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To Clean “Green” or Not to Clean “Green”… That Is The Question

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When I was young and my mom cleaned house, I used to think the dusting spray made the whole house smell like lovely fresh lemon. The other day when I dusted, I was suddenly disturbed at the horrendous sort-of-lemon fumes. (OK, who am I kidding; it was actually a few years back that I noticed.) It wasn’t a fresh smell at all. In fact, I was concerned that the manufacturer had switched the label on the dusting can with a can of bug spray. If you’re assuming that I pitched that can and immediately ran out to buy another can for fear of wiping down my entire house in bug spray, I’m sorry to inform you, you’re wrong. I don’t have time for that shit. These days, by the time I get around to dusting it’s usually when I have serious concerns that the health department is going to stop by and make arrests on a count of “deplorable living conditions.” Anyhoo, I’m just now getting around to going Green with my cleaning. Am I late to the party?
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I have been most concerned about the offensive dusting spray and harsh bathroom chemical cleaners. I looked up natural ways to dust the house and found a recipe using the juice of a lemon, a t. olive oil, and a t. water. At first I thought it sounded like a good idea but after considering it has to be made fresh each time, which means I have to have a lemon on hand, and that a lemon runs about $0.70 each, it seemed kind of like a hassle and could get pricey. Instead I went with Method dusting spray from Target for $3.99. Considering it will last at least 6 months and probably closer to a year, it makes for a much cheaper and more convenient cleaner. It claims to be made from plant-based, non-toxic ingredients and even directs you to the website on their bottle if you want to know more about the ingredients at methodhome.com/ingredients. Oddly enough I can’t find the ingredient Quaternium-15 on their list. Should I be suspicious? A conspiracy theory about a corporation making false claims? It didn’t smell toxic when I used it. It didn’t really have much of a smell at all, and cleaned nicely. My wood is so shiny you can see all the little scratches my son made in all the furniture. I like it.
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Next, for the bathroom I learned that 20 Mule-Team Borax, the famous laundry booster, works great as an all-purpose cleaner around the house. It is a natural mineral, sodium tetraborate (whatever that is) and costs $3.38 a box. Several websites I read boasted about Borax for non-toxic house cleaning, so I thought I’d give it a whirl. It’s a powder so I sprinkled it on the vanity, filled my bucket with hot water, and scrubbed. It cleaned the vanity great! That was easy! Next the toilet – where I stopped dead in my tracks eyeing all of the non-flat surfaces. How’s this gonna work? I felt like a baseball spectator who, instead of showing up to the game with a big #1 finger and a cold beer, I showed up armed with a colander and a jar of Vaseline. Wait a minute; no, no, no, this is all wrong. The powder isn’t going to sit on all of the surfaces for me to clean. Especially the flusher. That’s probably the most important part. Everyone touches the flusher first with their poopy hands. It’s filthy. I decided to dump some Borax into my hot water and swirled it around, soaked a rag in it and wiped the toilet down. Since my head was right next to the toilet after I had “cleaned” it, I noticed it still smelled. Why does my toilet still smell? My irritation was growing as I turned to the bathtub. The tub floor was easy enough but it was the same problem with the tub walls: nowhere for the Borax powder to sit. And after my wiping I noticed it still smelled dirty too. I looked at the bathroom floor and decided instead of wiping with the solution, I would pour some Borax on the floor to scrub. Yah, that didn’t work out the way I anticipated. All the little powder pieces would delicately lift off the floor and float further and further away from my increasingly aggressive rag. I started feeling like I was secretly being videoed for America’s Funniest Home Videos complete with canned laughter. Cleaning shouldn’t be this difficult. And as I did the last wiping out the bathroom floor I couldn’t help but notice it still smelled! IT STILL SMELLED IN THE BATHROOM!

Is anyone reading this an expert green cleaner? How do you do this? Am I a complete idiot? Has pregnancy dropped my IQ 50 points? I have not seen a spray “green” bathroom cleaner anywhere. I’m starting to think I just might go back to harsh chemicals. As much as I don’t want to do this since I’m painfully aware of how breathing in toxic fumes and contact with chemicals absorbed into the skin can affect a baby in-utero, sort-of clean really doesn’t cut it for me. When I take the time to clean, I expect things will be clean when I am done. If anyone reading this knows of a better way, please, I beg of you, I implore you, share it here…

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And Worst Mother of the Year goes to…

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Louie and Mommy

I have a meeting at my son’s school with his teacher, the principal, the school psychologist, the school counselor, and the local police force. Okay, one of those is an exaggeration. Still, I was called to meet to discuss his bad behavior and the need for testing to place him in special education. I will admit this came as a blow. Special Education? Special Education is for children with learning disabilities and those who can’t function in the classroom. Was I aware he’s been in trouble at school? Yes. He’s in Kindergarten. He’s a rambunctious little boy who would rather be outside playing than sitting at a desk working on a worksheet. I’ve known since he was about 9 months old he was a handful. But outside the norm of society? Worthy of testing, special labeling, and placement? Wow. Really? Are you sure?

I think back early on to all of the things I’ve done to try and be a good parent. I’ve read to him every, single night since he was about 3 months old (and continue to do so) – the physical closeness, the sharing of a story, and the joy of finding books that have built a love of reading are all very important to me. When he was a baby, all the other moms in my mom’s group were setting their child in the carseat and placing them in front of the TV while they did something else, but I didn’t do that. I know how hard it is on young, developing eyes to stare at a television screen. I would get out the dragon puppet and play with him. When he was a little bigger, while all the other moms were talking amongst themselves, I would be watching my son intently while he played with the other kids, looking to see how he interacted with others and gently redirecting his behavior when needed. And I wouldn’t feed him that processed food junk made for kids either – I made him homemade brown rice and broccoli casserole, cut up into tiny pieces so he could easily chew. Annoying? I was that mom.

And yet this little stinker was Trouble with a capital T. I would swear up and down that a child’s temperament is born not learned. He was a mover and shaker since he started toddling around, so before he was even a year old, I put up a baby gate at the kitchen entrance to keep him close to me while I got dinner ready. It wasn’t long before he tried to climb over it. Once he realized he wasn’t tall enough to climb over, he went straight to the cabinet where his formula was, set the tall can next to the gate, climbed on top of the formula can, and attempted to get over the baby gate before I grabbed him. This kid had a master plan! Is he the next Alexander the Great in the making or what? His little brain formulated a plan to solve something he didn’t like, he used creative thinking to find an object he knew he could stand on to get a boost in height, and had the determination to carry it out. These are most definitely higher order thinking skills (ahem- not special ed). He also had far better language skills than other boys his age. His favorite thing to say to people when he was 2 was, “You’re ridiculous.” And he could clearly pronounce “ridiculous,” too. Yes, ridiculous indeed. When I’d take him to the park, instead of playing at the park like all of the other kids, he wanted to know what was outside of the park, and would run off into the woods or out into the street to go on an adventure. Now, he’s also had this small problem with throwing things. Like rocks. And I vehemently let him know that it’s not OK to throw rocks. Especially at neighbors cars. I don’t even know how many times I made it ABSOLUTELY CLEAR that it was NOT OK. I mean, how many times do you punish someone for the same damn thing before you just want to strangle them? And yet his reaction was one of, “Oh look! The Angry Mommy show! Mommy’s red face is funny!” He has all of these characteristics that make him very difficult to manage as a child, but that I think will make him very successful as an adult. He’s whip smart, fears nothing, has a great sense of humor and playfulness, he’s a creative thinker, a problem solver, he stands his ground and can be as stubborn as a mule, but he’s got intense curiosity and furious drive. When I think about putting his personality into today’s tough job market, I think he’d do quite well.

So fast-forward to Kindergarten. On numerous occasions he and a few other boys have pulled their pants down to moon each other. OK, I’ll admit I think this is pretty funny, but I don’t let on when I have serious talks about not showing his butt at school. He has also gotten in serious trouble for “play spanking” other kids on the butt. I understand they have to take it very seriously when a child touches another child’s “private parts,” but can we see the intention here isn’t perverse or mean – he’s playing. He thinks it’s funny. He also sometimes shouts things out in the classroom. Did I mention his Kindergarten class has just 1 recess a day? Would it be unreasonable to assume it’s not developmentally appropriate for 5 and 6 year olds to have 1 short playtime and be expected to sit still in a chair and work quietly the rest of the day?Louie at playground

So I’m not sure where this leaves me. Is he just a strong-willed, spirited little boy? Or is he a dysfunctional human being? Is the school overreacting? Or do I have blinders on? I’m unsure how to take all of this because along with a child with a “behavior disorder” comes the judgment and label of “bad parent.” I know it’s there, even if nobody says it out loud. Good little girls and boys come from good homes and bad little girls and boys come from bad homes. And if I could just get my act together and do the right things, he would behave, right? I feel guilty for not being able to control him. And maybe there’s just a tidbit of anger here – I’m angry with my son for being difficult, and I’m angry that I have to deal with this because I could easily point out 10 other parents that aren’t half as conscientious about parenting as I am , and yet I’m the one sitting in the hot seat. Frankly, it makes me want to give up, throw in the towel. Have child services come and take him away since I’m a failure as a parent. And it only adds to the feelings of ill-ease that I’m currently pregnant. What will this child be like? Will I be able to handle her? I’m just drained. And sad. And helpless.

And then I think about my son (and how much I want to ring his little neck) and I think what he really, truly needs is love and support. After all, isn’t that what we all need? Even when we behave badly? He needs someone in his corner to support him, not to dismiss things he shouldn’t do, but to be proud of him when he does something right. Yeah, pride – it feels hard to be proud of your child when everyone else is irritated and disgusted with him. But I suppose I need to find that place regardless. Because when he’s grown and he looks back on his childhood I want him to have good memories of his time with me, even if he is in prison. Kidding. Not really. Maybe I’ll find that place of strength tomorrow…

Signs of Recovery from a Type A Personality

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It’s been a while since I’ve posted anything on this blog. I’m tired and I just don’t feel like it. I feel like resting, so that’s just what I’ve been doing.

This, of course, is very unlike me. I’m usually extremely driven and ambitious, working hard every minute of every day to accomplish, well, everything. After all, I need to make something of my life, don’t I? I need to go to work to earn my paycheck, I need to teach my yoga classes, I need to write and revise more children’s stories in hopes of being published someday, I need to do fun/creative/amazing things with my son so he grows up to be a smart, creative, successful man, I need to be posting on both of my blogs to further invest my energies in things I enjoy, I need to do the laundry, the dishes, make dinner, get my oil changed, do my taxes, meditate, get on Facebook and Twitter so people know I exist, dust, vacuum, clean the bathroom… and all of this has to be done immediately. Because if these things don’t get done, I will be a failure! I’ll be a loser that never accomplishes anything that lives in filth with a son who ends up in prison and I could never possibly be happy! Right? Just sitting isn’t the way to achieve happiness and success, DOING IS! Or so I used to think.HouseSnow

We’ve had a couple of snow storms the past few weeks where many were stuck at home for a day, and I’ve been a little surprised to hear others complaining of cabin fever with, “Oh my God! I have to get out of the house and go do something!” Seriously? One day? You can’t spend one single, solitary, measly little day with yourself? Is the company of yourself that awful? Not that I’m really one to talk. I used to be like that too. I had forgotten all about it until I remembered it from other people’s reactions. And after hearing others complain about being at home for one whole day of course I’m thinking, you really need yoga to help you appreciate stillness, calm mind, and peaceful spirit. I found our past snow days to be absolutely beautiful: quiet, joyful, and relaxing. (Have I mentioned how yoga has changed my life?) I enjoyed watching the giant snowflakes racing down onto the deck, the tree out back covered in ice and snow looking so picturesque, and the goose that seemed to have lost his way wandering around the neighbor’s yard amidst the falling snow. I am simply “being,” and appreciating the “being-ness” of life around me.

OK, I’ll admit here that I’ve got a little help with the relaxing – it turns out I’m pregnant. But believe me, I wasn’t always this easy going. While the physical tiredness may provide an easy path toward relaxation, it doesn’t necessarily create relaxation. My first pregnancy I refused to relax. I would push myself until my body would physically shut down and I’d pass out on the couch or bed from exhaustion. I got very angry and frustrated with the whole tiredness thing. My husband suggested maybe the bathrooms didn’t need to be cleaned every week. And I would reply, “I’m pregnant, I’m not useless!” Or like the time when I insisted on mowing the lawn because I wasn’t about to lie around the house all Saturday. “I’m pregnant, I’m not an invalid, for God sakes!” The lawn mower was an electric one and that darn thing never worked properly. It would flatten the grass instead of cutting it. Oi vey. The day was one of those perfect spring days and the next door neighbors were grilling out with their friends. I don’t know if it was all the cussing or when I actually picked up the lawn mower and threw it, but I suddenly noticed how quiet it was next door and looked up to see all 20 or so of their faces looking at me in astonishment. “That’s right” I thought to myself, “ I’m pregnant, not helpless and lazy, for crying out loud. I have shit to do! I’m creating a successful life!”

So really, after that, I could call this newfound being-ness an “accomplishment.” In fact, it’s a rather large one. What is the point of life when you never take a moment to appreciate it? Will you die a happy person if you’ve accomplished a lot but never took a moment to notice the beauty that surrounds you? Is it a good life if you never take a minute of pause to look at a loved one and remember why you love them so much? Is it a good life if you make a million dollars but never notice the robins chirping in the walk from the car to the office? Or watch a baby’s expression as the wind blows in its face? Or never notice how glorious the October full moon is? Have you ever stopped to notice if you enjoy your own company? Do you obsess about accomplishing things because you think it will bring you success and happiness? Are you constantly consumed by making lots of money to the detriment of enjoying your own life?

I realize this is not anything new I’m talking about. This sort of thing has been discussed in many circles over the last several decades, if not longer. Here we are in 2013 with astonishing advancements in technology. We have a couple of land rovers on Mars looking for signs of life. The space probe Voyager is now past Pluto and moving toward interstellar space. Hopefully we’ll get information sent back of what exists outside our solar system. The average American has a cell phone with about the same capabilities that all of NASA had when launching the Apollo 11 for the first moon landing. We can talk to anyone on the planet, listen to music, send messages, watch movies, look up random information we want to know, look at an interactive map while someone recites the directions to us, and it all fits in our pocket. Pretty amazing. But how far have we advanced in our kindness to others? Or patience? How often do you show up for others without expectation of something they should be doing for you? Just open and accepting?

Don’t get me wrong – I still have goals and things I want to achieve. I just allow myself to take breaks, notice the day, let people in. It has taken me a really long time to understand the old saying, “Life is a journey, not a destination.” I have learned over and over (quite painfully I might add) that the goal you set your sights on doesn’t always arrive. So if you live in the mindset that you can only be happy once you get a raise/ find a partner/ lose 20 pounds / work for a certain company / get married, etc., you only set yourself up for a miserable existence. In the meantime, the magic and beauty of life is happening all around you. Go on, look out your window.

Oh, and the snowy picture isn’t anything around me. It’s just something I found on Yahoo images. I wasn’t feeling pressed to rush around taking pictures or planning how I would write about the snowy days, I was just immersed in its beauty.

My Cleanse Results

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So I did 7 days of cleansing. And I’m … here. It was a rough week. Brutal, in fact. There was even a day where I had to call in sick from work because I was about to puke. But I hung in there, toughing it out like a badass… I guess. There was definitely some good things happening like clearer skin and my chronic shoulder pain is now gone, but I’ve also had nausea all week and have been extremely uncomfortable, so low on energy I’ve mostly laid in bed. I kept thinking, surely at some point I’m going to have a breakthrough and feel magnificent, right?

And then on the seventh day I was having a conversation with my mom about health issues and she told me about a friend of hers who had chronic issues until finally she discovered she had gluten intolerance. Then once she eliminated gluten, she felt great. Now I’m no stranger to gluten issues, I’ve heard all about it and how it has been discovered to give some people chronic health issues. I even looked it up way back when, but all I saw were symptoms like vomiting or having intense gastrointestinal distress immediately after consuming wheat products. Well that’s not me. But since I was thinking about it, I looked it up again, and do you know what I found? Apparently there is a skin disorder called Dermatitis Herpeformitis linked directly to wheat sensitivity. And the description of this skin disorder matches my symptoms exactly. MOTHER TRUCKER. So I kept reading and learned that although it’s pretty uncommon to have a wheat allergy with the acute symptoms listed above, it’s becoming more common to see people with a wheat intolerance, meaning maybe a small amount can be tolerated, but in larger doses it can cause all kinds of common chronic conditions like stomach pain and bloating, inability to lose weight, frequent headaches, immune conditions like frequent colds, flu, and bacterial infections, proneness to allergies, psoriasis, skin rashes, eczema, chronic fatigue, and unwell feeling. MOTHER TRUCKER AGAIN! I have just about all of these! And because it basically wreaks havoc within the intestinal tract, it creates a poor ability to ABSORB NUTRIENTS FROM THE FOODS YOU ARE EATING. TRIPLE MOTHER TRUCKER! mad face I was ready to drive to my dermatologist’s office and slap every last one of them. You mean to tell me that there is a clear, established link between wheat sensitivity and all kinds of skin issues like dermatitis herpeformitis, acne, hives, rashes, etc., and none of this was ever even mentioned in any of my visits? How do you do dermatology for a living and not know that??? Instead I climbed into bed and passed out. The fatigue has been terrible. I had been eating a new grain mix on my cleanse that had barley in it. (Gluten levels are high in wheat, barley, and rye.) I was also eating a sprouted wheat bread.

I don’t know if I truly have a wheat intolerance, but based on what I’ve read, it’s possible. I won’t be going to a doctor to do any tests. Apparently the tests for it aren’t’ always accurate, and I’m not going to pay LabCorp an assload of money out-of-pocket (I don’t have bad insurance, but they seem to weasel out of having insurance cover the majority portion of their testing – which I’m sure takes all of 2 minutes and costs them $3.25 but they want me to pay $200). So if anyone that works at LabCorp happens to be reading this, you can go suck it. You hear me LabCorp? SUCK IT! Did I mention I was irritable too?

One of the reasons wheat intolerance is so hard to detect is because there aren’t acute symptoms; symptoms generally show up 2 to 3 days later. Which could possibly explain why there seems to be no rhyme or reason for when my symptoms get bad. It also leads many people to target the wrong foods as the problem since when you’re digestive tract is inflamed, then you seem to have sensitivity to other foods too – Could it be that garlic is really my friend? And it could also explain why (COVER YOUR EYES VEGAN FRIENDS!) at one point of being very athletic I focused on eating lots of meat and protein, cut back on carbs, and felt the healthiest I’ve ever been. Admittedly, it might have been less about the meat and more about avoiding breads.

So I’m going to start eating Gluten free and see if symptoms worsen or improve. Here I go. Whenever I can get up enough energy to get to the store.

Destined to Fail?

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So I was sitting at my lunch table at work eating my steamed collard greens and a coworker sits down with his leftover burrito smothered in a creamy, gooey gringo cheese with juicy little chopped tomatoes on top, smelling like fulfillment and love. What an asshole. And why am I eating collard greens?! I don’t even like collard greens. I’ve given them a fair shot but the verdict is in – they’re barfy. I’m throwing the rest of the bunch away when I get home and I’m sticking to kale and swiss chard. And this green powder supplement I’m taking is absolutely disgusting. Maybe I’m using too much powder, but it tastes like liquified mushrooms in poop sauce. I don’t know how I’m going to do this. I’m not sure I’m going to persevere with this cleanse. I’ll keep you posted.

And my cleanse will begin… soon

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Food3I’m going to be starting my Ayurvedic cleanse soon with Talya Lutzker (the fabulous gal who wrote “The Ayurvedic Vegan Kitchen,” see previous post “My Enemy and Pesto”). When I say “cleanse” that does not mean a fast. I’ve got plenty to eat, an abundance of recipes, I will just be eating all fresh, organic produce and whole grains. It’s technically a 7-day cleanse but after discussing with Talya, she thinks I should continue on for a few more weeks to clear up my skin issue, and she thinks the deeper set issue of malabsorption could take 6 months to a year to reverse. Yes, I said malabsorption. And yes, Talya has an understanding of what’s actually going on within my body. That, my friends, is an Ayurvedic Practitioner. Anyhow, back to the malabsorption. Did you know that just because you eat healthy foods, doesn’t mean you’re actually absorbing the vitamins and minerals? That’s the reason I get sick all of the time. So I’d like to give myself a big pat on the back for all of the time I’ve wasted making vegetable soups and brown rice the last few years. I could have been living on a steady diet of Twinkies and Cheetos and been none worse for wear.

Do you think that you can be healed just by eating the right food? Do you know that there are actually natural cures to cancer? Yes, you read that right. Not to poo all over the American Cancer Society or anything, but there are many cases of people who have recovered from cancer and other diseases naturally. There are different methods, but they all involve flooding the body with antioxidants, bringing much needed oxygen to the cells. One method involves juicing with organic produce all day in addition to eating organic produce. Another I’ve read about relies on inundating the body with pure, organic flaxseed oil.

Does all this sound crazy? Like something I just made up? Or read about on the internet? Well, I know someone who has actually done such a thing! I know a real, live person who had throat cancer and cured it himself by natural means! His name is Wade Mortenson and he lives here in Kansas City, teaching Ashtanga Yoga with his wife Kathleen at their studio, Maya Yoga.
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Look at him! He’s the picture of health! So I’m thinking if Wade can do such an amazing thing, I can certainly get myself back on track. I’ve got my list of NO foods and all of my YES foods. I received my online order with special supplements and other hard to find items. I am optimistic that I will be healthier than ever when it’s all said and done. Here I go – blasting off into a state of pure, radiating health and glowing bliss!

But first…
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Oh why not!? I won’t absorb it anyway, right?

OK, I thought it worthy of note here on the Journey to Self Healing, that after 1 1/2 cupcakes, I did, in fact, get a stomachache.

My Nemesis and Pesto

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Meet my nemesis. No – even worse, meet my arch-enemy. There he is. Look at ‘im. Seemingly innocuous little bastard. “Oh look at me, I’m garlic, I taste good and I’m good for you!” Yes, what’s good for one person’s body is not necessarily good for someone else’s body.

It’s a love/hate relationship you see. Actually, I love garlic. But garlic hates me. In my dreams I gently caress its paper bulb, whispering sweet nothings, gently cradling it in the crook of my neck. I used to eat garlic all the time. Like, nonstop. Raw. I couldn’t get enough. I would eat raw slices on a buttered cracker. The cracker being merely a vehicle for shoveling garlic in my face, I found myself slicing the garlic pieces larger and larger each time. I love all things made with heavy-handed garlic: bruschetta, pasta sauce, roasted garlic anything, caprese salad, guacamole, pesto – OH PESTO! How do I love thee? Let me count the ways! I believe pesto was invented by GOD as a reward for all of our suffering on earth. I could eat it every day. But alas, the raw garlic in pesto does not love me back.

I have learned that when I eat garlic my skin condition flares up, my face breaks out something wicked, and I become prone to angry outbursts. Wait – I misspoke. I’m a yoga teacher so actually I never have angry outbursts. Ever. It’s a friend of mine who has angry outbursts. She had this son who’s not a morning person just like her and she has difficulty getting out the door and getting to work on time. She sometimes has angry outbursts. So I hear.

Anyhow, I found a pesto recipe in The Ayurvedic Vegan Kitchen cookbook by Talya Lutzker that doesn’t have any garlic in it. Could it be true? Will it be good? Let’s find out! Here’s the recipe:

Amazing Pesto Chutney
1/2 c. raw tahini or almond butter
1/2 c. toasted sea palm or raw, wild nori
Juice of 1 lemon
1 c. olive oil, plus more as needed
1 bunch cilantro, chopped
1 bunch dill weed, chopped
1 bulb fennel, chopped
2 t ground cumin
1 t ground coriander
1 t salt
1/2 t ground pepper (omit for pitta)

Put the tahini, sea palm, lemon juice, and 1/2 c of olive oil in food processor or blender. Process for 5 to 10 seconds. Add half each of the cilantro, dill, and fennel. Process for another 20 seconds. Add remaining 1/2 c of olive oil, remaining cilantro, dill, fennel, cumin, coriander, salt, and pepper. Process for another 2 minutes, or until smooth and creamy, stopping occasionally to scrape down the work bowl or blender jar. If the pesto is too thick, add another 1 to 2 tablespoons of olive oil and process again.

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I didn’t make this exact recipe, rather I made a few adjustments to use up some ingredients I already had in the fridge. I threw in some mint and basil and didn’t use dill. So how does it taste?
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It’s delish! It’s fantastic! I love it! Sans garlic and all! It looks like it made about 2-3 cups, so like 1 serving. (Kidding.) (Not really.) It’s cooling and soothing. As in the opposite of doing shots of cheap whiskey and feeling it burn all the way down. My insides feel more like when you climb into bed between cool sheets. Aaaaaah.
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I realize some folks really hate cilantro. But I would bet you could substitute parsley, basil, or watercress just fine. So many variations to try!
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I’m outta here…

Backache?

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A friend mentioned to me having chronic low back pain so I thought instead of just sharing suggestions with my friend, I’d share with all of you. Please note: I was thinking this would be obvious but I’ll say it anyway just in case: if you have severe or acute back pain, you need to see a doctor. But if you’ve just started noticing achiness, I have some suggestions. We are each responsible for our own lives and the quality of our lives, so it behooves you to start taking note of how you internalize stress. (I’ve just been dying to use “behooves you” in a sentence!)

So, low back pain – here’s a few things to consider:

How’s your posture? Maybe you haven’t noticed. Take a day, or a few days and occasionally notice how your posture is. Are you slouching? Of course you are! For God’s sakes, Igor, how can you ever possibly expect to feel centered? To find your proper alignment, lie on the floor (not a cushy bed!) and bend at your knees so your feet are flat on the floor. Find a good placement of your feet so they are not too close to your body or so far away that you’re engaging your tummy muscles or thighs to hold your knees up. Just allow yourself to relax in this position. Don’t try to push your back completely flat on the floor; you should have a small pocket at your low back that is the natural curve of the spine. In this position, your spine will find its way back “home.”

In addition to properly aligned posture is strength. Does your torso constantly collapse into your pelvis because it’s too much work to stand tall? A translation for the non-technical – do your boobs normally hang around your belly button? You’ve got internal muscles in your low belly. Squeeze them. That’s right – feel that? (This will be easier to do if you’re standing, by the way.) Maybe you even feel newfound energy reserves when squeezing these muscles. If the lower section of your belly is mush, it doesn’t provide good protection or support for the delicate lumbar spine. Lift your rib cage up out of your hips, lengthening your spine. Aaaahh. Space. Practice making this space throughout your day whenever you think of it. Also, a good yoga pose for strengthening the low back is Chair Pose. On an inhale bend your knees and bring your arms overhead, keeping hips aligned over your ankles. Look up at your hands (Don’t if you have neck pain). Stay here, inhaling and exhaling, squeezing those low belly muscles on your exhales.Utkatasana2

Another way to look at low back pain is via the chakras. If you’re not familiar with chakras, they are energy centers that correspond to areas on the physical body, as is understood in Eastern medicine. The low back sits right at the Sacral Chakra – the chakra of personal power. What is your relationship to POWER? Always feel defeated? Feel like you’re not in charge of your own life? Or that you have no control over your life? Or that whatever you do you’re never good enough? What is your relationship to money? Worried that no matter how hard you work you’ll never be secure? If this resonates with you, you may need to give yourself an intervention from negative thinking. Strong emotions can alter our physical body just as issues in the physical body can illicit certain emotions.

Another consideration is – Are you constipated? Yep, I just went “Dr. Oz.” If you’re frequently constipated that can give you low back pain. And in that case, eat more fruits, veggies, and whole grains. But you already knew that, didn’t you? *wink*

Let me know if any of these help! Take care!

Check out Lissa Rankin

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Click here to view Lissa Rankin’s blog.
Lissa Rankin
She’s a doctor who became so frustrated with only being alotted 7 1/2 minutes per patient, she decided to leave the medical field. But then felt called to return to help heal the healthcare system. She has a book coming out this spring entitled Mind Over Medicine, and she asserts that people can, in fact, heal themselves and that patients shouldn’t dump all responsibility on a doctor to “fix” them. She also says that if you are in a bad relationship or hate your job for instance, it doesn’t matter how much you exercise or eat healthy; if you don’t remove the things or relationships from your life that are making you sick in the first place, you won’t get better. This particular post I attached is about how we create our own health reality based on what we believe. I love her!

Enjoy!

Scene of the Sloth

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couch2Here it is. My couch. The place I don’t want to leave. It’s so comfy. I sit down for a moment and find I can’t seem to get back up again. I don’t have the willpower. I don’t have the strength. I’m feeling pretty sad too, which doesn’t seem logical because I didn’t have a particularly bad day. But to hell with logical! This is how I feel. And then I zoned out and stared at the wall for some unknown extended period of time. I think it might be time for bed now. I don’t know. I’m hungry. I should get up and eat something. Maybe. Probably not. The kitchen is so far. All 4 feet. Won’t someone come feed me? Maybe someone could bring me a delicious pizza size large. And a platter of mac’n’cheese on the side. Mmmmm, that would be marvelous. And then some cookies for dessert. And chocolate cake with thick icing. And maybe just a little sliver of warm, apple pie. And then carry me to bed.

Whatever you call this, my energy is that of unbalanced Kapha. If you read my “Ooh Ooh! Take a holistic diagnosis quiz!” it’s where I posted the video of Jabba the Hutt to illustrate the heavy and slow characteristics of Kapha, the energy associated with Water. Here it is in all its glory. I am plagued with heaviness. So how do I get out of this? How do I get motivated again? How do I get my energy back?

Some Sun Salutations first thing tomorrow morning would surely do me some good, but that’s not possible in my job environment. So I’ll start with an herbal infusion of spices. And thank God for prepackaged tea bags so I don’t have to actually make something myself! My choice for the day: Trader Joe’s Ruby Red Chai which contains Rooibos, cloves, ginger, allspice, cardamom, nutmeg, and cinnamon. No milk. No sugar. Hopefully these spices will light me a spark.
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Anyone else ever feel this way in winter? Feel free to leave me a comment.