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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Categories: Uncategorized

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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Categories: Uncategorized

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.