Thursday, November 1, 2018
Take a vacation. You don't have to go far. You don't even have to leave home. The idea is to get a fresh perspective. And that's what we sometimes need to do, to look at our lives from a different point of view.
My cousin recently invited me to meet with her and her family in Sedona. I don't often travel, but I went. And it was great. We all had fun exploring the vortexes found there. It is said that all of Sedona is abundant with these swirling energies and that they can move and might be felt almost anywhere. However there are four main vortexes that people tend to visit and we did. We found ourselves feeling uplifted in the 'Yang' ones, up on the buttes. Then, down by the rivers and in the deeper areas of the canyons, in the 'Yin' vortexes, though we still felt quite playful, we were spontaneously a little more introspective. Some of us even had the experience of receiving direction for our lives.
The energy there in Sedona, especially in the Vortex areas, whether it was yin or yang was wonderful. My ten year old cousin (twice removed) summed it up as we were leaving the Airport Vortex when he exclaimed, "I just don't want to leave." And that is how we all felt, we just didn't want to leave, even when our week together was done. It was so much fun.
Not only was the beautiful red rock spectacle of nature which is found there amazing, but it was also very refreshing and interesting to see how those around me, my extended family members, organized their lives. It gave me an opportunity to take stock and to see my own life anew. Though I am quite technically able, with my website and podcast, and all, I was nowhere near close to the capability of my cousins who were all masters of the electronic modern age. We still had fun in the usual family way, watching movies, drawing, playing charades and other games, but their skill levels with Smartphones, tablets, TVs and even the airports left me in the dust by comparison.
For this trip, I flew, which dinged my carbon footprint for the year with a mighty blow. But to have a vacation, a real vacation, we certainly don't always need to travel far. I've had similarly transformational experiences by simply going a mere twelve to twenty miles away from home. Because it is the doing of things differently that opens up the doors of possibility and helps us to see with new eyes.
With a 'Staycation,' we do need to change up our routines to some extent, otherwise it is just like hanging out at home. We need to seek out the company of folks we are not so familiar with or go on lots of little day trips, visiting sites and local attractions that we have not yet seen in our home town or area.
Though travelogues and books about far away places can in no way be considered vacations, it is good to know that we can also gain some insight by engaging our imagination in this way. We can live a little vicariously through the experiences of others. This is why we like to see pictures of our friends trips and hear the stories and tales of the far away places that they bring home. But these are just tiny peeks into new ideas and ways of being, and are nowhere near as all encompassing as time spent away on vacation, immersing ourselves in something completely new.
When we take a vacation, especially when we travel far, we see how other people live and for some of us, the experience of having everything be so different, even if we are still within our own culture, is quite irresistible. It holds no equal for bringing a fresh perspective. It informs us and refreshes our outlook. And that is what some say is a miracle, a change in perception or a new perspective. So take a vacation if you can. It is a wonderful way to brighten one's way of being in the world.
Sunday, September 30, 2018
Wednesday, August 29, 2018
Three events of late have left me feeling that we are all going to make it into the next step of our cultural evolution.
The first is the movie RBG about Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg. Working within the confines of the law, Ruth has devoted her life to opening the eyes of the patriarchy. Here in America, she has carefully and methodically helped the governing white men of the last sixty plus years to see the injustices that women have suffered for millennia. And she has created the environment where even they wish to see those situations change. The cases that she brought before and won within our legal system have substantially freed women to stand with equal status beside men. Thousands of years of legal oppression were lifted by a single, well-loved and well supported woman within the span of her career. It is an amazing film. If you haven't yet seen it, do. And bless you Ruth! And thank you! Because until we all stand together, each of equal value, we can not reach our full human potential.
The second source of inspiration for me is a Netflix special by the very talented communicator and lesbian comedian Hannah Gadsby in her show, "Nanette." Using humor, standing alongside well justified and profound outrage and anger, she eloquently enlightens her audience and viewers to some of the little known realities typical of our misguided cultural mindset. Hannah shows us how our cultural lack of acceptance, our blind cruelty, and the use of shame toward anyone who is outside of what is considered "normal" is completely dysfunctional. And this is great because until we all treat each other with mutual acceptance and love, we can not be truly connected.
Ask any biologist, the people who study life, and they will tell you that diversity is the foundation of all life. It is essential. It allows for the interweaving of everything together. This brings stability. By culturally debasing diversity among humans, through our discrimination against anyone who doesn't fit the established or presumably cherished ideal, we as a society have not only been weakening our potential, but we have also been creating tremendous pain for too many people, for way too long.
For millennia now, we westerners, have used the pain of shame to debilitate others. Be it toward an Irish man, working on the New York docks, in the 1850's, or toward a lesbian woman, in a bible belt, anywhere, in the 1990's, we habitually use shame as a tool to undermine diversity. This is an outmoded mindset which is very destructive to life itself. However, slowly but surely, I think that we are starting to grow beyond this. People like Hannah, who have been labeled "different" or "unacceptable," are managing to find their own worth and rebuild themselves. Throughout the many decades, those who have been shamed have been sharing their stories and they are awakening our understanding, our compassion and our humanity. And this is great because, as they rise up, sometimes stronger than a tempest, they help us all to awaken, so that we can start to stand together, in equal value, and begin to reach our full human potential.
Awakenings like these are sometimes messy, but they are absolutely necessary, because it is becoming clearer and clearer that our western patriarchal societal model, of top down rule, and notions of superiority, doesn't work for anyone, not for women, not for children, not even for the men. It doesn't work for animals, forests, water or the birds in the sky. When we refuse to value even the smallest voice, we have lop-sided decisions being made.
Years ago in one of his lectures, Joseph Campbell said that when it comes to making decisions about what is important, in general, men are concerned with the ideas of acquisition and protection. This is a more individual perspective. It often involves competition, getting ahead of the other guy. Whereas, he said that his female students, at Sara Lawrence College, persistently taught him that women are generally concerned with the more holistic perspective, the far reaching implications that our decisions have on all of life itself. This viewpoint is more about cooperation, helping each other to learn and grow, supporting each other, together.
When we only have the masculine view of what is right and good, which is the case in a patriarchal culture like ours, we leave out that broader perspective, and wind up serving the few instead of all. Rainforests disappear. Young men are commonly seen as expendable and are sent off to prison or to war. Too often women are undervalued or left broken and destitute. Children can be born drug addicted and unloved. As the beautiful feminist Sonja Johnson once said, "I don't like the way men do worlds." And you know what? Neither do I. Because it takes two halves to make a whole and until we all stand together, each of equal value, side by side, we will continue to lack our full humanity and we can not be truly connected.
So, the time has come for all of us to change, and changing we are. We women are rising up with our voices and finally being heard. We are no longer being forced to stand in silence as our daughters are raped and our foods are being poisoned or produced in factory farms. We are speaking our truth and putting our dollars and our buying power where it reflects our core values. We are purchasing organic and pasture-raised, fair-trade, re-purposed and sweat-shop free. We are voting for women who are true to women's ideals. And we are starting to stand up for everyone who has suffered at the hands of our deluded and horribly disconnected cultural mindset.
This brings me to my third inspiration. Recent election trends show that a fairly large percentage of women are running for office and I hope every one of them gets in. Because it is only when women are represented equally, in regards to the number of women to men, that they stop upholding male values and stand for the ones that women naturally support.
Those of us, who have not been fully indoctrinated into the currently predominating ethic, of "them versus us," tend to open our hearts more readily to everyone: big, little, pink or purple. Studies have shown that when the going gets tough, rather than the typical "fight or flight," that is commonly held from the masculine point of view, the feminine perspective is to "tend and befriend." 'His-story' has been told by the victors. And everyone who lost those battles has been seen as lesser than or different, and has been shamed for it. But in 'Her-story,' despite the potential for individual delinquencies, all are welcomed into the true heart of love.
The time is coming, and coming soon, where we are finally going to be able to let go of personal gain and shame as our societal directives and instead embrace our interconnectedness and our humanity, with love. As women step more fully to the forefront of our cultural objectives, we will begin to choose values that move us beyond war and destruction and celebrate instead the stability of our diversity. We will embrace the great big colorful and highly varied whole, valuing all of it, every bit of life, with love and caring. So I say, "Hooray!" for women rising. And may we all be inspired to act and speak the truth of our lives. And may the world rise up to meet us there, as it has done for both Hannah and for Ruth and for the many other hard working men and women who have fought for our equality all the world round.
Thursday, August 2, 2018
Thursday, July 5, 2018
Before she retired, my all time favorite acupuncturist used to sometimes say to me, "Josephine, House too hot!" What she meant by this is that inflammation was running high in my body. And I've heard it said that inflammation is at the root cause of all of our diseases. When a house is too hot for too long, it can be in danger of catching fire.
Inflammation is a natural body response and generally it is a good thing. It is our way of protecting ourselves against injury or infection. Our immune system kicks into high gear and floods the area of concern with white blood cells to help heal whatever has gone wrong. But when inflammation gets out of control, as it can when our blood sugar levels are consistently higher than normal, it can become a real problem.
As we round the bend into older age, it is especially important to keep inflammation down in the body. This is because recent journals of medicine have cited continual high blood glucose levels as being a primary cause behind Alzheimer's disease, gradually causing our brains to loose their good function. Having our C-reactive protein levels tested in our blood is a good way for us to keep track of our inflammation levels, so that we know whether they are getting too high or not.
Many health care professionals feel that cardio vascular disease, swollen or painful joints, skin rashes, increased fatigue and even cancer can be the result of chronically high levels of inflammation. My mother used to say that cancer was the result of any constant irritation in the body. And we know that constant irritations can cause hot spots.
So, what to do about it? Cooling herbs and well placed acupuncture needles can certainly help. But I, along with many others, find that watching our diet is the surest way to quickly cool our systems down. This is because a diet high in carbohydrates contributes mightily to rising levels of inflammation.
In general, I find that fruits are wonderfully wholesome and good foods to eat. The same is true for whole grains and carbohydrate-rich vegetables like potatoes, yams, beets, beans, winter squash, turnips and rutabagas. We need carbohydrates in our diets. They give our endocrine system the energy needed for quick bursts of movement and exertion when hormones like adrenaline come into play. Diets rich in healthy carbohydrates can be wonderful if inflammation is not a problem. But if there are rising levels of C-reactive proteins causing conditions like itchy skin or cranky joints, a carbohydrate-rich diet will contribute to higher blood sugar levels and can be like tossing kindling onto to those flames.
So, when I really need to cool my internal chemistry down fast, I go on a green juice feast. In such a scenario, I'll often drink two pints or more of fresh raw organic green juice a day. The fuice from cucumbers, celery, zucchini, kale and collards along with a few herbs like parsley or cilantro will not only cleanse and cool my body, but they also pump my tissues full of good nutrition, rich in vitamins and minerals.
Bieler Broth is another beautiful way to cool down inflammation. This is a soup that was recommended by Henry G. Bieler, M.D. back in the 1950's, in his book, Food Is Your Best Medicine. He used it for helping diabetics to stabilize their blood sugars. It is made from equal parts of fresh organic zucchini, parsley leaves, celery and green beans. To make it, you cover the vegetables with water, cook them until they are soft, cool it all down and blend it. It can be stored in glass jars in the refrigerator for up to four days. It is nice taken either warm or cold. Having just Bieler Broth and good clean water for a few days, while mostly resting, can cool down many a house that has become too hot.
Another strategy that helps to lower inflammation is exercise. Burning lots of calories helps us to use up all those carbohydrate fuels before they start to smolder. A healthy lifestyle of consciously chosen foods and lots of exercise can be the golden road to keeping inflammation levels low in our bodies while giving us plenty of steady energy to burn all day long.
Friday, May 25, 2018
Chia seeds are widely available and have tremendous anti-inflammatory qualities. Being rich in Omega 3 fatty acids they help with arthritis, joint pain and ulcerative colitis and as well they lower the C-reactive protein levels in the body. Chia seeds also help to stabilize blood sugars and reduce blood pressure. They don't go rancid and have no pests, so they can be grown with out the use of any poisons. Why not try this delightfully easy, delicious and nutritious, refined-sugar-free recipe today? Have some fun quenching your thirst today!
Wednesday, May 2, 2018
We sleep and then we rise. We take naps or have quiet times amidst the flow of our busy days. The tides run high and then they run low. We always have this pattern of increased energy and then a time of rest or less and it is natural and normal and good.
Here it is, now spring again, coming up out of the cold and slowed growth of winter. The grasses and plants are reaching for the sun once more. The warming days are resulting in an abundance of photosynthesis and growth is abounding everywhere. Later in the fall, the annual plants will shrivel, fade and die; along with the leaves from the trees, they will fall, returning to the ground from whence they came.
Similar patterns can be seen in the movements of the moon through the various constellations in the heavens above, or the larger patterns of the sun and other planets dancing more slowly across the sky full of stars. They arise, pass on by and then later they return again.
Like the sine and cosine waves, curving up and then rounding down, we have the natural cycles of our daily body clocks. These underlie the larger intervals of our bio-rhythms rising and then fading every few days or so In the grander scheme, birth and childhood give rise to puberty which rises up further into adulthood rounding into maturity and followed by old age and death.
Similarly, the monthly cycles of women begin with the quiet clearing of the womb progressing into an interest in a more social time as the egg matures. This can be followed by conception and a rising up into the cycle of new life or it can move once more into quieter times as the body prepares for and then begins it's cleansing time again.
Patterns like these don't usually stop. After menopause, if we pay attention to our body's subtle cues, we can notice our own etheric period. This is not a twenty-eight day cycle like a woman experiences for forty years or so after her menarche. The etheric period is more like a three month cycle, slowly coming up out of a more quiet time for a few weeks, then moving into a companionable way of being, followed by a further rising up into a gregarious way of being for several weeks and then rounding the curve into a month or so spent going deeper and deeper within. And though it is not commonly acknowledged in our culture, men have these same sorts of cycles as well. Male menopause is increasingly being accepted as a real phenomenon. And it is all good.
So, let's stop resisting and start giving ourselves over to these natural rhythms and cycles. We are not meant to continuously crank out productive hours like machines, day after day, year after year, in some sort of corporate ideal. We are naturally much less efficient then that. Isn't it time we let ourselves be who we truly are and stop riding ourselves so hard, cranking up the caffeine, trying so desperately to stay afloat? How about if we let ourselves admit that we'd really rather go out and play, or take a nap, depending on the time of day or month or year? Doesn't that sound like a refreshing change? We are the ones who are creating these sorts of work-a-day patterns after all. So, perhaps the time has come for us to try on the idea of joining the rest of nature and freeing ourselves to stand up for who were designed to be.