The Good – The Bad – The Possible

Over the years, I’ve written about Peak Oil, Community Exchanges, Shop Local, Campaign Finance Reform, Education Reform, Alternative Healthcare, Big Pharma, Corporate Monoculture Farming, Sustainable Living, Renewable Energy, Self-Healing and Spirituality.

I’ve read, listened and researched.

I’ve talked, argued and thrown my hands up in despair.

I’ve ranted, I’ve raved, tried sharing information through humor and How – Not – Too.

I’ve been on fire with enthusiasm and sick with despair when I believed that my passion for these subjects had no interested audience.

I’ve dreamed, I’ve hoped, I’ve struggled to make a difference through my lifestyle choices, purchasing decisions, writing topic choices and personal belief system improvements.

And now, all that experience has been encapsulated into one extraordinary two-hour film, “Thrive: What on Earth Will It Take?”, which I discovered this morning via a post by recOveryhealth.

(I embedded the film below – yes, it’s that important – I don’t want you to even have to click twice to start watching it  –  *You can donate to the producers here.)

So instead of digging through my archives, you can now glean all that info with the simple investment of a couple hours of your time – you can even watch in increments if you like…

The Good

From the beginning to about 33 minutes – the film highlights the creator’s background and reason for researching.  His quest for truth and the form he found it in echoes the conclusions found throughout the history of the spiritual, the religious and the scientific.  It has been postulated by the prophets, the holy men, the gurus, metaphysicists, cosmologists, cellular bioligists and quantum theorists:

There is a code to the Universe – to Life

If we  figure it out, we can work in harmony with it,

Instead of paddling upstream all the while…

And though I’ve had my crisis of faith moments and believed the Universe to be one big Chaotic mess, bent on destroying me – – I’ve found the only way for me to continue in this life with any semblance of happiness is to embrace the Code story in it’s many variations.

The Bad

Around 33 minutes, you enter the Bad phase – the phase that examines the problems facing our world and the inter-connected,  complex structures  that are contributing to or causing-on-purpose the disasters we fear and seek refuge from.    It digs deep into systems and mind-sets that contribute to the misery of our lives –

You may not agree with all the viewpoints referenced as causing our global problems, but only the truly oblivious could say we have no challenges regarding our continued existence given our present course.

It’s not always a pleasant or comforting place to be, confronting our fears – though I believe this film does it’s best to present the information within a space of hope – – which brings us to…

The Possible

At around 1 hour, 38 minutes – after you’ve delved into a story you really hope isn’t true -but suspect is –  you get to watch the What’s Possible portion.

(If you’re already worried and depressed about the state of things and you feel powerless in being able to do anything about it – skip from :33 to 1:38 on the film.

Choosing not to wallow in the problems portion will not keep you from being inspired by the Possible section; however, if you’re one of those who must know Why? before you do – best just take your lumps and confront your fears.  Watch with a friend and the lights on if it helps – – )

The Possible portion will inspire you – it will show you easy-to-integrate ways to make a difference, right now, today, with what you already know and  have, with who you already are.  To quit contributing to the problems and instead, become part of the solution – you don’t have to do them all – – any forays you make into your favorite arenas makes a difference – just pick one and start.

Without further ado – here’s “Thrive: What on Earth will it Take?”:

For myself, I’m continuing on through my day ‘off’ by meandering through the ThriveMovement website – – – they sound like my kind of folks….

Food and Chemicals

Lynne McTaggart’s blog this morning, citing the work of Dr. Grace E. Jackson, highlights the increasing volume of evidence linking some pharmaceutical medications to dementia.

The list of medicines cited as the biggest offenders against our brain matter:

  • Cholesterol lowering or blocking
  • High Blood Pressure
  • Anti-depressants
  • Sleeping pills
  • Certain Medications for ADHD

All have been shown to have debilitating effects on our grey matter, often resulting in some form of dementia.

Now I know why the recent elections in my area went the way they did.

Silly me, I thought people were just too lazy to research – turns out, they are probably suffering from some stage of dementia.

I feel bad about my previous harsh thoughts towards my fellow citizen voters.

Sick people deserve compassion.

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I’m also concerned about Dr. Jackson’s career.   History tells me she’s on a path that ends in being ostracized from the Lodge of Modern Medicine.  I’m awaiting her being added to the Quackwatch list.

(No, you don’t get a link for quackwatch.   This guy doesn’t do his homework.  I only know about him because he came out with egg on his face when the Weston A. Price foundation refuted his findings on a point-by-point basis.   Those folks know how to research and footnote, therefore are link-worthy. )

Maybe I should send her Mr. 11 Dimensions’ address – they can hang out in seclusion together.   Although I think he may be currently enjoying genius status….his status in the world of Physicists has changed frequently – so not sure if he’s in seclusion or not.

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I’ve always held that modern medicine has gotten very good at keeping the body alive while what’s wrong is figured out.   Broken bones, gun shot wounds, blocked airways…hey!  Modern is where it’s at.

I’m still convinced that daily health and quality of life comes from ingesting properly prepared, nutritious food and seeking assistance from a holistic provider when you’ve gotten yourself ‘jacked up’ (Politely referred to as ‘out of balance’ by the holistic circle.)

And taking supplements if you’re not getting nutritious food.

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When I first entered the Traditional Diet world, I ran my mouth to friends, family and neighbors nearly 24 hours a day.   The changes I observed in my own body were so significant I could hardly wait to share.   So many things became clear on why I had suffered from various health problems for so long.

I turned my back on USDA and FDA guidelines.   My new guidelines were: “Was this available to my ancestors who lived 40,000 years ago?  In this form?  If not, how much would they have to eat in order to get that amount?”

(Did you know that to get a cup of corn oil into your system, you would need to ingest 1/2 bushel of corn or more, at one sitting?)

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I’m a big fan of ‘experiential data’ – I’ve seen what happens to data when the graph doesn’t look just like someone wants it to…especially if that graph is directly tied to that someone’s paycheck.

I’m also a big fan of ‘natural selection’ – even though completely adhering to that would mean I would be dead by now…and wouldn’t have lived long enough to procreate….

My brain full of history tells me that if physical bodies evolve slowly to survive in new conditions, our bodies haven’t had enough time to catch up with all the wondrous food products that come to us via the Industrial Revolution.

I can trust my brain – I’m not on pharmaceuticals.

I can go crazy all by myself, thank you very much…

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I have my own set of data on whether to believe Modern medicine or Age-Old practices.   I’m not afraid to experiment on myself.   And I’m not afraid to say, “oops!  that didn’t go well, let’s try something else”.

I think my ‘all or nothing’ personality combined with a healthy skepticism of anyone who makes grand promises with a similarly attached price tag, along with personal mishandling by both modern and holistic practitioners,  has placed me in a position to be rather open to views that go against the majority consensus.

I also refuse to knowingly purchase anything with Aspartame in it.   My son sorely misses chewing gum.    We haven’t been able to find one that doesn’t contain aspartame.

If you do a search of Aspartame, you’ll find plenty of people crying “Poison!” and about the same number shouting, “Shut up, quacks!  It’s fine!”

My deductive reasoning says, “If it’s ‘fine’ then why do your footnotes (if you have any) contain studies 20 years old and dissenters cite numerous studies conducted almost non-stop for the last 10?”

Until proponents indicate to me they are willing to back up their claims with current, 3rd party performed, non-grant funded research, then I’ll stick with avoiding it.

(Maybe they are suffering from dementia and can’t remember to put footnotes in….)

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I changed over to ‘good fats’ in 2006.   As of January, 2010, blood tests revealed my Cholesterol (good, bad and trigs) to be in normal ranges.   2 modern medicine doctors, a chiropractor and an acupuncturist all stated they couldn’t see any problems there. (although one of the modern medicine folks suggested I should start medicine, to keep the number good…arggghhh!)

I’m over 40, my exercise entails typing and doing housework, I’m a smoker with a kitchen devoid of ‘fats’ except for the following: homemade lard, real butter, coconut oil, olive oil, tea oil and a smidge of peanut oil.

I’ve stubbornly ingested in large quantities the very fats the FDA, USDA, AHA and AMA have all told me to avoid like the plague.

Hmmm….still here.    Good Cholesterol levels.   Brain functioning (okay, maybe not to your standards, but I do not leave my house only to be found 6 hours later, wandering around in the woods, unable to tell you what my name is or where I live…)

I don’t take my blood pressure.   I don’t have any scales in my house except for those to weigh food (Uniformity in homemade dinner rolls necessitates this piece of equipment….)

I look over each day and ask: “Did my health prevent me from doing something I wanted to?  Do I have clothes that fit?” (I hate to shop – I still have the nightgown I wore on my wedding night…and yes, it still fits….)

I check in with my body after I eat.   Is my tummy happy?   How’s the digestive process going?  Painful?  Loud?  Smelly?

I also analyze my sleep patterns and dreaming.   If those are unusual, then I know something has gone astray either in my brain or my body.

(day 2 of no coffee…. day 3 of no Tylenol pm…..tummy is happier, body still not sure how to sleep 8 hours straight, on its’ own…but I did get to 4 last night….)

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In short, I come back to the same thinking.   I’m not particularly afraid to die, nor am I trying to extend my life as long as I can.   I instead am trying to enjoy whatever time I do have.

Home cooked meals with Hubby and son, made from food purchased direct from farmer/rancher satisfy my nose, heart and tummy in a way McDonalds can’t.

Pain pills, anti-depressants, and hormone therapy side effects made me decide the original symptoms were the lessor of two evils.

Extra Vitamin C, various Chinese herbal blends and aromatherapy make me feel better when I’ve overindulged in thoughts or substances I should have left alone.

Day after day, I practice medicine on myself…

Some things are just better left out of the hands of ‘experts’.

Back to School

In recent years my interests have changed drastically – my own health issues, coupled with the trauma, illness and death of family members have led me to research a variety of subjects: nutrition, holistic health modalities, energy healing and the power of  mind and body.

Studying nutrition and Traditional Diets, I fell down the rabbit’s hole of organic farming, sustainability, local resilience, which in turn led me to politics, banking  and every form of sociopolitical and economic system that ends in ‘ism’…

Well familiar with my tendency to ‘think too much’ (to which I reply, “How on earth do you shut your mind off?!?”) I find myself, some moments or even for days, overwhelmed with all the new knowledge I’ve crammed into the file cabinets of my gray matter.

And fast on the heels of being overwhelmed, comes my natural defense mechanism, “So what?   It’s all going to end in 2012 anyhoo – might as well just float along…”

A friend whose job it is to tell people if they are neurotic, psychotic or pretty normal, informs me I am not suicidal – rather I’m caught in escapist fantasy – just as one of my friends longs for a hot tub and cute cabana boy in skimpy clothing, I sometimes think about what Yellowstone blowing will mean.

In other words, I’m trying to escape from my own cultivated knowledge base.

All that aside, my sabbatical made clear one very important fact:  I’ve changed.  Drastically.  The loss of so many staples in my daily life, in so short a time, has brought about changes that may or may not be good for me.  Nevertheless, I realized that what’s important to me and what’s not has moved about 180 degrees and trying to pretend it hasn’t causes oober amounts of stress.

To that end, I came home and set about re-organizing my life.   Trying to figure out how to generate funds to keep web hosting and email campaign accounts paid for with company funds went out the window – instead, I luxuriate in my desire to write via Word Press free blog.  (Thank you so very much!)  With that stress relieved, I found I could write to my heart’s content without worrying about if what I was doing was profitable or not.

(A friend of mine who has spent 50+ years supporting herself via her writing and editing talents informed me that before you write, you should know: what publication is purchasing your article, who their audience is, who advertises in their publication, how many words long, is the topic timely and informative, etc.   At that moment, I decided not to become a professional writer – who needs all that boring stuff to detract from an otherwise enjoyable activity?)

Next, I systematically started cutting out those activities I had pursued in order to generate spendable income.   Running any kind of business, even part-time, with small customer base, causes stress for me now.   Why that is so, I cannot say for sure, but I suspect it’s because of my lack of interest in time schedules, racing around to meet deadlines, etc.   I’m just no longer interested in the fast lane of life.

A lackadaisical approach to customer service seems to be working for many companies, (I mean, even with me boycotting them, they are still in business) but not really a comfortable way for me to function.   My ideas of what customer service should look like really does not mix with my current  dream of daily life…

I decided to keep the lackadaisical side of the equation….

So now, with my daily schedule wiped fairly clean, I peruse the choices of what to fill my days with.

I like my foray into container gardening.  Plants let me know pretty quickly when I’ve messed up.   I take steps to correct my sins and they respond.   Even with the disappointment of The Great Hail Storm of July 4th, some of my green friends have persevered and in turn, have given me hope that recovery can happen, even in the face of catastrophe.

So some kind of green-thumbing is definitely in order for my new life.  Home Decor via plants seems like a useful idea.

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I’ve also been intrigued by the concept of being able to correct imbalances in the body on a daily basis, solely by choosing what kind of tea to drink or what kind of foods to eat or which herbs to add to my soups.  In years past, I asked the Universe to please send a wise woman into my life to take me as student and guide me in the ways of healing via traditional methods.

The student must not be ready, for the teacher has yet to appear.

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During my recent trip to Cheyenne Frontier Days I stumbled upon a new endeavor completely by accident. (Unless, of course, you believe there are no accidents, in which case, I was led directly and efficiently to where I was supposed to be…)

Homeward bound,via Laramie and the beauty between there and Ft. Collins,  in search of a Chik-Fil-A  (and unaware they are closed on Sundays) I drove all along College Avenue in Ft. Collins –  not my normal route – too many traffic lights.

Driving along, searching for supper, my eye catches beautiful color on my left.   Turns out, I have been led by mistake or design to the very doorstep of the Annual Flower Trial Garden of CSU.  Whipping a perfectly legal U-turn, which is deemed acceptable by the passenger navigator (my mother, who loves flowers) we pull into a parking spot and wander through a paradise lit by setting sun and recently blessed by afternoon rain showers.

Oooohhhh!   The wonder and color.

Who ever thought impatiens came in that many shades of pink?  The diversity of Geraniums?   Or the medley of Coleus?

As I wandered through a little slice of heaven on earth, I decided learning Latin might be a good thing.

Just think, by knowing the root words and how they are put together, I can identify just from the plant name if it likes shade or sun, will grow small or large, likes to creep and crawl or shoot straight up – if it was originally aquatic and where it was first found.

Yup.  A new goal formed in my mind.   I shall learn Latin.

Rosetta Stone course is over $200.   College courses run $150-$327.

Instead, I settled on perusing my local library for a copy of Botany in a Day or Gardener’s Latin, just to start.

For a person used to doing and running herself into the ground trying to realize new efficiencies and accomplishments, so maybe tomorrow, she can rest, this change in lifestyle has not been easy.

I’m used to trying to eat the whole elephant in one gulp and if I don’t succeed, everything and I mean everything, is now labeled “Abject Failure“.

In direct contradiction of the old me, I’m starting with the beginner’s guide, for free (or if not available at the library, for $5.88 through used books online), instead of the Advanced Volume (read: 4 inches thick and designed to make me insane and question my intelligence)

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This spring, during an unsuccessful job hunt, I informed the panel interviewing me that, Yes, I am a life-long learner.   Apparently, they were not impressed by my self-education.

Fortunately, I’m currently in a position to pursue activities that may or may not be useful to future job searches.

But I shall be able to say, “Would you like Lactuca sativa on your burger?” (Wikipedia informs me that’s Latin for lettuce…)

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!

Miracle Cure?

Still searching for the Miracle Cure?

New Miracle Cure!

(Warning: During trial reviews, some participants who read this article experienced nausea, insomnia, anxiety, restlessness, decreased sex drive, dizziness, weight gain or loss, tremors, sweating, sleepiness, fatigue, dry mouth, diarrhea, constipation, headaches, suicidal thoughts, severe muscle pain, chest pain, a decrease in white blood cells, resulting in lowered immune defense, strokes, heart attacks, schizophrenia, bi-polar symptoms, osteoporosis, joint pain, temporary memory loss or full-blown amnesia, an increase in uncontrollable rage, and thoughts of hurting themselves or others.)

What, you’re still reading?   Are you kidding me?   Well, okay.

I don’t really have the miracle cure.   I just wanted to know if after reading the warning label if you would still read.

Nasty trick, I know, but the quiet, quick spoken voice that rattles off all the possible side effects of different medications on commercials has got me to wondering how the pharmaceutical companies stay in business.  Not only are they in business, but they are doing well enough to offer to help you with the cost of their product, if you cannot afford it.

How is this possible?

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Years ago, while suffering from phantom joint and muscle pain, a host of diagnoses were tossed at me: chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia, lupus – – – so home I go to research these ‘diseases’.   After finding out that 3 or more of the listed symptoms could be experienced by just about anyone at some time or another, the fact that it still is unknown for certain what causes these and the medicines prescribed for treatment had worse side-effects than what I was already experiencing, I chose to forgo the tests and look elsewhere for assistance.

After working with a nutritionist, an acupuncturist and changing to a Traditional Diet, I found the health I was looking for.

Nope, it wasn’t fast and it wasn’t always easy.   I had to take a hard look at my lifestyle and how I was spending my time and money.   I sometimes gave up things I really liked to gain the results I desired.

I’ve had to get better at planning ahead for the meals I prepare and try not to give into the urge to do take-out on the days I immersed myself in some other project and forgot to lay out something for supper or get bread baked.

In my enthusiasm to share with others what worked for me, I’ve endured sarcastic comments from those who think organic eating is a bunch of hoo-haw and condemnation from those truly organic, locavores who recycle, vote in every election, own an electric car and solar home and are offended that I, in my transitionary lifestyle, dare to count myself as part of their group.  I also have to explain why yes, sometimes you can find me in the check-out aisle at Wal-mart.

I’ve teetered between the mindset of, “wow, I’m really making progress” to “what the heck am I doing?  I know better………..”

I’ve offered my ear and thoughts to those struggling with grief and in turn, been drowned in it myself.

I’ve come to know that what worked yesterday will not always help me today.

And I know that if I am to be well in mind, body and spirit, I cannot give up when what used to work doesn’t anymore.

In short, I’ve quit looking for a miracle cure and hoping that if I do ’such and such’ my life will be on an ever-even keel and I can just enjoy it with no further researching, experimenting, growth or changes needed.

Instead, I enjoy when it’s good and when it’s not, well, I slug around for awhile in the muck, then try to figure out how I got sucked into that quagmire in the first place.   If I can’t figure it out, or fix it, I yell for help.  And wait to see what shows up.

Sometimes assistance magically appears.   Sometimes, it does, but I don’t recognize it.   And other times, nothing shows up and I figure that’s the Universe’s way of telling me, “Growth Opportunity!”

I’ve quit believing in miracle cures, but I do experience the miraculous.   I’ve switched my focus from finding a ‘cure’ to finding ways to ‘heal’.

Nope, I don’t have all the answers and there are days when a glimpse into my life would make anyone wonder why I put so much time and energy into the things I do.

Fortunately, I’ve also given up the need to convince others I’m right.

(Though I still cannot resist sharing the journey…………..)