Jan

12

By megfiddler

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Tea for Two

On a cold winter evening, John and I often end the day with a cup of hot tea.  He prefers Yogi brand ginger tea for its digestive and inflammation fighting capabilities.  I opt for whatever strikes my mood at the time.  I am currently into a combination of lemon balm and chamomile, as they are both relaxing, something that I want as bedtime draws near  and lemon balm has some nice dimagedigestive properties as well.

There are many types of tea that have healthy benefits.  Green tea has shown to improve blood flow and lower cholesterol, as well as help with high blood pressure. Green tea may also help block the formation of the plaque linked to Alzheimers disease.  For diabetics,  green tea has shown to keep blood sugar stable. It may even help fight cancer due to its phytonutrient EGCG.

Oolong tea is a metabolism booster due to the combination of catechins (antioxidants) and caffeine; a fat burning powerhouse that is helped along by the polyphenols that help fat blocking enzymes.  You have to use sugar sparingly though if you want those good benefits.

A cup of peppermint tea can help with constipation and digestive issues and the aroma can elevate your mood.  A couple of lesser known teas include nettle tea, with its antihistamine properties it can help those who suffer from hay fever and allergies.  Licorice root tea(not the candy) is also anti-inflammatory with bacteria killing abilities.  It can also sooth sore throats.  This tea is naturally sweet, so if you don’t like a sweet tea this one might not be for you.

Finally, for most of us the most familiar tea is black tea.  We like it hot and iced. It is the go-to-tea for most of us, luckily it is full of polyphenols that help prevent plaque from clinging to teeth, while preventing the growth of bacteria in the mouth. It can help with belly fat and while more studies are needed it could help prevent diabetes.

These are just a few tea choices, there are so many many more, explore the tea isle and enjoy tea adventures, but if you can’t decide just change it up and let your mood guide you.

 

 

Jan

10

By megfiddler

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B Vitamins Are Not Complex

We generally are aware of the importance of vitamin C, and calcium and in recent years are more educated about the need for Vitamin D, but most of us are probably a bit more vague about the family of B Vitamins. These vital nutrients help support adrenal function and maintain a healthy nervous system, as well as other body functions.

B1 (Thiamine)
B1 helps make new cells and support the immune system. It sis sometimes taken as a supplement to prevent memory loss, maintain a positive attitude and fight stress. The best way to get this in your diet is whole grains, peanuts, spinach, beans, kale. and wheat germ.

B2 (Riboflavin)
B2 helps fight free radicals in the body; those little buggers that damage our cells and age us. It is also needed for the proper development of skin and the lining of the digestive tract and red blood cell production. A diet containing almonds, milk, eggs, brussels sprouts, spinach and yogurt can help maintain necessary B2 levels, although alcoholics may need additional supplementation.

B3 (Niacin)
B3 is works to increase the HDL cholesterol in the body. It can be consumed in red meat, milk, eggs, beans and green vegetables.

B5 (Pantothenic Acid)
This nutrient breaks down fats and carbs for energy. It helps with the production of sex and stress related hormones. It helps promote healthy skin and perhaps reduce signs of aging such as skin spots. You can get B5 from avocados, yogurt, eggs, meat and legumes.

B6 (Pyridoxine)
Pyridoxine helps the body produce serotonin, melatonin, which help regulate sleep and norepinephrine, a stress hormone. It also helps regulate the amino acid homocysteine, which is associated with heart disease. There are studies being conducted that indicated it could help with inflammation for conditions like rheumatoid arthritis. It is found in chicken, turkey, tuna, salmon, sunflower seeds, cheese, brown rice, lentils and carrots.

B7 (Biotin)
This vitamin is often associated with healthy hair, skin and nails A deficiency can show up as thinning hair with loss of hair color, depression, exhaustion and tingling in the arms and legs. It is important during pregnancy for the normal growth of the baby. It can be found in barley, liver, yeast, pork, chicken, fish,potatoes, cauliflower, egg yolks and nuts.

B9 (Folate)
This is also known as folic acid, which is the synthetic form used in supplements and fortified foods like cereal and bread. This vitamin is important for women who are pregnant as it supports the growth of the baby and prevents neurological birth defects. You can get it from dark leafy greens, asparagus, beets, salmon, root vegetables, milk, bulgur wheat and beans.

B12 (Cobalamin)
This is the power house vitamin and one that people are probably the most familiar with. It is necessary for the proper function and development of the brain, nerves and red blood cells. It is used for dementia, paranoia, behavioral problems, tingling in hands and feet and pernicious anemia. It is only found in animal products such as fish, shellfish, dairy, eggs, beef and pork. It is important that vegetarians and vegan supplement their diet with B12.

The B vitamins are not complex at all. A well rounded diet is an easy way to obtain these vitamins for a healthy mind and body.

Feb

10

By megfiddler

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Open the Heaven

One of my favorite Attunement protocols is “Open the Heaven”. An Attunement practitioner works to balance the energy of the head area to help with sinus problems, ear difficulties, eye strain, TMJ tension and help relax a mind that cannot let go of thinking. The energy is radiated to the temples, eyes, ears, sinuses, mandibles, throat and pineal gland area. This current of love is the Attunement radiation.

A typical Attunement treatment involves balancing the endocrine glands of the body as well as organs, bones and the chakras. This non-touch work is very gentle and relaxing, almost soothing in nature. Many people experience warmth in the area that is being worked. It is not uncommon for people to fall asleep.

In his book “Love Made Visible”, Attunement practitioner and teacher, Chris Jorgensen writes; “The purpose of attunement is Love. It is twofold in nature. On a personal level attunement restores, renews, and enlivens the body’s health and healing energies. And viewed from a larger perspective, attunement enhances a person’s participation in the world, a world of divine beauty and order…”

One of the reasons I so enjoy both giving and receiving energy work is because it is non-invasive, be it Attunement which works mainly slightly above the body or Reiki where hands are gently placed on different areas of the body. I believe energy work brings about a sense of peace and stillness that allows individuals the opportunity to find their own place of healing and harmony; be it physical, emotional/mental or even spiritually. One has to remember though, that healing can come in many different and unexpected forms; also healing and curing is not the same thing.

If you would like to learn how to do Attunement on yourself or family members please visit the website of Chris Jorgensen http://www.heartattune.com/

If you have never experienced energy therapy I encourage you to give it a try. A session is usually 45 minutes to an hour in length. You are fully clothed and will lie on a massage table for the treatment. There might be quiet music playing in the background. The lighting is usually soft or dim. Doesn’t that sound lovely? Now close your eyes, take a deep breath in and exhale, imagine the gentle warmth of energy beginning to flow through your body.

I believe inner peace is the foundation for well-being. Energy work on a regular basis is one way to build that foundation and keep it strong.

Dec

10

By megfiddler

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Watering Your Garden

There is a saying, “you can’t water your garden with an empty vessel.” Makes sense right? How often though do we attempt that very thing? We are constantly in the “doing or going mode”, even when we are exhausted. We shorten our sleep from a rejuvenating/repairing 8 hours to 4 or 5 hours and convince ourselves “that is all I need”. We eat at our desk or in our car or worse skip meals entirely.

We burn the candle at both ends, trying to meet the demands of spouses, children, employers or employees, elderly parents that need our attention, social obligations that require participation and numerous other drains on our energy. Yet we continue to add more things to the list and push forward; draining our personal vessel, our human form.

Take a bit of time to really examine your life. What things in your life can you eliminate or delegate to others? What things can you add that will enhance your life?   Can you work from home one or two days a week? Can you carpool or take the bus to work? Does the entire family help with cleaning, laundry and yard work? Maybe you are able to have someone come in once a month and clean your house. Do your kids need to be involved in every sport or club? Will they really be less rounded if they don’t do it all? How much sleep are they themselves getting and are they eating adequate and healthy foods? They themselves are developing life long health habits.   Are you eating healthy foods?

It is important that we get 8 hours of sleep a night or close to that amount and no 4 hours is not close. The bedroom is for sleeping, not doing homework or finishing up that work you brought home from the office. It’s not for reading, playing games on your tablet or phone, or watching TV, in fact get the TV out of the bedroom. The mind needs to associate the bedroom with relaxation and sleep. The bedroom is your sanctuary. You have numerous other rooms for everything else. Make sure the bedroom is dark. If you have light shining in from outside get blinds or drapes that block the light.

When we are stressed we tend to eat comfort foods, which are often high in sugar and carbohydrates. They give us a quick little feel good boost, but then we crash. I myself have a weakness for sweets, so I am aware that some habits can be hard to break. Fresh fruits and vegetables are of course better than canned, as canned foods often are in syrups and have can have unhealthy additives to preserve them. Buy a steamer. This is a great addition to the kitchen. Wash some fresh broccoli or cauliflower and put it in the steamer for 12-13 minutes and you have an easy healthy side dish. You can sprinkle with some sea salt and squeeze some orange or lemon juice on it to enhance the flavor. This is just one vegetable that you can easily prepare, explore the other options. If you like yogurt in the morning go with a Greek yogurt and sprinkle a few nuts, or hemp seeds, which are a good source of Omega 3 fats, add a little cinnamon, as that is believed to have blood sugar balancing capabilities. Instead of margarine or butter on your toast, why not substitute with some organic unrefined coconut oil? Coconut oil contains lauric acid, which may help with health issues such as high blood pressure and high cholesterol, even though it is high in saturated fats it does not seem to elevate the LDL levels. Don’t skip meals though, as this is your source of energy to get you over the speed bumps that show up during your day.

It is good to get exercise of course and if it is something you enjoy then you are more likely to do it consistently. If you can combine some strength training to keep the bones strong with some cardio to keep the heart happy that would be great.

Finally, take time to enjoy life daily in as many ways as possible. Our lives are created moment to moment, not event to event. It is the moments that make our life. Create daily health practices that will keep your vessel full, so you can water your garden and enjoy all the moments of your life.

Nov

26

By megfiddler

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Daily Gratitude

We live in a world that often feels full of negativity and the “sky is falling” warnings. The news reflects this 24/7 with stories of murder, robbery and religious fanatics perpetrating unimaginable acts. Our own politicians constantly use fear rhetoric to influence public opinion. Our entertainment, such as music, movies and video games often reflect despair, anger and violence. It often feels like there is no escape. It is easy to see only the negative in the world at large and unfortunately in our smaller personal worlds as well.

Thanksgiving is the holiday we reflect on all we have to be grateful for. The list usually includes; family, friends, home, job and hopefully good health. We quickly express our gratitude at the holiday table with a word or two, while we eye the turkey, potatoes and pumpkin pie. We remember to include the cooks at the table who provided the feast.

This of course is all very nice, but what if each of us took just a few minutes every day to find one or more things that happened to us that day to be grateful for? Would the world seem less negative? Would we be less negative? Would we feel a bit lighter?

I often encourage clients, especially those that seem to be experiencing an especially difficult time in their life, to keep a gratitude journal or notebook by their bed. At the end of each day write down at least one thing, several things would be even better, that happened that day for which they can be grateful. It doesn’t have to be something big like winning the lottery, although that would certainly warrant some major gratitude, but it can be, and in fact usually is, something simple like you hit all green lights on your way to work, which was especially good because you overslept. Maybe your spouse saved you the last piece of that dark chocolate cake you have been thinking about all day, or your teenager didn’t argue with you about anything. It is amazing how many things you can find in your day to day world that offer opportunities for gratitude.

Alright, you now have your daily gratitude list, let’s expand it a bit and include a list of things that you did or said during your day to make life a bit easier or happier for someone else. How did you lift someone else up? Remember these don’t have to be big things. Maybe you tossed your elderly neighbors newspaper onto their porch so they wouldn’t have to walk down the driveway in the rain. Maybe you told an employee they did a good job. Maybe you told the sacker at the grocery store they did a good job. Maybe you saved your spouse the last piece of the dark chocolate.
cake. Maybe you just smiled at people whose paths you crossed. Not only is it a nice feeling to reflect on how you might have been a bright spot in someone’s world, but you might find you look for ways to daily bring a little happy to someone else.

Gratitude is expansive. The more you are grateful, the more you will find in your life to be grateful for.

What did I find to be grateful for this Thanksgiving eve? There wasn’t a line at the grocery store when I checked out, now that is like winning the lottery.

Nov

5

By megfiddler

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Don’t Do The Scrunchies

The first day of November started with temperatures in the 20’s. There are those who thought it was crisp, chilly, or invigorating and for others it was just down right cold. Ole Man Winter is making his presence known and he will probably just get bolder as the season progresses.

I always start to remind my clients about winter weather posture and warmth protection when the temperature starts dropping. We tend to bend forward, tuck our chin to our chest, elevate our shoulders to our ears and wrap our arms around our body to ward off the cold and biting winds. This can lead to shallow chest breathing and tight muscles.

Winter coats should be buttoned and zipped. Hats worn to keep body heat from escaping. Scarves around the neck to ward off chills. The scarves should cover the mouth and nose as well to keep cold air from entering lungs. Don’t forget mittens or gloves to protect the hands. I know the heavy winter clothing makes movement more cumbersome, but I believe it is better to be warm and bulky than cold, hunched over and stiff.

Keep your body relaxed. Be aware of your posture. Keep your eyes forward, shoulders down and relaxed. The head should be between the shoulders and not thrust forward. The average head weighs between 9-15 pounds so the  forward head thrust puts additional strain on the trapezius muscles. Watch this video to see three simple exercises to help with forward head posture and neck tension. The trapezius muscle is a superficial diamond shaped muscle that originates at the occipital bone(lower part of skull) and extends down to the mid back.  This muscle does  a lot of work.  It moves the shoulder blade in toward the spine and up and down.  It rotates and side bends the neck and brings the head and neck in a backward direction.  It also assists with breathing.

So dress warm, watch your posture, enjoy a warm beverage and don’t do the scrunchies.

Oct

14

By megfiddler

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It’s that time of year

It’s that time of year again. Kids have returned to school, holiday parties, starting with Halloween will be filling up calendars and more and more of us will be finding activities located indoors as colder temperatures descend. Those indoor gatherings often are the precursor to what is known as “the cold and flu season”. We are encouraged to get our flu and pneumonia shots early as the first line of defense against illness. The truth though is that we each need to nurture our immune and lymphatic system year round as that is truly the first line of defense. There is a multitude of ways to do this.

What is the lymphatic system anyway?
The lymphatic system is tied to the circulatory systems and is a major part of our immune system. It consists of tissues, organs, lymph vessels, lymph nodes and lymph. The spleen is the largest lymphatic organ, sitting on the upper left side under the ribcage. It filters the blood, removing old and abnormal blood cells. There are white blood cells that are manufactured in the spleen that help fight bacteria, dead tissue and other foreign matter. The spleen also helps maintain red and white blood cells and platelets that help clot blood. The thymus is located behind the sternum. This gland is most active at birth and pre-puberty. It manufactures and stores a specific white blood cell known as T-cells, which help fight bacteria, viruses, abnormal cell growth and foreign material. The tonsils and the adenoids are part of the system as well. Lymph itself is a clear fluid containing white blood cells. It can only move in an upward direction due to one-way valves that keep it from moving backwards. The lymph is transported to the lymph nodes via lymph vessels. There are approximately 600-700 nodes in the body with a large portion in both the abdomen and neck. They can be as small as a pinhead or as large as an olive and are often in clusters or strings. Lymph nodes help to purify and filter the lymph of viruses, bacteria, and cancer. The purified lymph is returned to the circulatory system. This of course is a very simplified version of the lymphatic system, but you get an idea of why you want to support it anyway you can.

No one loves your germs
The first thing to remember is that germs love crowds and while you might love your own germs, no one else does. If you are symptomatic with fever, cough, sneezing, runny nose or nausea then stay home. That means no work, no school. One should also keep their distance from parties, bars, the grocery store, the movie theater, church (God will understand) and sporting events or anywhere for that matter that groups of humans congregate indoors. There is no reason to gift a total stranger, friend or co-worker with your germs. Don’t share the gift that keeps on giving.

Hand washing is good and should be done frequently, but stay away from the antibacterial soaps. We don’t always need to reinvent the wheel and generations have done very well using plain old soap and water. In fact the FDA is investigating the germ-killing ingredient triclosan to see if it really does what is claimed, but more importantly that it not pose any health risks. Something else to consider is that the common cold is a virus; antibacterial soaps will do nothing to prevent those types of illnesses.

Keep moving
We all know that exercise is a great way to stay in shape, burn calories, stimulate our cardiovascular system and release endorphins that help us feel good. It is also a good way to stimulate our lymphatic system and help circulate the lymph through the body. If you enjoy walking (pump those arms), running, swimming, playing tennis, dancing (even if it’s just in your own living room) then you are stimulating your lymphatic system. Hey even running up and down the stairs will contribute to the movement of lymph. The re-bounder, also known as a mini-trampoline is a method used by some to stimulate the lymphatic system, but exercise caution if you have any balance issues (use a stabilizer bar), a weak bladder or suffer from sciatica, pinched nerves, osteoporosis, or degenerative disk disease as the re-bounder could aggravate those conditions. Also make sure your ceilings are high and there are no light fixtures or ceiling fans in the way.

Eat those fruits and veggies
Mom knew what she was talking about when she mandated we eat our fruits and veggies, of course fresh not canned (store bought canned that is) would be the most beneficial and organic if possible. There are numerous fruits and vegetables that help bolster our immune system so just a few will be covered. Watermelon might not be as attractive in the winter, but eat lots during the heat of summer, as this fruit has wonderful hydration power and it’s packed with the antioxidant glutathione, which helps strengthen the immune system. In the cold months, cabbage (not one of my favorites) can be added to soups and stews or eaten as a stand alone side dish. It also contains glutathione. Need a snack? Grab some raw unsalted almonds for a powerful punch of vitamin E, riboflavin, niacin and B vitamins. Flavonoids and Vitamin C boost the power of grapefruit in the health department, but be cautious, as grapefruit does not mix well with some medications so check with your pharmacists to be on the safe side. Popeye loved his spinach and eaten raw or lightly cooked the folate it contains will help the body produce new cells and repair DNA. How sweet they are. Those sweet potatoes aren’t just for Thanksgiving. They contain beta-carotene, which mops up free radicals and the Vitamin A might help slow the aging process and reduce some cancer risks. We can’t forget the old standby broccoli and its vitamin A, C and glutathione. Salmon might not be everyone’s favorite, but it’s rich in Omega 3 fats which helps reduce inflammation. Not just for the soul: chicken soup. There is some research that indicates the amino acid cysteine is released from chicken during cooking. It chemically resembles the bronchitis drug acetylcysteine, which might be the reason we feel soothed eating it, plus the thin broth helps with mucous. If making your own soup be sure to buy hormone and antibiotic free chicken. I like to add lots fresh grated ginger, black pepper, onion and garlic to my soup.
When you do eat that healthy meal, turn off the TV, the cell phone and tablet and sit down at the dinner table and savor the food you have prepared; maybe even share a conversation with those people you call family.

Tea for two
Whether your preference is green or black they both contain flavonoids, polyphenoids and L-theanine, great stuff to fight free radicals. For some extra oomph add some raw organic honey to your tea. Honey has antimicrobial agents that prohibit certain types of bacterial growth. It is important to stay hydrated year round. One can become hydrated even indoors sitting at a desk. Fluids help to keep mucous thin, so keep water readily available and supplement with tea if you wish.

Be proactive with probiotics
Many believe that a healthy digestive system is a key factor to maintaining good health. There are as many as 500 different types of bacteria in the digestive system. When the good bacteria are thrown out of balance by infection, diets high in sugar or antibiotics then problems can occur. Probiotics are bacteria and organisms that can be found in Greek yogurt, kefir and supplements. There are studies that indicate probiotics can support the immune system, and support intestinal function. They may also be beneficial in cases of childhood diarrhea, antibiotic-associated diarrhea and infectious diarrhea, ulcerative colitis, and irritable bowel syndrome. A study published in 2010 suggests that probiotics may lower the risk of common childhood illnesses such as ear infections, strep throat, and colds.

Breathe deep
Most of us tend to be shallow chest breathers, but slow deep belly breaths can help move lymph. This is not a breathing technique that can be sustained for long periods, but if done just 5 or 10 minutes once or twice a day one can benefit. Take a deep breath in allowing the belly to extend out and then slowly exhale fully, repeat for a couple of cycles and then breath normally, then repeat the deeper breathing for a few more cycles.

Rest and Digest
The parasympathetic nervous system is also known as our rest and digest nervous system, just as the sympathetic nervous system is often referred to as our fight or flight system. Stress, if chronic can weaken the immune system, so finding ways to de-stress is very important. Make time for hobbies you enjoy, meditation, and yoga, tai chi are gentle and relaxing ways to unwind. Swedish or lymphatic drainage are two forms of massage that help the body in many ways including activating the parasympathetic nervous system, don’t underestimate their value just because they are gentle. Make sure you get lots of beneficial sleep; yes that ole 7-8 hours is best, even if you think you can get by on 4 or 5 hours. Children need even more sleep and we want to nurture their systems as well. It’s never too early to form healthy habits.

It all matters
As you can see it all matters, diet, exercise, hydration, sleep, probiotics and breath techniques all work together to support a healthy body. So that “time of year again”, is really all year.

Be healthy!

Sep

20

By megfiddler

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Remember To Breathe

“Remember to breathe” is the advice I give many of my clients at the end of their massage session. They usually smile or laugh as if to say “Well duh.” The truth is that while we are of course breathing; we aren’t necessarily getting the most out of that breath. The average adult breathes between 12-20 breaths per minute or over 17,000 breaths in a 24-hour period.
Most of us are shallow breathers or chest breathers. What this means is that the diaphragm doesn’t move downward to the extent that is most beneficial. Shallow breathing doesn’t allow the lungs to expand into the abdomen. The lower portion of the lungs in turn doesn’t receive adequate amounts of oxygen. The lower lungs are filled with blood vessels that carry oxygen to our cells. When there is an inadequate amount of oxygen the heart and blood pressure rates increase. The benefit of abdominal breathing allows the diaphragm to move freely and the lower lungs to fill with oxygen and an expelling of carbon dioxide during exhalation.
I usually suggest my clients practice breathing techniques for a few minutes in the morning before they get out of bed and in the evening before they go to sleep. It is a nice way to begin and end a day.  The time spent doing these breathing techniques allows one the opportunity to feel the physical changes in their body as well as emotional changes.   It is also good to take a few moments during your day to practice as well, especially when feeling stressed or overwhelmed.
The following are three examples of deep  breathing exercises. Relax and remember to breathe!

Full Diaphragm Breathing:
Find a comfortable place to lie flat on your back. Close your eyes. Place one hand on your chest and the other hand on your lower rib cage. Inhale deeply through your nose, allowing your breath to travel all the way from your abdomen to your collarbones. Feel your abdomen expand. Exhale sharply through your lips, feeling your abdomen flatten. Make sure the exhalation is longer than the inhalation. If you count to 5 for the inhalation, then count to 6 for the exhalation. Try to keep an even rhythm without pausing from one full cycle to the next. Do this breathing for a few minutes. Not only will it bring fresh oxygen to the muscles and release carbon dioxide, but also help alleviate stress. You can also do this in a sitting position prior to meditation.

Alternate Nostril Breathing:
Sit comfortably in a straight back chair or on the floor, just be sure to keep your head and spine in a straight, upright position. Bring your right hand to your nose, and then exhale deeply. Cover your right nostril with your thumb and inhale through your left nostril. Exhale through your left nostril. Then cover your left nostril with your index finger. Inhale through the right nostril. Exhale through the right nostril. Switch again to cover the right nostril with your thumb and repeat the breathing pattern sequence. Try counting to 3 for the inhalation and then counting to 6 for the exhalation. This technique will help calm the nerves.

4-7-8 Breath
This is a nice technique to practice when feeling stressed, anxious, frustrated or angry. It is recommended by Dr. Andrew Weil.   Sit in a comfortable position with the spine straight. Place the tip of your tongue on the roof of your mouth just behind the front teeth.  Breath in through your nose for a count of 4.  Hold your breath for a count of 7.  Exhale your breath audibly through your mouth with a whooshing sound for the count of 8—remember your tongue remains on the roof of your mouth for the entire exhale.  Count at a pace that is comfortable for you.  Repeat the 4-7-8 cycle  three times.  If you become lightheaded try counting a bit faster until you can gradually slow down, allowing the breaths to become deeper.

Sep

25

By megfiddler

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Repetitive Strain Injury

The average teenager sends 80 text messages a day, some say it is close to 100. That is an average of 2400-3000 messages a month or approximately an hour a day spent texting.  Recent surveys indicate that teenagers would rather communicate via text than phone calls. I have many clients in their 60’s, 70’s and even 80’s who have taken up texting because they claim it is the only way their grandchildren will respond to their messages. Kids won’t return their phone messages.

Technology makes it easier to stay in touch at lightening speed with our friends, family and co-workers. We seem to perceive a more urgent need to respond quickly to a text, more so than a phone message.  Kids are in constant communication with friends; wanting to know where they are and what they are doing.  They are constantly seeking out opinions and advice for the smallest of decisions that may need to be made, leading some psychologists to believe that adolescents are not developing the ability to make independent decisions. Adults are not immune to this pressure either. I have clients who are checking their text messages when they come through my door and again after their massages end. They are returning test messages as they walk out the door. We don’t want to be left out of the loop.

We have become addicted to this instant form of communication. So what is the problem? On the surface the issues seem minor. So what if teens are texting in the middle of class, when they are suppose to be learning?  so what if everyone seems to be texting at restaurants or while standing in line at a check out counter?   So what if teens are texting in the middle of the night when they should be sleeping? Well lack of sleep leads to lack of concentration for one thing, not to mention increased stress levels.  This leads to a  lack of down time for the mind and body. Ah that pesky body. Why would the body need down time from texting?  What could possibly happen by constantly tapping  the thumb on a keyboard?  Repetitive strain injury(RSI).   An injury can occur when a part of the body does a repetitive movement.   RSI affects the nerves, tendons and muscles.  The thumbs were not designed to text at the rate that is happening.

Repetitive strain injury is characterized by discomfort, impairment and loss of muscle strength and function.  De Quervain’s Tendinitis is a repetitive strain injury that causes pain at the wrist and forearm.  A tendon is a rope like chord that attaches muscle to bone.  Tendinitis is the swelling of the tendons.   Two tendons to the thumb  pass through a tunnel located on the thumb side of the wrist, any swelling of the  synovium, which is a thin outer layer of the tendons can put pressure on the nerves resulting in wrist pain and or numbness in the fingers.

Some of the symptoms  are pain felt over the thumb side of the wrist.  The pain may appear gradually or suddenly.  The pain can be felt in the wrist and may travel up the forearm.  The pain is worse when the hand and thumb are in use.   There may be swelling over the thumb side of the wrist.  There may be a fluid filled cyst in this region.  A catching or snapping sensation may be felt when moving the thumb.  There may be numbness on the back of the thumb and index finger.

De Quervain’s Tendinitis is also associated with rheumatoid arthritis.  If you have arthritis in the thumbs or fingers then texting can aggravate the condition.

If texting starts to hurt it is recommended that you stop or decrease the amount of texting, use your other hand or vary the digits you use.  It is also recommended that you don’t text more than a few minutes without a break.  The following exercises may also be helpful.  If they cause additional pain, stop.

Tap each finger with the thumb of the same hand.  Repeat 5 times(5x).  Pull your thumb firmly with the other hand 5x

Wrap an elastic band around the tip o each  finger and thumb and open your hand against the resistance.  Repeat 20x

Palms down, wrap an elastic band around each thumb and force apart.  Repeat 20x

Tap the palm and back of your hand on your thigh as quickly as you can.  Repeat 20x

Massage thumb web, back of forearm and front of forearm.  2 minutes

Reach up high with both arms and shake your hands.  Reach down low with both arms and shake your hands.  Repeat 3x

Arms at 45 degrees squeeze them behind you.

wrap an ice pack on sore hand and arm parts.  Do not put ice directly on the skin.  Place ice in a zip lock bag, wrap bag in a dish towel.  10 minutes on and 10 minutes off.  Repeat 3x

Splints maybe used to rest the thumb and wrist.

We text as a way to interact socially, but what do we do with generations of young people to come who have repetitive strain injuries at younger and younger ages?

Sep

11

By megfiddler

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Ten Years Later

September 11, 2001. It is the day that people will remember where they were and what they were doing. It is the day that is now simply known as Nine Eleven. It is the day that seemed to change the world, regardless of where you lived.

September 12, 2001 was the day the world united as a global community in the spirit of outrage, love, support and compassion. As a nation we joined hands and hearts while waiting for hopeful news from the search and rescue efforts. We donated blood. We offered up prayers and words of condolences for those we never knew. Everyone wanted in some small way to lift up the hurting because in turn it would ease our own hurt. That time of healing was all too brief.

The ten years that have passed have seen many changes in the way we conduct our lives, from boarding an airplane, going to a concert or attending sports event. It changed how we interact with people we perceive as different and possibly a threat. A generation of children have been born that have not known a time without the term “terrorist threat”. Sadly though, on this tenth anniversary of nine eleven we see more and more occasions where the emotions of anger, hatred, distrust, and prejudice are given free reign. We take every opportunity to spread conflict amongst ourselves. Ten years later, we as a nation are more and more polarized than ever. Ten years later we each must decide how to conduct our lives. We must each decide what thoughts, actions and emotions serve us individually and the world the best. I personally would rather honor the individuals who awoke on September 11, 2001, who were just going about their everyday lives, by living in the spirit of love, kindness, and compassion to all my fellow human beings. I am not naive. I do not live in a fantasy world. I do know that bad things happen for reasons that one cannot wrap their mind around. But I know that perpetuating the myriad of negative emotions serves no one, least of all me. In 2001 I was happiest when sharing love, a smile, a hug, an encouraging word. I was happiest being of service to others; a compassionate being. I feel the same way ten years later.

Jul

31

By megfiddler

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We Are What We Use

On the news we occasionally hear about a “boil order” in a community, usually due to a water main break. When this happens there is a run at the store for bottled water. There becomes an awareness of a possible contamination in our water and the potential for health hazards This is as it should be. There is nothing wrong with taking these emergency precautions. who wants to get E.Coli? But stop for a moment and think about how many chemicals we consume in processed foods and absorb into our body via cosmetics, shampoos, conditioners, fabric softeners, shower gels, lotions, air fresheners, even talcum powder. We buy products without reading the ingredients and even if we do we don’t really know what they are or what they do. We eat foods filled with antibiotics and hormones. We eat foods that are genetically modified organisms(GMO). We just take it for granted that they must by OK, or they wouldn’t be in there.

One of the most potentially harmful ingredients in hair shampoos and bath and shower gels is Sodium Lauryl Sulfate(SLS). This ingredient creates those nice soapy lathers we so love, yet it is used in garage floor cleaners, engine degreasers, and car-wash soaps. The reason? It can really attack a greasy surface. I guess if it can get an engine clean it should get your hair clean. Sodium lauryl sulfate is used by laboratories to irritate skin on animals so they can test healing agents on the irritated skin. A study at the University of Georgia Medical College found that SLS showed long term retention in the tissues of the brain, heart, liver and eyes, when penetrated. Sodium laureth sulfate (SLES) exhibits many of the same characteristics.

Propylene glycol is a component of antifreeze and de-icers for starters. This lovely little additive can be found in shampoos, deodorants, cosmetics, lotions , processed foods and dog foods. It is a humectant, which means it helps things retain moisture; keeps them soft.

Even that innocent talcum powder we sprinkle on after a shower, or on little babies is not without possible harmful components. Talc is a mineral mined from talc rocks. In its natural form it may contain asbestos, but it is believed that most asbestos is eliminated during processing and therefore talc used in the products in the home is not believed to contain this carcinogen. There are some though who believe that minute fibers may still remain, as some studies using asbestos free talc on rats had mixed results, with some forming tumors and others not. The studies of ovarian cancer in women and talc has also had mixed results. There have been cases of talc being found in the ovaries of women with ovarian cancer. Talc miners had higher rates of lung cancer.

These are just a few of chemicals found in most of the every day products we use. There are hundreds more. They are legal and believed to probably be safe, but think about how often we shower, shampoo and use cosmetics, lotions and powders. How much processed food we eat. How much food we eat that has been sprayed with pesticides. Think of the weed killers you spray on your lawn and yet your children run barefoot, play and roll on that grass. Your pets walk in that grass and lick their paws or even sometimes eat the grass. This is not a once in a while deal. This is day in and day out, year after year absorption to one degree or another. What is the long term accumulative outcome for any one of us? We each have to make that decision for ourselves—hopefully make thoughtful informed ones for yourself, your family and the planet.

Jun

16

By megfiddler

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Free Dog

A couple of weeks ago our border collie Jack did something completely out of character for him, he escaped out of our fenced yard. We live out in the country, but we have fenced in part of our backyard to allow the dogs to have a safe environment when outside. This allows them to be outside without us having to worry about them running off to explore and perhaps getting into trouble. It also protects them from a stray dog that may come into the yard and attacking he or our border collie mix Annie. There have been occasions when Annie has managed to bust through one of the pickets on the white vinyl fence and head out into the bigger yard, but Jack always has stayed put. We jokingly refer to him as Chicken Jack as he is very cautious about going through doors that are not fully open or fetching a toy from behind a door or behind a piece of furniture that moves; the rocking chair. But this night Jack threw caution to the wind and when two pickets came off together he could not contain himself. Jack became a brave heart. Jack became a free dog! Of course Annie our fearless girl was the instigator, but Annie will return when called. Jack disappears into the woods enjoying the thrill of the chase of some nocturnal animal. The varied smells that inundate his nose must be like some euphoric drug. He is at Disney Land.

John and I of course are not as happy. It is after all 10:00pm and time for dogs and humans alike to be going to bed. We call Annie and she returns to the comforts of the kitchen and flops down. John and I go back outside calling for Jack with our happy voices. We try luring him back with offers of “purple ball”, “rope toy” and “lime loop”. These are Jack’s favorite toys and he knows them by name, but the lure of the night and being a free dog was too great.

John has taken off in the truck to drive down to the meadow and up to the pasture in hopes that Jack will see the lights of the truck and believe he is going for a ride. I remain at the house and see the truck lights in the distance and hear John calling Jack, but no luck. I listen closely for sounds of Jack roaming in the woods, occasionally I think I hear his tags jingle, but can’t be sure. I go into the house and turn off all the lights hoping that if he can’t see them he will return. John returns to the house and decides to extend the search on foot into the woods. It has been almost an hour and what started out as annoyance is starting to morph into genuine worry. A border collie can cover a lot of ground and we didn’t know how far he could have gotten. We hoped he was still on the property. We live near a highway and while it is not a heavily traveled highway, especially at night, it only takes one car and one fast moving border collie for the result to be tragic. We try not to let our minds go there, but while John disappears into the woods I am already thinking of lost dog fliers and if we should spend the night outside on the deck. I hear John calling and then I hear a noise to my right and call to Jack. I see him, just 20 feet from me. I call to him. He looks at me, turns and heads back into the woods. The brat! I yell to john and tell him I saw him. He returns to the cloak of trees, calling out the name of our wayward dog. Then he stops calling out and all is quiet. Minutes pass, we are listening to the night. All lights are off. Then a woof and I hear John talking in a low voice. There is movement and shortly John is coming out of the woods with Jack on leash. He is one tired and panting border collie. We brush him and tell him how happy we are he is back. It has been 90 minutes. His longest “walk about”.

Annie & Jack

After relief had set in I began to ponder what was happening to John and I physiologically. The autonomic nervous system, which regulates internal organs and glands has two divisions. The parasympathetic system is our rest and digest system. it helps controls functions such as digestion, salivation, tear formation, defecation and lowered heart rate. Things that occur when the body is at rest. The sympathetic nervous system is well known as the “fight or flight” system. This is the system that raises the heart rate, elevates blood pressure, and constricts blood vessels. When the body is under stress our breath quickens, muscles tighten, our senses become sharper, all this enables us to take quick action. The body also releases stress hormones, namely adrenaline which is what contributes to the increase in heart rate and blood pressure and cortisol, which increase glucose in the bloodstream. It also decreases functions that are not as necessary in a fight or flight scenario including suppressing the digestive system and immune system. Now these systems are self regulating so after the perceived threat is over the hormone levels return to normal and the parasympathetic and sympathetic systems return to a more balanced state. This is what happened when Jack made is great escape and when he safely returned. Not a big deal.

The problem is when we live in constant states of stress or chronic stress. The body does not return to balance, instead the opportunity presents itself for stress hormones to continually cascade through our body. There are many symptoms of stress, sleep problems, digestive problems, tight muscles, depression, obesity, lowered immune function, moodiness, feeling overwhelmed, changes in appetite, loss of sex drive, nausea, dizziness, procrastinating, and self imposed isolation.

Chronic stress is serious and debilitating and should not be taken with the attitude “that is just the way life is” or “there is nothing I can do about it”.  There are many situations that can contribute to high stress, such as loss of a job, home, or loved one., even excessive worry about the “what if’s”  that life can throw at us can cause problems.  If you are a primary care giver you can experience elevated stress levels.  If you work for or with someone who is constantly attacking you verbally this can lead to anxiety and stress.

There are many factors that can contribute to your ability to tolerate and manage stress. A group of friends and family that are supportive, confidence in yourself to get through life’s challenges, an optimistic attitude, and methods of managing emotions can be beneficial. If you feel that you are experiencing chronic stress it is important to make lifestyle changes such as exercise that you enjoy, relaxation techniques such as yoga, tai chi and massage, keeping socially connected with friends and family, limiting the consumption of alcohol, caffeine and refined sugars, really making healthy diet choice   and perhaps even professional counseling, sometimes we need someone to help us see the light at the end of the tunnel.

We all experience episodes of stress and that is not a bad thing, only if it is allowed to run rampant, so manage your stress and take the time to be a “Free Dog”!

Apr

21

By megfiddler

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Every Day Is A Holiday

My father had a favorite saying, “Every day is a holiday.” It was an interesting mantra for a man who was a workaholic. He never took a vacation. A vacation for him was a “Sunday drive”. He would pile my mom and us kids in the car and we would head out to Omaha, Hannibal or St. Louis. We would have lunch and then return home. He was a day tripper for sure. He didn’t have hobbies, well he enjoyed feeding and watching the birds, so perhaps that was his hobby.

My father was born in 1913. His father died when he was about two years old; leaving his mother to raise eight children on her own. This was a time when child labor laws did not exist so my father went to work at a very young age. He helped deliver milk at the age of eight. He dropped out of school in the 8th grade. He was born in Port Huron, Michigan so at about 15 or 16 years old he went to work on the boats that sailed the Great Lakes, as a cook’s assistant. He often told the story of how he once knocked a can of peanuts off a shelve and they landed in that day’s bread dough There was no time to start a new batch and too many to pick out, so the bread was baked with the peanuts. the captain of the ship called the cook to his cabin and complimented him on the bread and requested they serve it more often.  He loved to tell that story.

My father packed up his family and moved to Kansas City in the late 40’s. He built houses for a while, but eventually he settled in Shawnee, Kansas and opened a small open air market called appropriately enough The Apple & Cider Market. He sold fresh fruits, vegetables, cider, honey and eggs raised by local farmers. I guess in some ways he had the first Whole Foods. If you bought a dozen ears of corn he would throw in an extra ear and call it a “baker’s dozen”. If you found a worm on your corn he would either say, “well if the worms like it, it must be good” or “I don’t charge extra for the protein.” But if you were caught squeezing the fruit or tomatoes you met his wrath. He did not tolerate the bruising of his produce. Bruised fruit does not sell. His days often started early,  around 2:00 or 3:00 in the morning.  He would  head down to the city market and wait for the trucks to arrive with produce that was not grown in our region—grapes, citrus fruits and the like. If you were short of cash between paydays he would run you a tab. There was a recipe box behind the counter with index cards that had running tabs. He knew what it felt like for a family struggle to make ends meet. He would hand out penny suckers and bubble gum to the children of customers.

He and my mother worked six days a week; putting in 18 hour days. My sisters and I, from very early ages all worked in the store as well; after school , Saturdays and summer vacations were spent displaying produce, ringing up customer purchases, bagging groceries and carrying out the groceries for our customers. We lived on a bit of acreage and grew green beans to sell at the store and for “you pick”. We planted 500 bell pepper plants by hand and I was paid a nickle a pepper to pick them in the summer.

That was our life and I hated it. Every day was not a holiday. I wanted to live in the suburbs and have a stay at home mom and a dad that put on suit and drove to the office. I wanted to sleep in during the summer and go to the pool with friends. The truth is I never really understood why my father bothered to say every day was a holiday, when in my eyes it obviously was not. In retrospect my father worked hard, but he was proud of his work and for the most part I believe enjoyed it. He taught his children many lessons such as the importance of a strong work ethic and while he didn’t prescribe to the belief that the customer was always right, he did have strong customer service traits.  In the later years my father closed The Apple & Cider Market and opened 50 State Bird feeders.  He loved birds and turned that small hobby into his work.  I guess that old saying is true, if you love what you do, you never work a day in your life.

I guess that on some level I learned to enjoy my work because I believe my father to satisfaction in his.  I have been fortunate that even my first job outside of The Apple & Cider Market was one that I enjoyed and stayed at for 22 years, until the office was closed. I have been even more fortunate to find my path in the profession of massage therapy and energy therapy. It gives me great pleasure to be of service to my clients. I also learned the lesson of balance, not so much by what my parents did, but by what they did not do. They rarely made free time for themselves. I find more and more that I need my space to vegetate. I don’t have to travel to get away. I can be content to sit on my deck and read a book or spend the day having a massage and lunch at a new restaurant or a favorite old one. It’s OK to take an afternoon nap, even if the laundry has yet to be washed. I don’t have to be in constant doing mode.

My father was not a saint.  He had many private demons, but he seemed to find contentment in his work, feeding the birds and his Sunday drives.    I guess what it really comes down to is this,  if you can find even small ways to be happy and content in your work, your life and your own skin,  then truly “Every day is a Holiday”, so says the Francis Fiddler mantra.

Mar

7

By megfiddler

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Bring It Spring

It is winter in the mid-west. I have to admit it is my least favorite of the four seasons. I really don’t like the four lettered “S” word, known as snow. I look forward to the day it ceases to be part of the local weather forecasters vocabulary and they are forced to say “sunny and mild again today”, day in and day out. If we lived in a region where you could actually turn snow into a money maker with ski lifts and vacation rentals well maybe then I would feel differently,  or maybe not.  The only ones who really seem to appreciate a good snow are school kids, teachers and snow removal folks, but after 3 or 4 good snows even for them the glow seems to be diminishing. To add to our misery are those arctic blasts that just keep coming. Now don’t get me wrong, I too enjoy that first snow fall of the year. I sit by the fire and sip my cup of tea while gazing upon the gentleness of those little white flakes that drift to the earth. I enjoy the vision of numerous red birds perched upon snow laden branches, as they take a break from  gliding over to the bird feeder.  Yes, the first snow fall of the season brings out the poet in all of us.

Those first snow angels and snowmen of the season that were so much fun to make  are now just a good way to get snow down your coat collar and in your gloves.  That first one or two snow shoveling events seemed like good exercise, but when you have to start shoveling the grass so the four-legged family members will go out without being shoved through the door, well now it is not so much fun

But now enough is enough.  Bring it spring!  Alas, since we have no control over when Ole Man Winter will depart; we have to try to make the best of the season that I am beginning to call The black hole of seasons”.  Sometimes you have to make your own spring.  Sometimes you have to exert a bit more effort in elevating your mood.  So here are a few little tips.  Eat citrus, as in oranges & grapefruit; not only is the fragrance uplifting, but it has vitamin C which can help keep your immune system purring.  If you are not big on actually eating oranges or grapefruit, then buy the essential oils and put them in a diffuser and allow the aroma to drift through your home.  Color has energy!  The colors red and orange can be invigorating, but be careful, they can add fuel to an already angry or bad mood.  I myself tend to wear spring colors year round, pink is not really a favorite color of mine, but I always feel good wearing it, so I wear it a lot.  I tend to wear very little in the blacks or browns.   Buy a bouquet of fresh cut flowers, especially the ones that “say spring”, even a few stems of carnations can perk up a room.   Laughter.  The Readers Digest had it right, laughter is the best medicine.  Rent some comedies or find some old I Love Lucy shows and just laugh.  You can even take a laughter yoga class—-don’t laugh, ok laugh, but seriously there is such a thing.  The gift of laughter elevates your mood, lowers blood pressure and reduces stress, all good stuff, so have a good laugh, start with a little smile, then add a giggle and then just throw caution to the wind and let the belly laughs free.  That’s right free the laughter within.

These are just a few little fun and easy things to do that can lift the doldrums.  Of course if you can catch a flight to Hawaii or Miami, well even better.

Bring it spring!

Dec

6

By megfiddler

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Perfect Peace

Several years ago I found a short story that described “perfect peace”. I don’t remember who the author was. I actually think it was author unknown, but here is my re-telling of the story.

Long long ago in a far away kingdom there was a king who sent out a call to all the artists in the land to submit their depiction of what perfect peace looked like. After a period of time had passed the king decided to pick the piece that he thought best represented perfect peace. There were sculptures, carvings, drawings and paintings. There were beautiful images of glorious sunsets, calm lakes, flower filled meadows and beauty beyond comprehension. But the painting that the king selected, drew gasps from one and all. It had a dark and stormy sky with jagged streaks of lightening. The mountains were rugged and ominous. On the top of the mountain there was a rushing waterfall, behind the waterfall, on a small ledge there was a nest with a mother bird sitting on her young. She seemed very calm in the midst of this storm that raged all around her.

When the king was asked how he could possibly pick this picture over all the serene images of tranquility, he gave this simple response, “Those works of art were indeed very lovely, but truly perfect peace is this image of calmness during the storm.”

May we each find calm during our personal storms.

Dec

4

By megfiddler

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The Season of the Heart Chakra

I have found myself, over the past year, perhaps longer, dismayed and even disheartened by the increasing instances of downright meanness being perpetuated by average everyday people. We seem to have entered a period in time where it is acceptable to be a bully, not only physically but verbally and of course emotionally. We toy with the emotions of others in a detached manner. In the same way we put fuel in our cars or place a food order at a restaurant. Technology is making it easy. We can send an e-mail or a text message to end a relationship, fire an employee or to just say hateful and hurtful things to or about another. We have the invisible cyberspace wall to insulate us from all those messy emotions our writings elicit. There are some who actually take great pleasure imagining the pain they have caused another human being. These individuals continue to pursue, day in and day out, with relentless passion a barrage of cruelty. There has been an increase of violence being produced in the entertainment industry, from music, movies, television and games. We become desensitized to pain and suffering when it amuses us. It all seems harmless. It is just a fantasy. A virtual reality that we visit just for fun. The problem is that every thought, feeling, emotion and action carries with it an energy. If the collective consciousness is putting anger, pain, hatred and cruelty out into the universe, even for entertainment purposes, then that is the low vibrational energy that our planet is swirling in. When we no longer  feel empathy or compassion for another, be it human, plant or animal, then we have diminished a vital part of our human and spiritual being.

Thanksgiving is the holiday that ushers in what I consider the season of the heart chakra.  The word chakra is a Sanskrit word meaning “wheel”.    Those who have a sensitivity to seeing energy often describe them as spinning wheels or vortexes.   There are seven primary chakras that run along the spine, beginning at the base and running up to the top of the head, or the crown.  It is said that every thought and feeling is recorded in one of the chakras.  The chakras have individual vibrations, color and sound that they are attuned to.  When each chakra is in balance,  the body has a greater opportunity to  experience good health, both physically and emotionally.

This brings us back to Anahata.  This beautiful Sanskrit word for the heart chakra means  “unhurt”.  It is the fourth chakra, with its location in the heart, upper chest and upper back.  It vibrates to the colors green/pink and the note of “F”. Its element is air, which spreads and  energizes.   This is the chakra that helps us to be open and connect with harmony and peace, to love and be loved.  When it is in balance we experience warmth, sincerity, happiness, unity,  connection to all life and a willingness to help.  When the heart chakra is too open there might be jealousy, co-dependency, clinging, demanding behavior and over-sacrificing.  A fourth chakra that is insufficient may display behaviors of   intolerance, loneliness and isolation, be critical and judgmental,  anti-social and withdrawn and show lack of empathy,  Physical signs of an imbalance in the heart chakra amy include chest pain, lung congestion, shallow breathing, upper back tension, cold sweats, tight muscles, circulation imbalance, blood pressure imbalance and an immune deficiency.  Try the simple exercise below to help balance the heart chakra.

Heart Chakra Healing

Begin by sitting down, keeping a straight posture. Bring the hands together and place the knuckles of both thumbs over the heart and feel it beating. With eyes closed, take a few minutes to concentrate only on your heartbeat. Feel the power and energy that each beat represents.

Next, place the right palm over the center of the chest with the left palm on top of the right. Think about how warm your chest feels. Now, envision a radiant emerald light that is coming in and filling the body. See this light as entering through the heart and after it travels around the rest of the body, returning to the heart bringing a tingling refreshing feeling to the entire body.

Take a few minutes to experience the joy that love brings. Know that to truly love others, one must love themselves. Before ending the meditation, take the palms and place them towards the sky, outstretch the arms, and envision sending some of this wonderful positive energy into the universe.

Affirmations:

I am an open channel for divine love.

I open my heart and share it with others.

I love who I am.

Other ways to bring balance to the heart chakra include listening to tuning forks or singing bowls in the note of F, yoga poses that open the chest and full breaths to energize the body and mind.

We have entered the season of peace, love, harmony and generosity of spirit, but keeping a balanced heart chakra can mean that these qualities emanate from us year round.

Nov

1

By megfiddler

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Golden Milk

One of my favorite warm drinks is called turmeric tea or golden milk. It is an unusual mixture of milk, turmeric, honey, almond oil and cinnamon.  Turmeric is a shrub that is native to India and Southeast Asia.  It is the spice that gives mustard its yellow color.   It is also used in Indian curries. While it is known for its warm, pungent and flavorful quality; it also is believed to have many health benefits, which lie in the active ingredient called curcumin. These benefits include a reduction in inflammation by lowering histamine levels. This can be helpful for lessening joint pain.  Curcumin has shown promise in eliminating bad cholesterol (LDL).  This prevents the buildup of plaque in your arteries. Turmeric also has antioxidants that help fight free radicals that contribute to premature aging and cancer. It was traditionally used as a digestive aid because it helps stimulate the flow of bile. There have been animal studies that indicate that turmeric can even help protect the liver from certain toxins.  If all these benefits weren’t enough for one spice, well there could be more.  There are studies being conducted to see if turmeric could play a role in helping to reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s or reduce the symptoms.

While Turmeric is generally considered a safe herb, one should perhaps avoid it therapeutically if they have congestive heart disease whose cause remains unidentified. People who have painful gallstones, obstructive jaundice, acute bilious colic or toxic liver disorders.  One should exercise caution if they are pregnant,  thinking of becoming pregnant, nursing,  taking blood thinners or have a blood clotting disorder.    We all know the drill, “when in doubt, ask your doctor.”

I myself enjoy turmeric in my scrambled eggs, blending it with the eggs prior to cooking them.  I also add it to my chili while it is simmering.  But when a chill is in the air I enjoy a cup of golden tea to start my day.  The recipe is below:

Golden Milk  Tea:

The Paste:

2 TBSP of turmeric

1/4 c water

The Tea:

1 cup milk (I use soy or almond milk myself)

*1 tsp of almond oil(this is not almond flavoring or extract)

honey to taste

cinnamon to taste(optional)

Stir together the turmeric  and water in a small saucepan.  Bring to a simmer on low heat and allow to cook, stirring until a thick paste is formed.  This happens very quickly.

Use only 1 tsp of the paste for each cup of golden milk tea.   Add the turmeric paste, milk, almond oil,  and honey to a saucepan cook on low heat.  Sprinkle a bit of cinnamon on top if you like.  Bring milk just to a boil, then remove from heat.  Whisk briskly.  Pour into a cup, sip and enjoy.

*Almond oil can be purchased from Whole Foods in their cooking oil section or from Mother Natures in Liberty.

recipe from http://vegetarian.about.com

Oct

12

By megfiddler

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A Walk on the Wild Side

One way that people can alleviate stress and escape their every day problems and worries is to enjoy a bit of nature. A walk in the woods, a botanical garden or on a park nature trail can be very enjoyable and beneficial. If we allow ourselves, we can take in the beauty of colors that a crayon box can’t match. The fragrant smell of wood, moss, grass and wild flowers invites us to take deep breaths in through our noses and as we exhale we feel the tension leave our bodies and since most of us tend to be shallow chest breathers the majority of the time this is wonderful; lots of fresh oxygen is reaching our aching muscles. A nature walk gives us a symphony of sounds as well. We hear birds singing to each other, perhaps as a means of attracting a mate or maybe as a warning that another human or predator is around, regardless pause and listen to their musical serenade or conversation. We see those pesky squirrels scamper across the path and up a tree and while this behavior is annoying when we are driving in our cars and they dart back and forth across the road, it seems more amusing when they do it in their more natural environment. A deer or two might be observed grazing on vegetation in the trees. One can stop and if quiet take in their serene beauty.
Yes a walk in nature can help us feel more relaxed and grounded, but here in the midwest there are of course days when the weather does not lend itself to outdoor activities. The heat and humidity cannot only be suppressive, but downright dangerous for some, while the winter months bring sharp bitter air and icy snow packed paths. But there is a way to enjoy nature from the comfort of your home, while you don’t get the benefit of exercise nor the delightful sounds and smells, it is still very lovely. Kansas City has a very talented, accomplished and award winning wildlife artist by the name of Joni Johnson Godsy. Joni has traveled all over the world photographing and painting wildlife. She has a blog that she shares not only her photographic talents, but also her passion and knowledge of nature. A visit to her blog is a bit of a nature adventure. She may take you on a journey to explore the wildlife of a national park, a foreign country or maybe just her own backyard, but regardless of where you go, her talent and insights will bring her subjects to life for you and I believe inspire you to take a walk on the wild side.
Enjoy Joni’s blog and wildlife art at the link below:

http://www.jonijohnsongodsy.com/

Sep

20

By megfiddler

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Fur Friends and Health

I am fortunate to have been raised in a family that appreciated and valued the companionship of pets. We owned a variety of dogs over the years, some we brought into our world by our choice, such as our German Shepherds Lady & Boots and a Saint Bernard named Kelly, who actually was a gift to my sister from her boyfriend. Others seemed to seek us out, such as Stranger a beautiful skittish girl that came to trust my sister Sharon’s gentle nature, but only after many weeks of patient coaxing. There was a mixed terrier we named Traveler. Her eyes looked as if she had eye-liner on. Pudger was a very smart chocolate cock-a-poo who loved everyone. There were others, but these dogs touched our lives in countless ways and have lived in our hearts and memories years after they departed. We even had a parakeet that my dad caught in our backyard. We first saw this blue fellow one afternoon flying around the yard with the wild birds. My dad and sisters and I chased him around the yard with a butterfly net and a floppy hat. We lived out in the country, but I am sure we were a sight to see; two kids and their father running through the fields waving a hat & net. We didn’t catch the bird that day of course, but my dad built a live trap and after many attempts and the capturing of wild birds he finally caught him and Pretty Boy became a member of our family. I remember waking many a morning to the smell of coffee brewing and the sound of my Mother’s voice repeating over and over “hello”. She really wanted that little bird to talk, alas he never did, although she always claimed that he did say hello once. The heart hears what it wants to hear.
When I moved out on my own, the apartment I rented didn’t allow dogs, so my journey into the unknown world of cat ownership began. I adopted Mia from Animal Haven in Merriam, Ks. and the following year Lily, again from Animal Haven. They were very friendly and loving cats who loved to sit on your lap for stroking or just for a nap. They would always greet me at the door when I came home in the evening. Mia died suddenly at the age of eleven and Lily recently passed away at 17 years of age.
When John and I moved to our current home we decide to get a dog. John had never really owned a true pet in his life so an indoor dog was going to be a new experience for him and one that to be honest, he felt he could happily skip. He tolerated the cats. I had them before we met and the deal was, “Love me, at least tolerate the cats”. Even though John had never had a close relationship with an animal he had a very strong opinion about the breed of dog he wanted—-a border collie. We have friends with border collies and he admired their intelligence. So we adopted Annie, a bc/mix from MoKan Border Collie Rescue in Kansas City. A year later we decided she needed a fur friend and adopted Jack. Being rescue dogs they have come with challenges, some easily overcome, some are still a work in progress, but they are members of our family forever and they bring us joy and pleasure without measure.
Unfortunately living in the country means we often have the sad experience of “dumped dogs” There appears to be a belief out there that people who live in the country have an abundance of land so they must also have an abundance of love and resources to take in all the unwanted pets out there. Not true! Over the years we took in a stray cat who was blind in one eye and had a torn ear. He was diagnosed with feline leukemina and feline immune virus, but we had him vaccinated and neutered and he lived his life out on our back deck and in John’s workshop. He taught Annie to respect cats. He would box at her with his front paws. A jab with a right paw. A jab with a left paw, backing her into a corner of the deck and even when she tried to escape he kept at her. We found a poor pathetic young pup curled up in a ball by the side of our driveway one cold snowy December day. We took him in and had him vetted. He had non-contagious mange and stayed with us for 3 months while he recovered. My sister fell in love with him and adopted him. We found two 7 week old pups on the side of the road during one Sunday morning walk, thankfully a local rescue group took them in and found them forever homes. We had another skinny frightened fellow show up on another December day. It took us hours of coaxing and a package of hotdogs, but he finally trusted us enough to come with us. We vetted him and again my sister with the soft heart adopted him as a companion to her boy Riley.
Each one of these dogs has a story that we will never know, but the story that begins when they entered our lives is profound. They give us unconditional love and friendship. They entertain us and at times frustrate us. They remind us to be patient. When they appear as if out of nowhere we are reminded that the human species is not always compassionate nor the higher life form, in fact we are often reminded how low the human species can go when we see the true cruelty that they can inflict on innocent animals. The Michael Vic dog fighting story is just one example, but the horrendous treatment of dogs in puppy mills is well documented. Missouri is one of the biggest producers of puppy mill dogs. They are considered cash crops to these breeders, not unlike cattle, corn or soy beans. When a dog is purchased from a pet store it is most likely it came from a puppy mill.
I started this blog today wanting to share information about the health benefits of pet ownership. I have rambled and veered off course for which I apologize, but the truth is that pets give us far more than they receive. There are many studies that show how chronic stress raises the harmful chemicals of cortisol and norepinephrine in our bodies. These chemicals can contribute to plaque buildup in the arteries. Playing with or petting a dog or cat can help elevate the nerve transmitters serotonin and dopamine which have a calming feel good effect on the body. There is even research that indicates that male pet owners have lower triglycerides and cholesterol levels than non-owners. A study of 240 married couples was conducted by NIH Clinical Center in Bethesda, Maryland. They found that those who owned pets were found to have lower heart rates and blood pressure, at rest or when undergoing stress tests, than those without pets. It has also been found that those who walk their dogs usually walk for longer periods and at a faster pace. Dogs also offer the opportunity to expand one’s social life. They are a way to spark conversation which can help alleviate loneliness. Pets can even be allergy fighters. Infants tested at birth and one year later were less likely to have pet allergies. They were also less likely to have eczema; a skin allergy condition. In fact these children had higher levels of some immune system chemicals.
Dogs and even cats in some instances are used for therapy purposes in hospitals, nursing homes and schools.
Pets contribute greatly to the quality of human life. They can help lessen our loneliness and depression. They allow us to put our attention on something other than ourselves or our problems. They encourage us to exercise and help us to engage in social interactions. They warn us of dangers both external and internal. Dogs have been trained to recognize when someone is having a low blood sugar or a seizure. But responsible pet ownership requires a human commitment that includes good food, proper vet care, training, exercise and love. It requires an exploration into your own personality and lifestyle to discover what kind of pet is right for you. Do you need a high energy dog that will go on your daily run or a little ball of fur to cuddle with on the couch? Do you want a puppy or kitten or a mature older animal? If the commitment of long term pet ownership is not for you for whatever reason there are still options out there that will allow you to benefit from fur kids. You can volunteer at a shelter to walk dogs or help socialize the kittens. You can be a temporary foster home for a rescue group. Many foster families need a break and a safe place for the dog while they take a vacation, you could be that reprieve for them, even if it is only for a weekend.
Pet ownership should never be entered into lightly or at the spur of the moment. It should be contemplated and explored completely, but know that for you the rewards are almost endless and as a human being, you just may find yourself elevated to new heights.

Aug

7

By megfiddler

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Follow Your Bliss

When I first heard about the Bliss Fest, I thought what a cool name for a festival. I mean how can you not feel good about such an event. The name alone conjures up feelings of happiness, contentment and brings a smile to your face. I felt strongly that I wanted to participate in this festival and so on a hot July 31st morning in Parkville, MO., by the Missouri River, a canopy(borrowed from Fair Share Farm) was pitched and the Quiet Moments Bliss Fest booth was born.

This was the third annual Bliss Fest and each year it has grown in the number of vendors, sponsors and volunteers. The number of visitors was steady, but not overwhelming. The vendors were varied and included massage therapists such as myself, energy workers, reflexologiy, raw food art, raw food vendors, yoga instructors, chiropractors, organic food growers, even a hula hoop booth and others promoting green eco friendly and sustainable businesses. There was music, guest speakers and a kids zone. Really there was something for anyone who wanted to explore or enhance a healthy lifestyle.

At the Quiet Moments booth mini massage or energy therapy sessions were offered for a donation to Northland Animal Welfare Society, a non-profit organization dedicated to raising funds to build a no kill shelter in the northland, as well as to educate everyone on proper and humane care of our fur friends. Many people took advantage of the opportunity to stretch out on the massage table and feel the tension released from their head, face arms and hands, others enjoyed an attunement energy session to help strengthen their endocrine system, each treatment brought a feeling of relaxation and a heightened sense of bliss.

On any given weekend in the spring/summer and fall there is a festival in the Kansas City area, usually one promoting arts and crafts, but we are currently living at a time in history where obesity is at an all time high, individuals take a multitude of medications to lower blood pressure, cholesterol, help them sleep, feel good about life and manage diabetes. We have a generation of children that will have a shorter life span than previous generations. Our carbon footprints are contributing to a planet that is challenged to sustain a quality of life. We need more festivals that engage us all to think healthy and live healthy not just for ourselves, but for our children and the planet. The Uptown Theater will be hosting a two day Green Fest in August. I hope everyone will visit this festival too, as the only way we will see them continue as venues and more to festivals like them to be created is by visitor participation.

So create, find and follow your bliss daily. There can never be too much bliss in the world.

Jul

23

By megfiddler

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A Serene Mind

“You cannot perceive beauty, but with a serene mind.”—Henry David Thoreau

I first saw this quote on a poster with a picture of a beautiful tranquil beach scene. The poster hung on a wall at the original Quiet Moments in Merriam, Kansas. I always thought it eloquently summed up the need to relax the mind, otherwise we miss the beauty in the world. Our individual corners of the universe become filled with deadlines, appointments, traffic congestion, pollution and constant motion.
We live out in the country on about 25 acres. The property is a mixture of pasture, meadow and woods. In the early morning hours our border collie Jack and border collie/mix Annie, head out into the yard to chase away the pesky squirrels and rabbits that are so bold as to trespass into their yard. I sit on the deck with a cup of jasmine tea. The air, even at 6:00am is already warm and hints at the oppressive heaviness that will soon make its presence known this July morning. But in these alone moments I listen to the birds sing their morning songs. I watch bright red cardinals perch on the feeder enjoying a breakfast of sunflower seeds. We have had so much rain that the flowers in the butterfly garden are still bright and perky. They offer themselves to the hummingbirds and monarchs that pass through our yard. The dense foliage from trees and other plant life provides a curtain for the deer and other wildlife that are exploring the woods beyond our yard. In the distance you can hear a mother cow calling for her wayward calf to return to her. These are the sights and sounds of a summer morning in the country. This is my time to sit quietly and be nothing more than an observer of nature. The world doesn’t extend beyond my vision during this morning ritual, no appointments, traffic, bills to pay, no questions to be answered, and no thoughts about what I will fix for dinner, just a serene mind and an awareness and appreciation of the beauty that surrounds me.
We each have within us the ability to create our own daily haven of tranquility. A place that offers respite from the world with its collective chaos, anxiety and problems. A place that gives birth to a serene mind and beauty is perceived.

Jul

14

By megfiddler

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Go Team Chocolate

What does chocolate and massage have in common? They both release endorphins. These neurotransmitters, which can be found in the brain, including the pituitary gland and in other parts of the body interact with opiate receptors in the brain. The secretion of endorphins can help with decreased feelings of pain and also increase those feeling of euphoria. Go Team Chocolate!

Chocolate has also been shown to offer us other benefits. More and more studies are being conducted, including one in Germany that followed nearly 20,000 people for 10 years and found that those who ate the most chocolate had lower blood pressure and a 39 percent lower risk of having a heart attack or stroke. Flavanols may play a part in this. Flavanols, which are a specific type of flavonoids, are believed to lower blood pressure and improve blood flow to the heart and brain. Cocoa, the main ingredient in chocolate is rich in flavanols which also have antioxidant qualities. Most are aware that antioxidants help the body’s cells to resist damage caused by free radicals. These free roaming organic molecules are responsible for aging, tissue damage and some diseases. Team Chocolate is on a roll.

Finally chocolate is a delicious way to get a bit of magnesium into your body. Magnesium is essential to the functioning of the human body. It transmits nerve impulses, helps with muscle relaxation and is necessary for the development of healthy teeth and bones. Of course there are many ways to get magnesium into your diet; nuts, some fish, and leafy green vegetables are a few examples. But when it’s 2:00 in the afternoon and you need a little snack, why not pick dark chocolate? Choose a chocolate with a cocoa content of 65 percent or higher, without the addition of nuts, marshmallows or coconut. An allowance of 1-3 ounces is good, but you still have calories, which means you may want to make adjustments accordingly.

So savor the fragrance and rich flavor of your favorite dark chocolate. Enjoy the many benefits and leave the guilt behind. Go Team Chocolate!

Jun

21

By megfiddler

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Less can be more

One of the requirements to retain a massage license in the state of Missouri, as well as national certification is to pursue continuing education. A couple of weeks ago I attended the Craniosacral I class presented by the Upledger Institute. My experience of craniosacral therapy dates back to my early days at massage school in the 90’s. At that time I was taking many classes to complete my 500 hour massage program. I was exploring the many different realms of massage and energy therapy; craniosacral was one of the classes offered in the curriculum. I was fascinated by this gentle and relaxing technique and while I believed it to be very powerful in its ability to bring about change in the body and mind, it wasn’t massage and I wanted to be a “massage therapist”; that is why I was going to school after all. Over the years I would see an amazing craniosacral therapist for an occasional tune-up to just kind of balance things out. It wasn’t until I started experiencing what I call “barometric pressure headaches” that would become migraine like that I decided to take action that would address the cause, not just the symptoms. I could take medications to relieve the pain, nausea and sensitivity to light, but what I really wanted was not to be at the mercy of a weather front. I was constantly watching the weather to see if there was a storm moving in or if it was going to be too hot or too humid. I was on a mission. My therapist ‘Chris Jorgensen initially saw me every other week for about two months. We then went to monthly sessions. Chris feels that we could probably go to every other month at this point, but why mess with a good thing. I consider my monthly sessions a form of health care maintenance, that just happens to be relaxing and feel good. It can’t get much better than that in my opinion.
So for four days in June I sat in a hotel conference room with close to thirty other professionals ranging from fellow massage therapists to physical therapists, physical therapist assistants, chiropractors and energy therapists. We learned about the history of craniosacral therapy; physician and osteopath Dr. John Upledger is considered the father of craniosacral therapy and it is his institute that has researched and for the most part developed this modality. We learned the techniques that are so gentle and minimal in movement, that to an observer it would appear that nothing is happening. And we practiced on each other. We learned to be still within ourselves and to listen on a deeper level with our hands.
So what is this thing called craniosacral therapy? It is a soft tissue modality that seeks to identify and release restrictions in the connective tissue. There is rhythm in the body called the cranial rhythm. It is separate and distinct from the breathing and heart rate. A therapist will gently place their hands on the body in various places to feel the rhythm and in particular will look for a lack of rhythm. The pressure used is usually in the area of 5 grams or the weight of a nickel; less is more. When those areas are treated not only are the symptoms addressed, but more importantly the source is too.
I believe that craniosacral therapy demonstrates how the human body is so capable of contributing to its own healing and that if given the chance it will embrace the opportunity to do so.
To learn more about Dr. John Upledger I recommend his book The Inner Physician and You. I also recommend Working Wonders:Changing Lives with Crniosacral Therapy. These are case studies from practitioners of CST submitted to The Upledger Institute.

Jun

5

By megfiddler

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Quiet the mind

Relax the body, quiet the mind.  That is the tag line for Quiet Moments Massage Therapy.   It is what I strive to help my clients achieve during a massage session, yet a quiet mind is seldom the real quest of a client.  A relaxed pain free body is the most requested outcome.  A mind at peace is a little like a lovely dessert;  if it happens to come with the meal, great, but we seldom order it.  That is hard for me to understand.   I myself have a busy mind.  I am always in “thinking mode”.  I think and worry about the future, the present and often live in the past, rehashing over and over an event.   I have to  make a conscious effort to allow my mind to be at rest.  I do this in many ways.  I practice throughout my day deep breathing techniques, such as a 4-7-8 breath.  I breathe in through the nose for a comfortable count of 4.   I hold the breath for a count of 7 and exhale the breath through my lips, as if blowing through a flute,  for the count of 8.  I do this for a couple of cycles and then breath normally, or sometimes I just take a deep cleansing breath and exhale.  I try to allocate time daily for a little meditation.   I also seek craniosacral therapy,   acupuncture and massage therapy on a regular basis.  I enjoy these different modalities not just for a reduction in pain or to help maintain my health, but because I know that each of these sessions will  bring with them the opportunity for my mind to be quiet and at peace.   I will also experience a refreshing sense of clarity.

When our minds are constantly busy, moving from thought to thought, but not in a mindful or deliberate manner, then our minds are basically in  a state of chaos.  When the mind is chaotic the body will follow.  Thoughts and emotions have energy that is interpreted and acted out in the body in the form of clenched jaws and hands, elevated and rounded shoulders, headaches, anxiety, digestive disorders and disrupted sleep.   We readily address those poor aching shoulders, but we give little attention to how we exhaust and overwhelm our minds with constant stimulation.  There are also passive forms of exercise such as tai chi and qi gong.  These are gentle traditional Chinese movement exercises that help reduce stress and offer other health benefits.  Yoga helps keep the body flexible, but also teaches many breathing techniques.   So turn off the television,  talk radio programs, computer and cellphone, close your eyes, take a deep breath in and exhale, your mind will thank you.