Happy Memorial Day! Today is the second installment in our new series, Exploring the Essences. Today we’re going to look at another essence that is near and dear to my own heart: White Chestnut, which comes from the flowers of the Horse Chestnut tree (Aesculus hippocastanum).
The negative White Chestnut state is characterized by worry, specifically worrying thoughts that we just can’t leave alone, like a scab we won’t allow to heal.  An individual in a negative White Chestnut state is often consumed by these racing–even obsessive–thoughts, plagued by them to the point of interfering with their enjoyment of life. This state is often characterized by insomnia and sleeplessness–the vicious cycle of worry whirls around in their head all night. Stefan Ball, Director of the Bach Foundation, describes it as being stuck in “a groove” with no seeming way out. 1
White Chestnut has a very hard time living and staying in the present moment. They very often find themselves revisiting the past (remembering something bad that happened, how things went awry, or replaying events or conversations in their head) or in the future (worrying that the bad thing will happen again or that something tomorrow, next week, or next year will go wrong). Someone with a White Chestnut imbalance may either express these worries to excess or hold them in and torture themselves alone, depending on the individual and what other imbalances are at play.
There are certainly people who are White Chestnut “types.” We probably all know at least one…or are one ourself! But it’s very easy for anyone to slip into a White Chestnut state during a  period of stress, imbalance, or strife, and a White Chestnut imbalance often intensifies any other issues we may be experiencing.
Working with the White Chestnut remedy helps us keep our concerns in perspective. We’re not oblivious to potential dangers or obstacles, but neither are we ruled by them and the anticipation that they may at some point come our way. With the White Chestnut remedy we can finally break the cycle and at last get off the gerbil wheel of worry that exhausts us and drains the energy that could be put to much better use. We can finally find the still point inside of ourselves, cultivate a sense of calm, and be present and engaged in this moment.
In the words of Hafiz:
All your worry
Has proved such an
Find a better
Job. 2
The words here are my own interpretations of the remedies after 20+ years experience working intimately with them. They are not intended as medical diagnosis or treatment. To read the description of this remedy as set down by Dr. Edward Bach himself, go to: http://www.bachcentre.com/centre/38/whiteche.htm
For more information or to schedule a private session, email frogmoonhollow@gmail.com
1 Ball, Stefan. Bloom: Using flower essences for personal development and spiritual growth. London: Vermillion, 2006), 100.
2 Hafiz. “Find a Better Job” in The Gift: Poems by Hafiz the Great Sufi Master. Trans. Daniel Ladinsky (New York: Penguin, 1999), 234.
gerbil wheel

Get off that wheel of worry!

Nettles in the garden!

Spring is in full flower here at Frog Moon Hollow! The frogs and salamanders are playfully splashing about the pond and the peepers sing us to sleep every evening. Our deeply-loved hummingbird family has returned to us once again, and Peep the chipmunk is busily darting back and forth from his secluded nook beneath the front stone steps to his (not quite) secret cache at the back of the firewood stack.

I’m abundantly overjoyed that I am out there each day rolling in the dandelions and digging in the dirt. But I was ill for pretty much the entire month of April and into May–one thing after another, sapping all of my strength: a stomach virus, followed by a wicked chest and head cold, followed by another (even worse) stomach virus, never giving me a chance to bounce back. And through most of it, I couldn’t turn to my trusted herbal and food-as-medicine-based remedies, as my stomach was in such an uproar that tinctures and most teas were out of the question. I limped into May, deeply wary and worried of how I’d handle the road ahead: some strenuous upcoming travel and running a large work-related event in Manhattan. I could barely manage the usual daily tasks and obligations. Physically speaking, I’d hit rock bottom–devoid of energy, immunity, and any remnant of vim or vigor. My beloved flower essences gave me the inner strength to keep going forward when I felt I could not, and to stay hopeful, positive, and forward-thinking throughout, but I knew instinctively that I needed a physical jolt of some sort to get my body back to a place of health and vitality.

A few days before our trip, I looked out of the solarium over the sadly thus-far neglected garden. The chives were leaping up, the sorrel abundantly bursting (and already well munched by the snail population), and the nettles growing larger by the day. Last year–distracted by a misplaced attention to other people’s priorities–I let them go too long and missed my opportunity, never harvesting any before they went to flower (at which time they become unfit for human consumption, potentially causing irritation to the bladder or kidneys, though they are still good for composting and fertilizing purposes). I was determined that this year would not follow suit. So I forced myself off the couch and into actual clothes (harder than it sounds! I’d literally not had enough oomph for this in a frightening number of days), slipped on my raspberry pink and purple muck boots, and headed out to clip the tops off bowlfuls of beautiful spring greens. After blanching to remove the sting, I made a big ol batch of pesto, with heaps of nettles to spare, planning to freeze it all for later use. But for the first time in weeks, I suddenly found myself actually wanting to eat. I smeared gobs of pesto on kelp noodles and stirred in loads of chopped greens. With every bite, I grew stronger. I drank the blanching broth as tea and used it as a base for kitchari, loaded with nettles greens. In the morning, I whipped up the Learning Herbs nettles-based Earth Shake and drank it by the pint. For three days I ate and drank fresh nettles morning, noon, and night.

By the third day, I was not just back to normal–I was far better than before, with more energy, clarity, and vitality. I’d used nettles tea and tincture in past years to help combat spring allergies, to great success, virtually eradicating my usual spring sinus miseries. So I knew that they were mighty allies, but I never fully appreciated their seemingly magical life-giving properties! With an astounding nutrient profile (amazingly high in iron, vitamin C & A, and much more), they truly are a super food and the mucilaginous quality so soothing to the digestive system. I breezed through my travel and work endeavors with energy to spare. They were my powerful little miracle-workers, replacing the vitamins and minerals I’d lost through weeks of unpleasantly vigorous dehydration, and giving me something more, some additional boost–nutritionally, medicinally, energetically. Bless the nettles and the bounty all around us!

Have you had a similar experience with these powerfully zippy green guardian angels? Share in the comments here or on our Facebook page!


St. Paul’s, Oswego, NY; © Tara C. Trapani

This is one of my very favorite quotes from Doctor Who (I suppose the fact that I not only have a favorite Doctor Who quote, but multiples, is letting my geek show through a bit!). The first time I read this to my husband, he found it profoundly depressing, which came as a real surprise to me. As a very in-the-moment kind of person, he saw it as a sad testament to the fleeting nature of life–an unpleasant reminder of his own mortality. His perception, once again, served as tangible reminder of how different each of us really is!

For upon hearing this line for the first time, my heart leapt. For me, it meant hope. Whether we are affluent or destitute, a businessman or a bricklayer, we are all just stories in the end–the ultimate equalizer. And we all have the same chance for our stories to live on. A wealthy man or woman may have the means to make sure their name appears on a building that stands long after their death. But unless their story is one worth telling and retelling, their name will merely remain lifeless letters in stone.

On difficult days, I often turn to the company of the dead for comfort–they’re a surprisingly encouraging lot. Wandering through the headstones on this lint-grey damp April day, I read each name and calculate their lifespan: 46–just 2 years older than myself; 89, a pretty good run; only 8 years old, never having had a chance to make a mark on the world. I long to know their stories. I long to ask each one, what would you like us to know? What lay undone at the end of your life? What legacy–what story–do you wish you’d left behind?

The legacy we leave the world can take so many forms–concrete, tangible items such as buildings and bridges; creative works–written, visual, musical, and more; genealogical history, life narratives, and family trees that we hand down to future generations–the great gift of knowing from where and from who we came.

And then there is another kind of kind of legacy–the life we live and how we live it. Have we lived our days to the fullest–followed our dreams, even if we failed time and time again. Have we spent our days and nights brimming over with love for life, for others, for the journey itself? These are the tales worth telling. The buildings and bridges will someday crumble to dust, but the stories will live on.

So please, write and record your story, research your personal and ancestral history, but more importantly, live a life worth remembering–a tale worth telling through the ages. In the wise words of the mysterious man from Gallifrey “We’re all stories in the end. Just make it a good one, eh?”*


*Doctor Who. “The Big Bang.” Directed by Toby Haynes. Written by Steven Moffat. BBC. Original air date 26 June 2010.

Greetings! Here’s your Monday Family History Moment for the week.

This topic may not be the most romantic or glamorous aspect of genealogy, but it’s one I feel so strongly about that I want you to have this information right up front, before you delve too deeply into your research.

Let me tell you a story…

In 2004, I became very enthusiastic about researching a particular line of mine–the Driscolls who hailed from West Cork and settled in Oswego, NY on Lake Ontario. For seven years I avidly researched and uncovered everything I could find about my ancestors, relations, and many branching collateral lines. There were thousands of people in my tree and I had many thousands of digital documents on my hard drive: newspaper articles, censuses, draft records, and much, much more. I’d taken several research trips to Oswego, scanned documents there with my portable scanner and taken more photographs of headstones, family homes, churches, and other related sites than I could count.

One cold January morning in 2012, I sat down to begin my usual day of work. After a few minutes of routine email checking, the screen froze, went all fuzzy, and I found myself face to face with the dreaded blue screen of death. Nothing I did would bring the computer back. I rushed it to our local experts who used every means in their power to extract the data, but there was nothing left. Everything on my hard drive was gone.

“Well, why didn’t this silly woman have a back-up drive?” you’re probably asking yourself. “Doesn’t she know better?” The irony is that I did have a backup drive. But, because it was connected to the computer at the time of the crash, the computer took it down right along with it, and not a scrap of data remained on the backup drive either (a more intimate and emotional account of this incident can be found on my personal blog here).

I lost everything…everything. The only evidence I had left of my seven years of research were the original, physical primary documents and photos that had been handed down to me from my mother and grandparents and the public tree I had posted on Ancestry and on my Rootsweb Freepages site, neither of which had been updated in quite some time.

I still have not replaced so much of the information I lost that day. I hope to do so over time, but life is busy, and I don’t have the concentrated blocks of time available that I did back when I began my quest for the Driscolls. I never want you to have to go through the same heartbreak as I. So I’m going to share with you here the ideal backup protocol to assure the safety and continued survival of all of your hard work.


Online backup

First of all, everyone should begin with an online backup system. Most are by annual subscription, though there are ones that offer a certain limited amount of free space.  PC Mag compares the top online backup systems for 2016 here. I now use Crashplan (which was rated pretty highly by PC Mag) and I’ve been quite happy with it. In addition to the backup it provides, I can access any document on my computer long-distance from my phone or iPad (through a free app), which has proved extremely handy on more than one occasion. The beauty of online backup is that it takes no effort on your part and there’s nothing to remember. As long as your computer is turned on and connected to the Internet, it backs up your data all by itself.


External drives and DVD-Rs

In addition to the online backup, you should have an external hard drive, backup onto high-quality DVD-Rs, or better yet, both! It’s quite easy to backup onto an external drive, so I would recommend doing that a few times a week, if not every day. And when the backup is complete, properly eject the drive and disconnect from the computer. Don’t leave it connected as I did, or it could crash right along with your primary machine. It takes a bit more time to do the DVD-R backup and can use quite a few discs if you have a lot of images, so I generally make that a weekly or bi-weekly event.

How you store these is of the utmost importance. I know tech experts who keep their backup drives and DVD-Rs in climate-controlled safety deposit boxes. I don’t go quite that far, but it is crucial to keep them away from extreme temperatures, dampness, and other tech devices and electronics. I once had an external hard drive where I stored all of my digital photos of my little girl, but because I stored it in a closet on top of other hard drives and old laptops, somehow they canceled each other out and it was completely erased, while just innocently sitting there in storage. Heartbreaking. I don’t claim to understand the why or how of these tech issues, all I know is, don’t do it! Store your external drives and DVD-Rs in a safe, dry, cool (but not cold) location away from other devices.


Hard copies

The ultimate backup is, of course, an independence from technology. Actual physical hard copies of the photos and documents you find in your genealogy journey are the true safeguard. No matter what happens to your devices, as long as you store your hard copies properly, they will always be waiting there for you, even with no internet access or working computer. Ideally you would make a printout of every document you come across online or scan at an archive or other repository. However, as your research grows and expands to collateral lines, this can get quite unwieldy. Alone, I had almost 2000 newspaper articles on my hard drive, plus thousands of historical documents. It takes a lot of time to print and organize and a lot of space to store all of that! So, unless you have lots of free time and lots of space, I would recommend printing only the most crucial: documents, clippings, and photos related to your direct line or to the primary line that you have been actively researching, or those items that give you some piece of unique data not found in other sources. I treat my printouts as historical documents and store them as such, using archival methods (see the next section), but this can get pretty pricey if you are printing out quite a lot. So if that is too much of an investment, just make sure the containers in which you’re storing them (sheet protectors, binders, albums, etc.) are acid free.


Historical documents & old photos

The original documents and photographs in your possession that have been handed down through the generations are true treasures and should be treated as such. Electronic scans of these items are a wonderful security measure in case of damage to or loss of the original. But the reverse is true, as well. In case of electronic data loss, the original becomes the backup, so to speak, so make sure you are storing and preserving them in such a way that they will last for many generations to come. Store your documents and photos in true archival quality sleeves/sheet protectors, boxes, albums, etc. I buy my supplies from archivalmethods.com (no, this is not an affiliate link. I just trust the quality of their products after years of use and am happy to recommend them).

And again, store all of these items in a secure location away from extreme temperatures and dampness. Ideally, they would be kept off site in a climate-controlled safety deposit box or storage facility.  I freely admit that I do not store mine this way. My affection for them is such that I look at them too frequently to have them stored at a distance. But I do assure that the room in which they are kept is cool and dry (but not too dry!). But I do have a constant fear of a house fire or flood that could destroy them. So if you have the means and the will, an off-site, climate-controlled storage location could be a real blessing.

As for display of these types of items, I generally keep my old photos and documents in archival boxes and if I want to display them, I scan and print copies to frame. That way the originals are protected from exposure to sunlight, air, dampness, etc. If you are going to frame original old photographs, it’s best to get a professional to do it for you, but at least make certain that you are using archival quality acid-free mat board. And please hang them away from direct sunlight and extreme temperatures.



Although it was outdated and missing much of my findings, if it wasn’t for that public tree I had posted on Ancestry, I would have had to start from square one. So if you do subscribe to ancestry.com, make sure you are regularly updating your tree there. If you’re using Family Tree Maker as your genealogy software, it will sync up with Ancestry, as long as you have a good internet connection, and there is very little you have to do. But don’t always assume that it will automatically sync with Ancestry. You can set the sync options to automatic, but even at that, I often have to hit the sync button in the top right corner to push it to link up with the website and update the information. It seems to be a bit “quirky” in this regard. And if your computer shuts down improperly (i.e.power outage), you may need to re-link FTM to your Ancestry tree (this has happened to me more than once). I generally make sure to sync every single time I add new information to my tree. But definitely remember to do it at least once a day or once a session, depending on how often you work on your tree. If you use another software other than Family Tree Maker, you’ll have to upload a new GEDcom file to your Ancestry account to update the tree on Ancestry. I recommend doing this at least once a week or after every session where you’ve added a substantive amount to your tree.


I’m certainly not a professional IT person, just an unsuspecting genealogist who learned about computer crashes the hard way. But if you take these measures, you should be able to sleep safe and sound knowing that your ancestral info is preserved for many generations to come. It may sound like a lot to do right now, I know. But better to take a little time out of each week to tend to these matters than to lose years worth of hard work. And with a bit of time, it really does become second-nature, like brushing your teeth–a bit of important maintenance that becomes a part of your regular routine and really doesn’t take that long to perform. I wish you, your documents, and your data many long years together!


Tara is available for in person or long-distance consultations on genealogy and family history research. Email frogmoonhollow@gmail.com. Or if you you’d like to find someone in the specific geographic area you are researching, try the place-based search tool provided by the Association of Professional Genealogists.

Verbena Officinalis

I confess, the Vervain used in the Bach remedies is the beautiful, delicate variety shown here: Verbena Officinalis. But I couldn’t resist the Blue Vervain (Verbena Hastata) cover photo…it has such abundant exuberance!

Greetings! Welcome to my first installment of posts exploring the world of Bach flower remedies (or essences–the official Bach term is “remedy,” but they can be used interchangeably). Today, we’ll begin with Vervain. Why? Well, because it’s a remedy that is near and dear to my own heart–one of my own personal constitutional or “type” essences.

Vervain “types” or those experiencing a Vervain imbalance are often characterized by a sharply pronounced sense of justice and injustice. Right and wrong are not abstract concepts, but very tangible black and white realities to them. As a result, they are generally quite loyal and trustworthy.

If you have a cause or project that you are trying to promote, a Vervain is who you want in your corner. They will work fervently, tirelessly, and enthusiastically for a good cause and the work itself will be its own reward. They have a fundamental need to feel that they are doing good work–whatever type of work that might be. But make sure that it is truly a worthwhile cause or venture before you bring them on board. If they find out that you have misrepresented yourself or your cause, well…lookout.

Don’t cross a Vervain! If you wrong them, you will not be easily forgiven. You may spend a lifetime trying to win back their love and trust. You’ve broken their cardinal rule and violated their strong inner compass of right and wrong. This doesn’t mean that you have to agree with them all the time. You can have your own opinion and perspective, but you need to be honest and upfront about it. They will respect that. They may not like your position, but they will honor your right to hold it. But any sign of deceit or betrayal and you will be crossed off their list, probably permanently.

A Vervain is often great in a crisis (as are the vine types, though for different reasons). They will be right in the midst of everything to give a helping hand and make sure that everyone is safe and well and protected, especially when innocents (children, animals, the marginalized or oppressed) are concerned.

A Vervain imbalance can come across as judgmental, unyielding, everything painted in stark black and white. Although their exuberance can be inspiring, their strident nature can be overwhelming for those around them and their standards hard to live up to. Vervain in balance works for justice and the good, but has room for flexibility and allowing shades of grey–room for forgiveness and compassion, even for those who make mistakes and do “wrong” on occasion.

Keep in mind that everyone is unique, and these energetic imbalances may manifest in different ways, particular to each individual. But if this description resonated with you, and you recognize these traits in yourself, spending some time with Vervain essence may help bring you back into balance and offer you the ability to move through the world in a more positive way.

The words here are my own interpretations of the remedies after 20+ years experience working intimately with them. They are not intended as medical diagnosis or treatment. To read the description of this remedy as set down by Dr. Edward Bach himself, go here.   

If you are looking for assistance in working with the remedies, Tara is apractitioner with more than 20 years experience with the remedies. To schedule a consultation email frogmoonhollow@gmail.com.