The Creation of Human

During a recent drive to my hometown (which is affectionately referred to as “the other Kansas” by Hubby) I had plenty of time to ponder our current state of affairs and various stories of how we came to be.

Sometimes my fantasy ventures make me laugh out loud.   In keeping with the motto, “Laughter is the best Medicine”, I share with you my imaginings:

In The Beginning…

Act I

Time: Unknown.

Place: Mother Nature’s Research and Development Conference Room.

(Curtain opens to scene filled with animals and quiet murmuring going on.)

Mother Nature: Welcome!  Welcome!  Please take your seats and we will get started.

(All creatures, great and small, shuffle to their seats.   Quiet ensues.)

Mother Nature: I’ve called this gathering to introduce to you the latest prototype from our Research and Design team.  I present to you…. Man!

(Enter, stage right, a crawling human baby.)

Creatures: Ooh!  Look!  Isn’t it cute?   Ahhhh….how adorable!

Mother Nature: And, the fully mature models…

(enter stage left, grown man and woman.  Dead silence for 30 seconds.)

Bear: Where are their claws?  You can’t get by without claws.

Cheetah: How fast can they run?

Fox: What’s wrong with their teeth?  Those ears are too small.

Chimpanzee: Where’s the tail?  How do they keep their balance and avoid predators?

Wolf: That nose doesn’t look very well-designed.

Turtle: Their shell doesn’t look very tough….

Buffalo: Or warm…..

Cow: How do they digest plants with only one stomach?

Dolphin: Can they swim?  I don’t see how…

Ape: Walking on two feet results in instability.  Did your designers do their engineering homework?

(sniggers from the crowd ensue.  More shouted criticisms are heard)

Mother Nature:  Please, Please.  Ladies and Gentleman, this prototype is our latest design to explore the value of the Imaginative mind.   The model is equipped with a brain that can  recognize current reality, vividly recall past experiences and imagine future events.   It also is capable of learning how to manipulate raw resources around it in order to enhance its’ survival rates.

In short, we are going to see if a creature can survive without the usual protections and physical gifts – rather we are going to investigate the powers of Thought.

(Even longer silence.)

Mother Nature:  We would like for this exploration to be a group effort.   To that end, this creature is designed with the capability to learn and imagine, but is devoid of all but the basic instincts. I need volunteers to aid in the training of this new creature.

(murmurs of disagreement among creatures.  Finally, after much grumbling….)

Wolf: I volunteer to teach Man how to honor family connections, loyalty and cooperation.

Bear: I guess I can show him how to store up reserves for the winter.

Buffalo: I offer my services as well.   Imagine, trying to keep warm without fur!

Horse: I will assist with carrying things and running fast, since they are so puny and slow.

Plant Kingdom: We wholeheartedly offer our energy to this creature, as we  do to everyone.

(various offers of either instruction, protection or energy are made by entire group)

Mother Nature: Thank you, Thank you all.  I’m so excited about our cooperative venture.

Snake: I have a bad feeling about this…..

**********

Act II

Time: A gazillion years or 2 hours later, depending on your perspective

Place: Conference Room of Nature Emergency Headquarters

Cow: Look at what they’ve done to me!  I was never meant to give that much milk or stand on concrete!

Tiger: They want me and the missus to, well, you know, have intercourse, While They Watch!    I can’t perform under those conditions.  Have they no respect?

Buffalo:  First they almost killed us off, now we can only graze where they say we can!

Dolphin: We tried to communicate our knowledge.  Instead, they want us to jump through hoops and perform tricks all day.

Elephants: They keep stealing our tusks!

Snake: I must say I do not like how some of them are blaming me for all their woes.

Plant Kingdom: If we grow where they don’t want us too, they call us weeds and spray us with poison.  They are manipulating our genes so we can’t reproduce without their help.   They must be stopped!

Particle: They are shooting me from a cannon and crashing me into others! On Purpose!

Mother Nature: Please, Please.   Let’s calm down and see if anything can be salvaged.

Wolf: Although they nearly wiped me out, I do have to say they are trying to make amends.   And I cannot regret having a new brother, Dog.  However, their interference with breeding has caused some defects that cannot be reversed.   They are trying, but I have to say it pains me to see so many of my brethren incapable of hunting for themselves.

Chimpanzee: They are more than willing to share their inventions and knowledge, even when it’s not really useful or creative.

Bee: Well, they frequently steal my food, but some of them do take pains to plant the kind of flowers I like.

Birds: They have learned how to sing.

Cat: Some have learned how to connect with us on a deep level.  I also observe that many take care of and commune with many creatures on a regular basis.

Horse: They have spent much time and patience in teaching me how to join in their love of dancing.

Elephant: They are trying to protect us from poachers through parks and reserves instead of zoos and circuses….better late than never, I guess.

Sheep: They sure know a good thing when they see it!  They have successfully recreated my perfection.

Bear: Sheep, you always were too vain for your own good.

(general debating ensues)

Mother Nature: (Loudly) So shall we continue the experiment, or shall we end it?  Shall we give them more opportunities to learn, or shall we nix this model and start over?

To Be Continued….

Hope Sellers and Fencewalkers

Tired of the Positive Thinking Bandwagon? Still waiting for the checks you visualize to show up in your mailbox?

I recently got introduced to the work of RSA (Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce), especially their Animate section.   (cartoonist draws delightful pictures on white board in  tandem with the audio clip of a speech given at RSA.)

These clips are entertaining, informational and the conclusion of the various studies/topics covered will astound you. (plus, they are all about 10 minutes in length.  Perfect for a short break from work!)

The clip, titled “Smile or Die” plunged me right back into my ever-changing views regarding those I call the “Hope-Sellers”.

Now, for good or ill, my self-identified group of Hope-Sellers include the Good, the Bad and the Ugly from a wide range of industries, cultures, political parties and religions.  Anytime I’m told by anyone to ‘hang in there, it will get fixed if only you do such and such” (be it diet, regimen, prayer, attitude adjustment, voting choice, etc.) only to find out that the results are less than promised or the promises made are unsupported by historical evidence, then that person, thing or idea get placed in the Hope-Sellers category of my brain.

Yes, this system is completely at the whims of my objectivity, perspective and emotional balance any moment of the day.   But if you’re honest, I bet you have a Hope-Sellers category in your labeling brain too.  My guess is we all came up with this category in an attempt to guard ourselves from crushing disappointment when one more Great Idea turned out to be a lemon so rank, it wasn’t even fit to make lemonade with………..

So back to Smile or Die………

(you really should take 10 minutes to watch it….but if not, I’ll summarize for you)

In short, Barbara Ehrenreich questions the value of the Positive Thinking ideology.   She makes very good points concerning the moral callousness and cruelty of telling those who are down due to poverty, illness or loss to simply, “Change their Attitude”, citing their attitude as the root of all their woes.  She also makes interesting points concerning how powerful a control mechanism this ideology is and brilliantly demonstrates how hurtful and delusional Optimism can be at times.

Well!   I had to sit and ferment on that for awhile – quite simply because I have been on the “Positive thinking changes your Life Experience” and “The Story you tell becomes the life you experience” bandwagon for quite awhile.   It was somewhat hard to listen to someone questioning these tenets.

But, as usual, some committee members of my brain team were quick to speak up!

“That’s true – remember how frustrated you were when you asked why such-and-such healing modality wasn’t working for you and the self-appointed guru said, ‘Apparently, you don’t believe it will work.  Nothing I can do about that.  You have to want to be well.’  Did that help you or tick you off?”

“Remember the time a holistic healer told you that you must be ‘holding on to your illness’ for some purpose?”

“Remember how cold you thought it was for someone to tell a person diagnosed with cancer, “well, you brought this into your life for a reason”.

“And what about that time you were trying to share your own experience of your health journey and the client screeched, ‘Centered and Balanced!  What the hell does that mean?’  Your Optimism didn’t help her much, did it?”

Wasn’t very long before I had dozens of memories from my own life where either I was the recipient of hurtful optimism or, inadvertently, the deliverer of it.

I came to the conclusion that Ms. Ehrenreich had made her point.

********************

Do I believe that positive thinking and learning to tell the best possible story you can about the events in your life is helpful?  Heck ya!   I’m just very glad to find someone who has stood up and said, “Yes, but that’s not all that’s needed.”

Because I had come to that conclusion myself  – yet I had built my life surrounded by those also on the Positive Thinking bandwagon and to say so out loud was akin to heresy.  (which, by the way, in its’ original form meant ‘free thought’ – – Narrow mindedness and intolerance are not restricted just to religious organizations…………)

I had constructed a circle around myself that did not allow much space to discuss problems and societal ills.  Or to voice anger or disappointment with the less-than-pleasant aspects of life.

Do I believe that worldwide change can happen one individual at a time?  Yes.   But I also think that when folks are down and out, they need support and compassion until they are healed enough (or have enough to eat, or shelter over their head or meaningful and financially rewarding work) before we talk about enlightenment and positive energy saving the world.

There have been studies seeking to prove that the Intentional Peaceful Meditation of a few can reduce the amount of crime in an area.  Given the results of these various studies, it appears that as the number of those meditating increases, violent crime decreases and the geographical radius of those decreases enlarges.

Okay.  I believe.  But I’m also realistic enough to understand that in order to increase the number of participants, other issues must be addressed.

Adequate food, shelter and other necessities of life have to be easily and readily available to those who are participating.

(Yes, I know there are folks who can obtain a deep meditative state who are not eating or drinking, but for the average American, it’s hard to focus on peace when you’re thinking about whether you have enough money to pay the mortgage or feed your family tonight or if you’ll have a job tomorrow.)

Those under extreme stress are able to access inner feelings of peace and calm just as well as those trained in the high arts of  prayer.

Why?

Well because when the you-know-what hits the fan, sometimes, that feeling of peace and calm is the only place left to go.   Sometimes there is nothing you can do, nothing you can say, nothing you can change – so for your own survival, you surrender to the events around you just to keep your sanity.

However, having experienced that sensation a few times in my life, I can tell you that when the peaceful/calm is accessed as a survival mechanism, you certainly are not ’sending out peace with intention’.   More likely you are in a blessed state of numbness – Mother Nature’s way of putting a band-aid on your broken heart.

If you don’t believe me, ask anyone who has nursed a loved one during a terminal illness.

But for the most part, most of us are somewhere in-between the poles of pure enlightenment and moment-to-moment survival.   We linger in the mid-areas, appreciating the good, worrying about what might or might not be and planning for a future that often seems all too vulnerable to outside forces beyond our control.

How many deep meditators can we draw from that population pool?

So, realistically, it makes sense to address economic woes and systems, health and nutrition issues, poverty and unemployment, and then see about having the time and space to sit around Intentionally Forming Peace.

In the past few months, I’ve attended meditation groups where participants are instructed on how to ’safely release pent-up negativity’ by screaming into a towel, (you’re also given instructions on how to scream safely, so as not to damage your vocal chords.)

Didn’t work for me.  Number one, I’m not a screamer – though I can raise my voice.   In fact, my drama teacher from high school will attest to the fact that no matter the number of attempts, I was unable to give her the requisite scream.   (…ah, the disappointment over that lost part…….)

Also, when I’m trying to reach that magical level of meditation where I can actually feel the healing taking place (yes, I’ve gotten there a few times) all that muffled screaming around me is very distracting.    My mind just cannot turn off it’s ramblings.

(“Wow!  The Kumbaya  group has this much pent-up anger?   No wonder we have road rage…  Why can’t people just learn to use the f-word and get it out of their systems right on the spot?”  I will say my brand of venting negative emotions is not socially acceptable and will result in you being labeled a dullard and of poor vocabulary skills.  But hey, I love to use “Reconnoiter” as I often as I can, so cursing works for me...)

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I’m well aware I often walk/talk in seemingly contradictory worlds.  As Robert Fulghum says:

“Too much high-content information, and I get the existential willies. I keep sputtering out at intersections where life choices must be made and I either know too much or not enough. The examined life is no picnic.”

On the flip side, he also acknowledged that “Ignorance is Bliss”.

I find myself more and more of a Fence Walker.   That which seemed so black and white to me 20 years ago now contains 1,000 different shades of gray – while I also have drawn some hard lines around topics that used to be pretty open for discussion.

Those who dislike me will tell you I’m wishy-washy.

Those who love me will tell you I’m open-minded.

It’s all in the beholder.

********************

My dad often said he was not cynical or pessimistic, just a realist.  From my perspective, the values Dad based his life on had been betrayed by his own society and culture.  Suddenly, hard work and charging a fair price while allowing those in need to pay what they could no longer allowed him to keep his head above water.  He faced a decision, either raise his rates drastically or work harder/longer.   He chose to work.  And he chose to still serve those in the community who couldn’t afford even his modest rates.

Now, there are those from the Positive Thought group that will tell you it was his own fault – he could have said no and only accepted clients who would pay higher fees.   And when that didn’t work, they would have told him he needed to “Think Positive thoughts to Attract those clients.”

Hence the first crack in my adherence to the Positive thought process.  Because I knew the hundreds of people who attended Dad’s funeral were not there because he ‘thought positive thoughts’.  (He did often whistle or sing while he worked, but he was also a class A ‘gripe about what’s wrong with our political processes’ commentator too.)

They showed up because he continued to serve his community all his life, without trying to become a millionaire out of the deal.    Because he was kind and helpful to many, especially the elderly and single moms.   He could also ream anyone who dared to engage in the greedy, underhanded or cruel a new one when he felt it was needed.  Couldn’t bear to hear a sick child cry, but would wade into the middle of any fray if he thought some hard-headed clods could only be simmered down by a few well placed blows.

As mom always said, he was a man’s man. (I added, who looked really good in pink shirts.)

He was both known as an honorable fellow and a hard-ass.   He sure didn’t buy into pie-in-the-sky delusions, but he firmly believed in the power of prayer.   He shared my journey through the spiritual and quantum physics world and was, in turns, interested and disgusted.  He helped me to navigate my way through both new and ridiculous ideas.  His most common response to those things called miracles that science was trying to explain?

“Well, I certainly believe it happens.  Too much evidence to ignore.  But I’m not sure the explanation they are giving is substantiated.”

A man grounded in the knowledge of math and science, who loved facts, but who also opened his heart to that which was beyond his comprehension.

********************

While I do not totally agree with Barbara on all her views, I admire her way of dissenting with the Think Positive culture.   My paraphrase of her message?

“I am not advocating Gloom, Doom, Negativity and Depression.   But there are things we get angry about and are fearful of.   To deny a voice to those emotions or pretend problems don’t exist is delusional.  Positive Thinking ideology leaves the individual feeling alone in his quest to bring desirous change to his world.”

That’s a Fence I can walk.

X-ray, Anyone?

Do you really need that extra test?

I was so happy to stumble across this article this morning.  Well-written and full of information with sources that can be independently researched, it questions the benefits of ‘over-testing’, states the reasons why x-rays and CT scans have become so common, gives an overview of the studies and dangers of receiving to much radiation and provides some common sense advice regarding what to ask your doctor when tests are recommended.

Doesn’t blindly accuse western medicine of incompetence, (yes, I am biased against some tenets of western medicine practitioners, but they do have their good points!) The author, while obviously concerned about the overuse of some radiation-based tests and the dangers of higher than necessary radiation dosages, didn’t, IMHO, give in to unrestrained bias.

According to AP writer, Marilyn Marchione, doctors have become more dependent upon x-rays and CT scans, due to accuracy and ease of use, fear of malpractice suits, time crunches, insurance chaos, patient pressure and in rural communities, lack of alternative resources.

What has been discovered is that many patients receive more tests than were needed.   And preliminary studies show radiation doses could be reduced by as much as 66% and still provide accurate images.

Having experienced pneumonia last fall, I have empirical evidence on the common use of chest x-rays.   Thinking I had the flu, I didn’t go to the doctor until rather late in the illness, thereby affording them the opportunity to be able to detect exactly what was wrong, just using their stethoscope.   However, the pain in the ribs, shoulder blades and sternum area never completely went away.   A chest x-ray and blood test last fall did not show any reason for the pain.

A recent trip to the Urgent care facility when the pain escalated again over the course of a week (rest and extra nourishment via herbs were not making any inroads), resulted in another chest x-ray and blood test, which told the doctor……..Absolutely Nothing, except that nothing is wrong.

It was suggested I go to larger facility 40 miles away and get a CT scan.   I asked what it would show that the x-ray hadn’t.   The answer given did not really provide any new information and under closer questioning, the provider was hard pressed to advise what the benefits of the additional test would be, as his examination had already ruled out several possibilities.

Had I not questioned and just blindly followed the advice given, I would have ended up with a long drive, an expensive scan, another radiation dose and for what?   Confirmation of what the first two tests had already indicated.

We’re all familiar with the saying, “the cure was a success, but the patient died from the treatment.”

Perhaps we should look closer at the consequences of excessive testing too.

Medical Practioners and Master Plumbers

“The fear of malpractice suit” is often stated as an excuse or reason for a wide range of behaviors from those in the medical community.   Suits are also cited as the one of the leading reasons for the high cost of medical care, insurance costs, etc.

Why?   From all I’ve heard it is very hard to win a medical malpractice suit.  Guess a lot of money gets spent on attorneys – (perhaps more than it does on payouts?)

I will also draw your attention to licensing verbiage – a health care provider usually is licensed to, “Practice Medicine in the State of..” (whatever state you live in, barring, of course, insanity)

If someone is pretty open they are ‘practicing’ and we still choose to use their services, then why are we screaming like smashed cats when they mess up?

Both they and our local governing body told us from the outset they are practicing…………………….

********************

My Dad got quite a kick out of that.   He once said, “Sis, attorneys practice law and doctors practice medicine, but as a plumber, by gawd, folks expect me to know what the heck I’m doing when I show up.”

He held a Master Plumber license in Colorado for over 40 years.

Most trades that are licensed have steps: Apprentice, Journeyman, Master.  Supposedly, by the time you get your Master’s license, you are pretty durn good at what you do.

Which led me to speculate on why those who provide services for our life and liberty, are “Practitioners” and those who make sure our water is heated, drains properly and our toilet doesn’t overflow must be “Masters” of their trade.

(Although Dad did his part for the health of his customers.   You really don’t want your kitchen faucet to be drawing water from your septic tank or your toilet emptying into the dishwasher……..)

I also think of him when I go to the Urgent Care facility listed on my insurance card (I just can’t seem to figure out that I need help until after hours).

The first question is, “Do you have Insurance?”

The next question is, “Do you have a primary physician”, to which I give the name of my acupuncturist – (not a crowd pleaser).   And then I have to explain why I don’t have a Primary Provider who is a MD in western medicine.

I don’t remember anyone calling Dad and saying, “Hey, can you run over here every year and give our plumbing system a check-up?   We want to make sure it’s still working well.   No, I don’t mind the $379 consultation charge.  I just want to be a responsible citizen and be proactive in my preventive-plumbing-problem activities.”

And I never remember the following scene taking place in our household:

(Dad answers phone on a Saturday evening at 9:30)

Dad (firm): “Your toilet is overflowing and water is all over your bathroom floor?  Okay.  Who’s your Primary Plumber?   Does he have records of the last time your toilet overflowed?”

Customer (stammering): “Well, I don’t really have a Primary Plumber.   Didn’t think I needed one cuz everything was working okay and then, bam!  This happened.  I tried plunging it, but that didn’t work and now I’m not sure what else to do.   But I got your name from a friend and thought you could help……………”

Dad: (sarcastically)”You know, plunging by a non-licensed person such as yourself is a waste of time and probably made things worse.  And now you want me to come fix it when I have no idea who you are and I’ve never heard or seen your toilet?   How am I supposed to properly figure out what’s wrong if you can’t provide me with the installation and service records of your toilet?”

Customer (sheepishly): “You’re right.  I should have been more proactive in having the records of my toilet available.  But I’m sort of desperate, there is urine and crap all over my bathroom floor and I really need some help.”

Dad: “Well, I can run over and look at it; do you have cash or a certified bank check or some other form of collateral, so I know I’ll get paid for my service call?”

Customer (proudly): Oh yes!  My insurance agent recommended I purchase a ‘in-case-your-plumbing-goes-to-hell’ policy three years ago.   I’ve kept up the premiums and in fact, that’s how I found out about you.   His website states you take that insurance.”

Dad: “Well, okay.   But I’m not sure I’ll be able to do anything.   I may need to refer you to a Specialty Plumber.   But, if that is the case, I can at least give you the phone number of a 24-hour emergency clean-up crew, turn off the water and give you a list of various chemicals you can go purchase to baby your system along until the Specialty Plumber can fit you into his schedule.   They usually book appointments about 6 weeks out, so we’ll have to do what we can until he can get to you.”

*******************

My dad experienced battles with COPD, lung cancer and brain cancer before he passed away.   In the early days of his failing health, when he first started seeking help, he was frustrated by the response, “We can get you in at 10:15 a.m. six weeks from today – will that work for you?”

His thoughts?  “Hell, I’ll either be better or I’ll be dead by then….what’s the point?”

He, like me, didn’t call the doctor until he was pretty certain what was wrong was more than a passing flu or cold, or just a result of too much work and not enough sleep or play.  Which means when he did call, he was in the same place as those emergency customers who called him…..”Some Help, Soon Please?”

And even when his failing health made it impossible to continue his life long career full-time, he was still serving his community in the role of adviser, mentor and overseer of the plumbing projects of others.  It was so awe inspiring to hear of customers that said, “Hey, I admire and respect your knowledge and expertise.   If I get the parts and do the labor, would you be willing to provide specialty tools and guidance while I do the work?”

And he did many a phone consultation – very few which were ‘billed for’ and when they were, were billed at the insistence of the customer, not because Dad thought a morning consultation on what a homeowner could do for themselves, since he could no longer do it for them, was something to be billed for, especially since he couldn’t guarantee the results.

My Dad passed away at home in the early morning.   As the funeral truck bearing him pulled out of our driveway (appx. 6:30 a.m.), the phone rang.

“Could I speak with Dallas?   He did some plumbing work for me years ago and I’m in need of some assistance.”

Mom and I thought it a fitting farewell.

Which Expert To Believe?

Science and technology have given us the ability to test, study and pick-apart to the nth degree what affects our health and what supports it.

If you’re the type that likes to follow health trends, you’re also probably pretty cynical  by now – no salt/low salt, well you do need some sodium, no eggs, only egg whites, nope, we got it wrong, eggs are okay, it’s fat you should worry about……… and on and on.

The diet that made your friend look smashing gave you headaches and depression.

The wonder drug for unexplained muscle pain worked, but now you have severe digestive problems.  You’re wondering if you need to get a bigger medicine cabinet.

Everyday further studies debunk what we thought we knew yesterday – Trying to keep up on it all is overwhelming even for doctors, let alone for the average joe who has work to do, a family to support and a community to contribute to.

It’s no wonder I see some version of the following at least once a day as I troll the articles and comments of health related internet verbiage:

“I would like to fix (insert problem) but there is so much information and a lot of it is contradictory…….how do you know who to believe?”

Sorry, I don’t have any cut and dried answers – I’m still on the path to health myself, but I will share with you a story from a book my acupuncturist loaned to me, Sun Zi’s Art of War and Health Care:

Two men came to a doctor with similar symptoms.  The doctor prescribed two totally different remedies for each and they both recovered.  His apprentice, astonished at the wide variation in the prescriptions asked his mentor why he was treating them differently, when it was obvious they suffered from the same malady.   The doctor told him that though the outside symptoms appeared the same, the imbalance within the patients was different – he sought to restore the balance in each, (heal) not just alleviate the symptoms (cure).

This approach was known, understood and effectively implemented over thousands of years  in a variety of traditional health care systems.

(Did you know that in some areas of ancient China, a physician had to hang one lantern outside of his home for each patient he lost?   Read it years ago and when I worked for a Doctor of Chinese Medicine, I asked if it was true.   She said yes.

She also said that in small rural villages, such as the one her grandmother still lives in, the village physician is still held responsible for the health of all in the community.   The physician observes the environment and directs his charges on what to do regarding cleansing their homes, teas to drink and foods to eat when weather patterns, bacteria or viruses indicate a need for extra protection.   Villagers are expected to follow the directives.  If they do and still become ill, the fault is laid at the physician’s door.  If they disregard the preventative measures, then they are on their own.   I will say this approach is focused on bolstering health, not curing illness.

I also think western medicine has tried to adopt this approach, but has been corrupted by our fascination with one-miracle-pill-fits-all mentality……….)

My rules of thumb for healing?

  • Yes, I’ll take temporary relief when it’s offered, but I’m more concerned with finding the root cause of the discomfort.  Sometimes that’s easier than others.  Sometimes that means contacting one more provider when you’d rather just take to your bed and give up.  Sometimes that means exploring a new kind of healing modality you haven’t tried before.  And if you’re really sick, it means asking family or friends to fight/search for you.
  • I only allow providers to “practice medicine” on me when the following caveat is given: “I’m not completely sure what is causing these symptoms.  We will try this, if it doesn’t work, it will not do further harm.  And if it does work, then we will know we found the cause.”
  • I only work with providers I respect and trust.  If I think you sound like a condescending baboon (and trust me, I’ve ran into just as many in the holistic health care field as in western medicine), and patronize me from your holier-than-thou pedestal, I’m probably not going to be very cooperative. No matter how good you are, if I can’t follow your directions, then we aren’t going to be successful in healing me.
  • I also only work with providers who honor the fact that I want to be informed and participate in my own health care regimen.  If they tell me taking extra vitamin C when I feel I’m coming down with a cold is a waste of time and money, I’m out of there.   Doesn’t matter who is right – for now, our views on what heals are too different for a successful partnership to emerge.
  • I only choose health care regimens that:
    • a.)I can sustain, given my current time and money budget,
    • b.) do not promise miracles,
    • c.)are not greatly restrictive or border on the insane (drastic purges, regimens including extreme variances in body temperature, etc.  If you’re already ill, extreme treatments may cure the disease but kill the patient…meaning you.)
    • d.)do not require life-long maintenance from an outside source in the form of sessions, herbs, prescriptions or buying into auto-delivery every month.
  • I try to get references whenever I can before visiting a new provider or trying a new self-care technique.  If I can’t get references, then I write or call.  If the provider is too busy to talk to me and answer some general questions over the phone, I surmise they are too busy to have another client.
    • (Many holistic health care providers provide a Free Consultation (usually about 15 minutes).   That is their gift to you.   Please return the gift by coming prepared to the consultation with your health concerns, your questions about them and above all, be honest with them on what you are willing and not willing to do to support and participate in your healing.   Honor the gift of time they have given you.)

In the end, I’m okay with practicing on myself – but I’ve gotten very picky about who I allow to engage in that practice with me.

If your response to this list is, “Duh – that’s just common sense!” I will state that when you are ill and trying to find answers, it’s all too easy to get distracted from common sense and lured in by those who may very well have a service or product that helped them and others, but may not necessarily be right for you.  If you’re too ill to restrain from blind belief in whatever anyone tells you, get a family member or friend to assist you in your quest.

If you’re interested in more information regarding modalities/nutritional guidelines I’ve utilized in my health care, here are informational links from the sites/providers who have helped me over the years:

Here’s to Your Health!

The Slow Money Campaign

Transitioning towards a local and sustainable lifestyle.

Thanks to Tisha Casida, editor and publisher of  The Good American Post, I was made aware of the Slow Money campaign.

Aligned with the ideals of Slow Food, this movement is dedicated to recapturing of our freedom and quality of life through rebuilding our local communities and health person by person, one step at a time.

YES!

Change does not have to be drastic, painful or sacrificial.  It can be as easy as choosing to combine your resources with one or more neighbors and purchasing a whole beef from a neighbor who ranches – and having it butchered/processed by a local locker plant.

It means meeting your buddy at the Farmer’s Market for coffee and a chat, instead of the national chain restaurant. (and perhaps walking to the market, instead of driving?)

It can also take the form of investing in the expansion, new equipment or facilities of local businesses, rather than buying gold from a broker 3,000 miles away.

Or finding a neighbor who has an herb garden and supplementing their income in exchange for fresh cut herbs for your favorite recipe.

Or trading your fresh baked bread and some $’s with a neighbor who knows how to fix that leaky shower head, rather than hiring a repairman that is routed by the 1-800 dispatcher from a town 2 1/2 hours drive from you.  (just think of the savings you gain by not paying the ‘trip charge’!)

I look at my own life and know I’m a far cry from being a totally organic eating, locavore.   I buy my wheat, beef and pork direct from the rancher/farmer, but they are about 84 miles from me.  Still, it’s a step in the right direction.

I also usually purchase more than my family can eat in a year, so my freezer/garage storage area becomes a grocery store for older friends who have small households and no room to store a full beef or pig or 5-gallon buckets of wheat.    They get great food at the same price I paid (no mark-ups) and it allows me to bolster my bank account when there is more month than money – exchanging what I do have of value for that which I may be running short on!  :>)

I’ve traded or lowered my fees for database and website design in exchange for mentoring, the sharing of a booth at a conference, etc.  I provide sprouted whole wheat bread for 6 families (doable in my ‘bachelor sized kitchen’ – not doable on a commercial sized scale!)

While I still dream of living in solar/wind powered home, with garden space, a chicken coop and a milk barn, where all I need for the health and security of my family is available in walking distance, I’ve finally realized I don’t need to do it all, Today! (unless, of course, I do finally hit Powerball – bonus to the local contractor who can get me installed in my dream home in 3 months or less………..LOL)

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Mike Dooley, author of Infinite Possibilities and founder of Totally Unique Thoughts (TUT), organized the charity of his devotees into a doable practice – $1, each month, and the proceeds go to different works.

(And I highly recommend signing up for his daily “Notes from the Universe” – there are days when these uplifting messages have been my saving grace………………)

How many people live in your community?  If everyone contributed $1, per family member, each month, how fast would that youth center get put up?   How quickly would the space for a weekly mutual trade exchange fair be realized?

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My recent foray into the world of political campaigning, via donation of my time/expertise to support a local candidate for the Office of Sheriff, has once again proven to me how effective grass roots movements are.

There’s a reason why.

My favorite metaphor for explaining why grass roots efforts are so effective is the Pyramid Story.

Think of the Great Pyramid in its’ heyday.  Beautifully encased in white limestone, with a gold capstone – archeologists surmise it could be seen from miles away.

But without the thousands of tons of plain, perhaps even dull, base stones, the blood sweat and tears of visionaries, engineers and laborers, that casing and gold capstone could not have been displayed to such great advantage.

Our individual freedom and creativity, the health and quality of life experienced by ourselves and our families, the resiliency and strength of our local communities – Those are the base stones that make the shiny casing and capstone called America.

Here’s to the Foundation that supports it all…………..

You and me.

Healing Hearts with Walls

How long does it take to heal a broken heart?

Lynne McTaggart discussed the benefits of gated/walled communities recently in her blog.  Her research indicates that Neighborhood Watch organizations are more effective at reducing crime than walled/gated communities with security.

The most interesting portion of this story was the following:

“I was speaking with a translator I had once in the Middle East, a young woman called ‘Nour’.  When she was growing up, she says, the residential areas outside the country were grouped into small villages.  The villagers tend to live in 200-year old buildings of rough concrete and blockwork, passed down from many generations, and deliberately left unpainted.

The idea is to avoid ostentation precisely so that you do not ‘break your neighbors’ hearts’, she told me, by making them feel envious or bad about themselves:  the beauty of your house is created within  — in the warmth you have inside.

Unfortunately, this custom is given way to creeping westernization, and new homes are now built with showy exteriors.”

Interestingly, this story came to me right on the heels of my wish for solitude and isolation – my desire for some kind of physical representation of walls to shield me from the daily hurts of the world.

I’m counting down the days until my retreat at the abbey begins.  Now I’m wondering if perhaps I should have formed a Neighborhood Heal Tamrah group – given the statistics.  (oh, I do love looking to history to see what works and what doesn’t…..)

But the thought of a support group or retreat where you ‘talk through, tap through or tell your story over and over until it doesn’t hurt anymore’ sounds more like an exercise equivalent to climbing Mt. Everest in nothing but a bikini… something I have no desire to do.   (hypothermia aside, I just haven’t worked up the nerve to publicly display my over 40, child bearing physique in skimpy clothing……and you just know the news crews would happen to be there………..)

So I think I’ll stick to my original plan.

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As a society, it seems we aren’t as careful with our broken hearts as we are with broken bones.   If we break a leg, we set it, slap a cast on it, protect it from additional hurts and keep our weight off it.

A broken heart isn’t supposed to interfere with getting up, making breakfast, seeing to the needs of those around you and making your cheerful way out into the world to interact with the Good, the Bad and the Ugly.

On the flip side, a broken leg is usually good for at least a day or two of isolation in your home and the attentive ‘fetch and carry’ support of your family.

For some reason I’ve never understood, broken hearts take longer to heal than broken bones.   So, not only is there not as much medical support available to heal broken hearts, there also isn’t a very reliable time line.   If my broken heart isn’t healed within 6 weeks, does it need surgery?   We can’t very well re-break it and set it right.   How do you ’set’ a broken heart anyways?   How do you provide a cast for it?   How do you know when it’s healed enough to put to regular use again?

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I consider myself a pretty logical person of reason, even though math and science are not my strong points.  But I also know both through observation of myself and the (sometimes unsolicited) feedback of others that ‘my heart tends to rule my head’.   And it’s true.   Although I may spend an enormous amount of brain energy on a project or solution, I only begin the journey because my heart yearned to improve something or make things better for another.   So if what is ‘broken’ is to be lightly used and given a vacation for awhile, how does a heart-driven person manage to heal and still live their life?  Honestly, inquiring minds want to know!

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I’ve also found plenty of time to analyze another seemingly inconsistency in the healing process for hearts – when you’re in the depths of grief and depression, it’s hard to truly hear/see/experience the support, optimism and positive folks and events around you.  One friend described it as being lost in a house of circus mirrors – you look all around you, but all you see is the distorted and ugly.

During my journey through grief there have been times when those around me put great effort into offering me their best, which for various reasons, hurt more than it helped.   Not all their fault, but I just can’t find the compassion and selflessness to keep showing up for it either!

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So soon I’ll shall seek respite and sanctuary, provide the cast to buffer further injury and partake in soul food for the majority of the day, while working in contemplative silence the rest (I know, those who know me are getting a big hoot out of me doing anything quietly, but I shall faithfully report my success or failure on this point when I return……….).

I am again reminded of the poem by Robert Browning Hamilton that I read at Morgan’s funeral, “Along the Road”:

“I walked a mile with Pleasure,

She chattered all the way,

But left me none the wiser,

For all she had to say.

I walked a mile with Sorrow,

And ne’er a word said she:

But oh, the things I learned from her,

When Sorrow walked with me.”

Ah, the trials of being a ‘life-long learner’ personality……………….

Retreat Update here.