Archive for the ‘family’ Category

Loud Music Interferes With Community Building

Wednesday, September 24th, 2014

I’m frightened and also tired of being bombarded with loud music in restaurants, festivals, parties, and other places where people are gathered for more than just listening to music. Although even in concerts where everyone is there to hear great music, I usually whip out my ear plugs that I keep on my key chain. I’ve left plenty of events earlier than planned just because it is too hard to talk, I’m tired of yelling, or the loud music is just so uncomfortable. I also know that listening to any noise above 85 decibels for an extended period of time can cause permanent damage to my ears.
Early_vacuum_tube_public_address_system
Amplified music has always been a part of your life if you are under under 60 or 70. The dangers of load noises has been known for decades, but we haven’t done nearly enough to make people aware of it or taken measures to protect our easily damaged ears. Almost 20% of middle aged Americans have some degree of hearing loss, and by age 75 the number is almost half. “Of the roughly 40 million Americans suffering from hearing loss, 10 million can be attributed to noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL).”

This is no small issue. This profound quote is attributed to Helen Keller:

“Blindness cuts us off from things, but deafness cuts us off from people.”

Loud music in social settings cuts people off from being able to talk and interact comfortably. Too much noise makes it hard to be part of and support the building of community.

And then, exposure from noise and loud music (above 85 decibels) causes hearing loss, and even greater potential social isolation.

I recommend that everyone carry ear plugs at all times, and use them. Specialized versions are available that decrease sound, without distortion. They are inexpensive, under $15.

Get a decibel meter for your phone. I’ve been using dB Meter Pro for my Iphone and it works very well. There are also plenty of free apps.

Ask restaurants and other venues to turn down the music. Ask restaurant reviewers to give a rating for sound quality with their review. Use your smart phone meter, and if it’s too loud move or leave. And tell them why.

Consider buying stock in Costco (which has some of the best and cheapest hearing aids) or other hearing aid companies and those who make cochlear implants. Because this is an industry that is certain to grow as baby boomers raised on loud rock and roll grow older. I’m only guessing, but it seems like a reasonable projection.

I’m partially sensitive to this topic as I’ve watched my dad struggle with his profound level of hearing loss. It has caused him to be more isolated, and less willing to be with old friends and his family. His hearing loss makes communication more difficult when interacting with health care workers, law enforcement, and in other critical situations. He has recently published a short book to help others cope with hearing loss – “Adapting to Hearing Loss”. It is an inexpensive and practical guide from the perspective of someone directly affected. These are not the kind of tips an audiologist would give you.

Building community is important. Let’s turn down the volume so that it is easier and less stressful to connect. And so that we’ll be still able to share stories and words in the years to come.

I’m Going to Have to Learn to Spell Pescetarian

Tuesday, September 23rd, 2014

Because I am one. A Pescetarian that is. Thirty some years of vegetarianism (including a two year stint of veganism that was ended with some freshly made garlic goat cheese) ended a few years ago actually. I woke up one Friday and my menopausal body cried out for fish oil. I wanted it. I knew the health benefits. I also had an identity to maintain. I was a vegetarian. But by the end of the day I was buying fish oil as I had no really good reason to say no to a need that I would describe as a physical demand. I tried it. I liked it. I felt and heard the cells of my body say “YES!! Thank you!!”

And then the urge expanded. Last year I visited Sweden, for a wonderful family reunion. It was a renewal of my heritage (father’s side) and a time to be open to the adventure of meeting new family, going new places, traveling far away with my sweetheart for the first time.

And I made a plan to honor that Swedish half of me by eating some Swedish fish.
first fish copy
We were on an island, Gotland Island, in the middle of the Baltic Sea. The restaurant was suggested by my cousin I had just met – actually a cousin is the easy description. Our common ancestor is my great grandfather on my dad’s mom’s side. I’m just happy to be related to such a great group of people.

We were in the medieval city of Visby. We were sitting outside, next to a medieval church, on the edge of a large and very old courtyard of cobblestone and the harbor was a few blocks away. They served us Baltic Herring on mashed potatoes, with a sprig of chive, a wedge of lemon.

When you crave a food, eating it may give a temporary satiation. It may be junk that provides some comfort or resonance with past childhood feelings and needs. It may be sugary and satisfying in an over the top but simple way. This fish was perfectly made, it was a flavor and freshness I had only experienced once before, more than 40 years ago when I had fish and chips around 4 pm in Eyemouth Scotland, just after the fishing boats came in. But I remembered, and my cells began a little dance, and this was the food my body wanted and was slowly figuring out how to taste and chew and swallow what felt luxurious and strange and oh so right.

And so it began.

In the last year I’ve been experimenting. I’ve been listening to those healthy cravings, I’ve been considering the strict dietary limitations that made up part of my identity. I’ve been questioning reasons and motives and choices. The other meat options remain outside the realm of what I would consider food for me. There is no sense of loss, no desire, no imagining what the taste might be. I have no interest, even more than that it just doesn’t seem like food and so is distasteful.

But the fish I’ve eaten is wonderful, and so strangely satisfying. I choose carefully, and I hope thoughtfully. Considering source and freshness and the different types of fish. That seems to matter a lot for taste as well as healthy options.

My body has changed so dramatically in the last 10 to 15 years. I’ve fought off a huge (ten pounds in the end) fibroid tumor twice – once by uterine artery embolization, and five years ago by having it removed entirely with my uterus. Then losing over 125 pounds, most of it after that surgery. 45% of me is gone. And of course menopause. Which is a very fundamental shift. I think the need for fish stems from that change, most of all.

A body that speaks loudly and clearly about what it needs is a great gift. Changing my perception of who I am, what I believe, and the fundamental day to day pleasure of eating healthy food has been a good thing. I feel more aware, more expansive, even excited about opening a whole dimension of food that I had kept closed off for more than half my life. And it has only been a year, not even 20 meals that included fish.

That meal of Baltic herring my never be matched again in my lifetime. But it is something to strive for. And my body’s wisdom is telling me that by eating fish I may live a bit longer and be able to have a few more opportunities for adventures that will be as welcome and as full.

Breastfeeding and CST

Monday, July 28th, 2014

I’m often asked which babies can benefit from Cranialsacral Therapy (CST). My usual response is any baby born either vaginally or by cesarean section. Do I really believe all babies can benefit from this work? Actually, yes. That’s why I offered it free of charge for so many years, and even now make sure it is affordable ($30 for a house call within Ann Arbor). I will also waive the charge if that is an obstacle for any mom who wants me to work with her baby under three months of age.

The primary reasons people come to me for CST are nursing problems; and birth trauma including hematomas, shoulder dystocia, irregularity in the sutures, frequent vomiting, or just for reassurance. Most of the time I only need to provide one session.

I suppose that in 32 years of doing this work I’ve seen a few thousand babies. In that time I’ve also moved from working on babies hours after birth, to just after (sometimes in a hospital birth I can do CST while a baby is being examined or even while being suctioned), to a few times when just the head has emerged, to now routinely doing CST on babies who are not yet born.

My perception of what the baby is capable of and how they respond has shifted completely. The words we use to describe birth imply that somehow the baby isn’t “here” until the birth. Women are asked “when is the baby coming?” We often say “She is finally here!” when a baby is born. As if the baby wasn’t present the whole time, albeit in a series of profoundly different states and ways of being.

I started off as one of those who pretty much thought there wasn’t much there (and certainly nothing to work with) until birth was imminent. But over the many years I found that babies are actually very responsive to CST – many weeks before they are born. The primary positive benefit of this early work is helping the baby be in a better position for birth. So I’ve worked with a number of transverse, breech, ascynclitic, and posterior presentations and helped the baby to turn him or herself. For me, that is the key. The baby does the moving with the very very subtle CST suggestions. There is no force, I have never turned a baby. The work can be done at any time, even during labor. Of course, with a transverse or breech presentation it is better to begin a few weeks ahead of time. I wrote a brief article about the first time we were able to have a baby turn herself after 45 hours of labor, and thus avoided a most likely c-section.

The idea of no force and no demands is also a prominent part of doing CST with nursing babies. It feels much more like teaching than adjusting. The baby’s cranial mechanism is so very malleable, so very sensitive, the lightest of touches and sometimes really just suggestions of touch are usually enough to bring better vitality to the mechanism and therefore a correction.

I know that my work is effective. I wouldn’t keep doing it if it wasn’t – and indeed since I’ve never advertised for clients but have stayed in business for 34 years full time I must be doing something right. But it is with the babies that I feel most in awe of the work, and also have such immediate and clear feedback that the CST is effective. Countless times I’ve been entrusted to do this work with a newborn having nursing troubles, done some simple CST, and then watched as the mom and baby have the most successful nursing experience yet. And then weeks, months, and even years later moms report how much that one session changed everything.

What makes me deeply deeply happy is being able to make the nursing experience better and more successful. It is about great nutrition certainly, but also reinforcing the bonding that occurs with mom and baby when nursing is (relatively) easy and also pain free. This is support that has profound and long lasting effects. I am so grateful that just a little help and support at that sage has such profound positive results.

This is work that makes my heart sing. It is an honor to be entrusted with this small precious beings, and an incredible joy to do such simple work that makes a difference, and improves the quality of life for the whole family.

I have also worked with babies who had serious problems. Mild to severe cerebral palsy, autism spectrum disorders that were apparent even early on, babies with damage incurred during birth, babies with heart defects. I’ve worked with some of these babies for many years continuing. Even the kids who are non verbal make it clear that they like the work, they find it relaxing, and they are glad to see me.

Parents usually ask about when to come back, and how often CST should be done. After all this time I certainly have some ideas, and I’ll share them with my clients, especially if there is a more serious need or my experience is that repeat visits would be advised. But I have a larger philosophy. Many of the moms I see have been disempowered – told they are imagining things, brushed off by busy doctors, or just left dangling with few resources and support. Part of my work is to undo that damage. And it is very damaging if women don’t have the chance to learn and become confident as a new parent.

So the answer is, I would like the mom to learn about what I do, and then learn how to recognize herself when her baby might benefit from a repeat session. And most moms do very well. Eventually, the baby grows older and they learn when they need that support. I am absolutely thrilled that there are so many kids who say “I need to see Linda Diane” – asking for my help even as young as a 2 or 3 year old. That is as it should be. They learn to feel what they need, to ask for it, and then get the reinforcement for their awareness of what their body needs. That is a most perfect answer.

I will be offering a class this fall “Cranialsacral Therapy at the Beginning of Life” for midwives, doulas, doctors, and other people who support women and babies. Please contact me if you are interested. classes (at) lindadianefeldt.com

The Explanation of my Name

Sunday, June 22nd, 2014

When I was a kid it was somehow considered a weakness or a problem if people knew your middle name. It was as though the person with that knowledge would have special control or a claim over you. It didn’t make sense, but middle names were power.
My middle name is Diane. It always has been, and now everyone can know.
My mom named me Linda. i found out rather recently that it wasn’t what she and my dad had agreed to, she just filled out the birth certificate when he wasn’t around.
My last name is Feldt, a Swedish name that was given to a relative long ago when the Swedish Government was trying to phase out the “Carlson” “Anderson” etc. way of naming. Because so many people had the last name. Feldt is relatively popular in Sweden

In 1987 I was apprenticing with Susun Weed in Woodstock. It involved many trips there, she came to Ann Arbor a few times, and we also corresponded. One night I had spent time with a number of the women who were also working with Susun. A couple were changing their names to powerful goddesses and figures of myth. I wanted to acknowledge that I was changing and becoming more of who I am. I considered what I might call myself if I had a choice. I liked my name. I had been initiated into a religious group and was “Vidyshwari” – the omniscient Goddess. But I never considered making that public or being called that. And I was no longer with that group, anyway.

I was about to walk back inside Susun’s home, it was about 10 pm and the sky was so deeply dark, yet with the stars abundant, and a small crescent moon. I was in the Catskill mountains. I suddenly thought that the approximate transliteration of my name, the name I had always had, was “Beautiful Moon Field”. That was like a secret that had suddenly unfolded. It was a moment of feeling very powerful – newly discovered. If I used my middle name, I would be bringing out the moon, the emotional part of me. I would be sharing my secret middle name, and my emotional secrets as well. That seemed like a good thing.

Practically speaking, I needed a new name. There was someone else in Ann Arbor, Linda Feldt, who had a business selling replacement windows. It would be better if people didn’t mix us up. Linda was also the most popular girl’s name when I was in elementary school. But Linda Diane? I had never met anyone with that name.

When people started calling me that, it felt very different than being Linda. It felt more whole, almost like being stroked, being full. It was right.

My mother loved the idea. “I named you the right name!” She took all the credit, which she did deserve. It is a good, powerful, balanced (every part has five letters) name.

Later, I named my publishing company “Moon Field Press”. Because it is me.

I certainly don’t mind people calling me Linda, it just feels incomplete. I feel a physical “yes!” when I hear Linda Diane. And I also get a kick out of friends who abbreviate it to “LD”. I always wanted a nickname, and once again it was there all along.

My name is my work. It helps to have something a little unique. I have that. I have all along.

Measuring Time

Wednesday, February 26th, 2014

My brother David went into hospice care a month and a half after he turned 55. Six weeks later he was dead. I’m going to outlive my brother.
It may seem an odd way to measure time, but I do compare myself to my brother and where he was in his life. I just turned 55. I imagine if I was in that position, of drawing down my life, seeking medical help to survive a few more days, planning for the end looming larger with each trip to the emergency room.
After considering how big and hard and overwhelming and scary and sad that all was, I try it on and then the distancing begins. I would like to live a long life. And I work hard to make that as likely as possible. David died at 55, and our mother died a few days after turning 60. She was ill from congestive heart failure for 13 years. She had a damaging heart attack at 46, and lived the rest of her life less fully than she would have otherwise. She was sick a lot, weak most of the time, and eventually (by about my age) unable to work.
I can’t help but compare myself to them, especially my health and wellness and fitness. I walk a few miles almost every day. Because I like it, and it is often more convenient than driving somewhere, and my dogs need the exercise. But also because I want to live.
I count servings of vegetables and fruits, I eat foods I know will prevent cancer and heart disease. Because I love eating this way, passionately, but also because I want to live a long healthy life.
I think about what my mother did at my age. She was also writing, she was considering the larger questions of the meaning of life, what happens once you die, how to live as fully as possible. But when I’m out in the woods, flying around town on my bike, making love with my sweetheart, traveling and hiking and making new friends, I often reflect that she was not able to enjoy these things at this age. The fear of overdoing it, being incapacitated, having to call for an ambulance, always was in the forefront of her mind.
When David was right about this moment in his life, he went into arterial fibrillation and would have died without his pacemaker and defibrillator. That episode resulted in some long hospital stays, eventual surgery, days spent sedated with a ventilator, and then coming back home to hospice care.
I measure these moments.
It so totally sucks that both of these lives were cut short, and that they were marked with so much time being incapacitated, so many nights spent in the hospital. So many close calls and the pain and knowing life would be cut short. Even worse that both my mom and David haven’t been here to see what happened next, to do what they loved, to be with the people they loved. What would they have created and done if they had had that extra time to be well and strong for the years they deserved to live?
It is a bit surreal to outlive my older brother. The obligation to use every day, to live my life, to create and do and love more fully rests heavily on me at the same time it is an ecstatic state that fosters a deep awareness of the preciousness of life.
I cannot take the simple act of living for granted.
There are indeed many mysteries in life, and in this world. I’d like many more years to confront them, learn them, and go deeper into the many meanings and ways of being. The importance of that, the value of living fully, is made larger by the death of my brother, and also the last almost 21 years that my mother has been gone.
They both lived their full lifetime, but also too short a time. When I helped a client die who was 104 I experienced the contentment of letting go after a very full very long life. When I volunteered so many years at hospice I met thousands of people who died, most of them in their 80s and 90s. The more jarring and difficult deaths were of children, or middle aged people who were at the end, and not the middle after all. So many deaths are too final and too soon.
It is an odd way to measure time, comparing my life and my vitality to another. But where that leaves me is in this reflective state, and also inspired. As I’ve written this the sun has risen and this new day has come.
Taking nothing for granted…

I lost a lot of weight. Here is what worked for me.

Tuesday, January 7th, 2014

Even strangers have been noticing that I’ve lost a lot of weight. About 120 pounds over 5 years. Maybe 8. About 30 pounds last year. More in the few years before that. I love the drop jawed responses, I love waking up every morning to feel ribs and hip bones that I don’t remember feeling before. I love being content with my body. I don’t think I’ve ever known that before.

Weight loss is a funny thing. There are a lot of people who want to make money from it. I’m not one of those. There are complex theories and ideas and more and more science about the causes and solutions. I think that is interesting, but I have also found it to be pretty simple and easy once the right things were lined up at the right time. And I’m happy to share all of that with anyone who is interested.

Here are the six primary components I found useful, in brief. I could say a lot more about the food, but also want to keep it simple. Everyone comes to this issue with unique history and body types and health issues. So it is not a one size fits all list – and anyone who says their weight loss plan will work for everyone is giving you the red flag that you should not take them seriously. This worked for me, that’s all. Maybe it will work for you, or maybe you can just take some inspiration that you’ll eventually find what works for you. But you are unique and need to find what will make you happy.

1- I had to let my body know that from now on we are fit and active. The best way I know to communicate that is to be fit and active. A little exercise here and there a couple times a week did not give that message. Daily repetitive activity of at least an hour was what started to make a difference. I walk, swim, bike, canoe or kayak every day. Mostly I walk. I rarely take a day off.
2- I needed reinforcement , and looked to the science of operant conditioning for ideas on how to create intermittent reinforcement, which has been shown to be the most effective for mammals. I’m a mammal, so I figured it would work for me. Posting most of my workouts on facebook has given me that reinforcement. My friends respond, and especially when I post big milestones I get “jackpotted” with lots of comments and support. Setting up a weekly email to friends who have agreed to help you would have similar results, and be a little less public if you are shy.
3- I didn’t use weight loss as a goal. It is just too arbitrary. It felt as though I had no control over what the scale would read. Instead, I counted my success as did I work out or not. That was absolute, and at the end of the day I could say yes I succeeded or no I failed. Nothing ambiguous about it. And I succeeded day after day after month after year. The weight coming off in fits and starts and reversals and with progress was just extra, and I didn’t worry about it.
4- I ate well. I had already been eating pretty well, but I kept upgrading my diet and adding in more and more good foods. Eating breakfast was a critical change that actually started the weight loss. I don’t like breakfast, I rarely am hungry first thing in the morning, so I created the ideal breakfast and ate it no matter how I felt. I can’t imagine a healthier start to the day. I eat oatmeal with all organic ingredients. That includes steel cut oats, raisins, almonds or walnuts, wild berries (raspberry, service berry, black berry) or blueberries, homemade yogurt from raw milk, local honey, fresh ground flax seed, and a bit of cinnamon. I eat a vegetarian diet and work to include lots of dark green leafy vegetables, healthy fats, simple home cooked meals, and lots of water. I also indulge in chocolate, and some other foods that would raise eyebrows. I know focusing on healthy foods helps, especially the vegetables – most of which I grow myself. I think the important part is to continually upgrade, keep adding great food, and especially base at least half your diet on plants. You do need to eat real and healthy food to lose weight. I think it is the only sustainable way to do it. The trick is to learn the pleasures of it. That’s why I’m writing cookbooks as well. Extremism isn’t sustainable. Upgrading and continually improving is.
5- This is lifelong. And you will need to continually improve. Keep adding great habits, wonderful foods, and restarting what you fail. That’s normal. Upgrade at every opportunity and expect that these are changes you can live with (hurray for living!!) forever. I do tell myself that I’m either active or I will die. It is a life or death matter, and of primary importance. Every day I find the time to be active. I have to now.
6- Love matters a lot. I think this was the key to the whole weight loss and getting healthy process. In November of 2009 I had major abdominal surgery for a fibroid tumor that had regrown to 10 pounds. I came home after one night in the hospital with a 16 inch incision – pubic bone to sternum. Prior to the surgery, a number of friends and clients asked what they could do to help post-surgery. With nearly every offer of support I would start to cry. It felt very intense to have to rely on other people helping me. I come from a family that was close and intellectually supportive. But there was no hugging, no “I love you” ever, very little emotional expression of support and love. I kind of knew I was starving for it, but really wasn’t aware of how much this defined my life. And my body. More than 50 people ended up pitching in over about 4 weeks. They helped me to move, use the toilet, shower, begin to walk again. They fed me, walked the dog, and kept me entertained and happy. My family, who live nearby, responded to the three requests for help that I made (fill a prescription, drive me to an appointment, and one fill-in dog walk) but didn’t initiate any visits, didn’t check up on me, didn’t visit or hang out. I finally realized that I would never receive from them the easy love, affection, nurturance that I craved. But from my friends? Amazing. Wonderful. Overwhelming support and love every moment of every day for those weeks I needed them. This was a pretty simple but profound learning. I got it in every cell of my being. And something changed inside of me, palpably. I just opened up to that love in a way I had never done before and received. It was exhilarating, freeing, humbling, and just the sweetest sort of nectar that a starving person could encounter and enjoy. Nothing has been the same every since. I came out of the experience fundamentally changed, and finally felt safe and loved enough to shed the weight. That was the emotional shift that made it possible.

I need to add a note on an issue that isn’t really part of the how as much as what now? There were times during the process that I felt a bit toxic. I feel strongly that this is no time to do “detoxifications” or “cleansings”. Fat stores toxins, so when it starts to shrink there is some gunk that will be released into your system. The body is amazingly brilliant in dealing with this, with support. So that might mean eating lightly (I start to crave soups) or adding some herbs for support (dandelion tincture for the liver) and certainly decreasing any food that stresses the body (fried foods, heavy meals, white sugar and processed flour, alcohol). Learning to listen to your body and interpret cravings (salt is a need for more minerals, ice is often associated with iron deficiency, etc) is part of this whole process. Believe in the body’s wisdom, and support it as much as you can.

The final word is: tell your body you want to be healthier. Do it through movement, great food, love, and nurturance. I think it will work.

Tradition

Tuesday, December 4th, 2012

I don’t know what to do for “the holidays”. We had tradition. Our family would make a big deal out of Christmas eve. We weren’t christian, but as kids my parents wanted us to have some normalcy and to be part of what everyone around us had. Presents and food and time together.

As we got older, the whole thing was moved to Christmas eve so that we could celebrate Christmas day with our “significant others” families. But Christmas eve was important to be together, especially to my mom.
Once she died, we limped along, and especially continued the tradition for my brother David’s three kids. The core traditions were to exchange presents, and to have a Swedish smorgasbord of food. That was modified a bit with my vegetarian conversion long ago, and David’s daughter becoming vegetarian and then vegan.
The other tradition was to open presents in the strict order of youngest to oldest, repeating that go around until people started dropping out from lack of presents. We also lightened up on that rule. My mother, the main enforcer, had been gone for years when we finally got lax about who was next.

The first Christmas in our new house in Ann Arbor. The three of us and my mom. My dad took the picture.

Then we stopped exchanging gifts once his youngest was 18. None of us really needed more stuff. My dad had been just giving us money since my mom died. Everyone seemed relieved although I’ll admit it was kind of strange and sad to not get any presents at all from anyone some Christmases. I do like presents, when it is something I actually need and will use.
When David got sick, he stopped hosting the party at his house. My dad did it a few times, as did I, but that also wound down. With my mom, and then with David, there was a lot of emotional baggage – what if this is the last Christmas together? Well, for both of them there was that last time.
We didn’t get together two years ago because David was suddenly much worse. We did last year, a short get together at my house, and I even let people bring meat. That was the last time we were all together.
We aren’t going to be getting together this year. I suppose partly because it makes the absence of David – still an open wound for each of us – more glaring. Added to my mom’s absence for almost 20 year now.
It is the end of a tradition. Which seems really sad. And should be a chance for a new tradition, a new way of participating in this “holiday season” that it sometimes feels like everyone else has.
I don’t know what to do.
I don’t know what matters, what I want to extract from this special time of year. I don’t want to feel alone, or left out, or without a family. I’m not sure even what special way I want to be with my sweetheart, who is really the closest to family that I have – this will be our 2nd Christmas time together. Last year I put up a solstice tree, and really appreciated seeing all the ornaments I’ve collected over my life, and the ones my parents have passed on to me. But that seems a little awkward still. I hadn’t done that since the Christmas after my mom died. That year I did the whole decorating, but ended up tearing down the tree and throwing it out the front door on Christmas. I couldn’t stand the memories without having my mom around. That was dramatic.
I would like to have some new traditions. But I don’t know what to do.
I will grieve the loss of family, the loss of tradition, and look for the opportunity for something new, something meaningful.

The holiday time is a stark reminder of who is missing. The people you have always shared this time with. It could be devastatingly sad. I need something else to do.