Saturday, April 23, 2016

Find Your Happy Place - From Bliss to "Trouble"...and Back Again

Last week officially earned the title of “Best Week of Our Lives” as a family.  As far back as my son’s memory goes I have been “sick.”  Though it has presented gifts as well, he has missed out on a lot because of it, and one of the things he had never known is the experience of a true family vacation.  For a long time I just wasn’t strong enough or well enough, and then there were all of the new allergies and sensitivities to consider.  What about food?  What about chemicals and environmental triggers?  Could my body handle a flight?  Could I stay in a hotel room?  So many uncertainties, so much doubt, but I held on to the dream that my son would experience Disney World and that I would be there to see it.

About a year and a half ago, at the urging of my health coach, I made a “Vision Board.”  I know that there is a lot of evidence that envisioning yourself well and doing the things you long to do as a fully healthy person can boost healing, but it can feel unrealistic and far away when you can’t even get out of bed.  However, I did it.  I vividly remember placing a picture of Cinderella’s Castle at Disney World on my board and then cutting out a family picture to paste in front of it.  As we stood in front of the castle last week FOR REAL, it was not lost on me that what I had envisioned for myself, and had hoped and dreamed of, actually came true.  I cried many tears of joy and gratitude throughout the week.  I felt like an Olympian who had repeatedly envisioned their best performance winning them the gold, now standing on the podium in victory.

My "Vision Board" from 2014

My first "surreal" glimpse of the castle!

The nitty-gritty truth of it is that eventually I got myself to a point where I just said, “This may be as good as I get…enough with my life being on-hold.”  I took a chance, took a leap…and I started to plan a trip to Walt Disney World in August of 2015.  Between the time of that decision and actually leaving last week there were many ups of excitement and anticipation, as well as downs of doubt and worry about it being a potential disaster.  The result?  BEST.DECISION.EVER!  It was literally the best I have felt in many, many years.  I set myself up for success…talking with the dining department beforehand, and asking the resort to use gentle (low chem) cleaners in our room.  We opted for a room with a full kitchen and made a Whole Foods run as soon as we landed.  We also shipped some necessities to our hotel in advance.  All good ideas if you have health challenges and want to optimize your chances of doing well on a new adventure.  Still, that doesn’t account for everything.  I do all of those things, and more, at home and still feel horrible sometimes.  Add to the equation that I walked countless miles, in mid-80 degree Florida heat.  So what gives?  I truly believe that joy can trump a lot of things.  All of the walking and the natural Vitamin D from the sun probably were big contributors, but the happy change of environment, the fun, and the laughter, all while being with my loved ones, were truly the healing medicines.  I also had people praying for me, which you can’t underestimate the power of, either.  The big message here?!  FIND YOUR HAPPY PLACE!

We got home last Thursday night, completely exhausted, but still on a high.  It was the good kind of tired…the result of a life well-lived, the feeling of “I did it” coursing through my body and mind.  Then Sunday morning arrived, and my son had a fever, sore throat, headache, body aches, and threw up.  Not totally surprising after airplane travel, not to mention being on-the-go from 9:00AM to 10:00PM every day of our trip, and add to that some different foods than he usually eats.  It's a lot for an immune system, even a strong one.  Long story short, he spent six LONG days hovering between 101 and 102 temperatures, exhausted and uncomfortable.  Like I always do, I pulled out all of my “holistic healing tricks" and went into full-time “Nurse Mommy” mode, but by day four, with nothing changed, off to the doctor we went.  No strep throat…and no answers beyond that.  It could be “the flu” or some other random virus, and if it wasn’t better by the weekend we should go back to see the doctor.  Something I have really struggled with in life (and especially with my own illness) is wanting answers, wanting to figure everything out and connect the dots to complete the picture, so I can come up with a solution and fix, fix, fix.  Also, seeing my son sick is very triggering for me.  As an empath, it hurts me to my very core.  However, this time, perhaps still carrying the joy and “can do it” attitude from Disney, I did what I could do and let go of the rest.  I was able to take a bit of a leap again.  I seized the opportunity to get more snuggles and play more games (like endless rounds of “Trouble").  I replaced my worry and toil with love and fun.  I even used it as an excuse to try some new products (which I always LOVE to do and is why I started this blog in the first place)!  I treated myself to a luxurious new hand lotion bar due to the fact that I was washing my hands raw (check it out - such a cool company).  Again, I found a small “happy place”...this time in the middle of a less-than-ideal situation.

L to R: My favorite smoothie/almond milk company - Jubali's healing mixes; Wedderspoon Lozenges; My favorite digestive bitters-making company (from my home state of Vermont!) - Urban Moonshine's "Immune Zoom" ; Moon Valley Organics Lotion Bar; Trouble Game :-)
You see, anytime we choose to take a leap, trust the process, let go, or search for the positive, we aren’t guaranteed that it is going to work out the way we want, but it makes the journey more enjoyable and helps us learn to be more and more comfortable with the fact that we are never really in control.  Many things could have gone wrong while I was at Disney, but they didn’t…and I would have stayed in my “safe place” and missed out on absolute bliss.  If I am honest, I have had plenty of reactions and miserable times in my “safe place,” and taking the chance to branch out not only brought me joy while I was there but is still unfolding its healing powers as I carry the message “I can” deep in my being.  I have drawn on those memories and how good life can be many times this week while being stuck inside, getting my son through a tough time.  I feel like we spend a lot of life fighting the current, trying to control every little (and big) thing.  This is exactly what keeps us from building resilience, finding peace, and being at ease in life.  Do what you can, and then let go of the rest.  This is not the same as giving up!  When you take constructive action, trusting your intuition and doing what you know to do, then it is easier to accept the flow of what comes and goes.

Take all of that energy that was used for “controlling” and use it for positive waiting and natural momentum.  I can say with absolute conviction that if you want to find health, happiness, or make some other shift in your life, you must have dreams, aspirations, goals.  You need to be as specific as possible so you can “see” it clearly in your mind, and that also makes it measurable so you are able to know when you have made it a reality.  I am not suggesting you do something major and way out of your comfort zone, because sometimes our restrictions (like special diets, etc.) keep us safe and healing.  You need to do things on your terms, and in your time.  I would not have been ready for this a year ago, so the outcome may not have been so profound then.  Just take note of where there is wiggle-room in your life, and how much of what you are doing (or not doing) is out of fear and stories you have told yourself along the way.  Just like a lighthouse provides a guiding point to head toward in the fog, we need something positive to focus on, up ahead.  Otherwise we can get stuck going ‘round and ‘round in the same circle, without even realizing it.  Sometimes for years.

So here is my “travel guide” for finding your HAPPY PLACE in life (no matter where you are right now):

1. Make a goal/aspiration/“Vision Board” - simply put, list some things that you would like to do and that would bring you joy (look at the list/board - and/or meditate on them- regularly), and update as necessary.  I can't tell you what this would look like, because it is ALL up to you and only you!

2. Change/break your routine (even if that means something as simple as putting your left pant leg on before your right) - Switch it up!  It sends a message to your brain that you CAN change.  For me, after years of compromised mealtimes, due to working around a strict medication/supplement schedule, I am moving back to eating at more reasonable times (with my family), and eating when I am hungry instead of waiting for the “perfect” window.  This = a sense of freedom and flexibility again!

3. Change your environment/visual cues - waking up somewhere other than the same four walls and ceiling that I spent years staring at while sick in bed was wonderful!  I realize that not everyone can take a trip, but you can change the pictures hanging on your walls, rearrange your furniture, paint the walls a different color, organize a messy room, or take your meal out on your patio/lawn…you get the “picture!”

4. Get sunshine on your face - even if it means sticking your head out of a window because you can’t leave your house.  DO IT.  15-30 minutes each day!

5. Move your body - sometimes my attempts at exercise have set me back, but the constant movement while walking around the Disney parks almost felt like an “unwinding” of my body.  The more I moved, the better I felt.  First, my left hip got a little tight and achy, and then it popped and the discomfort moved to my left knee temporarily, and then my knee popped, and I felt better than ever…able to do more and more.  It was like by giving my body the movement it was created for it worked itself out.  Walking, yoga, and dance seem to be the best for me and my needs.  I may never be a runner or “Cross Fit” person, and that’s okay.  Even if all you can do is wiggle your toes or pump your ankles from bed or your chair, start there.  Our bodies crave movement, even if it feels like they don't.

6. Spend time with loved ones - this is pretty straightforward, and there is a ton of scientific evidence stating that positive social ties are the most important piece of a healthy life.  To read more on this topic...The Mystery of The Rosetan People & Is The Internet Killing Us? Let's Create Local Soul Tribes That Heal.

7. Take action & let go of the rest (as explained above) - learning to develop and trust your intuition helps with this one!

8. GRATITUDE - acknowledge all victories, big and small.  Don’t let them slip by!  Take a good amount of time to celebrate and honor them, and then set your sights all over again.

MORE THAN ANYTHING, find something exciting, joy-making, that gets you out of bed (showered, dressed, teeth brushed, hair combed, whatever...) each day.  Realistically I know that can’t be exploring a Disney Park every day, but I am working on building something for myself (in addition to being a wife, mother, etc.) in to my life that makes me really excited to show up and participate in life each day!  Maybe ultimately going back to school?!  Who knows?!  Stay tuned...

"Until next time!"  On to our next HAPPY PLACE!
How about you?!  I want to know!  Keep me posted in the comments section below.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Ax Your Allergies

Allergy season is definitely in full swing!  Everywhere I go I hear people talking about it, and that old, familiar "dust" is coloring everything green.  Years ago I associated seasonal allergies with stuffy/runny nose, red and watery eyes, and scratchy throat, but then I really started to learn about the deeper impact allergens can have on the body.

For me, I have less of the "typical" seasonal allergy symptoms, but my nervous system really seems to take a hit.  I experience an increase in anxiety, nighttime insomnia and daytime lethargy, inflammation that manifests as joint stiffness and muscle tightness/spams, headaches and nerve pain, itchy skin/hives, and even raw and irritated spots on my tongue!  Another interesting thing I have experienced is seasonal food sensitivities.  For example, I find that when ragweed is out I don't tolerate foods from the squash family.  After doing research I learned that squash is part of the ragweed family!  There are a lot of cross-allergens between seasonal pollen and the foods we eat, which makes perfect sense.  You can learn more by looking up "Oral Allergy Syndrome."  The most important thing to know is you are NOT crazy!  Always listen to your body for clues about what does (and does not) make you feel your best.  Everything is connected!

Now for the most important part of my post, WHAT YOU CAN DO TO HELP YOURSELF!  My personal approach is from a common functional medicine/holistic point of view - to think of my whole system (body and mind) as a bucket.  Once I reach my "limit" of irritants (and my "bucket" overflows) I start reacting to more things and with increasing intensity.  Nothing exists in a vacuum.  If you can pinpoint and remove what is setting you off you will start feeling better and better.  It is like peeling back the layers of an onion, and every little bit helps.

I do not use allergy medication, so here are some super simple, safe, and non-invasive things to try during times of increased allergen/pollen exposure:

1. RINSE: At the end of the day (or whenever I know I am inside for the night) I wash my face and thoroughly rinse my hair to remove all of the pollen my hair/eyelashes/etc. have trapped while out and about.  (When you go to bed with "pollen hair" you are depositing allergens on your pillow only to be breathed in while you sleep.)

2. FLUSH: Along the same lines as above...I use a saline spray to wash out my nasal passages, and I use homeopathic eye drops to clear and cleanse my eyes.  I only use the gentlest products since my irritated system doesn't need anything else to contend with!  Of course you could also use a neti pot, and I am sure they are great, but I have just heard too many stories about brain infection and amoebas!  ;-)  I also gargle with an herbal mouthwash to clear allergens out of the back of my throat (I love this one - Vita-Myr Natural Mouthwash.)

Products I use to flush away allergens!
3. REMOVE: I have a strict "no-shoe policy" at my house for many health reasons (which I plan to blog about in the near future), but shuffling pollen all over the house is one of them.  If you are wearing sandals outside I suggest washing your feet before getting into bed at night, too.  I also remove the clothes I wear outside when I do my "rinsing and flushing" outlined above, and then I put on my "comfy clothes" or pajamas for the afternoon/evening.

4. HYDRATE: Have you noticed a theme yet?  Rinsing, flushing, cooling...hydration is your best friend when it comes to dealing with allergens.  Make sure you are drinking more water than ever this time of year...and then drink some more!  Also, dry post-Winter skin is sensitive, inflamed, and over-reactive.  In addition to hydrating from the outside, make sure you are using a good moisturizer on the outside to lock hydration in.  Try not drying off after your bath/shower and applying your lotion right away to wet skin.  All of this should help prevent allergy rashes/hives.

5.  NOURISH: Diet is also extremely important to keep your immune system at its best in order to manage allergens.  80% of your immune system is in your gut, so gut health is key for allergies!  The #1 item you should consider cutting back on (or dropping) is sugar!  It is an immune-system-saboteur!  Dairy (which is mucous producing) and gluten (inflammatory) are other food categories you might experiment with reducing or eliminating.  Aim to keep your diet on the lighter and "easier to digest" side so your body can focus its energy on proper reaction and repair.  Some ammunition that is particularly helpful when it comes to allergies are - Vitamin C, Quercetin, Magnesium, Omega-3s (like fish oil), Probiotics, Stinging Nettles (herb)...just to name a few heavy hitters.

Excellent tools to nourish the body and build a healthy immune response to allergens!
6. AVOID: I know most of us love the fresh Spring air (especially after a particularly long Winter), but be aware of how much and when you are enjoying it.  If you wish to air out your house, do so first thing in the morning before the heat of the day rises along with the pollen (skip it altogether on particularly windy days).  While you are driving around keep windows closed or cracked instead of wide open, and have your fan on recirculate instead of bringing in the outside air.  If you have pets that go outside, do your best to wipe them down (with a damp towel, wet brush, etc.) when they come in, and try to keep them off furniture - especially your bed!  We also have air filters throughout the house, which help with indoor air quality.

7. BALANCE: I feel like this one deserves a drumroll!  This is the #1 most helpful category when it comes to overall health!  This one I am speaking about from personal experience.  From early on in my healing journey I have known (intellectually) that yoga and meditation have amazing benefits.  However, I only practiced them here and there, and never strictly stuck with them for an extended period of time.  One of my New Year's resolutions for 2015 was to do yoga regularly...and I have been doing it 2-5 times a week ever since!  Then, 8 weeks ago I decided to get back to my meditation practice with complete commitment.  I have spent 20-50 minutes each day resting my mind and nervous system.  The results?!  NO anxiety and very minor allergy symptoms so far this Spring!  I am a believer!  If you take the time to rest, recharge, and reset your system, the benefits will be more far reaching than you can even imagine!  Stress wages a major attack on all systems in your body and increases your chances of allergic reactions, infections, and disease.  Finding a healthy way to manage, and relax, should be your top priority...along with consistently getting a good night's sleep.  Those two go hand-in-hand, and I would argue are way more important than even diet and exercise.  Other helpful alternatives for bringing balance and managing allergies include acupuncture, acupressure, chiropractic adjustments, and essential oils (especially a blend of lavender, peppermint, and lemon - I like it in my bath or added to an oil and rubbed on feet, chest, etc.).

Remember, allergies = heat and inflammation.  For people with pre-existing inflammatory issues, like arthritis, this causes problems beyond just the nuisance of a stuffy or runny nose.  The same goes for nervous system conditions, such as migraines, which typically increase during allergy season.  Think of ways to clear, cool, and calm your body and mind.  Your perception also makes a big difference.  Instead of thinking of your body as the "enemy," or that it is failing you/malfunctioning in some way when it overreacts to allergens, take its symptoms as signs that you need to pay closer attention and bring yourself back into balance.  Your body is your friend!  Think of a baby or toddler who is melting down because they are teething and/or sick and haven't eaten or slept well...would you blame them?  Would you yell at them or punish them?  I would hope not!  You would give them extra loving-kindness, rest, nourishment, and problem-solve to find anything to make them comfortable and help them heal.  Apply the same care to yourself when your body "acts out" with symptoms.  It is doing the best it can at any given time and has a lot to deal with in today's world.  You will be pleasantly surprised to find that small acts of self-care make a big difference in chipping away at your allergies!


*For more information about the various symptoms seasonal allergies can cause, check out the following interesting articles:

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

"Less EMFs" Should Be Your New Year's Resolution

How long has it been since you went somewhere and were not reachable?  I think back to days of hitting the beach, all day, and if someone "needed" me...TOO BAD!  I have to admit that I am glad to be a mother in an age where if my child needs me I can be reached.  I am not sure if I could ever leave my house and relax otherwise!  That being said, when my child is with me my phone is pretty much always on "airplane mode."  People often wonder why they can't get ahold of me (God forbid), and it's because I am just not important enough to be constantly "connected."

One topic that is finally being looked at more closely is the crazy rise of autoimmune dysfunction (and other diseases) in today's world.  I feel there are actually many reasons for it, EMFs (electro magnetic fields) only being one of them.  I believe overexposure to EMFs is an added stress that can lead to breakdown in the body and mind.  We are energetic and magnetic beings (science can explain it much better than I can), and these waves constantly interfering with our cells is not natural.

My approach to any of these topics is to dissect my life and look at where I can improve.  As far as EMF exposure I keep my cell phone off most of the time, our home Wi-Fi is off unless we are using it (and is connected to a timer so it is always off during sleep hours), we don't use a microwave, we don't stand in front of our toaster, washer, dryer, etc. while they are plugged-in/in use, no electronics in bedrooms, and I just recently learned about radiation from hair dryers, so a new low-EMF hair dryer was my Christmas present to myself!  I am definitely not perfect...I still have a Smart Meter I need to look into having removed, and I could always cut back even more on useless computer time.  Let's face it, you can't protect yourself completely, so it is all about decreasing your exposure...especially for the highly susceptible little ones in your life!

My New Low-EMF Hair Dryer - by Farouk (Chi Rocket)
I am not going to get all preachy about how your iPad shouldn't double as a babysitter or how you should throw out your microwave (okay, maybe just a little)...I just HIGHLY ENCOURAGE YOU to educate yourself by checking out the amazing articles I have provided links to below.  Then it is up to you!  Experiment and see if those chronic headaches lessen up or your insomnia improves with some tweaks to your EMF exposure.  I also suggest "tech free meals" -  no cell phones, computers, television...try it and see if your digestion seems happier.  Some items you should be particularly aware of are:
Cordless phones
Cell phones
Meters on houses (Smart Meters)
Baby monitors (please don't have them too close to your baby)
Hair dryers
...And did you know that when you have dental/chest x-rays or a mammogram they are supposed to provide a special shield (or have an extra flap to the vest) to protect your thyroid?!  Be sure to ask for it!

Of course the biggest issues are the physical and mental implications of EMF exposure, but let's not forget how technology has also damaged our social interactions.  I encourage you to have get-togethers with friends and family where you make a "leave your phone off" rule so you can give each other your full time and attention.  That is what is most valuable after all!  Here's to a healthier, happier, more grounded New Year!

"8 Easy Ways to Reduce EMF Exposure"

"This Is The Most Important Aspect Of EMF Protection"

"Radiation: What Every Woman Needs to Know"

"10 Reasons Why Handheld Devices Should Be Banned for Children Under the Age of 12"


"Smart Meter Shielding Tips"

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

It's Back To Germ Time...I mean "School"

Well, it was bound to happen.  We made it to day 14 of school before the first illness hit!  My son slowly scuffed into my bedroom this morning to declare, "Mommy, my node is tuffed-up."  Change of plans...appointments cancelled, school called, chest rub on, heat pack warmed, couch fluffed, blanket on.  Since picture day is tomorrow "Operation Kill Cold" is in full effect!  First line of defense = no clogging, mucous producing dairy (thankfully gluten and refined sugars have already been ditched from his diet)!  A little bit of fruit for Vitamin C & antioxidants (mostly berries), and a cup of Mountain Rose Herbs "5th Chakra Tea," were first in his system.  Though this tea is targeted toward sore throats (which thankfully my little one doesn't seem to have), it is full of immune-boosting, soothing, hard-hitters: organic Licorice root, organic Marshmallow root, organic Echinacea purpurea root, organic Orange peel, organic Cinnamon bark, organic Ginger root, organic Fennel seed, and organic Cloves.

Next I threw together an immune-boosting smoothie: banana, almond milk, sunflower seed butter, coconut oil, chia seeds, a tiny bit of cocoa powder and honey, and a whole lot of food-based Vitamin C powder - Nature's Way Alive Vitamin C Powder is a must-have.  It is made from organic acerola fruit, organic goji fruit, organic kiwi fruit, organic alma fruit, and organic manioc root...and you can use just as much as you need.  He loved the smoothie, and I felt good about filling him with easily digestible nutrients.  Just what he needs!  Keeping foods light and blended (broken-down) leave the energy that would be used for digestion for germ-fighting instead.  Also, remember to make each thing you can get into ailing kids' mouths count by keeping it nutrient dense.

LtoR: "5th Chakra Tea" by Mountain Rose Herbs, Immune-Boosting Smoothie, Nature's Way Alive! Vitamin C Powder, Eucalyptus Essential Oil, Nourish Organics Chest Rub (Heat Pack in Front)
Essential oils are also part of our line-up, with Eucalyptus taking center stage to clear airways and fight germs.  Put a few drops in a carrier oil (like coconut, olive, jojoba), and rub it on chests and bottoms of feet.  Then I like to heat up a hot-pack (not too hot) and lay it across my son's chest, spine, or feet.  Staying warm is key!  Additional oils you can incorporate are: Frankincense, Lavender, and Oregano...the list is endless, but always check that they are safe for use on children (and test on your skin first to see if they irritate you).  You can also diffuse or steam the oils for inhalation.

For more helpful hints on how to both prevent and speed-up the "yuckies," check out my previous posts:
Eschew The Flu (Shot or Not)
Home Remedies (Call Me Crazy)

For those wondering what's on the menu for lunch...gluten-free toast topped with coconut oil, chicken broth with added garlic, scallions, and seaweed (minced or strained out before eating), and mashed winter squash.  All with more tea, of course!

I hope these tips have helped.  May the force be with you this school season!

Monday, September 1, 2014

HEARTy Snack Attack

Hi, Friends!  It's been a while.  I hope Spring and Summer have been warm and kind to you!  I have filed away so many blog topics over the last few months, but I only took the time to sit down and write out complete posts for a few.  Then in my chronic indecisiveness about what my "comeback post" should be I never got around to posting anything!  Ever since the end of August hit I am having nightly dreams about being in college again (I wish!), and I find myself motivated to get back to writing. honor of Labor Day I am here to share a company's (and family's) labor of love!

As I was still busy hemming and hawing about what to share with you next, it was decided for me.  I was blissfuly perusing one of my favorite local health stores for new goodies when I hit the jackpot!  As many of you know I have been on an extremely strict diet to manage my health condition...and the hardest need for me to fill is for SNACKS!  It is challenging to live freely when you are constantly worried about being stuck somewhere with nothing you can (safely) eat.  There have been many times I have been out having fun with my son, not paying attention to time, when I start to crash (hypoglycemia kicks in)...and I am stuck.

Back to my happy discovery...I turned a corner in the store and spotted a logo I had never seen before.  My senses perked up at the possibility that it might be something I could eat!  I picked-up the welcoming, beautifully designed bag of "Jackson's Honest Potato Chips" and quickly turned it over.  Three ingredients...YES, 3 ingredients...sweet potatoes, coconut oil, sea salt!  I almost did a backflip!  I got them home and ripped them open...DELICIOUS!!!  It made me teary!  They were rich, buttery, light, indulgent, and satisfying...exactly what is missing in my days!  Since I don't eat white potatoes I had to wait for my husband and son to try the regular "Sea Salt" chips and give me their critique.  "Yummy and great...and healthy!" my son exclaimed with excitement!  My husband takes these things very seriously, and after slowly savoring a few he agreed with our son and added that the salt on the chips is "subtle, but not too subtle...perfect!"

An Awesome Snack Anytime! - L to R Sea Salt Potato Chips & Sea Salt Sweet Potato Chips
"Jackson's Honest" also makes "Salt + Vinegar" and "Mango Chili Lime" flavors with their white organic potatoes, but we have not found those varieties locally yet.  I am most excited about the sweet potato chips, because this is the first time I have been able to find ORGANIC sweet potato chips!  Another unique aspect of these chips is that they are cooked in one of the best oils out there...COCONUT.  Sweet potatoes are excellent sources of nutrition for many reasons, but in particular for their levels of Vitamin A and Vitamin C.  They also help us "eat the rainbow" each day.  Bright colors from whole foods should be an important part of our plan for boosting our health!    Coconut oil has more health benefits that I can even list.  If you are interested in learning more check out an old post from my previous blog here: "The Incredible, Edible...COCONUT!"  Sea salt also helps balance electrolytes and adrenals, among many other things.

Once I fall in love with a product my next step is to head to the company's website to learn more and send them some gratitude!  I have read some pretty amazing "About Us" stories, but this time I was truly blown away.  My heart was so moved by the "Jackson's Honest Potato Chips" story that again the tears were flowing.  I am beyond inspired by this family, their journey, and their mission.  They truly are a gift to the world, and I have so much love for them.  Don't take my word for it, WATCH THEIR STORY for yourself (you will be so glad you did):

Ok, dry your eyes and listen to me...BUY THESE CHIPS!!!  Click here to go to the "Jackson's Honest Chips" website and search under "Store Locations" to find a retailer near you.  If there isn't one, go to your favorite local stores and ask them to carry these products.  I have learned a lot about "ask and you shall receive!"  Or you can just order them online.  At our house we love to make our own chips - sweet potato, beet, rutabaga, etc...but sometimes you just want something you can grab, something that makes life easier!  Also, since we bake our chips (being around hot oils freaks me out a little, and I don't want to clean up after it either!), these chips satisfy my cravings for serious crunch (which you just can't get from baking).  As a health-conscious parent I have such a hard time finding "honestly" healthy snack and lunch items to pack for my precious child.  "Jackson's Honest Potato Chips" are something you can feel GREAT about eating and sharing with loved ones...all while supporting a very special company.  Therefore it does your heart doubly good, and what's better than that?!

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Vitamins Galore or Less Is More?

Once again there has been a bit of dead air on here…sorry!  At least the reasons for my "blog breaks" usually end up making good topics for my comeback blog posts!  For quite a while my doctor has been urging me to start chelating (drawing out) the heavy metals from my body.  To give you a little background info…for people with chronic illnesses it is important to look at many factors to see just what is keeping them sick.  One of the possibilities is chronic (not to be confused with acute) heavy metal toxicity.  For me we performed a hair test.  It showed that I have heavy metals in my body, but not in my hair, which suggests that I do not excrete (or detox/get rid of) the metals on my own.  My bod needs some assistance.  You may be thinking…heavy metal toxicity?  How does that even happen?  Most of us are exposed to heavy metals every day.  It all comes down to the amount of exposure and how well our bodies get rid of them.  For systems that are already overburdened with chronic illness it is even more challenging.  For example, one of my highest levels of metal was Barium, and in my lifetime I have done 2-3 (that I can remember) contrast x-ray tests (hence guzzling the chalky white stuff).  The most recent being about 7 years ago, but it's still hanging out in there.  Guess what else has Barium?  Chapstick!  Back in the day I applied that gunk like every 5 minutes!  I can't even think about the pounds of petroleum, dyes, Barium, etc. I ate while doing so!  YUCK!  To learn more about other sources of heavy metals, check out these articles:  "32 Surprising Sources of Toxic Heavy Metals" & "Heavy Metal Toxicity Depression & Anxiety."

It's a whole other subject (worth its own post), but I cannot write about heavy metals without at least mentioning vaccines.  I am not trying to stir-up a highly controversial topic here, but they are part of the heavy metal toxicity puzzle.  Have you ever looked at the ingredient list for any given vaccine?  It's not pretty (straight from the CDC - Vaccine Ingredients - keep in mind that where you see "thimerosal" = mercury, and I think you probably have an idea of what formaldehyde is).  It makes me so sick to think about injecting my son with those toxins, but I did it.  I agonized over my decision, but I also didn't want my son to get some horrendous disease, because I would never forgive myself.  Also, unless things change, if he ever wants to go to college he will be forced to get them at that time (and all at once no less).  However, if I was going to do vaccines (against my better judgement) I was going to do them my way.  I had them administered on a delayed schedule, and only 1 shot at a time (with many weeks in-between).  Thank God, because my son had scary reactions to 2 of the vaccines, and if he had 4-5 in one visit (as suggested) we never would have known to which ones.  Do I think vaccines cause Autism?  Not entirely, but I do believe they are part of the toxic-overload for a child that contributes to things like ADD/ADHD and Autism.  Our children are born with a disgusting amount of toxins already in their bodies from maternal exposure alone (environment, personal care products, pesticides, etc.), but then add to that what they are exposed to after birth - what they put in their mouths, what they crawl around in on the floor, what they play with (yes, toys and art supplies - see "Heavy Metals"), what they eat, and what we inject them with!   A child's reaction depends on the strength of their immune system and what they have already been exposed to (as well as genetics).  We all have a toxic "limit," but it is different for every body, and children are way more susceptible.  That is why I think many parents blame a vaccine for their child's Autism, ADD/ADHD, hyperactivity, allergies, etc., because they see the change in their child occur following the shot(s).  I see it as a child reaching their "toxic limit," and it presents differently for each one…for some it's Autism.  So sad!  There HAS to be a better way to make vaccines (and all the other junk in our environment)!

In my current situation I could think, "Why me?!"…but I know why.  Contact lens solution from the tender age of twelve (mercury), antiperspirant as my bosom buddy (aluminum and other nasties - see "It's The Pits!"), pesticides in my food and environment, and of course the bazillions of toxins I never was (and never will be) aware of.  (I am SO thankful I never had a cavity and needed a filling!)  I can't go back, but now I am armed with awareness to protect myself and my family...which is why I am sharing all of this with you.  It is not for us to go completely nuts and be afraid of every little thing, but instead to use our knowledge to reduce our inevitable exposures.

Well, apparently "less is more" does not apply to my writing style, because I am JUST getting back to the original subject!  Whoops!  :-)  Sooooo…it has been a good, long while of me staring at the bottle of Zeolite (mineral that binds to metals and toxins), waiting for the perfect time to "try"it.  With my track record of sensitivity I am always a little reluctant to start something new.  I also know that it is important to have your digestion in an optimal state before starting something like this (which I have still not reached).  This week I just got to a point of feeling like I have to "dive-in" if I really want to get completely better.  My doctor feels that some of my lingering symptoms (hypersensitivity/allergies, digestion not healing, etc.) could be from the heavy metals.  So earlier this week I popped my first Zeolite pill around mid-day.  That night, two hours after going to bed, I was wide awake like I had never fallen asleep.  Then the rest of the night consisted of 15-30 minute way-weird-very-vivid dreams that made me jump awake and toss and turn…over and over and over…then I couldn't go back to sleep past 5:00AM…one reason being that I was starving beyond belief.  Ugh!  I took the pill again the next day, and that night the same thing.  Then again one more time before calling my doctor to explain the whole thing.  There was a lot of "Hmmm, that's strange…that shouldn't happen," which I am used to at this point.  The final verdict was to stop taking the Zeolite, but that wasn't enough for me.  In my true fashion I had to find out "why."  Based on my symptoms the first things that popped into my head were "serotonin" and "neurotransmitters."  I went into full-on research mode, and I learned a lot, but I didn't make what I found to be the perfect connection I was looking for…the one that would make me say "that's it!"  I had noticed that my bottle of pills listed "Calcium" and "Vitamin B-12" (to the tune of 1000% daily value) in addition to the Zeolite.  I started to wonder if one of those was the real problem.  Back when I first got really sick my blood work showed a crazy-high level of B-12, but I was told that was no big deal.  Ok, but it still stood out to me.  Maybe I have some sort of issue with B-12?!

This morning after giving up on sleep I pulled out my computer and got back to my research.  Then I hit the "jackpot."  The e-mail I sent to my husband and mother was actually titled, "Bingo!"  Though extremely sleep-deprived (and feeling psychotic) you couldn't wipe the smile off my face!  There is nothing like an ANSWER!  It usually doesn't bring back what you have lost or damaged (in this case sleep and my body/mind), but it sure makes you feel less crazy when no one else can figure out what is going on…or worse yet tells you nothing is "wrong!"  The golden nugget I found and MUST share: "Are Vitamins Triggering Your Anxiety?" by Dr. Timothy Marshall.  READ IT!  Just as I suspected it connects B-12 to neurotransmitter issues!  Dr. Marshall states, "Like B6, high doses of B12 (>1000 mcg) increase neurotransmitter levels, and as a result, has stimulating properties."  Yup!  And this isn't the first time a vitamin and/or supplement has made my body go haywire and my mind feel crazy, and now I know WHY!  I also love these genius points from the article, "The thing you want to keep in mind is that ALL vitamins are metabolic activators...As you increase the dose, vitamins begin acting more like a drug. Since everyone is a little different in this respect, it's always best to start out at a low dose to see how your body responds, and how you feel. Only makes sense, right?"  It is a very important reminder that the exact things we are doing/taking FOR our health can be part of why we can't get better.  Every BODY is different, and we need to keep the whole picture in mind.  Trust me…as I sit here as the poster child of "tired but wired" (more like utterly exhausted).  Who needs "Speed" when you can just OD on Vitamin B-12?!

With each trial-and-error step on this long healing journey I am convinced more and more that our bodies hold the greatest wisdom.  They know what they need, and we need to listen and be very selective with what we put in them and on them…even if it claims to improve our health!  With a healthy diet, exercise, good sleep, and stress management, we should have most of what we need to be healthy.  And don't forget...YOU know YOUR body and mind BEST!  Keep your navigation of them simple…less is more!

(Disclaimer: This post was written at a time of extreme exhaustion and restlessness, please excuse typos and things that don't make sense!  :-)

Friday, January 24, 2014

Home Remedies (Call Me Crazy)

Sorry it's been a little while, but in a minute you will understand why...

I might call this "Part 2" of my post about how to avoid getting sick (Eschew The Flu).  This one's about what to do if you do end up getting some sort of nasty-yuckiness (or if you are just not feeling your best).  I will share some of the home remedies I have been using lately, but this is only the tip of the do-it-yourself-wellness iceberg!

There has been some weirdness going on at our house lately.  Stomach cramping/off digestion for me, and a little bit of a cold (also in one eye) for the little mister.  When things like this surface I am reminded of my transformation from helpless victim to a super problem solver.  I have gone from jumping on WebMD to find out the many things I could be dying from to searching for natural ways to aid the body in healing itself.  The fact of the matter is that we have become a society that heavily relies on doctors to diagnose and prescribe for every little symptom that pops-up.  I am here to tell you that you have the power to help yourself and your loved ones through many health-related situations.  **(Obviously I am not a doctor, and you should always use common sense, proceed with caution, and keep your child's age and condition in mind when assessing the use of home remedies!  Seek medical attention if needed!)**

When my son starts showing signs of coming down with something the first thing we do is start sipping herbal tea.  Sometimes I give him a blend specific for his symptoms, but generally he loves peppermint and licorice teas, and both are good for tummy and upper-respiratory issues.  I also immediately reduce (or cut out) dairy intake.  Sugar must go completely, except for maybe a little fruit.  Eating less meat also gives the digestive tract a break so all of the body's energy can go to healing.  Keeping all fluids and food WARM keeps the chill away and the body in fighting mode (unless there is a high fever that you are trying to relieve).  I also add some of my Vitamin C powder to his drinks.  I absolutely love "Nature's Way Alive! Vitamin C," because it is organic, 100% whole-food based, very gentle on the stomach, and it is a powder so you can adjust the dose very easily.  I also make extra sure that my son gets his usual daily probiotic dose, because I know it is even more important during illness.

Another favorite thing we do at our house is detox/essential oil baths.  For my son I keep it simple…about 4-5 drops each of Eucalyptus and Lavender oil in an ounce or so of almond milk…shake it up and throw it in a very warm bath.  Sometimes I use other oils, depending on symptoms, but be sure to always read to learn about safe oils for children and certain conditions (and only use 100% pure essential oils).  To read about the detox cocktail I whip-up for myself, check out this old post, "Soak It Up…Or Out!"  The bath routine is usually followed-up by some chest rub (I LOVE these 3 brands: House Blend OrganicsLuSa Organics, & Erbaviva) on the neck, chest, outside of ears, under nose, and bottoms of the feet (covered up by socks to keep the feet nice and warm).

The latest cold my son had went into one of his eyes, too.  Ever since he was a baby he has had one eye that is his "weak spot."  This same eye had a clogged tear duct off and on during infancy, and then later he ended up with Orbital Cellulitis as a toddler (not something to mess with).  It is the eye most irritated by allergies, too.  It seems like many times when he gets a cold that one eye gets yucky.  This time it was worse than usual, and I started to worry about conjunctivitis.  I did lots of reading, used my own noggin,' and busted out my best Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman.  I read that tea bags are good for swelling/redness, so I thought I would give that a try.  Then I remembered using the gel from Vitamin E caps on my own eyes for dryness and irritation, and I had been told that castor oil is also healing for eyes, so I started thinking about what might be good (and safe) to try for my son.  I decided that coconut oil is very safe, and it has amazing antibacterial and antiviral properties.  Just what the "doctor" ordered!  Twice a day (morning and night) we did tea-bag-compress-sessions, followed by a little coconut oil all around the upper and lower lids and corner of the eye.  Within days it was healed!

As for my digestive flare-ups...when I need quick relief two things are my best friends - 1. Deglycyrrhizinated licorice (DGL) and 2. Activated Charcoal.  You can learn more about DGL here, but basically it is good for indigestion/stomach upset and is like popping Tums (only better for you).  I use "Enzymatic Therapy DGL (Fructose Free)."  Activated Charcoal is good for gastroenteritis, stomach viruses & bacteria, poisoning (food poisoning…and some use it for hangovers, etc.), gas/bloating.  To read more about Activated Charcoal check out these sources: Wellness Mama & The Nourishing Gourmet.  I would most closely compare its uses to that of Pepto Bismol (only without the dyes and other additives).  The cool thing about Activated Charcoal (and Pepto Bismol, for that matter) is that it can also be used as a preventative (like for stomach viruses and "travelers issues").  Right after Christmas my son had the "throw-ups," so I started taking Activated Charcoal, and thankfully I didn't catch it.  If you do end up with a stomach virus, food poisoning, or stomach upset, Activated Charcoal speeds up recovery, which is always appreciated!  The brand I use is "Nature's Way Activated Charcoal."  It really grabs on to toxins/irritants and flushes them out of your system!

I know that these are a random array of home remedies, but they are very relevant in my life right now, so I thought I would share while they are top of mind.  I hope they will bring healing and relief to you and yours…and cut down on calls and visits to the doctor!  "You are capable of more than you know" (E. O. Wilson).  Please share your home remedy successes in the comments section!

Now sing it with me…(sung to the tune of "Call Me Maybe"):
I just read this,
From a home remedy lady.
Now I'm gonna try it,
So call me crazy!