Monday, October 28, 2013

More Food for Thought

I hope you enjoy this article as much as I did. (I love Your colon will thank you. :)

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Thursday, October 24, 2013

When Parents Become Children

Ring ring ring, ring ring call,  phone call....ring ring ring...

     Now, it is fairly early in the morning for me. My daughter and I are both proverbial "vampires", and the morning sun doesn't usually agree with us. I groggily answer the phone. It's my dad.
     "Hi! Hope I didn't wake you, morning glory," my dad says with feigned concern.
     "Mer...rahhawwwwn. No. It's fine, dad. What's up?"
     "Well, I broke my ankle."
     "You did WHAT?!?!" Now, I am sitting up at full attention. I am picturing him lying in a crumpled-up contortion, bleeding out somewhere. (Hey. I just woke up.)
      "Yep. Did it about a week ago."
      "Okayyyy. How'd you do that?" I relaxed back down a bit into the warm embrace of my pillows. My dad is an old salesman from way back in the day. He knows how to get your attention.
      "Was pushing a box into the screen porch and twisted my foot sideways out the door." An outside ankle injury is much more heartening news than an inside ankle injury, especially for the elders. I breathe my silent relief.
      "Alrighty. So, did you see a doctor? How do you know it's broken?"
       "Yep. Went to a podiatrist."
        "A podiatrist? Why?"
       "That's a foot doctor, isn't it? I twisted my foot." Not prepared to dissect the folly of this statement before coffee, I let him continue. "My ankle swelled up for a few days. Thought I just strained it, and it would get better, but I kept avoiding stepping on it because it hurt so bad. Finally decided to go see the podiatrist. He took X-rays. Who was I supposed to go see?"
      "Um, how about your orthopede? ...Anyway, did the doctor show you the X-rays?"
      "No. He just sat in a chair and held them up to the light. You know, I thought that was kind of funny. Seemed pretty old-fashioned, if you ask me. He said I had an in-place break and gave me a plastic thing with velcro straps to put on it."
     This seemed pretty archaic to me, as well. Modern technology has come a very long way in allowing patients to be able to see what "the doctor" is talking about. "How old was this guy?"
     "Maybe about 45, or so." Now, I started a silent burn. Young doctors taking advantage of the elderly are becoming more and more common than I care to say. Another topic for another time.
     "Okay, dad. Your insurance is probably shelling out a cool $1800 for that brace, for an injury you didn't really, even see."
     "Yeah, I don't doubt it. (sigh.) Anyway, what I'm worried about is the swelling is going above the ankle, right now. Not bad. But I just want to know if I should be worried. I don't want to have my leg amputated, or something."
     "How far above the ankle/"
     "An inch, or so."
     "Well, first off, you really should go see your orthopede. Inflammation and swelling is the way the body tries to immobilize a joint that has been damaged to keep it from moving until it's healed. Too much swelling can hinder this function, though. Especially if it's in the lower leg area that already fights gravity in lymph and blood flow, to begin with. Did he give you any anti-inflammatories?"
     "No. Should he have?"
     "In an injury like yours, normally, yes. Have you been icing the area?"
     "Have you been elevating your foot? Old rule is it should be above your heart when lying down."
      "How come he didn't tell me any of this?"
      "No clue. He SHOULD have. Maybe he didn't think he had to because it's probably covered in the 20 page tome he gave you to 'read' when you got home about your own care." It has become VERY disturbing that many a doctor can now come in, after the nurse-practitioner has done all the intake and symptomology, glance at the notes, and then decree a diagnosis in about 3.5 minutes flat, then leave. A trail of pre-written, generic care-packages are then collated and handed to the patient without any real specific guidelines for the case.
       "Yeah, I did get a bunch of stuff to read when I left the office." My blood was reaching a fever-pitch boil, by now." "I'm getting some ice." Pause. Pause. Pause..."Ok. Now, what else am I supposed to do?"
      "Elevate your foot."
      "It is."
      "Above your heart?"
      "Well, it's on a little stool in front of me, and I can just barely see my toes." ...
      "No, dad. Lie down on the couch and put your foot up on the arm of the couch." Breathe in, breathe out. Breathe in, breathe out.
       "Ok. Now it's above my eyeballs! Is that better? And what am I supposed to take, Motrin or something?"
       "Yes, dad. Motrin will be fine."
       "But now, how am I supposed to watch TV?"...
       "Dad... turn your head."

      With the aging of America, this is becoming a common type of conversation heard everywhere. When the roles get reversed between parent and child, it can be funny, aggravating and sad, all at once. My dad used to tell me when I'd do something outrageously stupid in my teen years, "With every good man or woman, there comes a brain. FREE! AT NO EXTRA CHARGE! Use it!" This was a poignant day, today. I was going to pull out his salesmen-tinged logic on him. I refrained.
      It is important that we look after the well-being of our loved ones, even as they go through a curtain of clarity many of us will find ourselves at one day. I have some very, well-pointed (daggered) questions for the "podiatrist" that saw my father this day. I will let you know how that goes.

In the meantime, Bright Blessings. Happy Healing to all.

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Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Trauma Need Not Rule The Day

                                               "The Rapist" - by Stacey Adams

                                               You loom in railway dales
                                        Slick in movement; slouch of stature.
                                          You barrel though that dirty snow
                                              Smiling that same, sick grin
                            Never caring for which way is out, or which way is in.

                                                         (True story.)
        So many people deal with pain that manifests in the spirit, mind, and eventually, the body. It is important to remember, that your suffering does not need to rule your future. Each person is a beautiful, sentient being that deserves to be here. Even if an oppressive force threatens happiness, it is ultimately up to you how the transgression of something or someone outside yourself is to be dealt with. No body or thing should ever be given that kind of power of you. Ever. Traumas are horrible. They need to be dealt with. They test our mettle and threaten to remove ourselves from the bright beings we are supposed to be. Check your trauma at the door. Make a promise to yourself that you are committed to healing, then work with it. Even if you need to call in the help of others, work with it. You deserve to be happy. Let it be so.

Bright Blessings, and Healing that brings Happiness. Here for you. :)

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Cafe Belinda: Meatless Monday: Cookbook Review, Free Recipe & Giveaway

Cafe Belinda: Meatless Monday: Cookbook Review, Free Recipe & Giveaway

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

"If Your Back Hurts, It's Usually Your Butt's Fault"


 "If your back hurts, it's usually your butt's fault." These words were spoken by one of many great teachers I must genuflect in front of, even post mortem. (I would like to credit the specific teacher, but each one always credited another. The truth remains, however.)
     Our butts are considered the nemesis and boon of the human form, depending who you ask. It has been revered by ancient painters, sculptors, Hollywood superstars and "twerkers", alike. It is the anatomical mass that so many wish they had more, or less of. It is this same part that some of us seem to have a hard time getting up off of to do something productive. (see - household chores and teenagers, or Nonetheless, it is an extremely important part of our physiology that needs to be reckoned with, especially when the back starts to hurt.
     There are nine muscles in each butt cheek; yes, NINE. These muscles are major players in everything from power extension of the thigh at the hip, stabilization of the pelvis, inward and outward rotation of the thigh at the hip, and giving us something comfy to sit on without mis-aligning the whole rest of the spine. When these muscles are over-encumbered or weakened by postural stress, the body sends out pain signals to show something is "out of whack".
      One of these notorious pain signals comes from the sciatic nerve that directly travels under and through the deep muscles of the buttocks. (One of the prime candidates for this dysfunction is the Piriformis.) Sometimes stretching these muscles can alleviate the pain. I will go over exercises for this in another post. (My personal favorites are the straight-leg cross and shoe-laced figure 4.) In many cases I have observed, however, weakness in these vital muscles have caused a great deal of trouble.
      It is important to remember, that connected to the pelvis are a variety of other muscles of the core and thighs, and a big chunk of fascia that connects the whole works together. This big chunk of fascia, (the thoraco-lumbar aponeurosis, for the fancy) even has connections to the mid and upper back, obliques and diaphragm, among others. When our butt muscles are weak, stability of the pelvis demands that other muscles compensate to maintain integrity to the core. This makes sense. The core is where our vital organs are housed. When spinal and core muscles are asked to compensate for the lack of strength down-under, this creates a classic case of "over-use" for the muscles up above. (It is, indeed, all connected.) With over-use, comes the begging cry of tired muscles seeking relief. Enter, back pain.
    Now, before my fitness friends start screaming, "I told you so!!! Squats are BOSS!, it is also important to remember that form enables function. It is true. Well placed squats will help in solving the conundrum of a weak butt. However,  proper placement to exact strength of the buttocks without relying upon the quads or back is of vital importance. Try sitting on the edge of a chair. Stand up and squeeze the bum upon standing. Relax, sit back down and repeat. Do this 10, 20 or 40 times, depending on your development. What do you feel? Where is the burn really coming from? Quads some, yes. But don't you hear the butt bellowing, too? That's the stuff I am talking about. ;)

Bright Blessings and Happy Healing!!! As always, comments are most welcome! :)

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What do you do when you break?

An old song goes:
    "Anything you can do, I can do better...I can do anything better than you."
     "No you can't."
     "Yes I can."
     "No you can't."
     "Yes I can, yes I can, yes I caaaaaannnnn..." until something gives out. :(
      So...what do you do when the back, or the shoulder, or the hip, or the knee gives out? What happens when the picture perfect relationship heads south? What do you do when a loved one does not share in your ideals of what perfection should be? WHAT DO YOU DO? I am curious.
     We all want to be the picture of perfection in whatever our passions lead us to want. What happens, though, when those dreams get tripped up? What happens when you injure yourself by moving the wrong way, doing too much of something, or father time simply comes calling? What about when the heart, or feelings of self-worth are crushed? And what about coming to the realization that your ideal does not match that of another close to you? Or your own image of yourself becomes limited? What do you do?

Comments are SUPER welcome here. We can learn from each other.

Bright blessings in advance!

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Saturday, October 19, 2013

Your What Hurts? Part 3

      As a review from Part 1 and Part 2 of this series, the things we do to our body in this modern era are deplorable. Isaac Newton once said, "To every action there is an equal and opposite reaction." Holding one position for any extended period without release and reconnaissance promises damage in the form of chronic pain and postural distortion. Fret not. There are ways we can circumvent the abuse, as long as we take the time to correct the errors we have created for our poor bodies. In the previous post, I addressed the yogic posture of the "Reclined Tailor"  to assist in re-establishing integrity to the human body, despite the modern stresses of every day work and life. In this post, we will explore another restorative pose called the "Mountain Brook".
     Now, I do not have the "proper" name for this pose. (My Hindi speaking friends are welcome to help. Namaste.) The Mountain Brook pose was designed to mimic the flow of water over pepples in a stream, whereas the "pebbles" are the natural, spinal curves we are supposed to have. Some consider Mountain Brook to be a "kinder and gentler" form of the Reclined Tailor. If you look at the kinesiology of the two poses, however, you will see that there are subtle differences to be gleaned from each. The Reclined Tailor pose involves the lumbar spine, whereas the Mountain Brook takes the low back out of the equation so the thoracic spine and neck can be focused on. (Once versed in how to do both, try them both. The body's intelligence will show the difference.)  Let us begin.

   You will need many of the same props used in the Tailor Reclining pose. If knee issues are present, only one bolster under the both of them will be needed, this time. A folded blanket or pillow for the upper back, and an additional, small pillow for the neck, or the like, are needed. A "T-square" of criss-crossed bolsters works very well here, as well.
    Start in an upright, seated position with legs straight out in front. Place the bolster under the knees, if needed. Recline back onto the pillows set up for the upper back and neck. It should look something like this:


     This is a restorative pose, like Reclining Tailor. The difference is that the lumbar spine and hips are not involved. The upper back gets a greater, gentle extension. This pose can be held for one minute or beyond. (I have fallen asleep like this, truth be told.) This pose serves to re-establish intregrity of the kyphotic and lordotic curves of the spine that are supposed to be present in a healthy body.
     Exiting this pose is the same as that described in Part 2 of this series. Bring the knees up, remove props in the way, roll it out to one side, then push back up to a comfortable, seated position. Take a moment here to breathe and pay attention to the sensations traveling about the body. This is "body intelligence" that supersedes anything we may try to do it in the course of our modern lives. Feel it. Breathe it. Remember it. Most importantly, come back to it, repeatedly. This is how new habits are born.

     May this inspire you to improve your posture. Have a healthy, and happy day! Om shanti. :)

Your What Hurts? Part 2


     As indicated in part 1 of this series, extended use of our arms and head forward is not only over-done, it is epidemic. This happens at the computer, when driving and any other common activity that we keep our arms held out in front for any period of time. Our necks, shoulders and all the corresponding muscles, joints and fascia suffer repeatedly. Adding to this positional abuse we use in our modern day world is the act of sitting. Over time, this further curves our spines away from the way it was designed to be used by our paleolithic ancestors. Connected to the notorious position of prolonged sitting is an unnatural twisting of our SI joints and femurs in their sockets to balance what is going on up top.
     "Yeah, Stace! But we can't very well just quit our jobs!" you may say. This is true, especially in our current economy. There are, however, restorative measures that can help unwind, relax and heal our poor over-worked backs, necks and shoulders. Two of these measures that help TREMENDOUSLY are the yogic positions of "Reclined Tailor" and "Mountain Brook". They can be done in just a few minutes to relieve stress in the offended areas and bring extraordinary relief. Part 2 of this series focuses on the "Reclined Tailor".

                                             "Reclined Tailor"
          (a.k.a., the reclining. bound, angle pose, or Supta Baddha Konasana)

      The object of this position is to extend the flexed Ilio-psoas muscles, open the hips and re-establish the proper alignment of the head, neck and shoulders. You will need a rolled towel or pillow for under the neck and another flat-rolled blanket or pillow for under the upper back. Additional bolsters for a comfortable reclined position are more than welcome, too.  If knee-troubles are present, a pillow on the lateral side of each knee will  help alleviate distress to the joints. A tension strap is optional, but not necessary. Set up your props ahead of time so they can readily be adjusted for comfort.

     Start in an upright position with the bottoms of the feet touching each other, knees out. Lengthen the spine, neck and head up toward the sky as if being pulled up from the center of the crown by a string. Recline back into your waiting props. Adjust the props so the neck, back and knees are comfy. Now close your eyes, and breathe. Allow your heart center to open as your body relaxes into the pose.

                           (Image by

      If discomfort is felt at any point, do not do the pose. It is meant to be restorative and relaxing. This pose should also be avoided by women who have just given birth until given clearance by the doctor. (The pelvic muscles, in this case, need time to restore to normal working length and strength. Never fear, dear yoginis! The doctor will most likely give clearance in about  6 to 8 weeks.)
     To come out of this pose, bring the knees together. Take out any props to the side, and gently roll to the right and pause before pushing back up to a seated position. Breathe. Pay attention to how your body feels after this gentle restoration. Allow the sensations to circulate through your cells before continuing to meditation, other poses, or the rest of your day. :)

Bright Blessings! More to come!

Your What Hurts? Part 1

      Hello computer users everywhere! (...and food prep people, students carrying books in front of them, over the road truck drivers, airplane pilots, lab assistants, and many, many more...) Today I would like to discuss a certain pernicious, postural distortion that plagues so very many people.

It looks something like this:
                                                                                                                        From a skeletal standpoint, it looks like this:                                                                                                                                  

                  ..and if you are like my teenage daughter, it looks like this:

      Any of this look familiar? Perhaps we need to ask your neck, shoulders and back: Does any of this FEEL familiar? How do we undo the damage we are doing with this familiar position of forward head, rounded shoulders and flexed, internally rotated hips and femurs? Glad you asked! Enter the "Reclined Tailor" and "Mountain Brook." More to come!


Friday, October 18, 2013

Hungarian Sicky Soup



     I have been talking about treating the common cold over the last couple posts. Upon consideration, I have decided to share the timeless recipe I use that was handed down to me by my Grandmother. May it bring you healing and a warm, happy feeling in your tummy. Gramma would be proud. :)

                                                 "Hungarian Sicky Soup"


2 quarts water, roughly
3 large boneless chicken breasts

     You can use bone-in, but you will have to strain the broth and remove the bones before returning to the brew. Another way my grandma used to do it was serve the cooked chicken as a separate dish and ladle the broth around it. I prefer the chicken in the soup for when you are sick. The added protein shredded is easy to eat with a spoon and promotes strength.

1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons ground black pepper corn
1/8 teaspoon dried, ground, sharp pepper (Cayenne works)
    Now, if you like "heat", you can always add more black or sharp pepper. Just remember, once you put it in, you can't take it out. It is recommended to add "heat" gradually to taste.

1 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon Hungarian sweet paprika
1 medium onion chopped (white or yellow)
1 small bunch of parsley (preferably with the root)
3 to 5 garlic cloves minced
1 cup carrots chopped
1 small tomato chunked
1 cup celery chopped (yes, use the leaves, too)
1 Tablespoon lemon juice
1/2 cup noodles

     Although noodles are optional, I like using them. They make the soup hearty. Glutin-free noodles are available, but I usually like to just use good, old-fashioned bow-ties. They are fun. :)


In a large pot, bring 1 and 1/2 quarts of the water, salt and chicken to a boil. Lower the temperature to a simmer. Partially cover and cook until the liquid is reduced to 1/2 way down the pot.

Add back in 2 more cups water, veggies, herbs and spices. Keep simmering until the liquid is reduced to 1/4 way down the pot.

If you want noodles, add 2 cups water back in. (The noodles are going to suck this up.) Cook until noodles are tender.

Serve warm. Refrigerate left-overs after cooling.

    That's pretty much about it. Some people like to add crackers, croutons or melt some cheese on top. Be creative. The basics are already there for the eating. :) Enjoy!

Have a healthy and happy day! 

Thursday, October 17, 2013

"You Can Lead a Horse to Water, But..."


    My daughter continues to rest and battle "the plague" that manifested after it was too late to prevent it. I am happy to say she seems a lot better today. I was told by other people in the area that this particular virus was a doozy. Many took 3 weeks to recover, even while on a full arsenal of prescribed steroids and anti-biotics (which I do not understand because it is a VIRUS. That's a topic for another time, though.)
      My daughter is currently dancing about, listening to music and doing her chores. This flies in the face, of course, of her taking FULL advantage of mom's "healing" disposition which comes with a bit of spoilage. She ate up the bringing of  food, taking out her garbage, administering the right lotions, potions, oils for the job and more. There was just a little extra TLC given that she has come to expect when she falls ill. I worked my brick and mortar job last night. I am tired, for sure. After the work is done, however, her big brown eyes filled with gratitude says it all. :) Meanwhile...enter nephew.
     Now, my nephew is not a child, either. He scored his first full-time job this summer as a landscape laborer. School education with him consisted of doodling and falling asleep at the kitchen table while trying to get his school-work done. He is built like a stock horse and works just as hard. He is normally mild-mannered and even-tempered; that is, until he gets sick. He parades about thinking he is not capable of falling to the misfortune of illness, unlike his more delicate cousin; that is, until last night. Tried putting him on the same protocol that worked for my daughter. He was already stuffed up when he finally came to me. (Why are they so stubborn?) He turned his nose up at me. "I just want some cold medicine. Don't we have any cold medicine?" After a small feud, I gave him some over-the-counter antihistamines I have for when my other nephew is here as he is severely allergic to certain kinds of bug bites and stings.
     "This is all I have," I answered in resignation. He proceeded to play Mario Kart until two in the morning. He had to be up for work by five. I shook my head as he stumbled out the door to his ride picking him up. A few hours later, I got word he errantly drove an expensive lawn vehicle into a canal he was working along. Thank goodness he was not hurt, but still. A scene is recollected in my head from "That 70's Show."

     As Red so poignantly said :

   So I guess I'm making some more Hungarian Sicky Soup and busting back out the Woman of the Woods lotions, potions, oils and more. ;)

Bright Blessings to all of you. Have a happy and Healthy day. :)

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

An Ounce of Prevention Equals a Pound of Cure


    "Achoo! Achoo! Achoooo!!!" sounded my daughter from her room a few nights ago. My mom antennae went straight up with the sounds. I cautiously approached the disheveled hovel my off-spring seems to take pleasure dwelling in (much to my chagrin).
     "Are you getting sick?" I asked with furrowed eyebrows. Now, my daughter is not a baby. She is a full-grown teen with a very, strong head on her shoulders. She knows full well there is a protocol of pro-active measures to be taken when illness appears to be manifesting. There are specific actions to be taken and a pantry of "lotions, potions, oils and more" used for fending off vermin that threaten. (I am a formulator, as some of you know.)
     "No! I am fine!" she quips. "I just got dust up my nose, or something." I  hesitantly saunter away, hoping she has the good sense to take action if she needs to. Three days later, she is lying in bed with a 102 degree temperature and a grocery bag filled with snot rags.

Enter here a very long Lurch-like groan :

      As the cold and flu season is upon us, I would like to take this opportunity to remind everyone that if your body is telling you something, please listen before the illness manifests. There are a wide variety of means to prevention available. Zinc lozenges have been shown on a molecular level to strip a virus of its protective membrane before it can reproduce. The herb Echinacea (from the purple cone-flower) has been scientifically proven to bolster the immune system and fight off inflammation and viral and bacterial infection at its first signs of appearance. The efficacy of Echinacea is bolstered tremendously when couple with the root of the herb Goldenseal. (Note: Goldenseal should ONLY be used in conjunction with the first 7 days of cold or flu symptoms, or else it loses its effect.) Vitamin C has been shown in a plethora of studies to protect against infection and bolster the immune system along with over 300 other healthy metabolic functions. Once the full-blown illness is on, however, a whole new spectrum emerges for treatment which is going to lay you out.
     Once illness has taken hold, rest, fluids, mucous and fever control are all added to the equation of aiding the immune system to get rid of the invading "vermin". Hence, what could have been stopped with an ounce of prevention has now spiraled into requiring a pound of cure. (As always, it is imperative to get clearance from your physician if under one's care for natural remedies. Just remember, you have a choice to interview other physicians if he or she feels the only way to stay well and fight illness comes from a synthetic chemical concoction.)
     I hope to be able to share more means to natural wellness and treatments with you in the future. Your comments and suggestions are always welcome. In the meantime, I have a girl with big brown-eyes pleading for some homemade "Hungarian Sicky-soup". Sigh.

Bright Blessings and Happy Healing!!!

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Power Without Flexibility Promises Injury


      Just finished another Sunday of watching my beloved American Football. Now I watch to see how many of the players injured today will be coming back to play another day this season. One particular game I was particularly interested in claimed several starting players from my team with leg injuries...AGAIN. Hamstrings, calves and knees; oh my! I have worked on football players many times. The muscles they have built up are of super-human proportions. The trouble with the vast majority, however, is they have virtually NO flexibility. When asked about what kind of stretching regime they are on, I get everything from: "We stretch before and after drills," to a sheepish smile, followed by: "I've never been very flexible." (As in: I don't.)
      The muscles in our bodies are held together in bundles of muscle fibers, blood vessels, nerves, fat and a connective tissue called fascia. To understand what I mean, cut a well-marbled piece of meat down the center into halves. Look at the swirled patterns and layers. The clear to white substance separating the layers is fascia. Not only is fascia the "glue" that holds our muscles together, it is also the stuff that connects our muscles to the bones. Muscles contract and extend to move our skeletal frame in a variety of ways, but it is the fascia that serves as the pulley system to get the work done. Unlike muscle fibers, however, fascia contracts and extends at a much slower rate. It makes sense because if there was not a certain amount of tension holding the whole system together we would wobble around like over-cooked chickens.
      Now, what happens when you work-out and strength-train? You build up muscle mass of the existing muscle fibers, but that's not how fascia works. The way fascia is conditioned to handle the extra load is to work it within its own parameters. If you don't train the fascia to accommodate the new load the increased muscle mass is capable of, you are asking for trouble, i.e.injury. Getting the connective tissue conditioned involves slow, really slow, SUPER slow stretching and massage. Remember, fascia contracts and extends at a much slower rate than muscle fibers. When you train your fascia properly, it will be better able to take on loads asked of it. Fascia is largely elastin and collagen. It behaves much like taffy, needing to be worked to be pliable. This is how to avoid injury. Power AND Flexibility = Durability.

    I welcome all comments and thoughts regarding this matter.

    Have a happy and healthy Monday! :)

Saturday, October 12, 2013

"Ice, Ice, Baby."


       "...I don't like ice. Heat feels much better."

       When muscles and fascia  are used beyond their "normal" working limits, sometimes "micro-tearing" of the offended fibers occurs. This creates an emergency response by our immune system that says, "Damage has been done! Activate healing squads!" White blood cells and lymphatic fluid come to isolate the area and start repairing what is perceived to be a problem. Once the nerves of the area get involved, this manifests as pain, which can also be called inflammation. The body always tries to re-establish itself to its current "known" equilibrium. When pushed beyond this comfort-zone to the point of pain, many people think it is okay to add heat to relieve pain. It seems logical, since the very first moments of life on this planet is spent in a warm and balmy environment inside the mother's womb. The trouble with this yearning to return to that cozy, warm feeling that makes us feel safe and nurtured, is that the inflammation is further fed.
      Inflammation is exactly what the term sounds like. It is a cellular "flame" brought on internally to bring extra blood and fluid to a damaged area The body does this to brace from further damage and coddle the cells to returning to equilibrium with extra nutrients and waste-product removal. This "damage control" has a purpose. When actions threaten the re-building of damaged tissue, the body's action is stopped by the inflammatory response until the problem gets fixed. Injuries take time to heal. The body can get over-zealous in this splinting function. When our tissues become so engorged with blood and lymph racing to the rescue of damaged tissues, vascular function is slowed. This can create a "hot-spot" where waste-products congregate and damaged tissues languish because they can't get the oxygen and nutrients they need to fix themselves. It is a catch 22.
      Eventually, in a healthy working body, this inflammation "should" clear itself out. The trouble with this is that "time-passed equals cooling of the tissues" which opens up the possibility of further tearing. Cooled tissues get stiff, and sometimes, hard (see #scars). Equilibrium is distorted. The inflammatory response keeps doubling over on top of itself to stop the increasing threats of damage. It is a vicious, progressive circle. The way to keep the inflammation from running rampant is to ICE the area of injury right away. This drives  the lymph and blood out of the damaged area for a spell so the integrity of the damaged cellular structures can be assessed by the body's own inherent intelligence. Excess inflammatory response is slowed, and the offended nerve endings calling for the inflammatory response are dulled. Once the ice is removed, normal healing processes commence, flooding the area with a blood and lymph "wash".  Repeated icing of the area balances the inflammatory response to quicken healing.
    Although heat has a place getting the repaired tissue back to proper length for efficient function, the initial control over the inflammatory response is encouraged by ice. Yeah, it might not "feel" as good as heat, at first. Control over the pain with ice, however, will pay dividends to the healing process. As a certain pop culture figure said, "Ice, ice, baby." It truly is your friend.

Bright Blessings and Happy Healing!!! :)

Friday, October 11, 2013

You Got to Move It, Move It!!!

     Many people encounter pain in their lives. This can be due to a postural distortion, injury or disease. No matter how the pain manifests, however, one of the biggest mistakes that can be made is to stay completely still after the acute phase of healing has taken hold. Even in the case of a broken bone, sprained ligament or strained tendon, once the initial act of healing has started, it is still very important to keep the rest of the body moving. Once a good doctor recognizes the acute phase of healing is underway, he or she should prescribe, at least, gentle forms of bodily motion to get the patient back in the game. This can be in the form of physical therapy, at-home exercises, stretching and even massage. If a doctor does NOT prescribe motion, it is advised to seek a different doctor. Here is why.
     Healing and movement go together on a cellular level. The muscles, bones and organs of the body are held together by connective tissues called "fascia". These tissues are largely composed of cartilage, elastin and a viscous liquid called "ground-substance". These tissues are largely reliant upon surrounding vascular tissue for nutrients to help itself heal. When the body is moved, circulation is increased to bring nutrients and oxygen to an area attempting to fix itself. The lymphatic system joins with the circulatory system to remove debris and waste products from areas of cellular regeneration. Unlike the circulatory system which is pumped by the heart, the lymphatic system is pumped by motion. Remaining still allows waste products to pool in the body like stagnant swamps. This creates a toxic atmosphere for cells trying to regenerate resulting in inflammation, illness, and eventually, cell death.
       Another reason why movement is integral to healing is the body, as a unit, requires movement. We were not designed by nature to be sedentary. Physics decrees that a body at rest tends to stay at rest. When the myofascial system is compromised by staying still, muscles atrophy and connective tissues harden. Muscles and fascia are kept supple and fluid internally by heat. This heat is given off as a by-product of movement. When the body is asked to move after an extended period of stillness, this results in stiffness, weakness and down-right pain to bring the injured cells back on line, and get the body moving through the thickened fascial barriers.
     On a final note, the body requires movement for balance. "It's all connected." (Those who know me, I'm working on the T-shirts. Ha ha!) Every part of the body plays a part in the dynamics of the whole. When one part of the body is held still and becomes weak or stiff, another part has to take over for the injured area. For example, if one leg is held perfectly straight and no weight is ever allowed to be placed on it, the other leg is going to get the load of dragging the body along when walking. (Try it. Walk around like that for a few minutes. How does the 'good' leg feel?) This creates a postural distortion the entire body must now compensate for. This leads to additional pain, stiffness and wear and tear. At extremes, this can even start to affect internal organs.
     In closing, if saddled with any condition requiring medical attention, it is important to discuss the process of healing. This should, by all means, include prescribed movement. If this is not part of an acting physician's wellness plan, second, third and even fourth opinions are warranted. You deserve it!

Happy Healing! :)

Pressing Against the Finish Line


     I am a formulator. I take therapeutic products and assemble them to meet the needs of each client. It may be an aromatherapy blend to work on the limbic system, a topical analgesic that assists in healing from an injury, or even a formula to help keep the "vermin" away as we head into the cold and flu season. I have one pet project I have been working on for awhile that is very, very close to being released; so close. The frustration comes when trying to mix a new base into a particular "potion" that is not only "Organic" but "Vegan", I get separation in the formulation. Here I thought I was doing something so "cool", and it has me up pulling out my hair out well past bed-time.
    How many times have you thought you were "doing the right thing", only to have it come back and smack you in the face? It would appear that, sometimes, it is in everyone's best interest to give up a personal goal when it is doing no good for anyone, and separates you from the "greater good." On the flip-side of that notion, however, comes the stuff that "Aha!" moments are made of. By forging forward in the face of adversity, when you can see, smell and taste the goal close-by,  this brings out the best in us...even if some hair is lost in the process.
    I once heard a motivational speaker say "Quitters never Win, and Winners Never Quit." It may be you are crawling toward the finishing goal of 10 more stubborn pounds to go. You might have one more physical therapy session to go through that painfully strengthens that pesky rotator cuff. You might be on day 7 of the 21 days it takes to form a new habit in your life. Keep going. You are almost there. :)

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Changing with the Changes

Note: This is a hypothetical composite of experience that does not belong to any one specific person. Any similarities to actual situations are strictly by coincidence.

     A beautiful, middle-aged woman lies on my table waiting to be "fixed". She has chronic, shoulder trouble and hip pain. She spins like a fiend, does light to moderate weight training 6 times a week and yoga. Despite all her efforts, her postural distortion is accelerating. There is a functional "C-curve" developing in her spine because she is VERY right-side dominant. One shoulder is glaringly higher than the other, and the opposite hip has tried to compensate for the distortion. She breathes like a champ when working through myofascial release to bring her new "shoulder earring" down. She is asked if she ever considered a more balanced form of exercise without so much strain.
   "Have you considered swimming and water-aerobics?" Aw man. The water-works flow forth.
   "That is for OLD people!!!" She is, indeed, NOT "old". This especially holds true as modern medicine keeps pushing the bar of the average person's life-expectancy forward from year to year. There is a troubling problem posed by the media-driven frenzy to stay "young and beautiful", however. What do you do when the mind and spirit are willing, but the body is not? -OR- How do we align the mind, spirit and body with the changes in the seasons of our lives?
    We are each saddled with genetic blue-prints that predispose us to certain body-types; hair, skin and eye-color; certain diseases and deformations and yes, aging patterns. Employing mind over matter can overcome many of these hurdles. It is, however, imperative to RECOGNIZE our short-falls, and then work around them. This goes hand in hand with the previous post about taking responsibility to see change in one's health. We are more than a the sum of our parts.  How do you rectify this with the passage of biological time?

I am very interested in hearing what you all have to say about this. Bright Blessings in advance. :)

"Ya Gotta Wanna"


       "I need you to do whatever it was you did last time." I am a Massage Therapist and Body worker. From a business stand-point, this is great; repeat business!!! I'm not so "giggly".
        It is always so rewarding when a client comes in with an ache or pain that won't quit, and I am able to help their body find its normal resting equilibrium; hence, releasing the pain. Healing, however, should not require the constant input of an extraneous source to make the person "better". The knowledge of a therapist is meant to "assist" the person's body heal, itself. The body WANTS to heal itself. When a good therapist comes in as a Body-worker to figure out why point A isn't working with point B,C or D, and uses physics and other sciences to re-establish the proper balance, that therapist is just being a FACILITATOR to the client's own ability to heal. The problem comes when the client doesn't want to hold up his or her own end of the bargain.
      There are lots of excuses: "...did not have time to do the exercises"; "...forgot to go see the orthotics person"; "...epsom salts rot my bath fixtures"; and my personal favorite, "I don't like water." The list goes on. Now I could write a novel on every excuse I have heard about people not wanting to take responsibility for their own health, and why each excuse is harmful. (I just might.) The point is that miracles only happen when both the healer and the healed are on board with healing as a goal and end-result. When something that is fixable keeps eluding the cure, both parties have to take accountability and work together to find the cause.
      As a therapist, if what I am doing is not working, it is my job to figure out why. If I need to try a different approach in my "methods of madness" to solve a problem, I will. What happens, however, when the therapist's challenge of helping a client overcome obstacles is not met by the client, as well? It is a two-way street.
        A wise scientist and philosopher once said, "Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again expecting a different result." If your shoulders are aching because of crummy posture at the computer, but you don't go back to your office to fix it, what do you think is going to keep happening? If you keep throwing out your back,(shoulder, neck...etc...) because of an off-kilter golf swing, and nobody helps you see what you are doing wrong, what do you think is going to keep happening?
         This is not to say if a person fixes a postural distortion in a daily activity that an injury is not going to happen again. We all have strengths and weaknesses that make us who we are. The weaknesses test our mettle. As we age, some of these weaknesses start to become glaring if we didn't address them earlier. Sometimes brand new weaknesses show up unannounced! ( How rude of them! lol.) This is where Therapists are handy, especially when they are already familiar with your postural challenges.
        It takes a commitment and acceptance of responsibility by the injured, alongside the therapist, for true healing to take place. In the end, it is the body that heals itself. With proper attention to errors that have created an imbalance in the first place, a person CAN take control over the discomfort being faced. Taking initiative and responsibility to make good choices in the face of prior mistakes will make the road to health an abundant one.

       Food for thought. Your comments are most welcome!  Namaste.

Monday, October 7, 2013

"You Can't Always Get What You Want...."


       So the power went out today, not once but twice. After hours of being without power, I re-visited a very important lesson. The Rolling Stones sang about this a long time ago, but the lesson still remains the same.
      "You can't always get what you want, but if you try sometime, you just might find you get what you need."
       Since this is one of my days where I don't go into my "brick and mortar" job, I had a long list of things I needed to do around the house and errands about town. I had the first load of laundry swooshing  in the washer and  the dishes clanking in the dishwasher. I was doing some research on a post I want to share with you guys about the importance of proper breath (I am OCD about research. lol.). I was just about ready to gather my things to treat my car to an oil-change and pick up some odds and ends at a few places. "Oh, how efficient I am being this fabulous Monday!" Then I heard the dreaded, deep sound of the transformer exploding. "THWAAAMP".  My computer went black, the laundry stopped swooshing and the dishes stopped clanking. I felt a vague feeling of frustration start bubbling up through me. My daughter tried to cajole my darkening spirit back to light. She made me giggle.
        I reasoned with myself. "Okay. Well, I will just go take my shower and go do my deeds about town." We have well-water triggered by an electronic well. The shower, and any water, wasn't happening. Fine. I decided to at least get the errands done. I then realized my car was parked under the release cord for the electric-powered garage door which I am too "vertically challenged" to reach. I was trapped. The vague frustration I first felt was now roiling into a full-on anger boil, complete with grumpy thoughts and very "colorful" expletives. I pounded back into my room and glared at the black screen. After taking a very deep sigh, it hit me.
      The whirring from the computer fan was stopped. The swooshing and the clanking was also gone. There was absolutely no sound; complete silence. I turned inward. I noticed my breath and heart working way too fast....over nothing. I felt my core muscles and jaw muscles clenched....over nothing. How long had I been like this? Was it just the frustration of elements out of my control? Or was it going on before that? I felt the soft, warm nuzzle of my dog against my leg. I looked down into his wise, big, brown eyes. He held his ball in his mouth and wagged his tail. Out we went to play ball.
       No sooner were we outside when Racecar stopped to fall into the grass and squirm around like enjoying a massage from Ma Earth, herself. After wriggling around with his tongue out, he got up, shook off, then challenged me to chase him and play. He wanted to play, badly. After we got done, I realized, so did I.

       As he darted around the yard, I was drawn to seeing the butterflies slurping nectar off fall-flowering plants and bees in the trees. The rain-cooled, autumn air caressed my face. We played, and pranced and sat in silence watching the wondrous world around us just "be". When we came back in, my breathing was soft and even. My heart was calm and full. My mind was still. Suddenly the act of doing, doing, doing was replaced with just "Being".  Thank you power failure. Thank you my dear, Soul-dog, Racecar. Thank you Silence for showing the importance of replenishing one's self  by existing in the present moment...for a moment, at least. :)

      Have you been neglecting your Soul-self by constantly doing and doing and doing without taking time to just "Be"? How fast is your breath and heart-rate on a seemingly "normal" day? How often is your body clenched in stress, unbeknownst to your conscious self?  Feel free to share your story here.

Bright Blessings...and Peace. :)

Sunday, October 6, 2013

The Mind Body Connection is For Real


     This exercise was shared with me by Tess Chiodo of Joyful Yoga to show how closely the mind is connected with the body. Enjoy! :)    

     Ok. Clear your mind chatter out for a few moments. Deeply inhale for the count of 5, hold it, and let it out for a count of 5. Clear the canvas of your mind. Picture a bright white room. There is a big, comfy, white couch and big windows with bright beautiful sunlight streaming through them. The room seems so bright that it almost seems to be glowing. In front of the big, comfy white couch is a white coffee table with a big beautifully woven basket. In the basket is a huge pile of jumbo-sized, fresh-picked lemons. The bright yellow lemons gleam in the sunlight like a match made in heaven. Approach the table and sit down on the couch.
      As you take a seat, observe the wondrous lemons in the basket before you. The fragrance from their rinds permeates the air with a fresh scent. It is a scent that it is clean and slightly pungent. Take one of the lemons out of the basket. There is a knife and cutting board on the table. Take the knife and cut straight through the wondrous fruit. Watch how the juice spills out on the cutting board before you.  Now pick up one of the halves of the fruit and look at all its intricacies.
      There are partitions that each hold pockets of juice. There are individual pockets of pulp put together delicately that each hold more juice like a puzzle. Look at how they each fit together so perfectly. Smell the fresh sweet-sour scent emanating from the fruit. Bring it close to your mouth. And now, take a big bite.

     What just happened on your face and in your mouth?

     This exercise was designed to show how very closely your mind is, indeed, connected to your body. The states of consciousness people put themselves in can have a profound effect on how the body responds. Think about that the next time pain, stress and other un-enjoyable sensations manifest in your body. What were you thinking about? What were you surrounded by? What were you feeling or thinking when the discomfort became perceived?

     More to come. :)

     Bright Blessings and Healing. You rock. :)

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Treating Symptoms vs Healing


       That  is me in the picture up above. I have degenerative disc disease and a wicked form of scoliosis in my spine. I was told when I was young I wouldn't be walking in my 40's if I didn't have surgery. Not only am I still walking, but I am living a productive, happy and healthy life. It has inspired me to share with others how I did it, and how others can take control of their own healing, as well. This is done by listening to your body, mind and soul as a whole.
       We are more than just a sum of body parts; much more. Our diseases and ailments are not defined by the symptoms. These are just side-effects of something that isn't working right within ourselves, and needs to be healed. The current "Western" mentality has us reaching for a scalpel or pill when we start to fall ill, or feel pain, rather than work with the dynamic healing machines our holistic selves actually are. This is not to say that our Allopathic doctors of the West are all to be "fired".
        There are many great leaps and bounds Allopathic medicine has made in the name of Science that helps us heal when something goes way out of balance. Reconstructive surgeries and prosthetics, organ replacements and repair are just a few examples of this. The problem arises when treating symptoms takes precedence over getting to the root of the problem, and creates more and more symptoms to be dealt with.
       There are other bodies of "alternative"healing knowledge that have been around for 1,000's of years that are still adhered to, and for good reason. Ayurvedic and Traditional Chinese Medicine are a couple of examples. In these forms of practice, the doctor considered to be the LEAST successful is the one with the MOST patients. Why? The answer is because the physician's prime job in this case is to PREVENT the illness from manifesting in the first place. This takes keen observation, intuition and skill.
        Alternative physicians worth their weight in gold are pro-active to re-establish ease to whatever part of the person has become distressed. (Disease in this sense should be spelled as Dis-ease of the whole system.)
They get to the source and try to use substances from the earth that are not foreign to the human system to re-attain balance and ease. Makes sense, doesn't it? Think about the long, ambling speeches on synthetic drug commercials you see on TV about potential dangerous side-effects. Often times, they even mention death! Why? The answer is they are not natural to what we are made of.
       Many pharmaceutical companies try very hard to replicate naturally occurring healing compounds found in plants, whole foods and even some forms of earth. (Aspirin is one of the oldest forms of a "success" stories of this process of the pharmaceutical companies. Salycilic acid is a naturally occuring substance rendered by the white willow tree.)  The "old" ways suddenly have gained a great deal of attention from synthetic drug-makers. It provides some pretty stiff competition, without all the negative side-effects. (It even has a few of them with big investors getting a little "nasty".) I am here to provide you with options to think about. Talk about them with your doctor if you are currently under one's care. Just know, you have choices. I look forward to sharing some with you on future posts. And please feel free to share your thoughts, as well.

      I honor the light that dwells in you, as it does in me. Have a healthy, happy day! :)