Archive for the ‘Healthy choices’ Category

Sorry ladybugs, I’m at a failure at playing God

May 10, 2010

I like to act like the world revolves around me, but every time I play God – even in the slightest bit – I am quickly reminded of my true place (little spec next to ant).

I’ve long been a gardening enthusiast. In the past decade I’ve focused on organic, natural ways to create and to kill. Although I really wanted to poison the mole that put 34 holes in our yard in a month last summer, I bought a vibrating underground stick instead.

Bugs are just as challenging – not to mention prolific – here in Oregon. Little plastic tubs of beer attract slugs like garage sale signs attract me, but putting one in each garden bed requires a beer a night, so I found natural slug bait instead. (Egg shells and penny perimeters work until you water and they get covered by dirt.)

When I saw the ladybug guy at the farmer’s market Saturday, I decided it was time to play God just a little. Ladybugs feed on annoying little critters like the whiteflies and aphids that came home with me on a couple geranium starts. We read the instructions and waited until dusk as ladybugs apparently don’t fly away at night.

The directions also said you can spray the ladybugs with a 50/50 mixture of pop and water so their little wings get sticky and they can’t fly away for a few days. Since we don’t drink sugar pop, we thought a sugar-water solution would do the trick. Bob found a spray bottle, cleaned it and made a solution. I released them throughout the yard and garden, asking them to bring luck and prosperity to our crop.

Sunday morning I bounced out into the sun to check on my little ladies only to find that most of them were dead. Of 1,500 ladybugs I’d killed all but 100 or less. My little “God” experiment failed miserably. Maybe the spray bottle had been used for soap, although we thought it was thoroughly cleaned. Perhaps it was just too much sugar in the water and we candied their little breathing apparatuses. Regardless of the reason they died, I felt a complete failure.

Now, I cannot stand an unanswered question so I went to the Sunday farmers market and found the ladybug man and asked him if it’s possible to kill them with sugar. Turns out it is possible. Too much chlorine in the water can kill them too.

Despite the previous day’s tragedy, the ladybug guy kindly gave me a fresh bag of 1,500 bugs – and he advised me not to spray them at all.

So, I did my part and let them go. I don’t think they all survived for whatever reason, but I see hundreds crawling around looking for little pests to chomp. I don’t feel so badly about the dead ones, partially because I can’t tell if they were from the first batch or the second, and partially because I understand that like most things, it is out of my control.

I just need to chill, and let my Father do his job.

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Anti-hoarding: junk the crap and emotional baggage

February 23, 2010

Everyone is talking about Hoarders and A&E. I’ll admit that I begin every show by saying I won’t be able to watch the whole thing, and then I’m mesmerized to the end.

While some people watch and admit that they have tendencies to collect unneeded crap, I am quite the opposite. I find myself peering around the house for any areas that might be victim to pileup. With the exception of one organized – yet stuffed – closet, my house is very tidy.

I used to be a clutter bug, if not a hoarder in training. I had a small apartment with dozens of houseplants and prized possessions hanging everywhere. I wouldn’t clean for a few weeks and then I’d freak out and deep clean everywhere. Most of the items that cluttered my space were valuable and/or memorable.

When I decided to quit my old life and go west for a new one (yes on the Oregon Trail), I had to downsize. Knickknacks, collectible plates, clothes and almost every piece of furniture had to go. I wanted to sell valuable collectibles, but there was no marketplace. So, I had a free garage sale and forced all visitors to leave the house with something.

Hoarders have emotional reasons for filing their homes with stuff. I found emotional release in giving stuff away. I was holding onto boots that climbed summits yet killed my feet, gifts from old boyfriends I hate and even the leg cast I wore in torment after destroying my ankle. I let go and old emotions stopped strangling me.

Our first apartment in Portland was so small that we emptied half the moving truck at Goodwill. (I do regret ditching the snow shovel.) The bed was our only furniture, yet we felt free.

In the six years since, I’ve tried to only keep sentimental, valuable or useful items. Clearing clutter seems to open my life to change and release negative emotions.

The day I was laid off, I sorted the entire garage. I recycled boxes of school papers my parents dropped off when we bought the house. The next day I attacked the crammed walk-in closet. I’ve gone through both again since, getting rid of more.

If there’s a medical condition that makes one consider packing a backpack and walking away from all other belongings, I am prone to it. I’d rather have very little than a house full of junk and filth.

Likewise, if I see a chance to shed emotional baggage and make room for growth, I will. I don’t want my head and heart full of junk either.

True love: Can you love without judgment?

January 19, 2010

A week ago my yoga teacher read “Be Awake” by Anthony DeMello and I cannot get it off my mind. I will include the piece later, but want to paraphrase.

Real love is seeing a person, object or reality as it is – without judgment. This made me question how I love people and myself. Do I love you as you are? Or do I love you for who you were or who you could be? Am I withholding love until something or someone changes? Do I love the idea of me at a younger age? Who or what do I love honestly?

Too all of us: I am sorry for loving you as I wanted you to be. Please forgive me. Thank you. I love you for who you are in this moment.

That said, I still pray for miracles in our lives. I can love you now, yet see a need for change. My brother, for example, has already pawned all of his Christmas gifts. I am not surprised as this is pretty traditional behavior. I love him though. In another reality, he could be a functioning adult. But in this reality, he is not. All I can tell my family is don’t let him break your heart (or push your buttons). Loving him is enough.

Some months back I changed the way I love myself and my life. I wanted a job, money for the bills, a thinner body, peace for my husband … and so on. But I realized that the only way to embrace each day with love is just do it. I love the day for what it is – a journey, a possibility and a moment that belongs to me. I am grateful that things are they way they are. What I thought was not a perfect life really is a perfect life. With my judgment removed, life is complete and without fault.

Of course my life has room for improvement, goals and knowledge. But first I must love myself as I am in this breath. It is so much easier to love others from this place of comfort with myself. I don’t need you to be better for me. I don’t need you to fix me (or my situation.) All I ask is that you try to love me for the perfect person I am today.

“Be Awake” by Anthony DeMello

“Everywhere in the world people are in search of love, for everyone is convinced that love alone can save the world, love alone can make life meaningful and worth living. But how very few understand what love really is, and how it arises in the human heart. It is so frequently equated with good feelings toward others, with benevolence or nonviolence or service. But these things in themselves are not love. Love springs from awareness. It is only inasmuch as you see someone as he or she really is here and now and not as they are in your memory or your desire or in your imagination or projection that you can truly love them, otherwise it is not the person that you love but the idea that you have formed of this person, or this person as the object of your desire not as he or she is in themselves.
Therefore the first act of love is to see this person or this object, this reality as it truly is. And this involves the enormous discipline of dropping your desires, your prejudices, your memories, your projections, your selective way of looking, a discipline so great that most people would rather plunge headlong into good actions and service than submit to the burning fire of this asceticism. When you set out to serve someone whom you have not taken the trouble to see, are you meeting that person’s need or your own? So the first ingredient of love is to really see the other.”

Lights, camera, success! Mind movie = rave reviews

January 2, 2010

Today I am creating a mind movie to guide me in this new decade and my new business.

I know visualizing my destination is crucial to easing my stress and worry about “how” I will get there. I also know that if I can’t see my success, I won’t know it when I have it.

I have read a lot about visualization, starting with The Secret a couple of years ago and in every positive attitude-building book since. Yet for some reason, I have not implemented a good practice.

Friday I had my first experience with muscle testing (applied kinesiology) and guided EFT (Emotional Freedom Techniques). My session with Pointman Consulting was specifically to help me move forward with my business without fear and old contradicting beliefs.

Despite being very open minded about these practices, I was still surprised when the invisible weight lifted. My coach Noah led me through a visualization exercise that filled me with a comfortable warm and tingly energy. At the end of the session my subconscious said “make a mind movie” in which I see, hear and feel my desired goal.

So today I need to make a short movie of me using my creative skills in marketing, sales and writing. What does it look like? Well, I am enjoying my work and making plenty of money to pay bills. I feel excited by challenges and satisfied as I help other small business owners achieve success. I work hard, but balance life with exercise and time with my husband. People meet me and are eager to work with me. I hear them saying I am such a great help and positive spirit. People congratulate me on my new adventure. Everyone I meet has a gift for me: wisdom, connections, education and means of making money. I feel so secure and stable that I bound through the days in happiness and love. I don’t get tripped up on the little stuff.

Yep, that’s my movie. This is who I am. Magazines publish my articles. I have extra money to buy the SLR camera I’ve dreamed of since their inception. Great ideas pop into my head for business owners and other clients.

I’m not an expert at mind movies but this is fairly simple. Imagine what the goal looks like, feels like and sounds like. The Secret and many websites provide guidance and examples. Another example of mine is that instead of saying “I must loose 20 pounds,” I imagine how I look and feel at this weight. When I go to bed and when I wake up, I visualize myself looking thin and fit, exclaiming how great it is to wear my old jeans and hearing people say how I look great. I support this vision throughout the day by banning negative self talk.

Start the decade off right with a movie of your own. Since you are the star, the superhero, you can achieve anything you imagine. As Napoleon’s Pedro would say: “All your wildest dreams will come true.”

No mistake; Mishap prompted my best habit

December 10, 2009

Walking is one of my favorite habits that started by accident, literally.

In my early 20s, I lived in Northern Idaho where freezing rain is a winter standard. One wrong step and I landed a reconstructed ankle complete with titanium pins, screws and plate. After months of casts and physical therapy, workout options were few so I started walking.

Slow, unsteady strolling led to intense power walks on the St. Maries River dike. The injury came without invite, but the new habit became an addiction I need to feel good.

Walking provides time to pray, brainstorm new ideas and explore. Some days a dog or a cat will join me until I pause to send them back home. Squirrels and crows fighting over nuts induce laughter.

Walking is ideal for people with low back pain, poor posture or goals of improved fitness, according to our roommate Nick, a physical therapist intern. He suggests walking 20-30 minutes three to four times a week. Within 21 days, it should be habit.

“Make it a habit after a meal. Or just make it part of your daily routine,” he says. “Start slow. Get a partner; someone to hold you responsible will help.”

I know shoes are important gear because I grew up in an athletic family of marathoners, bike racers and backpackers. I realized talking with Nick that some people may not know how, or why, to pick great shoes. He likes the “shoe dog” on www.roadrunnersports.com. It’s a guide to the correct amount of support, cushion and control for each foot type. A good shoe prevents stress fractures, poor posture and collapsing arch, all of which can lead to injury.

When shopping in store, bend, poke and prod at the shoe. Nick says the toe break should match the natural break of the foot, the heal cup should be sturdy and the arch needs increased “medial support,” (less give). He isn’t fan of all-leather shoes because they stretch with wear. Lastly, Nick reminds us to replace walking shoes at least once a year. I replace mine every six months.

A mishap prompted my habit, but it was no mistake. Walking is an option everywhere I go. It has no dues or fees and always yields countless rewards. It’s a journey with every step.

(Note: Nicholas Adams is a bodybuilder and physical therapy student living with us while interning in Portland. He is a proponent of making small changes and building on them.)

How NOT to treat your one and only body

December 9, 2009

Body image is my biggest struggle. It’s so hard to talk about that I am in tears already. I’d stop now, but I hope to deter one person from this path.

My thinking went askew when I was 8-years-old, wearing a half-size dress. Half sizes are for kids who are thicker around the middle. I had a belly and hated it. I wanted to be stick thin like other girls; like girls on TV. So I started dieting.

The battle between me and my body intensified from age 9 to 13. Then a friend introduced me to puking on purpose. It’s difficult, so I only did it when I overate.

High school was horrible for me socially. Despite excellent grades and above-average athletic ability, I did not like myself. My desire to be thin was insatiable. By dieting, I was fit and probably thin for my body by the end of sophomore year. That wasn’t enough. Over the summer and into my junior year, I ate less, exercised more and threw up often – up to five times a day whether I had eaten or not.

Did I become a twig? No. That’s not my body type. I ran cross country and played basketball, tallying up to eight hours of exercise a day on no food. I was starving. At night my muscles cramped so that I could not roll over or lift my arm. I knew I could not persist, so I sought help.

My family doctor initiated an intervention in which my parents and coaches watched me like hawks. I had to eat breakfast after morning practice or they would force me to eat. I had to stay in sight after meals at home.

Where is this gross story going? To the loss of my tonsils that year; stress fractures in my legs from ankle to knee; and the end of high school sports, my only solace.

Worse yet, the effects haunt me still. My gallbladder rotted when I was 23. If I get nauseous, I cannot stop. I can push a spot at the base of my throat or below my ribs and be sick.

I killed my metabolism and did lifelong harm to my body for what? Smaller jeans? I still struggle with poor body image, but I’ve made progress. I catch myself, and others, regressing to that high school mentality we hated.

Last night a woman told me she worked hard to have a great body for her 25th high school reunion to “show those girls.” Then she realized the “your body verses mine” mentality was what hurt her in high school.

Women, girls and guys too – this is not a competition. We are meant to look different. The body simply protects the spirit. We must love ourselves and exercise to feel good, not punish. Food is the energy, not the enemy. Most importantly, words are weapons. Don’t use them against others or yourself. Namaste.

(On the lighter side, tomorrow I’ll share healthy eating and exercise tips from my roommate Nick, a physical therapist intern and bodybuilder.)

I resolve to stop hunching over this keyboard

December 8, 2009

New Year’s Resolution are too trendy so I gave them up. Instead, I set resolutions and goals frequently and display them in obvious places. A new resolution prompted me to pick the brain of our roommate Nick – a physical therapist intern and bodybuilder.

What can the average person do to improve well being? He said, “health (fitness) is not a destination. It’s a journey, a change, a habit. Ask yourself if you really want to change. If you’re not ready, it’s not going to work.”

He says a drastic overhaul is nearly impossible to maintain, while building on small changes leads to success. In 21 days, that small change becomes a habit. Good, I am not ready for a drastic overhaul; I’m already doing that on the career front. Before sharing his advice on workouts and eating habits, I need a basic change – better posture.

Nick says poor posture lands more people in physical therapy than trauma. Hunching over while typing, lifting incorrectly even doing exercises improperly. My other friend, a PT assistant, reminds me constantly to unlock my knees. Her comments sparked the habit of watching how I stand. I really need a habit of proper body alignment. Yoga does me wonders, but it’s not 24-7. I struggle to keep my ears in line with my shoulders, standing and sitting. When I see an elderly lady with osteoporosis, I want to kick myself.

Nick offered these tips:

1) Set a reminder (on computer or cell phone) to check your posture hourly.
2) When sitting, your hip, shoulder and ear should be inline.
3) The low back should have an inward curve; this may require a rolled towel. A great trick he demonstrated is to put a soft belt in a dishtowel, roll the towel around it and then tie the roll to your chair so it stays. Cheap and comfy!
4) Keep knees and arms bent at 90 degrees; arms close to your body.
5) Bring things (like the mouse and monitor) closer to you; don’t reach for them.
6) Adjust the monitor so the top is at eye level; this keeps the chin up.

It’s not rocket science, yet I keep catching myself in bad posture. I hope good habits are set before month’s end. Until then, Nick warned that changing posture habits will probably cause aches in new places. Great, more aches.

My favorite tip from Nick is “act like a cat. Cats lay in the same place for hours. What’s the first thing they do when they get up? They stretch.”

He says we should take a couple minutes every hour to stretch. Because we do so many things in a forward motion, he recommends a back bend to open the chest. Ah, much better.

The OSHA site backs up this info and offers images. http://www.osha.gov/SLTC/etools/computerworkstations/positions.html

(Nicholas Adams finishes his third internship (of four) in Portland this week. Although he wont’ typically tell you how to live, he will graciously offer advice if asked. Nick is on a vigorous workout schedule and food regime, but makes room for treats and Thanksgiving carbs. I will be sharing more of his insights soon.)