Hawthorn Berry as a Digestive Tea

Gung Hay Fat Choy! Tashi Dalek! The Lunar New Year is upon us and I love to celebrate the cyclical shift from one year to another! On Monday’s New Moon we left the year of the Yang Earth Dog and welcomed in the Yin Earth Pig. I hope this year’s energy is a little less aggressive wounded dog and more congenial lucky pig. May our collective focus turn more towards generosity and companionship and farther away from personal motives of money and power. 

My birthday was also on Monday and along with honoring the next lunar cycle, I also celebrated my next revolution around the sun! A perfect yin yang balance! I threw an all day Drinky and Smoky Tea Party where we drank loads of Tea (Camellia sinensis), ate pastries, and smoked fatties. In typical Jessica fashion I took photos of me preparing the goodies, but forgot to get images of the final creations! I also had so much fun during the party I only had one series of pictures taken of some girlfriends and myself. Next time I’ll remember to take more photos! 

I will admit I went to bed with a bellyache Monday night. I ate way too many sugary treats, drank too much caffeine, and then had cheesy calzones late in the evening. It was a deliciously indulgent day and I felt the aftermath. As a Chinese medicine practitioner I embrace their theories on food stagnation (bloating, gas, and fatigue due to eating heavy, rich foods) and know that eating like this can wreak havoc on my digestion. That’s when I remember the wonders of Hawthorn (Crataegus pinnatifida).

If you’ve been overdoing it like me, then you need one of my favorite Hawthorn Berry recipes. Perfect for sluggish digestion after too much fun! This tea is tasty and works wonders to help digest fats and heavy foods. I recommend drinking small 2 ounce cups throughout the day if you tend to overeat. I should have been drinking this tea during my party and I wouldn’t need it so badly now!

Swollen Belly Decoction (aka Belchy and Burpy Tea)

3 tbsps dried Hawthorn berries (Crataegus pinnatifida)

3 strips dried Tangerine peel (Citrus reticulata)

3 cups of water

Simmer berries and peels in water for 20 minutes. Strain out herbs and set aside. Drink 2 ounces of the decoction throughout the day or 1/2 cup after a heavy meal. 

To learn more about Tea and Hawthorn, check out my book Plant Songs: Reflections on Herbal Medicine! It’s available on Amazon, Balboa Press and other online outlets.

You can also check out this episode The Herb Walk Podcast where I read from the Hawthorn chapter!

With love,

Jessica

when energy flows, wellness grows 

Fragrant Flower Tea Recipe

My daily walks around Denver are so aromatic this time of year. Everywhere there are roses, dogwoods, cottonwoods, and lilacs wafting their gifts my way. The rain has made everyone vibrant and green, coming to life after winter.

All of their beauty has inspired me to share a recipe from the Rose chapter of my book, Plant Songs: Reflections on Herbal Medicine. I hope Rose fills you with as much love as she has me.

Rose’s Song: Love Yourself, Everyday

Fragrant Flower Tea

Harvest a handful of roses, daisies, calendula, violet flowers and any other edible flower (make sure they are not sprayed with pesticides). If using lavender, use only a small amount, as it can taste soapy. Pour hot water over flowers and cover completely. Steep for 20 minutes in a glass jar with lid on. Strain flowers and collect water in a glass quart jar. Drink the tea throughout the day to open your heart and promote relaxation.

If you’d like to order your copy of Plant Songs, go to Balboa Press or Amazon.

With much love and gratitude,

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Jessica

when energy flows, wellness grows

Featured Image: Rose created by Jason Garcia 

Three Faithful (Herbal) Friends

Tuesday I mentioned the frustration I have been feeling the last couple of days. I have had time to reflect on what it is that is causing me such turmoil. Although I really wanted it to be something external, it never is. It is my reaction to situations outside of my control and my own inability to communicate clearly.

Speaking my truth is not always easy. I don’t want to disappoint people and my words don’t always come out right. With each stifled breath, my irritation grows as I censor what I truly need to say.

To help me find the compassion I need to speak truthfully, but with love, I call upon these three faithful friends.

Rose (Rosa damascena)– softens harshness towards myself and others, opens my heart to the divine within us all

Skullcap (Scutellaria laterifolia)– relaxes tension of mind and body, makes me more flexible to the beliefs/opinions of others

Milky Oats (Avena sativa)– nourishes and relaxes my nervous system, calms my spirit and mind

You can make a simple tea with equal parts of each herb. Let steep for 15 minutes and then sip and enjoy!

For the love of plants,

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Jessica

when energy flows, wellness grows

Morning Cup of Tea

It hardly seems like winter this week in Northern California. Instead of our steady fog and rain, we have had sunshine and temperatures in the mid 60’s. No complaints here as I soak up as much sun as I can!

It is getting brighter in the mornings and the days are gradually increasing, making the warmer days of spring more of a reality. I am still taking my daily tonics as people are still getting sick around me and I do my best to avoid going down like that. Especially since I leave for a yoga retreat in Tulum in 10 days!

I have been loving the Tulsi Rose tea from Humboldt Herbals. I worked at Humboldt Herbals many moons ago when they first opened in Old Town Eureka 20 years ago! Time flies, and us with it! Check out all the herbs, teas, essential oils, skin care, and other goodies they have to offer. You can also hear my interview with the proprietress of Humboldt Herbals, Julie Caldwell.

The combination of Rose Petals, Tulsi Bail, Red Raspberry leaf, and Green Cardamom is mildly spicy and so delicious. Sometimes I add a pinch of  Elderberry and Star Anise to keep my immune system even stronger. Either with little honey or unsweetened, this blend keeps me healthy and happy.

May you also enjoy a nourishing cup of herbal tea today!

For the love of plants,

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Jessica

when energy flows, wellness grows

Photo credit: Shutterstock

Winter Wellness Recipe

So far I have scathed off any of the flus and viruses that are floating around the United States. On the plane from Denver to San Francisco, I was the masked person on the flight. Although I got many weird looks, I felt empowered taking my deep breaths as people coughed and sniffled around me, including the guy to my right.

In my cloth mask (thanks Willow!), I applied a diluted blend of holy basil, eucalyptus radiata, douglas fir, and pine. I also tried not to touch anything and I washed my hands religiously. That is the best I could do on a plane, but in the winter I rotate a daily preventative tea that is full of Vitamin C and antioxidants that will strengthen my immune system. This tea is not only nutritious, it’s also delicious!

Winter Wellness Tea

2 tbsp Elderberry (Sambucus nigra)

2 tbsp Rose hips (Rosa centifolia

1 tbsp Citrus peel (Citrus reticulata)

1 inch piece of fresh Ginger (Zingiber offinicale)

Gently boil all ingredients in 16 ounces of water for 15 minutes in a covered pot. Strain out herbs and set aside for a second boiling. Cover and boil herbs with another 8 ounces of water for 15 minutes. Drink up to 4 cups a day as needed to prevent colds and flu. Stay well!

For the love of plants,

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Jessica 

when energy flows, wellness grows 

Daily Nourishing Tea Recipe

I mentioned in the last blog that I had many plant allies to help me overcome my pain, fear and distraction last year. I shared my personal experiences with St. John’s Wort, Cannabis and Milky Oats. What I always find amazing is that it only takes an aroma, a touch, or a sip to feel a difference.

I’d love to share my essential nourishing morning tea recipe with you. May it nourish you as it nourishes me!

Daily Nourishing Tea

8 ounces Filtered Water

1 tsp Milky oats (Avena sativa)

1 tsp Rose petals (Rosa centafolia)

1 tsp Lemon balm (Melissa officinalis)

1 tsp Elderberries (Sambucus nigra)

Boil water and pour over plant material. Steep for 10-15 minutes. Strain, sip and enjoy! Drink 1-2 cups every morning as a nourishing tonic. The herbs can be steeped at least one more time.

For the love of plants,

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Jessica

when energy flows, wellness grows

 

Medicine for the Soul Tea

I have shared this recipe before, but it is one of my all-time favorite teas. It is sure to nourish your body and soul, and help with any residual holy day blues you may be experiencing. Enjoy!

Medicine for the Soul 

2-3 tsp Milky Oats (Avena sativa)

2-3 tsp Hawthorn Berries (Crataegus spp.)

1-2 tsp Sage (your choice- Pineapple, White, Clary)

1/4-1/2 tsp Cardamom (Elettaria cardamomum)

Simmer Hawthorn berries and Cinnamon in 2-3 cups water for at least 5 minutes.  Turn heat off and steep Milky Oats for at least 5 minutes.  Add Sage the last 1-2 minutes of the steep.  Strain herbs and drink 1/2 cup of tea per serving.  Feel the herbs move through out your body and observe any sensations that may arise.

For the love of plants,

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Jessica

when energy flows, wellness grows

Winter Solstice Celebration

Winter Solstice is the celebration of the longest night of the year. It is a time to gather with loved ones and reflect on the past year. It is a time to honor what we have lost and gained. We celebrate the harvest and the cycles of the Earth. We honor our own cycles and what has transpired for us since the last dark night.

On Winter Solstice, we gather to write down what we need to get rid of before the return of the Sun. We go deep within and root out our darkest fears, so they can be brought to light, transformed, and released. Build a fire and write down these fears, throw them into the flames and watch them burn and be transformed into smoke and ash. Now write down what you want to cultivate in the year ahead. It can be cultivating kindness, community, or money. Tape your intentions to your bathroom mirror and say them out loud every morning. You will be surprised at how quickly these thoughts and words become reality.

As you hold your ceremony, you might want to have your herbal allies to help bring insight into your fears and intentions.

Herbs that Ground & Guide

Rosemary– spicy, aromatic, and stimulating, rosemary reminds you of who you are. Rosemary guides energy through all three burners (san jiao in Chinese medicine) and transforms dampness, bringing clarity to all situations. A sprig in 8 ounces of hot water will also help with bloating and nausea after eating.

Reishi mushroom– bitter and calming, reishi mushroom assists you in going deep. Reishi calms the mind and the spirit, making it an important herb in quieting an overactive mind and nervous system. One medium sized mushroom can be decocted in a quart of water for 1-12 hours as a medicinal tonic (take 1-4 ounces of decoction daily). The longer you boil, the more bitter the tea becomes.

Marshmallow root– cool and nourishing, marshmallow root soothes irritation in the digestive and urinary tracts. It benefits anybody that needs to be nurtured and supported. One tablespoon of marshmallow root simmered in 8 ounces of water for 15 minutes makes a grounding, earthy tasting tea.

For the love of plants,

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Jessica

when energy flows, wellness grows

Image credit: Annya

 

Feels So Good Foot Bath Recipe

As the days darken and the nights grow cooler I look forward to evenings cuddled up with a book, cozy blanket and hot cup of tea. A couple of times a month I make these nights even more special with warm foot baths. I blend together my favorite flowers, hydrosols and essential oils and escape into my own aromatic oasis. Foot baths are super easy to prepare and are more rewarding than you can imagine.

Ooh, That Feels So Good Foot Bath

Bring a stockpot full of water to a boil.

Turn off heat and add a handful of your favorite fresh or dried herbs

Let herbs steep for 10-15 minutes.

Strain out enough liquid for you to enjoy a hot cup during your foot bath

Pour the rest of the tea in a plastic or resin tub large enough to place both feet

If necessary, add more warm water to cover up to your ankles.

Once the footbath is at a comfortable temperature, add 1-2 tablespoons of Diluted essential oils to the water and swirl to mix with water.

Place both feet into tub, sit back and enjoy your cup of tea.

My favorite herbs for a relaxing foot bath:

Rose petals, Lavender and Calendula flowers, and Skullcap

I like to use coconut oil as my carrier oil for essential oils in most baths because it feels so yummy and moisturizing. It’s great for rough areas like our heels so it’s perfect for foot baths.

My favorite essential oils for a relaxing foot bath:

Lavender, Vetiver, Frankincense (ethically harvested), Hemp, Ylang Ylang, Rose Geranium

Only 1-3 drops of essential oils is needed per 1 ounce of coconut oil. Remember it takes a lot of plant material to make a small amount of essential oil. Use sparingly and respectfully.

This is a super simple recipe, yet relaxing to mind, body, and spirit. Take the time for yourself tonight. You deserve it.

For the love of plants,

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Jessica

when energy flows, wellness grows

 

I Get By With A Little Help From My Friends

Somehow all the craziness of the last few weeks has finally left my body and I am starting to feel “normal” again. Right now, “normal” means I have hours where I don’t feel panicked or despair. I am sleeping pretty well again and I don’t believe we are all going to hell in a hand basket. At least not today.

When my anxiety rises I’ve noticed all of my self-care techniques and advice to my clients go out the window. It’s like I don’t know what herbs and oils I need to be in balance. I am great at doing this for others, but not always for myself. I finally got enough distance from it to remember what I need to do.

  1. Breathe! It sounds obvious but it’s not. I have finally been taking deep breaths and it feels great! 
  2. Drink herbal tea! Again, sounds easy enough but when I’m stressed I go for black tea instead of nourishing nervines. My favorite this week (and every week)- skullcap and oat straw.
  3. Sniff essential oils! Not straight out of the bottle necessarily, but I’ve been using my diluted roll-ons. This week my go-to’s have been St. John’s Wort, Hemp, and Frankincense. My mood has improved and I have a much brighter outlook on life. 
  4. Walk in the woods. Or sit on the beach. Or go into nature and just be. You will feel wonderful. And you’ll breathe better!

For the love of plants,

Jessica 

when energy flows, wellness grows

Harvest Moon Elixir Recipe

Happy Harvest Moon!! May the fruits of your love be blessed with abundance and joy!

I love the Harvest Moon so much that my husband and I chose to be married ten years ago on the date of the Harvest Moon, the first full moon after the Autumn Equinox. We had a private ceremony on the cliffs above Luffenholtz Beach, the first place we went when we moved to Humboldt County twenty years ago. Two decades later our love burns bright.

To celebrate our love for each other and for harvest season I want to share one of my favorite recipes with you. Harvest flowers under the light of the full moon. If you are using dried flowers, prepare the elixir outside. If you have a significant other, harvest and prepare elixir together.

Harvest Moon Elixir

1 bundle of yarrow flowers

2 wild roses

2 organic cannabis buds

Place flowers in a clean, glass quart jar. Fill jar with fresh spring water and cover with a lid. Place jar in a location where the full moon is in sight and can infuse the elixir throughout the night. In the morning, strain out flowers and sip infusion throughout the day. Share with the one you love the most.

For the love of plants,

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Jessica

when energy flows, wellness grows

Photo credit: Chrystalinks

 

The Herb Walk Podcast Interview with Julie Caldwell

This is by far one of my favorite interviews so far.  I have known Julie since my first herb class back in 1998 and we have spent many hours hanging out and wildcrafting. On this episode of The Herb Walk Podcast we talk plant spirit medicine, herbalism, and what it’s like running a community pharmacy for almost 20 years.

Julie Caldwell, MA, is the creator of Humboldt Herbals and has had the great pleasure to serve the community as an herbalist for over 18 years. She’s a constant student of medicinal plants and the healing arts, and loves to teach about the beautiful and elegant relationship between people and plants. She offers intuitive herbal consultations and Plant Spirit Medicine by appointment only. For more information, please email Julie at juliecaldwell@humboldtherbals.com.

Don’t miss an episode, subscribe to The Herb Walk Podcast on iTunes and Stitcher today!

With love,

Jessica

when energy flows, wellness grows

Simple & Nourishing Tisane

I’m paying homage to my first herb teacher, Jane Bothwell, with my recipe post today.

This was probably one of the first herbal blends I ever made, and definitely the first I drank that wasn’t Celestial Seasonings Chamomile, Peppermint, or Sleepy Time.

I remember Jane speaking of each plant with love and reverence. Although I hadn’t really been exposed to herbalism, everything she said made sense. The way she spoke about herbs resonated deep within me and I knew at that very first class that herbalism would be a part of my life.

Thank you Jane for sparking my passion for herbal medicine!

Simple & Nourishing Herbal Tisane

1 handful of Nettles

1 handful of Milky Oats or Oatstraw

1 handful of Spearmint

1 handful of Red Raspberry leaves

If you have access to these herbs fresh- perfect! If not, dried is wonderful too!

Steep herbs in 1 quart of boiled water and steep for 15-20 minutes (or sit for a couple of hours in the sun)

Strain herbs (or not- herbalists like to strain through their teeth, lol!)

Sip and be nourished.

 

With love,

 

Jessica

Strong Woman Tea

In preparation for my class at this year’s Red Earth Herbal Gathering (August 19-20 in Longmont, Colorado- tickets still available!) I want to share this nourishing and delicious sun tea to support women’s health and wellbeing. This is one of my go-to teas when I feel fatigued, overwhelmed, or out of balance. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do!

Strong Woman Tea

2 tbsp Red Raspberry leaf

1 tbsp Milky Oat tops

1 tbsp Marshmallow root

1 tsp Vitex seeds

1 tsp Nettle leaf

Place all herbs into a glass quart jar and cover with filtered tap water or spring water. Set in the sun for 4 hours or so. Strain out herbs and drink the tea over the next couple of days. You will feel great!

With love,

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Jessica

when energy flows, wellness grows

A Delicious Herbal Tea Recipe

This is one of the most delicious sun teas I have ever made. It doesn’t take anything more than a few fresh, organic herbs that you can likely find in most natural food stores:

a handful roses (make sure they are not sprayed)

a handful of holy basil leaves

a handful of peppermint leaves

one lavender stalk (no more or will be too strong for my taste)

Place all herbs in a glass, quart jar. You can make this tea with 4 cups of cool, filtered water or you can boil 1 cup of water and add 3 cups of cool, filtered water for a stronger brew. Sit out in the sun while you are at work. Come home, strain off the herbs and enjoy a nice relaxing cup of tea (or two or three).

With love,

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Jessica

when energy flows, wellness grows

How to Sustainably Harvest Herbs

Everywhere I’ve traveled our wild herbs s are going off! One of my favorite things to do is to go wildcrafting my own medicine. With popularity of herbs on the rise I have had to curb my natural instinct to harvest medicine because now I don’t know how many others are also going to pick from that spot.

It’s funny how things change. When I first started taking herbal classes in the late 1990’s emphasis was put on wildcrafting and harvesting your own herbs. I was even taught that wild plants had the strongest medicine. Now with all the over harvesting of many of our herbs (ginseng only being one of them), herb teachers talk more about organically growing your own herbs or buying from small organic herb farmers.

We should be growing our own herbs (and food), but I am a little saddened by not having the freedom to harvest in the wild as I once did. For the future of our herbal allies, this is what we must do.

If you still want to harvest a little, here are general guidelines:

Always ask the plant permission first- and then Listen to the answer.

If permission is given, take less than 1% of what is growing.

For herbs where once we used mostly the root, try the leaves and stems too. Instead of killing the plant, you may just find some potent medicine in arial parts of the plant.

Always give a prayer, gift or blessing to the plant for the medicine they provide.

Please do your part to keep herbalism alive and viable for future generations.

With love,

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Jessica 

when energy flows, wellness grows

Flowers of Freedom Blend

As yet another “holiday” approaches, we find ourselves celebrating our independence and freedom. Many of us are ghastly aware that these “freedoms” come at an extreme cost to our fellow humans and certainly to our planet. This 4th of July I am going to do what a lot of people are doing. I’ll gather with friends around a bonfire, play guitar, eat too much, and enjoy the privileges so few of us have.

Along with these time honored American traditions, I will also give offerings and thanks to the land that colonists violently took from those that had called this majestic place home. Our “freedom” is muddled with genocide, slavery, rape, clear cutting, mining, and built on hope, dreams, liberty, and freedom. We can no longer choose to remember the illusion of independence, but accept the reality of the actual cost of our being “Americans.”

I don’t say this to make you feel guilty. I say this to make you aware that in accepting the truth, you can change the future; only when you know where you came from can you be guided where you want to be.

The flowers in this blend were chosen to represent the red, white, and blue of the American flag.

Red signifies hardiness & valor

White signifies purity and innocence

Blue signifies vigilance, perseverance & justice

Red- Roses: helps open your heart to love and compassion for all beings

White- Shasta Daisy: assists you to experience the purity and sweetness of life

Blue- Vervain: provides strength in advocating for justice for all

Either make a delicious sun tea out of 1-2 tbsp of each flower or add 1-2 drops of each essential oil (or absolute) in 1 ounce of carrier oil and anoint yourself daily.

Thank you for spreading peace and love throughout the world.

With love,

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Jessica

when energy flows, wellness grows

 

Lovin’ those Evergreen Foot Baths

This recipe is inspired by the Tree Walk I took with Deb Soule and Kate Gilday at the International Herb Symposium and for my love of our life giving conifers. Thank you Deb and Kate for your gentle wisdom.

Take a walk through your favorite grove of conifers and breathe deeply, giving thanks for the life they have provided for millions of years. Look down and see if there are any offerings of small branches with fresh green needles on them. If so, gently pick them up and bring a small bundle back to your house.

Put the branches in a large pot and cover with water. Put lid on pot and bring to a boil. Once water is boiling, turn down heat and take out one cup of tea for yourself and slowly sip. Cover again and simmer for 20 minutes. Take out another cup of tea for yourself.

Once the water is warm enough to use as a footbath, pour water (with or without branches) into a small tub. Soak your feet for 5-10 minutes while drinking the tea. Allow the strength of the trees to come up through your roots, helping you to stand tall and true in your convictions. Breathe and give thanks.

With love,

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Jessica

when energy flows, wellness grows

Roots & Flower Spring Tonic

I woke up this morning to sleet and snow in Denver. It is inevitable that there will be at least one more snow storm before June, but it still shocks me. I was just in summer clothes, sitting on a roof top deck with a margarita.

Today I’ll be bundled up and sipping hot tea all day. (Who am I kidding- I drink hot tea on the beach in Mexico!) Since I need to stay balanced with these extreme weather patterns, today’s tea will be one that nourishes yin and blood, yet invigorates and strengthens qi and blood.

I like to eye-ball my ingredients for this one, depending on if I want to solely taste the Dang Gui Pian (Angelica sinensis). If you are blood deficient, add more Dang Gui Pian.

Roots & Flower Spring Tonic 

4 tablespoons Marshmallow root & flower

3″ slice of Reishi mushroom (buy thinly sliced- it’s too hard to cut yourself)

2-4″ slice of Dang Gui Pian 

Decoct all ingredients for 20 minutes- 2 hours. Simmer on low if you cook over 20 minutes. Strain out herbs and drink throughout the day. You will feel nurtured, held and supported!

With love,

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Jessica

when energy flows, wellness grows 

Herbs that Keep you Sane in a Crazy World

As politics and media continue to spin us into an emotional whirlwind I find it very difficult to not spiral down the rabbit hole of despair.

Now more than ever I am relying on my plant allies to calm my overactive nervous system and soothe my aching heart.

Here’s my top 3 herbs these days to keep me sane in these trying times:

  • Rose– my #1 herb to help with grief, sadness, and compassion. When it’s hard to like (much less love) the millions of people that think Trump is an acceptable president, Rose reminds me that all are suffering and their words and actions are a reflection of that.
  • Milky Oats– I drink Milky Oats daily when I need to nurture my mind, body and soul. Deeply nutritive and relaxing, Milky Oats can help with nervous tension, body pain associated with stress, and insomnia.
  • Reishi Mushroom– this spirit herb grounds me like no other. The modulating properties of Reishi (Ling Zhi) make all transitions easier, helping us to adapt to change and see the bigger picture. Reishi allows me to hold space for myself, while also creating deeper connection with others.

May you find peace within yourself. May that peace spread around the world!

With love,

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Jessica

When energy flows, wellness grows