Saturday, May 29, 2010

Financial problems are not uncommon in our world but I think most of us try to live within our means and get by on what we have. Of course there are those that recklessly spend and amass lots of unecessary matrial stuff. It is a difficult thing to deal with financial issues when also dealing with serious illness. Getting sick can not only take its' toll on your life in a physical and mental way but you can pretty much kiss that good credit score and savings account goodbye. This is what happened to us. It sucks. It really really sucks! But it is so important not to let it become part of the dis-ease...stress and we do this over money....causes and contributes to disease. Money,pieces of paper & metal make us sick if we allow them too. It is easy to put the bills on the backburner when you are trying to live your life in the face of cancer or brain abcess or whatever illness pops up. The last thing we want to turn our focus too is the bills that never stop coming. This is not a good thing to do. It is important to keep communications open & up to date with creditors and those we owe. It is frustrating b/c I did not have credit card problems before I got sick. I had one card and it had a small balance that I could pay. Then I got sick and could not work for 6 months. The hospital bills,doctor's bills, perscriptions, all mounted and for a 1 month hospital stay complete with brain surgery,rehab therapies, several specialists and crazy treatments those were not inexpensive bills. It was/is crazy. I am still paying on them 3 years later and now I am the one working and my husband has an advanced hard to treat canser. Canser is damn expensive. Our credit card debt is not the result of shopping sprees and lavish vacations but rather necessities for living. It can be overwhelming but I am finding that the better on top of it I stay the better off we are and the people we owe are more willing to work with us. I also try very hard not to worry about it and to be grateful that we are able to get by. One of my nieces gave me great advice while I was recovering and worrying about money. She lives with her husband & 2 kids in a small town in the woods. They do not have high paying jobs but they love what they do and have very strong lifestyle beliefs. She said to me "we always make it and we don't know where the money is coming from each month but it comes and we are fine." I think of that when I get stressed about money. It calms my mind and then I say affirmations about money and thank God for what we do have b/c a perfect credit score and a full savings account are not everything in life. To much importance is given to these things and we have allowed it in our society.

Friday, May 28, 2010

For the ladies

Hi ladies,

I suffer crazily every month during my period. I am usually nauseated the day or night before and puking the next day all day. I sweat unbelievably the first few days and the cramping is so bad I can't do anything but roll in a ball. The cramping goes down my legs too. Fun times. So I have tried a little of this and a little of that sometimes yielding temporary relief but it has turned out to be short lived every time. I have made one discovery that I still don't quite have an answer too but that fascinates me. The moon & my period seem to be on a cycle. My worst months lately have started on the day of a full moon and there is a full moon during my period every month. It is strange. I have seen my GYN and actually switched this year to a new one because my other whom I have seen for years did not want to do anything or check it out. She told me last time I saw her that I would have to live with it. Well, that is not acceptable. Of course her office never has faxed my records to the new GYN who wants them before we do anything else. Anyway, last time we were at our Naturopath's office I asked her assistant if she had anything for really bad cramps and she gave me some Chinese herb teapills called Great Corydalis made by Plum Flower Brand and let me tell you these little pills are miracles in a bottle. I started taking them this month the day before my period started. I have not been nauseous or puked once & no sweating. I still got cramps but they have been very tolerable in comparison and only travelled down my legs one day for a few hours. I am so impressed with these teapills. Nothing...Nothing else has worked. I have seen this brand of herbal supplements at Whole Foods but do not know if they carry this specific teapill. The herbs in them are Ccorydalis yanhusuo rhizome & Angelica dahurica root. I would think that an herb store might sell these teapills or these herbs if they sell Chinese herbs. Corydalis is a powerful herbal painkiller. As with all herbs and everything we take talking with a knowledgeable professional is always a smart idea before taking anything. Some people think that because something is an herb or natural it is no big deal and that is not true. Herbs and supplements can be very powerful meds and no one should blindly start taking them. They, like pharmaceuticals, can have interactions with other meds,herbs,etc. and some medical conditions can't handle them. What I love is that they are natural and they work. I have a wonderful doc to advise me and I am pretty good at doing my homework. Those things said if you have problem periods like I do check into these little miracles so you can smile that week and not cry.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Today's mindump

There has been a lot of craziness going on in our world lately and I am having to work extra hard to keep it together. One of the best tools I have for this is saying a meditation guide while walking or sitting and taking deep breathes. Also writing this blog.
So today's rant is on the importance of being educated,informed and responsible for our health. Recently my mom was given some terrible, ignorant advice by one of her doctors. She was told to start taking an Omega3 fish oil supplement...anything on the shelf or the cheapest one. Well when she told me this I about lost it for a couple of reasons. My mother takes comedian which is a blood thinner and fish oil is a blood thinner. Right on the label or packaging of reputable brands it says not to take it if you take blood thinners. Second buying the cheapest brand is a complete waste of money. All fish oils are not created equal. A good fish oil should be molecularly distilled(purified) because many of our fish now contain unsafe levels of pollutions like lead. She was given no guidance on how to look at the EPA & DHA levels of any given brand. These are what to look for when purchasing a fish oil. So I gave her the info she needed and told her to consult her other doctor before taking it because yes it would be good for her but probably not while she is taking the blood thinner. She also had a load of vitamins that were caplets not capsules. Which is common I know but not ok if you want to benefit from them. Capsules are bioavailable where caplets are not. The body has to work hard to break them down and probably doesn't recognize them for absorption. One of the dieticians we took classes from told the story of a friend of hers that works at a water/sewage treatment plant that would see whole vitamins with the brand stamp still visible in the water. I know that we have experienced this in our home before we became educated. We joke about it but it is not funny really because that means that we did not benefit from that vitamin at all. That was a waste of money and our body's energies. It is sad that in general most of our conventional doctors do not know what they are talking about when it comes to vitamins and supplements. As a whole we trust our doctors and take their advice and when it is bad we don't usually know until it is too late. These people aren't gods or all knowing and we must take some responsibility for ourselves although there are those doctors out there that are educated in these things and the ones that aren't have no business handing out that advice. I would not tell a mechanic how to repair my car just because I know a thing or two about cars. You are your best advocate...become your best teacher.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Feel your energy follow your breath

We are all made up of energy...everything is. When our energies are out of balance or stagnant we get sick or feel pain. It is within our abilities to get our energies back in balance and unblock stagnant energy. Jin Shin Jyutsu, Qi Gong, T'ai Chi &acupuncture are all physical ways that allow us to do this. The one unifying element in these practices is the breath. Our breathing habits are extremely important. Most of the day we walk around breathing shallow chest breathes. In order to send oxygen to every cell in our bodies thus keeping them healthy and making sure our bodies are not ripe for infection or disease we need to breath deep belly breathes. To do this inhale through the nose deep so that your belly rises and exhale deep either through the nose or mouth so that the belly deflates like a balloon. Keeping your hand on your belly for a minute or two while practicing this will help you to better be able to visualize the breath being taken in, used and released. This practice of being aware of the breathing is key to meditation and energy work. It is relaxing and a nice way to focus your mind and become aware of yourself in the present moment. These practices play important roles in my husband & mine lives. If you want to do something positive for yourself that is healing and self aware learn one or more of these practices. They might be new to you but people have been using them for years. I am no expert in any of them so I am not going to give histories or attempt to explain them. I trust them and know that for us they work wonders. In the past 2 1/2 years we have needed something to work wonders and we always come back to these practices. What is so nice about them is they introduce us to the idea that we posses the power and ability to heal,calm,relax and focus our minds. Where in this modern western world are we taught or told that about ourselves. Instead we are bombarded with advertisements selling us a new pill or drink. We are guilted out of control not realizing that we have it the entire time. It is an amazing feeling to be aware of that. What is so cool is that when you practice and allow yourself to believe in the practice you can feel your energy. It might be in the form of heat, tingling, a little jolt through the body, pulsing and there is no other feeling quite like that. You are feeling your energies. These aren't just terms or images that new age or eccentric people throw out there. It is you!
Finding others, a teacher, books, to help you get started is not hard. All you have to do is look. We came into our practices through a place in KC called Turning Point the Center for Hope and Healing. Turning Point is a place for people living with serious chronic illness and their supporters to come to take free classes, support groups, etc. in a supportive setting with people who get it. Turning Point has been a port in the storm for us as it has for many others. I encourage you all to try one of these practices and see how it fits now. Don't wait until life hands you a bunch of lemons to get in touch with yourself in this way. It can open your mind to amazing insights and be just what you need in hard times. It is empowering and wouldn't you rather do some gentle moves or touch and deep breathing to get you through a tough moment of hardship than taking a pill and hoping that it works fast? Now if you need certain meds for an illness I am not suggesting that you trash them for one of these practices but I am suggesting that you use these practices adjunctively. That is how we started out.
I leave you with a simple meditation breath...on the inhale say I am calm to yourself and on the exhale say I am at ease to yourself... inhale "calm" and exhale "ease" try this for 36 breathes ...If "calm" "ease" doesn't do it for you try to inhale saying I receive vital life energy and exhale with I unload so inhale "receive" exhale "unload"

Friday, May 7, 2010

A caregivers thoughts

I do not like the term caregiver but that is the label that we wives, husbands, sons, daughters, girlfriends, boyfriends, parents, sisters, brothers, best friends,etc. are given when our loved one gets sick and needs help. So I join with the many out there under this title. I am a caregiver and I have needed a caregiver so I come from an interesting and unbelievable insightful perspective. When I was sick with a brain abscess I was left with stroke like symptoms after surgery. I had to relearn how to walk, drive, talk clearly all over again. I needed people to get my meds, take me to therapy, make my meals, help me shower, do my laundry,etc. I had them thankfully. My husband being the greatest one. I hated depending on them. I appreciated it but hated it. It made me feel like a child...helpless. Then I became the caregiver. I knew not to overwhelm or push or to take to much away but I also learned how hard that is to do when you just want the person you love to get better and take away all of their sickness. I also learned how taxing it is and how it is another full time 24/7 job that requires loads of training and knowledge. Where does one get that training & knowledge? Good question! It all depends on the illness you are dealing with. Some doctor's offices can provide info. and help in getting started and there are support groups out there for caregivers which I never attended but think that would be the best route to learn from those already doing. Mostly though we become keenly aware that it is our responsibility to find out the info. we need and to make the time to do that homework is not easy. We have to take as good of care of ourselves as we do of our loved one or we can't do the job. Lives change and rearrange. In my case for the better. It is not easy but once you fall into a routine it becomes second nature. Just like the person we are caring for we find our strength, courage, compassion, and so much more. I literally feel like there is nothing I can't do and I am grateful for that. Sometimes I cry hard, sometimes I get angry, sometimes I sit by myself in a dark room and just breath, and sometimes..all of the time... I imagine our lives free of the illness and beautiful in all that we have learned. I don't have cancer but it is in my house so I live with it too. That can be said of any illness in anyone for anyone that is a caregiver. These are people we love and cherish.
Be proud to wear the label even though if we had our choice we would not want to have to have it. Know that you are not alone!

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Yummy recipes

None of these recipes are my own but they are really great! Some great ideas for Mother's Day.

Lets start with sweets...

From Paul Nison's The Raw Life Health Show (online)
Goji berry truffles

Soak some gojiberries for about 1 hour (I think it is 1 to 2 cups)
a few dates soaked (I soaked 4 )
coconut & coconut oil
carob powder

In a food processor add 1/2 cup soaked goji berries, dates, and some of the soak water. Pulse to make a paste. Transfer to a mixing bowl and add 1/4 cup coconut oil, 1/2 cup carob powder and stir. Add the coconut flakes to cover the mixture. Stir together then form some of the mix into a ball roll this in some of the extra goji berries and put on a plate in the fridge until time to serve. Pretty simple.

This next one is a favorite of mine from Renee Loux Underkoffler's Living Cuisine..Perfect Chocolate Mousse. And it is!

`1/2 cup pitted soft dates
3-4 tbs. real maple syrup
1 tbs. cold pressed coconut butter (optional)
1 1/2 tbs. non alcohol vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups mashed avocado (about 3 med. avocadoes)
3/4 cup carob powder
4-6 tbs. cocoa powder or additional carob powder
Soak the dates for 5-10 minutes to soften drain the soak water keeping a little of it to use later. In a food processor add the dates,maple syrup, coconut butter and vanilla. Blend until smooth. add the avocado and blend until smooth. Add a few tbs. of the date soak water if needed while blending. Spoon in the carob and cocoa powder and blend. Serve. I like to serve alone, with fresh berries or thawed frozen berries in the food processor so they are like a sauce. Keeps for several days but won't last several days b/c it is so good you will just want to eat it.

My husband loves these almond cookies from Jennifer Cornbleet's Raw Food Made Easy for 1 or 2 People

1/2 cup raw almonds
1/4 cup raw walnuts
dash of salt
1/2 cup pitted medjool dates unsoaked
1/4 tsp almond extract (I have never used this in my cookies)
1/4 cup ground almonds
1/4 cup dried cherries or raisins (I have never added these)

Put almonds & walnuts in a food processor and process until coarsly chopped. Add the dates, and extract and process until it all sticks together. Add dried fruit if desired and process briefly. Remove and put mixture into a mixing bowl. Scoop out about 1 tbs and roll into a ball. Roll each ball into the ground almonds on a plate. Chill for about 1 hour before serving. Now I have made some changes to make my own version. I used About 2 tbs. Almond butter and 1 tsp. real maple syrup in my version. I add those to the food processor after grinding the nuts. Works well.

A simple dipping sauce for spring rolls or nori rolls also comes from Raw Food Made Easy. Mock Peanut Sauce

1/2 cup almond butter
1/4 cup water
1 tbs. fresh lemon juice
2 tsp. pure maple syrup or agave nectar
2 tsp. tamari (I like Nama Shoyu)
1/2 tsp. crushed garlic (1 clove)
1/4 tsp. fresh ginger
dash of cayenne
dash of salt
Place all ingredients in a food processor, the mini processors work well for this) and process until smooth. Will keep for 5 days covered in the fridge.

I like this with spring rolls using rice papers, carrots, avocado, cucumber, cilatro, red cabbage and whatever other veggie you choose. The trick is to cut the veggies thin. a mandolin slicer is perfect to do this but the rice papers are easier to handle than the nori in my experience and especially if you don't have good knife skills to cut thin slices or a mandolin slicer.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Black Bean Soup

I am trying new cooked food recipes out for awhile. My husband wants a break from raw so I am trying to accommodate him. We were never 100% raw anyway. He also told me he did not want any more black beans for awhile which is a problem because I have a lot of them in my cabinet and they are a healthy protein & phytochemical source so I will not waste them. My challenge was to find a recipe to use them in that would be new to us and yummy. I found it so I am going to share it. It is from a recipe book by Ann Gentry who owns and operates one of my favorite restaurants in Santa Monica, Ca. Real Food Daily and her cookbook is The Real Food Daily cookbook. The recipe is for Black Bean soup with Jalapeno creme. I used the basic recipe but changed a few things to accommodate what ingredients I had in my kitchen. I will give both versions to you. This is a very filling meal.

2 cups dried black beans..rinsed
1 (2 to 3 inch) piece of Kombu (seaweed)
6 cups vegetable stock or water
1 bay leaf
2 tsp sea salt
2 tbs. olive oil (I used grapeseed oil)
2 onions finely chopped (I used half of 1 red onion)
5 carrots finely chopped (I used 1 large juice carrot)
5 stalks of celery chopped (I used 2)
3 cloves garlic finely chopped
1 14.5 ounce can diced tomatoes
1 tbs. chili powder
1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp. cumin
1/4 cup chopped cilantro (I did not measure or chop mine)
Place the beans & kombu in a large pot adding enough water to cover them & let soak overnight.
I soaked my beans for 2 days until they sprouted. Rinse beans saving the kombu & return to the pot along with the kombu. Add the veggie stock and bay leaf and simmer for 1 hour until the beans are tender. Discard the kombu & add sea salt. Heat the oil in a saucepan and add the carrots,celery,onions & garlic. Saute for 10 minutes or until onions are translucent. Stir in the tomatoes & spices. Saute for 5 minutes. Add the tomato mixture to the pot with the beans and simmer for 15 minutes until vegetables are very tender. Transfer this mixture to a blender and puree until smooth. Return to the pot and add more salt if desired as well as the cilantro. I added the cilantro when I served it. This soup will keep for 2 days when covered and refrigerated. Kombu is added in order to make the beans more easily digestible.

jalapeno lime creme sauce

2 roasted jalapeno peppers (I used 1 unroasted & deseeded)
3/4 cup cashews
1/2 cup plain soy milk (I used rice milk)
1 tsp. grated lime zest (I used lemon)
1/4 cup fresh lime juice (I used lemon)
1 tbs. canola oil (I used grapeseed oil)
3/4 tsp. sea salt

Blend this all together in a mini food processor. It will keep for 2 days covered in the fridge. If you like it hot leave some of the seeds on the jalapeno.

Top your black bean soup with the jalapeno creme sauce and cilantro leaves. Serve & enjoy! I served it with blue corn taco shells used like chips. Another idea is to toast some corn tortillas and cut them into strips to top it all off. Of course as with all foods in my house these are organic ingredients.

An interesting side note....Today we visited a big cat rescue in Louisberg,KS. and the lady giving us the tour was answering questions about how the animals were fed,how much meat they ate each day and where the meat comes from because this place runs on donations. She told us that the cats prefer the meat of wild game like deer to meat that comes to them from stores. This is understandable but she also said that the wild meat is easy for them to digest but the other brought in meats are not and give the cats diharria. Now I ask you if that is the case for these big cats whose short digestive track is made to handle meat and excrete it fast then what do you think that means for all of the humans eating this meat from factory farms. Something to ponder!