Water

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I had to sneak in this beautiful water image of a ceynote in Cozumel that my son and I will be swimming in come September, when we take our vacation!

Water is super important and we all know it. We are told to drink it from the time we are old enough to understand the word, “water”.  My kids would tell me their head hurt and the first thing I asked is if they had drank any water today. I called them water headaches. We bathe in it, cook food in it and it is the most amazing natural wonder in our world. Life giving and life altering, we literally die without it.

Do you know what is in your water?

Start your research at the county water service site for your county and there should be a link to a water dedicated website. You have to do some sleuthing to find the information on water quality. I don’t know why but it is not usually clearly labeled, “Click here for your water quality” and it should be. Everyone should read about their water quality. Spend the time to research and find the information. You are looking for the Water Quality Index Summary Report. Find the closest location to your residence that has your water information and take a gander. You can find out where your water source is located, what they add to it to make it safe to use, whether they add chlorine or chloramine, and if they add fluoride. We just moved to a different county and while writing this, I took a look at our new water report, it isn’t good. In fact under the heading “Condition” it says “Poor”. But my current water treatment does not add fluoride to the water supply and they add 1/3 the amount of chlorine that my previous residence area did. I ended up finding this report by Googling “chlorine in >>>>” insert your water district. I could not find this information on the water district site but then all the information I needed popped up on one handy report called the Drinking Water Quality Report.

Chlorine is necessary and good for disinfecting water BUT it is bad for us in the quantities that are added to our water. Just begin researching chlorine and effects and you will see what I am talking about. For me, it was asthma attacks after showers from breathing the chlorinated steam, acne, rashes, hair loss, dry skin, headaches, irritability and an immune system that was overloaded from trying to fight off mass quantities of toxic level chlorine in my system. I bought a shower filter that filtered chlorine, a water pitcher with a chlorine filter and vitamin c tabs for the bath. Britta filters do not filter out chlorine and most shower filters do not as well. You have to read closely and find the ones that do. I use Zero water pitcher for drinking water. There is some initial cost but the results are worth it. My hair stopped falling out, my skin cleared up, my asthma is under control, and bye bye dry skin.

Fluoride is another additive but is not added by every water district. Thankfully I moved from an area that adds it to one that does not. Fluoride  in the excessive amounts that they add to drinking water is too much and causes headaches, stiffness and pain in joints, teeth damage and skeletal damage. Fluoride is a result of strip mining and was introduced to being a water additive as a solution to disposal of excessive quantities of fluoride. NOT because we needed additional fluoride as it was marketed. Unfortunately I have not found any filters for fluoride as it is a difficult process to filter adequately.

Fluoride in water

I see cleaning up my water as the base of my decision to start choosing healthy ways of living. It seems fitting as water is the basis of everything and so I began at the bottom with the most basic need we have and began working up from there.

What Do You Eat?

Meat lovers

Potatoes, onions, sundried tomatoes, spinach, mushrooms, morningstar farms breakfast links, marjoram, salt, pepper and fried in coconut oil.

This was breakfast this morning. I call it “Meat” Lovers meal because it has lots of texture, and grinding and chewing involved. EXTREMELY satisfying when you just have to masticate. Three months ago I switched from eating a vegetarian diet to eating a whole food plant based diet. To put it simply it is a diet that is based on eating all whole foods and all plants. Processed food out and dairy out. This has been the BEST experience of my life and my body loves me for it. In fact, my skin, hair, nails, asthma, allergies (well my allergies hate it, cause they were eliminated), bones, muscles, memory, stamina etc., etc., LOVE me for eating this food.

A lot of things begin to happen when you change your diet, any diet but two big things that changed for me had to do with digestion. Digestion is where the money is people. If your digestion is not working well, it doesn’t matter what you eat. Digestion is where all the nutrients get taken to the rest of the body and the yucky stuff discarded. There is a lot of information out there on this and I wish I had time to recount it all here but I don’t. What I will tell you is where I began.

Mind you I have to tell you that I grew up hating vegetables and water and ate macaroni, potatoes and hamburgers. Then I also continued to eat all carbs and processed foods as a young adult. Drinking a V-8 or eating some canned corn was my definition of eating vegetables. I began eating fresh vegetables by cooking vegetable soup. I love soup and I bought some really good broth like knorr’s vegetable broth and I made really good soup that had vegetables in chopped really small so the taste was not too noticeable. I ate it everyday. I batch cooked it on Sundays for the whole week. Whenever I needed something fast to eat, instead of reaching for the frozen bean and cheese burrito I had a bowl of soup. When that didn’t satisfy, I made stir fry with brown rice. So something amazing happened with my digestion. Increased vegetables and taking a daily probiotic, my fiber was increased and my body was no longer starving for nutrients that are not present in processed food, I began to really feel alive. Feed your body living food and you will feel alive. The two big things that changed for me was nutrient absorption and elimination. If these two things are taking place in your digestion then you are golden if not you are starving and stagnant at the same time. A clogged up system is no fun. You don’t feel like part of the cycle of life that is for sure. Nothing cycling through you except when forced. We were made for greater things than that image presents.

I do still feel the need to masticate and 95% of my diet is whole food plant based the other 5% is whatever in the hell I feel like eating. I NEVER deprive myself of anything I want to eat. Sometimes I have pizza laden with cheese or a donut or my big love, Denali Extreme Fudge Ice Cream. I used to eat something in the 5% everyday, after awhile you eat it less and less as you reap the consequences. It just loses it’s special feeling. But the key is to keep a balance, our lives and bodies need a balanced existence between “good” and “bad” too much “good” can be just as detrimental as too much “bad”.

Fruit lovers

This was breakfast yesterday morning when I wanted the comforting numminess of hot oatmeal. I threw in some strawberries and blueberries and eating a bowl of grain loaded carbs became healthy. See what I did?

People ask me regularly, “what do you eat?” and in the beginning of the change I had my moments where I thought I would starve for lack of options. It gets better and easier. Make your old standby, mine was soup. When that gets old, make another old standby, my second one now is a wonderful black bean quinoa loaf, I always have one in the fridge for a quick protein. When you bump up against cravings, ask your body what it wants and then listen. My body regularly tells me when it needs protein, fat and carbs. Some days I eat sprouted whole wheat bread four times and other days I eat nothing but sweet potatoes. I eat according to my body and I feel terrific. By the way, oven roasted sweet potatoes mixed with coconut oil, marjoram and salt is better than candy!!

Some of the many benefits: rosacea disappeared, allergies disappeared (no longer take allergy med), asthma symptoms under control, skin blemish free, weight began dropping, skin tone improved, tons of energy, memory fog gone, vision improved, all joint aches gone, bloated abdomen gone, water retention gone, mood improved, hypothyroidism gone. I am medication free. All previous sensitivities to my environment are gone. My body has reached homeostasis and can react to environmental toxins normally and repel them.

Not going to lie, it is hard to make changes to your diet. Our diets are so wrapped up with emotions and memory and we eat for so many reasons and it is so personal. There will be times that you give up and eat whatever you want but that is okay, when you are ready then get back to eating what makes you feel good. I never think of those times as failures they are the 5% when I eat whatever I want and that makes it that much easier to not ever give up eating what makes me feel good.

Up next…Water our very foundation and eliminating chlorine!

 

 

No Memorial Service For Me

I recently lost my gram. This beautiful woman was such a vital part of me and was inextricable from my life. I feel as if a part of me has died with her. I was blessed to have been by her bed days before she left us to hold her hand and tell her that everything would be okay and that I loved her. To which she replied very lucid, “I love you too, I really do.”

I attended her memorial service to be there for my mom. She was the sole caretaker for the last years of gram’s life, while the rest of the family were off living their lives or too busy to care for the dying. At the end mom couldn’t even leave the house to go to the store or get the mail and yet the family still did not call or come to help. It was a great burden and took a toll on my moms health.

Mom and I did not want a memorial service for gram. Gram would have hated it. Another family member who is very much about the “show” insisted. That is what a memorial service is, a “show” for those who need to pat each other on the back and reassure each other that they were important to the deceased. Those who stand up and read a poem to the deceased while choking back tears, but hadn’t seen the deceased in years. Or the person who recounts a childhood memory and claims to be the deceased’s favorite but hadn’t seen or talked to the deceased in a decade. Who are these people to stand and speak out about a person that they had not loved or respected enough to come or call in years? Yet they have the gall to stand and speak as if they were a part of this persons life.

The whole service turned my stomach. I left before it was over. At the graveside I had had enough of the posers. They could continue their small patting of the backs and crooning over their very distant memories as they attempted to convince themselves that they showed the deceased love, comfort, concern and basic respect.

Memorial services are for this very type of activity. A funeral service ritual came about out of the necessity to transport bodies long distances after WWII, when the body needed to be preserved at a funeral home and a service held later at the deceased’s hometown. The booming and lucrative funeral service industry was born. Now it is big business to capitalize on people’s guilt. People that were not there for the deceased can assuage their guilt with the best and most luxurious coffin, service and buffet meal after while they read poems, recite memories from decades ago and make themselves feel better about neglecting to cherish a relationship with an aging person that was inconvenient for their life.

I do not want a memorial service. If you want to express your love for me, do it while I am alive. When I leave, those that were there in the end will have a party and drink my favorite wine, telling stories of our mutual adventures together. When I leave my body, cremate me and spread my ashes in my chosen places. No headstone, no grave. I will live on in the hearts and memories of those that loved me and showed up until the end. No posers allowed.

To my gram:

We said our words in person and there was no need for me to pretend that we were important to each other. We were together till your end and I will carry you in my heart till my end.

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Fearless

I entered a contest that is based on being FEARLESS.  After studying in Italy for three months and taking my autistic son with me, coupled with my age and all the challenges that come with getting older and trying to accomplish great things…I think I am FEARLESS. Please consider following the link and casting your vote by “liking” my photo.

http://fearlesspsu.com/gallery?sort=recent&i=105

The name is Charolette S. and in the photo am standing in the Roman Forum in Rome, Italy. It seemed a fitting image for FEARLESS.

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New Year, New Beginnings, New Body, New Sight…New Life

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As we move into 2014 I am thinking back over the last year and what a year it has been. So many changes at a fundamental level for me. Friendships have been redefined, my body has become a healthy dwelling place, my mind has relaxed into a state of grace and really life has become closer to being what feeds my soul and gives meaning to the words, ” live with intention.”  Italy was one of the defining periods of my life over the last year, Italy opened me up and breathed it’s sweet wine into my spirit. My thankfulness is overflowing for that experience and as I have only left Italy 2 weeks ago…I am still processing what took place and how the levels that living as an Italian were transformed within me. I know that seeing my mom standing in the airport waiting for us was one of the best sights ever and being a part of all of the love and support from family and friends has been the highlight of this journey. True friends, the ones that support you even if they don’t agree with you or think your ideas are crazy and family that understands you and supports your dreams and even encourages you to follow them are what it is all about. These people are why I went to Italy and they are why I came home to live near them. As I think more about connections, support, community and where my energy flows I wish all of those that I call friend a wonderful new year and I look forward to being your friend in 2014 and supporting each other in all we endeavor.

Venezia Biennale Day One

Day one of the Biannale was overwhelming. We went to the Arsenale and saw the exhibition curated by Massimiliano Gioni. The exhibition was organized as a progression of natural to artificial forms. The exhibition began in the beginning of man as a concept in the primordial ooze of life and step by step made it’s way up the evolutionary ladder to the over evolved being that he is today. The exhibits showcased crucial milestones of man’s evolution…such as the wheel, rituals of adolescence, base instincts and the role ego plays throughout.

My emotions were stirred at a base level and I felt as if they progressed in waves as I moved from room to room. Some rooms moved me to tears…the room with the plastic people all wrapped in grey agony. The sea of screens showing videos of stories flashing and flashing before my eyes. It was an instant of gratuitous envelopment of our media saturated society…thousands of lives that happen just like that and we all watch vehemently. I can say that this exhibition was life altering. Enjoy the photos.

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Our class listening to our art professor Shelley Jordon

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Laura and Dany sketching

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Release

I was married to a drug addict for six years and after years of abuse to my spirit, I left him to deal with his own demons. It was one of the hardest things I have ever done. In the all knowing hindsight, I , of course wish I would have done it earlier. But it is what it is. My son was the diamond that came out of that coal. For ten years after  I left him, I held my breath, I waited, I closed up, I retreated, I moved far away, I shut down. Every knock on the door was greeted with terror and fear. My two kids and I could not move far enough away to feel safe. Then he killed himself. I cannot begin to describe the mixture of emotions that swept through me. My son was ten and his father was dead. It was a long two years for us, sleeping on the floor next to his bed, looking at him and seeing only his father looking back, his anger thrown directly at me. We danced the dance of two locked together in grief. At times neither of us wanted to be that close to the other, yet there we were. I only cried when he couldn’t see me, little did I know that when I finally did cry with him, the true healing began.

That was in 2004. Two days ago I burned his letters, cards, our wedding book in the wood stove at my grams. The letters were sent from him when he was deployed on the USS Truxton in the Persian Gulf during Desert Storm. I was ready to let the last little bit of him go. My son, Chad was wandering around the house and knew what I was doing, at one point asked me, “is that it? No saying anything or doing anything?”  I replied, “yes. It has all been done. That’s it.” We both got out our cameras and took photos of the flames. Cause that is what we do, when the words won’t come.

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Well Hello Universe!

Can I just begin by saying I am eating the words of the last post as I write this? The Universe has a funny, strange and at times sadistic sense of humor. Just sayin. But I see that some journeys, okay all journeys have many, many detours, road blocks and huge scary cliffs that you find yourself hurtling off into the abyss. So my journey down the path of acupuncture ended abruptly when I found out that it costs $75,000 to go to school and then you have to start your own practice to work. WELL…no.

But to be honest I am not sure my new path is any less crazy and unpredictable or expensive for that matter. I pretty much decided to give up trying to decipher what my path is (studying puritan’s beliefs did this) and just give it over to the Universe and boy does that change things up. Let’s see, since I have done that I have faced childhood demons of the worst kind and decided to love the people that destroyed parts of me anyway, became integrated completely with my shadows, decided to love everyone, fell in love with myself, changed my major to Art History, and now am going to Italy to study the masters and learn to say, ” atraversiamo!”

So this blog will still be about healing at all levels. It will also be about following your passion, taking huge leaps of faith, listening to the Universe, and traveling in Europe! September 24, 2013 will find me on a plane bound for Dublin, Ireland. Where I will find my way to Siena, Italy to spend the next three months studying painting, drawing, culture, Italian language and how to make a very good cappucino. Unlike the last blog where I was sure I was on the path made especially for me…I have no clue whether this is the “right” path for me, I just know that when I got the notification that I had received a Gilman scholarship to go to Italy, every part of my being was already packing to go. There was no doubt that this is where I passionately wanted to be. Step by slow and small step, it has all been unfolding. I keep my eyes open and ready to take into account any signs that this is not supposed to happen but there hasn’t been any signs like that. In fact there has only been signs that point to go, do this, love it, feel it, embrace it, revel in it, rejoice …YOU ARE GOING TO ITALY!  Chiusure Siena Italy

When people ask me if I am going to Italy to study, I say, “yes.”  I don’t say maybe or I hope so. There have been obstacles, like the program I initially applied for and listed on my Gilman scholarship being suspended and having to scramble to find one that was twice the cost and would let me apply past the deadline, get it approved by Gilman, madly apply for more scholarships with a deadline two days away, arrange for alternate housing since I am taking my son with me and various other hoops. But I never saw these as signs not to go but what I saw was incredible amounts of help being given me to make this happen. At one point there were four different advisors from two different college campuses, a Gilman representative, and a study abroad program representative all working on finding me an alternative program and making this happen for me. I watched with that objective eye as all the pieces came together like a puzzle. The ending picture was of Siena, Italy.

Come back and follow my travels…it will all be here. The Universe will be our tour guide, I will be documenting my thoughts, fears, hopes and dreams for all to see. I promise it will be crazy amazing and full of all of life’s vulnerabilities and joy. Cause it is all love after all…right?