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Self Care

Hello my friends. Welcome. I know. I know. You are expecting to read about minerals, right? I haven’t forgotten.

Phosphorus will be coming soon. But, with the busyness of summer, I just haven’t had the time to do proper research and bring you a well understood piece. It’s coming though. In the meantime, this site is about so much more than just nutrition. It’s about all aspects of healing, self care, and stability. Today, I want to talk about something that pertains to all of those things. In the past, I have taken the time to write about people who inspire me. Those posts have always been some of my favorites to write. Today I want to tell you about one of those people.

Time flies when you are making friends, right? When I met Sandy, she was in a hard place. She had put out a request on Facebook that really touched my heart. It was pertaining to one of her children, and in an attempt to respect her privacy, I think that is all I am willing to tell you. I reached out to her, because it was something that I had experience with. Something important to my heart. It was a subject that I thought I could help with. And a friendship was born.

You know me. A woman of many words, I really had to be careful not to overwhelm this poor woman with all the tidbits I wanted to share. She was, after all, nearly a perfect stranger. To my knowledge, we had one very important detail in common, and that was it. I did not want to blow her up with tidbits of advice. *practice self control here woman*. But years have passed now, and I have had time to get to know her a little better.

What an inspiration she is! As time passed, I saw more and more that we had in common. I have watched as hardships have come, and been overcome. I have seen how her family pulls together in the times it is most important. I have witnessed her bravely and candidly, sharing her ups and downs, so that she can be an inspiration to others who may need to hear it “today”.  I have seen the things that we have in common multiply over the years. I have found myself comfortably approaching her with my ‘oh so wordy’ tidbits now. And I find myself in a position to say that she is someone whom I truly admire. Someone who we all could learn a thing or two from.

This incredible woman is raising four beautiful children. She and her husband work hard, together, to be the foundation that any strong family needs, regardless of what comes their way. I am blessed with a strongly supportive husband, who celebrates every little victory with me. It is so refreshing to see another couple working so hard, together! I love that he supports all her crazy little endeavors, just like my husband does. I recently found out that she also has a love of gardening somewhere in there too, and what a door for endlessly long paragraphs that has led to. Sometimes I just can’t shut up! My point is, as time goes by, this woman whom I admired the day I met her, has only proven what I always suspected. She is pretty darn amazing. Full of perseverance and always trying to better herself and the world around her.

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Recently, she started selling POSH products. For those of you who are not familiar with POSH, they are delightful skincare products, sold through direct marketing. Sandy started doing mud mask videos, and I realized another thing we have in common. A love for that which pampers us. Particularly mud. And particularly that which is more naturally based. Enter POSH. I was hesitant to ask for samples at first, but she posted a Chunky Bar of bath soap that looked so divine, I just couldn’t hold back any more, and I reached out and asked for samples. She was so happy to send them to me. Mailed out the same day, I had them within the week. Summer is busy as usual, and I didn’t get around to really checking it out, until this week finally. I had done a little perusing in the catalog, and online, but I had it in my head that I was going to wait until I could take the proper time for a good pampering, before I broke into the samples. I am so glad I did!

 

Last night, after a late evening of running errands in town, I decided it was time. I have had a busy week in the yard and garden, and I really felt like I could use a good, deep clean. I had clay everywhere. On my face, in my armpits, and on the bottoms of my feet. It has been hot here, and all the hard work had me feeling like a deep pore cleanse would feel great. And I was right. It did not disappoint. I got all my delightful POSH samples. I got everything I needed. After all, you can’t really walk around once there is clay on your feet. So I sat over the side of my tub while my feet soaked it in, trading the minerals in clay for the toxins that so desperately need out. The Cackle Spackle on my face was so nice and refreshing! Cooling peppermint. Like any mask, it gets a bit itchy as it dries, but that goes away if you can be patient, and the end result is so worth it. A glowing clean face. I climbed in the shower to wash off all that clay. I was delighted with the BFF (Best Face Forward) gentle exfoliating face wash. That one is definitely going on my wish list! The sample pack I got included all the necessary lotions and moisturizers for after my pampering shower. Complete with a delightful face moisturizer, an absolutely lovely Fresh Creamy Milk body butter, and last, but not least, the perfect hand lotion for a gardeners needy hands. The Big Fat Yummy hand cream was the most delicious Blackberry and Jasmine scent.

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Look at all these goodies!

Midnight was probably not the best hour to start this personal spa session. I found myself wide awake and completely refreshed after all of this delightfulness. Thankfully, it was a relaxing kind of refreshed, and I actually did get to sleep relatively soon afterwards. The best part though, was this morning, when my hubby came in to give me a kiss goodbye before he left for work. In my dreary, mostly asleep state, I vividly recall hearing him say “you smell good”. What a great way to wake up! My husband is never short with the compliments, but it was so nice to hear that, first thing in my day, and to really wake up and feel so refreshed and clean, and know that he is right, I do smell good, is a great way to start my weekend.

And what a weekend it shall be. I decided to take a break from the garden today. Don’t want to wash all this fresh off with weed pulling. I have been longing to write, but am not prepared to do my next mineral quite yet. I can’t think of a more perfect way to write about well being, than to highlight my home spa experience. If you haven’t ever treated yourself to a home spa experience, seriously. Try it. You are worth it. You deserve the ten minutes, or the hour, or however much time you can afford to spare for it. I know you are busy with children and work and responsibilities, but honestly, the world will keep turning if you take a few minutes to refill your fuel tank. An hour spent caring for you, can make all the difference in the world! So many women think that they don’t have the time, or can’t afford it. Some simply never thought to try it, or don’t know how to begin. Just jump in! Light a candle, run a bath. Smear some clay on your face, and enjoy ten minutes of nourishing you. I promise you, the world will keep turning, and it may turn a little brighter when you remember that you are worth a little pampering.

Personal health is so much more than diet, or spirituality, or eliminating chemicals from your life. Personal health is about all of those things and more. Take ten minutes to care for your body. We get out what we put in. If you spend all day running after your kids or other various responsibilities, and never take time for you, you will burn out, and fail to be good at caring for anyone. Caring for yourself is one of the most important factors in being a person who can make a change in this world. Somebody, I have no idea who, once said “you can’t pour from an empty cup”.

And so, today I am giving a shout out to Sandy. Who tries every day, to remember to fill her cup full, so that she can be a source of inspiration and light to others. We could all take a page from her playbook. Her transparency is refreshing. Her drive, exhilarating. This is a woman who won’t give up or let life stop her from chasing her dreams. A woman who, even on her hardest days, manages to bring a ray of sunshine into the world. I am thankful to call her my friend. And so, today I send out a “Cheers” to her. I want to use this space and time, to thank her for putting up with my endless, long winded messages. For being a source of inspiration to all who meet her, and for never giving up. If you want to support her, or if you just want to try these delightful products for yourself, you can check out her website, Be Poshsome, or find her on Facebook.

I hope you all have a wonderful day. Take a few minutes for you. Find some time to refill your cup. It may feel inconvenient right now, but you are not an inconvenience. Take the time to tell your body thank you for all the hard work it does. Until next time, my friends…

Be Blessed.

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Potassium

Potassium. Where to begin. This mineral has my brain working hard. What I am finding in my research, is somewhat conflicted. It is a fascinating mineral, and I hope I don’t bore you to death getting long winded about it. Potassium gets its name from the salt potash, where it was first isolated, by English Chemist, Sir Humphry Davy.  He discovered it in 1807. The Latin word for Potash is Kalium.

Potassium is an electrolyte. By now, we know that electrolytes are minerals that carry an electric charge when dissolved in body fluids, and that they allow the body to properly perform critical functions throughout every system. Potassium is critical to survival, and every living cell (plant and animal) requires it. The majority (up to 98%) of the potassium is stored in the bodies cells and tissues. Only about 2% is allowed in the blood, and it is strictly regulated. The body maintains this balance by matching the amount that is eliminated with the amount that is consumed.

Potassium is responsible for maintaining normal function of cells, nerves and muscles. It regulates the fluid balance in the body, and it controls the electrical activity of muscles and very importantly, the heart. Potassium counteracts the effects of sodium, and the body requires a delicate balance between the two. In this way, it helps to maintain blood pressure. It also helps to maintain the balance of acids and bases in the body. Potassium plays a key role in helping to preserve muscle mass. A proper potassium/sodium balance helps the kidneys to work properly, and has a role in energy production. There is new research being done that shows a correlation between potassium/sodium balance and bone health.

Potassium works with several other elements to perform properly, but the potassium/sodium balance seems to be among the top priorities in potassium regulation. The cells pull potassium in, thus pushing sodium out, and creating a pump like action that powers the heart with electricity generated by electrolytes, similar to a small battery. Clearly, this is a big deal. I ran into conflicting information when I got to this part of my research. It appears as though some sources think this is a huge problem in our culture, and others do not recognize it as an issue at all. I am unsure exactly what to think, but I will do my best to share what I have learned, as objectively as I can. I am a little cautious to continue on, without dire warnings. Too much or too little potassium can quickly turn deadly. Please do not start taking potassium supplements in response to this information. If you suspect a potassium imbalance, I can not emphasize strongly enough, how important it is that you never take a potassium supplement unless a professional health care practitioner advises it. There are plenty of healthy foods you can use to increase your potassium intake, and we will get to them, but I am very, very serious, when I say, please see a professional if you are considering a supplement for Potassium.

The potassium/sodium connection deserves its own distinction. The two rely on each other heavily for proper function. You can flush sodium from your body, by increasing the potassium in your diet, and studies have shown that reducing sodium AND increasing potassium in your diet, is a far better way to regulate heart disease and hypertension, than just decreasing sodium alone. The kidneys eliminate extra sodium through the urine, but when they do so, they also eliminate potassium. However, in the same fashion, if the body is deficient in potassium, it will hoard the potassium, and in doing so, will also hoard the sodium. There are some studies that point to the potassium/magnesium balance having an effect on obesity, and bone health as well. The potassium/sodium balance affects every part of the body, and there is a great article highlighting that balance, that you can read by following this link.

Our ancestors consumed sixteen times more potassium than sodium, due to the high potassium and low sodium availability in their diets. For comparison, in modern culture, the average American consumes about two times as much sodium as potassium! Again, I can’t stress enough to check with your doctor before considering a potassium supplement, but you can certainly increase potassium in your diet pretty safely. There are exceptions to this rule though, and it just is not smart to mess with any mineral in your body without some professional supervision. Certain meds, kidney malfunction or heart issues could cause risk of extreme consequences if a person starts altering potassium levels unsupervised. Potassium doesn’t just work in conjunction with sodium though. Potassium is essential to many processes. It helps to enhance Calcium reabsorption. Magnesium is required for the uptake of potassium. A balanced calcium/magnesium/potassium ratio in the body, helps to prevent stroke. Dr. Deanna Minich talks about some of these balances in her article titled “Vitamin and Mineral Interactions: The Complex Relationships of Essential Nutrients”,where she states that potassium deficiency is the most common electrolyte imbalance.

The WHO (World Health Organization) states that we should have a minimum of 3510 mg a day. NHANES (National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey) recommends 4700 mg a day. Both organizations indicate that the majority of Americans are not consuming this much. Some reports go as far as to state that 2% of Americans are consuming enough potassium. Others state that one in five adults hospitalized is potassium deficient. One thing everyone seems to agree on, is that many Americans are potassium deficient. It appears to me that potassium needs are not so generic as stated above, and that they should be based on certain demographics. Here is a nice article, published by the Australian National Health and Medical Research Council. It contains a chart that can give you more accurate numbers based on demographics such as age and gender.

Hyperkalemia (too much potassium)

The body is great at regulating strict levels of blood potassium. There are a few exceptions to this rule though. You might be Hyperkalemic if you have chronic kidney disease or kidney failure. Certain drugs can cause Hyperkalemia. Other causes can be severe dehydration, Type 1 Diabetes, potassium supplementation not regulated by a medical professional, Addisons disease, or a major injury or burn that causes damage to a large portion of red blood cells. By itself, high dietary intake does not usually cause problems, unless exacerbated by one of the above conditions.

Often there are no symptoms of Hyperkalemia until it is severe. When there are symptoms, they consist of things like nausea and vomiting, irritability, and paraesthesia (tingling/numbness). A slow, weak, irregular pulse, muscle weakness, diarrhea, and abdominal cramping are also symptoms that might present. If the heart becomes too weak, sudden collapse could occur. Medical professionals will use a combination of tests, including medical history, blood and urine tests, and electrocardiographs, to determine if you may be Hyperkalemic. Because potassium levels are rather difficult to get accurate results on, doctors will sometimes repeat tests, as there are many factors that can cause a false high potassium reading. When this happens, it is called Psuedohyperkalemia, and it can be caused by things like the cells rupturing and causing excess potassium to leak out before testing or if you are dehydrated or fluid overloaded. Letting the sample sit too long can cause false results. Contaminants may be to blame also.

Hypokalemia (potassium deficient)

Again, I am finding contradicting information here. Some sources say that Hypokalemia is not usually caused by poor dietary intake, but rather by loss from the GI tract and Kidneys. Other sources state that our highly processed diets, lacking fresh produce and meat, are the reason that so many people are lacking in potassium. Could it be a combination of both? The Mayo clinic lists ten causes of potassium deficiency in this article.  They are:

  • Alcohol use
  • Chronic Kidney Disease
  • Diabetic Ketoacidiosis
  • Diarrhea
  • Diuretics
  • Excessive laxative use
  • Folic Acid deficiency
  • Primary Aldosteronism
  • Some Antibiotics
  • Vomiting

Other possible causes that I found were all related to drugs/medications, chronic kidney problems and other medical complications. Eating Disorders, AIDS, Bariatric surgery, Asthma, and Type 1 Diabetes are all things that could lead to hypokalemia, due to either body processes or related medications. Leukemia, Cushings syndrome (high cortisol levels), and other adrenal disorders, can also play a role. Excessive salt intake combined with inadequate fruit and vegetable consumption can also lead to deficiency.

Symptoms of Hypokalemia are usually mild, and can be quite vague. They include such things as weakness and lethargy, muscle aches and stiffness, cramping in the arms or legs, and tingling or numbness. The digestive system is negatively impacted when potassium is out of balance, and you could see symptoms including nausea and vomiting, as well as abdominal cramping, bloating, and constipation. Frequent need to urinate and excessive thirst can also be indicators. Fainting, low blood pressure, and abnormal psychiatric behavior are also possible if potassium levels in the blood drop below acceptable limits. One article sited increased dietary potassium as a way to relieve sciatic pain. The heart is widely regulated by potassium, and you can expect to experience heart palpitations and breathing difficulties if potassium levels falls dangerously low.

As you can see, potassium is not a mineral to be experimented with or taken lightly. Please see a professional if this information seems relevant to you. The professionals have several options in tests they can run. They are in the best position to help you manage it, and if something doesn’t seem right, get a second opinion. No one knows it all.

Perhaps the most exciting thing yet about potassium, is how abundant it is. Every living cell requires it for basic function. Thankfully, this gives us many food sources to pursue healthier balances. I am going to include the top ones (believe it or not, bananas are way down around number ten on the list), and then I am going to include several links that have excellent charts that highlight the many sources of potassium in our diets. After all I have learned, it really seems that the average healthy adult, can easily manage their potassium intake by being conscious to eat lots of fruits and vegetables. Fruits are listed as the number one source of potassium. Potassium is everywhere. We just need to be conscious of the processed foods we are putting in our bodies. This is certainly not exclusive to potassium, and potassium deficient or not, eating unprocessed foods is going to help in more ways than you can imagine.

  • Avocado
  • Sweet Potatoes
  • Spinach
  • Squash (Acorn, Butternut)
  • Beans
  • Fish
  • Clams
  • Coconut water
  • Variety of fruits

Potassium foods/chart links:

Dr Axe Top Ten Potassium Rich Foods

Health.gov Apprendix 10. Food sources of Potassium

Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Kidney Disease: High- and Moderate- Potassium Foods

NHRI 26: Potassium

University of Louisville Potassium Foods List

There are a plethora of colleges that have downloadable charts available besides these listed above. A quick google search of potassium rich foods brings up many more than I can list here today.

Potassium has to be one of the most interesting minerals that I have studied so far. I deeply hope that I have helped you to understand it better. I am going to say it again, and I can’t say it enough, if you suspect a potassium imbalance that simple dietary changes won’t compensate for, please see a medical professional for follow up and possible solutions. It really can be quite dangerous to mess around with if you don’t have all of the necessary information. I typically try to let everyone know that you should always use diet rather than supplements to balance your health if possible, but in this situation, I highly recommend against supplementation at any point, without the help of a professional healthcare practitioner. If you are interested in my sources, or further reading, you can check out the links below. I am also going to include a link to a homemade electrolyte drink recipe that I found on the Weston A Price website. I have tried homemade electrolyte drinks in the past. Some are quite delicious. I have not tried this one, but I want to. If it doesn’t suit your tastes, search around for another homemade electrolyte recipe that does. Just watch the sugars. Some of these recipes can call for a great deal of sweetener, as they are often citrus based in flavor.

Weston A. Price DIY Homemade Electrolyte Energy Drink

Medical News Today  Everything You Need to Know About Potassium

Australian Government National Health and Medical Research Council Nutrient Reference Values

Harvard Health Publishing  Potassium and Sodium Out of Balance

Merck Manual Overview of Potassium’s Role in the Body

Dr Deanna Minich Vitamin and Mineral Interactions: The Complex Relationship of Essential Nutrients

Merck Manual Hyperkalemia (High Level of Potassium in the Blood)

Mayo Clinic Low Potassium (Hypokalemia)

MedicineNet Low Potassium (Hypokalemia)

Healthline 8 Signs and Symptoms of Potassium Deficiency (Hypokalemia)

Ducksters Elements for Kids: Potassium

Wikipedia Potassium

National Institutes of Health Potassium

 

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Magnesium

 

 

 

Good morning my friends! I hope this day finds you well. Continuing on my mission to learn as much as I can about essential minerals that the body needs, I have researched Magnesium this week. Holy buckets! Magnesium is such an amazing mineral. After reading the first article, I was so overwhelmed with where to start, that I took three days off researching to process what I had gathered and how in the world I was going to organize all this information.

Magnesium is a macro-mineral. This means that our bodies need a lot of it for proper function. The hundreds of reactions that it is responsible for are occurring on a nearly constant basis.

Magnesium is an electrolyte. We talked about electrolytes in the last post, but in case you missed that one, electrolytes are substances that carry an electrical charge when mixed with body fluids, allowing them to communicate with the cells in your body. You can learn more about electrolytes here.

Magnesium is necessary for over 300 biochemical processes in the body! Many enzymes rely on Magnesium to function properly. As you can imagine, having an imbalance can wreak extensive havoc in the body. Magnesium plays a particularly important role in the metabolism of Calcium and Potassium. We need it for proper bone and tooth development, as well as normal nerve and muscle function. Magnesium in the blood is strictly regulated by the body. This is why salt baths are effective for a short period of time, but the extra magnesium in your blood is quickly eliminated in your waste, and the effects of a salt bath are short lived. Most (more than half, or 60-70%) of the Magnesium found in the body, is stored in the bones. When blood Magnesium levels get too low, the body releases some from the bones. When it is too high, the body eliminates it through the waste systems.

Magnesium maintains hundreds of processes in the body. Some of the most important ones are to help maintain healthy brain function and to help maintain healthy heart function. It is also believed to be responsible for helping to regulate insulin in those with Type 2 Diabetes. It can help improve sleep quality, as well as help to control migraines and reduce symptoms of depression. Magnesium is an important factor in protein synthesis and it plays a crucial role in muscle and nerve function. Also important is the role that it plays in our energy production. Daily recommendations for magnesium vary by age and gender. This article, published by The National Institutes of Health, has a nice little chart showing how much you need based on those factors.

Hypermagnesemia (too much magnesium)

It is fairly rare to have too much Magnesium in our bodies. The gut and kidneys place strict controls on how much is allowed into the blood. There are few scenarios that will allow for more than the body can use to enter the bloodstream. There are a couple of rare situations where you might have to watch out for too much Magnesium, typically extreme medical cases involving renal failure and supplements that contain Magnesium combined. It is also occasionally used therapeutically, in a closely monitored medical situation, to control neurological function after a cardiac event. Symptoms of Hypermagnesemia include confusion and weakness, decreased breathing rate and in severe cases, cardiac arrest. You may experience nausea and vomiting, or abnormally low blood pressure. Headaches, heart palpitations, and flushing are also symptoms to watch for, and in severe cases, Hypermagnesemia can even result in coma. This would require extremely large amounts of Magnesium in the blood.

There is not a lot of information to be found on Hypermagnesemia, I am guessing because it really is quite rare. Hypomagnesemia (not enough Magnesium), on the other hand, is fairly common.

Hypomagnesemia (Magnesium deficient)

Hypomagnesemia is far more common than Hypermagnesemia. It is caused by things like malabsorption which is often caused by gastrointestinal disease, alcohol dependence, and age. Type 2 Diabetes can also be a factor in Magnesium deficiency. Having high levels of certain hormones present can also decrease Magnesium availability, as well as eating a lot of highly processed foods. Deficiencies can range from mild to severe.

There are many symptoms related to Magnesium deficiency. Fatigue, confusion, or sleepiness are common.  You may also experience personality changes, mental disorders, or irritability. Muscle spasms and tremors can often be traced to Magnesium deficiencies. Loss of appetite, nausea, and vomiting, are all symptoms that can develop if Magnesium is not sufficient in the blood. Increased or irregular heartbeat and insomnia are symptoms that you might experience if you are low in Magnesium.  Osteoporosis and Asthma can also be linked to Hypomagnesemia.  In severe cases you might see seizures or coma.

If you suspect a Magnesium deficiency, please contact a medical professional for proper treatment.  Minerals are delicately balanced, and it is easy to disturb the balance of one in an attempt to balance another. Because most Magnesium is stored in the bones, it is difficult to test, but there are tests that can determine the amount in your blood. Those are usually blood or urine panels that your doctor can order for you.

Magnesium has partnerships with Calcium and Vitamin D. The three rely on each other for proper function, and if one is not present in the proper levels in our bodies, the others are likely to be inefficient and unbalanced as well.

Thankfully, Magnesium is found in many common foods. With a little bit of effort, one can certainly get a healthy dose of Magnesium from their diet. I always prefer diet based nutrients over supplemental ones, but if you find that a supplement is necessary, please be certain to get a high quality supplement. Many of the lower quality supplements are abundant in fillers and hard for us to absorb. Better to spend the money on quality supplements that are actually digestible, than to waste money on those that won’t do you much good anyway.  But first, take a look at your diet and see if you can add some of these great foods to your regular consumption habits.

Foods containing Magnesium

  • Almonds
  • Avocado
  • Beans
  • Bananas
  • Broccoli
  • Bone Broth
  • Cashews
  • Chicken Breast
  • Chickweed
  • Dark chocolate
  • Edamame
  • Halibut
  • Kelp and sea vegetables
  • Milk
  • Nettles
  • Oatmeal
  • Peanuts and Peanut butter
  • Popcorn
  • Potatoes
  • Pumpkin Seeds
  • Rice
  • Salmon
  • Spinach
  • Unrefined sea salt

With a quick internet search, you can find a plethora of articles and charts showing which food items are high in calcium. I have a couple great articles that list many foods, plus the amounts of Magnesium in each serving, that I will include links to at the end of this post. There is a fantastic article that I found on the Weston A Price site, that is worth the time it takes to read it, if you want to know more about Magnesium.

I am not a medical professional. I have recently developed a passion for nutrition due to my own medical issues. I am only sharing what I have found because I think it is interesting, and more people need to be educated on minerals. Please do not take any of this post as medical advice, and if you suspect an imbalance, please seek the help of a medical professional before attempting to treat them. I can’t stress this enough. The fine balance of minerals in our body is a slippery slope to mess with unsupervised or with lack of proper information.  Below I have listed links to the sources where I got my information. Several are long, comprehensive articles, full of abundant information. I highly recommend further reading, as I am far from an expert on the subject, but it is quite fascinating information.

Wikipedia  Electrolytes

National Institutes of Health  Magnesium

Ancient Minerals  Did you know? Not all Magnesium is the Same

Magnificent Magnesium  

Healthline  Can You Overdose on Magnesium?

Merck Manual Consumer Edition  Hypermagnesemia

My Magnesium Deficiency  How To Test For Magnesium Deficiency

Medical News Today  What is Hypermagnesemia

Ancient Minerals  What is Magnesium? How it Functions in The Body

Dr Axe  Top Ten Magnesium Rich Foods Plus Proven Benefits

Healthline  7 Signs and Symptoms of Magnesium Deficiency

Ancient Minerals  Symptoms of Low Magnesium

Stylecraze  Top 39 Magnesium Rich Foods You Should Include In Your Diet

Dieticians of Canada  Food Sources of Magnesium

 

 

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Calcium

 

 

 

As many of you already know, the last several years have been a roller coaster of health concerns for me. I spent the last 8 years trying to find out what was wrong with me. Why it hurt to tears when my husband gave me a playful slap on the behind. I swear it is not aggressive or abusive. Just hear me out. Pain over my whole body. No ambition or energy. Brain fog when I used to be so quick with my whits. No organization. Tons to do but a grand lack of energy to do anything more than daydream about what I wished I was accomplishing. Some days I had some fight in me, and I did as much as I could, but most days, I just felt like there was something wrong with me, and no one could tell me what. Every medical test looks healthy. As a matter of fact, my body is the picture of health for someone my age. Every single test within normal limits. Every image the doctors gush over how perfect my organs look. Great. I am healthy as can be, so why do I hurt so bad? Why can’t I get anything done or stay focused long enough to finish a sentence? Why do I feel depressed when I have all the tools and knowledge to choose happiness? Why do I have symptoms of depression when I am completely content, and even feeling blessed beyond imagination in my life? Why can’t I eat? Why does food hurt my stomach so bad? Why does it hurt to drink water? Doctor after doctor sent me home with no answers. I left so many offices in tears, feeling like I either got no new information, or completely contradictory information from the last Dr. “You have too much stomach acid”. “You don’t have enough stomach acid”. “You have low thyroid”. “Your thyroid is within normal limits”.  It is so frustrating to be told opposite things by every other doctor you see. I was at my whits end. I had shed many tears and prayed many prayers over this. I just wanted an answer. I didn’t care what it was. As long as I could get some truth.

Finally, I landed a great doctor! About a year ago I found her, and I have her on a pedestal so high that she should probably be wearing a safety harness. She does a lovely job of blending Natural and Western health care. A balanced doctor who doesn’t want to just write me a bunch of prescriptions and send me out the door. She is genuinely concerned for my well being and wants me to feel good, and I love her!

When everything came back healthy, she quickly sent me to an OBGYN (my biggest complaint was uterus pain),  who was able to diagnose me with copper toxicity in under an hour. She told me that they don’t have an answer for copper toxicity in western medicine, and that she was going to call a naturopath friend of hers. I am in love with my new team of doctors. They are not too proud to admit that natural medicine has practical applications. Within three days they had me on a copper chelation regimen, and I started to feel better within about five days. When I saw my family practitioner for a follow up after the specialist, she told me to go to the naturopath for further care, because western medicine is just a little behind the times and doesn’t put a lot of emphasis on trace minerals in their studies. I strongly encourage you to see a specialist if you are going to try to “detox” from a heavy metal, as it can be quite dangerous if you aren’t careful.

This got my brain spinning. Trace minerals are the foundation and building blocks of life. How can they not be studied? I decided to do some research of my own. I ran a nutrition class by my doctor. She checked it out and told me it looked great and to go for it. So, I have decided to share what I am learning with you. Someone needs to. This is important information and I believe it could answer many of the unresolved and mysterious health problems that we are seeing these days. Auto-immune disorders and neurological disorders are on the rise at an alarming rate. I have been diagnosed with both celiac disease and fibromyalgia. Though I will likely never be able to tolerate gluten again, I fully believe that with copper toxicity resolution in my life, the fibromyalgia symptoms will disappear. As a matter of fact, they are already diminishing greatly.

Which brings me to the topic of the day. I need information that I can trust. I need information that I can confirm and validate. I am tired of not knowing who to believe. If I feel this way, some of you must too. I have decided that I will write for you, everything I can learn about  minerals. I will start with the major minerals, and write one topic at a time, until I get through them all. Minerals and elements are surprisingly fascinating and enlightening to study. I look forward to the adventure. Today we start with Calcium.

Calcium is the most prevalent mineral in the human body. The majority of it is dedicated to keeping your teeth and bones healthy, while the rest is responsible for such things as maintaining a regular heartbeat, helping blood to clot, sending and receiving nerve signals, assisting the muscles in contracting and relaxing, releasing hormones and other chemicals into the body, and preventing Osteoporosis.

Calcium is an electrolyte. It is important to know what an electrolyte is, in order to understand how it works. Here is the definition of an electrolyte as reported by MedicineNet. 

Electrolyte: A substance that dissociates into ions in solution and acquires the capacity to conduct electricity. Sodium, potassium, chloride, calcium, and phosphate are examples of electrolytes, informally known as lytes. … 

Most of the calcium in the body is uncharged, but carries a charge when dissolved in body fluids. The body moves the calcium out of the bones and into the blood as needed. The body maintains a strict balance of calcium in the blood, and when people don’t consume enough calcium, the body leeches it from the bones to supply the blood. Osteoporosis is the end result of weakening the bones by taking too much calcium from them. The Merck Manual has an excellent article that goes into more depth about this. The article explains how the calcium is regulated by two hormones. They are the parathyroid hormone and calcitonin. A quick synopsis of the function of these hormones is that the parathyroid tells your body to do such things as release calcium to the blood from the bones, tells the kidneys to excrete less calcium in urine, signals the digestive tract to absorb more calcium and cause the kidneys to activate more vitamin D, enabling the digestive tract to absorb more calcium. Calcitonin slightly lowers the calcium level in the blood, by slowing breakdown of the bones. For a more detailed explanation of this you can refer to the article published by Merck Manual, titled  “Overview of Calcium’s role in the Body”.

When you have too much calcium in your blood, it is called Hypercalcemia. It can be the cause of such things as weakened teeth and bones, heart and brain malfunction, and kidney stones. The symptoms can be non-existent to severe, and are usually caused by overactive parathyroid glands. I found that The Mayo Clinic had a great article that really summed up hypercalcemia well, and is still easy for the average person to understand. Some of the main points of that article, which I would like to highlight for you quickly, are the symptoms and causes of hypercalcemia.

Symptoms:

Excessive thirst and frequent urination. This is because the kidneys are working harder to filter the calcium.

Digestive system troubles, such as stomach upset, nausea, vomiting and constipation. Loss of appetite, abdominal pain, and weightloss are also digestive symptoms caused by hypercalcemia. Because the bones are weakened from too much calcium being diverted to the blood, oftentimes those experiencing hypercalcemia will have weakened bones, bone pain, muscle weakness and fatique. Sometimes these symptoms lead to depression, anxiety, insomnia, and in rare cases, even coma.

The brain presents with such symptomology as confusion, lethargy, fatigue, constant headaches, depression, and other neurological disorders.

In rare and severe cases, the heart also shows symptoms of hypercalcemia. Heart palpitations, indications of cardiac arrhythmia, and fainting are all possible complications of hypercalcemia.

On the other end of the spectrum, we have calcium deficiency, also called Hypocalcemia. Hypocalcemia results in a long list of symptoms such as fainting, chest pains, heart failure, difficulty swallowing, larynx spasms leading to voice changes, fatigue, seizures, coarse hair, and brittle nails. Irritability, impaired intellectual capability, depression, anxiety, and personality changes are all symptoms to watch for. Psoriasis, dry skin and chronic itching, tooth decay, numbness and tingling in extremities or around the mouth, muscle cramps/weakness, and wheezing, can also be symptoms. Cataracts and Osteoporosis are also often associated with hypocalcemia.

Causes of hypocalcemia can be such things as a Vitamin D or Magnesium deficiency, high sodium intake, high phosphorus intake, chronic kidney disease, abnormal parathyroid function, bariatric surgery, and several prescription and over the counter drugs.

Dr Axe goes into great detail about these symptoms, and the foods that we can eat to remedy the situation, in this article titled “Top Ten Foods High in Calcium & Their Benefits“.

Foods high in calcium include:

  • Dairy products. Milk, yogurt, and cheese
  • Leafy greens. Spinach, Kale, Collard greens
  • Legumes. Beans and Lentils, Edamame
  • Seeds. Poppy, Chia, Sesame, and Celery
  • Almonds
  • Rhubarb -small amounts
  • Amaranth
  •  Seafood. Sardines, and Salmon
  • Figs
  • Bone Broth
  • Whey Protein
  • Fortified food and drinks. Cereals, juices

The average person needs to consume about 1000-1200 mg of Calcium per day, from food and supplement sources. Supplements are generally not as readily accessible to the body as food sources are, but sometimes they are necessary. If you find yourself in need of a supplement to increase your calcium intake, do the research and spend the money to get a good one. It will be worth it in the long run.

Like all minerals, calcium works in conjunction with other minerals. Minerals are like a web. All of them require other elements to be at their highest level of efficiency. This is where it really gets tricky. It is easy to upset the natural balance of one mineral in an attempt to balance another. If you suspect mineral imbalances, I highly recommend seeing a naturopath or other alternative healthcare provider for assistance in balancing them. The tests are simple blood and urine panels that reveal how much calcium is in your blood, and how much is being excreted in your urine. This information will help you and your doctor to tailor the best balancing regime for your body. The tests that are usually run are the Total calcium blood test, Ionized calcium blood test, and urine test.

The other elements that we know are critical to make calcium its most effective, are Vitamin D, Vitamin K, Vitamin A and Magnesium. They allow it to be absorbed, assimilated, and properly dispersed in the body as needed. Without all of them in balance, it will be difficult to keep your calcium balanced. It is intricate design, and this is why you should always see a professional before you start messing with your minerals. If you suspect an imbalance of any type, please contact a professional for help getting them regulated. A family practitioner, a naturopath or other alternative care provider, or a nutritionist, are all professionals who can help you to get your calcium levels balanced. I am not a doctor. I only have the knowledge that I gained from the internet and personal experience. Please do not act on this as medical advice. It is only meant to be informative, never diagnostic. I will leave you with links to the articles that I used to find my facts. Each and every one of them has a plethora of great information. I encourage you to follow up with these articles if you have any further questions or wish to explore any aspect of calcium imbalance further.

Follow up links for further reading and reference:

 

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Seasons of stillness

What a Spring! With the change of seasons, comes opportunity for personal reflection. This has been one long winter, and one Spring that has been a long time coming. We finally got two days in a row of better than 60 degree temps. Yard work has begun, the perennials have started to emerge. It is time for outside Spring cleaning. Just in the nick of time too, because I was losing my mind being cooped up in the house so long.

So many changes in store for us this season. The fledgling has flown the coop. I have resigned from the non-profit group that I founded, and am about to embark on a brand new adventure. It is time to start focusing on my future, now that my son has successfully set off in pursuit of his. My dreams have been moved to the front burner, and I could not be more thrilled about it. I have so many ideas about what the future holds for us, and the good we can do in it. Today my mind is just overflowing with possibilities and thoughts about what might be in store. I feel like I have twelve paths in front of me, and I am just not quite sure which to explore first. A lot of personal exploration in the season that is upon us.

I can clearly see my roles changing. I went from working with special needs adolescents and low income families, to becoming a mentor for young women and young couples. It is a refreshing change, I must say. I can’t quite sum it up into words yet, as I have just come to the realization recently. All I really know for sure, is that it is refreshing to be working with a different group of people.

I discovered a charity recently that I fell in love with. As a bit of a fabric hoarder, I can not resist clearance fabric and I have totes and totes of it. Now I have a use. the charity is called Dress a girl around the world, and their mission is to make simple dresses for orphans around the world. It is a fabulous charity, and I am thrilled to be doing something so near and dear to my heart. I have made three dresses so far, and look forward to making many more. My goal is 100.

 

Once they are made, I can send them to the organization and they will have a volunteer deliver them to an orphanage in an impoverished region of the world. I love everything that this charity stands for, and I hope to have the opportunity to continue to make dresses for a long time to come.

I have decided not to garden this year. As my home has become to large for me now that my child has grown and moved, and my spare room is not necessary for clients to stay in, we are looking to downsize. Because a move is imminent, I will spend the summer tearing down my garden and getting ready to move it, instead. I still have a lot of perennials coming up though. Strawberries and Asparagus, flowers and succulents, a few parsnips that I planted last year, some volunteer bunching onions that did not come up for me last year, and of course, dependable chives as usual.  You will just have to ignore my weeds. We have only had two decent days here this Spring so far, and I just haven’t gotten to them. I have a few more that should come as it warms a bit more, but I will let my perennials be until we find a place, and hope like heck that it is a good time to transplant when we do. We need less lawn and bedrooms, and more usable space for our bee’s and chickens and ranch life. A change is in our near future. A big one, and I have no idea what step is next.

I started doing some online work, and all of the money I make goes directly to paying off past debt. What a Godsend it has been. I am hoping this is the door that makes it possible for us to finally buy that little slice of Montana that we will call our own. I am so ready to settle down into a permanent little, off the beaten path piece of land. I have big dreams, and most of them require semi permanence, or at least more than I am able to do on this little piece. This house is more than we need, we are required to expend way more energy on lawn than seems morally acceptable to me, and I think it is wasteful, what happens on this piece of rental property. I don’t own it though, so it is not up to me. Away we must go. Finding a suitable replacement piece is proving difficult. A huge growth spurt in the valley has left housing costs astronomically high, and the ability to get away from the crowds, increasingly difficult. And so the search continues.

Balancing my time is proving challenging to me. I feel like I have a lot of irons in the fire, and no idea how to time it so they are get the right amount of attention. The hubby and I have been doing a lot of good work lately, and are feeling the repercussions of that now. But I have faith, and am just going to keep doing what I am doing. I know that I am here to produce love for those in need. I will do so as long as I am able. Meanwhile, I have plenty of problems of my own that require solving, and I know I have to act on them, I am just at a loss as to where to start, or maybe, which path I need to head down.

And so, meandering I will go. Right now, I am going to meander myself back out to the Spring clean up, while the sun shines warm and bright. I wish you all the loveliest of days. Until next time my friends.

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Expectation

Good day my friends, and Happy New Years to you all. I hope that you have safe and cozy plans with loved ones today. I am so incredibly ready for the new year to begin. My goals and dreams are within sight and I have had plenty of the routine disrupting holiday chaos. I am ready to hunker down, get back on focus, and inch my way toward those dreams without constant interruption. So close that I can almost smell and taste them. My mind is focused on a singular mission. Disruptions annoy me. I realize that I am out of line here and I have spent a great deal of time thinking about expectation this week.
Expectations. Sigh. Such a burden. A thief of joy and peace. Expectations steal our control. They steal everything worthwhile and fill us with disappointment.
I know what sustainable peace and contentment look like. I know what true, organic, deep rooted happiness feels like. The kind that even tragedy can’t really break or steal from you. And, that is how I am able to be 100% confident making this claim. Expectation is the enemy of peace and contentment. It spans the entirety of our lives. And when our expectations aren’t met, we are disappointed. We feel betrayed and we start a vicious cycle of negative thoughts. It is such a hard cycle to break, and it is a constant battle in practice. Here I am today, fighting this expectation demon that I learned how to overcome more than ten years ago. It is always trying to get in. The only way to control it is to be aware of it and physically take control of my thoughts. For me this means writing. It has been building in me for a few weeks now, but it was not until yesterday that I realized that it was disappointment causing my lack of patience. I have trained myself how to look at my emotions and recognize them, and trace them like a paper trail,  back to their foundations.
It became clear for me a couple of days ago. I posted on Facebook about being a safe place and that my door is always open. Almost immediately my phone started ringing with people in tragedy. People who needed a friend. And they all had the same problem. Different versions of it, of course, but the situations all led back to one issue. Expectation. Each of them expected a different scenario than they got, and each of them was putting responsibility for their emotional well being on that expectation.
Our emotional well being is our responsibility and ours alone. It is not our husband, roommate, coworkers, children’s, or anyone else’s job to ensure that we are emotionally stable. The responsibility belongs to us as individuals.
As the week draws on, I get more and more calls, messages, and endless conversations, about how someone is ruining another persons joy.
Let me repeat. Expectation ruins our joy. Not other people. Not situations. Just our own personal expectations.
It started as a feeling of loneliness. My phone was ringing all day long, and somehow I felt alone. I am pretty used to this feeling, and didn’t think a whole lot of it. it just happens sometimes. No biggie. No sadness. Just content quiet in my own space.
And then the phone started interrupting my quiet, and suddenly my quiet alone became a nagging sense of duty.
One after another, people started calling in need. Lacking patience and empathy, I navigated these conversations to the best of my ability, but underneath it all I had a sense of impatience and intolerance.
Underneath it all I was developing some expectation.
At first I felt guilty, that I had put up this post on Facebook offering a safe space, and then when people came calling on it, I didn’t necessarily make them feel better. Soon though, I was starting to feel anger. I know, that when I am starting to feel anger, I am failing to recognize and deal with the emotion that is causing it. So, I stopped. I asked myself why I was angry. The rush of responses in my head was clear as a bell and easily definable. I was hurt and disappointed, and I could tell you exactly why.
As it snowballed and grew into anger and sarcastic judgement that just gushed out of me when my husband got home from work, I knew I had to do something about it. Thankfully I recognize that he is not causing this. He is one of the few that I actually do feel I can share with. It was the fact that I needed to vent it to him that got my attention.
So I started processing out loud. Well, lets see. I was contacted by multiple people in the last 48 hours. The majority of them wanted to vent to me. They asked my advice, but when I gave it, I received a whole lot of “but, can’t, won’t” in response. All of them lacked the ability to see that they came to me about themselves, but that they really did not want to talk about themselves. They wanted to talk about how other were affecting them. They had no interest in truth, or me. When I contradicted what they wanted to hear, they abruptly ended the conversation. It is evident they want me to build them up with what they want to hear, because if I say anything that conflicts what they want to hear, they suddenly have to go, or give me excuses why that advice doesn’t apply to this particular situation. None of them took the time to ask me how I was. None of them even wondered out loud a single time, if my life was on track, or if I myself may have something going on too.
Thankfully, the only thing I have going on is a little expectation disappointment, and that is pretty easy to resolve.
You see, I had an expectation that people wanted to hear my perspective, and that they would at least hear it, rather than block me out when there is no easy answer or when it is not what they want to hear. I had an expectation that a friend who asked if they could come over to talk was on their way, when I put away my project to get ready for their visit, so when two hours later, I had to message and ask if they were still coming, it is fair to say that I had some expectation disappointment that they had no respect for my time. I had some expectation disappointment because I expected to get back what I gave to each situation. I expected that if people were going to interrupt my work for their personal drama, that they could at least be bothered to ask how I was doing.
I mentioned this to a friend this morning, and her response was, “well that seems valid”.
I told her it was absolutely not valid.
And then I had to stop and think. Is it possible that this is valid pain and disappointment? Am I beating myself up and refusing to validate myself?
I decided it was not valid. I know what contentment looks like. Content, happy, well adjusted, emotionally stable people, do not place expectation upon others. Plain and simple. Well adjusted people accept others for who they are.
I have had four conversations this week with people who are upset that their partner is not who they want them to be. That their partner has changed and isn’t the same person they were in the beginning. To that I say “so have you”. You are not the person you were when you became a team, and neither are they. People change, constantly. They grow, they gain perspective, priorities change, responsibilities affect our lifestyles, traumas change us at the core. Every. Single. Person. We all change. No one remains the same, and we would be handed an awful sentence to have it any other way. A prison within our own selves. We need to change, we need to grow. Life would not throw us curve balls if we were not meant to learn from them and become a better version of ourselves.
An expectation that I come across regularly in my work, is that people believe that when they do the work to achieve happiness, that suddenly life gets easier. That less hard stuff happens. I see defeat when that is not the case. Happiness is not about life throwing less curve balls, it is about how well you swing at them. How many can you knock out of the park? In other words, its not the pitch that matters, its the swing. The bat is in your hands. Will you hit the ball coming at you? Will you duck and let it hit the ump? Or will you stand proud with determination, say “I got this” and knock that ball out of the park? Happiness isn’t about less curve balls. It is about your attitude as they fly at you.
Don’t get me wrong. I am not saying there is no room for hurt in a happy life. Hurt, grief, terrible things, are all going to happen to you. We were given emotions for a reason, and it wasn’t to push them down. It was to use them in a healthy way, to help us process a situation, and then to move through them into a functional solution.
If you lose a child, you are absolutely not going to just smile your way through it. If you get a horrible diagnosis or a loved one does, it will hurt. There is just no way around that.
It does not change the fact that you are still responsible for your own emotional health. You can get through tragedy and trauma in emotionally healthy ways. It does not have to be the end all be all that defines you.
The only way to overcome expectation disappointment, is to ditch the expectation. Its called acceptance. It doesn’t come with but’s attached.
Acceptance. It’s a doozy.
Acceptance is realizing and accepting that people are as unique as their fingerprints. That each of us will have our very own set of standards. We may agree with a majority on a lot of those standards, but at some point, you are going to find a standard difference with any single person you come across. No two people are the same, and our standards are as unique as our fingerprints. At some point, every single person will fail to live up to your expectation. And when they do, you will be hurt. It is not because they did anything to you. It is because they did what was right for them, and you took it personally that it was not the same thing that was right to you.
Your partner is going to grow and change as you face life together, and not in the same ways as you. It is your choice to accept who they are becoming and support them, or to try to change them back into your expectation of them. If you decide to try to change them back into who they are no longer, you will be disappointed every time, for you are not letting them be who they are growing into. You are refusing to let them mature into the future version of themselves. The problem with this, is that they are going to continue to change, and your expectations are going to continue to be unmet, and you are going to grow more distant and disappointed in the relationship. It is your choice to focus on the good and support that; or you can focus on the changes that you don’t like, and dwell in that cesspool. The choice, and emotional responsibility, lie with you.
What you may see as a negative change, others may see as a positive. When you are busy pointing fingers at the ways others have failed you, you are blind to the ways that you are failing them.
If we want emotional stability. Happiness. The ability to hold on to peace, even when the bad things happen, then we must look inside ourselves. Your partner, your parents, your friends and loved ones can not provide this for you. As a matter of fact, if they try, it will end up hurting everyone involved.
Codependency comes from a focus on fixing others rather than working on ourselves. I have fought a long, hard battle with codependency, and it rears its ugly head from time to time. Thankfully I can quickly identify it and reign it in. Occasionally it makes me quite intolerant of other peoples bahviors, and I have to check myself.
If there is one thing I am 100% sure of, it is that I am responsible for my emotional stability, and if I am behaving as a codependant, and angry that people aren’t behaving the way that I think they should be, I need a great big reality check.
It is me who is in the wrong here.
It is me who is trying to control others behaviors. (In this instance, I have not actually talked to any of the people about it. I have not tried to control them outwardly or directly, but in my mind, I am upset that they have not behaved in a specific way. That they have not lived up to “my standards”).
How incredibly selfish and egotistical is this??
It is the ugliest part of me.
The part of me that thinks that I somehow know what is the best way for someone to behave according to my personal set of standards. It is my most selfish and ugly part, and I had to think long and hard to talk myself into coming here today and admitting to you all that I have been “shoulding all over” my loved ones.
The situation is causing me pain. Enough pain to distract me from my focus and goals. Enough that I actually took the time to waste my precious hubby time complaining about it. That I let it interrupt my work, and my chores, and my general well being. Shame on me! So here I sit with a decision to make about how to deal with all this expectation disappointment that I have. Clearly I can not carry on with hurt feelings that another person was not behaving within my set of standards. How do I resolve this conflict within me? On the one hand, I am feeling quite taken for granted and unheard. On the other hand, I can not control the way other people react or behave toward me. As far as I can tell, I can choose to confront them individually, but this is just more of me telling them how I expect them to behave, and that I was disappointed that they didn’t meet my standard. I can accept that they are all very good people, and that there are areas in life where different experiences have caused us to have different norms and standards, and let go of my expectation. I can accept that their behavior is a reflection on them, not me. I can face that I may be taking something personally that isn’t personal at all.
I can employ empathy. This is the tool that works best for me. Everyone is different, but I find that if I try to put myself in their shoes, I can empathize it away. Sometimes it is hard, others it is glaringly obvious and simple. While I have used the example before, it still works so well that I will use it again.
Road Rage.
How do you feel when someone is driving too slow, not using a blinker, or doing some other random thing that you don’t find acceptable? Did the man in a big hurry behind you suddenly pass you, cut in front of you and make a sharp turn without his blinker? Oh what an ass, right?
Or is that right?                                                                                                  There are two sides of this scenario to consider. First. How he is behaving, and second, how you respond. His behavior seems erratic, maybe even dangerous. Heck even if he simply followed all the rules but forgot to use his blinker you might find yourself annoyed, right?? How do you respond? Do you slow down? Give him some space, recognize that he is clearly a threat to your well being and create a little buffer room around you? Do you lay on the horn? Flip him the bird? Do you roll down your window and scream angry things at him or even speed up to prove a point?
Remember, happiness is in the eye of the beholder. It happens when you create it. You have split second choices to make. How will you respond to him? If you get angry, defensive, and respond in any unloving way, are you taking the time to put yourself in his shoes? Have you ever needed a pass? Have you ever made a mistake driving? Do you know why he is driving like that? Have you considered that his youngest child may have just been in a severe car accident, or that his wife may be in preterm labor? Is it possible that his mother just fell down the stairs and he is temporarily out of his mind with fear?
Or will you spread anger? If you flip him the bird, scream at him, and act in an irate fashion, will it improve the situation. Will he even notice? Will it affect him at all, or will it just ruin your day? Will you go to work and rant and rave about him to everyone you see? Will you ruin their moment with your negativity too? The only person your anger really affects is you, and the people that you spew your ugly onto. And it never affects them for the better.
Think about it again. What will you do when he cuts you off in his mad panic?
How will you respond.
The choice is yours.
In this exact same way, you have control over your emotional stability.
In every situation. It is your choice. How will you handle it? Will you be the love? The light? The empathy? Will you choose to accept them? Will you accept people who behave in a way that does not meet your expectations? How will you resolve unmet expectations within yourself? Will you give them a little space to be them and not take it personally?
The other choice leads to disappointment. It leads to heartache and unmet expectation.
How will I deal with the hurt feelings of my friends not meeting my expectations? I will remind myself that they are good friends, who have been there for me in the past and are going through a hard time and need my empathy right now. Or I will stop answering their calls, stop giving them my time. If I evaluate the health of the relationship and find that I am being disappointed over and over again, I can surmise that said person and I are like oil and water, and I can choose to spend less time with them. It does not mean that I have to have hard feelings or that I am judging them. It simply means that I am reclaiming control of my emotional well being. I am going to be me. I am going to let them be them. If our paths are meant to cross, they will, and if not, then I am much better off not wasting my life dwelling on the pain of the relationship. Best to break that chain and move forward.
What I won’t do, is compromise my integrity to meet their expectations. I won’t lie to them, so that I can make them feel better by telling them what they want to hear or pampering their swollen ego. I won’t validate blame and accusation. Excuses will quickly bring out the blunt and honest part of me.
I had some guilt about this. About being impatient with excuses and calling fallacies where I perceived them. I am certain I hurt some feelings. I am certain the receiver was expecting a different response from me and is quite upset with me that my answer did not meet expectation, and I am certain it happened with more than one conversation.
I chewed on that guilt for a minute. And then I let it go. I have not done anyone wrong. I was only being me. I did not change who I was to meet their expectation, because I know that that is a recipe for a miserable life. I simply was myself. If their response to me being myself and saying what I see in response to the question hurt or angered them, then much like I needed to evaluate my expectations to resolve my anger,so do they. I am not responsible for their emotional well being and how they respond to me is as much their choice as how I respond to them.
And so, to all of my friends who felt that I was talking about you today, I may have been. Its possible. But I have resolved my expectation. I will be here when you can resolve yours. I have no hard feelings or ill will toward you. I only want the best for each and every one of you. And that is why I can not feed this demon. It is why I can not say what you want to hear. As long as this demon is being fed, it will grow and grow until it consumes you (if it isn’t already). I refuse to feed that expectation demon. I am sorry that you are hurting, and I will do my best to summon empathy. I will not feed the destructive demon that is blame. It is up to you to take responsibility for your own emotional well being.
It can mean any number of things. Maybe you need to decide to get a therapist or some meds for a chemical imbalance, maybe you need to stop talking to someone or consider an alternative to your current living situation. It may require a drastic change on your part. But you, and only you, can achieve peace in your life. And accepting that you can not change others, so how you react to them is key, really goes a long, long way down that path to sustainable peace.

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Bring on the Healing

I am feeling compelled to write, but struggling to get back into the routine of it. Once upon a time, I tried to stay out of politics. However, lately it seems that politics are the thing that spur me to share the most. I have alot to say, and am going to try to do so, without offending anyone. I also realize that I can’t please all the people, all the time, and I have accepted that I have some very hard things to present to the world, things that are bound to get some negative feedback.

 

I have always known that the overwhelming amount of sexual assault that I have lived with in my life would eventually lead to me speaking out about it one day. I have always been nervous for the day that I spoke about it publicly for the first time. I have always thought that I was working my way to that “some day”. Well, I guess that time came and went without me really even noticing, as I published my post several months back about the subject of sexual abuse. I have always spoken freely with my friends and family about what I have been through, but public was a big step, one I was nervous about taking, and then didn’t even realize I had taken already.

So, enter Monday. I open my facebook account, to see the first post of the #metoo campaign. I read it. It registered. I scrolled two posts, and started seeing the plethora of #metoo’s.

I closed my phone.

I sobbed.

Deep.

Hard.

Painful.

Shock sobs.

For about thirty seconds. Maybe even a minute.

And then I stopped. I thought, “Wait? Why am I crying like this?”

It isn’t surprising. It isn’t shocking. I know full well, just how many people have been raped, molested, sexually assaulted in one way or another.

After a few minutes of contemplation. I realized it was relief. Pure, hard, painful, relief. For the first time, people are getting this off their chest. They are opening their hearts to the vulnerability of speaking out. They are done tolerating this crap. They  are aware of how unaware people are, and they are trying to change it. It is everything I ever hoped to do for even just one woman, and it is reaching the masses.

While I am a survivor that fully supports this campaign, as with anything that is controversial, I of course, expected to see some backlash. And it didn’t take long. I want to address some of that backlash, along with some of the wonderful positives that I have seen emerge.

“Victim Mentality”

Are you kidding me??? Anyone who thinks that saying “me too” is victim mentality, fully misses the point of this campaign. I am a survivor, that is true. But a victim. No. I do not consider myself a victim. The bravery required to come out with this information on a public page, where the very people whom you never wanted to tell your dirty little secret to, they are all going to know. They are all going to look at me different. They may even look at me as if I think I am a victim, or seeking attention. However, I think that this is an important issue to address, so I will hesitantly type me too, and press send, waiting for the backlash. It takes strength, courage, and a desire to help stop this madness, to admit that you have been sexually assaulted. It is easy to tell strangers what happened. Not so much the ones you have to answer to and see daily. It is not a campaign for the weak.

Which brings me to “the whiners”

People of both genders who say that this campaign is full of crybabies and whiners who want attention. (Good grief, why would anyone want to belong to this club?) People who are saying that because someone groped you on a bus or you overheard something cringy, that is not a valid reason to claim #metoo. That those folks are just hopping on a political agenda, trying to fit in and get attention. To toughen up and get over it. Well, since I have been brutally and physically assaulted repeatedly,  I feel comfortable stating my opinion that it’s ok. I don’t mind that these people are laying claim to it. I care that the conversation has been started. I care that it is coming up in peoples living rooms. That people are having discussions with their family and friends, about what it means. About where the boundaries lie. About what constitutes assault, molest, and harassment. Our survivors need to be able to speak, if we are ever to educate our would be perpetrators. What makes it our job to draw the line in the sand about what is allowed to hurt and what we are supposed to shrug off? Everyone is different, and people are allowed to be hurt by whatever it is that gets them. Wether it is a cringy comment on a public transportation system, or full blown “hold you down and take what I want” kind of situation. If it hurts, it hurts. To tell someone to get over it? That is what perpetrates victim mentality. It is so important that it bares repeating. Telling someone to shut up and shove that crap down, “just get over it” THAT is what causes victim mentality. As a survivor of brutal sexual assault, it does not offend me that anyone posts “me too”, because they have a right to hurt. Just because it isn’t the trauma I endured, doesn’t mean it wasn’t trauma to them. Again, who decides which trauma is enough trauma to talk about it? We ALL need to be talking about it. It happens. To moms, brothers, sisters, aunts, cousins. Your family has been affected by sexual assault somewhere. I guarantee it.

Names. This is the most asinine thing I have heard in a long time. If you cant tell us the name you must be making it up or looking for attention. Excuse me???? I can tell you a hundred reasons why names are irrelevant. First of all, if you are looking for names as proof, rather than listening to the message, then this is probably lost on you. I was held down and raped, when I was twelve. A good friends older brother. I kicked and fought and screamed, but he was just physically stronger than me. Then there was the family member who molested me from the time I was ten, to the time I was seventeen. Another time, a man I barely knew, in a mutual group of friends, took an opportunity when we were alone, to hold my face down on his member and insult me. I wish I had bitten it! Why didn’t I think of that then? Also, there was the time I was at a costume party with a group of very close friends, and a stranger walked up and grabbed my arm, very hard, trying to pull me away from my friends. This time I fought back, and when he threw me on the ground, a well trained martial artist in that group jumped to my rescue. Would knowing their names make my experience more real for you? Because they were plenty real to me, even when I did not know their names. Why do their names matter? The ones whose names I do know, will just bring shame to their families. Innocent children and siblings who don’t deserve that shame, and honestly, couple of guys in there, I didn’t know their names. What would it change if I did? Some of these survivors are scared. They could lose their jobs, family, or friends if they named their abuser. Some are in legal proceedings and prohibited from giving names. Why are survivors being attacked for not sharing the most private details of their abuse? Its hard enough just seeing all the “me too” posts. Some of them had to work up the courage for days to just post those two simple words. Why are we drilling them? Why are we questioning their motive? Nobody wants to belong to this club.When I found healing, I quit playing the “blame game”. It doesn’t matter who did it. It matters that it happened.

I once considered myself a victim. I once asked “why me?” And then I had years of therapy, found my peace, and became a survivor. I do not prescribe to a victim mentality, and I am excited that this campaign may open the door for others to find their peace. Maybe some are still living in victim mentality, and they want that to stop, and that is why they took this one, first, tiny step  of admitting it happened to them too, but a good portion of these people are survivors, and are speaking up because they want the ones who are still victims to feel safe starting the healing journey. I know that is my hope. That just one person will see my “me too” and feel safe enough to approach and confide in me. And you know what?

My phone has been blowing up nonstop.

It is working.

People want help.

People are asking me to help them overcome this.

And I am thrilled to oblige them. At any level of trauma. I don’t care if it was words, molest, brutal assault. Healing the shame in this society is the first step to getting a healthy community back, and I am happy to help anyone who wants to heal their shame. If you are tired of being a victim, and looking for a safe place to become a survivor, I am here.

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Yellow Leaves. Season of change.

20930196_10213794251472926_904458707_o.jpgGood day my friends! What a lovely day it is! Fall is just around the corner. Just a little over a month away. Last week I saw the first yellow leaves. The fire season has been an outrageous one this year, and the cooler temps and occasional rain showers bring moments of relief from the smoke. Summer is slowing down. I am watching the parents of school aged children prepare for back to school, and only one more set of guests before the season starts to really wind down for me.

I have been so busy going with the flow, and quietly watching the unfoldings around me. What a bittersweet thought stream as I get some down time to process all I have seen and done in the last couple months.

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This summer has been a strange cycle of welcomes and good byes. A continuous cycle of visitors coming, and locals going. One of my besties moved away this summer. Over the course of the last two years, all of my besties have moved away. I made three new friends this winter. One moved away today, the other two were going to move last month but changed their minds at the last minute. I look around at the growth explosion that is about to happen in our tiny community, and I am ready to move away too. I am just waiting. Waiting on direction. Waiting for the answers to become clear.

I had a vision, a dream for our future. I guess I still do, but it has morphed so much in the last year that I need to spend some real quality time sitting back and considering the next step. While the goal remains the same, the details are ever changing. I have a deep sense that I am missing a simple but critical detail. The detail that opens my eyes and shows me what I am looking for.

She took the horses this morning. Maybe that is why I feel lost. We were getting so close. I was appreciating our newfound friendship, but she was giving me more than friendship. She was expanding my knowledge of horses. The reason this whole farm adventure began. I do not know how to imagine a future without horses in my life. I keep telling myself, that it will be ok. That maybe the pasture opening up will provide us with new opportunity, but truth be told, I will gaze at that barn wistfully every day until there are horses in there again.

The moment that Pistol and I bonded. That beautiful stubborn Arlene. And sweet Phoney Baloney. They will always have precious memories in my heart. Possibly the thing I will miss most though, is their dear person. We thought alike. We embraced our eccentricities in a similar fashion. We shared a mutual, understood, love of the equine. Nothing else mattered. No Judgement. No expectations. Just an understanding that being around these delightfully gentle beasts is really what its all about. What matters. Horse people know. The rest will probably not understand. I guess its an equine thing.

My mind is on land, and cabins. It flows constantly with thoughts of the barn at sunrise, and the ruckus of farm animals waking up in the morning. A big garden, an orchard, and a new set of hives. Visions of preserves, stacked high and deep in the pantry, mesh with ideas about extensive opportunity. Yet, I find myself sitting here, sorting thoughts, wondering what it is that I need to really focus on today.

I feel compelled to write, despite a lack of organization about my thoughts. Despite a lack of anything profound to say.

I guess I just need to marinate.

Politics have got me feeling like I am watching from Mars. Has everyone lost their ever loving minds? What the hell is going on? If someone had used a time machine to show me today’s headlines, twenty years ago, I would have denied the plausibility of it, and yet here we stand.

Environment? Where would I begin? I have developed a passion for fighting a toxic environment. I am not talking about this grand planet. Not the way you might be thinking when you read the word environment. I am talking about our immediate environments. The places we reside. The places we visit. The people and things that we surround ourselves with. The food we consume. The air we breathe. The relationships we make. The stimuli that affect us every day. The fact that mental and physical unhealth has become the norm. That has become my personal mission. I intend to undo as much of the toxicity in this environment as I am physically able to. I intend to help others learn how to remove the toxicity from their lives. I intend to help as many people as I possibly can, to see that these issues are not government issues, they are personal accountability issues, and that we are far more capable of solving them, without the governments help, than with their meddling hands in the cookie jar.

I want to help the masses to understand that their anxiety and depression are not life sentences. I want to help people learn the skills that allow them to make healthy, non toxic choices, for their environment.

I never saw myself as the voice of reason before, but today, I want to help people see that they are missing the meaning of life. I want to teach them how to stop worrying, judging, running, and suffering. I want to teach them about acceptance and the choices we make. I want to show people their worth. Not only because it aches to see people hurting, but because if we could all see our worth, then we would know that we can do something about this crap show we are watching.

I see our worth. I see your worth. I see my worth. If only you knew your own strength, mountains would be moving. Life is hard. I think that is the point of it, actually. Life is hard for everyone. Every. Single. Person. People are working with the tools they have, and while most are quick to offer well meaning advice, few are prepared to loan out their tools. You can’t fix broken without the right tools. And somewhere along the line, every single one of us gets chips, and wear and tear, simply from a lifetime of use. Broken is the norm. But we can have a healthy kind of broken. A kind of broken that strengthens us. Heals us. Grows us into beautiful. A kind of broken that, when all the pieces come together, forms a glorious mosaic. A true work of art. I want to teach people that art. I ache, and long, to help people see the beauty in that masterpiece.

Just when I think I know where I need to meet people, along comes some weird political backslide, and I realize that this project of fixing the world, that I apparently have decided to take on, is getting bigger than my shoulders can distribute the weight of.

How do I spread the message that it comes back to environment? The environment that we create for ourselves. The food we put in our bodies, the inter personal relations that we may or may not have developed, in this tech driven society. Relationship is getting lost. We desperately need to turn to our environments. We desperately need to shake a neighbors hand, remember where food is supposed to come from. We need to change our focus. The solutions that we have in the box with us aren’t working, and its time we reach outside the box and find some alternatives. Its time we lend a hand to a neighbor. Its time we stop talking and start doing. Its time for us to become present in our lives folks. Its time to take a good, hard look at ourselves and decide if we are perpetuating hate, darkness, division and negativity, or are we seeking solution, accepting the situation and problem solving. Each and every single one of us needs to step back three steps, decide if we are putting more ugly in the world, or if we are part of the solution.

We need to self evaluate. We need to take our own thoughts apart just like we dissect the media and the politicians. We need to dig all those ugly skeletons out of our own closets, and decide if we are going to purge or perpetuate them. I see so many, quick to judge those in charge, demanding to get what they want, regardless of what side, calling the other side lunatics, and pointing out every human error, mistake, or misjudgement.

I would love to see what you have in your closet. Would you be willing to put it under public scrutiny, for the world to condemn? I certainly wouldn’t. I live an honest life, and I have reached a point in my life where I am rarely ashamed of my behavior, but I still have skeletons, and I will continue to make mistakes, because I am imperfect. Perfection would be a horrible goal to strive for. With no chance of attaining that goal, it would be a set up for failure.

We have to stop screaming at everyone else to fix this. We have to do it. We have to start right now. We don’t have a minute to spare. What can you do to remove some toxicity from your environment, today? (Hint* It helps to remember that the opposite of toxicity is wholesome).

Do one thing today. Just one thing. To start the very daunting task of removing the toxicity from your immediate environment. Maybe tomorrow you will feel compelled to do two. At any rate, if we each remove one toxic factor from our life today, the world becomes a much cleaner place overnight. There is a snowball effect. It is contagious. Hold a door, shake a hand. Smile and wave. Share a brownie with your neighbor. Run an errand for the elderly couple down the road. Start being the change you wish to see, rather than hollering at others to be responsible for those changes, and you will be shocked the difference you can make. Your words, your actions. They can be a source of loving light in this world, or they can be a source of divisive hatred. What do you choose?

 

 

 

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Family. Love. Gratitude. Eagles. Adventure. And Gemstones. How our prayers affect us.

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Hello My friends.  Once again I come to you, apologetic for my absence. Summer just takes so much energy, that I can barely keep up with responsibility, much less find time to sit in the quiet and write. This summer is particularly crazy, and I know my myself well. I know that I have to honor my body to keep myself healthy, and when I see myself faced with months of endless activity, travel,  and guests, it can freak me out a little. Add a fairly new Celiac diagnosis in there and Summer fun becomes quite an overwhelming series of events. As Spring was winding up and my Summer calendar was getting more and more cluttered, I decided that this year, I am going with the flow. I will remember to give my body what it needs so that I can be my best me. I will remember that I do not enjoy the rat race, that I finally broke myself of that feeling “I wish life would just slow down some”, and learned how to apply it. That my friends, extended family, and guests are still part of that race, and that it is ok for me to tell them I need a nap, and can not fathom a fourth day in town this week. It is so freeing. So liberating, to honor my body even when people whom I long to please are going faster than me. But, what I found even more fulfilling, was that my loved ones accepted and respected my decision to honor my bodies needs despite a desire to run with them. After weeks and weeks of running and doing and hosting, I am refreshed, rejuvenated, and so full of gratitude that is overflows out my eyes daily. Yes, this is how I explain my big emotions to people who don’t really understand why I am crying. Look, I am a small woman, with huge emotions, and I just cannot contain them all. Love, Gratitude, Appreciation, they leak out my face in the same way that sadness, hurt, and disappointment do. I easily overwhelm with emotion, and I am thankful for that. I am thankful that I recognize that emotions are a gift we are meant to use, and I am especially thankful that the majority of mine are on the pleasant end of the spectrum anymore.

My brain feels like it is full of word soup. I have been overwhelmed with gratitude and such a peace in my spirit lately. I often find myself looking for a place to start when attempting to teach someone how to break the cycles of anxiety and mental unhealth. It is truth that happiness is our choice, but if no one ever taught you the skills to be happy, how can you possibly believe that? I have come to recognize that when we tell people that happiness is their choice, we have to be prepared to offer some guidance on how to make that choice. I often start by asking people what their passion is. We can’t get to an end goal if we don’t know what it is, and often, following your passion is what brings people real joy in life. I have found that my passion stems from things that at one point burdened me, and it is because of this, that I believe that our burdens are our blessings in disguise. Because the things that have been my biggest obstacles have all led me to understand my calling here on Earth. They have become the things that I am passionate about.

My in-laws were here last week, and my Father in law stated with a chuckle, that I was a passionate person. I doubt that he knows how greatly his simple comment impacted me. One of the greatest compliments of my life. I hope to live with passion and full of love every single day that I breathe. Lately, my passions have slightly adjusted the path that I am on. With the Celiac diagnosis, I have become very educated about food, and the state of our current food system. I believe that diet is going to be a major factor to overcome in order to see mental unhealth resolution, and I have become strongly passionate about the quality of the food our system is providing.

I have had to admit that I am a feminist. That one was hard. The term makes me cringe. I do not want to be lumped into that group. The word feminist evokes images of pink pussy hats, and leather strap wearing women grabbing their crotches publicly, and I just don’t fit in that category at all. In my brain, those images are the demoralization of femininity. So, I have learned to accept that I am a moderately conservative Christian feminist. I am happy to submit to my husband, because he honors me. Because we honor each other, and  to refuse to submit to him would be to refuse to compromise. He compromises, supports, listens, and submits himself to me at least as often as I am asked to do the same for him, and I gladly accept the role as his partner. That means we both submit. But as a woman, I am honored in this home, by this man, and by his family. Feminist is a hard word for me, but the fact is, I had to accept it, because I have developed a strong passion for teaching women that they do not have to live with these hurts and shame triggers. They are not condemned to a lifetime of depression and anxiety. Honestly, I am happy to help men too, I just find that less of them reach out. Maybe that is because I am married and don’t often strike up conversations with random men. I can’t be sure. I just know that if anyone, male or female, wants to heal, I am happy to start them down the path. The fact that 90% of the people I work with are females lumps me into that feminist category. That and the fact that I feel a strong sense of desire to help men understand how vulnerable women feel most of the time. As we grow in our marriage together, my husband, who is a good Christian man, has a beautiful relationship with Christ, and would never knowingly hurt or intimidate another person, has been a spotlight shining on the issue of female vulnerability. He showed me something that we are missing as women, in our quest to feel safe and respected with our men. His willingness to let me bounce ideas off him, and to share about feminine vulnerability, things would never have crossed his male mind, has shown me that we are failing to teach men what women need.

I speak openly about the hurts I have endured in life, the addictions, abuses, rapes and molest that had a part in forming the woman I am today. The shame that I had to overcome to heal them, and the blessings they turned out to be as I shed the shame that kept me bound to unhealth. I have a passion burning in my soul to help women see that they don’t have to live with this shame and lack of self-worth. That it is not their burden to carry, and that they may be able to use it as a gift to help another woman shed these chains one day. But, I am learning that we need to educate men. They need to be taught how to make us feel safe in their presence. That we live in a society where women drop f-bombs right alongside the men, and where women scream of being treated equally, and  somewhere along the lines, men forgot that women are sensitive, That we are the healers and nurturers of the planet. That this is why the old farmers took it to the barn. They knew their women were gentle spirits, and they wanted to keep it that way. Somewhere along the line, dads lost the skill of teaching their boys how to treat a woman. And the only way they can know what we need, is for someone to teach it to them. I speak openly so that we can heal hurts, but in the process I have come to see that most men are just blatantly unaware of how their words and actions are perceived so much differently in a woman’s mind, than from a male perspective. We need to learn how to communicate with the opposite sex. We need to grasp and accept that men and women are wired very differently, with skill sets that are meant to compliment each other, but we must learn to recognize the different ways in which we are programmed, in order to find healthy communication amongst ourselves. We need to recognize what we are doing to men as well as women. Feminism speaks to women being treated as equals. This is a matter of perspective. I never want to be seen as the same as my husband, but there is no question in his mind, or mine, that we are equals. We were brought together to balance one another. To use our strengths and weaknesses together to become something better, but we are far from the same. In the process of fighting for equality, it would do all of us women some good to step back and look at the way men are being shamed in this society. It’s possible that we would have healthier men if we spent less time calling them names and shaming them as the inferior gender, and more time helping them to understand why we feel vulnerable, and teaching them how we actually deserve and need to be treated for both parties to get their needs met in a healthy way. It is possible that our men would be better equipped to respect us, if we quit shaming them all day long, and started respectfully educating them.

This all started with passions. Like I said, word soup. What I have observed in myself in the recent months, is that my passions have changed slightly. I have developed this passion for food, and I have put clearer definitions around my passion to help others heal and grow into a life of gratitude and positive, love filled, thought patterns. I have become consumed with a passion for showing people that the government can’t fix this. We have to. And we have to start in our own backyards. I have developed a passion for teaching people about a peaceful spirit, a gratitude filled soul, and an ability to go with the flow of life, with arms open to opportunity and blessing.

Recently, I had a friend advise me to pray for what I wanted, and to pray specifically. While this is a common Christian thought, and I have heard it many times, I spent an incredible amount of time dwelling upon it this weekend, while I was being overwhelmed with tears of gratitude for the immense amount of blessings that I could never have imagined in my life, as little as ten years ago. I immediately told her that I disagree with her philosophy of praying specifically. After hanging up, I had to spend a good deal of time considering if that was really how I felt or a knee jerk reaction. I decided that I disagree with her. I do not necessarily think that it is in our best interest to pray for the specifics of what we want. Here’s why. I went through years begging God for a good man, convinced that I would never be anything without one. God didn’t give me that good man. I had to learn how to be happy and healthy without a man. Once I mastered stability without a man, I prayed to never have one again. I was so happy alone, why did I need a man to hold me back and cause undue burden and compromise in my life. Almost immediately upon reaching that place where I had no desire for a man to impede on my happiness, they started beating my door down, and I wanted nothing to do with any of them. But my best friend persisted. He stuck around and kept knocking when I shooed them all away. I finally submitted to dating him, after a very long discussion about whether our futures looked like they could go down the same path. I had my mission from God at this point, and no man was going to come between that mission and my future. I gave in. With much resistance, I slowly tore down that wall and let him in. So I prayed for a good marriage, one that would outlast time. What I got was a wonderful husband, one whom I just can’t even imagine life without. Through the years our connection gets stronger and stronger, and I wonder how I ever fought the notion of dating him. I have spent a lot of time this weekend considering that I asked for a good husband, eventually. I did not ask for excellent in-laws. I did not ask for aunt and uncle in laws who would think of me as they are traveling around the country in their rv. I did not ask for an extended family that would open their arms for me and accept me like they had known me all my life. God gifted me with so much more than I asked for. What if I had prayed specifically. And what if He answered those prayers? I would be missing out on so much. I would have limited the gifts that He could bless me with. I can think of a hundred times in my life when I asked God for one thing and He gave me more. I would be a fool to limit myself by praying for specificity, when He sees so much more for me than I do. I pray for my dreams, but not in a specific way. In a way that allows Him to give me so much more than I could dream of. That is how I spent my weekend. Overjoyed with tearful gratitude that I finally learned that God see’s more for me than I do, and that I need to be careful not to limit my prayers by being too specific. I stand by my original comment. I do not think that we should focus too hard on praying specifically. God knows the gist of my dreams, but I am open to whatever blessings that He see’s for me. If I am so busy watching for what I asked for specifically, I am likely to miss the real answer and gifts right under my nose. If I am filled with expectation about what that blessing should look like, I may find myself disappointed with something that I may otherwise accept with open arms and gratitude. This is why, I personally, do not feel compelled to pray with specificity, but rather to let God know the gist of my dreams,  keep my arms open to receive His gifts, and pray for His will in my life. The result is astounding. It’s not even so much that He gives me more blessings, just that my eyes are open much wider to recognize them.

This weekend, hubby and I went to a celebration of life in a town a few hours away. I went into it just completely open to adventure and blessing. It was a last minute decision, and I don’t necessarily prefer last minute overnight trips, but I was determined not to ruin opportunities for blessing with a bad attitude, so exhausted and overwhelmed, I just gave it to God. I decided to just go with the flow, let life happen, and keep my eyes open to opportunity. Oh the weekend that ensued was filled with so many blessings, I don’t even know how to begin thanking Him for it all.

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The hotels were full. We ended up in a slightly more expensive hotel than we normally might have stayed in. When I got there, you know how hotels are clumped together in certain areas. What I found was firetrucks. The hotels were full because there were firefighters from all over the country, and they gave up their livelihoods, the comfort of their beds, the warmth of their wives food, and the smiles of their children, to risk their lives for my home. They set it all aside to fight for us. I was immediately filled with overwhelming gratitude at the chance to witness that. It set the tone for my entire weekend. I spent my time dwelling on the blessing that is self-sacrifice to help us fight fire. I dwelled on this family, so much more than I ever asked for, and how they continue to surprise me with their loving support. Beyond my husband, beyond my Mother and Father in-laws, to my uncle and cousin in laws, they treat me as part of the family.  I am just overjoyed with gratitude at this point. The adventure unfolds. The celebration of life gets over fairly early and hubby and I head back to our room, where we decide that TV in a hotel room just isn’t what we are looking for. We decide an adventure is in order, and we decide to walk to the nearest grocery store for some fruit and yogurt for breakfast. Its only two miles. Nothing really. We wound through parking lots and back alleys. We hopped train tracks. While my husband has pretty much always been a country boy, I myself grew up in the city, and it was so fun to step back into it for just one night. The train yard was nostalgically comfortable for me. Walking on a bike path talking about my experiences on them as a child. It was just such a nice adventure. The next day we told our family about it, and my mother in law chimed in with the quip “adventure is what you make of it”. It is so true. We had so much fun on a simple walk to the store, dodging sprinklers and finding ways to stay off the main road. We got ourselves some healthy food for breakfast, and had a lovely walk back.

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The next morning was church. Lately, I get the same message every time I go to church, and it is something that I need to face but am intimidated by. I love this family so much that, at a busy restaurant, and through tears of intimidation and fear but recognition that ‘I got the memo, God’, I was able to tell them all about it, and they offered a solution that brought tears of relief! It felt so good to finally tell someone that I was struggling with it and confused at the same time. What a relief that they had a safe, simple answer. Another moment for tears of gratitude and acceptance. For a safe place to lay my concerns, and for a family that supports my desire to feel safe in Gods love. That has been a hard battle for me, and their support means so much more than they could possibly know.

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After Church, someone recommended a restaurant that I cannot safely eat in. No one was the least bit hurt or offended when the hubby and I both passionately declared NO! at the exact same time, they just picked something else. No biggie. Everyone was quickly on board and willing to accommodate my needs. I cried all the way there, at the family I had been gifted, and their giant, accepting hearts.  We ate a lovely meal together, I confessed my fear about the memo God has been sending too loud to ignore, we enjoyed family and fellowship, and then they invited us sapphire mining. Sapphires are my birthstone, and a rare type of Sapphire, called the yogo, is native only to Montana and very dear to me. I love this stone so much that we had diamonds replaced with yogo sapphires in my wedding ring. You can imagine my delight at this point, right? So of course we jump right on board that train. It is an hour drive, and hubby and I get some time to chat about the events of the weekend. I am a ridiculous, sobbing mess. I am so overwhelmed with love and gratitude at this point, there is just no hiding my tears. I cried most of the way there. When I got there, I wiped my sloppy face, took a deep breath, and told my in-laws that I was overwhelmed by their love and acceptance and to just ignore me, I am fine. I know that it is ridiculous, but I am so thankful for the ability to feel love and gratitude on such an enormous scale. Sapphire hunting was an absolute blast, I am pretty sure I am addicted. We had plans to drive the 72 miles south to see the eclipse on our anniversary, but we have decided we would rather spend the weekend in a mining town, digging for the little gems in life. The gems aren’t worth any money. Most are too small to bother with, but the time hovering over a table having quiet conversation with my husband, digging for shiny gems in a pile of gravel, was worth more to me than any gem I may ever find on a hunt. It summed up the entirety of the weekend for me. It extends beyond the weekend into all of life. There are a ton of gems in life, surrounded by dirt and gravel and mud. We can quietly seek the gems to be overjoyed about, or we can get distracted by the gravel and clay. We finished up our bucket of gravel as they were closing, gave our parting hugs, and went our separate ways. Hubby and I ended up making most of the trip home on dirt roads that ran alongside the freeway. A three and a half hour drive took us from 11 am till nearly 11 pm. We don’t regret one second of it. It is actually pretty normal behavior for us. We are in no hurry. Life will meet us where we are. On a past adventure of a similar caliber, we had found a gigantic nest. We had hopes of being able to find it again, and to our delight, we were not only lucky enough to find it, but to be able to spend some time watching the Golden Eagle family inhabiting it. We snacked on the food we had left in our cooler from breakfast, watched the Eagles for a bit, and then slowly meandered the rest of the way home. 20747608_10213727518244637_1199317062_o

I went to bed exhausted, emotionally spent, and so overwhelmed with gratitude and joy that nothing could have brought me down. I am still looking back in awe and thinking “What if I had simply prayed to survive this weekend?” “What if I had prayed for a specific chains of events?” I believe that I would have had a very different experience. I am convinced, that we need to open our arms to Gods will for us, without putting expectation upon Him. That we need to try to focus on what He would have for us, rather than what we want. He just has so many hidden gems that we may never see if we blind ourselves with expectation and specificity. I woke up to the first of my Heirloom Blue Berry tomatoes.

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What happens when social accountability becomes personal responsibility?

 

 

Well folks, It has been quite some time since I have posted. I know, I know, I made a promise to write consistently. I have no excuse. I extend my sincerest apologies. Meanwhile, Spring has sprung, and I am one busy bee in the yard and garden. Resigning from the non profit may have been the very best choice I have made in quite some time. The burden off my shoulders is immense. I finally feel free to work on the things that I feel called to do. My intention all along was to do those things through the non profit, but somewhere along the lines, it veered off course into something other than the dream that  I so clearly envisioned. In the months that have unfolded since I left the non profit, I have really been in a quiet place of contemplation. I am out here in the country, making a conscious effort to step away from the rat race. In the process, I find myself quietly watching the world go around from such a different perspective. If you have read my blog at any time in the past, you probably know that I try to stay away from politics. However, on the other side of that coin, I have a strong drive to help people find lasting joy and contentment. My reason for procrastinating my writing is not that I have been busy, though I could easily use that one. My reason for procrastination is intimidation, confusion, and a general feeling of helplessness. I am intimidated at the task of putting a name on all of the hurt in this world. Defining it. I see so many overlapping factors, its hard to break it into pieces and cover the whole scene. I am confused because I am trying to sort out all of those overlapping features, and there is a ton of information that all leads me back to the same several questions. How did we get here? What is with all the anxiety? How do we solve this? Can we solve this? How did all this shame and trauma develop? What happened to logic and rational thinking? Why can’t people see that they are stuck in this horrible place, and that they can change it? How do I help people see that they CAN indeed change it? My helplessness comes from a feeling that people are so overwhelmed in chaos and anxiety, that my words fall on deaf ears as I am met with simple replies that indicate not a word was actually comprehended or believed.

Today, I am going to try to face this beast that has been churning in my mind for months now.

My friends, how have we come to this place? The most pressing thing on my mind is the fact that anxiety has become the norm. Anxiety is typically a feeling of loss of control. An overwhelming rush of “what if’s” that renders one paralyzed with irrational fears. How have we gotten to a place where that is the normal state of mind? I am serious. Look around you. Think about your loved ones. How many are riddled with anxiety? Mental health as a whole is on the decline at exponentially alarming rates, but lets just look at anxiety alone, because it often accompanies any other mental health issue, and because it is rampant. Nearly everyone knows this feeling and knows many people who live consumed by it, day in and day out. The key to solving a problem is to figure out what is causing it. What is causing all of this anxiety? Is it our mainstream food? Is it our pace of life and the pressure to keep up with it? It is our economy or the politics we are surrounded with every day? Is it a lack of God? Is it lack of meaningful personal relationships? Is it because our society is forming an environment that, in an attempt to not offend anyone, is offending everyone? Is it that our lack of willingness to take accountability for ourselves is causing us to place expectations on the people around us to ensure our happiness? Is it because we spend so much time looking at and for the negatives around us, that we train our brain to see them first, and eventually only them?

Its clear to every single human on this planet that we are in a state of worldwide turmoil. Fighting, hatred, and ugly are becoming the dominating forces in the world, division is rampant, both in our country, and in the world. Honestly is a lost quality and empathy is close on its heels.  We have come to believe the lie that the answer lies in government. There are about half a million people who hold elected positions in America, and roughly 325 million citizens of this great country. Why are we giving them so much of our time? That is precious time that we could be using to change the state of our nation. It is pretty much general knowledge at this point, that if you spend your time focusing on negatives, you will instinctively think the worst first, and if you focus on the positives, the bright side tends to present in our minds. What I see when I step back and just watch, is that we are all too focused on the negatives. We have let fear and anxiety overrule logical thought. When logical thought and ration go out the window, and fear and anxiety drive us, it reflects in our behavior, both towards ourselves and others. It takes away our ability to problem solve. We are smart people, folks. We do not need the government to solve this for us. We can solve this because we are the masses, and if we stop attacking each other over our disagreements about government, and start treating humans as individuals who are also just trying to survive this life, we could, and would, make progress. If we stop focusing our thoughts on hate, we can find ways to put a halt to it.  Like a child having a tantrum. When children don’t get what they want, they cry and scream and throw a fit. If we reward this behavior by giving it attention, it becomes a louder, angrier fit next time. Why are we giving the hate so much attention? And if we are going to give the hate attention, then why not in a constructive, logical, problem solving way, instead of loud, embarrassing tantrums?

But it is not just a simple as ignoring the negatives and refusing to give the hate attention. It is an overlapping mess of peoples unmet needs, and unmet needs lead to bad behavior if people do not have the skills to get those needs met one way or another. Our stagnancy is a giant part of the problem. In a world that moves faster than any other time in history, our bodies are more stagnant than ever. The amount of neglect we have shown our bodies in an attempt to keep up with the race is astounding. We are an overweight nation. I am not fat shaming here guys. We all have health issues, for some, many these days, it is weight. Being overweight has become as normal as anxiety. For many, there are medical reasons, and for many more, it is stagnancy. Our bodies aren’t meant to be stagnant  in front of a computer. We are meant to perform physical activity every day, and when we don’t, it changes the balance of hormones and metabolism in our bodies. The technology age has removed much of the previously necessary exercise from our lives, and now we have to make a conscious decision to get up and move several times a day. Our food and healthcare systems are in a state of disarray. Without diet and medical needs met, it becomes increasingly difficult to function as a productive member of society.  Our financial system is broken, our economy is a mess. Leaving people without their needs met once again, and once again, making it very difficult to be a functional member of society. We need to look within folks. We cannot rely on government to fix this for us. We need to hold ourselves accountable. We need to take action, not scream at elected officials to fix it. We need to reach out to our neighbors. There are so many people, as diverse as our fingerprints, in this world. All with different passions and drives. If we all put just a little bit of effort into those things that pull our heartstrings, everyone’s needs could get met. But as we drift further and further into a chaotic place, we feel we have less and less control, and more and more that we need to scream louder to the government, about the injustices of the world and that it is their job to fix it all. They are the minority folks, and we the people are the majority. We need to come together and behave in rational ways, and we can fix this. The more we put on the government to fix, the less control we have, and the more chaotic it will get. It is on US. How can you reach out today and attempt to be part of a logical, rational, proactive change? I am not talking about protesting and marching in the streets. They are ways of screaming at the government that we expect change. That we expect someone other than ourselves to fix this. We could be spending that time, energy, and resources on being the someone who fixes it. Now, I am a writer. Don’t for one minute think that I am saying that we need to stop doing those things. Freedom of speech and expression is a right that everyone deserves. I am merely suggesting that while those things say what we feel, they don’t actually change our situation. If we put that energy to a more positive, constructive use, we could be the ones to solve the problem.

We are the consumers. We tolerate toxic food by purchasing it. We tolerate this ridiculous healthcare law, by purchasing exorbitantly high health insurance premiums. We rant and rave about fake news channels, as we watch them. Now Obviously, we can’t just quit buying food, or following laws, or even making an attempt to get some valid news. But, we can come together and brainstorm ways to address these issues within our communities. We can find outside the box solutions to most of what we face as evils today. And, as the consumer, we can be the most profound effect that the world has seen. We can be the change that we wish to see.

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I don’t have all the answers to solving these problems, but I do know for sure that if we slow down, resist the pressure of the race, and make more personal connections, that we can be the change that everyone is screaming for. I know that a group of people can get together at a local community center and decide to work together to create a new model to live by. I know that solutions can be found if we put our brains together instead of fighting each other. I know that this is going to continue to get exponentially worse until we are forced to do just that. Can we barter with our neighbors to meet our food needs and resist the toxic system that is currently in place? I grow produce, Joe here has chickens and goats, and Dave down the road has a large herd of cattle (this is an example, not real people). How can we come together to trade so that everyone has their fair share of healthy food, while everyone works to contribute? Its not a matter of one supporting the other. I am not suggesting a socialist setup. I am suggesting bartering. Resisting the green wherever we can. I would happily give up some of my fancy blueberry tomatoes in exchange for a dozen eggs or trade jerky for compost, with the horse rancher down the road. Everyone gets “paid” except for corrupt big business. Our local businesses are supported and our community begins to thrive, as we get to know each other over an egg and tomato trade. When we know each other, we are more forgiving of each other. We see each other as individuals and empathy comes back in the door. If you live in the city, you may be thinking that this wouldn’t work for you. I beg to differ. It is a different set of solutions, but food is not our only need. It is a matter of coming together with our communities, figuring out the needs, how we as individuals are equipped to meet them, and how we can be the ones to solve this within our communities, rather than expecting the government to do it for us. Maybe you don’t garden, or raise meat animals, but you have skills. Maybe you sew. We need clothes and blankets. Maybe you have a trade. Things need to be fixed and replaced. You do have value, and I suspect that not realizing this simple fact is causing much of the burden. What is your value, how can you use it to resist the mainstream systems that are keeping us focused on hate? Maybe you can get your healthy, non mainstream food, by digging a trench or painting a house or sewing a blanket. Save the greens for the things that are not yet available through barter. Maybe for a healthcare solution, we get a group of medical professionals in the community together who work for trade, outside of their practices. I don’t really know all the laws on that, and I am sure there are many details that would need ironing out, but that is what the brainstorming group is for. I am not suggesting that these scenarios are the answer to all of our problems, I am suggesting that if we as individuals, set aside the hate and division that is being caused by unmet needs and shame, we can get together and brainstorm ways that we as communities can be accountable for getting those needs met. It may not solve political problems at first, but ultimately, politics is about consumerism, and we are the consumers. If we refuse to consume what they are selling, they will be forced to change products or go out of business. It seems so simple, but we constantly find excuses why it wont work. Lets stop saying “But, can’t wont” and start finding the “I can and I will” that is so necessary if we really want to be the change we wish to see.