Is there anything more delightful than Whidbey Island in the summer? The sea, sun, forest, beaches, wildlife, boats, food, wine, art, small farms and farm stands and farmers markets, sunsets, fresh air, live theater and concerts, quirky shops run by proudly quirky locals, and just, ahhhhh. And, because just about everyone and their dog agrees with this sentiment, our summer ferry waits on and off the island--especially around the weekends--can be atrocious. Two- and three-hour waits can stress folks out. So everyone living here has their own ways of coping. Many avoid weekend ferry travel entirely whenever possible. Or we bring good books, family games to play, snacks to eat while parked in line. Or we stretch our legs and chat with car loads of folks who have suddenly become neighbors. I often use the time to write. And, if you still find yourself tense in the stuckness and waiting...
Ingredients: The ingredients in this ferry traffic tension balm include 1) organic olive oil infused with 2) Whidbey Island Douglas Fir (windfall branches gathered after windstorms), 3-5) peppermint, spearmint, and burdock grown here at Silly Dog Studios outside Langley, and 6) rosemary grown here or gifted to us by trusted local friends. Plus beeswax and just one drop of peppermint essential oil per tin.
Size/container: Reusable 2-ounce, screw-top tin.
To use: Use in whatever way eases your tension while sitting parked in the long ferry line, just don't use while driving! Only when parked, motor off, in a too-long summer or weekend ferry line or, once parked, motor off, on the ferry if you're late, tired, and tense after a too-long wait. Here are some ideas based on what we do and what we've heard others do:
- Rub a little balm into your palms, cup your hands over your nose, and inhale. Drop your hands and take a few more deep breaths. Wiggle your fingers one by one, then move your hands, and swing your arms.
- Rub a little balm into your temples, neck, jaw line, or shoulders where you're holding tension. Create a tiny spa experience for yourself or those you're with while stuck in the long line. Why not?
- If you're still tense after trying one or more of the previous ideas, add singing. Yes, singing. Become your own balm--as all our ancestors did at some point. Sing a song you loved as a child or that you love now. Sing as loud as you are able to. Sing alone or with others. I like to dedicate songs to the Salish sea and her people. Or to people who we've loved and lost. This helps me remember how lucky I am to be here right now, which never fails to ease tension, even when I'm running late with a plane to catch.
What our relationships with local plants bring us! Your experience of the plants and trees in this salve may be remarkably different from ours: that's the nature of relationships with the living. See medical disclaimer below. You may simply love the plants for their smell or the memories that they bring up in you or how soft the salve feels or for the salve's ability to offer you a momentary green and plant-y hug in your This-Traffic-SUCKS!!! day. That's great! And. Here is what our relationships with the local plants and trees (interconnected with our relationships with the land, local wise women, and ancestors) in this salve bring to us:
- Douglas Fir - Helps me remember wonderful walks in the woods. Relaxes my spinning mind and tight muscles. Connects me to the land I'm on right now. Causes me to breathe more deeply, slowing down my worry-spinning mind. We are part of something far larger than we can imagine and comprehend on our own. That's tough to remember stuck in traffic. Douglas Fir reconnects me with a larger imagination.
- Peppermint - Relives my tension and soothes my tension headaches. Makes me want to breathe more deeply. Often reminds me to open the window to get a breath of fresh air. Oh right, a fresh breeze helps, and I can still access a breeze!
- Spearmint - Contributes to feeling calm while simultaneously lifting my spirits and helping me feel that I am in the right place, right now, and receiving exactly what I need. Yes, even when stuck in traffic. Even when running late and missing appointments. Spearmint is remarkably adaptable, and with her, I'm more adaptable too.
- Rosemary - Connects me to a sense of peace within. Can unlock memories and important connections to loved ones and loved ancestors. I figure, if I'm stuck in a place, I might as well rely on the imaginations of all my people and all my former selves to help me feel less trapped! Together we imagine better than I can on my own.
Burdock - An energetic ingredient in this balm (if this is too woo woo for you, no worries, just skip this part for now). Supports me in shifting my energy by releasing frustration and anger instead of ignoring these feelings and trying to hide them, which tends to result in dwelling on them and getting bogged down by frustration and anger. If you use the balm, and then say out loud, or yell, "Wow does this traffic SUCK!!!!" and then you feel a bit lighter, even catch yourself relaxing or laughing, that may be you leaning on your forgotten or new relationship with burdock. I use the burdock root--not the flowers--for this, because I, personally, am exceptionally stubborn and struggle with letting go of anger, and I feel I need to lean on the most stubborn part of this plant for help. If you've ever tried to dig a large burdock root up--and had to get the help of a strong friend to finish the task--you know what I mean. :-)
Medical Disclaimer: For external use only. To make well-informed decisions for yourself, seek the guidance of your qualified health professional, such your medical doctor, nurse practitioner, naturopathic physician, and/or clinical herbalist with questions regarding your medical conditions, dosage information, and possible ingredient interactions with prescription drugs. This is especially important if you are pregnant, breastfeeding, taking prescription drugs, have a chronic disease or any chronic health concern, if you have allergies, or if you have never used products with these plants in them before. The information on this page is for general reference for further exploration and study. It is not intended as a replacement for professional medical advice. I'm an herbalist who leans on ever-deepening relationships with local forests and plants and herbs and flowers and lichen on Whidbey, local wise women, ancestors (my own and others), other herbalists, and learning traditional folk ways from people who love to share them, every chance I get. I intentionally spend a lot of time studying forests and plants directly, plus I study community wellness and connectedness, resilience, self-organizing groups, playfulness and deep fun, and life lived by those who rarely worry or take themselves too seriously--because I believe these are what we need to learn more about or become better at right now. I don't study illness. I don't study disease. I'm not a doctor. I'm not a scientist. I'm not a professional researcher in the allopathic (western) medicine sense. I've also never been pregnant. I experience myself as an every day mystic who's lucky to be a line-long student of plants and forests, aware that the trees and plants at our doorstep are healers.