Category Archives: wisdom

Words that Mean Nothing

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There are so many words that get tossed around in the alternate universe that is called “wellness” that really stick in my craw.  I find that when I share my annoyances, they dissipate a little and I don’t have to obsess over them….as much.  So, join me in the aggravation shall you?

natural: as in “natural foods”, ‘natural flavors”, etc.  This is the most seductive of them right now.  You want stuff to be natural, I’m sure.  However, the dictionary delineates between things we find in their raw state as natural and something manmade as not natural.  So how can any boxed/packaged food claim to be natural?  They can’t.  Not by definition.  Of course, neither can a good chicken soup be considered natural because it’s been processed by your dear sweet grandmother.  On the other side of things, this also seems to imply that whatever man does is not natural.  Why is a beehive natural and a skyscraper not?  Why is a dog snarling when cornered natural and a woman screaming in rage when abused not?  The constructed delineation between what is natural and what is not allows for the madness that a boxed, sugar coated, puffed cereal grain can be marketed as “natural”.  This word means nothing, is what I’m trying unsuccessfully to point out.  Next time you’re walking through the grocery store, just notice what is marketed as natural food.  It’s not the meat and produce and grass-fed butter.  It’s the chips, energy bars, whey powders….in short, it’s just a marketing tool to steer you away from the things that are authentic to your species and to spending more money on a myth.

organic: Ugh, something is organic because it is a carbon-based life form.  Do I need to say more?  Everything you eat is organic.  Every fruit, leaf, slice of steak…a carbon-based life form.  They get you because by saying something is organic, the theory is that its not been sprayed or treated with anything inorganic (not a carbon-based life form).  Which is of course WONDERFUL!  LIfe forms eat other life forms in general until you work your way down the web and something is just absorbing sunlight.  (Thank you chlorophyll!  We love you!)  The problem is this.  A cow eating organic (unsprayed, untreated) grain and not receiving hormones or antibiotics is of greater quality than one that isn’t treated this way is still not getting to be a cow.  What I mean is this.  Cows eat grass.  They want to eat grass.  When they get to eat grass and be out in the sunlight and walk around, they get to be cows.  (This also goes for plants.  Plants do well when they grow with other kinds of plants and not so well when they are mono-cropped, so you vegetarians aren’t in the clear.)  Organic is certainly a higher rung on the ladder but organic in its common usage still doesn’t mean that the animal or plant gets to be itself.

chemical: Everything is chemical.  When you see something advertise itself as chemical free what does that even mean?  It would be a box or bottle of nothing if it were true.  What they mean to say, I’m assuming, is no added chemicals.  You are a chemical being.  So, chemical free doesn’t mean anything at all.  You need to read and find out what chemicals are authentic to us and can be absorbed or come into contact with no harm and what can’t.

spiritual: Here it comes.  Spiritual means something sanctioned by a religion or church.  Yeah, surprising, right?  Contrary to what you’ve been spoon-fed since birth, you do not need a spiritual component to your life in order to be healthy.  What a lot of people call their spiritual practice is just otherwise known as being authentically human.  What I mean by that is that:

We need to go outside.

We need to eat things that are authentic to us and that get to live lives that are authentic to them.

We need quiet time to not think about much of anything.

We need time with others.  We are a primarily social species.

We need to play.

We need to learn new things.

We need to move.

We need to express ourselves and be heard.

We need to sleep in safety.

These are some of our needs.  The different ways that we meet those needs that our culture sanctifies and codifies become what we call “spirituality”.  But, you don’t have to.  It’s…funny?…to me that we are taught to be so afraid of the body’s needs that we can only allow ourselves to meet them by labeling them spiritual.  It’s not.  It’s physical and authentic and not at all mystical.

purity:  On the heels of that last rant.  Purity and “pure” make my bile rise and burns the back of my throat.  Pure water has no nutrition.  Pure oxygen will kill you.  Pure environments will starve your immune system.  Purity of the body is an impossible, deluded fantasy that can easily become an obsession so dangerous that it will kill you.  Purity of the blood is at the heart of every genocide.  This word also means nothing…well, nothing good.  It always gives me the heebie-jeebies.  Purity of thought leads to stasis and lack of creativity.  Pure also means that something else is dirty.  This is also dangerous.  Pure emotions are compassion and happiness and joy.  Dirty is anger and fear?  Except of course, anger is a really good way to know that something has violated you and fear will keep you alive.

These are a couple of things that keep me up at night.  And, because language is important.

Reader Question: Toxins

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What toxins are in our bodies and how to get rid of them? -Victoria

This is another great question from Victoria.

This entire concept of toxins has really spawned an entire industry based on cleansing the body.  Cleanse.  Clean.  Pure.

“Toxin” is one of those words that I’d like to see eradicated for a while.  It has created so much fear and a certain attitude of war against the body.

I’m not denying that we live in something of a cesspool of our own creation, most definitely.  However, we focus our energy on cleansing the body of the individual instead of stopping the toxic things at their source.  For example, a large part of the toxins that we ingest are in our water.  Instead of us getting really angry about that, we’ve allowed corporations to charge us money for “clean water” in bottles (plastic of course which are toxic).

Okay, reining myself back in.  That wasn’t really the question.

We are contextual beings.  What that means is that our body cannot be separated from its environment.  If you’ve ever looked at single celled organisms through a microscope, you now that they are “swimming’ through a solution of something.  There’s not just empty space between them.  It’s the same idea with us.  The “empty space” that you see between yourself and the person next to you or the tree a few feet away is not empty at all.  It’s swirling with life, dust, pollen, and all sorts of other things.  So, we are only as “non-toxic”  as our environment.

Our bodies co-evolved with everything else in our environment.  This means that we evolved all sorts of “cleansing” mechanisms naturally and within ourselves.  We have several organs who do that: the skin, the liver, the kidneys, the intestines, the lungs, etc.  A well nourished healthy body cleanses itself naturally.

However, we as a species have been very busy creating new toxins to fill that “empty space” between things.  The body may need a little additional help.

The things that we now have to deal with are pesticides in our food, radiation in the air and water, sugar, vegetable oils, genetically modified foods and strange chemical combinations created by industry.  These are the biggies.

Some of these are pretty easy to control.  Stop eating sugar and vegetable oils and GMO foods.  Source your water from a spring or use a filter for the tap.  Get angry about industry and see what you can do about your local area.  (This is hard.  Very, very hard.  Money and politics are strong forces in this day and age.)

Here are the other things that you can do:

1.  Eat well.  You eat to very literally create yourself.  What you eat is broken down and used by your body to repair and make more of you on a cellular level.

2.  Nourish your organs.  Your organs regenerate.  Your skin, your liver….you basically get new ones every few weeks to months.  So, give your body the best nutrients to build organs that are capable of cleansing the body, not just limp along trying to survive.

3.  Eat clay.  Find some edible clay and take a little bit in each day.  Just a bit.  I make toothpaste with mine.  Other times, I dissolve a little bit in my water.  This really helps with radioactivity, but it also helps with other poisons and is full of minerals.  Other mammals do this and its a traditional practice in nearly all cultures.

4.  Sweat.  A sauna is such a nice passive way to do this.  Moving intensely and with purpose is also really nice.  I’m not a big fan of gyms.  I find it far more satisfying to sweat doing something really productive.  Carry the groceries up the 5 flights of stairs instead of taking the elevator.  Scrub the kitchen floor with a brush.  Really allow your body to live in your life.

5.  Look into herbs.  There are herbs that correspond with particular organs.  I prefer to use herbs that nourish my liver or my skin instead of stronger, really medicinal ones that have an actual cleansing effect on the body.  I’d rather that my body know it has allies that are working with it instead of substances that are nearly as toxic as the substances that it is trying to detoxify itself from.

Cleansing when the body is compromised in any way can be harsh and further break down the body’s vitality.  Instead, find ways to nourish the body in little ways daily.  Keep your environment authentic.

And, remember that dirty and toxic are not the same thing.  Going outside and rolling around in the mud or playing in the dirt is actually really good for you.

Disclaimer: Everything here is my opinion and for information purposes only.  What you do with that information is your responsibility alone.

Easier said than done.

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Health tips are happening on my Facebook page lately.  It’s just evolving in that direction.  Yesterday’s was the following:

“Eat when you’re hungry.  Don’t eat when you’re not.”

Yeah, groundbreaking stuff, there. I could almost hear the collective muttering, “duh” in a hushed exhale.

I concede that it’s not news.  It’s not avant garde.  It’s not the latest scientific breakthrough.

In my defense, however, chances are mighty, mighty good that you’re not following this old, ratty advice.  Chances are pretty good that you are probably trying to find ways to eat less than you are actually hungry for a lot of the time and eating way past that full signal other times.  How do I know that?  What, am I made of stone?  These things I speak of are things with which I am familiar, my friends.

Of course, in some part of your mind, or maybe a lot of your mind, you think that you can’t follow this little “rule” because there’s something quite wrong with you.  I mean, really, it’s so easy a kid could do it.  And before we cram crazy messages into their tender brains, they all do.

So if you can’t do it, what’s wrong with you?

Nothing.  Absolutely nothing.  That’s right.  There’s nothing wrong with you.

There is probably something wrong with the nourishment that you are receiving though.  I’ll bet a shiny new quarter on it, actually.

Here are the reasons that I think following this most obvious and simple guideline is so difficult:

1.  We’re told that the body is not to be trusted.  We get this message from early on from everywhere.  So, when it’s 10:30 on a Tuesday morning and you’re still not hungry but stuff down some breakfast because you’ve been told that “it’s the most important meal of the day” or it’s 8:15 on a Monday night and your stomach is growling but you ignore it because “you’re not supposed to eat past 7”, you do this because you don’t trust your body.

2.  You are malnourished.  You will continue to eat until you get the nutrients that you need, not the calories that you need.  This is a crucial distinction.  We’ve shifted in the past 100 years to the caloric model of eating.  You can eat a pint or more of low-fat ice cream during a commercial break.  Just TRY and eat that much liver.  And if liver is gross to you, you can change that to steak.  Your body wants nutrients first and foremost.  You understand this.  A tablespoon of white sugar is not the same thing as a tablespoon of just about anything else.  The calories may be the same but the drive to eat more will not be sated with the sugar.  There are no nutrients.  None.  And worse, foods such as sugar and white flour actually use up your stores of other nutrients to digest.  So, you’re not getting “no nutrition”, you’re getting “negative nutrition”.  And what do you need?  Positive nutrition in order to feel full, good, and healthy.

3.  Malnutrition is not just a matter of food.  If you feel agitated, you may need to go for a walk or punch a pillow.  Cake will not allow the emotion to move through.  Cake will numb it and repress it and that can feel helpful at times, but the agitation is still there, just buried under cake.  The starvation you feel when loneliness overtakes you?  French fries really don’t give a flip about your struggles.  Friends do.  The craving you have for affection will not be met by squirting the whole can of whipped cream in your mouth.  This cycle only creates more agitation, more loneliness, more cravings for human touch.  In the same way negative nutrition creates deeper and deeper deficits, using food to do something it’s not meant to do, creates deeper and deeper emotional deficits.

4.  Portion prescriptions.  Once you are able to connect with your hunger, portions are the stupidest thing EVER.  There are days when I eat 5 snacks a day.  None are big enough to be called a meal.  Others, I eat the traditional 3 squares.  Some, I eat one big meal with a steak so big it can’t fit on the plate.  Once in a long while, I only want a smoothie for the whole day. Portions as mandated from the heavens assume that you are the same, day in, day out.  They assume that your level of activity is identical every day.  They assume that your hormones never fluctuate.  They assume that you at 18 is the same as you at 45.  Yes, I know there are “formulas” that allow for variance, but, really? Formulas?  How hungry are you today?  Well, eat.  If you’re not, don’t.  You don’t have to eat 5 meals a day if you’re not hungry five times a day.

I could probably go on and on but this will dissolve into a rant instead of something useful REAL quick, so I’ll stop there.  In short, eat when you’re hungry.  Don’t eat when you’re not.  Basically, Nourish yourself into Freedom.

If you haven’t joined us for #30daymove, yet, it’s not too late.  Never too late!

Reader question: Water?

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Larissa writes:  Water.  “don’t drink tap water.  don’t drink water from plastic bottles. use a filter. not all filters are ok., etc. etc.” are things that we hear all the time.  How is water essential to our health ? What minerals are there in water ? Is A lemon carbonated Perrier only pleasurable but also a healthy nourishing nutrient ? Salt and lemon in water to rehydrate ?

Full disclosure: Larissa is one my very best friends and she very humbly allows me to think I always know what I’m talking about.  The woman is smart as a whip, however, and keeps me on my toes!  We’re going to have to get her to do a guest post here.

There are a lot of questions in this request for an answer.  Let’s try and take them one by one.

1.  How is water essential to our health?

Well, we are, on average, 60% water.  Babies are like 80%.  (That’s why they are so plump and delicious!)  The water that we drink becomes our blood.  We use water for these processes in the body: 

a.) gets oxygen to our cells

b.) between our joints, there is something called synovial fluid, the efficacy and “cushiness” of our joints depends on the amount of hydration we take in

c.) our cells communicate with each other-water make this communication more effective/efficient

d.) water maintains normal electrical properties of cells (yep, I saw the Matrix, too and yep, we probably could be used as batteries and that’s why we are in pods of fluid in those movies)

e.) our lymphatic system’s function depends on two things: 1. movement-it’s a kinetic system that requires movement to flow and 2. water-our lymphatic fluid’s viscosity is directly influenced by our water intake

f.) we are better able to regulate our body temperature when we are well hydrated (when you  consider the incredibly narrow range of healthy body temperature that we have and the incredibly broad range of environments in which humans live, you start to understand how crucial this is.)

g.) water removes waste from the body’s metabolic processes

There’s more, but I think you’re getting the picture.  The short answer is “water is important”.

2.  What minerals are in water?

This is a deceptively simple question to answer.  Water, on a molecular level, is hydrogen and oxygen (dihydrogen monoxide for my geeks out there.  holla!)  However, the hydrogen and oxygen molecules act as a matrix (little m) for other things.  The minerals in water are incredibly variable according to the water source.  (My go-to guy for all anything water related is Daniel Vitalis, for those of you interested in a vastly more in-depth study of this.)  What that means is that the minerals in Perrier are going to be different than the minerals in San Pellegrino.  Are you still with me?

Now, once you understand that, you’ll see that water from different sources really is not the same thing.  We drink water to hydrate, yes, but it is also a valuable source of nutrition.  It is not just “wet”.  I was lucky enough to grow up drinking water that came from a spring not far from my house.  We never drank milk in my house, except on rare occasions when the farmer came by with his cow.  (You’d tell him how many jars of milk you wanted-that you’d provide-and he’d milk the cow right there in your yard.  True story.)  Why do I mention this?  Because, the water I grew up on fed through limestone rock.  I can remember waiting until the end of my meal to drink my water (as is my culture) and there would be limestone sediment at the bottom of the glass, so rich in minerals was that water!  Also, no fear of calcium deficiency, either.

So, the minerals in water are location dependent and source dependent.  

3. Is a lemon carbonated Perrier only pleasurable but also a healthy nourishing nutrient?

Yes.  It is both.  For people who live in cities and source their water (actually “tap liquid”, according to Daniel Vitalis) from the tap, mineral waters are a wonderful addition to the diet.  I love to have sparkling water on a regular basis.  I tend to brand hop.  Appolinaris is a personal favorite, but I don’t do it frequently because of the whole “I love the earth and I’m paying for jet fuel and pollution by buying this.” thing.  Water is incredibly heavy!!  So, bottled water is not my favorite way to destroy the earth.  

4.  Salt and lemon in water to rehydrate?

Yes, to both.  Of course, I’m not talking about table salt, which you should probably get rid of A.S.A.P.  Table salt is pretty much strictly sodium chloride and iodine.  It will create an imbalance in the body on a mineral level, so please, sea salt.  I vary my salt intake from different sources and every single time I go home to Haiti, I bring back a quart or so of local sea salt.  True salt is also rich in minerals.  Adding salt to denatured water helps remineralize it.  As far as lemon and vinegar in water goes, I can remember reading that it helps with the availability of the water to the cells but can’t find the reference anymore, so take that with a grain of (sea) salt.  Adding lemon and vinegar does do other things that are more frequently and commonly documented, like aiding with digestion and “stronger” blood.

5.  This wasn’t asked outright but was implied at the beginning of the question.  Water sources:

Worst: Plastic bottles.  Absolute worst.  Don’t do it.  We are becoming plastic people.  Literally.  Water is the more powerful solvent.  When you drink water from plastic, you are also drinking plastic.  

Less worse but not by much: Tap water.  Most of the water is flouridated (carcinogen), chlorinated (carcinogen) and completely ‘purified’-denatured and demineralized.  At least you’re not drinking plastic?  Well, maybe, but whatever anyone is flushing down their toilet, it’s eventually getting back to you.  I’m not talking about sewage, because that’s properly taken out of the flow, but prescription medications, etc.  Those chemicals are finding their way into the water source regardless.

Even less worse: Filtered tap water.  This is a good solution for most people.  Personally, I would filter it through a really good filter, the best that you can afford, and I would add a little vinegar and some salt to it.  Maybe a half a Tablespoon of each to a gallon.  (I’m spitballing here and saying what I would do.)

The good stuff:  Find a spring.  Spring water is where it’s at.  When I was living in the cabin, I would drive an hour every two-three weeks to fill glass carboys with spring water.  Since I’ve moved, I haven’t yet found an easy to get to source.  My old spring is two hours away.  It’s becoming more and more worth it to make the trek.  I’ve been drinking the tap water here and it is not the same.  At.  All.  It doesn’t taste right nor is it hydrating me.  I just have to get a couple more carboys to make the trek less frequently, but I will probably be doing the trip this weekend.  It.  Is.  That.  Important.  And.  That.  Different.

Thanks Larissa for a great question!  I hope the information provided was useful.

*Disclaimer:  Everything I say on this blog is my opinion and just provided for information purposes only.  What you choose to do with that information is your responsibility.  

 

Reader Question: Rejection?

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Kristeen writes: Can you talk about how to handle rejection?

Disclaimer: I’m not a psychologist.  What follows are my opinions based on my own experience.  What you do with this information is your responsibility.  

My mother didn’t love me.  Not in a horrid, dramatic throw me down the outhouse hole at birth sort of way, but in a steady, corrosive, no idea what to do with me sort of way.  I learned about rejection very early on.  I became quite intimate with its jagged edge.

The first 39 years of life has been all about striving to figure out why.  What was wrong with me that she had to reject me?  How was I so different from her?  How was I so the same that she couldn’t bear it?  What was it?  I plumbed the depths.  

In so many ways, that rejection formed who I am today.  

I was able to set it down as I am preparing to enter my 40th year.  It had jack-all to do with me.  Rejection is a lot of things: it’s perception, it’s real, it’s mostly about the one who’s doing the rejecting, it’s a gift.

I know what doesn’t work when trying to deal with rejection.  They are as follows:

1. Try to nail down the exact reason you’ve been rejected.  You’re not going to be able to and the amount of energy this consumes will never be returned by the answer.  You may never know.  It may be as simple as that the person had a really bad experience with someone wearing a yellow sweater when they were a kid and you are wearing a yellow sweater.  It may be as complex as you remind them of someone who rejected them once.

2. Believe that this one rejection will destroy you.  It won’t.  It is just another event that you will use to shape your life and your self-perception.  More times than not, it has nothing to do with anything that is in your control.  All it is is information about that person. 

3.  Act like it doesn’t hurt.  It really, really does sometimes.  Be authentic.  Be with the hurt of it.  The rejections that hurt the most probably raise up the self-rejections you already believe.  Meaning, when someone tells you that you really suck at ice hockey and it hurts, maybe you already believe that you suck at ice hockey and just didn’t want it to be so obvious.  When it really hurts, that’s excellent information.  It can uncover what is really important to you.  Maybe being really good at ice hockey is really important to you.

4.  Make someone’s rejection of you their problem.  it’s not.  The person may have no clue that what they did was perceived as rejection by you.  Depending on the intimacy of the relationship, this may never even need to be broached with the person who had rejected you.  If it is a relationship of intimacy, let the person know that you feel rejected.  Let them know specifically what your experience of rejection was with them.  Then, do some detective work and figure out what rejection earlier in your life triggered this reaction.  Let them know what that was, depending on the intimacy of the relationship, so that it’s clear to both people that something older is happening there.

5. Insist that rejection with commonality has nothing to do with you.  I think of this in more of a professional way, but it can be applied to personal relationships, as well.  If you keep going for a certain type of job and keep being denied, it’s time to recuperate.  Maybe it’s not the right domain for you.  Maybe your resume needs work.  Maybe it’s because you’re projecting that it’s not what you really want.  

This is what does work with rejection:

1. View it as a gift.  Something is being told to you.  If you see rejection everywhere, do some thinking.  Why is that?  What part of you believes that you deserve it?  If rejection comes from the same person over and over, take the hint.  There are other people on the planet.  Lots of them.  If rejection is professional, rejoice!  Another avenue is waiting for you.

I hope this helps!

 

 

 

Let’s talk about stress. Again.

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A couple weeks ago, I offered up an idea that maybe a lot of the problem with stress is our perception of it.  We live in a both/and universe which means that two (seemingly) contradictory ideas can coexist.  What that means is that although your perception of what is stressing you out goes a very long way it the way it affects you, stress and the hormones that cascade through you are very real, and very physical.

 

Here are some things to think about:

 

1. Stress requires a response.  That’s pretty inherent in the way we’ve defined it.  Stress is anything that requires/promotes/stimulates a response from the body.  

 

2. Get rid of the unnecessary conversations.  This both metaphorical and literal.  There are so many things that we do that we think we have to, but that we really don’t.  You don’t have to work so hard to afford a bigger house.  You don’t have to exercise 7 days a week. You don’t have to have people in your life that bring you down.  You don’t have to be on Facebook. (BLASPHEMY!) You don’t have to always be reachable.  

 

3. It’s physical.  Even “mental”stress is physical stress.  You body releases the same hormones thinking about something stressful as when you’re experiencing something stressful.  

 

4. Be physical.  Move the locus of control from your “mind” to your body.  That fatigue you power through?  The holidays that you buy your way through even though you can’t afford it and most of the stuff you buy people don’t want?  (Put down that CVS stuffed animal with the stupid plastic flower it’s holding.  Nobody REALLY wants it.)  Get a massage instead or go for a walk.  Sleep.  Listen to what your body is telling you it needs.  Stop trying to convince it that it’s wrong.  

 

5. Respond.  If you have eliminated all the unnecessary, respond with authority to the necessary.  Take back your power.  Find a solution.  Run away fast if it’s dangerous.  Do.

 

6.  Nourish yourself, nourish yourself, nourish yourself.  When we are responding to stressors, our bodies will deplete of certain essential vitamins and minerals.  Keep yourself well fed, well rested, etc.

 

 

7.  Find other ways than food to nourish yourself.  On that last note, when you are in a chronically stressed state, don’t eat so much.  The digestive system pretty much shuts down when we are acutely stressed.  Forcing food down is a bad idea.  Food is there to feed you, not take care of your feelings.  It is okay to skip breakfast.  It is okay to have just some bone broth for dinner.  It’s okay to skip a meal or two.  This is natural.  This is also much easier to do when you are really feeding yourself with nutrient density the rest of the time.  A well nourished body is one that can handle stress far better than a malnourished one.

 

8.  Play.  You can do this physically by going outside and climbing a tree or making mud pies or snow forts.  You can also do this with attitude.  The vast majority of the things that stress us out now are not a life and death situation like they were for our ancestors.  We still behave as it they are.  Release the clench you have on the stressors defining you.  It will not KILL you to be 10 minutes late.  It may kill you when you chronically freak out about traffic, weakening your heart and immune system.  It may kill you when you speed to make up for it.  

 

9.  Give it 30 seconds.  Jump up and down, shake your hands furiously, move.  But, not for long, when you are acutely stressed.  Your body is expecting that.  The chemicals that flood your blood stream are not meant to be there for long.  You evolved from the survivors.  And the survivors ran.  They ran hard.  Or they fought.  They fought hard.  But, they did neither for long.  Just enough to get to safety.  

10.  Your body is not wrong.  We have designed a lifestyle that didn’t really consult the body.  We erroneously allow the lifestyle to take precedence.  Then, we get angry when the body can’t keep up.  The body is not wrong.  It’s more than possible that the lifestyle is.  You have the power to recreate a lifestyle that honors the body.  This is how to have freedom.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Reader Question: Small Habits

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Victoria asks:

Hi jenny! … am very excited to follow your tips and articles on living life freely.
(Could you talk about)….small lifestyle changes or habits that can make a big difference. Perhaps your top 8 or something… little routines, rituals or habits you have that make a big difference.

Oh, Victoria, I love you so much I’ll give you ten.  And, since this really is about living freely you can do all ten, just one, or NONE.  🙂

This took quite a bit of thought actually because once something is routine, it falls under the radar as an actual practice and just becomes “life”.  Some of these are probably as basic as it gets, some may seem a little strange, and I hope some are at least fun.

1.  I eat a substantial (in comparison to the S.A.D.-that’s Standard American Diet) amount of saturated fat.  Most of it is from animals as saturated fat tends to be found there, but I also love coconut oil and coconut milk.  (It’s one of two canned foods that I consume on the regular because coconut milk in a carton is such a no-go.  Read the label.  It’s mostly stuff other than coconut milk.  They have to put stuff in it to keep if from going solid in your fridge.)

Why?  Saturated fat is the most stable of all the fats.  It is the one that has been consumed forever by our species.  We make our cell membranes and create our nervous systems from it.  It is a really great source of energy.  It makes our fat-soluble vitamins actually usable by the body.  Our modern low fat diets have led to us having about 1/10 of the levels of our grandparents of these vitamins.  Remember, you can eat as many carrots as you want but without the fat, you can’t use any of the vitamin A they provide.  And still crisp boiled carrots quickly sauteed in butter with garlic and parsley?  Delicious!

2. I am in bed before 10:30 as a general rule.  Often, before 9:30 so I can be asleep by 10.

Why?  The body heals itself between the hours of 10 p.m. – 2 a.m.  The brain processes the day’s information, traumas, and events to make sense of them between the hours of 2 a.m. – 6 a.m.  If you lose out on that sleep, that healing can not take place.  Being a shift worker that works nights is one of the worst things that you can do for your health.  Shift work is recognized as a carcinogen by the World Health Organization.  Robb Wolf likes to say that you should get as much sleep as you can without getting divorced or fired.

3. I eat clay.  On purpose.  I used to drink it mixed in water but now I make an herbal toothpaste with clay as the base that I use daily.

Why?  Clay is cationic and helps bond with radioactivity in the body and helping it exit.  With the amount of computer exposure, radioactive exposure that we are all (mostly unknowingly) subjected to, this is a really great health practice.  In Haiti, there was the myth that Haitians ate dirt to ward off starvation during the embargo years.  Actually, the clay tablets, not dirt, have always been and are still sold in the markets and just make a pretty regular part of the traditional diet.

4.  I have a dog.

Why? This may not be a small habit, but it doesn’t have to be a dog that you choose to adopt.  It can be a plant, a parakeet, a cat, or a monitor lizard.  Knowing that a living thing depends on me grounds me to the natural world.  Being witness to the way that life REALLY works, like the time my dog decimated my chicken flock in 5 minutes, keeps me from falling prey to a lot of wishful thinking and sentimentality about the way I wish things work.  Also, having living species other than humans around reminds me that I have needs based on my being a human being that are wholly natural.  To acknowledge and meet those needs is wisdom and the gateway to freedom.

5.  I don’t wear underwire bras.  And frequently none at all.  

Why?  There are certainly studies on both sides of this issue.  Since I happen to think my boobs are pretty cool, I’ve decided to minimize the risks.  Some studies do say that the lymphatic tissue, dependent on movement, is healthier when the natural flow if uninterrupted by such hardcore “support”.  Also, I feel vhary ze francais when I go au naturel.

6.  I installed f.lux on to my computer.

Why?  Blue light can interfere with our melatonin production.  F.lux is an application that can be programmed to your time zone and starts to remove blue light from your monitor as blue light is being naturally removed from the outdoors as sunset approaches.  Melatonin is the hormone that is largely responsible for sleep.  As melatonin rises, cortisol (known as the “stress hormone”) lowers and you can sleep.  So, part of the issue with being on the computer past sunset (just part…there are others) is the issue of blue light interfering with the rise in melatonin necessary for a good night’s sleep.

7. I do the booty dance.

Why?  In this Western culture we tend to move forward.  Really think about how often your body moves within all the dimensions available to it.  Even our fitness model works within the back and forth and very rarely to the side to side and hardly ever in the all around.  Just the act of releasing the hips and letting them rotate all the way around helps with blood flow, helps keep certain muscles toned, and is a really good reminder that we move in tunnel vision.  It can really help with creativity as well.

**The booty dance is a dance so named by my son when he was five.  It looks something like this:  With legs hip distance apart, bend knees so that they are soft.  Rotate hips, pelvis, and well, booty, in a full circle.  Go in both directions and go as fast or as slow as feels good to you.  It’s a great thing to try every hour on the hour throughout the day.  

8.  I hug my son and anyone else who’ll let me.

Why?  When the fetus is developing, the same layer of tissue that forms the brain forms the skin.  Yeah, I’ll wait while you let that sink in.

I know, right?  Touch, loving and appropriate, is one of the things that I find most lacking in this adopted culture of mine.  We need touch as much as we need food.  We are primates.  When you spend any time watching primates, either on Animal Planet or in real life, just observe how much of their time they spend touching each other.  It’s a lot.  And, in their world, just like in ours, the animals that are touched less are not as healthy as those who are touched more.

9.  I drink herbal infusions.  I learned this from the one and only Susun Weed and she calls if one of her three best ideas.  It is.

Why?  Well, first, what?  An infusion differs from a tea because the herb is “steeped” for four hours minimum.  I don’t recommend that just any herb be used for this, but instead use the class of herbs that are called “nourishing” herbs.  My favorite ones are stinging nettle, oatstraw, comfrey leaf, linden, red rasberry and red clover.  There are a few more, but that’s my short list.

Now, why?  One of the things that we most lack in our diet is not vitamins necessarily but minerals.  There are wonderful minerals in plants.  We often can’t access them because of the cell wall that plants have and we don’t.  Taking dried plant material and pouring boiling water over it and letting it sit breaks apart that cell wall and releases the minerals to us in a way that we can really use them.  The ritual of boiling my water at night and setting the herbs to sit in it in my mason jar, then, straining the water through a sieve, squeezing the herbs to get the very last drops of nutrition and drinking throughout the day….it grounds my day.  It is a concrete reminder of my nourishment as priority AND as something simple and ancient.

10.  I don’t use soap.  

Why?  Why?  Why?  Okay, not never and not nowhere.  I use soap on my pits and my bum and my feet.  For the rest of me, I dry brush before I jump in the shower and then use oil, right now it’s sesame, while I’m still wet.  Our skin’s acid mantle is our first line of defense and soap strips it.  Dry brushing stimulates the lymphatic system, really exfoliates the dead skin off, and also increases blood flow to the skin.  Special note to my ladies:  Using soap on your lady part is a HUMONGOUS no-no.  That flower cleans itself.  Soap really disrupts the pH balance.  It is supposed to be acidic to keep itself safe.  It will bloom when rinsed well.  If you feel that that’s not enough (it is, I promise!) you can add a little vinegar or lime juice to the rinse water.  And, I don’t know if this is still something anyone does, but do NOT douche!  Pas une bonne idee!

Victoria, thanks for this great question!  As I was writing, about 5 other habits came to mind.  Maybe there will be a part two to this if you all find this useful!  I will know that you find it useful by you commenting below.  🙂

Also, Nourishing Freedom is on le livre du visage, where you are free to habitually like us.