Tuesday, May 28, 2024

Healing My Feet

 


 

Over the years, I’ve had various problems with my feet.  Some of the time, some have guessed plantar fasciitis.  Some of the time, some have guessed neuropathy.  Other times it has just felt like I’ve pulled a muscle in my heel.  In either case the end result has mostly been the same, it hurts.  And that has affected my desire to not stand very long and to not do a lot of walking.  

With each of these dilemmas, I’ve found a variety of ways to alleviate the pain.  Early on, just stopping eating bread stopped the discomfort I had felt as my feet first touched the floor in the morning.  What a relief that was.  And after about a year of no bread or wheat flour products, I was able to reintroduce these into my diet sparingly, like once or twice a week, or less, without any noticeable foot repercussions.

Another time I spent about fifteen minutes a day, gently coaxing the internal padding cells from the bottoms of my heels back into their proper place.  Apparently they had moved up to the sides of my foot and no longer offered cushioning to the balls of my heels.  Using my finger tips and my imagination to pull them back into place, incrementally and one at a time, I reconstructed that nice soft cushion under my heels.  I did this every day at the park, seated on the lawn, while my husband threw the ball for our dog.  It was fun to watch them play and it felt great to sit right down on the grass and tend to my self care.  Within a month or two the problem was resolved and my heel pads were restored.

Once I went to a podiatrist who said that I could have a surgery down below the base of my big toe that would straighten out that toe and potentially stop it from hurting and being crooked.  But, blessedly, I found an honest-to-God cobbler who made me beautifully hand crafted home-made leather shoes.  With these my big toes had room to point straight ahead, as nature had originally intended, rather than being forced to bend to the rounded or pointy tip that almost all women’s shoes have.  This is the style our feet have commonly been subjected to since childhood.  In about the same amount of time it would have taken to have and heal from the surgery, my big toes naturally just spread out in those soft roomy shoes and found their way to point straight ahead, all on their own.  End of problem.  And no more pointy shoes for me, thank you very much.

There have been a few times where I stood in an awkward position, perhaps on a slope, with my foot at an odd angle, and felt a little muscle deep in my heel or elsewhere in my foot give way, like a sprain or a strain.  It took me a while to realize that swimming, once or twice a week, would always strengthen the muscles in my feet and clear out the inflammation and resolve that discomfort nicely and often very quickly.

I find physical therapy (P.T.) to be one of the marvels of modern life.  I’m not too crazy about the more recent insurance modeled gymnasium version of the P.T. industry.  With the thumpa-ta, thumpa-ta ‘music’ blaring in the background and the raised voices and abrupt treatment that that environ condones,
it has lost a lot of its sense of personal caring.  But still, keeping the body strong and mobile is one of the best ways that I know of to both prevent and quickly heal from any number of injuries, conditions or aches and pains.

Recently I’ve had the good fortune of being introduced to the bean box by my sweet and wonderful new niece, who is a Doctor of P.T.  The bean box is for healing feet.  You know those ‘Banker’s Boxes; they are about a foot wide, fifteen inches long and ten inches tall with holes for handles and a good snug fitting lid.  Well, you get one of those and fill it with ten pounds of dried beans.  I filled mine with pinto beans, cannellini beans and kidney beans.  Bigger beans are better because they are less likely to get stuck between your toes.  And ten pounds is just right, not too heavy to lift and plenty of beans to plunge your feet into.  And that alone feels soooo great!  

So, in the feet go and then leaving your heels still, you sweep together a mini mountain of beans with the front half of your feet.  Do this for a few minutes and then tear those mountains down by sweeping the beans apart.  Then do a similar thing with the toes remaining still and the heels doing the building and then tearing down those mini mountains.  You can also orient the box lengthwise and let your feet do cat paws, reaching for and pushing away the beans.  And the beans feel great flowing over and under your feet.  Of course, you always want to check to be sure there are no beans lingering between your toes afterward, and the box top makes the whole apparatus nice for storage.  I even decorated my bean box.  It’s a really fun set of exercises to do and just like swimming, (except that it only takes about five or ten minutes a day,) it keeps my feet nice and strong and fit, ready to do whatever I want to do.

And, as well, I still enjoy giving my feet a nice massage every night in bed just before I fall asleep, thanking them for all of the good work they’ve done that day.  I do my legs too.  I’s nice to thank our bodies and a little TLC (tender loving care) is always appreciated and feels so good.  Maybe your feet and arms and legs would like for you to do the same.  Give it a try.  You might just like it.  I sure do.



Josephine Laing
© 2024

As a Clairvoyant Healer, Spiritual Counselor and Intuition Instructor, I share many tips for leading a healthy and fulfilling life.  Please be advised that I am not a doctor. Nor am I licensed in any healing modality. However, I have had years of experience in alternative and complementary health and healing. All healing programs, including standard western medical protocols in addition to natural therapies, can cause harm rather than the benefit that you may be searching for. After all some people can have a strong reaction to something as seemingly innocent as peanuts or strawberries. Therefore, anything that I may recommend in these blogs and in my videos could be dangerous for you to try. So, it is important that you Ask Your Doctor First before trying any natural healing protocol. However, most medical doctors have little experience regarding natural healing programs and herbal medicine. So please understand if your doctor is unfamiliar with these ideas.

Monday, March 18, 2024

Good Fortune

     

 


My husband Frank makes beautiful glass, both art and architectural works.  Not too long ago, he made this door with black glass undulating beneath the Chinese characters for happiness, blessings, and good fortune.  I came across this photo of it recently and it reminded me of all of the good fortunes that I have received, not only in my life, but also in Chinese restaurants over the years as I have enjoyed their delicious fare.

Being as spring is upon us and as it brings its promise of renewal and the good fortune and bounty of summer ahead, I thought I’d take this opportunity to share with you some of the good fortunes that I have collected and saved from the many fortune cookies that have blessed my dining table and my life.  I share them with you now, like affirmations to brighten your day as they have continued to brighten mine.  

Let yourself think of these like a waterfall of blessings showering over, around and through you.  And, as a little experiment, let yourself believe each one.  

You are always welcome in any gathering.
You have an ability to sense and know higher truth.
You should be able to make money and hold on to it.
You enjoy giving gifts of yourself to others.  You will be rewarded.
You are going to have a very comfortable old age.
Consider gain and loss, but never be greedy and everything will be all right.
Things are not always what they seem.
You have a captivating style all your own.
Elegant surroundings will soon be yours.
You will inherit a large sum of money.
Your energy is at its peak.  Channel it into fun activities.
You will be showered with good luck.
You will spend many years in material wealth.
Your love life will be happy and harmonious.
Your air of confidence naturally draws others to you.
The star of happiness is shining on you.


May we all be renewed with the love and joy for life that spring so often brings.

Josephine Laing
© 2024

Wednesday, January 17, 2024

Cast Adrift

 


Cast Adrift.  That's how we feel sometimes.  It's as if we don't know where we are going, or even why.  But often the soup just has to cook.  Time spent not knowing, just simmering has proven, in the past, for me, to be extremely beneficial.

The clouds of not knowing can settle down around us with a damp chill, closing in about our bodies and minds, leaving us feeling directionless, purposeless.  Sometimes, it's illness, sometimes it's financial devastation.  It can be social or environmental injustice, or simply a lack of connection with others and their support.  But if we hang in there, give it a little time, and our consideration, let the flavors, ideas and feelings meld together, our way forward gradually comes clear. 

I like to use affirmations and gratitude practices during those darker days to help me keep hope and trust alive.  All of the spiritual practices that we have learned can give us some direction.  Prayer, mantras, along with inspirational stories, poetry, music and art, these are the tools I turn to, to help me find the light ahead.

I remember years ago, while I was healing from a major injury, wondering day-after-day, why this devastating thing had happened to me.  What was to become of my life after so many changes had occurred, flipping everything I trusted and knew on its head?  I had gotten a degree in horticulture, had been running my own landscape business, had employees, had just bought a home and was planning to remodel and then everything stopped. I had to let the business go.  My financial situation shifted drastically.  I became sincerely dependent with no guarantee that I'd ever recover.

In that dim light of life, with the heat turned way down low, I simmered and grabbed what ingredients I could and tossed them into the stew pot of my days.  Meditation, dream-work, time spent musing quietly, alone with my thoughts, taking what small steps I could to help restore my peace of mind and my physicality.  It can be a slow process marinating in transformation.  The egg in the nest takes time to change and open.  The seed doesn't sprout overnight.  Dismal news can come.  We just have to let it go and keep focusing on the next one or two possible steps that we can see for the way ahead.

Peace Pilgrim used to say, "Stay in the present moment.  Do what needs to be done.  Do all of the good you can each day.  And the future will unfold."  This is a lovely prescription for finding one's way.  It has helped me greatly over the years.  It's the little steps that matter.  One at a time.  There is no rush.  It's a long life, and from my perspective, there are plenty of them.  So, we don't need to hurry.  We can take our time and go slow.

So, there I was, all those years ago, stuck in bed, doing next to nothing except visiting my chiropractor once a week, and slowly, incrementally, finding my balance again.  And that's when my empathy, my clairvoyance, my ability to see and know what was going on in the health and well being of others, started to emerge.  It certainly wasn't anything I had expected to have happen.  I had guided the ship of my life in a totally different direction.  But there it was, arising quietly and consistently from within me.  It took a process of many years to refine and smooth off the rough edges of my psychic skills.  But, as sure as the lady bug transforms from the larvae, a new me emerged.  When we trust ourselves and let our lives flow, riding the hills and valleys as gracefully as we can, our path eventually comes clear.

I remember hearing the story of a young man in Great Britain who had gotten off on 'a wrong foot,' and began his early adulthood stealing things.  He wound up in jail, got out, took on a small job that at first he didn't know how to do, but learned.  Then he found himself helping others, newly out of prison, in finding work and learning how to do those small jobs as well.  In time he had founded a nationwide service providing support for others who had walked a similar path and his purpose in life was revealed.  

We never know where these roads will take us, but if we hang in there, and do what we can to stay present and work daily to hold our heads above water, and help others whenever we can, the way before us will unfold.  We find that we were never really cast adrift, we just needed an unexpected course correction, to set us on the good and right road that was always before us.  From there we can look back, at the end of our lives, and see that the way was really always clear.  We just needed to simmer a little, let all of the ingredients meld and blend and create the true sustenance of our beings.

So, hang in there.  Trust yourself and the Universe.  Stay in the moment.  Stay the course and expect the best.  A deeper part of you already knows the way.  We just need to let it all gradually and gratefully unfold before us.

I will leave you with a little haiku-like poem that I wrote years ago.  It came to me after I awoke from a dream where I saw three of my footsteps in front of me, in a forest, in the deep snow.  Just three footprints.  On a clear bright sunny winter's day.

My feet are always falling - steadfastly - on my path before me.

© Josephine Laing 2024











 

Thursday, November 9, 2023

Taking the Time to Heal



I recently pinched a nerve in my neck.  Nowadays they call it by a more technical term, Cervical Stenosis.  But this very human problem has been around for ages, probably since we evolutionarily started standing upright.  And quite a few people wind up in trouble with this sort of condition, especially in the later decades of life.  

For my own part, I had gotten a little too frisky flexing my neck one day and within two weeks, it went from bad to worse and then into agony.  I had to stop all of my work, lost all strength in my arm and then my fingers began to go all tingly and numb.  The pain was intense and traveled from my hand up to my shoulder.  

I did all of my usual home remedies: anti-inflammatory supplements and diet style, hot baths, homeopathics, natural herbal analgesics, massage, hot and cold therapies and I also visited a few alternative practitioners.  But no matter what I did, it just kept getting worse and nothing seemed to really help.  

The only thing that brought me any relief at all was sitting very still, with my arm propped up in just the right way and then after a time, the pain started to abate and it would begin to get a little more comfortable.  So that's what I did.  I simply sat and read some nice uplifting books.

The medical profession had quite a few options for me.  They had drugs, and I tried a few, but they just made me feel pretty awful on top of being in pain.  A friend of mine had gotten a cortisone shot in her neck, some years before, with her pinched nerve.  She said it took about four months after that to fully resolve itself.  I considered that, but the down side was that it would most likely seriously mess with my blood sugars.  Another option was to do what they did to my brother and carve away some bone and put a mini railroad track in my neck, in order to separate and support my vertebra.  I figured that all of those were things that I could certainly consider down the line if I needed them.  But I thought I'd first try time.

It did take a couple of months for things to start to settle down.  But then they did.  And I remembered that that was what my mom used to say about healing from significant injuries, back on the farm, when she was a girl.  Doctors were few back then and medical care was rudimentary.  Mostly the farmers, themselves, were the vets, and the housewives were the healers.  When someone got really banged up, they put them in bed and kept them there.

 In our modern culture we try to speed the healing, and make the repairs as quick as possible, so we can get back in the game.  But, I'm thinking, after this recent episode, that there is some real wisdom in simply taking the time to heal.  

Now, it is true that all of that lounging around let me get drastically out of shape, even very muscularly weak.  And, putting a stop to my work hit our pocket book quite a little bit as well.  But our spending dropped too.  There wasn't much need to go out and get anything, other than groceries.  And with so much free time, I wound up having lots of laughs and plenty of chats with my friends and with my sweet husband, Frank.  So, other than the pain in my arm, I was quite happy and relatively healthy.  

After about eight weeks, the pain had subsided enough that I could start doing a few things around the house, but I could tell I was really out of shape and my balance wasn't great, either.  I figured I needed to have some basic physical therapy.  Fortunately my new niece, my nephew's betrothed, is a physical therapist and I was so relieved to be able to work with her.  

We met in either of our homes, instead of going to a P.T. clinic, where the therapists always seem to be rushed these days, and often have to yell over the booming exercise music.  That sort of an environment didn't seem as healing to me and I really appreciated the quiet and personal attention of one-on-one.  It has been another eight weeks now, of daily exercises, starting very gently at first and checking in once a week for a few more exercises and some nice deep tissue massage and I'm so very glad to say that I'm starting to feel good as new once more.

Sometimes all it takes is a little time and the willingness to let the world go on by for awhile until we heal and are ready once more to get back in the swing of things.  And blessedly, in this case, for me, that was true.  But, whether it is a pinched nerve, a different injury or an illness, listening to your own inclinations and guidance from within and then taking the time to do what needs to be done to heal is always a good idea.


My wish is for us all to have the good grace to be able to take the time to go slow, do less and accomplish more.  Blessings to you as we enter these longer nights and the darker half of the year. 


 

 

As a Clairvoyant Healer, Spiritual Counselor and Intuition Instructor, I share many tips for leading a healthy and fulfilling life.  Please be advised that I am not a doctor. Nor am I licensed in any healing modality. However, I have had years of experience in alternative and complementary health and healing. All healing programs, including standard western medical protocols in addition to natural therapies, can cause harm rather than the benefit that you may be searching for. After all some people can have a strong reaction to something as seemingly innocent as peanuts or strawberries. Therefore, anything that I may recommend in these blogs and in my videos could be dangerous for you to try. So, it is important that you Ask Your Doctor First before trying any natural healing protocol. However, most medical doctors have little experience regarding natural healing programs and herbal medicine. So please understand if your doctor is unfamiliar with these ideas.






Saturday, September 30, 2023

"Do nothing. Time is too precious to waste."

 

This somewhat famous lesson from the Buddha, "Do nothing.  Time is too precious to waste." has indeed perplexed me from time to time, because there are so many important and worthwhile things to do.  And there is also so much that really and truly needs to be done.  But then, blessedly, I find myself just sitting quietly somewhere, maybe gazing up at the clear blue sky, or indulging in a little day dream, and then I get it.  The being part of me, the human being, rather than the human doing, settles my mind once more, and I fall into a deeper reality, a freer and wiser place within myself.  

There is such an emphasis on productivity in our Western culture, what with the rush and pushing of time.  And yet so often our most profound understandings and our sudden unexpected inner knowings for our best course of action pop into our heads, not while we are trying to figure it all out, but instead these insights occur most often while we are doing nothing.  It is as if we humans really do need to step aside once in a while, to let it all come clear and slide into place.

Ram Dass, in his seminal work, Be Here Now, demonstrated the bursts of creativity that can come when we allow ourselves to simply focus on the moment.  Watching the cat stalking stealthily in the garden, or a bee visiting a series of flowers, gazing into a campfire, or taking in the silence and stillness of the night, letting the mind simply focus on what is present, for just a few minutes, now and then, is natural and a very important part of who we humans are.

In our rush of technology, and too often wrongly in the name of efficiency, somehow the current trend has resulted in us letting these precious moments of doing nothing slip farther and fewer away.  Instead we play word games or distract ourselves with videos, leaving the television or the radio to play in the background.  Or we listen to talks or the news.  All good ventures unto themselves and completely justifiable.  But not so good for the seemingly ever increasing abstinence from open windows of freely attentive time.  Time where nothing is happening.  Time where we are not trying to meditate or take a nap.  Time where we just take a little break and let ourselves be.

Our brains get so used to us filling every moment with varying pursuits, sounds and distractions, that it actually starts to feel uncomfortable to do without.  Open space for our mind's to gaze at something, or to wander around in, become no longer familiar, and it can start to feel really weird to do so, unless we consciously begin to cultivate empty time, intentionally, once again.  

Allowing this free flow of mind is important, because it is in this open state of simple clarity that epiphanies arise.  Inspirations live here.  The non-focused gentle resting of our attention opens the door to our connection with everything.  This is how we spontaneously see the bigger picture and move past our fears or self-imposed limitations and progress into the free flow of fresh ideas and more prescient understandings and deeper connections.

So, though I too can get frequently lost in the 'brownie points' of checking things off of my 'to do' list, and rushing on ahead to getting things done, the Buddha's words do reach through this furor from time to time and remind me of the clarity that I can find by just taking a moment to look around and do nothing.  So, join me.  Let's just relax and let the moment in.

Thursday, July 20, 2023

Swedish Death Cleaning and Plein Air

 

I recently heard a talk on Swedish death cleaning by a woman who wrote a book on this idea.  Apparently it is an old tradition in Sweden where, as the decades of one's life march along, we prepare progressively more and more for our eventual passing.  This primarily involves lightening our load and cleaning up our act.  It also makes everything a lot easier for those we leave behind.  This sounds like a good and sensible thing to me.

For all of us baby boomers and for all who come after, as we enter our fifth and sixth decades or are even pushing our ninth, it only makes sense to let go of some of the things we enjoyed in our twenties, thirties and forties.  I no longer wish to drive a convertible and I don't keep a horse anymore.  The convertible I drove in high school was an old beat-up jalopy that got me into my twenties and my former wild mustang lived with me, on the skinny, for nearly four decades.  We sure did have some fun.  But, when she put her old tired bones to rest, letting go of that time and lifestyle was appropriate for me too.

The seasons of our lives do change and paring down can be a blessing.  Several of my friends have really embraced this and have significantly downsized: giving away two thirds of their wardrobe, emptying filing cabinets and bookshelves, re-distributing or tossing old photographs and art works, and leading lighter lives.  One friend of mine re-homed her two little dogs.  She loved them enough to realize that they needed more care and she needed more time to rest and heal.  It's all good and we can let go.

This brings me to plein air.  Because, as we come to realize that statistically we may only have five, ten, fifteen, or, if we are lucky, twenty years, of quality living still to go, (which of course can happen to any of us, at any age,) it only makes sense to spend this precious gift of life doing as much of what we love to do as we can. 

I have one older friend who is devoting her life to caring for wild birds.  She is increasing our local bird species populations and supporting others on their migration routes.  When walking past her home, the birdsong is more than noticeable, it's incredible and loud, a veritable symphonic cacophony.  Given how precipitously our bird species numbers have fallen in the last five or six decades, this use of her time and energy is remarkable.  She also loves to paint.  And so do I.  But I love colored pencils, for their simplicity, even more.

Together, she and I enjoy sharing plein air sessions.  En plein air is french for "in the open air," and refers to painting out of doors instead of in an art studio.  During our day to day travels about town, we each keep our eyes open for beautiful views.  And then, as often as we can, carving out a little time, we set a date, deciding on morning or afternoon light and we go!  And then we sit.  We bring our jars of water and pads of paper, pencils, brushes, blankets and colors.  And then, for hours at a time, with little sandwiches packed and a few pieces of fruit, we chatter away about this and that, matching the colors, as busy as those birds, doing what we'd really love to do.  May you be so blessed as to be able to do so, too.

 

 

 

 

Saturday, May 20, 2023

Take Me To A Novel

 


Sometimes we just need to push pause and find a way to take a break from all of the 'ins and outs,' and 'ups and downs' of life.  And thus, in steps the novel.  We all love a good story.  And reading a novel is my way of slipping into the La-La land of "Don't worry.  Be happy."

It is not something that I recommend all of the time, because there really are very serious things that require our attention, both personally and globally.  We need to care for ourselves and our loved ones.  And we need to care for our world, literally.  On the very serious side, and for an extremely illuminating reality check, I recommend listening to a recent Q&A with Noam Chomsky about the Future of our World.  He speaks of the systematic dismantling of arms control measures that has taken place over the last few decades, leaving just one in place, making a nuclear holocaust a very real potential, and the lack of awareness about this, and about the reality of climate change, both looming very large before us all.  He also proposes what we can do about it.  

We do need to lend our energy to movements for positive change.  This is part of our responsibility as global citizens.  Like our self care, it is part of our soul growth.  And, I certainly do put time and effort into this aspect of my life.  But I also need a little down time from time to time.  TV doesn't often interest me much, I prefer stories.  So, I thought I'd share with you a small handful of some of my favorite novels.

Recently I've been reading some rollicking good fun, in the form of historical fiction.  I've been focused on changes that women have made which have helped to generate cultural advancement.  My recent favorite is Lessons in Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus.  I fell in love with her protagonist, Elizabeth Zott.  Set in the 1950's, this book is full of humor and hope and shows how things were and why they got better.  

I also really loved, The Giver of Stars, by Jojo Moyes.  This novel is based on the true story of the depression era Packhorse Librarians of Kentucky.  These women rode out into very rural areas and brought books that people could borrow for free, increasing literacy and connection for isolated families.  Jojo Moyes wrote another book that I truly enjoyed with some great girl-inspired capers, bringing wrong doers to right, called Someone Else's Shoes.

Being a woman myself, of course I do love to read about strong female characters.  Another author who focuses on historical fiction to elaborate on our past and how women have helped to change things for the better is Barbara Kingslover.  She has some of the most insightful and far reaching stories in her quiver of novels.  Perhaps my favorite of hers is Prodigal Summer.

One of the classics of modern literature, and an absolute must read is Beryl Markham's West With the Night.  This book, about the true stories of her life is filled with love and the bravery of a woman living and working in a man's world.  If you read nothing else on this list, this would be the one.

All of these books have helped me to see and appreciate the (albeit slow,) changes and much needed progressive strides that we have made toward love, respect and allowance.  They have brought me joy and have helped me to hold a positive view in the face of all that life here on earth has to offer.

There are three others, by male authors, that are really fun and wonderful.  My grandmother gave me my copy of My Family and Other Animals, by Gerald Durrell.  Frank and I have both read this one many times and we laugh and giggle our way through it every time.  Durrell's prose and descriptions of nature on the pre-war island of Corfu are beautiful.  And the antics of his family are sure to bring a smile into your heart.

The Dalai Lama's Cat by David Michie, is one the most heartwarming and enjoyable books I've found.  This wise little cat lets us peek into the inner sanctum of life at Dharamsala, bringing insights on how to find delight and peace of mind in our own lives.

And lastly, Niall Williams, with This Is Happiness, for it's sheer beauty, left me transfixed by the inner workings of the heart, a young boy's first tender loves, and how the culture of old world Ireland reaching into today, has shaped his perspective and brought him to the eloquence of a life enlightened.  This is a book to be savored and it brings happiness, indeed.

May you all have some fun with this list, 'push pause' when you need to and take a little break.