshly, and learn to embrace and support the person you are. Strive to become your best authentic, integrated self, and an instrument of love, rather than attaining perfection. Make a valentine for the part of yourself that you feel is unloveable, or the aspect of your personality you have received the most negative feedback about. Everyone’s brokenness has an origin story, and while we invite growth and healing to those places, we also need to practice showing ourselves unconditional love even when we act out of fear.
2. Declutter, Create a Sacred Space
Out with the old, in with the new! Clear out any stagnant energy in your physical surroundings. There are many ways to do this! Physically and energetically clean your living and creative or work spaces. Finish up or pack away unfinished projects. Deal with those stacks of mail and papers, purge that closet. Set the tone for the kind of season, or evening you want to have. Engage your senses! Make your space look like, smell like, and feel like the way you want. If you have an altar space, take this opportunity to clean and re-do it, and include objects that are symbolically relevant to the season, or your current focus or goals. If you don’t have an altar space, you might enjoy creating a sacred space with some visual reminders of what is important to you at this time, and things that bring you joy. Light some candles, set some mood lighting. Choose some flowers for yourself, and put them on the altar as a reminder of the promise of spring and to impart beauty.
3. Home Spa
Taking the time to pamper yourself and care for your body shows respect for the amazing temple your soul inhabits. Simple self-care techniques like soaking in a cleansing bath with epsom and sea salt to relax your muscles, or caring for your complexion by steaming your face to cleanse it of impurities and promote circulation, and taking time to cleanse, nourish and moisturize your skin, can be a peaceful and indulgent experience. My favorite, all- natural products can be found HERE: The Ayurvedic Facial Grains act as a gentle cleanser, exfoliant and mask in one, and I love the skin brightening and anti-inflammatory effect I get from turmeric in the formula. The facial oil makes my skin feel soft and beautiful, and I find its light, rose geranium scent balancing and restorative.
4. Listen to Your Body.
Give your body the nutrients and the movement it needs to thrive and feel strong. If your body is talking to you (from overexertion, stress, or inactivity) you can find scads of free yoga videos online to nurture a cozy home practice. http://yogawithadriene.com/ is a fantastic resource for hundreds of free yoga videos, of varying lengths and difficulty levels. Doing a meditative body scan, prioritizing quality sleep, and enjoying a colorful, home cooked meal are also loving, grounding gestures. Live your yes, honor your no.
5. Timeout- Tea.
Savoring a cup (or a pot!) of tea is a great way to slow down and ground. Drinking a delicious, warm beverage is incredibly comforting, and there are many ways to engage your senses through its preparation, through the tea and the teaware you choose. Taking the time to select your tea, and waiting for it to steep already sets a meditative tone, and creates anticipation. You can experience the different flavors and mouthfeel of tea varietals the same way that some enjoy wine. You can inhale its fragrance, feel the warmth of the cup and the rising steam. You can drink it in quiet, or supplement it with music or a beautiful book. Or have a tea party, and share it with guests, and people that you love. You can also show self care to your body in a different way, through medicinal tea and herbal tisanes, as tea is a potent way to enjoy an herbal preparation.
6. Practice Gratitude.
Focusing on what you lack materially, emotionally, or relation-ally is a sure fire way to work yourself into a funk. Pay attention to your inner dialogue. Try to shift your focus into recognizing what you do have, what you have to be thankful for, and what steps you can take, and gifts you can give yourself to experience less of a deficit. Say out loud or write down at least 3 things that you have and can be thankful for right now, in the midst of your present circumstances.
7. Embrace Solitude.
Many people struggle with taking time for themselves, because they feel guilty that it is selfish. They dedicate their lives to careers, partners, children, patients, or parents and give them the time and attention they neglect to give themselves. It is not selfish, or punishment, to spend time with yourself. You are actually fascinating and unique company. No matter how many demands you have in your life right now, you can set apart or restructure some time to recharge and reset, rest and listen. This is important for your own well-being, but also for those around you, and the very people you care for. No one is their best self when they are exhausted and over-extended.
Many of us live busier, and more isolated lives than we did 5 years ago. Between our phones and computers and TVs, our minds are constantly stimulated, and after a hard days work it’s tempting to just tune out and be entertained by TV or Netflix. All this screen time can distract us from reality- how we are really feeling, what’s happening in our body, and what’s going on around us. The lines between working hours and non working hours get very blurred when we can be reached at any time. Experiment with taking a break from screen time and audible notifications, even if you can only do so for a few hours, and try to limit your screen time before bed. Check in with your body and your thoughts, write them out if you wish. If connection is what you are craving, reach out to a friend and arrange a time to meet face to face.
9. Give Yourself Permission to be Playful
When’s the last time you danced, sang at the top of your lungs, made some art, wore a costume, tried something new, built a blanket fort, or laughed out loud? Allowing yourself to be more playful and creative will boost your spirits and remind you that life is about more than your work and basic survival. Break the monotony of your daily routine with fun experiences, activities, or company.
10. Live Your Fashion Fantasy
I am always amazed how much I can manipulate my mood with a little self care, the right playlist, and a smashing outfit. Indulge your inner Glamazon! Wear fabrics, colors, and fashions that you love. Play with personas and accessories. Take inspiration from your favorite fashion eras, or icons.
Karwa Chauth is a one day festival, celebrated by Indian women from sunrise to moonset, on the 4th day of the waning moon in October. It is most commonly celebrated by women in Northern India by fasting (abstaining from food and water) for the safety and well-being of their marriage partner. Women decorate their hands with henna, and often wear red, festive garments. Her morning (before sunrise) meal would be prepared by her mother in law, and she would break her fast with water and something sweet by her partner under the moon, then they would enjoy a meal together.
This is partially inspired by the popular story of Savitri and Satyavan, which is found in the Vana Parva (The book of the forest) of the Mahabharata, where the newly wed and devoted maiden fasts and prays, and cleverly bargains with the god of Death to restore her husbands life.
But the roots of this festival are in the celebration of sisterhood, and the sacred bonds of female friendship. In Northern India, arranged marriages were common, and when women got married they would move out of their family home (and often even their town or village) to share a home with her husband and her in laws. She would have to, in many ways, start over, and be very cut off from her old way of life.
If she were to experience difficulties with her in laws, or her husband, who could she trust and confide in?
Who could she tell her innermost thoughts to as the landscape of her life was changing, and would continue to change?
Who would encourage her when she felt lonely?
Her earlier confidences would have likely been her sister, her mother, an aunt, or her childhood friends.
A custom began for the newly wed woman to seek out another woman in her new environment to befriend, and encourage. They shopped for a new bestie, basically. The new friend, or “god-sister” bond was considered extremely important, and the women treated one another like family. They were each others confidants, and encouragers. They would commonly be of the same age (or slightly older), married into the same village for proximity, and not directly related to her in-laws (so there was no conflict of interest later). This emotional and psychological bond was likened to the bond of blood relationship.
Karwa Chauth commemorates the sacred bonds of friendship, the not being alone, and as an act of devotion towards your beloved.
No matter where the winds have taken us this fall, no matter how many losses or uncertainties we have experienced, no matter how many times we have to start from scratch, WE ARE NOT ALONE.
Let us wait for the moon together.
Let’s paint our hands with henna!
Let us honor the friendships and support that have carried us through change and hardships, and shared joy as well.
Let those who have partners honor their partners with acts of love and devotion.
I am especially thankful under this moon to my Portland sisters, my god sisters, and to my little coven of ladies that sweeten my life and widen my heart. Thank you for taking me as I am.
DO YOU WANT TO CELEBRATE KARWA CHAUTH?
I am hosting a Karwa Chauth Henna party in SE Portland this Fri, Oct 6th.
My god-sister, Geetanjali will be joining me to provide henna services for anyone that wishes to participate. Designs from $15 and upwards depending on size and intricacy will be available.
Note: WhiteHeart Henna and Holistics recognizes the sacred bonds of friendship, and marriage bonds regardless of gender. All are welcome to attend, and receive henna at this event.
A chill is in the air, the leaves are falling, and for those of us in the Pacific Northwest, the rain is coming. I have found many ways to adapt to the long, wet season- I have the protective outerwear, I make a winter reading list, set some art/craft goals, bake more, and I do still hike and bike in the rain. I also intentionally plan some festive gatherings with the people I treasure. It is very tempting for us to stay in once we get to our warm, dry homes, and for many Autumn and winter encourages patterns of introspection and isolation.
My challenge to you, Wild Women, is keep our houses warm with hospitality, and to celebrate and support our female friendships this fall. Invite your friends over, attend events together, confide in each other over a steaming mug of tea, coffee, cider or a glass of wine. Learn to listen, let your hair down.
But….the holiday season is coming, and it’s such a busy and stressful time…when I get home, I just want to get in my PJS and watch Netflixx! I hear you, but check this out this study on how women respond to stress, and how crucial our female friendships are:
One landmark study (by Laura Klein and Shelley Taylor) on the relationship between friendships and stress, discovered that women react to stress differently than men. “This difference is due to the different proportions of hormones that are released into the bloodstream. When men and women are stressed, the hormones cortisol and epinephrine are released together, which raise a person’s blood pressure and circulating blood sugar level. Then oxytocin comes into play, which counters the production of cortisol and epinephrine and produces a feeling of calm, reduces fear and counters some of the negative effects of stress. Men release much smaller amounts of oxytocin than women, leaving them to feel more acutely the effects of the flight-or-fight response. Men tend to respond to stress by escaping from the situation, fighting back or bottling up their emotions.
Taylor contends that women, on the other hand, are genetically hard-wired for friendship in large part due to the oxytocin released into their bloodstream, combined with the female reproductive hormones. When life becomes challenging, women seek out friendships with other women as a means of regulating stress levels. A common female stress response is to “tend and befriend.” That is, when women become stressed, their inclination is to nurture those around them and reach out to others.
Another study underscoring the importance of friendships was conducted David Spiegel who studied the survival rate of women with breast cancer. He found that those women who had a strong, supportive circle of friends outlived by many years their counterparts who lived in social isolation.
The Nurses’ Health Study from Harvard Medical School showed that the more friends women have, the less likely they are to develop physical impairments as they age, and the more likely they are to lead a contented life. The study also showed that not having friends or confidants is as detrimental to your health as being overweight or smoking cigarettes. The researchers examined how well the women functioned after the death of a spouse, one of life’s greatest stressors. They found that even in the face of this major life loss, women with close friends with whom they can share their burdens fare better than women who lack close friendships.
Whether is it with friends, family, a therapist or a support group, women find it healing to tell their stories. We want to talk about our emotional experiences and to process what has happened and what we might do going forward. If friendships can enrich our physical and emotional lives, the question becomes why so many women find it challenging to nourish them. Ruthellen Josselson, author of Best Friends: The Pleasure and Perils of Girls’ and Women’s Friendships explains that when we get busy with our work and family, the first thing we do is push away our friendships due to lack of time or energy. We lose sight of the strength we provide each other and the healing benefits we derive from our friends. As the research suggests, we need to build and maintain these important bonds to protect our physical and emotional well-being.”
Benefits of good friendships and social support:
Enhance quality of life
Boost the immune system
Fortify physical and psychological health
Promote optimism and positive moods
Help manage trauma and loss
Provide a sense of belonging, security, and community
WhiteHeart Henna and Holistics encourages the gathering of women and self care by offering henna services for private events and gatherings, and treating every guest like the queen that they are. Make time for yourself, foster your friendships. Light those candles, put the kettle on, and let our hearts burn bright.
Contact firstname.lastname@example.org to book a henna artist for your wild woman gathering. For rates, visit whitehearthenna.com homepage.
What is Karva Chauth?
“Karva Chauth (Hindi: करवा चौथ) is a one-day festival celebrated by Hindu women in North India in which married women fast from sunrise to moonrise for the safety and longevity of their husbands. The fast is traditionally celebrated in the states of Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, parts of Uttar Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh, Haryana, and Punjab. The festival falls on the fourth day after the full moon, in the Hindu lunisolar calendar month of Kartik. Sometimes, unmarried women join the fast for their fiancés or desired husbands.”
Henna, or mehendi, also plays a large part in the observance. Married or betrothed women henna their hands before performing the ritual, and henna in general is thought to bring good fortune to the bride as well as add to her beauty. Celebrating Karva Chauth? Book your henna appointment between Oct 16th-17th. Contact email@example.com.
Jai Ho! Dance performers show off their henna under the hot sun last weekend, at Portland’s annual India Festival in Pioneer Square, which celebrate the music, dance, and flavors of India. It was my joy to dance with this group, henna their hands, and take in all the beauty and discipline that went into this event. It inspires me every year. I love the eclectic mix of ages, ethnicities, personalities, skill levels and body types that make up our dance troupe. Dance is for all!
Here are some photos from our pre-festival henna party at Studio Nia in downtown Portland:
Are you a dancer? Would you like to receive henna before a special performance? Henna stain is the darkest/ most striking 2 days after application, so be sure to plan ahead and book your henna appt before the day of your event. For rates and booking, refer to whitehearthenna.com, or email me firstname.lastname@example.org.
Today I met baby Indigo! He was hatched from this very belly, by his strong and beautiful mother Sara. Welcome to the world, Indigo. Good job, mom.
Henna has been used to celebrate rites of passage and births for thousands of years. It is a ritual rich in beauty, and soothing in its application. In some countries, henna applied in the third trimester is believed to protect and bless the mother and child from malicious spirits and the “evil eye”. Decorating the belly with henna paste can also be a way to celebrate and embrace the body’s physical changes during this time.
WE NEED EACH OTHER. Expectant (all!) moms need encouragement, reassurance and support. The simple gift of sitting still, having others wait on you, while the watching the cooling/fragrant henna paste form beautiful patterns on your belly is very calming and healing. Make an opportunity for yourself or a loved one to visit with friends, enjoy good food, feel the circle of suport, and git your pamper on.
If you are living in Portland, OR and would like to celebrate a new beginning, or are planning a baby shower/ blessingway ceremony for someone you love, contact me at email@example.com.
This last year of my life has been a whirlwind. A move, relational shifts, and the constant juggling of dates, locations, preparations, and changing of hats that is the life of a freelancer. At the conclusion of my busy summer season, I embarked upon a journey with my dear friend, Tina. We dubbed this journey (and our mix CD!) Destination Redwood.
I have always had a thing for trees. They comfort me, with their suppleness and their strength, deep roots and patient growth. They inspire me with their sturdiness, constant growth, and sculptural beauty. I wanted to acquaint myself with those old- growth shaggy giants in northern California; to see what it felt like to be dwarfed by their height and longevity. I wanted to rest my back against those trunks, and breathe in the coastal air and the forest floor.
Before the reward of this trip, both my friend and I had to burn the candle at both ends for a couple of weeks before, and I assure you, that feels like the understatement of the century. My poor friend had to work a 14 hour shift the day before we left, and had to pack at night. This Herculean effort begged to be rewarded with fresh coffee and road scones. I rode my bike early in the morning to Lauretta Jean’s (in Portland) to obtain the holy food. On my ride, I noticed a free box, and in a slightly damp box of discards, I found a beautiful, hand-painted Native mask of “Hummingbird”. I am no expert on native stories or totems, the only thing I knew about Hummingbird is that she is also known as “the Wild Woman of the Woods”, making her the perfect mascot/road totem for our sister-sister road trip to the Redwoods
“Hummingbird teaches you to appreciate and love the miracle of living, and to help you focus on the positivity in your life. They are messengers of peace, they heal your body and soul and they guide you through life’s challenges. Hummingbirds are very independent and seem to have an unlimited energy supply. They symbolize wonder and beauty.
A legend from the Kwakwaka’wakw says that Dzunuk’wa (the mythic guardian of the mountains and Wild Women of the Woods) loved this little bird so much, she let him nest in her hair, in return the Humming bird looked like a jewel pinned in her hair. Of all the birds, they are the most talented flyers. They can hover in one place, fly sideways, backwards and forwards. They teach us to look back to our past, but not to dwell, instead to move forward. As well the Hummingbirds tell us to savour every sweet moment as they do when hovering over each flower. Native Americans believe that it brings luck to see a Hummingbird before major events such as long hunting trips or travelling to other villages.”
Here I am in Arcata, CA in what Tina coined as “the world’s most beautiful henna lounge.”
“Wild Women of the Woods”
We were truly rewarded with beautiful coastlines, fresh air, forests, glorious hosts, daily doses of salmon, and agates. Northern California is gorgeous, and Tina is an amazing friend. I gave us each this henna tattoo as a visual reminder of the Wild Woman in us, and as a personal reminder to myself how her wild green is necessary medicine for me.
Do you have a treasured symbol, design, or animal you would like displayed on your body? This is some of my favorite kind of work! You can book a henna appointment by contacting me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Stay tuned for more henna adventures……
Grab some friends, and join me at the Alhambra Theatre this New Years Eve for a fun and memorable evening of henna, dancing, drinking, and Bollywood! Henna will be provided from 8:30pm-10pm- the early bird gets the worm! There will be a free dance lesson, followed by hours of Bollywood dance music, professional photography, and two bars open for your enjoyment. Tri-Met is offering free fare on NYE, so travel home safely!
What is Dandiya?
The Dandiya Raas dance originated as devotional Garba dances, which were performed in Goddess Durga’s honor. This dance form is actually the staging of a mock-fight between Goddess Durga and Mahishasura, the mighty demon-king. This dance is also nicknamed ‘The Sword Dance’. The sticks of the dance represent the sword of Goddess Durga, and good triumphing over evil. One of my favorite dance memories is teaching this dance to a crew of people waiting for the Max train, under the Burnside bridge – We used my drawing pencils 🙂 Feel like some jubilant dance “fighting”? Then raise your “sword”, and have some of the most fun aerobic exercise you have ever had in your life! Join the Jai Ho! Dance Party and WhiteHeart Henna at the Bossanova Ballroom Sat, November 23rd, to partake in the dance-filled celebration that this evening will be! For this event, WhiteHeart Henna will be providing free henna from 9-10 pm, and offering $5 hand designs from 10-11. Hope to see you there! Dandiya sticks will be provided.