My Summer Vacation – Part II
I took my Summer vacation early in the Spring to stay with my son and his family for an extended visit in New England. I had lived there for many years until family matters brought me back home to live. It was an especially exceptional visit because in the years passed my few visits back there were limited to very short lengths and usually centered on a specific busy event. When I moved away my son was barely 21 and single. I decided it was the right time to spend some quality time with him as a flourishing adult in his world.
Little did I know that in addition to a wonderful vacation I would be plagued with a bad mystery allergy and learn a very valuable humbling lesson.
I was so thrilled to be back there knowing I had weeks in front of me to fully enjoy the region I hold a fondness for, re-connect with precious friends and hang out with no pressure like one has to do for short visits.
My son had a small list of favorite dishes and baking he hoped I might indulge him in, if I felt like it. For this ‘ol mom it was music to my ears because it was exactly what I hoped to have the opportunity to do! It is such a warm feeling to almost go back in time except this time I appreciated cooking for him like I never had time to do when family life was so much busier and common. Now I see cooking for family as an opportunity to weave love into the ingredients and joy at seeing it appreciated. One of the perks of getting older is understanding the importance of small things we miss once they are gone and making sure they are not missed in the now.
It was such a treat to spend quality time, unhurried, for spontaneous chats about all kinds of things that don’t happen on the phone or texts.
I got to know his Lady much better with the same kind of chats. I found we had plenty in common and lots to talk about. What more can a parent ask for than to have their child grow up to be a happy adult with someone special to share their life with.
She had no problem with me taking over her kitchen on the nights I made dinner and appeared to enjoy the “comfort” foods that my son had grown up with. She is very adept in the kitchen and I was pleased to learn some tricks from her with renewed inspiration to try new things.
There was a downside in my visit, unfortunately. At the end of the first week I came down with a cold. I started to take some Echinacea pills my son had stocked up. I have been taking it in tincture (liquid) form for decades (only when feeling something coming on) and have become adept at knowing how much my body could safely handle.
A few days after I came down with the cold I started to develop a very itchy rash on my neck and face, accompanied by a noticeable puffy swelling, after sitting in the back yard for hours on a full sunny day. I had never experienced this before and I thought maybe I had gotten a “sun rash”. Yes, there is such a thing because I found it on the internet. I seemed to have most of the symptoms associated with it and it sure looked like it in the pictures offered. After 4-5 days of not being in the sun with no relief in sight I omitted that theory.
More research pointed towards a reaction to some sort of plant or tree in full Spring bloom. Since I had not been in that part of the country for a 1 ½ decades the thought was I had developed some sensitivity that had not affected me before. At the same time I heard my friend’s grandson had developed a mean poison ivy rash where he had not been in contact with the plant physically. She was told that someone mowing their lawn could cross the plant and emit the poison from the plant into the air. This contributed to the idea of some sort of air borne irritant to my dilemma.
I found out the household laundry detergent was heavy with additives that are not in my own “free and gentle” brand at home. So I rewashed all my clothes and bedding. A few more days later with no noticeable relief…another possibility tossed.
A visit to the local natural medicine shop had me trying an anti-allergy product. I took a whole bottle with recommended dosage and deduced my body was being assaulted from the outside and my immune system needed the boost badly.
I had been using my own tried and tested natural creams and ointments for relief but found none in them. In desperation I went to the drug store for more products. With the advice of the pharmacist I chose Gold Bond Intensive Healing and Aquaphor Advanced Healing Ointment. The Gold Bond did alleviate some of the maddening intense itching…to a point. It’s a good product and has been around since1882.
Some might ask why I did not go to a doctor. Call me stubborn but I have dealt with many afflictions without having to do that and successfully. Sure, there are times one just has to go. However, I felt that I would spend the rest of my precious vacation time getting scratched with needles visit to visit, and if they found the source of the allergy…only to get on a plane and go home.
The week before I was due to come home it began to subside enough that my face was not distorted with puffiness and the itching was better. We thought it was truly a “regional” reaction that was getting better because the seasonal pollens were subsiding by that time and upon my return home it would go away. Well…it did just that.
I was under the sad impression I was “allergic” to New England and could never return in the Spring.
Fast forward a couple months after my vacation. I woke up early one morning feeling that “I am coming down with something”. I was out of my Echinacea Tincture liquid and I remembered I still had some pills left from my visit east. I took 2 pills. Three hours later my face and neck began to itch in that way my body will never forget! It was the pills!
I went right to the internet and put the name of the company in. Very quickly I found an article that caught my interest. I read about the FDA coming down on some companies to pull their herbal pills from Walmart and CVS drug store. One of the companies was Spring Valley and listed amongst the herbs was Echinacea which was exactly what I had been taking at the onset of my cold on vacation. The article said that they could contain very little, if any, of the herb they claimed it contained and in its place added something entirely different. “Holy cow” I said! I had been torturing myself unknowingly all the while trying to find an answer topically and internally. I gave my body no chance to respond to my hopeful answers.
What I had done was after 10 days of taking the Echinacea for the cold, I stopped for 3 days, which is recommended. I started taking it again because it helps boost the white blood cells that aid the immune system.
This is where my ego comes into play. I have been following the natural route for so long that my arrogance in what I thought I knew had been seized by the reality of my situation and how it played out. I was reminded that any time someone has an allergic reaction…the medical world looks at anything new that has been added from regular routine. I did know that much! It was my blind faith in the herb Echinacea that allowed me to not suspect that it was a brand I had never used before.
It was also a reminder of however great the internet information highway can be…there is a double edge sword when someone is trying to self-diagnose. I am one that finds it extremely difficult, in the throes of my misery, to be objective while trying to figure out exactly how I feel and what I can do about it.
With 30 years’ experience of using natural health remedy’s, I have seen particular products pulled from shelves over years. My source of the use of particular products came from Naturopaths and educated people about the safety and proper use of them. They were a part of my everyday medicine cabinet while raising my children. I did not agree with their actions in taking the choice away from us and in many fields I have not been alone.
However, I do agree there needs to be regulations enforced as to the content labels and the loopholes that allow companies to distribute lies as to what exactly we are paying for.
My conviction in using natural products remains. My complacency in blind trust has been amplified.
I wish you abundant sunshine, peace and happiness on your path!
Webmistress – The Majickal Garden
I recently accompanied a friend to a class for back problems. The speaker was a physical therapist that specialized in sports injuries. It was, for me, a good reason to catch some girlfriend time over a meal and I hoped to hear something of interest.
Although the speaker was good with just the right level of enthusiasm for his subject matter, I found myself listening out of one ear as my thoughts kept tugging me away. Then he switched gears and started talking about his 5 year old son and how he is always moving his body about even when he was standing in one place. He would be wiggling, standing on one foot, making faces, or jumping up and down, etc. He told how in observing the physical actions of the boy and how he decided to do a study of it in relation to adults. His conclusion was that the older the body the more important it is to keep moving. O.K…this is not new! However, he did have my attention if nothing more than curiosity as to how this observance of his active child was going to translate to be of interest to me.
I am now expecting him to go into a new presentation of a “new exercise regime” that would naturally be difficult to maintain…or something like that! I was wrong. He did say that exercise in any form is very good and spent a few minutes speaking about a few of them including Pilates and Yoga. Then he got to the point.
What he was referring to was conscious movement in everyday life. He asked us to become aware of how we were sitting in our (folding) chairs. Were we leaning back with shoulders hunched or maybe slumped a bit with an elbow thrown over the back of the chair? He mimed how some of us might be sitting in our recliners or couches at home where some might be hunched, slumped and draped almost becoming part of the furniture.
I noticed in the class some of us were sitting upright with our backs straight. This was the position he said we should be sitting in. I must admit with the past back problems that brought much pain, and many years passing with it; was exactly the way that became my habit. I could not sit back on any couch let alone slouch! Consciously thinking about proper posture had become my normal.
Good posture contributes to a healthier spine, better digestion and circulation, and helps bones and joints in correct alignment so our muscles are used correctly.
The speaker talked about using our muscles all the time…with awareness in different activities. When we get up out of our chairs we should use our leg muscles to lift us up instead of heaving ourselves up with the arms off the furniture or using our arms to press up. The thought being the more it’s consciously practiced the easier and beneficial for body strength. Almost sit on a chair and use thigh muscles to stand back up; repeating throughout the day.
While standing, bending down, or reaching up high, being conscious of our posture…shoulders back, butt and stomach tucked a bit enables better muscle control and awareness of the body.
He also encouraged practicing standing on one foot frequently. Stand with weight balanced evenly then lift your foot a few inches off the floor with arms to your side. Hold this position for 5 secs., if you can, and work towards 30 secs. Repeat with other leg. Repeat 1 or 2 more times, if you can.
As you do this exercise, focus on a spot straight ahead. Try to maintain good posture throughout by keeping your chest lifted, your shoulders down and back, and your abdominal muscles braced. And breathe comfortably. You could also use a chair or counter for balance if its too hard. Hold for up to 60 seconds if its too easy. Lifting leg to the front or side could be a variation if its comfortable for you.
This exercise is easy to incorporate into each day (multiple times) and it will get easier with time. This is of course for good balance as well as using muscles to maintain this pose for any length of time! The older we get the more balance can become a big issue. He noted many falls with the elderly are caused by this. It also helps strengthen the ankles which is important for balance as well.
If you are young and maintain an active lifestyle you can make sure some type of balance training is added to your activity of choice. You are never to young or old to benefit.
Written By Jasmine
I’ve got this nice line of body wash I use with lovely exotic scents, exfoliating and moisturizing properties. I knew they contained tiny round “microbeads”. I figured this is where the exfoliating properties are. I honestly had given thought to these beads and reasoned they must dissolve when mixed with heated water. Great…how could my personal choice of body wash I choose to indulge in possibly affect anyone or anything else?
I have recently been hearing in the news that these “innocent” plastic microbeads ingredients are affecting marine life in a very bad way. My assumption that they dissolve in water were dashed with this new knowledge. Fish and smaller organisms are surrounded by food available in their own food chain but they are attracted to these tiny beads as a food source. The damage continues up the food chain and is magnified by the compounds they have absorbed. Fish, mollusks, turtles and birds think they have eaten food instead of the plastic with no nutrition and it clogs up their digestive system. A disturbing fact they discovered is the marine life can lose their appetite for what they should be eating.
Scientists first discovered this by studying the Great Lakes in 2012 for plastic pollution on a larger size scale. They found over half a million perfectly formed multi colored microbeads per square kilometer in Lake Erie alone. It took time for them to discover these tiny plastic microbeads because they don’t float to the top like larger plastic like water bottles. It was a massive discovery by volume. They also discovered the microbeads are small enough to pass through wastewater treatment facilities and pass through into lakes, rivers and oceans.
These plastic microbeads are also found in facial cleansers, soaps, sunscreens and even toothpaste.
I got to thinking about how on Facebook I see many postings of the “good old days…if you remember doing this or that or not caring about certain things then “like” this posting.” It was also a time where we did not think so much of what exactly was in our food, body products, washing soaps etc. Why would business/corporations put anything in anything that could possibly be hazardous to animals, humans or the environment? The truth be told it was a time when huge corporations were doing just that and we gobbled them up with our hard earned cash! Slap a “New & Improved” on it and it had to be true with no question as to what was added to make it so.
They still are but the difference is we know the list of chemicals, additives and colors are dangerous to our health and the runoff affects nature in its many forms. There is a growing trend today for these companies to answer to this dilemma and slowly they are beginning to respond by taking things out that don’t need to be there in the name of shortcuts to make the big buck $’s. The only reason they are doing so is because they have been found out!
Up to this point The Body Shop, L ‘Oreal, and Johnson & Johnson have agreed to discontinue the use of the microbeads.
In many ways I am still “old school”. The difference is…it’s time to take responsibility for myself and the effect these products are having on our environment.
“What is the answer to this huge problem?” I have asked myself. We can choose to remain ignorant in the name of convenience, accustomed taste, economy, etc. Or we can begin as a collective to refuse to buy their products that should be unacceptable. Our children need to be educated as well about the harmful effects of chemicals and additives are to our bodies and the world we live in so their own won’t be faced with the same problems.
From now on I won’t be buying these products with plastic microbeads and I am eliminating one less contribution to the pollution of our planet!
Blues From The Past
Happy 2016! I am relieved the holiday season is over and a fresh new year has begun as I find myself energized in motivation.
In years long gone when my home was center stage for celebration with family, I immersed myself in the preparations with enthusiasm.
When it was all over and Jan. 1st arrived I always felt the blues set in. The bright sparkling decorations, holiday food, and entertaining were gone and the thought of more months of dreary Winter days seemed endless until the emergence of Spring.
Now that most of my (small) family members have passed on and the rest are scattered across the country I find the time of year pared way down…and I am o.k. with that…now.
It’s been a process over many years where the lead up to Thanksgiving dropped me into a gloomy place where I remained until after New Year’s Day. I would struggle to put up a good front but inside I was hurting from the loss of what used to be with those I loved and missed. The festive retail decorations, advertisements/holiday music on the radio, and watching my friends in the same place I used to be would sting like a hot needle poking my body and soul each time. If I could have fast-forwarded thru it all it would have been done with a quick press of my finger.
I had to change my thinking and alleviate my pain of loss that the holidays can bring about. Practicing living in the moment has helped me a lot. My mind had accepted what used to be but my emotions had not caught up.
One of my life mottos is “There Are Trade-Offs In All Situations”. Whatever changes life tosses your way…there is loss and there is gain.
I could not change those I have lost in my life however I am not alone on my path. My husband has been nothing but patient and supportive of my dark moods regardless of how much he could know the depth I tried to cover from him. I realized how selfish and unfair I was in expecting him to continue without a resolute effort on my part to overcome this “darkness”.
The stress of finding the economy to provide a good time, baking deadlines, projects and arranging schedules are long gone. I will always have the wonderful memories that accompanied it all that made everything worth it tucked away in my heart. I realized in watching my friends with their frenzied pressures of creating their own preparations for a good time that I felt none!
I felt a freedom to create new memories with my man in the way we want to do it without pressure of expectations outside of our own desires. I also felt a bit of envy from a good friend that we had such freedom to go our own way…together.
Am I completely “cured”? <-smile I continue to mend but that deep dark veil with the painful needle like pokes are gone. I am more focused on “the now” and being happy with where I am today.
I do not “do” New Year’s resolutions. What I do is look forward to clearing out the clutter in my “nest” and digging into my projects with renewed eagerness with more focus on taking better care of my body. It’s more of a fresh attitude in waking up every day and moving forward on my path with conscious intentions. So I don’t need to “hibernate” until Spring…I look forward to what I will accomplish once it does!
On a lighter note : ). I have become a football fan! Sports fans have never been a part of my immediate family growing up. On that note, I have never lived in a home where it was any issue. I would go so far as to note if my home teams were doing well but never take time to watch any games. If I went to someone’s house and they had a game on I felt it was a background sound to tune out. I might ask politely who was playing or winning but that is where interest ended.
I remember years ago coming home for a visit, while living far away, to see my grandparents. Upon my arrival to their house…they were watching a baseball game with the “home team”. Both had their feet up in their recliners. I was pleasantly and amusingly shocked! My grandmother knew the key players and supplied me with information about them enthusiastically. How incredibly cute they are, I thought.
Fast forward to 2014 and the Seahawks were headed for the Super Bowl. I caught the passionate fever of a true fan! Yes…and my husband even bought me my first NFL t-shirt. I can now talk football with my best friend’s husband…lol. (O.K…I am still a newbie learning!) My husband teases me about being a football widower and is very pleasant and amused when I tell him I have to watch the game.
We (fans) are rooting for them once again that they will return for a 3rd time. Regardless…true fans will always be supportive.
Getting older with grace is allowing oneself to be open to new things and ideas. That is the way I see it anyway. I don’t think we are ever done learning about ourselves and who we are if we remain aware and receptive in recognizing new levels of discovery.
I wish you all the best for the brand new year!
Peace on Your Path,
Webmistress – Majickal Garden
How Are You – And Do I Care?
How many times a day are you asked “How are you?” I am referring to people that are casual acquaintances we meet as we move about our public ways. In consciously observing these greetings with those that cross my path it has got me thinking about why we do this.
On the surface many seem shallow, automatic and insincere in their delivery. “Do they really want to know?” When someone begins to walk past you they might toss out a “How ya doing?” Am I supposed to respond to their backs as they move away from me? Feeling awkward but not wanting to appear rude I have done just that…which leaves me feeling awkward anyway after doing so!
Because of my conscious quest to understand this social greeting I have been noting a few times where I was about to ask the question to a person’s face and when I was about to deliver it decided against it as I questioned my own sincerity in the moment.
My summation, after thinking about this for some time now, is that primarily it’s an extension to a simple “Hi” or “Hello”.
Of course, the one that is tossed over their shoulder in passing is simply an offhand greeting; “I see you and am merely letting you know” and might require nothing more than a quick smile.
I found myself studying this at the grocery store. Many of the checkers going about their job automatically deliver the “How are you” line with a weariness of having done so for the umpteenth time in that day. They don’t appear to require an answer as their focus is on sliding my purchases over the scanner so we can finish our transaction and they can move on to the next in their line.
Regardless of the automation or tone of delivery…it leaves an opening to develop a conversation, of some sort. It is the moment to offer some social finesse and experience a “paths crossed moment” with conversation while offering some pleasure to an otherwise potentially mundane exercise of human interaction.
Instead of answering with a generic dismissive “I’m fine” I think about something positive in my day and share it. “I am enjoying the sunshine today and as you are my last stop of a long day I am looking forward to spending time in my garden upon my return home.” This might elicit a conversation about what I have growing in it and suddenly we are sharing a moment. It’s really an opportunity…should one choose to see it that way!
I might turn it back to them. There is a very sweet gray haired woman that works at the service desk where multi-tasking is a part of her job. That day, as many others, I had to wait a while for her to get to me. It’s easy to be patient when you see someone working so diligently! She apologized for my wait and after she asked how I was…I told her I had no complaints this fine day and life is good. (Even if it was a crappy day…I do not need to share it with her.) Then I told her I noticed how busy she always is and how she seems to maintain a sunny attitude. She stopped what she was doing for me and looked me in the eye with a genuine grateful smile…taking her time to answer. She said she appreciated very much my observation and said she wished more customers were as nice as I was in saying so. She finished by telling me that some people can be very unkind.
I had another young checker, after her automatic “How are you?” who I asked how her day was going and what side of her shift she was on she responded by telling me she was off in an hour and with a tired sigh told me she had to go to school when she got off. I smiled and said “Ah, then you will be spending time for yourself and your future!” She appeared to stop and think about this and smiled quickly back at me. She told me she never thought about it that way and she would remember that….thank you she said, with sincerity.
In our busy lives remember how initiating a human connection…even if brief…and how uplifting for that moment by taking time to do this by extending compassion for another soul can be uplifting for both sides. We leave the situation with a spring in our step and the goodwill left behind can be considerable.
All this from a simple vague “How are you?” : )
However busy and hectic your days might be…I hope you find some healthy quiet repose time in this the beautiful colorful growth time of Summer. Enjoy those joyful times by being in them exclusively without worry of past or future…solely in the moment!
Peace On Your Path
As far as we can discern, the sole purpose of human existence is to kindle a light in the darkness of mere being. Carl Jung