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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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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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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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Regrouping

img_1263-e1493141438594.jpgOh my friends, it has been some time, hasn’t it? I apologize for my absence. The last two weeks have been all about regrouping and redefining. I followed through with that big decision I was in the process of, and now that it has me on a new path, or possibly, back on my original path, I have had to step back and reevaluate my situation.

Overall, I am incredibly thrilled with the situation. I still needed to process and reevaluate. I have renewed excitement. I had most definitely strayed off course. Suddenly, my passions are back in the picture. What happened? Well, that non profit I started was due to a vision I received when I was saved. I was given a clear set of pictures of what it was supposed to look like. Founding a non profit is not what you would expect if you have not been through the process. One thing you may not realize, is that even though I founded it, did all the work, and raised all of the money, it does not belong to me. Once it becomes a non profit, it belongs to the state, and the board has all control. I am just the instrument for getting it done. Unfortunately, my board had a different vision of this foundation than I did, and I was becoming miserably burdened, chasing all those dead end roads, and getting no where. It was becoming something that I was once passionate about, but recently found myself waking up resenting. It was costing me a ton of money, It was playing on the co-dependency issues that I had learned how to resolve years ago. It was causing me a great deal more stress than I was willing to give to it. It was affecting my entire family negatively. And then one day my husband asked me what was up? Why was I avoiding this situation so much? What had changed that my passion had fizzled away. I gave him a lame but valid excuse, and then spent several days weighing this question in my mind. What I came to see was that God had given me a vision of a mission. In an attempt to follow through, I built this non profit. In the process of having a board that did not have the same vision and agenda as me, it became warped into something very different from what I had been shown. And I resented it. Deeply. I resented the way the board treated me. I resented the way that half of them snickered when I spoke of God giving me this mission, or the way they snottily told me that I should be asking my church for money because “thats what they do, isn’t it?”. I resented what they had turned it into, and I resented how they talked to me. It most certainly had become something very different than the mission I had been shown, and I needed out like my ability to breathe depended on it.

I asked them to dissolve it, they said no and called me at the last minute to tell me that I was not welcome at the meeting that would determine the fate of my “baby”. In somewhat of a “thanks for doing all the hard work, have a nice life”, goodbye, they just dismissed me from the foundation I had built. I felt betrayed. One of the people I trusted most in this world hurt me deeply. It took me a few days to process that betrayal, but ultimately I got through it. I asked them to at least change the name and let me keep the name and logo for my own mission as it had been presented to me, and they agreed. So in the end, I am not really out anything. I set up a non profit, and essentially had it stolen from me, but maybe it was what was meant to be. I have my doubts about their ability to maintain it, but I am content that I am no longer committed to it and that I am in a position to rebuild it, privately this time. I have to wait three months to reclaim use of the name, and maybe longer while they submit a name change to the government, but ultimately, I got to keep what was mine.

This whole process unlocked some doors I was feeling trapped behind, and ultimately renewed my passion for the original vision. That moment of betrayal had a hidden blessing in it, as they always do, and once again, my burdens have a way of teaching me who I am meant to be and why I am living the life that I am. I have been in an introspective space for months now, and I am becoming blatantly aware of things I feel helpless to explain to people. As I watch from my quiet little existence on the edge of society, the level of mental unhealth terrifies me. The pace of life at which people live astounds me, the toxicity of our society horrifies me, and I feel helpless. The problems are so intertwined, I do not know how you go about starting the process of fixing it. Shame. Lack of love. Poor mental health. All leading to a society that is lost and confused. A society that is hurting. What causes all this shame and lack of mental health. Oh good grief, where would we begin? Food, environmental toxins, poor parenting habits, the rat race, loss of community over a perceived need to do more, have more, and be more.

At what point does one step back and say “How do I fix this”? Where is that line that we cross in order to take control of our lives? How do we teach the inhabitants of this Earth about love, simplicity, gratitude, and lifting each other up? How do we reach the masses and teach them how to clean the toxicity from their lives. How do we get healthy skills taught to so many lost souls who just never had a chance to learn that life can be different. We can’t expect people to use skills they were never taught, so how do we most effectively get the information about healthy skills, to the masses? How many times have I tried to show people how to make these changes and choose healthy skills, only to hear “but, can’t, won’t”? How do we get people to see that it does not have to be the miserable existence that they believe they are doomed to? How do we get them to see that they are able to change things if they are able to listen openly and change their thought processes and behaviors? I am aching to see the state of societies mental health heal, and I do not know how to make the biggest impact that I can to affect the most people.

The answer always comes back to love. We must teach each other how to love in a healthy way. We need to create more love and teach others how to project it in everything they do. If we are creating anything other than love, we are not perpetuating mental health in the world. Shame, addiction, anxiety, and depression are rampant in this world. Disease is eating us alive. There is an epidemic happening, and there is a shortage of compassionate, empathetic, love inoculations. We desperately need to consciously decide how we will show someone love today. Genuine love. Not the image of love, but genuine, honest, sincere love. What skills can we gently teach people so that they too are able to create more love? I ache for the children who are growing up in this unhealthy society. I ache for the young adults who think that is normal. I ache for the old men and women who look around at this society and hang their heads in shame, and I ache for those of us in the middle somewhere, looking around wondering what in the hell happened to the world, and hearing a hundred answers come pouring in all at once, so deeply intertwined with each other that it is like untangling all of the chains in an old necklace drawer. Where does one even begin?

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Sometimes that tangle of chains seems impossible. We have to step away and look in at it later when our brain is calmer. Sometimes we break a chain or two in our impatience, but eventually we can usually untangle the mess. Today, I am looking at the tangle of chains that bind this society, and I am desperately seeking one loose chain to start unraveling. I am desperately seeking the answers to where I fit in most effectively for the purpose of untangling the chains that our society bares, like the weight of the world tying them down and keeping them prisoner in this crazy world we live in.

Where is the bolt cutter in my toolshed? Is it sharp enough for these chains? Is it ready to take on a task of epic proportions? As I toil away at my peaceful little existence, cleaning, cooking, gardening, and caring for my family, I am grateful for the blessings in abundance. As I dream of how I will grow this existence for us, I forget sometimes, how removed from typical society I am. I forget that this is an atypical existence that we have built. Until I try to talk to people about what it feels like to live with peace. Then I become blatantly aware of how atypical our existence is, and I feel desperate to help others understand that they too, can build there own personal atypical existence. One that honors them and who they were meant to be. That traditional social standards may at first make it look impossible, but that is an illusion. A consequence of being trained to think inside of a social parameter. Remember my old cars post a few weeks back? Its all about choosing to be genuine to ourselves despite societies perspective on the matter. Are you struggling with desperately wanting something that you “can’t” have? Are you wondering how to find your purpose? Are you unsure what to do next? Are you just unhappy and don’t know why? Where are you in identifying the things holding you back?

A technique that works well with cutting through this stigma of being trapped in our miserable situation is to list it. Start by stating your goal. What is it that you want? Write it down. Now in two columns, make lists. On one side, the issues holding you back. What is stopping you from having what you want? What roadblock is stopping you from taking that path. What chains are tying you down? In the second column, what are some solutions to each individual issue. Prioritize them. Decide which order they need to be addressed, and start seeking outside the box solutions. One at a time, check them off as you find solutions, and before you know it, you will find yourself in that place that you thought was impossible to get to.

What if you don’t even know what you want. There have been a few times in my work, that the person I am working with does not even know what they want, what they are passionate about. They just don’t want to be miserable any more but isn’t life just get up, go to work, come home, eat, sleep, and do it again? What do you mean “passions”?

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How do you find your passions? If you don’t even know what you want, how on Earth do you go about creating it? Well, ask yourself this question. “What makes my heart beat fast?” What is it that shaped you? What affects you? When you scroll through facebook, or the news, what is it that catches your attention? There is a very good chance that those are your passions, and if you follow your passions, you will eventually be successful. I honestly had no idea that when I finally discovered my passions, they would be so much different than what I thought my childhood dreams were, and yet in many ways, my childhood dreams hinted at pieces of those passions. A great example is that I always knew that I loved writing, but I never could have predicted that it would be a vessel for helping people to heal. I grew up in a city and had no idea that I would base my entire adult life around creating a self sustainable homestead. I had no idea how much I love taking pictures, despite the many photography classes that I took and that I was a photographer for the high school yearbook. But, when I sit down and make a list of things I desperately want to achieve, I find that many of my passions have always been deeply ingrained in me, I just didn’t put together the pieces until I had hindsight for perspective. I had a special needs child, and helping kids grew in me. I was a single mom, and helping single parents became a seed in my garden of purpose. I worked in an animal shelter, and learned that I am passionate about humanitarian work. I got sick, and food became one of my passions. These became a driving forces, and somehow, it all fits perfectly into that long term goal. When I step back and look at the whole situation, using my hindsight, I see that life has always been setting me up to pursue my passions, and tie them all together in one big bow of service to community that leaves me feeling content and full of peace. Its a quiet life. An existence I could never have imagined as a child. I never foresaw myself pursuing a life of service to others. Until I was in it, and then I realized it is always what I wanted. To make the world a better place. In my own quiet little way, I am doing exactly that, and I am doing it with the tools that I was granted through passion. Passions I have always had, and passions that grew as a result of life and trying to “get there”. Chase the things that make your heart beat fast. Those are the areas of life we are called to. At some point they all tie together and become purpose.

What is your purpose, and what is holding you back? If you identify those things, you can identify a way to achieve the unachievable, and you can overcome the misery and pave a new path. Having a passionate dream to pursue renews hope, and renewed hope is, as far as I can tell, the only loose chain available in this tangle of chains that holds us back. As you unravel the passions, and renew the hope, the other chains will start to come loose and soon you will have unraveled all the chains and be able to see clearly how to move past the “can’t, but, won’t” of your passions and on to the changing of the world part.

If I can help you. If you have questions. If I can clarify anything further. Please let me know. The world needs more peace, love and healing, Those of us who know how to achieve it are responsible for teaching others how to have it as well. I know today’s post is less uplifting than typical of me, but if I can help one person to see that they can change their miserable situation, then it has been worth it.

The air is heavy with Spring rain. The fire crackles in the fireplace, and my babies are germinating like crazy. The homestead beckons. I love you all! Until next time…God bless.

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Six months!

Spring has sprung in the Rocky Mountains and the hubby and I decided to celebrate this weekend by taking a long, rambling, meandering drive through the countryside. As we were rambling through the back roads, reflecting on the renewed hope of spring, it occurred to me. What a landmark I hit this weekend. I made it to the six month mark! Everything I read when I first went gluten free told me that I would start to feel better at the six month mark, but that it takes six months to two years to get all the contaminants out of my life and out of my body. Those numbers felt like forever six months ago. At first, I felt so much better after three days, and two weeks, and a month, without gluten, that I could not imagine a profound change at the six month mark, because I had already had my profound changes. Whoa! If only I had known that those giant adjustments were just the tip of the iceberg. This weekend, I was showing my hubby the Celiac rash and how much it had changed for the better this week. It wasn’t until the next day that I realized I had hit the six month mark and that was probably why such a drastic healing difference. I am sure you guys get so sick of hearing me talk about gluten all the time, but I am truly troubled by the detrimental impact that  it has on everyone, and I am surprised it is still a viable food source honestly. I was telling my friend a few minutes ago how its similar to asking for a heroin cookie for snack. And about as good for you too. Its discouraging to see so many completely dependent on this so called food source, and completely ignorant to the effect it is having on them. Even more discouraging is that the medical tests to define it are unreliable at best. So, even once someone accepts that it may be hurting them, they go to the Dr. for confirmation and he tells them, nope, no gluten intolerance, and they go right back to their old ways. There are over 200 symptoms of gluten intolerance, and I do not know one single person who doesn’t have any of the symptoms.

The most common ones I see daily are anxiety (why hasn’t anyone stopped to ask why anxiety is an epidemic these days?), headaches, lack of focus, lethargy, weight problems, and just basic minor complaints all over the body that are unidentified but most likely related. You can do a simple google search and connect almost every disease out there to gluten simply by typing in “gluten intolerance and (insert ailment here)”. You will find that just about every single ailment on the planet is affected by gluten in a negative way. The stuff is horrid. And that is just the beginning of it. That does’t touch on things like nitrates and dyes and preservatives. It doesn’t go anywhere near talking about pesticides and genetically modifying our food sources. Our food is toxic and it is keeping us apathetic and miserable and I spend my days wondering how I can do something about it, so here I am, utilizing the only voice I know at the moment, to try to get your attention. It won’t stop if the people don’t know. In the six months that I have been gluten free, I have seen a huge change in the market. I am guessing that within ten to twenty years, the gluten will have been streamlined out of our diets altogether. Much like the FDA finally released information stating that vaccines CAN cause autism, I suspect that it won’t be but a few more years until they finally admit that gluten is toxic. There is twice the gluten free food available to me in the store than there was six months ago. The transition is happening, and it cant happen fast enough.

I know people roll their eyes at me, they think I am just another faddy foodie, jumping on the gluten free bandwagon. One guy in the grocery store not long ago, told me that gluten is good for you, that it “puts hair on your chest”. I wanted to tell him that he was right, being a hormone disruptor, it probably would put hair on my chest, but being a woman, I am not sure that is what I want in my food. I think the hardest thing for me to face, aside from breaking the addiction, was the concept that people would think I was high maintenance, a faddy foodie just making life hard for dining establishments. Trying to fit in. Oh I am an eccentric. I have never cared much about fitting in, and I had a lot of shame to face in this area. Now, I shamelessly go on and on about this toxin. It is so bad for us. For everyone. And never have I found a topic that people have more excuses for. The reality is, they don’t realize that their fear comes from addiction. They don’t realize how much better they can feel, and they are terrified of a life without gluten.

It is true that eating gluten free can be quite expensive, but I have thoughts on this also. That was one of my biggest excuses too. What I found is that I buy and waste way less food, and I appreciate the food I do have way more. I have also found that as I see the market for gluten free food increase, the prices go down. I can go to the specialty food aisle and buy a gluten free brand of pasta for five dollars, or I can look in the regular food aisles and find gluten free pasta made by the major name brands for a third to half the price as the “fancy” brands. Also, when I eat healthy food, I need way less. Gluten makes us feel full, but not because we are nourished. Eating whole foods, I require much less to feel and stay satisfied.

I have had a drive to grow my own food for some time now, but being gluten free increases that drive, for a multitude of reasons. Firstly, I want to reduce the cost of my groceries. Secondly, the garden food is so much tastier, and thirdly, gluten is everywhere. Because it has been modified to resist pests, it is often used in organic pesticides, which makes organic vegetables a risk for me. How does one find the lesser evil when being forced to choose between vegetables that may have gluten residue on them, or foregoing the chance of contamination, and giving in to pesticide ridden produce?

And so I grow. I grow and grow and grow, in an attempt to free myself from the vicious cycle of supermarket food and having to choose which food is the lesser evil. Isn’t that sad? That I have to decide which food is the lesser evil when I shop. That God gave us food as nourishment and medicine and when we buy groceries we are weighing the contamination and toxicity factors? A quick internet search on what the Bible says about genetically modifying our food will be eye opening. God gave us perfect food, and silly humans just had to go and change it up. When will we learn that we can’t do it better than God?

Oh, it is just that kind of day. I had a lovely ending to sum this piece up nicely, when wouldn’t you know, the site started acting up. It won’t save, it lost half the post when I tried to publish, and you know, all of the lessons that go against the whole point of this post, which is really convenience. It is all about patience. All about taking a deep breath and refusing to be defeated. All about exposing convenience for what it really is. Convenience is a lie. It does a good job at pretending to make life better, but it does the exact opposite. It steals our joy and gratitude. It dumbs down the senses.

Gluten is like that. It pretends we love it. It pretends to be a good thing. It sucks us into its grips and convinces us that life would not be better without it. Convenience doesn’t make life better, it just appears to do so. When we take time to do things well, to stop and be present, to be aware what we are putting into our lives and our bodies, that is what gives us a bountiful life. That is what gives us health and gratitude. How often is convenience toxic? How often is it a sacrifice for something better, healthier, or more nourishing?

Convenience has stolen our patience, and in doing so, it has stolen the joy from so many aspects of life. Convenience has trained us all into believing that we must go faster, try harder, climb higher.

I promise you, that if you choose a less convenient route, you will find yourself more fulfilled at the end of the day. Much like gluten makes us feel satisfied and full momentarily, then leaves us feeling empty and seeking more, so will convenience. So often people talk about wanting to just slow it down. The first way to tackle that is by foregoing the quick fixes and fast solutions. Patience gives us appreciation and humility.   It forces us to be present and to do things in healthier ways rather than compromising for a quick solution.  If you want to end your day feeling nourished, start by looking what conveniences you can forego. What compromises have you made in order to “fit it all in”?

The rise of illness, especially in the mental health field, is staggering. In a time when we have so much convenience, so much technology and information available to us, how does it make sense that we are sicker and unhappier than we have even been as a population? We are divided, hateful and shameful. Killing our brothers and sisters in the streets. Taking more than we are willing to give. Blaming and shaming everyone who doesn’t agree with us. In a time of plenty, people are getting less and less of their needs met. We get out what we put in. From our food, to our behaviors, everything is a result of what we put in. If our food is toxic, out bodies will be unhealthy. If our behavior is toxic, our relationships will be unhealthy. If convenience is our defining factor, entitlement will be what we get out of it.

How is convenience stealing from you? How can you take the time to prioritize foregoing one convenience for something richer and more fulfilling today? You will find that you have more gratitude, more fulfillment, and more humility at the end of the day. You will appreciate the fruits of your labor far more when you take the time to be present and make conscious decisions about the difference between convenient and healthy. Can you trade in your highly processed existence for one that is more fulfilling and nourishing?

 

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Mind Control

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Good morning my friends. I often talk about happiness being a choice, and how we need to learn to sharpen our tools to make it possible to choose happiness. I think perhaps the most important factor in this equation is guarding our thoughts, so I thought maybe we could touch on that today. This may be the singlemost important factor in choosing joy, simply because it sets you up to sharpen all of the tools necessary to choosing contentment.

So what does it mean to control your thoughts? I am sure many are reading this thinking “I can’t help what pops into my head”. But, you can. I hope to show you how to do that today. Negative thoughts are always bound to pop up. The enemy at work. The enemy lying to you. But you can overrule them. You can decide that they are lies and you can push them out. It is a critical skill and if you want to master happiness and sustainable contentedness, then it is a tool you must start sharpening right now. It is not as hard as it sounds, and like any skill, the more you practice it, the easier it becomes, until eventually it is habit to look for the positives. To find yourself on the brighter side of any given situation. It is rising above the negativity and lies, and choosing to find a reason not to succumb to them.

It is the action of rejecting the “poor me”. Let me see if I can give an example or two. I know a mom. She has three beautiful, healthy children. She has a loving partner who is there for her. She owns her home. I am sure she has many, many other blessings (a car, food, clothes, and a three month surplus of diapers stacked in her kids bedroom, are just a few examples that come to mind). But, she only see’s her “poor me”. Consistently she talks about how miserable her life is. How she lacks worth and how no one cares for her. I happen to know her family very well, and there is no truth to this. They love her, support her, and are there for her every time they can be. However, if she wants something and there is no one there to comply, she starts projecting shame and blame on those very people who love her so unconditionally. So, healthy people learn to draw boundaries. If there is a day that someone draws a boundary and can’t drop their lives to come give her what she perceives as a “need”, she freaks out, publicly and loudly, about how awful her family treats her and how no one is there for her and blah blah blah. It is quite tiresome to read day in and day out actually.

What she doesn’t realize is that she has a choice. She can choose to take that one little moment where she didn’t get exactly what she wanted, hate and blame the world for not giving her what she wants, and spend the day in a miserable rage about how no one loves her and everyone sucks, or she can chase out those lies. I know her family very well. I have seen how much they do for her, how much they care for her, and how proud of her they are. It is her choice, and hers alone to handle this situation as she see’s fit. However, its possible that she would have a whole lot more joy in her life if she could approach it more like “Oh dang, everyone has to work today. Its really too bad that no one can watch the girls while I run to the store. I am so thankful that I don’t have to do this alone every time”. Or “Crap, mom the babies sick and I really need some toilet paper, no one around to help right now. I would be so thankful if you could grab me a pack after work”. Instead, we all get a tirade about how no one loves her, everyone hates her, she can’t count on anyone, and everyone can screw off. Somehow, I don’t see that public tirade making many want to help her in the future, and so, her stinking thinking defines how tomorrow will go. How things will go next time she needs help. Our thoughts control where we end up. Somehow we need to let go of the notion that life is out to get us when it doesn’t go exactly as planned, and figure out how to find a blessing in it. If we constantly put down the ones who can’t just drop everything and be there for us every single time we ask, how much will they help us in the future? Who will even want to be around us? And our thoughts perpetuate a future. If we spend our days looking at unfortunate events as just that, no more, no less, we can find gratitude and a bright side to it.

Now, on the contrary. Add a bit of gratitude and patience to the situation and it becomes an entirely different path. A little perspective, if I may. What if she turned that shame filled pity party into gratitude. “Oh thank God I have so many people on my side. One of them will be off work in just a few short hours and can help me then”. It isn’t life and death, and if it is, then 911 is the appropriate answer. If she was showing gratitude, then perhaps someone would be happy to help just as soon as they had time. And the cycle continues. Show people you appreciate them, and they will continue to help you. Shame them, and they will walk away. A simple, but obvious example of how our thoughts determine our future.

If we spend our days focused on the “can’t, but, won’t” thought process, we never will. But if we spend our days in the “can, yes, will” thought processes, eventually, success will be ours. Its just simple fact. It may not seem true when you are stuck in the stinkin thinking mindframe, but with a little practice, you can force yourself to overcome this mindset. I am positive of this, because there was a time in my life that stinkin thinkin was all I knew. I was sure that God hated me, the whole world was against me, I couldn’t count on anyone, and I would always fail. Moments of joy were fleeting and always stolen by the enemy and his lies. It constantly felt like “one step forward, ten back”. My life was full of words like “never” and “no one”. Poor me. I would let my emotions consume me. Disappointment felt like defeat. Let me tell you, the two are not one and the same.

The choice belongs to you and you alone. Do you choose to let your emotions rule you? To define your reality? Or can you step outside of the box and see the bigger picture? Is the situation going to kill you? If not, there is a good chance that you might be overreacting. This is training in our brain, and like any habit, it takes hard work and determination to overcome it, but it is still a habit, and habits can be changed. For me, It looked like years and years of therapy and hard work. I had to learn how the amygdala worked and some days no matter what I tried,  I could not force those emotions into a reasonable place, until I learned to walk. For me, the only way I could find to break that pattern was to physically force it away. This was perhaps one of the hardest things I ever had to learn to force myself to do. When you are full of rage and shame and pity, there is nothing you want less than to bundle up your kids and go for a brisk walk. Heck, even without the kids, it can be so incredibly hard to pick yourself up and decide you will not tolerate these awful thoughts for one more minute. The thing about stinkin thinkin, and being so consumed by an emotional response, is that you are essentially in “fight or flight” mode. Our body pumps chemicals into our body that tell us to fight or flee when our situation seems unhealthy. This mechanism is intended to be of short duration, just long enough to get us to safety. When we are stuck in an emotionally driven state, these chemicals pump constantly and are very unhealthy for us. Walking forces them to stop pumping. A brisk walk, or any other exercise that gets your heart rate elevated for at least twenty minutes, signals to your amygdala that the threat has passed, and triggers rational thought. When it becomes habit to live in this emotionally controlled state, we can’t always just talk ourselves down. For me, it took many weeks of forcing myself to get that heart pumping every time the negative thoughts overwhelmed me. I had to retrain my brain that that was not how we were going to live. I had to train my brain to do something different than what it was doing. I had to teach it that the amygdala is not for every day use, it is for emergencies only. Fight or flight. Life or death. When your every day thoughts are controlled by emotion, it becomes pretty clear that you must retrain your brain in order to see a change. No one wants to go around with a “poor me, life sucks and will never get better” attitude, but until you choose to physically take control of it, that is all you will get out of life.

If you want to thrive. If you want to choose joy, then you have to kick out the “can’t, but, won’t” attitude, and physically force new thought processes. Exercise is the most effective tool I know for this. The first two or three times it will be hard. Your pissed. You don’t wanna walk. You want to live in this self righteous, “screw everyone” place. It feels justified. You feel like “why should I have to be the one to change?” Well. Reality is simple. If you want your life to change, only you can make it happen. You can not expect others to do it for you. Its so hard to get up and force yourself out of that self righteous place, find some humility, and decide to walk. But after a few times, the relief you feel becomes apparent, and there comes a day when it is the only solution. When pity isn’t an option and you must walk now. I can already hear it. “BUT I CANT walk now. I have the kids. Its snowing. My foot hurts”. Well, there is the “but, can’t won’t” that I speak of. As long as you are making excuses, nothing will change. Do some sit ups. Jumping jacks? Jump on the bed. Yoga or Tai Chi. Turn on some music and dance. There is always an exercise you can do. Always. Stop making excuses and find one that will work for you right now. That is how you take control of being emotionally and irrationally driven. Nothing works faster. Nothing works better. Your brain learns new behaviors and soon you walk because you want to. Because it feels good and your body knows the relief of stopping the fight or flight mechanism physically. It becomes a longing to walk, just to control the thoughts. Eventually, your brain retrains effectively and you don’t need this at all. Eventually, you get to exercise simply because you want to. Eventually you learn to react with reason and patience and gratitude. Eventually you overcome the stinkin thinkin and are able to apply the positive thoughts without a forced mechanism at all.

And one day, you will wake up on the wrong side of the bed, or life will throw you a curve ball, and rather than freaking out and allowing your emotions to dictate your behavior, you will have the skills to let your behavior dictate your emotions. You will assess a situation with ration and reason. You will have control over your mind and be able to tell those stinking thoughts go away, and you will identify the reasons that they are lies. You are the only person who can affect the changes in your life. If you walk around all day thinking “poor me, life sucks” well, simply put, life is bound to keep sucking. You will walk around defeated and ineffective. You will waste your time ranting and raving about situations that are “beyond your control”, and then later, dwelling on the shame and embarrassment of your tantrum. If you force yourself to consider your blessings, it only stands to reason that your life will be blessed. No one can change your life’s circumstances for you. You must be the change you wish to see. If you want joy and blessings, then you must be willing to see them in your life. If you want to feel good, then you must choose to feel good. We all have the choice. We can wake up and spend our day dwelling on the burdens, or we can wake up and chase those negatives away with gratitude for our blessings. If you have trained your brain to focus on the negatives, to be controlled by emotion, then you must reprogram your thoughts. Sometimes it takes actual, physical effort, not just mind control. Sometimes you have to get your heart rate up long enough to chase those awful thoughts from your mind, and allow rational ones in. And sometimes this takes a physical routine for days and weeks on end to reprogram you, but only you can decide how you want your brain to work and do something about it. Only you can decide to be the change you wish to see in your life, and take the steps required. Happiness is your choice, but it isn’t just about choosing. Sometimes it is about reprogramming. It is about accountability and taking control of your own life. The choice is yours. What will you choose?

 

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Politics of food

Good morning my friends!

I hope this morning finds you full of blessings and joy. The Spring fever continues here, but today it seems that there may be a little sun.  What is more thrilling, however, is the lack of wind. Oh I know wind is important, but boy does it disrupt me to the core. I didn’t bring a subject to the table today. I imagine that is because politics are on my mind, and I rarely discuss politics here. I find myself needing to process some thoughts though, and this seems like just as good a place as any.

You are probably thinking, “Oh crap, not here too”. But fear not. It is not my intention to discuss the president, his cabinet or followers, or any other aspect of the current political minefield. I am thinking about other politics. That being said, it is the division in this country that has me feeling a need to process, without a safe place to do so. Anything I say that is politically charged has the potential for the negative feedback that I come here to avoid. I do think that the government has much to gain from dividing us. I do believe that the only thing that is going to unite us is a major catastrophe. I do lean a little to the paranoid side when I look around at our current situation. I have never been the doomsayer type, I tend to think on the positive side of things. That being said, this tin hat I am wearing lately is getting pretty comfortable.

What I am stuck on is the mental health side of things. I think the real problem we are seeing is a lack of mental health. Lately I have been pondering the reasons that our overall mental health is so low. As far as I can tell, this is environmentally driven. I am not talking about global warming here. What I mean is that our environments have become so toxic that is becomes difficult for people to get their basic needs met.

Food. Its such a huge issue, lets start there. We have modified our food system so drastically that it hardly seems like food anymore. The last couple of days I have seen a lot of comments on social media about children, ten and eleven years old, having full blown anxiety attacks. This troubles me so much. What is happening in our world that ten and eleven year old children have that much to worry about? Anxiety is for adults! And even the occurrence of adult anxiety has risen so much that it is clear there is at least one underlying factor. I think it starts with diet. I wanted some affirmation of this, so I asked my kid. When he was a child, I ate just like the rest of the country. We relied on a highly refined diet. For several reasons. It was how I was raised. It was all I knew. It seemed (and is) far cheaper. Convenience, and being a busy, tired, overworked single mom made this really seem like the only path available. And frankly, I was young, fairly physically healthy, and just saw the whole food craze as a foodie fad. My child had sensory issues, I lived in apartment complexes that didn’t allow for me to discover the joy that is gardening. Or so I thought. In the last few years though, I have seen the light. Over and over in all of his different therapies, people would recommend I change my child’s diet to affect his multiple neurological disorders. Of course, at this time in my life, I just felt that they had no idea how impossible that would be for me to pull off, given our special set of circumstances. Sigh. Good ole hindsight. If only I knew then what I know now. My health forced me to eat my words. Around my mid thirties, it seemed like my life went to hell in a hand-basket. I remember being a child. A teen. And watching my mom put on a pair of rollerblades. At the time I was active in gymnastics and a fairly coordinated child. Naive. But coordinated. I recalled thinking something to the effect of “I will never be that clumsy” HaHaHa. Naive is the perfect word. Let me tell you. I think I was 34 when I decided to get a pair of rollerblades to exercise my dogs, and let me also tell you that I flashed right back to that childhood moment. Only this time, I was my mom. My child was watching me flail around clumsily on a pair of rollerblades for the first time in what must have been fifteen or twenty years. Ahhhh hindsight. And this is when it hit me. I am not the young spry thing I once was, and if I didn’t get my butt on the health bandwagon, I was going to be one very unhappy old lady. I learned about walking and exercise, and I started herb gardening, but I was still totally in the dark about my eating habits, and I honestly just didn’t even think that buying whole and organic foods was even an option. My instincts told me that genetically modifying food was dangerous, but it was only instinct and emotion. I had no facts to back it all up.

In this time I had found stability, and met a fantastic man who had become my best friend over the years. It was easy to be friends, there was no pressure. We just weren’t each others “type”, and so it was easy to accept each other for exactly who we were. You know where this is leading right? I married that man. Turns out we were exactly each others “type”, we just had to grow up and figure it out. The point is, that as we went through the days and weeks and months together, we started to notice things. He had a hard job and his hands were hurting him far more than a young mans hands should hurt. I did some research and made him a homemade hand cream to help ease the pain. We started noticing other pains that seemed illogical. Gentle touches from him physically hurt my muscles. I was slowly losing focus and ambition. I was once an active social person, and while I was perfectly content and satisfied, I kept lamenting, “If I didn’t know better, I would self diagnose with depression”.  The problem was, I wasn’t emotionally depressed. Something else must be going on. All the while I was slowly becoming aware of toxins. I had started making homemade body products, and while I loved feeling like I was eliminating toxins, I really didn’t understand yet and for me it was about what I was creating. It was like cooking, or baking, or crafting. A joy. A source of fun. I still did not understand how much I would end up desiring this as a way of life. I went about my life. One day at a time, growing foggier, more sluggish, seeing all types of little aches and pains that just didn’t make sense for my age, and little by little, I learned about environmental toxins.

I am interested in so many things, that I am constantly on some kind of new learning adventure. I absolutely love creating things, from food to crafts, my interests vary greatly. I am curious by nature. I want to know about everything I can. Knowledge is power, but more importantly, life is short and knowledge allows me to get the most out of the short time I do have here. I am honestly baffled by people who are content to sit with the knowledge they have, and not have a desire to expand it. Remember a few days ago when I talked about hindsight? Well, through the years of raising a special needs child, actively seeking mental and physical health for both of us, I learned a whole lot of tidbits here and there about environmental toxicity, and it all came together for me just a few short months ago. I got my boy healthy and well adjusted. We worked hard and saw a lot of specialists, but we were living around illness, not fighting it. Recently, my husbands business partner learned that he had an autoimmune disorder and they started researching food and toxins, as he was told that diet change was the only answer to his newfound pain. This is a story that could take a post of its own. For today, lets just say it was an adventure in starvation and food deprivation as they learned how to eat whole foods on the road.

We learned about our food system. The horrors that we learned about, piled on top of the tidbits that we had already become aware of in our quest to figure out why my health was declining so rapidly. And, we halfheartedly followed a whole food diet. We were learning things about our food that were hard to hear, and harder to believe. Nitrates? Used as hog poison? Seriously? What are they doing in our food??? Dyes, pesticides, hormones, Sulphates, preservatives, emulsifiers. Not only are we poisoning ourselves, half the time it is just to make our food look nice. On top of adding all these things to our food, we are also genetically modifying it. Now I don’t care what you believe as far as creation goes, it still stands to reason that we are tampering with a system that was not meant to be tampered with. Food was never meant to hurt us. It was meant to nourish us, in many instances, even be medicine to heal us. As I set my sights on a small homestead, and started taking the steps to be more self sufficient, I also gained tidbits about the commercialized, processed, way of life I had been living. The life most Americans are still living. I will never forget the day the lightbulb came on about freshness. It was late Fall, my in laws were visiting, and I had purchased some beets to roast with our dinner. I took one bite, and I can still feel my face scrunch up. Hubby took notice and asked what was wrong. I told him the beets taste awful and asked why they were so flavorless? As the answer  occurred to him, his face turned to compassion and with a knowing grin he gently replied “Honey, these beets did not come from your garden”

And it was sinking in. I had discovered ferments and ancient food preservation. I had learned about soil quality and the streamlining of produce in the markets. I had learned about the difference in the quality of fresh farm eggs compared to store bought eggs, of any variety. Don’t go buy the expensive, fancy organic, vegetarian, store eggs looking for the difference. You won’t find it. Rather, seek some locally produced eggs, just once, and you will see the difference. You will also see that it is worth every penny of the price increase.

Back to the business partner. As the guys tried to follow a whole diet on the road, we tried to continue that practice at home, on the weekends. They learned more about food. I learned more about food. The dangers hidden in our mainstream food system were presenting around every corner now. But this was my husbands journey, and when he left on Monday, I went right back to my less healthy habits. After being gluten deprived for three days (they were on an elimination diet, and grains are not part of the first month), as soon as he left, I went on a binge. Waffles, Bagels, grilled cheese. You name it. If it was bread, I wanted some. That first night I had the worst migraine, and I started to see what gluten was doing. Though at this point I still had no idea that I would soon find out that I had Celiac disease. I believe that this halfhearted elimination is what led me there. Taking it away, then giving it back like a vicious cycle, my body responded out loud. If you have Celiac, you probably know what Dermatitis Herpeteformis is. It took me over a year to figure out what that damned rash was! I tried everything I could think of to treat the darn thing. From essential oils to medicated OTC creams. I tried everything. Nothing helped. Heat, stress, and Iodine of all things, aggravated it. When I finally found out what it was, I stopped all treatments and strictly avoided gluten. Within three days I was seeing more relief in this rash than I had seen with any previous treatment. And so, I dove into learning about gluten. Good grief! Gluten hurts everyone! Whether you realize it or not. Do a five minute search and you will be horrified at what you learn! It is in everything. It targets opiate receptors. Your reluctance to be learn about gluten, that comes from physical addiction. We have overdosed ourselves with gluten. Some studies say it is due to genetically modifying it. Some say it is the pesticides that are found on it from the farming practices. I suspect it is a little of both. Think about it. comfort foods are typically baked goods. Why do you suppose that is? Go look for yourself, don’t take my word on it.

Our diet has changed drastically, in the form of tiny baby steps. One day I learned about ferments. One day I learned about fresh eggs. One day I learned about streamlined produce, and slowly, with baby steps our diet changed. Unrecognizable from ten years ago. After seeing multiple comments on Facebook this week about children having anxiety attacks, I started thinking about what could be causing this. My own child was diagnosed with severe anxiety, but I chalked it up to his other neuro disorders, and his dad being gone. He had a fairly stressful childhood as we both battled for stability. Never really thought much about it until recently. So Last night, as I was dwelling on this, I asked him if he had noticed a difference in his anxiety levels since our diet changed. He is an adult now, and no longer on anxiety meds, and his answer was still yes.

This is the tip of the iceberg. We live in a fast paced society, where convenience is equated with success. I was going to write about basic needs, pace of society, and diet. I was going to write about how technology has affected our perspective of convenience and instant gratification. I was going to talk about exercise, wiggly kids and heavywork. I had a lot of environmental issues in mind as I started this post. However, I think that the topic of food has taken enough of your precious time. I keep going back to the food. I think our food is a major component in the lack of physical and mental health we see today. Peoples basic need for real nourishment cannot be met in this toxic food system. Maybe food is enough for today. It is a big topic. Maybe you will feel inspired to look into it a little. Maybe you will look up just one preservative or one dye to see how it is affecting you and your family. I think I will save the other environmental toxins for another day. Today, I hope you humor me, and go learn one detail about where your food comes from, and what might be being added to it. You just might find yourself inclined to take a baby step. Alternately, for a fast glimpse at the streamlining of our food system, take a gander at the Baker Creek Heirloom Seed web page for an idea how little variety is left in our mainstream food. It may shock you to see the variety you are missing out on. At very least, it is fascinating to see some of the produce that you never even knew existed. I love reading the stories about where some of the most unique seeds come from. Who knew? Certainly not me. I hope I haven’t bored you with my food system rant. I hope you feel inspired to learn something new today, and I hope you will join me tomorrow, as I try to dissect some of the environmental issues that are causing such a breakdown in so many people. Have a most blessed day, and eat something healthy!

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Living my words

Good morning and happy Monday, my friends. Its been a few days but I haven’t forgotten you. Just been busy living my words. It was barely moments after my last post that I started getting big, messy gifts from God. One thing after another, they were piling up faster than I could open them. Boy did I find myself having to remember everything I just wrote for you. There reaches a point where there is just nothing you can do but give it to God and trust that He will carry you, and that is where I found myself on Friday afternoon. One baby step at a time, I asked God to lead me through the solutions. We managed to tackle a pretty heavy load of messily wrapped packages this weekend, and here I sit, fresh, rejuvenated, and ready to start the week with a good attitude and full of hope. It left me feeling full of gratitude, and gratitude is one of the tools I feel is needed to have lasting joy, so lets talk about that today.

Giant burdensome blessings have a way of helping us grow our gratitude, but only if we choose it. I could sit around crying about the mountain of challenges that seemed to show up all at once. There was a time in my life that I had forgotten how to see the bright side, and that is exactly what I would have done. I would have cried, ranted, complained, whined, and basically had a pity party, to anyone who would listen. Once upon a time not so long ago. But, today I have tools. I have tools of choice, and one of those is gratitude. I can not tell you what a difference it makes to fight the pity with gratitude. You have something to be thankful for, of that I am sure. You are alive, breathing, and reading this right now, aren’t you? Finding gratitude has a lot to do with the little things. On days when things feel so hard, that you have to force yourself to find gratitude, this can be challenging, and that is why it is your choice. You can choose to feel sorry for yourself. Why me? Poor me? Oh life is always out to get me! Or, you can make the conscious choice to focus on other things. Is the sun shining today? Do you have clothes on your back? Did you have the luxury of coffee with your breakfast today? For that matter, did you have breakfast? Do you have a healthy child (even if they are attached to your hip when you just need a minute of quiet). Are you a comfortable temperature? If you answered yes to even one of these questions, and the thousands more just like it that I could ask, then you too are blessed, my dear. You just have to choose it. You may have to look hard, but you can find hundreds of blessings in your day, week, month and life.

Recognizing your blessings can be a real challenge, especially if you are already feeling defeated by life. Thankfully, this is one of those tools that, the more you use it, the sharper it gets. That may be one of the best things about preparing a good strong tool shed. All of the tools for joy are unique in that the more you use them, the sharper they get. And you can do things, simple things, to help you remember to choose gratitude. I am a big fan of “notes to self”. More than once I have recommended that clients write themselves reminders. Post it notes are cheap, but if you don’t have any, a simple piece of scratch paper will do. Maybe you have some scrapbook supplies and want to make them pretty. Whatever will motivate you to read them. Make yourself reminders, and stick them anywhere that you are apt to read them.  You have to start where you are at. My notes to self look much different than they did ten years ago. Back then, I had to remind myself simple things. To remember that I am loved. To be thankful that I have a roof over my head, clothes on my back, food in my mouth, and a car to drive. Having spent some time with a two year old, couch surfing, I know what nothing looks like, but even in those times, I had friends who would let us sleep under their roof. I had this beautiful child to go through this journey with. I didn’t know how to appreciate it at the time, unfortunately. I often say that I try to live without regrets, but if there is one thing I would change about my life, it is the lack of gratitude and perspective when I was a young mother. I realize that there is a point to growing and learning as you age, and that a young mother can’t expect to know all that, but boy would it have had a profound impact on the quality of life that I was able to provide for my child. Gratitude takes the focus off the negative. You really are what you think about. If you spend all day focused on the horrors in a negative light, you will always be a “poor me”. If you must focus on the negatives, then change how you see them. What can you do to change them? If you focus on the positives and the problem solving aspect of them, you will be the change you wish to see. We really do live where our mind dwells, and luckily, we do have a choice to dwell where we want to live. I read all kinds of articles about how anxiety and depression cannot be healed. How they can’t be controlled. How they are a result of chemical imbalance, and it frustrates the crap out of me. I lived with anxiety, bipolar disorder, severe depression. They are not life sentences and I am living proof. You are not doomed to a life of meds and fighting every day. You don’t have to be a survivor forever. At some point you can just live. There are other ways. You don’t have to resign yourself to a life of pharmaceutical care. Don’t get me wrong, I am not anti mental health meds. I used them, and if they are helping you stay above water, you should too. What I am saying is, use the opportunity. The blessing of access to pharmaceuticals, to help you get stronger. To help you take the edge off while you develop the tools. But don’t just rely on them. Use the time to get some healthy tools for choosing your happiness. Use the time to learn what people mean when they say happiness is your choice. Get a therapist. Read some self help books. Focus on the things that are blessings in your life. I had several different therapists over the years, and each taught me different skills. If you aren’t comfortable with your therapist, don’t feel bad admitting that it isn’t a good match, and finding a new one. Going to therapy doesn’t mean that you are crazy. Every single one of us has shame triggers, and it is my belief that every single one of us could benefit from some therapy in our lives. Some people need six months, some need six years, but every single one of us has hang ups. The ones who face them are the ones who will see change in their lives. I know that anyone who has been told that there is nothing they can do about their anxiety thinks I am unempathetic and don’t understand right now, but I promise you, I have been in those shoes. I too, was told I would take medication for the rest of my life to control my emotions. I had no choice but to pursue therapy with my child, and this is how I learned that wasn’t truth. It felt like the doctors were right when I was in the midst of it, but with perseverance, I learned that meds are not the only way to stay above water. In fact, there are much better ways. The meds just took the edge off long enough for me to find strength to fight. You are strong enough too! I know you are! I am happy to take the journey with you if you want a little help, or just someone else in your court cheering you on. You got this!

What do you want to change?  The easiest place to start is to write it down. Get yourself a little notebook and write down the things you want to change. The things you don’t love about yourself or your life, and lets get cracking at how to overcome them. Goals. Obstacles. Problem solving. It applies to every area of life. Think outside the box. Realize that your individuality is Gods plan and try to worry less about what others will think and find what is right for you. The other day I wore some fuzzy pants to the store. Far too thick to be pajamas yet not really public appropriate in that they look like house pants. I looked down at myself, and started checking out the other shoppers in the store to see if anyone else might be there with less than socially acceptable pants on. For about 30 seconds. Then I had a very loud thought. “I am covered. Since when do I care if society likes my pants? I am not here to fit the norms, I am here to get groceries”. I have been sick for months and getting myself to the store a half hour away was a huge blessing. I had to choose. Let anxiety about my pants distract me from my task, and probably be much less efficient about it, or let it go and get about my shopping. I don’t have time to be anxious about my clothes being acceptable for everyone else. It was my choice to let that anxiety go and get back to my grocery list. I promise, with practice, you can learn it too. It is a long, arduous road, but boy, when you get to the destination, you are so glad you didn’t wait another day to start the journey. Happiness, and sustainable peace, don’t happen overnight, but they can be yours if you are willing to put in the time and energy. Start by finding as many things as you can in your life to be thankful for, and lets move forward from there. Until next time, Godspeed my friends.