Category Archives: health

Carrots and Sticks

In the EDITH Syndrome I talked about how I would do my bit to save humans and the world as we know it by offering head-bonking stories. There are two types of bonks. Nice wake-up calls that show the good we do as we act in alignment with nature. Those are carrots.

baby-sloth-eating-carrot

  The nasty bonker points out, well, the nasties. Stories of what we do that leads us away from nature, sanity, preservation of natural resources and a future for humans. That would be the stick. 

monkey with stick

 Both carrot and stick point to links that made sense to me and I wanted to share. If you have any, bring ’em on.

monkey with stickWe’re subsidizing the wrong thing. Dammit! the G20 countries are spending $88 billion a year subsidizing exploration for new fossil fuels.” No, that’s not the oil subsidy. That’s just for finding more non-renewable resources to bankrupt the planet. Simple solutions are proposed. They could happen. If our priorities were people and planet and only then profit.  STICK.

baby-sloth-eating-carrotThis is awesome! How about a local food economy. In the poorest neighborhoods. That’s serious value. CARROT

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Death Among Us — Robin Williams

Looking at social media, it’s clear I’m not the only one needing to sit with this news that’s taking longer than expected to digest. His death was shocking. Stunningly so. Despite the old clichés that comedians are sad people and artists are tortured souls we were thrown off kilter. Why did the suicide of Robin Williams cause such a loud collective intake of breath? Why is it still in the air?

For one thing, you shouldn’t get this kind of news on a beautiful summer weekend in August. It should come in the depths of winter, when you’re longing for warmth and sun and it just won’t come dammit, and you’re almost losing hope.

Then there’s the juxtaposition of one of the funniest men of our time doing something so utterly devoid of humor. The man who controlled audiences with a gesture or a word showed us definitively that he had lost control over what truly mattered.

That funny brilliant man often seemed like someone we knew – an Everyman of comedy. His friends say he was shy. The rest of us easily confuse knowing a celebrity’s work or seeing them ‘candid’ on a late-night talk show with knowing who they are. We knew Robin Williams was over the top – it was his trademark. Most knew of his battles with addiction and depression.

But his death told us we didn’t know him at all. Who would have predicted his death, or the angry, brutal way he killed himself! That aftershock was almost as awful as the news itself.

So what are we left with now? His body of work, of course. We’ll catch up on anything of his we might have missed. We’ll watch his movies, attend retrospectives, we’ll let him make us laugh and feel again.Yesterday I watched the pilot of Mork and Mindy, a show I had never seen. I laughed so hard I almost choked on a sip of water.

We’ll appreciate his creative genius and hopefully we’ll accept his final gift. For his death is a challenge and an opportunity for us to look behind a curtain we so don’t want to lift. Not only to understand mental illness and suicide better, but also to reflect compassion without having to understand.

Too many of us have been impacted by the suicide of friends or family members. We are left with our emotions all across the board — we are hurt, devastated, confused. Guilty. Angry. We ask ourselves if there was something we might have done differently. Maybe, maybe not. But by then we’re looking in the rear view mirror.

Maybe this time we can pay it forward. Maybe this iconic death that has found its way into our national psyche will help us do something differently in our private lives. Perhaps we will learn a little better how to uncover, discuss and respond to mental illness in ways that improve and dignify us and help make lives — and deaths – easier to understand.

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You Had It or You Are It?

OK. I had cancer. So, now what? Do you view me as a ‘cancer survivor?’ Probably. Did that change anything in your perception of me? Almost certainly. I don’t know how the term got started. Did someone who had been through treatment one day jump up and say “Yay, I’m alive! I’m a survivor!’ And so it began? Perhaps.

More likely it’s a label that was created by those who did not have the experience but wanted to show respect to those who had gotten The Diagnosis and didn’t die. I appreciate the underlying ‘Hat’s off!’ that I believe most people intend when they use the term. There’s probably also a bit of ‘Super! — another win for the good guys! (Translation: If that were ever me or someone I love, I’ve got a good memory to bring up to bat.)

I’m not suggesting you look and I’m not going to either, buuut… if we were to look through years of blogging I’m not sure you would find even one post where I mention my journey through breast cancer. It’s not that I hide it. And it’s surely not that I haven’t written about it! During treatment I journaled a good single-spaced 200 pages. About a year or so later I wrote a book about going through crisis (the e-book is “ABC’s for the Hard Times: a crisis survival handbook) and in addition to stories of my hypnotherapy clients I refer to my stage 3 diagnosis and some of the ways I coped.

But right here for now, I want to get back to two thoughts  — one is where I asked if reading that I had cancer changed your perception of me and the other is the term ‘label.’ (Never before noticed if you switch an’ i’ for the ‘a ‘you’ve got libel. OK, that’s really beside the point…) A caveat before proceeding: I know that not everyone who has been through cancer feels the way I do — I suspect it’s pretty well divided actually. But in any case I speak only of myself.

I’ve survived a lot of things and choose not to label myself with them. Trust me — it barely scratches the suface to mention lousy childhood, mother’s death when I was 12, the world’s worst boss, a motorcycle and a few car accidents… Jeez, it’s quite a long list when I look at it that way. The thing is… I don’t look at it that way. I don’t see my life or myself through a prism of what I have survived. I don’t define myself by my illnesses and accidents any more than I define myself by my weaknesses, anxieties, defeats, or losses.

I prefer as much as possible to leave myself undefined and unlabeled. That doesn’t mean I won’t end up in a box. Or various boxes. I will, and that’s okay. We all do that since humans need to understand, define, refine and categorize the world in which we live. It’s how we think and how we communicate. We carry around something akin to little boxes in which we put the stuff of life. Of course that ‘stuff’ includes people.

It’s okay to categorize. It’s just that I want the label and the box to be one of your choosing — not one that is precut by one  part of my life into which all of me is supposed to fit.  I would much rather that it is by what I am doing now. What I give back. My current beliefs. Not the awards I received, the experiences I garnered, or mistakes I made. I do not want to rest on my illnesses any more than on my laurels.

Well, if I’m so damn set against the label, why am I even discussing this?

Because this time when the topic came up it was with someone who deserved a thoughtful answer. Until yesterday I hadn’t thought about it in a long time.  But there I was on my first Vallarta hike, led by Sylvie through her group L.O.C.A. (Ladies Outdoor Club Adventures). Great fun despite the heat and a nice opportunity to chat with interesting, active women.  The woman who got the wheels turning on this topic is in the medical field and devotes herself to service to others. She reminded me of those I came to think of as angels during my treatments, those who go with strangers into sad, frighteningly dark corners and then go back again and again.

If she or anyone finds help in these thoughts it’s well worth the little jaunt back to place in which I once was.

 

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one breed of cat; dead as a banana

Found an op-ed piece in the NYT by Nicholas Kristof on diversity in which he struggles to explain that Wall Street is one of the last greatest male bastions in society and that level of testasterone may be relevant to the high risk behavior that was Wall St’s contribution to our economic mess. His tentativeness stems from fear of attacks on the validity of the scientific studies he mentions. 

This is me laughing.  me laughing

I’m sorry about science being behind on this. I really don’t give a Darwinian flip whether they’re on board. How about a little native intelligence:

1. Why waste talent. We have a gene pool of XX and XY. If we are excluding half of humanity based on gender we are depriving ourselves of our true creative genius — diversity. ALL of us able to apply ourselves where we can contribute. Duh. But the imperative for diversity goes way beyond the social. Check these out:

2. Genetic make-up. We are genetically destined for diversity. We are omnivores after all, and require a diverse food supply. Our immune system functions by staying diverse — to combat all the little diverse microbes that want us for breakfast. 

3. Disease protection. If we only had one breed of cat and it got hit by the DCF — Deadly Cat Flu, barring our finding a cure,  the chances of survival for that breed are zip. Same reason mutts are hardier than purebreds. Genetic diversity. Celebrate it. Did we need another reason the KKK and Nazis are dead wrong?  Eventually, in any monocrop as in any non-diverse genetic pool disease will kill it off.  If you think that gives you anxiety,  just ask any banana trying to stare down Panama Disease. 

4.  Survival of the species  Compare our own diverse-prone digestion to the panda. Poor guys. Double trouble through lack of diversity. A limited digestive system that can only digest one food, and a reliance on only one crop (bamboo). Contrast that with your local thieving raccoons. We move into their turf, they eat our garbage. Guess which species has a better chance for survival. 

5. It’s not all about sex, either. The argument goes vastly beyond Wall St. and gender. Truth be told, we should be in a BIG hurry to connect our very survival directly to natural diversity in all things, flora, fauna, religion, dirt, and food supply included.

Or perhaps we’d rather figure out how to live only on lots of love and sunshine.

 

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Once were citizens

Once we Americans were citizens first. Now we’re consumers. Some economists are petrified we might start saving just when they want us to spend so we can heal the economy. Like we’ve been doing for the last few decades. Even if they’re right it justs sounds ridiculous. Let’s keep doing what hasn’t worked? 

If a spending spree is not the way out of this mess, what else do we have? How’s about change. 

I’m amazed that on prime time some of the talking heads are asking us to live more consciously. Now that’s headline news! I heard a panelist actually ask the media to stop referring to us as consumers. We’re citizens first, she said. I like it. I prefer the word steward or Earth citizen, but I think we understand each other.  

We elected a president of change, now what about us? Are we willing to take it on?  I mean what if we weren’t the toughest kid on the block, or the richest anymore.  Then who are we, as individuals and as a nation? Are we willing to reconsider how we as individuals and as a nation tread on this earth and do different? 

We and other nations know how to use religion, land, oil, water, and culture as justifications for war. Can we regroup and breathe out life force instead of fire power? Can we turn technology, science and construction green?  Can we listen to the rhythms of the Earth and learn its dance?

We’re in a time of Big questions, and even if we don’t come up with the Big answers, we have a moral imperative to keep asking. There has been a sleepiness in our collective soul and our national conscience that is struggling into awareness.  If we cut our hand, our bodies leap into healing mode the moment we are wounded. Life seeks healing. Our national invincibility cloak is in tatters. Let that be a good thing, and let the healing begin.  

As we heal ourselves we will also heal our planet. That is how we create the collective moment that transforms ‘yes we can’ into a universal yes! so strong and so broad it rebuilds ghettoes and shanty towns and favelas, it draws lines around our rainforests and coral reefs and holds them safe, it criss-crosses borders with ideas and support, with cures and care.  And you?  “You may say I’m a dreamer, but…”  Let me cut you off right there. Yes I am a dreamer. What else has ever changed the world?

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Happy people can skip this one

Man these are tough times, and just in time for the holidays. Talk about STRESS! Did you see the story today “What happy people don’t do?”   The findings are based on 45,000 Americans over 35 years. I guess some things don’t change.

The conclusion is that TV is a bummer. Who knew? The researchers leave open the chicken/egg issue of I TV and therefore am unhappy or I am miserable, stressed and depressed and therefore I TV. But they were able to connect more TV watching with unemployment.

Uh oh. Looks like we’re going to have millions of us glued to the tube for a while. 

Two things will definitely NOT solve our own personal, national or international money crisis. Nothing gets fixed by being sad, depressed, anxious, or worried. Although being human we’re not immune. Nor does anything get better by staring at the tube. Although screens can be a great relief for a while.

What will help: Do your best to stay MORE active than usual, rather than less. Push yourself. Push yourself out the door and go to a coffee house, a friend’s, bundle up and go for a walk, go to the gym. Just get out.

Limit your news intake. I know it’s hard to kick Obamamania. Confession: I found the happy article because it was on the same page as Obama’s Saturday morning radio address. I never cared what any president said on Saturdays! Anyway, do it. The news ain’t good. We know that. Don’t keep rubbing salt on your wounds.

Get realistic about how you and your loved ones are going to survive — and thrive — through the holidays and whatevet lies ahead. Life still goes on, even in the midst of deep crisis. You can trust me on that one. So does love. So too do all the little exciting, delicious and precious moments that make up a day. Find and savor those.

If you feel like you need help, ask for it. That is not the time to be shy. 

Nurture yourself and stay healthy. The OnePlanet Herb site is devoted to supporting you do that. Go ahead,take a peek.

Keep up your immune system!  I rely on cat’s claw for that. It’s a fabulous immune builder. It won’t change whatever’s coming at you, but it will help you cope with it.Here’s some info on it. 

My holiday gift to you for the rest of 08. Link from here to OnePlanet Herbs.com. Type injoi in the coupon code at checkout and you get cat’s claw at a 15% discount. 

Do you have tips that have helped you? Let me know and I’ll post them.

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Jangled, fixed quick, and then forgot to remember…

Today I had one of those days. Everything got on my nerves. Dogs barks sounded louder. People bumped into me in the store. Cars and trucks sounded like they were in high gear. I could hear my thoughts whirling around, and my neck hurt. What the??? This was not typical for me.

So the weather was wierd. Granted. It’s mid-November and here it was in the mid-60’s (that’s about 20 degrees warmer than expected) and winds going between 10 and 30 miles an hour. And all day it went back and forth between fog, sunshine and pouring rain!

Was I reacting to the crazy weather? Or did the weather feel so crazy because I was? Can’t say. All I know is I was so bent out of shape I felt like a pretzel. Then I remembered. Hey, I’m the 21st Century Medicine Woman. I know what to do. I make this stuff. I went and opened myMellow Monkey, slurped some and raced off to an appointment. I actually had a really productive meeting, came home and realized the kitchen was a mess and it was time to get a few things in shape. I cleaned for a while, then went out to take care of the chickens (not a joke. We have six of them). I gave the dog fresh water (one dog). The ducks were fine (three — all girls). They love the rain. That done, I sat down at the computer and as I focused on my work I realized I was feeling good. Sounds were back to normal and I wasn’t getting jangled. We’re talking now more than four hours after I took a dropper full of the Monkey, and I finally remembered I had taken it! I felt solid. If not great, definitely good. It reminded me of many times feeling better after an acupuncture treatment, yet feeling so naturally better I didn’t even relate it to the treatment.

With that I not only remembered that I had taken my own medicine, so to speak. Most importantly I remembered why I made it, why I sell it, why I believe in it.

It’s just there, patiently, mellowly, waiting to help me be better to myself.

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7, 610,918 and counting

That’s the historic difference between Obama’s 64 million votes and McCain’s! Or try  365. These are numbers your children and theirs will learn about in school. The drama of President-Elect Barack Obama’s historic win has moved our country and the world. I know I’m not supposed to be talking politics here, but I did mention a while ago that I had devolved into a nail-biting news junkie glued to the election. Come to find out I was oh so not alone in that. A bunch of you were too, and wasn’t it all worth it? 

Finally, on election night for a few hours we could all forget blue and red states, we could forget blue, red or inde political party. In this fleeting, stunning moment of history we had a human party. Not only the millions of Americans who spontaneously filled the streets with years and decades of hopes and tears, but the millions around the world who, this time in a happy way, were “all American.” It seemed as though time stopped just long enough to allow the planet to become the Human Party of the United Globe of Earth. Transitory though it was, hope and hearts ruled the world for just a few hours.

I had to say that. It was too big, too beautiful to let pass. Does it relate to OnePlanet Herbs? Does it relate to the rain forests of the world? Well of course I’m going to say yes. I don’t even need a segue because I believe we now have a far better chance of saving the flora and fauna of the world. I believe we may now be able to save the Arctic Wildlife Refuge, we may be able to find alternative fuels and economies and create alternatives to the the slash-and-burn of rainforest destruction. 

That said, just like this election, the choice is always individual. Fueled by our personal mythologies and beliefs we will pick our presidents and medicines, lifestyles and policies, religions and causes. Yet some facts are not choices. They are simple truths: more than 20 percent of the oxygen we breathe comes from the Amazon Rainforest. For more than 80 percent of the world’s population herbs are the first line of medical care.  Most of our western pharmaceuticals are derived from rainforest plants. 

While it is my hope that supporting rainforest preservation will transcend our individual mythologies, its survival matters beyond any individual belief system.  Whether our choice is pharmaceuticals or plants whether we’re living in the rainforest or in a distant city, we — and our children — still need oxygen to breathe, we still need medicines to heal, and we still want to find cures as yet out of reach.

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One pound of anxiety can ruin your whole day.

A dear friend used to say ‘it’s better to be rich and healthy than poor and sick.’ Hard to argue with. But what about the fear of being sick, the fear of being poor? How bad is that? My answer: Extraordinarily.

Right now I’m an absolute news junkie. I’m promising myself to stop after the election, but for now I’m hearing the daily drip of news and just about every word is scary. It’s almost impossible for me, or probably anyone not on Mars or under a rock, to escape the bad economic news. Happily I have Mellow Monkey to soothe my anxiety when I’m thrown off my game. And I’m glad of it. It’s all natural, has other positive effects and is non-addictive. Plus, I make the stuff, so I know how good it is.

But how else are we cope with this current crisis mentality and its attendant fear and anxiety mongering? I wrote an article on this which I’ll put up soon, but here’s the bottom line: It’s never about what your facing, it’s always about how you face it.  

Speaking of facing it: where do you think we spend most of our time? IN OUR HEAD! Obviously. Whether it’s sex or work or anything else, it’s not what’s happening around us, but in us that makes the difference. It’s that non-stop inner tape that infuses our feelings and our actions. And therefore our judgment and decisions. Yikes! Talk about scary! Unless we know how to handle our self-talk.

My advice for crisis times: listen in more than you listen out. When your repetetive words are negative, substitute them with positives. If that doesn’t do it, stop. Meditate. Listen to a tape, take a bath, go for a run — whatever recharges you. Take Mellow Monkey (or whatever non-addictive herbal remedy you choose) and tap into your inner strength. It’s there. It’s indominatable. It will carry you until your best is back.

Sure a pound of anxiety can go through you like a poison, but an ounce of inner balance is the best antidote!

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The Five Most Important Things You Need to Know About Herbs

Hey — I promised you this blog a while ago. There are the five, but I still maintain it’s the 6th that’s most important. The blog I put up first when I should have put up this one.

You’ve heard about how herbs are powerful and beneficial and you want to know more.  Here are the five most important things you need to know about herbs:

1:  Parsley and basil are not herbs.  Well, parsley and basil are herbs, but they’re not the only herbs.  When we talk about herbs and herbal medicine, we’re talking about any plant or part of a plant that can be used to benefit health.  Ginger roots, aloe leaves, bark of the huge rainforest tree pau d’arco, and elder berries all can be used for therapeutic purposes and qualify as “herbs.”  More than 2,000 herbs are used medicinally today, all over the world.   

2:  Herbs have been safely used for thousands of years to improve health and heal disease.  Through observation and trial and error, cultures all over the world have gathered a vast body of knowledge regarding the power of herbs to create health.  Much of this information has been passed down to us through Western Herbalism, Ayurvedic Herbalism, and Traditional Chinese Medicine.  About 80 % of the world’s population still use herbal remedies as part or even all of their primary health care. While the properties of herbs have been studied by scientists for hundreds of years, indigenous cultures continue to pass along invaluable herbal knowledge from one generation to the next. It includes which parts of plants are beneficial and how to prepare them; whether to boil, steep, or crush, to access their medicinal properties. 

3.  Herbs are used to improve almost any area of health. This includes everything from mood swings to blood pressure, from exhaustion to lactation.  For example, aloe gel is used to heal sunburn; St. John’s Wort is used to treat minor depression; ginger can reduce pregnancy-related nausea; and chasteberry can reduce menstrual problems.  A typical herb book will list hundreds of conditions that herbs can treat.

4.  Many of our prescription drugs are based on herbal substances.  For example, ephedra is an herb that has long been used in Traditional Chinese Medicine to treat respiratory problems.  Ephedrine is the active ingredient in ephedra, and ephedrine is the basis for many commercial pharmaceutical products medicating asthma and other respiratory problems.  In addition, approximately 25% of prescription drugs used today has an herbal component. Many of our cancer, heart and other wonder drugs are originally from herbs, especially rainforest herbs. 

5.  Herbs are safe.  But don’t confuse safe with harmless.   Bread, chicken, and mushrooms are also safe—if the bread is not moldy, the chicken is not spoiled, and the mushrooms are not gathered ignorantly off the forest floor.  When you take herbal supplements, be sure to know what you’re doing.  Talk to your doctor and understand that herbal remedies may interfere with prescription drugs.  This doesn’t mean herbs are dangerous—it just means they do in fact, affect your body.  Since you’re taking herbs to help you heal , it is good indeed that they impact your body.

This is just a general primer on herbs.  If you’re interested in taking herbal supplements, there are many sites available for learning about specific ailments and the herbs that help them.  Both alternative and conventional medicine sites can give you information.  Just remember: herbs can help you; do your research; and talk to your doctor.  Don’t earn herbs a bad rap!  When herbs are taken properly for the power they hold, they just may make you feel better than you’ve ever felt in your life.

 

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