Thursday, June 26, 2008

Healing with Women and Nature part 2

So the last night in Minnesota, I was invited to a party of women doing a talent show. There I met 2 cancer survivors who beat the odds, which at the time was so encouraging to me.
I met actresses, moms, dancers, and other women having a great time.
some yummy food, organic beer and local wine and I was having the time of my life in the energy of strangers, yet sisters.

Each woman present was to bring a talent. I brought soap (thankfully Kathy Jo has some stashed away in her house so I would not have to sing or

And Kathy Jo brought a song. All I can saw is that female energy is powerful, fun and alive.
I leave you with some entertainment...the real singing starts after 2 minutes. Sorry it is so dark

Healing Power of Women and Nature pt 1

This year I have prayed for travel opportunities, and blessedly enough I have had a few.
Last week I journeyed to Minnesota and go to spedn time with many women there.

First was with Kathy Jo (video to follow in another post YOU MUST SEE) and she had some things I needed to pick up. She arranged a cyber mama get together for me to meet some amazing MN women I have come to know over at Amitys.
Katie, Sara, Heather, Rachel and KJ kept me in such good spirits despite physical discomfort.
There is really something about being with other commited mothers that is soothing. Our children played so well together too.

My last day there I was with KJ as well and Maya came over and we created a healthy soup to enjoy together along with KJ's other delightful treats, like ginger kombucha and choclate chip cookies with liberal coconut oil. yum. Maya and I talked girls stuff, flower essence and things we both work with or relate to.

Dh worked with Kathy Jo's husband and that was nice to make some income while traveleing to help buy food and things.
the next 2 days were on a lake in Wisconsin. I was not feeling so well and curled up quite a bit and read books and took it easy. Which I probably needed to do. It was nurturing however and leaving our friends cabin was you could feel the spirit of love adn home there.

Here is Ben fishing

Jon in the canoe

We spent the last night in a hotel KJ helped arrange for us (thank you!!!)

The kids had so much fun and were beat

We ate in Osceola,Iowa on the way home at a local restaurant called Nana Greer's-thsi is liv and I in the

the real entertainment will be in part 2:)

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Cuisine for Love

Last weekend some local friends and our family had a surprise baby shower for my friend Joy as she prepares for the upcoming birth of her third child.

Joy's family has some food sensitivities such as gluten intolerances and dairy as well.
So trying to come up with good menu's to bring to get togethers sometimes challenges me because I don't have alot fo education in this area.
So I pulled a few things together and wanted to share my 2 favorites of the evening.

Quinoa Salad

Cook quinoa as directed on the package. I ahve alwasy cooked it like rice, 1 cup to 2 cups boiling water until done.
Thinly slice cabbage..about half a cabbage or more
Cut a red pepper up into chunks
a little thin sliced onion
Kalamata olives cut up
Minced fresh parsley
Mix well and then add the dressing which is a famous recipe of my friend Kathy Jo.

1/3 cup olive oil
1/3 cup apple cider vinegar (in this case it was nettles infused I think)
1/3 cup Braggs
2 tbsp maple syrup
3 garlic cloves in a garlic press

Let this mingle for awhile. best if made the day before I feel but whatever you have time for will work.

Add just enough of this dressing to lightly coat the quinoa and cabbage.
Toss lightly to incorporate the dressings.

Sprinkle sunflower seeds on top and your done:)
It is really good.

Ok then onto this delightful sweet desserty treat.

Strawberry Melon Salad

1 ripe honeydew melon, seeded and cut into chunks
1 pint strawberries, cored and halved (use a straw to core, taking it through the bottom of the strawberry all the way to the top)
1/4 cup fresh lime juice
2 tablespoons agave nectar
1 ½ cup nonfat plain yogurt
3 tbsps. sugar
1 tablespoon freshly grated lime zest
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
Combine melon, strawberries, lime juice and 2 tablespoons of agave nectar in a large bowl
Chill for 15 minutes.

I LOVE LOVE LOVED the fruit dessert completely. But this is my personality. I love things like this that have lemon or lime. The honeydew woudl have been easily replaced with cantelope or any other fruit really.

Let me know how it turns out if you take your hand at either of these recipes.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Dance with Cervical Cancer

This is the original story written almost 2 years ago. I pulled this part off my website and needed a place to store it for others to read if they need encouragement in getting through treatment.

Kristena, I have some bad news for you.

Those words are all I can recall that day in late March, 2006. Everything else became a blur as I tried to absorb the words spoken to me.

I had not had a pap smear in 9 years. Everything had been fine previous, why would I need to worry now? I mean, I am an herbalist and take good care of my body. Surely this gives me immunity against disease, right?

It is interesting how things come to pass. I was conversing with some women at our health food store business meeting, and found out that a retired local nurse midwife was doing pap smears and exams as a service for the local practicing midwives.

The thought occured to me that this might be a good time to introduce my daughter to the world of pap smears, breast exams and such. So I set an appointment.

On the day we had our appointment I said a prayer that if there was any problems at all for my daughter or myself, that it be revealed.

I went first and had a pleasant time with the practitioner. She is a beautiful woman, in her 60's and I could relate to her well. She made me feel comfortable and secure in our appointment.
During the pelvic exam, she stated my cervix looked as though it had been through the war but not lost the battle.
I laughed, thinking this was a result of Olivia's unassisted homebirth with her weight at a whopping 10 pounds 11 oz.
However, as she went to collect the cells with her qtip I began to bleed.
Inside I was panicky, but tried to remain calm.
I was reassured that this could mean I had an infection or something, but not neccessarily anything serious.

So I put on my herbalist cap again, trusting that I am a healthy woman and did not really worry too much again.
My daughter was comfortable for her first exam and we both went on our way discussing the experience together.

However peace was soon gone a week after when the results were in and I received the phone call.
The pap smear showed I had abnormal cells and I was urged to go for a colposcopy to check things out.

I asked for a good gynecologist and took the referral name and set an appointment for the colposcopy.
I wish I cold say I was brave and strong and went to my scheduled appointment, but I put it off another several weeks to try to heal myself. I was in partial denial, terrified inside with a pain so great that I was beside myself. I, the herbalist mother of 7 children, could have cervical cancer.
I used every known herb I could to combat this cellular abnormality hoping it was just dysplasia that I could reverse.
Day after day I faithfully performed my rituals in hopes for this to disappear and go away. Tampon soaked infusions, enemas, vegetarian meals, fasting, praying, increased excercise, sunbathing daily, and the like.
Then one day I realized I needed to just get in there and do it. If my rituals have healed me then I will be ok, I said. If not, I must know in order to be proactive about my life.

I arrived at the womans center early in the morning and I was so scared my teeth chattered within me. Scared of exposing this precious cervix with whom 7 babies had passed through. Afraid of the needle being injected so that I would not feel the biopsy. Ashamed that I had not had a pap smear in almost a decade.
I expressed my fears and everyone was so kind and easy going with me.
As the gynecologist examined me, she used doctor terminolgy that was undiscernable to me adn asked if her partner could also view my cervix. I agreed.
They both then examined, spoke doctor talk to each other and then the gynecologist told me that she woudl not perform the colposcopy, but felt she needed to refer me to the doctor across the street, whom she had highest regard for and he had treated her own mother previous.
She would not state she saw cancer, but only said she saw that I would need surgery and he was the surgeon who should see me.
So they scheduled an appointment for the next day. And once they handed me his information, I saw he was an oncologist gynecologist.
Oh No ...this does not sound good I thought.
I asked the nurses, does this mean I have cancer?
They told me NO, this does not mean you have cancer, we just feel he needs to see you.

The next day I went to see this oncologist gynecologist. He was a really nice man and he could see the fear of the unknown all over my face. And when I discovered he did not like to give local injection for biopsy that made it worse!
My husband was in the room with me and I held his hand and tried to get myself together and be strong.
The biopsy was not painful really.
The doctor then said we needed the pathology for a certain diagnosis, but from what he could see he was sure I had cervical cancer.

And it was at that moment, I became strong. Running away from what I feared was now being confronted.
I felt more light and back to earth that the weeks previous. My husband and I laughed and enjoyed each other.
When the results were returned, the nurse called to tell me it was indeed cancer.
I was staged at 1b1

Within a week from that phone call I had a cat scan, chest xray an appointment once again with the doctor, blood work, an ekg and a radical hysterectomy. I was busy!

I was given the option of radiation or surgery. I chose surgery in hopes to spare my ovaries and continue making hormones.

Surgery went well and 5 days later, on my 40th birthday, I was able to come home.

Brenda, my stepmom, had flown in for the week to care for the family while I recovered. She was a huge help and supportive. She is such a brave soul and I needed her bravery to fare through my fears of the cancer being gone.

A few days after discharge from the hospital, it was time to remover the catheter and staples.
To my horror, I could not feel my bladder or any sensation of needed to use the restroom. I did everything possible to get myself revived to no avail. I had to be recatheterized for another week.
The bladder problem made me cry-I was concerned and for another week+ I had a catheter again . The second time my catheter was removed I still had some problems, but fortunately we worked through them and I am pretty much normal.

In the middle of all this bladder trouble, the pathology report came back with some sad news. The cancer was successfully removed, however it was larger than thought and also had invaded some lymph vascular space. Radiation was recommended.

An appointment was made for a consultation with the radiologist oncologist. My husband and I cried and cried. My dear husband knew how important it was for me to spare my ovaries and now there was no hope left. Radiation would knock them out of functioning mode and I would be going into menopause. He knew it hurt me and he cried with me.
I did much research the next 2 weeks trying to determine if I wanted to go forward with this. It seemed the messages I received was to go ahead and tackle it now in hopes that it would be forever gone.
Cancer treatment always has its risks. It is not easy to make decisions, however I felt at peace with moving forward.

Funny though, as a woman that has avoided radiation most of her adult life, even from microwaves, I was now forced to submit to a radiation machine. I was honestly terrified and after 3 days of treatment I went a little bit crazy and had to call my poor radiation doctor on Fathers day for antidepressants and sleep help. I felt I could not go back for more treatments-I was so scared.
But from that point forward I was ok. The nursing staff was awesome, my doctor was awesome and the drugs helped until I broke out in a rash all over my body. I blame radiation but everyone thinks I am crazy. I went off the antidepressants for a few days and onto a new type.
I stayed on the meds for about 2 weeks and went off. I was not scared of radiation anymore and felt ok. Diarrhea was the worse symptom. I only had one major embarrasing blow out in a public restroom. My kids were embarrassed too. I wont share that

5 weeks of M-F radiation. No pain. Made me a wee bit tired and a wee bit sore in my bones and of course daily diarrhea. Other than that fairly uneventful until the last 3 treatments in the 6th week. They were internal treatments to treat the inside vagina and cuff using a type of radioactive tampon of sorts.
The treatment itself did not hurt, but inserting the applicator was uncomfortable and after the three treatments were done, my sacred area looked completely different. Swollen, purply black. Urinating hurt and my bowels hurt. Thank goodness it went back to normal after a few weeks. I had some sunburned type skin and lost my pubic hair. I was quite nervous and was able to have ativan for each treatment to take the edge off.

I now see my gynecologist oncologist every 3 months for a check up. It gets incredibly tense each time I know an appointment is coming. I want to cry and run away. But in my heart I truly feel I will be ok.

I have chosen at this time not to take hormones. Trying to get through this naturally is not the easiest, but so far I feel good about my decision.
My sex life has completely changed. No natural moisture so I created a product for that.
The lack of hormones sometimes make me real edgy so I take motherwort for that.

I am still eating low carb. Excersize when I feel up to it. This is the time of my life I must strengthen my body, bones and heart to stay well. I use nourishing herbal infusions for daily tonic of vitamins and minerals. On days I feel slow or weak I take kelp to help regulate thyroid and sometimes a b vitamin or multi. Most of the time I just need my infusions.

I must say looking at life through the cancer experience has been extremely life changing. Living is far more sacred than I ever held it. My family means more to me than I ever thought was possible. My spiritual life has allowed me to question things without guilt and to seek out what I truly beleive.
I have learned to value people far more than before and have been a bit less reclusive.

When I lost my ability to conceive through cancer surgery, my daughter, Robyn conceived (surprise to us all). I not only went into menopause years in 2006 but early 2007, my grandaughter Ariella was born. With the help of many beautiful and supportive women, I was able to fly out for the birth. It was a beautiful experience and one I will never forget. So immediately I was thrust into a new season of life. And one I hope to successfully master and grow in. I plan to be here a long long time and want to make every bit of my presence a positive force in this world.

Thank you for taking time to read this. If you are diagnosed with cervical cancer I want to encourage you to hold on tightly to hope. You need to get through your treatment and desire to be cancer free. The cancer journey is difficult and can be fearful. Your faith and desire for life, and support from loved ones is essential. Let people cook for you or clean for you. Go out for an ice cream sundae on occassion without guilt. Listen to your favorite music and dance. I still worked out, although very cautiously during radiation. Any sense of normal felt good to me.

If you choose alternative medicine, please be sure you have the support team of people with experience in oncology. Donnie Yance would be a good start as he specializes in diseases such as cancer. I did not have that choice with my financial limitation, and in the wake of a major illness, the emotions were far too intense sometimes to do much.
My gyn oncologist and radiation oncologists were my homeboys and I learned so much through them.
A good support groups like Crazy Sexy Life may be helpful, although you will find some radical health pursuits there that you may not want to do for yourself. That is ok.
Love yourself. Dont beat yourself up because you ate ice cream every Saturday and smoked too much pot as a teen. Listen, absorbing the past will only make you grieve. Look toward a healthy and whole future and do the best you can to make it come to pass.

I wish you well,

Friday, June 6, 2008

Herbalist Spotlight Karen Hardage

Name: Karen Hardage

Age: 47

Sex: Female

Marital status: Married

Children: 1 daughter & 1 daughter by marriage.

Do you remember what was going on in your life that
lead you to herbs?-- As a child, I always spent lots
of time outside exploring and communing with nature.
That was where I was most comfortable and happy. From
my earliest memories, I have always been drawn to the
plants and the plants have always been my friends.
They have always "spoken" to me.

I remember an older woman everyone called Mrs. German,
who lived alone on the fringes of our community. It
was rumered that she was a gypsy who had gotten too
old to keep traveling with her clan. One day, I
remember going with my older sister to visit a friend.
We were walking through the woods and came to a
clearing above Mrs. Germans home. She was outside
working in her garden. I immediately was drawn to her
and wanted to go down and introduce myself. My sister
wouldn't let me. That's one of the problems with being
a younger It saddens me that I never
actually got to met Mrs. German. She passed away the
following year before I was old enough to walk back to
her house alone, but that day as I watched her work in
the garden, I recognized a kindred spirit much like
my own.

How old were you at that time?-- Around 6 or 7.

Can you share some of the work that has most
influenced you? Such as books, blogs, video and
lectures.-- I love any book or writing by Rosemary
Gladstar and Matthew Wood. They have both influenced
me greatly. Also, Eliot Cowan who wrote "Plant Spirit
Medicine" and Stephen Buhner, I really relate to.

When making plant medicine, are you drawn to any
particular method?-- Folkloric Traditional. Most
often when making medicine I use the simplers method.
However, when formulating herbs I use my "instinct"
plus a 3 point technique that Rosemary shared at a
conference I attended.

Do you have a most memorable event, conference, or
one on one experience with any of our herbal
foremothers and forefathers or any other key person
used in your path of herbalism? And how has that
influenced you today?-- I started late in my life with
my "formal" herbal education. So it wasn't until last
September I attended my first herbal conference. It
was The Southeast Women's Herbal Conference in North
Carolina hosted by Red Moon Herbs. I loved it! I had
never been around that many people excited about
plants in the same way that I have always been. It was

While at the conference,I heard Ada-Belinda
DancingLion's teachings on Native Ways and enjoyed
talking with her as well. She's a wonderful person and
extremely knowledgeable.

Also, last but in no way least, I attended a Medicine
Making class with Teresa Boardwine at the Conference
which was very informative. Teresa is extremely sharp.

Where are you located?-- Pelham, Alabama which is
located between Birmingham and Montgomery.

Do you work with the public and could you descirbe
your work? such as:
Do you teach classes?-- No

Do you offer consultatons?-- Free consultations to
anyone who seeks my help or guidance.

Do you travel for herbal work?-- Not work, just

How can people contact you to find out more about
what you offer, calender of events, blogs, weed
walks, etc?-- Presently, they can email me at

Do you have a vision for your work in the future or
are you seeing how it unfolds?-- Currently, I am just
taking the time to be still and listen for what
direction I am to take with my herbal work. The plants
will let us know what is our particular path to walk.

Most of the readers are new to herbs and if there is
one word of wisdom or sage advice you could leave
them, what would that be?-- Follow you intuition and

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Lessons from my life part 7

Fight the frump

Why do we tend to let things go as mothers. We are tired, don't always feel like having sex I suppose, then we avoid looking sexy. Months or even years go by and we are depressed when we look into the mirror. This should not be, mama's.
This does not ONLY mean hawt clothing, make up and styles. We can still be humble earthy mama's, but we NEED TO FEEL BEAUTIFUL. (even if that means hawt clothing, make up and style)
If a patchwork skirt and a t shirt makes you feel beautiful, so be it.
If jeans make you feel hawt then of course wear them well.

But tight clothing really is not a healthy choice, so avoid any clothing that is tight as it will impede circulation. As we get older we surely need that system to be working well.
Also fibers.....if wearing those light polyester fabrics makes you feel beautiful, by all means wear them. HOWEVER, understand that most synthetic fabrics do not breathe, so maybe when at home or relaxing, you can choose a nice cotton, hemp, bamboo, or linen fiber that makes you feel good.
Your skin needs to breath.
Do you wear a bra? Take a bra break when you can and give those breasts a good massage. Oil of dandelion or violet is a good choice for breast massage. (dreamseeds sold out quick by the way)

Dry brushing may encourage weight loss and help slough off skin cells. This is nice to do prior to bathing. I use a shower brush that I never take into the shower, for this purpose. It is said that this method helps cellulite too.
The important thing to remember if dry brushing it so brush toward your heart again for circulation.

I am a natural mama. I rarely wear make up. I dont like the way it feels on my skin. I feel like I cannot breathe. But I do like some eye makeup and lip color on occassion.
And I do feel good when I buy myself one or two new items. I tend to thrift, which I enjoy most certainly. But I do deserve first quality when I can squeeze in a little to spend on me.
Ya know, for years, I would get birthday money and go buy my kids socks and undies, and my husband a paid of pants, etc... then I would feel so down after ward. It took me years to realize that it was ok to spend the birthday money on something for myself.
And just yesterday I went out and bought a new pair of sandals. I loved my old ones that were 2 years old and falling apart. I felt poor wearing them. I dont know why I hesistate in meeting my own needs. Maybe finances or the age old idea that we are to sacrifice everything for our family. Nourishment...that is the theme behind most of the herbalism I practice, yet yeah.....I forget about me sometimes.

How bout you? What makes you feel good? A massage? Some time to get naked and lay in the sun? Aerobics or yoga? A new necklace?
There are many thing I and those are not always attainable right now, but taking care of myself has to be a prioirty from now on in however I can squeeze it in each day. Life is way to short. Your beautiful! Take care of you~

Monday, June 2, 2008

6 Quirky Things

Tammy from Witchen Kitchen tagged me in another game where I need to describe 6 quirky things aobut myself.

There are rules
Here are the rules of this Blog Tag Game:

Link to the person who tagged you
Mention the rules in your blog
Tell about six unspectacular quirks of yours
Tag a new set of six following bloggers by linking them

And sadly, I am not really up to a whole lot these days. It has been a 2 month long battle with a strange unknown "thing" going on.

My guess..radiation cystitis or interstitial cystitis.

I was told by an energy healer I had cancer again so have been in panic, fear, desperation, and pain, really. Without a support system here it is really hard. I just want to be normal again!
I had a CAT scan and there is absolutely no sign of cancer or anything out of the ordinary. All organs look great.

So please dear people, I will share a couple of quirky things but wont play til the end nor pass it along.

I hate being touched by doctors..literally puts me in a panic for days until the visit sometimes

Hmm...that is all I can think of but if you read Tammy's blog, I think she prophetically wrote about my quirks on hers...thanks Tammy! lol

Peace to you all, love is the greatest, walk in joy