Thursday, August 20, 2009

Laughter - the best Medicine

My friend Joyce is in town (the last week - darn!) from Hawaii, & today I rode my bike over to the Senior Center for her Laughter Yoga class. Now we 'all know' that Laughter's a great medicine, how de-light-ful to spend an hour with a group of kids & adults, laughing away!
Some of the health benefits of laugher: happy hormones, it's a physical workout, helps with weight loss, makes us smarter, distracts us from negative emotions, alter how we respond to stress & is contagious. Even 'fake' laughter perks us up, & makes us feel better.

Ask yourself - who's in charge of my emotions? Who decides how I feel?

Try this, bend over & say "I'm so depressed! I feel awful" . . . then sit up straight, throw your arms in the air, smile & say the same thing? Does it feel true? Try again - bend over, hang your head & arms down low, say "I feel GREAT! I'm so happy!" now throw your arms above your head, smile, & say "I feel FABULOUS!' . . .. tee hee!

Laughter Yoga is laughter for 'no reason!' No jokes are told, tho there are exercizes to prompt laughter - being handed an invisible Visa bill, say; pretending to open it - make an awful face as you 'read' it, then show it to your neighbor (the kids each got 3 or more invisible bills!) point, moan, laugh . . . think of how you might feel if you smiled while you paid your bills.

Begun in India in March of 1995 by Dr Madan Kataria, who was writing an article 'Laughter - the Best Medicine' for a health journal, laughter yoga has spread around the world. Begining with about a dozen students, for the first few weeks, the group told jokes or 'funny' stories to stimulate laughter (more than 50 folks had joined them in the park) . . . but some of the jokes were hurtful - what to do?
In reviewing his notes,
Dr Kataria realized that 'fake' laughter produced the same positive benefits & 'happy chemistry' as the 'real' thing - what if they began just laughing? With a background in amature theatre, Dr Kataria used role-playing & other games to stimulate childlike playfulness & produce laugher. With his wife Madhuri, he practiced Yoga, & saw similarities between Pranayama exercises, so laughter Yoga incorporates elements of deep breathing, stretching, clapping (full hands, fingers to fingers, to stimulate the meridians) & the 'mantra' "Ha ha ha! Ho Ho!"

There's 'official' training (what a hoot!); there areapproved blogs,
there are short vids to watch . . . .

So, stop what you're doing, find something to laugh at & do it!! After a bit, clap your hands, say the mantra (clap with each word: Ha Ha Ha! Ho Ho!) put your hands on your belly & feel them warm up

Smile, you'll feel better!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Nice Day

Today was so nice! Hot again, but heading toward that 'fall in the air' . . .

Here's a peach fresh from my tree! I love these luscious treats; & this year I've had my biggest harvest (OK, only 10 total - a few are still waiting for me, but I don't do ANYTHING, no spraying at the proper time . . . just my garden clearing almost daily, & send it lots of love!)

I got a pedicure at a different place today, & really enjoyed it! What's not to enjoy about a pedicure, right??

I'd been going with my dau. to a shop with young Asian gals, which is always fun for 'drop in' quickness, & is next to her hubby's Starbucks . . . but I wanted to find a place I enjoy frequenting downtown, close to
my office. One of my massage modalities is 'Ashiatsu' - done with my feet, & pedicures are a business expense :) I have to laugh - linking to the website, there's a new video on the homepage, Ashi-Thai - when we took the Ashi training, they spent more than an hour showing 'dos & don'ts' in publicity photos - & the thumbnail with the video wouldn't have passed muster!!

Ashi is a delightful 'deep & luxurious' technique, & I do several sessions a week. It gives my hands & arms a rest, while allowing me to do deep & comfortable work.

Then this evening I took the adult/ advanced young adult ballet class - ahh. Nice class - there's a teacher from Russia this week, teaching classes each morning, which is always inspiring for our teacher!

In my mid-40s, I took three weeks of classes from the Russian teacher, & pretended I'd grown up studying at the Bolshoi! I get a bit of that feeling, taking class the week these classes are running.

I have a feeling of '
change a-coming!'
Not sure what - just feels good! The sun is almost thru Leo, on its way into my home sign, Virgo; & my BD's two weeks from today.
The other day my daughter & I were doing some brainstorming (business has been slow) & she commented that it was time for me to do more teaching, that I'm at a point in my life to share what I know! Yesterday one of my clients & I were talking about Reiki, began planning a workshop in her home!

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Thots on Health & Flu

So today I was with my galfriends at a great summer afternoon 'pool party' (why didn't we do this when it was 106* out?? Fairly cool today!) & talk around the snack table turned to wondering about the next flu vaccines. Several of the gals are teachers, & I recall a few years ago I was the only one (of 8, now 9) who wasn't getting a flu shot! Blagh!!

Never have, don't see the need to . . .

During the 'swine flu' frenzy last winter, I came across a lovely article written by an adjunct prof from Seattle's Naturopathic school, Bastyr, about the contrast in small percentage of deaths among homeopathy users during the 1918 flu epidemic. I mentioned this to my friends, & they asked me to send them the info.

Ah yes, here's my *disclaimer* - please don't take this as medical advice!! More as grist for your mental mill - & if in doubt - seek the aid of a trained medical professional - hopefully a Naturopath, Osteopath, or Accupuncturist!

I've used the over the counter homeopathics, & take things like emergen-C & drink Ginger teas, etc. when I'm exposed to stuff. I also keep charcoal caps on hand, & take those if I'm exposed to a flu or food poisoning.

Homeopathic remedies stimulate your body's own defenses, are taken under the tongue ~ 20 minutes away from any liquid or brushing your teeth. Brittan's royal family uses Homeopathy, & it's highly respected in most of Europe.
Homeopathic remedies are available over the counter at Natural food stores, or directly from Naturopaths. You can get cute little blue box 'sets' - there are several options, inc. remedies for kids. The box holds 3 remedies, & is easily refillable with your personal 'favorites.' (they also come empty, but are often a bit less $ filled!)

The 'basic' all around flu remedy (take at the FIRST sign) is Occilocoxcinum. It comes in packs of 6 small tubes, & you can take 1/2 tube at a time, with doses ~ 6 hours apart. A patient of the Doc in my office buys several boxes each fall, & keeps them on her desk for ANYONE in her office to take at the first sign of a 'bug.' She says it really pays off in fewer 'sick' days for the whole staff. She also gets his nurtitional I-Vs periodically when exposed to bugs.

The good Doctor (an ND) also carries a remedy that is compounded from the current season's flu strains, which is taken for a few days (3?) at the same time each month throughout 'flu season.' I think it's
Influenzinum. I've never taken this route, but several folks in our office do, inc. the Doctor.

Here's a great article that came out during the swine flu outbreak. The Author, Melaine Grimes, is an adjunct faculty member at Bastyr University (Seattle's Naturopathic college)

A stunning quotes from the article: "Ohio reported that 24,000 cases of flu treated allopathically had a mortality rate of 28.2% while 26,000 cases of flu treated homeopathically had a mortality rate of 1.05%" You can see by these figures that NDs & homeopaths were very popular, & effective, at that time. (MDs practice 'allopathy' - against the symptoms).
One could write a tretis (Suzanne Sommers has!) on how the pharmecutical companies & their 'backers' wanted more of the market, so managed to shift things like hospital priv. toward the MDs, & make the other docs less available.

For general prevention/health, Melanie Grimes suggests: "certain nutrients have been shown to help enhance the immune system, such as echinacea, vitamins C, E and beta carotene, zinc, and elderberries."

During that 1918 epidemic, the remedies most often used were Gelsemium and Bryonia.
Gelsemium is one of my personal favorites, & one I carry in my purse (along with Arnica & Hypericum). It's package 'blurb' suggests use for 'stage fright & anxiety.'
It's useful for headaches that begin in the neck/back of head, & may turn into stomach upset. I've used it for headaches (rare) since the mid to late 80s. Taken at the first beginning, it's even stopped my daughter's migraines a few times.

Each tube costs ~ $6,
so it's pretty darn cheep preventative medicine!!

Occilicoxcinum is a bit more, since it's a pack of tubes!
The 'small' box of Occilicoxcinum is ~ $12, & the double size ~ $22. It's well worth while to keep a box on hand! & tho an expiration date is printed on the tube, they are 'good' for much longer (USDA requirement)

Arnica is the remedy for the first 24 hours after an injury, or when you are going to do something out of the ordinary - a long bike ride, a hike, a full day in the garden. The midwives gave it to my dau-in law during labor, to help ease pain & speed recovery! You can take it along with something like Ibupofrin - just take the arnica WITHOUT water (& ~ 20 min after drinking or eating) & the Ibupf. with, a few hours later!

Hypericum (St John's Wort) is especially helpful for nerve pain; dental work, a smushed finger or toe (lots of nerve endings) & even things like Sciatica!
Both Arnica & Hypericum can be used externally as well, Arnica in a salve, & Hypericum in tincture, oil or salve.

A Naturopath or Homeopath can help fine tune what you need for something specific - say a cough (is it dry or moist? Deep in the chest . . . ) but the remedies I've mentioned are all available over the counter, & have WAY fewer negative side effects than 'drugs!'
Rarely will you keep taking something that's not working for you - if it isn't effective, you stop taking it! At times, your symptoms will seem to get worse, then you'll feel better. The philosophy isn't supressing symptoms, but going beneath them, to treat the cause! & triggering your own immune system to counteract the 'dis-ease.'

When my oldest granddaughter took an unknown quantity of her (homeopathic) teething tablets, Mary called Dr D & he just laughed! "nope - it won't hurt her!! She could be a tiny bit sleepy - but prob. not even that! . . . now if it were asprin, . . . "

USUALLY, you take the remedy several times, & stop taking it as soon as symptoms abate. Some of the flu remedies are best taken 'preventatively' - both at the first sign of symptoms, or if someone close to you is already beginning to get sick!! You can often fend something off, simply 'almost' feeling sick yourself!

This summer my dau. & I got 'food poisoning' - that knocked us out for a day.

We sent each other text messages as we spent the morning in & out of th
e bathroom. We took charcoal tabs, we drank water, about midday I pulled out a favorite herb book & made some yarrow tea for me, & later took some over to her . . . .& I think about that time took some occiloc. . . . & I began drinking my 'standard' (for upset tummy) vinegar & a bit of honey or agave nectar in water. By the next day it had passed, tho feeling a bit 'off' persisted for a few days.

Herbalists inc. Susun Weed suggest eating the tonic herbs daily, & using the heavier hitters only occasionally, when you really need them. Her Healing Wise is a great compendium of some of her favorite dailys. Lalitha Thomas '10 Essential Herbs' is another great story book that reminds us how simple health care can be. Isn't it about time to take back our power & touch into some of these simpler ways of caring for our bodies?

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Tea Time

Today on facebook my friend Gwynn shared her entry in Teavana's Tea Master Challange - '10,000 Blessings Tea' - which is also the name of her Feng Shui business. Gwynne lived in England for a bit, studying acting at the Guild Theatre School, & adores tea! Especially Earl Grey Tea in the morning. When we lived at Breitenbush, we often dressed up with hats & gloves, & had tea parties with Gwynne.

I visited the site & couldn't resist concocting my own blend: 'Gypsy Rose Tea.' The contest runs thru the 17th of August (OK, some of the teas have over 1000 votes, so we prob don't have much chance of 'winning' the GC or a blend of 'our' teas . . . ) & you can vote once each day!!
Of course I also had to pour a cup of iced rooibos/herb tea as I contemplated these blends.

I really intended to vote for Gwynn's tea - I will tomorrow!!

Growing up, my mom & I drank green or black tea when we went to Church or Grange, she wasn't a coffee drinker! I later began enjoying herb teas. When I discovered the South African Rooibos & Honeybush teas, I was delighted to add these high antioxident, flavorful teas to my rep!

A tea shop owner told me her (diabetic) mom began loosing weight & her sugar levels stabalized when she began drinking a quart of rooibos tea (various blends) daily! Since it doesn't *require* sweetening, it's a great choice for diabetics. Another friend asked what *mom* had been drinking before - probably diet pop!!

I enjoy browsing in the garden for tea leaves, like this sweet Pineapple Sage (yes, I watered it after snapping the photo!)

My 'Gypsy Rose Tea' combines Rooibos Rose Garden, Sweet Fruit Garden Herbal, & Raspberry Sangria Herbal Teas, with a touch of Winter White Honey. Doesn't that sound good??

OK - I have a tiny confession - I haven't tasted these teas!! Yikes! I may have to go to the mall & taste my blend!! :) If Gwynne likes them, they are high quality & delicious!!

So go over & cast a vote, won't you???

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Lammas & summer adventures

Had a lovely time at our family reunion in the Cascade Mountains Aug 1 (my mom's side). Since my last uncle died last winter ~ 93, my generation has moved up into the 'senior' category - hard to believe! It's fun to watch my grandkids play with their various cousins, & to chat with folks I see once or twice a year. Good people. Love that a couple of family BDs fall in early August, so we celebrate Lammas each year :)

I made hummus using garbanzo bean flour (nice shortcut!) & found this lovely hummus dressing recipe - yum! I used 3 T coconut oil & 2 olive, plus some fresh basil from my CSA share :) Made a cucumber salad to share, & put out the hummus & pesto.
& here's another from Kalyn: slow roasted tomato hummus - mmm (I dried a bunch of tomatoes & still have some, so would prob do that variation) My friend Kylene used to make a puree of sun dried tomatoes & another of pesto that she'd serve at her gatherings - plus she (& her goats) had the greatest goat cheese!!

Next weekend I head to the mountains (Cresent lake this time) for several days with my 'Moms Group' friends. Since going gluten free a few weeks ago, I need to plan a bit more for shared adventures . . . I was already a 'label reader' & trying to avoid a bunch of junk - now avoiding gluten containing products as well - & trying to stick to coconut & olive oil (or butter :)

Donna is bringing 'regular' dough & pizza fixings, so I'll bring gluten free (flour plus the wet ing seprate, as it doesn't have to rise!) I volunteered for Sun AM breakie geaturing homemade granola, my fav. yogurt & fresh fruit from the farmers market. I'll prob pick up some rice cakes, & may try my hand at gluten free bread. I also plan to bring hummus & pesto, maybe some artichoke hearts, kalamata olives & sun dried tomatoes for my fav. kind of pizza :)

My dau. made up several bread mixes from one of her GF cookbooks, & I've been gathering ingredients for my own. I hate it when I find a bag of flour I bought in bulk & DIDN'T label!! What is it?? Working on remembering to do that, & to transfer it to jars & label those!!

Since going gluten free, we've noticed a big change in the 4 year old's behavior - she's much mellower! Her 9 yr old sis no longer has circles under her eyes! The blood work didn't show that the gene's been activated, but for various reasons, my dau decided to give 'gluten free' a try, & just see if folks felt better (we all have the genes that could make us gluten sensitive).

My blood type is A+, & for years I've known I did better with a minimum of wheat - so the shift feels good. As my dau says, '
if it were only bread!' there are so many places gluten containing products 'hide!' . . .

Brown Rice Flour mix:
2 C brown rice flour
2/3 C potato or corn starch
1/3 C tapioca flour

Pizza Crust:
1 C BR Flour mix
1/3 C quinoa ground with sesame seeds (~ 1/2 each)
1/4 C coconut flour
1 tsp xanthan gum
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 - 1 tsp sugar
1 tsp Italian Herb blend
1 Tbsp active dry yeast
2/3 C warm water or buttermilk
1 Tbsp coconut or olive oil
Mix dry ingredients, add moist ing. & beat for 3-5 minutes. (soft bread dough)
Sprinkle pizza pan with cornmeal & pat dough out/ roll ~ 12" circle & pinch outside rim.
Bake at 425* for 10 min. -
I use a pizza stone & don't pre-heat oven.
Top with favorite toppings (pesto or red sauce, layered with sun dried tomatoe strips, artichoke hearts, olives, etc. sprinkle with grated cheese or feta) bake 7-15 min.
I added fresh tomatoe slices & basil after cooking.