Reputation and Character

Do you know the difference between your reputation and your character? Here is a great poem that attempts to define the difference.

What do you think?

 

Reputation and Character
By William Hersey Davis

The circumstances amid which you live determine your reputation;
the truth you believe determines your character.

Reputation is what you are supposed to be;
character is what you are.

Reputation is the photograph;
character is the face.

Reputation comes over one from without;
character grows up from within.

Reputation is what you have when you come to a new community;
character is what you have when you go away.

Your reputation is learned in an hour;
your character does not come to light for a year.

Reputation is made in a moment;
character is built in a lifetime.

Reputation grows like a mushroom;
character grows like the oak.

A single newspaper report gives you your reputation;
a life of toil gives you your character.

Reputation makes you rich or makes you poor;
character makes you happy or makes you miserable.

Reputation is what men say about you on your tombstone;
character is what angels say about you before the throne of God.

The Dash

Grammy (or Mimi)

Grammy (or Mimi)

On Monday morning, June 22, 2015, my husband’s 100 year old grandmother passed away.   She was a smart, lively woman who loved bling, chachkies, and jokes. She was the last surviving sibling of 11 children and even in her 90’s could still recite all their names, birth dates, wedding dates, and the dates of their passing. She was an incredible spirit.

Yesterday was her service; a celebration of life with family and friends.  I think Grammy liked her farewell because the town bells chimed at the exact moment the minister finished at the cemetery. During the more “formal” service, the minister read a poem by Linda Ellis titled “The Dash”. It was absolutely beautiful and a great reminder about how we live our lives. I want to share that poem with you. However, Ms Ellis has a copyright statement that says it may not be reproduced, reposted or redistributed but it CAN be recited.

So, I made a video, my first ever, of this recitation. I figure it is practice for the online photography course I hope to develop someday. (Thanks Gram for giving me a reason to take that first plunge) So, please keep in perspective that I have no experience with this and just want to share this lovely poem with you.

You can also read the poem on Linda’s website at linda-ellis.com

Enjoy…

The Dash

Peace, Love and Yoga

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Lately, I find myself talking to a lot of different people about yoga and my personal experience with yoga. So, I felt it was the time to talk about it…because, you know, there are no coincidences. 🙂

A few years ago I walked into my first yoga class at the Durga Studio. My beautiful and spirited friend Jen welcomed me with a big hug and big smile. (she welcomes everyone like that) She had candles around the room and a great big symbol of OM on the wall. There were statues of Indian Deities, fresh flowers, her mason jar of water, and various jars of spray, oils, and whatever else she on the agenda that day.  Jen, herself, presents like the Goddess that she is… beautiful curly blond hair naturally wild and free, a feather clip or two mixed in for good measure, the healing traditional kohl around her gorgeous brown eyes, the coolest yoga outfit I have ever seen, and always a smile filled with light that extends all around her. This is not an act, this is the authentic Jen. She does not claim to be perfect and does not expect any of us to be either. It’s all about Love. Love yourself, Love others, spread and share Love, heal with Love, always with Love in your heart. And she means it. She lives this. She teaches this.  It all comes down to Love.

Love was not what I expected when I started doing yoga. I wanted the stretching for my tight, sore, painful muscles and joints. I was looking for a gentle exercise but I found so much more.  Jen had said to me that ” yoga is more than just the asanas (poses); yoga can be just sitting in silence”. Boy was she right.

For the first few months I cried every time I went to yoga. I had never been in a space or with a group of people who were so positive, accepting and loving.  Our lives are filled with so much judgement, stressors, hatred, complaints, gossip, threats, punishment, polarizing politics, degradation of others, and other various negativities towards anything not like us. For example, go on Facebook and check out all the posts that are negative. Negativity fills our way of life.  We complain about traffic, the nasty neighbor next door, the barking dog, the kid who smoke pot, the girl who was a sloppy drunk the other night, a co-worker, our parents, a friend’s unfortunate remark, anything. It’s endless. Some people thrive on this. It’s the only way they know to feel better about themselves. It’s so sad. It’s not what I want in life.

So, walking into a space of Love was overwhelmingly emotional for me. It was a safe space to feel good about myself. In this space, I was happy and at peace. I learned how to relax my muscles, quiet my mind, change my thought patterns to be more loving, and learned so much about yoga, the stories and the traditions. I reconnected to my love of Native American traditions, Taoism, Buddhism, and Paganism. I also learned to appreciate the good side of religion and the church.

One of the first few times I went I met my friend Carol. At this time, I think we were all struggling with some stuff and connected over stories of struggle and enlightenment. During our conversation she said to me “it’s tought being an Empath, read this book”. Empath? What the fuck is that?  So, I read up on what it means to be an Empath. (you can read about this too…30 Traits of an Empath) Over time, as I payed attention to myself and my reaction to people around me, it started to make sense. I was indeed an Empath who hadn’t learned how to protect myself from others negative energies. I needed to learn to deflect rather than absorb.

Also in this space, I had to deal with my own emotions, past hurts, and painful relationships. I would cry during yoga because for first time I was going silent. In this quiet, those emotions come racing to the surface. With no errands, conversations, or thoughts to compete with, emotions rise to be noticed.  Knowing I was in a safe space, I allowed myself to feel and heal. Jen seemed to always know when one of us was going through something and would tailor a message in her opening dialogue to help address and support our struggles. Then throughout the duration of the class she would be supportive and share messages of love and acceptance to all of us, sometimes in the form of a poem, a song, a gentle touch, or a positive verbal affirmation. In this space we were all beautiful and right where we were meant to be. We needed to honor ourselves and where we were at that moment.

I also added the phrase “body clothes” to my verbal repertoire. What a great way to talk about our soul and our earthly body. I love that we were beautiful souls wearing these body clothes. For me, this idea helped me switch my focus from my physical appearance to my soul/spirit as the most important part of myself. My sould was the part of me in need of nuturing. I had neglected inner self for so long it was time to give it some attention. Once I started doing that, it felt like more things fell into place.

I could go on and on about all the gifts and lessons yoga, Jen, and that “community” has given me, but this is getting long enough.  So many are looking for that quick fix. Whether it be a pill, an exercise, or a book. No matter who you are, there are no shortcuts in life. Yoga can be a wonderful tool to heal mind and body but you still have to put in the effort. Yoga can provide a foundation and with the right teacher, it can help you grow but you still have work if you want to really make a change in your life. You still have to face your traumas, change your thought patterns, and learn to come at life from a place of Love and Acceptance. It is not easy. It takes time. That journey will never end because we are human. We make mistakes. We are not meant to be perfect. But we are meant to learn and grow.

This is all why I wear my mala’s. They are gentle reminders to love, ground myself when I need to, and not lose sight of who I am and who I am becoming. They hold pieces of my heart and my journey.  They remind me to honor myself and be who I am meant to be. They are my yoga.

How do you know when you have gotten to a place of healing and love? I think it is when you can be present, calm, and loving when in the midst of events that generally elicit fear, anger, frustration, anxiety, stress or some other strong negative emotion.

When you can be at peace in the middle of chaos, you have mastered the art of Love.

Someday.

Maybe?

I hope.

 

The Crying Day

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For those of you who know me well, you may know that I cry VERY easily. I cry at almost ALL movies, many commercials, books, performances, etc. Ask my family because they find it humorous. When we are watching movies, they will be watching me more than the actual film. I can even cry just watching a unknown child do something or watching a loving couple interact. I have come to understand that I am very sensitive and interact with my world through feelings. I can also be overwhelmed by other people’s feelings, spoken or unspoken. (Yes, I am an empath.)

Couple my panache for crying with a few days of intense and engaging seminars at my New Teachers Collaborative and you got a bad (or quite funny) mix.  Today, I think I cried ALL day. My poor new cohorts being exposed to such emotions at this early phase of our relationship is not what I would call the greatest way to start out. But it is what it is. I can’t change who I am.

So, why did I cry so much today? Well, for one we started our day with quiet, almost meditative practice where no one speaks unless they want. There is no conversation, only the opportunity for us to speak about what is on our minds so we can let it go and start our day fresh. It’s a way of transitioning from home to work and honoring what’s going on in our lives and minds. For me, going silent bring emotions and feelings to the forefront. Silence and meditation has allowed me to work through many issues. Dang if it didn’t happen this morning.

While in this moment of silence, I expressed how tired and foggy I was feeling with all the information and work hours which were longer than I was used to. I was not accustomed to this schedule and mental demands yet. Because I was feeling “off”, I was looking for a way to explain this in case anyone noticed. I wanted them to know that nothing was wrong, I was just tired. Done, right? NOPE

In the remaining silence, I started to write these thoughts in my class journal.  Well, this led my thoughts down the path of why I was tired and into my feelings about my family. I realized how tough it was to not be able to be there for my children, as I had for the past twelve years. For the past 2 days, I had been tired and had too much reading to do to help out much. For example, my daughter has been asking me to a schedule yoga class and other things she wants to do over the summer. The only response I have is…”Not this week. Please wait until next week to expect me to do these things. My mind is not capable of doing it this week.” For one this is establishing some boundaries and expectations. I only need one week to focus on my seminars and then I have most of the summer free. I just cannot think clearly enough to handle her requests. I know I will mess them up.

So, I decided to share this line of thought this with my cohorts. Queue the waterworks. I immediately started to cry. For me it was important to share what I was going through because we are going to be sharing a lot of tough times. These emotions are part of my journey. I know they all have their own fears, complications, and distractions too.

Unfortunately, that wasn’t the end of my crying. I got teary eyed all day. Sometimes over a very personal and uplifting story or the sharing of some fears or pride. Then we watched the previous NTC cohorts present their personal reflections from their past year of learning and teaching. I will not go into details but I will just say, I wasn’t the only one getting teary.

By the end of the day my eyes hurt, my makeup was gone and I needed to regroup. I have learned that I can also be extra teary when I am tired or stressed or have a build up of emotions (like fear, frustration, anxiety).  Crying is a great stress reliever but it wasn’t enough for me. Today, it was a signal that I needed some exercise. I knew I needed to work out, get my heart rate up and burn off this energy because it was getting in the way.

I went for a run. Boy, did it feel good. That’s saying something because I do not particularly like running. When it feels this good, I know I really needed it.

When I got home from my run I was able to read my homework much more efficiently than yesterday, I cooked dinner, and actually found time to write this entry. It’s amazing what exercise can do.

Next time you are feeling stressed out try exercising, instead of that drinking or eating. You may be amazed at how everything falls back into place with a exercise-induced perspective.

 

PS: My daughter just came in with eye make-up down her face from crying over an episode of Gray’s Anatomy. Yup, she got the crying gene too.

 

Go Smudge Yourself

smudging tools

smudging tools

Smudging is a Native American tradition that involves the burning of special ceremonial herbs to clear out negative energies and bring in positive ones. I smudge my house with sage about once a week or once every two weeks.  Some friends do it more often, others do it less often. After I have saged the house, the air feels lighter, it’s easier to breath, and any negativity or tensions seems to resolve or are reduced. I also do this after we have had guests. Not because these guests are full of bad energy or that I think they are polluting my home but because I feel it helps return the house to a more peaceful space after all the commotion. Truly, it could just be returning me to a more peaceful place.

You can also use palo santo and other herbs (see links below for more options and information). I was also recently told to follow my sage smudge clearing with sweetgrass to bring in the positive energies. I haven’t tried this yet, but I am definitely going to.

Recently I read an article that indicated that smudging may be a great antiseptic for your home.  Here is an excerpt from that article…

“Thanks to a remarkable 2007 study titled, “Medicinal smoke reduces airborne bacteria,” published in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology, we now know that smudging may be one of the most powerful antiseptic technologies ever discovered. Burning medicinal herbs clears the aerial bacterial populations, and pathogenic bacteria in an open room are not detectable. Using herbal plants for smudging can benefit you in so many ways, and it doesn’t hurt the environment. – See more at: http://www.enlightened-consciousness.com/killer-germs-obliterated-by-medicinal-smoke-smudging-study-reveals/#sthash.k1wwevn5.dpuf”

Here is a link to an abstract of the study. Medicinal smoke reduces airborne bacteria. This abstract describes how burning medicinal herbs “…caused over 94% reduction of bacterial counts by 60 min”.

How do you smudge?

To clear out negative energies, generally a white sage is used but there are a few other types of sage (and herbs) that can be used for smudging purposes. I have found that there are a few ways to smudge and I think the process you use will depend on your beliefs and what feels right to you. I will just explain the 2 ways I do it and will have links to other resources if you are interested in learning more.

In general, light the sage (stick or loose leaves) and it will smolder, creating wafts of smoke that can be waved into the corners of your home. In the beginning, I used my hand to do this but I don’t think you are supposed to.  Now I use a feather that we found to waft the smoke. The reason is because the smoke carries the negative energies out. In theory, if you put your hand in the smoke, you can “catch” some of it. You should also open or crack a window or two so the smoke can drift up and out, taking all those bad juju’s with it.

With my sage in hand, I travel counter-clockwise saging from corner to corner in every room on every floor. Repeating…”Only light and love may exist in this space. All others may move on” or something like that.

Once you are done with your space, do not forget to smudge yourself. Guide the smoke over and around you and let it clear you of any unwanted ‘stuff’.

Different traditions will have slightly different wording or processes. Do what feels right to you. In the end, it really just comes down to your intention.

Ways to burn the sage:

1. Sage smudge stick. I think the little 4 inch sticks burn better than the larger 6-8 inch sticks but that is a personal preference. A friend of mine likes the big ones…or was that a sexual innuendo I missed? 🙂 Anyway! Try both and see what you like. However, I found that when I burned it, little ashes would drop and burn my floor.  I should use a abalone shell underneath but it gets so cumbersome, especially if you are burning a large smudge stick. When I am only doing a small space, like my bedroom, I do just burn a small stick with no problem, no shell.

2. Loose sage leaves. You can burn loose sage leaves in an abalone shell. This protects from any ashes dropping and allows you to burn longer and safer. I have started to use this process when I am doing my whole house. Then I love to use the shell to burn off any remaining sage or a nice palo santo stick.

Unless you are allergic to sage, this is a practice worth trying. I have come to love sage so much that I immediately feel calm when I smell sage. I even use a sage spray made by Occo to spray on my bedsheets before bed. I sleep so much better when I do that.

For more information you can check out these links:

Locally you can visit  Taproot Bookstore in W. Boylston, Debra’s Natural Gourmet in W. Concord, the Sunrise Boutique in Clinton, and Circles of Wisdom in Andover.

 

Visualization For Emotional Health

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After yesterday’s post on healing from past traumas and breaking unhealthy behavior and thought patterns, I am coming into the present. Today I want to share a technique, called visualization, that you can use when dealing with emotional chaos.

Visualization is to form a mental image of something in your mind. You can use this technique to help deal with external and internal conflicts, among other things.

Internal: What is an internal conflict? An internal conflict is a conflict within yourself. This internal conflict generally manifests as negative self talk. It can be in the form of self-criticism, self-degradation, anxiety, or any other negative things you tell yourself. This negative self-talk is usually derived from past experiences, the media, inaccurate interpretions of someone else’s words or actions, or a direct negative comment from someone, especially a parent or other respected adult.

As an adult, this negative self-talk can tell us we are not good enough, we are not pretty enough, we are not thin enough, we are not smart enough, we will fail if we try, we are failures, we are not loved, or that we don’t deserve any better. These negative thoughts can keep us from trying new things, can keep us from changing jobs, prevent us standing up for ourselves, keep us in unhealthy relationships, and so much more. Also, we can hand down this negative practice to our children without even knowing it.

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How can we counteract these harmful internal messages using visualization? Imagine these negative thoughts as words coming from an entity of some sort. I like to visualize a parrot or a little man/leprachaun sitting on my shoulder saying these nasty things.  Tell it to “shut up” and lock it up in a soundproof cage where you cannot hear it and it cannot hurt you. The more you do this, the quicker and easier it becomes to counteract and quiet those overly critical thoughts. Eventually, they stop coming. If they do come back, like during stressful times, just send them on their way. You do not have to listen to such negativity anymore.

External: Many times stress and emotional chaos come from our relationship with others. It can be a family incident or situation that wreaks havoc. It an also be a destructive person who creates problems. Sometimes these awful events just need to run their course. Many times there is nothing you can do. You cannot change or control anyone else, you can only change and control yourself and your own (re)actions…I’ve heard that before 🙂

For example, addicts can bring terrible emotional and physical turmoil into a family. Sometimes there is just nothing you can do. The addict has to want to get better and they may have to hit their rock bottom before healing can begin. Addiction can tear a family apart and the stress from dealing with this can wreak havoc on the life and health of everyone involved. 

I have found that visualization can help protect one’s emotional and physical health during these tough times? It won’t stop all your stress but it can definitely help.  How do you do this? There are 2 scenarios I have found to work:

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1. Imagine you are in a boat. You are safe within your boat. The turmoil, the hatred, and the crazy are all around you in the waters. As long as you stay in the boat, the negativity cannot harm you. Do not jump into the waters. Do not allow yourself to get sucked into someone else’s crazy. Stay in your protective boat.

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2. Imagine you are standing inside a fence. I like to envision a beautiful white fence lined with flowers and a garden. This fence keeps out any people or events that are not beneficial to you. You do not have to open the fence to anyone or anything. You can talk to them and you can help them, but you do not have to let them into your safe space. The fence creates the protective barrier you need. You will not be harmed.

You can also visualize how you want to live and aim for that in all you do.  You can achieve greater peace no matter what’s going on in your life. You just need the tools and the desire.

Healing old patterns and traumas

No matter how you were raised or where you were born, we were all raised by people and these people are human. Humans are flawed and carry with them lifelong patterns (both good and bad) of beliefs, fears, anxieties, behaviors, and opinions that are handed down to us through parenting and social connections. No one is perfect. No one has escaped childhood unscathed. This does not mean just the influence of parents. All of our relationships affect us in some way. Some positive and some negative.

Some of the patterns or emotions that are passed down through our relationships can be considered traumas.  Trauma can be defined as a distressing or disturbing experience or emotional shock following a stressful event. Trauma can also be injuries, stress, strain, damage, wound…you get the picture. Traumas (realized or not) can have long term affects on us in some way. These traumas need not be huge, catastrophic events but may be small things that negatively affected our thoughts, attitudes, actions, and beliefs.  You can be suffering from a trauma and not even realize it.  Even a negative word or action can be nothing to one person and cause “trauma” in another. These traumas left unchecked may contribute to bad habits, negative thinking patterns, destructive behaviors, and can affect our children, spouses, and friendships. Sometimes these traumas can be so subtle we don’t even realize that we are affected by them, until we are.

It is important to understand that serious traumas may need the help of a mental health professional. I am not a professional and do not pretend to be. These are my observations and experiences when dealing with some of my own “traumas” and unwanted patterns of behavior. 

How do we start to heal from and break free from these patterns?

First, I believe you have to acknowledge or identify the pattern or issue you to which you are reacting.  You cannot even begin to make changes if you don’t take the time to become aware that a problem exists. Many people just go on with their routine or habits without even realizing there is a potential problem.  That is the “head in the sand” approach or the protective measure of “I’m good but every one else is wrong” attitude. Or they believe that their reaction is normal or okay because they have always behaved that way. So, before you can fix a relationship or yourself, you have to be able to acknowledge that there is a problem. You have to want to be better.

_MG_6409Second, you must become aware of how the problem is affecting you. What feelings does it provoke? Not just surface feelings but the real feelings, those that you may usually try to suppress, hide or ignore. This may not be easy either and may require you to work through subsequent steps and come back to this phase until the pieces fit together.  So, try to determine what you are really reacting to. At first glance, we may think we are reacting to something someone has done or said but it could be just the surface. We may be reacting to a pattern of behavior that provokes negative feelings. There may be history that is getting in the way that may no longer relate to the present. Trying to determine what you are really reacting to is a hard but important step. This may not be easy and may take some time to figure out. It also may be multi-faceted and may relate back to another event or trauma that you didn’t realize was connected.

For example, if your perceived problem stems from the actions or words of another person, you should look at how and why you are reacting to those actions or words. Also consider what THEY may be reacting to and why. What does their past or their personality say about their actions? Understanding, or at least trying to understand, yourself, the other person, your past together, their experiences and emotions, your experiences and emotions and where you both are today, can help figure out what’s really going on. It’s all intertwined. You just have to try to see the issue from multiple perspectives. 

Step three is to journal. Write down these thoughts, feelings, observations, and realizations in a notebook. Working through these steps on paper can be very inspiring, eye-opening, and cathartic. You may start to see patterns in your own behavior and make connections to hidden origins. Make sure that you are acknowledging any and all thoughts that come through. You may not see the connection but if you write it down, you may find the connection later. Also, writing down your feelings helps to get it off your mind. Once its out, I always find a sense of peace and calm because I stop rehashing it. I can actually move forward with the thoughts instead of spinning my wheels on the same, repeated trauma.

Even as I write this, I am working through my own issues in a practical, logical, non-judgemental way. I am practicing the art of trying to see an issue from multiple perspectives which can reduce its power or control of me and my emotions. By writing these feelings and train of thoughts down, it no longer feels so intense. It no longer has a negative affect on me. I can move on and let it go. 

Finally, think about how you can react differently to this situation. How can you change the pattern? What can you do to create a healthier reaction or relationship to this issue?

1. Sometimes we need to set up boundaries. This is not easy to do but it is a very important life skill.  Everyone needs to learn to set boundaries and respect other people’s boundaries. This is a self-love technique and should not be used as an aggressive action towards someone else. If someone feels the need to establish boundaries with you, do not take offense, they have a right to create a life and expectations that they can live with and handle, even if you don’t understand or agree. Respect others as you would want to be respected.

2. Maybe we need to learn to speak up instead of remaining quiet. Sometimes we need to learn to be quiet instead of speaking up. Always consider your motivation for your choice. Some people won’t listen, they are too busy trying to be right so why bother frustrating yourself? On the other hand, some people are very open-minded and willing to listen if you give them the chance. Sometimes you have to love yourself enough to do what’s right for you.

3. No matter how you decide to react, make sure that you are acting out of love for yourself and those involved and not out of fear, spite, anger, frustration or agressiveness. It is also really important to avoid being passive aggressive. Many people do not even know when they are being passive aggressive so it might be hard to tell. However, you can start trying to be more aware of this behavior and see if you think you might need to make adjustments.

4. It is also important to see an event from a different point of view. Trying to see an issue from another perspective is hard and takes practice but is important when trying to work with other people and difficult situations. There are many ways of practicing this. I like to think of a car accident. Each person is traveling down their own road with their own experiences, thoughts, and expectations. When these realities collide it becomes one event. However, if you were to ask each person to describe the event, you would probably get two completely different stories. How can that be? It’s the same event. I say, it’s perspective. (this is one of the topics we address in my class “Healing Through Photography”)

5. Name your pain and let it go. When jealousy, rage, anger, frustration, or any other negative feeling comes your way….name it, own it. Understand you are human and have these emotions but do not hold onto it. Allow it to go. Don’t keep replaying the scenario over and over allowing it to take over and negatively affect you. Unless you are working through processing/normalizing it (as above) and learning to let it go.

I have a friend who says something like “Oh hi ‘Jealously’! I see you! You can go now”. I love that. 

Each of us has our own back story. We are all on a journey that is as individual as we are. Sometimes these stories play nicely with others and sometimes they don’t. However, I do believe that everyone we come in contact with is here to teach us something. It may be about ourselves, life, empathy, hardship, etc. Family can be especially hard to deal with because you don’t choose them like you choose your friends. However, they can be a mirror into yourself. Always ask yourself what this person can teach you about life and yourself. You may not always like the answer but it is always important to ask the question.  No one grows without letting go of old bad habits and beliefs.

Remember, you do not have to like someone else’s behavior, but you also do not have to let it affect you either. You make that choice. You can change how you react.

each of us is on a journey

some will grow

some will not

it is not up to us to judge another’s journey

we have too much to do on our own

Tom and Annie

When it comes to your health, you are ultimately in control. You choose the food you eat. You choose the exercise you do or don’t do. You choose whether to engage in healthy or unhealthy behaviors. You allow people into your life and disallow others. You can choose to heal old wounds or not. You can continue to suffer or try to fix it. You may not be able to choose what diseases you get or your genetic makeup, but you can choose how to treat them and how you will face each situation.  You may not always be able to change where you live, but maybe you can improve it. When you take ownership of your health, you can do anything!

One of the first things you can start doing to take control of your health is to READ LABELS. Get to know what you are buying and putting in and on your body. Do not trust the FDA, USDA, or Big Corporations to keep you safe. Money still talks. Case in point…Monsanto is still doing business with our government after years and years of harming and killing unsuspecting people with their toxic products. Products we were told we safe. You can also go to www.ewg.org and see how truly healthy your favorite products are.

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This morning I read that my Tom’s of Maine toothpaste is no longer the natural product I thought it was. Why read the label? I have been buying it for years. Turns out that Colgate, one of the Big Corps that Tom was rebelling against when they created their brand, bought Tom’s of Maine in 2006.  Who knew? Not me.

Colgate Buys Toms of Maine. This article on www.organicconsumers.org has information from a Boston Globe article (I couldn’t access the Globe because I am not a subscriber).

Why is this a potential problem? Well, big corps are in business to make money. They are generally NOT in the business to care about people. An article I found on Real Farmacy shares some of the harmful ingredients that are supposedly in Tom’s products now. I check my toothpaste and yes there is Sodium Lauryl Sulfate and Carrageenan but luckily no Zinc, Aluminum, nor Titanium Dioxide.  I think those ingredients are saved for antiperspirant/deoderants.  I am not sure if SLS and Carrageenan have always been in Tom’s. We only recently realized they were harmful. The original Tom’s would have changed the ingredients with new data, apparently not Colgate.

Another Scenario: Did you know Annie’s was purchased by General Mills in 2014. Read about it here, General Mills Buys Annies for $820m. So far I have not seen any change in their ingredients but I check before I buy now. I also have to admit that I since this merger, I really don’t buy Annie’s much any more.

I could go on but I won’t. I get so frustrated by these large corporate giants buying out some great products and then not staying true to their original purpose. If these companies want to maintain their share of the market, they need to change. Change their ingredients, change their structure, change their mission not ingest the little guys who are making a difference.

You have that right to make your own choices. If you read labels and still choose to use the products with harmful or questionable ingredients, you are making that choice. Just own it.

I buy mainstream products, like deoderant, that are considered bad but I haven’t found a better alternative. (I keep looking) However, I buy these products knowing what I am doing. I own that.

So, get to know what you are putting in and on your body…read the labels!

 

 

Yogurt

This morning I found this article about yogurt.  (read here: Full Fat Yogurt Trend) More people are swapping their reduced fat yogurt for full fat yogurt. This is consistent with some of the articles calling for people to drink whole milk (and/or raw milk) and skip the lower fat versions. I don’t drink milk so that is not a topic I care to address but I do eat yogurt on occasion.

SideHill Farm Yogurt

SideHill Farm Yogurtyogurt.

Three things I have learned about yogurt:

1. Eat Local, Eat Whole: I have never really like yogurt but I love whole milk plain yogurt. Damn, its good. SO much better than lower fat ones.  You just eat less but it is so creamy and satisfying.  My nutritionist, George, recommended I try Sidehill Farm which is produced here in Massachusetts. Nothing but milk and probiotics. For so many reasons, local is always best!

Chobani Label (green tea flavored)

Chobani Label (green tea flavored)

2. Read your labels. I am reading that many yogurts contain sugar or other sweeteners, especially the lower fat versions. I don’t eat those so I wouldn’t know. Also keep in mind that sugars are being disguised on labels under other names such as fructose sweetener, corn syrup, dextrose, and malt syrup. Click here for a full list of these sugar sources and names. This is especially true of flavored yogurts…unnecessary added sugar. If you need your yogurt a little sweeter add your own agave, maple syrup or honey.

3. Food Combining: According to Ayurveda and other sources, eating fruit and yogurt together is bad. Basically this is because each require a different environment in which to be properly digested so eating together is not beneficial. This article on Mindbodygreen.com explains why and gives suggestions and alternatives. This concept also goes back to the sugar issue. Many flavored yogurts that contain added fruit, also contain added sugar.  If you must eat fruit with yogurt, at least add your own fresh fruit and eat the unflavored yogurt at room temperature.

Yogurt is a great way to get some calcium, vitamin D, protein and your probiotics. I don’t eat a lot of yogurt but a couple times a week helps me feel better. Following these guidelines above has also improved it’s positive effects.

about SideHill Farm

Jewelweed To Treat Poison Ivy and Other Irritations

The Native American’s teach us that, in nature, where a poison grows so does it’s antidote, often nearby.  For me this is most illustrated by the Poison Ivy – Jewelweed relationship. Jewelweed is one of the natural remedies for poison ivy and definitely grows where you would find poison ivy. I can personally attest to this.

Great plant resource

Great plant resource

According to “Wildman” Steve Brill, Jewelweed is actually good for skin irritations, bug bites, and bee stings. He writes in his book “Identifying and Harvesting Edible and Medicinal Plants in Wild (and Not So Wild) Places” that Jewelweed is a “virtual panacea for skin irritations”.

 

3 shiny leaves of Poison Ivy

3 shiny leaves of Poison Ivy

Last year I got poison ivy really bad. I had it up and down my arms and more severely on my chest and neck. No, I didn’t rub myself in the weeds. I routinely pick up my dog after our run in the conservation land which is full of poision ivy. Plus I hug and cuddle with them. If they have oils on them, we can definitely pick some of it up. This last episode was one of the worse cases I had ever had. I tried all types of medications, ointments, etc. You name it. If it was supposed to clear up poison ivy, I tried it. None of it really worked that well. I just got to spend a lot of money on worthless products.

Then someone told me about Jewelweed. I was told to make a tea out of it. Not a drinking tea (because that can be bad), but chop the plant and then steep it in boiling water. After you cool it, you can use a compress to apply the “tea” to the rash. Well, it worked. Overnight the swelling, redness, and itching had decreased significantly. A couple days later…almost gone. Free of charge!

Jewelweed can also be applied directly from the plant to the rash. You can also use it as a preventative by breaking open the plant stalk and rubbing it over the areas that were in contact with the poison ivy. This, I am told, will prevent any reaction to the poison ivy.

Identification:

The hardest part is identifying Jewelweed. Once you identify it, you will see it everywhere. Jewelweed is an impatiens species that has a hollow, translucent stem.  The color of the stem is light green, although some describe it as white…I don’t. Also, the leaves are water repellant. You can drop water on them and it will roll off. These are the 2 characteristics I use to help me pick it out of a borage of wild plants. Later in the season it will have pretty little flowers. However, I usually need it long before any flowers are blooming.

Check out “Wildman” Steve Brill’s website for more details and better pictures than I have. Wildman Steve Brill on Jewelweed. Steve’s book “Identifying and Harvesting Edible and Medicinal Plants in Wild (and Not So Wild) Places” is a great resource for the many uses of Jewelweed and other plants as food and medicine. You can also get more information on Posion Ivy in his book and website too.

JewelweedFlower

Jewelweed flower courtesy of Wildman Steve Brill’s website

early Jewelweed plant

early Jewelweed plant

Jewelweed Leaves

Jewelweed Leaves

straw-like stalk, broken open

straw-like stalk, broken open