Celebrating Female Friendships/Autumn Isolation

cheers

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
Increase longevity
Strengthen resiliency
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.

women-tribe

Contact whitehearthenna@gmail.com to book a henna artist for your wild woman gathering. For rates, visit whitehearthenna.com homepage.

Waiting for the Moon, Karva Chauth

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 whitehearthenna@gmail.com.karva-chauth

United We Dance! India Festival 2016

henna circle india day

dance troupe henna hands india day

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:
circle of hands india day

bnew henna india day 2016

tina hand india day

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 whitehearthenna@gmail.com.

New Beginnings

henna afterbelly

 

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 whitehearthenna@gmail.com.

Wild Woman of the Woods/Henna on the Road

redwood forest

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.”

henna in the woods  hummingbird tattoos

“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 whitehearthenna@gmail.com.

Stay tuned for more henna adventures……

 

 

 

New Year’s Eve, Bollywood Style

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!10687402_10101979144505345_4127948263833724963_o (1)

Raise your sword! If by sword, you mean Dandiya sticks….

dandiya

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. 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 or observe 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.