Category Archives: Health and Wellness
holistic wellness, health topics, alternative therapies, etc
Earlier this week, a video produced by Dove was making the internet rounds and sparking all kinds of debate in its wake. In it, a sketch artist drew two versions of the same woman - one as described by herself and one as described by her friend. The resulting disparities between the two sketches were meant to show how skewed the woman's perspective of her appearance is, and that she is more beautiful than she thinks herself to be.
At this point, most people are tossing in the towel on their New Years resolutions. I don’t usually make them myself, mostly because I don’t think “because its New Years” is enough of a reason to change something. If the tradition were more about changing what needs to be changed, then we wouldn’t see the same resolutions every year. “Lose weight” (which I take issue with on a whole different level), “Stop smoking/drinking”, “spend more time with family” – these are noble goals if they are needed and you are passionate about changing them. Just because is never a good excuse to do anything.
As a Pagan, I take stock in the changing of the years, in the rotation of another cycle, and while Dec 31/Jan 1 isn’t my religious new years, it is the start of a new cycle. Just as I do at Samhain (Oct 31), I tend to take New Years to reflect on the past year and plan for the coming one. I don’t make typical, needless resolutions that I’ll only give up on within a week. I think about the overall longterm goals I have and what I want to accomplish in the new year. 2012 gave me a lot of positive change, and I really want to continue that forward momentum. I’m hoping to make 2013 even better and filled with more positive change and advancement.
2013 Ideal: Health and Wellness
Typical Resolution: Lose weight! Go to the gym! Get a beach bod! (I hate that term.)
My Take: Losing weight is not a healthy fitness goal in general terms. Striving to be a healthy overall you is. These days, “being healthy” is pretty synonymous with “lose weight and get thin”. But everyone has different body types, and different tolerances, and different lifestyles. A wellness goal that works for some people may not work for others. According to the (fairly inaccurate and unsafe) BMI calculator, I am not just overweight, but obese. However, according to doctors who know me and my routine, and anyone who can even look at me, I may be pudgy, but I am not obese. Lots of people don’t realize how outdated the BMI standard is, however, and this leads to unrealistic calorie counting, excessive dieting, and unhealthy habits. So what is healthy? Watching what you eat in terms of ingredients and processing. Portion control over calorie counting. Doing research into what exactly is going into your body and how your body handles it. Instead of making a resolution to get fit, lose weight, or work out, I have made more of an effort to read the ingredient labels on the items I buy at the grocery store. I have educated myself more on GMOs and highly processed foods, and why our bodies can’t handle them. I buy local and raw when possible and prepare meals myself so I know exactly what I’m eating. And I get up and move more. I may not go to the gym, but I take the bus to school weekly, and instead of waiting for three busses and dealing with changeovers, I walk the 20 minutes to the transit station. It may not be a lot, but I know how to walk briskly to raise my heart rate (which is what you need to do to start burning calories), and even 20 minutes is better than nothing. The most important part, though, is that this isn’t a radical, sudden change; this is something David and I started doing a few months ago, and have slowly become more determined and observant about our routines. When I make dinner at night, I make extra so he can bring something homemade to work for lunch. We’ve also severely cut down on eating out, which is wonderful not only for our bodies but also our bank account. They may be small changes, but they’re working, and I already feel lighter and healthier – although I haven’t lost any significant weight. And this is my point. Health and wellness isn’t about meeting some societal standard. It’s about making sure you as an individual are healthy and happy. That is the best wellness state you could hope for.
2012 Ideal: Financial Stability
Typical Resolution: “Get out of debt”
My Take: There are a couple layers to this one. First of all, I have debt. I’m aware of it, but for a long time I haven’t really been able to tackle it. It’s been tough recently also because of point number two: I’ve been unemployed. Point three is this weird, yet common, fear of bills and finances I have. I hate to open mail in case its a bill. Like, I actually get stomachaches and can’t bring myself to open the envelope. Mail tends to stack up in my house. All three of these points stack to make my financial situation less than ideal. So what can I do? Well, it started with introspection. I knew I needed to figure out why I had financial anxiety, or at the very least, how to conquer it. And while I still don’t know why, I have an idea. I’m a very lax, laid back person. Routines and schedules don’t work for me. I just don’t follow them. I tend to do things as they feel right. And this leads to a lax, laid back attitude regarding bills and finances as well – which obviously only makes the situation worse. So after my introspection, I realized what I needed was exactly what I don’t do: a routine. A schedule. A sense of control over my financial life, which I’ve been missing since, well, forever.
Now, I don’t want to blame anyone (except myself), but recently I got married. And the way David and I handle our bills and our
money has been… well, less than stellar. We tend to rely on our online banking to keep track of how much we have, which in my personal experience, is THE WORST WAY TO DO ANYTHING EVER. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve gotten into trouble because I thought I had more money than I actually did, because I didn’t keep track of anything. Banks and companies don’t always post payments on time. Bill pays come out whether you have the money there or not. And hidden charges – oh, the hidden charges! It’s just not a smart way to build a stable financial future. But our current situation hasn’t made it easy to streamline the process. So I’ve developed a few steps I can take to take back control of my finances, including linking all our accounts for easier access to all our money, and I developed a simple system at home that I can use to keep track of everything. Also, we bought the cutest mail rack at Savers for, like, 3 dollars to hang near the door.
This helps me to keep track of everything that’s coming in and going out, and I can be 100% aware of everything that’s happening to our money. And speaking of our money; remember the unemployed thing? Well, just before Christmas I reworked my resume and mailed it out to a bunch of chiropractor’s offices in my town. I didn’t want to just work anywhere; I wanted to get my foot in the door of my future career field and actually be able to begin making connections and learning things. And guess what? I’ve already had one interview! See, don’t let anyone tell you the power of positive thinking is bullshit. (You just need to combine it with action, too.) Once we have two incomes coming in (and as much as I want to believe it, my Etsy sales just don’t count), then we’ll be a bit more stable on our financial feet. These two changes will help fix the third: paying off my debt. Because if we want to buy a house in a couple years, it’ll be a hell of a lot easier if we can include my credit score (which right now, I would be extremely hesitant to do in the offchance that someone sees it and refuses to sell me anything ever again).
Again, these changes were gradual, and it took a lot of thinking and planning before I could put anything into action. Nothing happens overnight.
2013 Ideal: Education
Typical Resolution: “Go back to school”
My Take: This one is a slight cop-out, since I’m technically already in school. But I’ll let you in on a secret: because I’m a slacker (see picture above) and a procrastinator, it’s always a miracle to me that I get registered and financial aid approval in time to keep going back each semester. I love LOVE school, but I hate the admin part that comes before each semester. It’s a constant battle and an ongoing project for me to improve in this area, but I’m the kid who’s registering two weeks (cough today cough) before classes start because I let something slide months ago and now there are multiple steps to take and hoops to jump through, and some of those hoops may be on fire. Yeah, I’m that kid. And while returning to school for a better education is such a noble goal, it’s not an easy catch-all fix-all. Do you know what you want to put that schooling to use for? Do you have the money? If not, do you know where to get it? Have you even been accepted to a school? And what’s your goal for each semester, and for after you graduate? Going back into higher education isn’t as easy as filling out the application and waiting for the acceptance letter. It’s taken me 8 years since high school, but finally, within the past year, I decided what I wanted to do with my life. And I can’t tell you how proud I am every time I go to class, or give someone a massage that makes them feel great, or even when I tell someone my ten year plan. Finally knowing what I’m going to do is THE MOST freeing feeling in the entire world. I love it.
However, education (and specifically my education goals) aren’t limited to taking classes at my local community college. My chosen field requires yearly continuing education, and I’m starting to think about that now, even before I have my license. How can I expand my practice? What modalities do I think will interest me and my client base? On top of that, I’ve found a reiki class for my next level that (pleasantly) falls on my birthday, but will expand my repertoire. There are also doula classes coming to Haverhill in April that I’d love to take (as long as I have the money, after the reiki in March and all). And then there’s my personal education, the books and topics I read and study and research on my own time, for my own benefit. There is always something new to learn, and that makes education so much more than a resolution for me: it’s a way of life. It just gets added here because of one simple fact.
If I can stay on track with my classes and goals for 2013, I should be able to take my national boards for massage therapy after the semester ends this December. That’s one year from now, people.
2013 Ideal: Family planning
Typical Resolutions: “Spend more time with family”
My Take: I already see my family, and I try to make time for my friends, and hell, I see David every day. So my resolution is far from typical with this one. This year, in conjunction with the top “Health and Wellness” goal up there, I have this desire to make my body ready for babies. Yup, as long as all the other goals go according to plan, I would like to be pregnant by the end of the year. This isn’t a resolution so much as a definitive lifestyle choice, but its one that I’m excited about. I’ve always wanted kids but they just weren’t in the cards. However, if I can get my body to a healthy place, and I can get our finances stable, and I get a job, and am ready to take my national boards in December, we’ve decided that everything will be as ready as it’ll ever be. But as I’m such a health conscious person, I have major concerns over the state of my body and whether it’s in a position to create life. Chemicals being ingested through diet, exercise and flexibility, the right level of vitamins, a possible iron deficiency – I’ve got a lot of concerns. It doesn’t help that I don’t have health insurance, either. So there are a lot of steps to take for this one as well, but I have to say, as this is my goal I’m most excited about, I don’t think it’ll be a problem.
By setting thoughtful, planned out goals instead of rash, New Years inspired resolutions, I actually do get things done over the course of the year. And I can use the wheel of the year (the 8 pagan holidays) to track my goals. I’m not saying don’t make resolutions, and I’m not saying stay away from the common ones. All I’m saying is make sure any time to you want to bring change into your life, that you think it through, plan it out, and are prepared for it. There’s a reason why most resolutions fail, you know.
Happy 2013, everyone!
What are some changes you want 2013 to bring to your life? How do you plan to implement them?
DISCLAIMER: This post was written a while ago – like months. I wasn’t going to post it originally, but something has been tugging at my subconscious lately, and with Halloween and Samhain around the corner, perhaps a personal encounter with meditation and spirituality is right on the menu. It’s a little rough, but the emotion behind it is the important part. I highly suggest anyone who hasn’t meditated before give it a try – you don’t have to be spiritual, you just have to want to relax!
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(If this post is scattered, I’m sorry. My mind is crazy. The post will tell you why.)
With this economy, money can be tight, so I don’t often do things just for myself when they cost something. But tonight was a meditation class at my local Mind and Body Center, and I was really looking forward to it, and felt like it was someplace I needed to go; the Fiance and even my mom both made sure I went (sometimes I tend to skip out at the last minute on stuff like this). So tonight I went, and I can’t explain how happy I am that I did.
The class was a guided meditation to meet one’s spirit guides. I meditate occasionally at home but I don’t usually get anywhere. I have trouble clearing my mind. I thought maybe a guided class would help, so I showed up. First of all, Sandy, the woman who owns the center, was soooo nice. I’ve been trying to get to a meet up there for a while, and when I walked in, she said she was so happy to finally meet me in person. It was a really welcome feeling.
So, fast forward to the actual class. The class was a mixture of people who meditate on a regular basis, who have dabbled, and who have never had success before. There were only 6 people in the class, including myself. The first guided meditation that Sandy led us through was an exercise to enhance visualization; it was great, because when we talked about it afterwards, Sandy validated part of my visualization; I was entering the basket of a hot air balloon, and mentioned that I felt weightless, like I could pole-vault over the side and land gracefully, and that I never had a doubt my body couldn’t perform like that. Sandy said that meant I was truly hitting a meditative state, where my Ego wasn’t telling me what was or wasn’t real anymore. It was a nice feeling, since I always feel like I’m failing while meditating.
After that, we went through an exercise to create a nature space within which to retreat while meditating. Luckily I had experience with this, so I already knew generally where I would go to; I was surprised, then, to find that the area I went to was completely altered tonight. Usually I go through a green forest into a clearing or small field. Tonight, while Sandy led us down a path, my mind showed me the small details I’d always been missing.
The path was dirt-packed and concave, with the mossy and grassy sides rising up along the edge. While the forest in my mind is usually green, tonight it was a thick, dense, wet green, like in the forests of the northwest. Moss was absolutely EVERYWHERE. (I’m curious now, and intend to look up the magickal and symbolic properties of moss.) There were fallen logs, rocks, and green everywhere I looked. Eventually on the right side of the path was a small wooden garden gate. When I walked through it, I took a very short path to an open grove encircled by trees. It was nothing like the grove usually is. I could barely see the sky, the trees and vines were so overgrown. There were fallen logs making a sort of circle, with one log more prominent than the rest. Off from the center of the circle was a hollowed out stump (again, covered in moss), and there was a large tree right behind a fallen log, with a mossy seat cover, that I would sit on and relax. I heard the rustling of the trees and the flapping of wings and the scurrying of little forest rodents beneath the brush. It was so green and secluded. I never wanted to leave.
After exploring this place in my meditation, I was almost pulled out of it by a strong sense of deja vu (which I get uncomfortably frequently). I knew I had been to this exact place before, though not in meditation. I had dreamt of this place, I was remembering just now, and I had dreamt up a conversation with my uncle who passed when I was six. He’s always been very close to my heart, so being torn from my meditation by this memory of a dream with him was so shocking to my system. Almost immediately after having this realization, Sandy began to guide us out of the nature place to awaken. I went from feeling calm and serene to panicked and desperate; I didn’t want to leave, and I didn’t want to leave the feeling of my uncle. It was heart-wrenching. I almost teared up when I opened my eyes. It was profound and a little scary.
The final exercise of the night was the actual meditation to meet our spirit guides, the one we’d all come to the class to do. I knew we would be starting by going back to that place, and I was nervous. Would I have that feeling again? Was this perfect place tainted for me now?
I went into my meditation and back to that grove. It was exactly the same, and there were no ill feelings. There was one thing different this time, a very nice feeling, although it made me curious; on the stump in the center of the grove was a tall white pillar candle, lit. I don’t know if it was to cleanse from the panicked feelings from before, or as a welcome from my spirit guides, but it was nice.
This time we were guided into a room where we would meet our guides. I have to say, I wasn’t really expecting it to work. I figured I would picture the room, wait, and then force myself to come up with an image. That’s not how it happened at all, and it did shock and excite me a little.
My first spirit guide was a woman; she said her name was Ana. I remember lots of details about her, except her face. The very first thing I saw, and the thing that stuck with me, was that she was wearing reddish-brown spiral horns, like ones you could buy at a renaissance faire. It struck me as odd at first; was I picturing some kind of fae or demon creature? Surely they couldn’t actually be spirit guides. But I reminded myself they were probably approaching me in a form that I was most comfortable with, and hell, I’m weird. But as she walked towards me, I felt like they were just another costume piece, easily removable. I think maybe she did that because of my initial surprise at seeing a being with horns.
Ana appeared to me very quietly. She barely spoke a word, but was a strong, stoic, silent character. Stoic is the best word I have to describe her. While I was anticipating an exciting meeting, she made me feel like it was off point to be excited to meet her, because she had been with me my whole life. I already knew her, so we weren’t meeting. We were reuniting.
My second guide was a man named Adam. (What is it with the A names?) He couldn’t have been more different from Ana if he tried. As soon as he appeared, he scooped me up in a huge, twirling hug. He was tall and dark, wearing all white clothes, and had a beaming smile. He almost came off as gay to me. He radiated joyful love to me, while Ana was more deeper love. Both, however, were unmistakably unconditional.
We were to ask if they had any messages for us. Adam responded immediately, “Keep up the good work, kid! Keep on your path. You’re on the right track. Keep on keeping on.” Ana was quieter, quicker. “Reconnect with nature.” Maybe that’s why she feels like a satyr to me. She’s got to be a nature spirit of some sort. Adam is more a life coach type guy.
Our meeting was cut short because, hey, it was only a 2 hour class and we were already hitting close to the end. I reluctantly said goodbye – Adam again hugged me fiercely – and then I journeyed back out to my present self.
I have never - never – EVER had a meditative experience like that before. It was absolutely incredible. I hated the feeling of coming back into my body, and I couldn’t wait to get home and journey back to meet with Ana and Adam again. Sandy, the organizer, said she may run more spirit guide classes in the future, and I will definitely attend.
If you meditate, or are spiritual in any way, and haven’t journeyed to meet your guides yet, I seriously suggest you do so. The brief minutes I spent with them changed how I feel inside. It was crazy.
With the wedding in less than two months (yikes!), tensions are starting to run high. RSVP cards are due back tomorrow, and we haven’t gotten nearly
half back yet. I still don’t have all the addresses to send out the after-party invites. A ceremony musician has still eluded us, and we’re still trying to track down a JP (as all past attempts have failed). That being said, lots of other details have come together and yet more are falling into place. I never realized how many teeeeeeny tiny details would need to be attended to.
This topic caused quite a bit of heartache for my mother and I recently. It all started with the cupcakes; ah, those damn cupcakes. They better be worth it. (But since my incredible Auntie is making them from scratch, I have no doubt they will exceed expectations.) Let me start by saying that the Fiance and I are low maintenance people. When we decided to get married, we wanted things simple and fun. We chose the theme (PIRATES) because 1) its something we love, 2) it forces us to dress up in costume, another thing we love, and 3) it would make choosing things super simple because it has to fit with the theme. For the most part, it’s been simple. What will the guys be wearing? Well, garb inspired by 17th century sailors, of course. What about the hall? How about a function hall with a pirate ship for a bar? The invitations? Designed by me, using the always-useful Vista Print and a little creative piratey ingenuity. Everything fell into place nicely. So what could have happened?
Those damned cupcakes happened.
It started with my mum stressing out about more than just the wedding. (Her life is up in the air, and that poor woman handles it like the mother (pun) of all champs – she’s allowed a little break down every now and then.) She told me we needed to meet with Auntie again to go over the details of the dessert table. I thought we had, only about a million times. I said this. I was informed that I needed to confirm the details, yet again, the numbers (how am I supposed to know how much my fat-minded friends will eat?), and what will go on top of the cupcakes for decoration.
Why do the cupcakes need to be decorated? We’re just going to inhale them (that’s how good she is at baking) so we won’t be looking at how pretty they are. Mum and the Stepdad proceed to explain to me that, as their gifts to me, they want to go above and beyond the details to make everything perfect.
Okay… breathe. Now, I get needing things to be perfect – I did, in fact, inherit a little OCD from my mum. But I’ve made great, GREAT strides in realizing that this wedding will not, in fact, be perfect, since I’m not allowed to do everything myself. (ahem*obsessive*ahem) And these tiny details, these things they want to go above and beyond on… its a level of elaboration that the Fiance and I do not want. We’re not elaborate people (unless I’m working on a costume). So why would we want an elaborate wedding to reflect our mundane lives?
So we argued. I couldn’t understand why these details needed to be decided, or exist at all, or why I had to be there for the deciding of them, since I didn’t care one whit what the answer turned out to be (and in some cases, like in how many of each to make, didn’t even know what the proper answer was). My mum argued that the details make a wedding, and I argued back that a wedding should reflect the bride and groom, and if both he and I don’t want these miniscule details, we shouldn’t have them forced upon us. We argued semantics for a while, and both hung up our phones angry and hurt. She thought I was being ungrateful; I thought she didn’t understand me.
I stewed, I was reprimanded, I crawled back and apologized (though secretly I still thought I was right, but I’m the kid; what can you do?) and things calmed down and righted themselves.
I still think I’m right, but I’m beginning to realize that doesn’t matter.
My frustration comes from a legitimate place. Since day one, I’ve been told this is MY day. It’s what I want, my decisions are final, as long as I’m happy, blah blah blah. But since about day three, it hasn’t actually been like that. I’ve made a decision, and while people go along with it, I can tell they don’t like it, or don’t agree. My mum agonized over what to wear (coz she doesn’t understand garb, you see), to the point where she was being kept up at night and I considered changing the theme. When I told the Fiance no hats during the ceremony, he was not happy. I’m asked to choose what I want my flower girl to wear, and when I finally decide and immediately offer to pay for it as a gift, I’m told I shouldn’t have to do that and we’ll just make her something instead. It seemed like every time I made a decision, after being pushed to consider and reconsider, I was still, in some way or another, being told I was wrong. The entire experience has felt very reminiscent of my childhood, and it made me increasingly uncomfortable. I even considered calling the whole thing off a couple times. Weddings, to me, aren’t as important as the start of the rest of my life, and I do not need to be married to the man I love to spend the rest of my life with him. Weddings cost a lot of money, last for less than a day, and years later are only remembered in pictures and funny stories. To me, they just don’t seem to be worth all the trouble.
Then, a friend, an angel we’ll say, gave me a great bit of advice. “Let her help. She’ll feel better because she got to do stuff, you’ll feel better cause you don’t have to worry, and to keep it believable work on the 1-2-3 method. If she gives you options, the first one pick option one, the second one two, the third three, then back to one.”
I thought about that, realized it’s genius, and then almost immediately realized something else. My angelic friend was right; it does make Mum feel better to tackle the details. She feels like she’s doing something, that things won’t fall through the cracks and ruin the wedding day. And if I don’t care about what goes on a cupcake, just pick something to end the discussion. She’s happy because I’ve made a decision, and I’m happy because she’s happy and the argument is over. In short, don’t sweat the details when I have someone to sweat them for me.
If I could go back to last October, though, I would still say yes… but I think I would have seriously considered the “Let’s just stay engaged forever” option. At the end of the day, a wedding to me is still just an excuse to party. It’s just a very expensive party. It makes everyone else happy, though, and that in turn makes me happy.
And those cupcakes are going to be damn DELICIOUS, so in the end, it’ll all be worth it.
I’ve reorganized the blog a bit. Up above (^^^^) you’ll see a whole slew of new links. All my posts are now organized and easy to find! Hoorah!
A bit of real life: today, partly in prep for the wedding and partly to help out my future sister-in-law, I hosted a Mary Kay party at my house. Anyone who knows me knows I’m far from a girly girl. It was definitely a learning experience, and I now know of a few cool skin care tips. Having this party was important to me though, because my sister-in-law has two children, a husband overseas, and this is her primary form of income. Helping her helps my niece and godson/nephew, too.
It reminded me of back in the day when I used to sell Lia Sophia jewelry. (That was a bad experience all around, honestly.) While I was reminiscing, my sister in law was talking to my best friend about working from home. My best friend just completed her Masters in Adult Education and has two young children at home, so her plan is to continue her website job part time and teach online classes. And I started thinking about my own work: the job I am currently employed at, and how I wish I didn’t have to be, and the work that I want to do, that I’m called to do, that I’m passionate about. I want to help people, and working at a country club serving food and working functions in the ballroom is not helping in a meaningful way. I want to treat people in mind, body, and spirit. I want to make skin care products and candles that pamper but also heal. I want to make pretty jewelry and accessories that others look at, admire, and want. I want to guide people towards their own goals and help them help themselves. And I want to be able to do all this while working out of my home, because I’ll be married soon and having kids, and there’s no way I’ll want to ship them off to daycare while I go work for someone else to make money.
Lately, especially after the faire, I’ve been thinking about getting a table at the local flea market and selling candles, jewelry, and skin care products there. I can also advertise The Poor Pirate, although we’re a bit of a specialty shop. But really, I want to get out there and do more work with reiki. Getting to practice on other people at the faire was so life-changing. Reiki is all about energy, and I was connecting with these people on an energetic level that is so beyond comparison.
The best was when I had a young girl come to me with her parents. She had broken her arm, and her parents wanted her to try reiki. She was super nervous, but by the end she was comfortable and giggling with me. I love kids; I worked with them for years at the YMCA, and when I left to pursue a career in holistic health, I knew I wanted a specialty with kids. I still do. Kids just have a completely different energetic feel to them. It’s incredible.
I’m rambling. The point is, the desire has been growing inside of me to really get off my ass and promote myself. I need to build up a clientele base and delve earnestly into working for myself. I want to be able to bring home what I bring home from the country club (which honestly isn’t much), but by doing something I love. It’s the endgame for me, really. It’s something I’m working on.
Wish me luck!
I’ve started a new Facebook page for my reiki and apothecary products. If you’re interested, go check it out.