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The Wild Honey Buzz: Serenity in '23, May Edition: Mental Health Awareness Month and Flower Heaven

Happy May, one of the most beautiful months of the year here in the Northern Hemisphere where glorious spring is in full swing! The highlight of this month for me is the blooming of my number one favorite flowers, the luscious lilacs! I am completely obsessed with them! I have two different varieties in my backyard and happily clip blooms from my neighbor's tree and various ones in wild areas near my home. I like to put vases of them throughout the house! May is also the month when the rhododendrons and azaleas put on a big show here in the Pacific Northwest which truly makes it "Flower Heaven."

As we bid farewell to Taurus Season, we welcome the Gemini twins when the Sun enters the sign of Gemini on May 21. Gemini rules the lungs which makes this a good time to focus on deep breathing exercises. Arms and hands also fall under the ruler-ship of Gemini, so manicures might be in order along with arm circles and other weight bearing exercises for the arms. I enjoy the wit, verbal prowess and keen intellect of Gemini Sun folks!

A biggie this month is the observance of Mother's Day in the U.S. This holiday is a difficult one for many people for many reasons. While I love being a mom and enjoy the attention from my children and husband on this day, I also view it as a day of devotion to Mother Mary, the mother of Jesus; and in some traditions, the entire month of May is centered on the acknowledgement of her as the "Queen of Heaven." Many people place floral crowns on statues of Mother Mary during special ceremonies. My neighbor has a sweet statue of her in her garden and I like to decorate it with flowers at different points in the year. Here is the mantra to accompany the "crowning" ceremony: "Oh Mary, we crown thee with blossoms today, Queen of the heavens, Queen of the May." Another lovely serenity practice is reciting the Hail Mary prayer that accompanies the Rosary in the Catholic Tradition.

Mother's Day also affords us the opportunity to express gratitude to all those who play nurturing roles in our lives, not just our biological mothers.

The photo below is of my neighbor's statue that I decorated with lilacs, clematis crown, rosary beads, rosemary sprigs at the bottom and a large heart rock from my collection of found heart rocks.

May is also Mental Health Awareness Month. I read "The Myth of Normal: Trauma, Illness and Healing in a Toxic Culture" by Gabor Mate, in which he shares significant insights into the current mental health crisis in society and ways we might address it. I marked so many pages in this book and took three pages of notes! The author reminds us that trauma pervades our culture. He asks "Where do we each fit on the broad and surprisingly inclusive trauma spectrum?" He writes that a happy childhood doesn't require extremes for its cracks to show. and recommends "compassionate inquiry" as an effective technique to use in beginning to explore our own trauma and that of others. Mr. Mate argues that the most powerful predictor of functioning in the present is a persons current relational connectedness, and the second most powerful component is the persons history of connectedness.. "The Myth of Normal" would be a great book for colleges to assign as a school-wide read. The author challenges the assertions of JD Vance who wrote "Hillbilly Elegy," a book that was sadly prescribed reading for many college students. Mr. Mate writes that "refusal to recognize broad economic and political conditions (i.e. toxic culture) as relevant to individual health and happiness is a core feature of materialistic ideology." He believes mental health is negatively impacted by this materialistic ideology and offers a rebuttal to the erroneous arguments put forth by Vance.

In writing news, I received another wonderful endorsement blurb for my forthcoming book, "In the Grip of Grace" from Anna Egan Smucker, author of "Rowing Home," "No Star Nights," and other books. Here is just one of her many complimentary statements about the book: "Under the spell of Mersereau's vivid and compassionate voice, readers will be held in thrall to these poems of her rich-storied life." I look forward to sharing her endorsement in its entirety in the future. I am so grateful to Anna, and to authors, Roberta Schultz and Erica Wright for their kind comments about the poems.

I am also very pleased with the author photos that my talented friend, Jean Kercheval, of Kercheval Photography took for me! I call her "Jean the Queen" and she's certainly the Queen of many things, portrait photography in particular. Below are two of the images she took for me. The one in blue will grace the cover of "In the Grip of Grace." I realized that I last had professional author photos taken in 2016! I was waiting to find a publisher for my book before I booked an appointment with her to have my photo taken!. I am so grateful to Jean for doing such an awesome job and highly recommend her if you happen to live in the Seattle area and need a head shot or other professional photos.

The month of May will conclude with Memorial Day honoring the memory of all those who have died while serving in the military forces of the United States. My parents were both veterans, and two uncles, two aunts and my father-in-law also served in the military. Several poems in my upcoming book deal with the long shadows cast by war. I always fly the flag to honor the memory of those who died during the performance of their duties, but I continue to be heartbroken and disappointed by the recent loss of freedoms here in the United States, the very serious threat to our democracy and the unbelievable tragedy of gun violence, among a host of other issues. Our collective trauma is deep indeed. I pray daily for peace and healing for all of us. "God grant us the SERENITY to accept the things we cannot change, the COURAGE to change the things we can, and the WISDOM to know the difference."

Wising you the best this month and always. Stay wild, stay free, stay serene. Seek solace in the flowers and in all things of nature.

~Marianne, aka "Wild Honey"


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