Archive for the ‘personal’ Category

Afraid to use the Bathroom

Monday, May 16th, 2016

1971, and I moved back to the town where I was born. But was new to the neighborhood, new to junior high, new to having to get to school and back (elementary school was a block away and I walked or biked there up hill and back, new to all day school (I was a walker and came home for lunch before moving).
The junior high had grades 7, 8 and 9. So we were the youngest and most vulnerable. I was trying to figure it all out, trying to fit in, trying to feel safe. In the halls people sometimes pushed me. Once someone jabbed me with a sharp needle or something similar. I held tight to my macrame purse and sometimes a passing student tried to yank it off my shoulder.Sometimes people would knock into you to spill books onto the floor. I was scared making my way from class to class.
But the most frightening thing was the bathrooms. You only had a minute or two at the most to use one, and I heard things about girls being followed by boys and forced into sex acts, being attacked by strangers if they were alone, that there was smoking and drug use, and unknown possible violence.
It seemed like the most terrifying place to me. i didn’t have a friend I could ask to go with me. I didn’t know what was true but assumed it was all terrible. So I decided not to use them. Ever. I decided to be the junior high student who never had to pee.
And I didn’t. We started school sometime around 7:30, dropped off in a car pool. We ended around 2, and I walked the two miles back home. And never used the bathroom at school because I was too terrified. All through 7th grade, all through 8th grade – which only lasted a semester for me. I may have used the bathroom once or twice from desperation, but day after day I waited until I was safe at home. If I had a guitar class after school I waited until I walked the mile to State Street. Using the shared bathroom next to the head shop with adults and hippies and other strangers felt safer – it was a single room no one else could enter once I locked the door behind me.
Junior high survival to me meant staying dehydrated and with a full bladder I learned to ignore.
There was some small truth to the dangers of the junior high girls bathroom. A few girls were attacked by boys, in the high school there were even a few reported rapes. But it was a decision I made on my own, based on exaggerated stories, and I never considered telling anyone else how much I suffered every single day of junior high because I couldn’t pee. I never considered finding out what the real danger might be.
This memory comes to mind now that people are talking about how dangerous bathrooms may become if we allow women and men, boys and girls, to use the bathroom that matches their gender.
I am strongly in favor of just letting people pee. Remove the obstacles, remove the fears, give everyone a safe place to pee. We know that transgender kids are more at risk than anyone else. It’s not hard to make them safer without major disruption.
Here is my proof that those early teenage years can be strange and difficult and fear can take over even a biological necessity. Let’s show some compassion and make it safe for everyone to pee when they need to, and where they can. There are so many real dangers and fears. Let’s not create more.

Weight Loss – Turns out that was the easy part.

Monday, May 2nd, 2016

The New York Times has an article out today on The Biggest Loser TV show, and the problems the winners have had keeping their weight off. It turns out not many are successful over the long run. I’ve previously seen statistics saying less than 5% of those who lose a lot of weight are able to keep it off. It sounds pretty dismal, actually.

It seemed a miracle that I lost more than 125 pounds. Now I’m finding out that keeping it off may be the larger accomplishment – pun intended. I’ve had ten years or so of steady healthy slow and successful weight loss. This week I’m actually within a pound of my all time I thought it was impossible goal. It will happen sometime this summer, I’m confident.

I write to explore a few ideas about why I’ve been able to keep losing weight and not balloon back. Perhaps this will be helpful for others, it is certainly helpful for me to consider what is working. So I can keep doing it. So ranging from teh philosophical to teh practical –

For me it is do or die. If I am heavier, my life is at risk. Last year i found out I have a genetic heart valve problem. If I was overweight – carrying more than 100 extra pounds – open heart surgery and more would be on the agenda. I can be okay because I”m at a healthy weight. And of course the diabetes, the joint issues, and so much more. It is my life I’m working to preserve. Nothing less. So spending whatever time and money it takes to take care of myself is always at the top of the list. If I don’t, I die sooner. I know that.

Lose the weight slowly. Losing weight is hard on the body. I don’t think losing weight fast is healthy, and I don’t think it works in the long term. It takes time to be the changed body type – to believe it and feel it and accept it. It takes time to absorb the extra skin. It takes time to effectively and safely process the toxins stored in fat. It takes time to adjust metabolism, to rededicate your body to health and well being.

You have to communicate with and update your body. My most significant weight loss was after major surgery, the removal of a ten pound fibroid tumor. I had to tell my body – every single cell – that things would be different from now on. That I now had a body that was all about movement and being fit. The only way to really communicate that was to keep moving and acting like someone who was fit. On the TV shows for weight loss, there is an insane amount of time for exercise and movement. You’re telling the body that is the new order. Except it isn’t. No one can keep that up. I told my body I was upping the movement – 7-10 hours a week of medium activity, at a minimum. I’ve kept that up. My body adjusted. It works from that premise. I reinforce that communication every day. It’s reasonable, it’s doable, and my metabolism has apparently made the permanent adjustment to that communication. This is critically important.

Weigh frequently but don’t stress about it. It’s good to be paying attention, it’s nice to get teh treat of losing weight still. But in truth weight still goes up and down and is not in your control. I don’t ever want to be in denial again. And I also still see this as a long term effort and variations of 2-5 pounds are totally normal and often mysterious.

Have a healthy list of goals you can control. My list includes minimal movement and exercise, foods I want to include each day (greens, veggies, fruits, raw dairy, great protein, etc.). Sleep has become something I need to pay more attention to recently. I have my list, I do my best to achieve it every day. This is a forever list, not just until I weigh a certain amount.

Upgrade my food. Whatever it is – can I make it healthier, more nutritious, better for me and the planet? Higher quality chocolate. More fulfilling rice and veggies. Make my own bread from fresh ground flour. Whatever it is I’m eating, can I do even better? I make this a long term goal, and don’t stress about doing it all at once. My very good diet just gets better all the time. I’m more and more satisfied, and even my tastes have changed to that junky food is less and less interesting.

Use small plates. It’s a simple trick but it works. And recently I’ve found that by having a choice in smallish plates, I feel extra proud of using the smallest, and the still small plate compared to the big plate seems more satisfying. We are so easily fooled, that even though I know I’m fooling myself I can fool myself. I love that.

Don’t finish every meal. I think it brings awareness to potions if you stop before your plate is clean. And it is important to give permission to myself to stop before I finish off whatever it is I’m eating. My dog really likes this idea. At home she gets the healthy leftovers. At restaurants it’s fun to bring my own kind of fancy carry out container to fill. It is a good habit to break. Whatever ends up on your plate doesn’t have to end up being eaten now. Simple concept, yet it was pretty deeply ingrained in me! I do eat less now. It feels very natural, feeling satisfied feels much better than being stuffed. It took a few years for that to happen.

Be thoughtful when you eat. Eat slowly. Thoughtfully. Mindfully. With awareness. Considering the stories behind the food you have in your mouth, that is entering your body. Give yourself time to savor and enjoy food! If it isn’t enjoyable, stop eating. If you can’t take the time to experience the food, stop eating. If the people around you are eating quickly, slow down even more.

The real goal is a healthy happy body. How much you weigh is only one indicator. How do you feel? What would increase your comfort? How can you be stronger? What more do you want to be doing with your body? What makes you deeply happy? This has been a huge transition. I focus on how great I feel, how much I enjoy feeling my bones for the first time. I love the way I can move, even the way I can curl up now. The more I note and enjoy those things, the more reinforcement I have to keep this level of health and awareness. And I believe that is also communicated to my body so that this level of wellness is accepted and something I can sustain.

Those are a few of my thoughts about being successful keeping weight off. I don’t think it is a complete list, but I also believe it is important to share some hope and real ways to make this work, as the news of failure is more dismal and – literally – disheartening for those of us who have struggled with being overweight.

I couldn’t have done it without the support of friends. I’m very grateful.

Support – Kindness made Active

Monday, March 21st, 2016

I have some very supportive friends. The extreme demonstration of this was November and December of 2009. I had major surgery to remove a very large fibroid tumor. I lived alone, I had no partner, just my dog and I. Over 50 people chipped in and took care of me for almost two months. I had food, company, dog walkers, house cleaning, even assistance in the first few days turning over, getting out of bed, washing, and figuring out how to walk again.

That was support. And the experience was life changing for me. I had never known that sort of support.

Except of course from my parents. Whose support was strong clear, and very long lasting as it continues through my father to this day. But in many ways fading as he grows older, and actually needs more of my support,

I’ve been practicing kindness. It seems to be my most important spiritual path at this time. And I’ve been considering support, now that I’m single again, and also getting hints of what happily growing older may require.

I had a lot of support in my last relationship, and I am sad to be without the small and sometimes large daily ways of being cared for and nourished. Thrown back into the unwanted status of “single” my support has to again depend on the many individuals who are my community, my friends, people not necessarily pledged to me as a lover is, but who do respond and care in so many small and large ways.

And support comes from strangers and synchronis events and coincidences as well. It matters to stop and appreciate the small and large ways I have wonderful support. People who support my work by being clients or by sending clients to me. Requests for writing and teaching. Peers who challenge and inspire me to do better.

Gifts of food, company, money, chocolate. People who will lend a hand moving something, clearing out a closet, providing expertise as I puzzle out a new project. Those who show up and carry heavy objects, saw lumber, shovel sand and weed the garden with me.

Friends who will read and comment on a book chapter, tell me when I offended them, suggest a softer or more mature way to proceed with conflicts. The support of singing the song while I ranch off into exotic harmonies. The support of giving me a ride somewhere or adjusting my bike for me. Hoisting the canoe, paddling behind me, swimming into the deep part fo the lake together urging me to go further, climbing the mountain (literally) with me when I didn’t think I could do that.

Support in believing in my dreams, introducing me to someone who can make those dreams become real.

And my work, my time, is spent finding how I can support other people. Especially the ones who come to me as clients. I am especially called to support new moms anyway I possibly can. Support them in breastfeeding, support them in taking care of themselves when they are giving so much Support them in having the space and the time to fall madly in love with this tiny person new to the world. I have never been a mom, and never will, but they hold a special part of my heart.

But in all of my clients and students the real purpose is to find how I can support them to be wonderful. Successful. Happy. To make it through hard times, with more than they started with.

I support the cranial vitality when I do Cranialsacral Therapy. I support the brilliant ability of the body to heal when I do other bodywork. I support people being insightful and wise and powerful when we talk about their lives and their struggles. It is all just about being supportive. Finding those small and large ways each person can use support. Making sure they have other people and parts of their lives which are supportive, encouraging them to build more support and move away from the people and things that are not.

It is all pretty simple.

I could use more support in my day to day life. There are tasks and projects and dreams that are behind or delayed. I need help keeping up with day to day tasks, and so many things that need doing. I can be more aware of ways to support my friends and clients and community in those small and large ways, I can do so much more.

When I write about it, I become more aware. As I’m more aware I can be even more active and —- supportive.

What the Heck eHarmony?

Monday, February 8th, 2016

Somewhere around 10 years ago I joined eHarmony for the first time. With their matching metrics, I didn’t do well as I was overweight. I had a couple of conversations with men, but even more who had in their profile that they were intolerant of anyone overweight. I quit after a few months, matches had dwindled to a few a week. In the three month period I recall just one phone date.
More recently, I talked to a number of people who had met and been happy with the service. So I tried it for a month, costing almost $50.

What the Heck eHarmony?

In that month I was “matched” with almost 650 men. The four or five that seemed interesting never responded to my first steps to connect. Nearly all of the matches were with men with less than college. Ah, I didn’t complete college myself. Although I teach at the University level and pursued an alternative education that I’m very proud of, not a college graduate. So I apparently was matched with mostly no college graduates.

Most of the matches (I’m thinking 75% at least) were somewhat or very conservative. Not a match.

About half the matches were “a good match outside of my settings”. Not one of those seemed like a good match.

eHarmony used to be known for their very careful, scientifically based formulas for success. 650 men in four weeks isn’t showing a lot of discrimination or filtering.

I responded to two men who contacted me, both seemed wildly inappropriate. The first “moved on” after getting my email. The second one said nothing, but eHarmony contacted me a few minutes later saying the account was likely hacked, I should stop contact with him, and to be safe. Well that was uncomfortable.

One man followed through after contacting me, and we are looking for a time for dinner. He was able to find me online based on the information I provided. So he bypassed the eHarmony structure in the end. Not as creepy as it sounds.

Today I’ve canceled my account, pulled photo and all the other written information from my profile, and stopped notifications. I do hope that is enough to get out of this wacky system.

I feel I’ve wasted a bit of money and a lot fo time for a service that is not what it seems.

Love for the Ebike

Monday, October 5th, 2015

A few months ago I had my bike converted to an ebike. After waiting and saving my money for a number of years, I finally made the jump. I wish I had borrowed the money and done it years ago.

This conversion has changed my bicycling world. It turns out I had a lot more anxiety about biking than I knew. This may have been related to a previously undiagnosed genetic heart defect. I had a great bike, could make it up most hills with some effort, and enjoyed using it as much as possible. But the ease and comfort and hill climbing ability of the converted bike is just stunning. And thrilling. And exciting. And fun. And so very easy.

I have a version with a nice small but effective lithium battery. It is 350 watts, and 10 amp hourly load. Am I saying that right? About a 15 mile range when you are not pedaling, and it can power the bike to just over 20 MPH on a flat with no pedaling. My first charge was after about 35 miles, I did pedal nearly the whole time. And was mostly cruising around at about 14 MPH most times I checked.

The version I have has “pedal assist” technology, which is much more effective and wonderful that I ever imagined possible. When you start to pedal, the motor turns on, and then you can choose a 1-5 level of assist – from a little to a lot. Mostly then I leave the gearing set to pretty hard, and so when I do pedal I’m going much faster than I would be without the assist. The whole assist thing can be turned off, but then you also don’t have access to the throttle.

The throttle is also there, so at any time you can rev up the motor and in a burst or slow gain have more power added to your pedaling or stop pedaling altogether. I was surprised to find out that one of the ways I use the throttle the most is to make my starts smoother. If I am at a full stop, and crank the pedals around so I can start with my right foot (I just can’t do it with the left) a little throttle added makes the transition to get the bike going much easier. Especially when at a full stop going up hill. This maneuver has often caused me to nearly fall over or at least look really awkward.

I hadn’t realized how much space in my brain was being taken up with thinking of hills, planning on hills, preparing to charge hills, and worrying about making it up hills. Maybe because I’m older. Maybe because of the heart condition. But now, all of that is over.

I also have found that the ability to pick up speed makes it safer to ride with traffic. I have more options, and also more maneuverability. That keeps me safer.

Nearly all of my in city small errands or travel trips have now been by bike, so my car sits out even more than before. Once I get my trailer working I’ll need the car even less. Because I can go further, carry more weight, and enjoy the convenience of being on bike. I just need the car for bad weather, if I’m taking the dog, and for awkward purchases. Even though it’s close, carrying home a bale of straw by bike wasn’t doable. But I’ll work on that.

jim heh bike

This is Jim, who owns Human Electric Hybrids and he did the conversion. I found his work to be excellent, he made it convenient for me, followed up when I asked questions, and just provided excellent service in every respect. I love his passion for the bikes, and the extras that he did – putting on my old bike rack, adding a kickstand, and his care in all the wiring and whatnot associated with the conversion.

Everyone who has tried out the bike returns with a smile on their face. I’ve been biking enough extra now that it has become clear I need a new seat. That’s great! I don’t know how much of a winter rider I’ll be – but I hope for many days of riding in the next few months.

I do love my ebike, and can imagine it will be welcomed by aging bikers like myself as well as anyone who wants to make biking safer and more enjoyable. Especially as the price comes down – the only real downside to this adventure. But so far worth every penny.

The Thing About Grief

Monday, November 10th, 2014

My first dog, Zomba, was a therapy dog. For eight years we were hospice volunteers together, although she got most of the attention. She loved the work because she got lots of treats, but she was very connected to the work as well. I learned that when I saw her grieving for one of the patients who died.
z and bear wide shot 11-01 copy
It was someone who she had enjoyed visiting over a few months, and when she died I took Zomba to the empty room. She looked for her friend, she smelled the room carefully, and then she went to the door to leave. When we got home that day, she took her bear out – which by then had no stuffing left. She held it in her mouth, cradling it almost, and sighed very deeply a few times. She just stayed there, and I could feel the sadness in her posture and her breathing.

It was a position she used many times coming back from hospice. Only when someone died, and it was the only time she ever took out her bear and held it in that way.

My grief for Zomba when she died was like none I had ever experienced. I had cried losing pet cats, turtles, and even birds and other animals we held funerals for as a kid. Losing my first ever dog was much more visceral, deep, and painful. She had been such a part of my life every day nearly every hour for 9 1/2 years. It was a bond and a connection I had never felt before. I was so very alone without her, and she had been such a true and wonderful companion.

Everywhere I went, everything I did, she was a missing part. I grieved with my heart, my soul, my hands and my body that was used to having her next to me to touch and to hold. I missed her with every sense – her smell was missing, the sound of her nails on the floor, her warning bark or conversation about needing to go outside. My routines were gone, beginning the day with her by being outside. I noted all the ways I anticipated her greeting me at the door, coming to cuddle next to me. And how she anticipated out walks, visiting the people and stores she liked, the places we visited so often. She was so well integrated into my life I hadn’t known how cold and awful it would be without her.

The grief felt like missing part of my own body. Her absence was so deeply held inside of me. It felt never-ending and too large to ever contain. But that was seven years ago. It moved through me in waves, it did become smaller, the memories changed and another dog found her way into my life and my heart. And the grief is never-ending. It is still present, can still be evoked by photos, or stories. From holding the collar that she once wore. It is now every once in a while, not a daily sobbing and tightening of my jaw and the muscles around my heart. It is more sweet than pain, it is with love and not anguish.

Certainly death brings the largest grief, the never again loss, the tragedy of young death is especially great. When my mother died a friend stayed over, and in the middle of the night I woke him up in the bedroom next to mine and felt that if I wasn’t held and enveloped in his arms I might disappear as well. I sobbed, feeling on the edge of hysteria. He kept me in place. That same night I had spoken by phone with my grandmother, who had just lost her daughter. I heard her cry as I had never heard before. A parent mourning the death of her child, a pain so wrong and raw, so very primitive and piercing. Her loss was not like mine.

My brother gave us long warning of his impending death. Once the doctors said there was no hope he lived six more weeks saying goodby and pondering the transition he knew was coming. So we had moments to talk and reflect, and he said many things that I found important and helpful. But his death was still stunning and sadder than I could imagine. i felt that my whole history and life story was now partly lost. As well as my best source for encouragement, critical feedback, and support. All of the ways he was part of my life emerged as loss, and the grief and realizations continue even more than two years later.
6-14-12 AlDavid

So many deaths of good friends, family, and even the hundreds of strangers I met weekly at Hospice. So many tears, sorrow and connections. Sometimes I am at peace with our last words or times together, sometimes I ache for more or something different.

And it is mostly just the passage of time that soothes, that eases that ache, that allows me to explore that deep space the paradox of hollowness and fullness that is love, life, and loss.

The grieving of those still living is different certainly, but also mostly healed by time. The loss of a love relationship also hurts deeply and uniquely. It is one that i have mostly, in my past, tried to hide. Because it is embarrassing? Because I’ve been rejected? Because someone has found me not good enough? I don’t really know the impulse, but it is a strong one. My first love ended in total confusion when he sexually assaulted me. At 15, I couldn’t share the complexity of my guilt and fear and sorrow and rage at what had happened. I had many things to grieve, it took many many years to sort it out.

The wonderful sweet love that bloomed just after that ended a few yeas later just as suddenly, home from college while I was still in high school he broke it off the day after Christmas confessing to his secret involvement with another woman, and demanded I not contact him from that day on. I showed up for dinner with my family trying to conceal what had just happened just an hour ago in the room above the dining room table. I had to run back to my room in tears, midway through the meal. I had no idea how to hold the grief of ending. I certainly didn’t know that other people could be comforting and supportive.

I have been that comforting and supportive person so many times now. I’ve been given the opportunity to be with people grieving their losses and pain and suffering. It is an incredible honor to share those darkest moments with someone, to be wet with their tears and add my own with theirs. To just simply offer all I can be. I was once afraid to go there, to be there, to feel and to witness such vulnerability. That has changed to awe and to love.

There are skills in working through grief. There are therapies and rituals and waves of change and feelings to go through. The simplest help is knowing that time will help. That grief can overwhelm me, and I know it will also recede. It always has. It always will.

I also know that deep grieving allows the sky to be more blue, the leaves of the trees more stark and alive, food more filling and nuanced, each step I take has more meaning, the moments of happiness are sharper and more live. My state of grief is very close to ecstasy. When my mom was dying I first found that agony/ecstasy relationship and had many years to explore how that worked. It is simply about feeling alive.

I am grieving the ending of a relationship I thought, I felt, would last my lifetime. For now, every day brings tears of loss and sadness. I live within the waves of tears and changing mood. Every day I pass through the sudden and unexpected change in my life and how I spend time. I share feeling this heartbreak with times of joy and contentment. It isn’t really confusing, it just is. I’m happy to have loved so deeply, and I grieve what has ended and what never will be.

I appreciate knowing time will help. Time will pass, and the grief will lighten. It always has. i would like to live even more fully.

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.

My Imaginary Energy Protector Made of Magical Plexiglass

Monday, September 22nd, 2014

Sometimes imaginary thinks work really well. This one has been part of my practice for over 30 years.

Wanting to help other people is a natural urge. We may also be able to trace it to an evolutionary trait – those who were good at being a tribe survived the normal stresses and dangers of life better than those who were more outliers. We also have found that you can increase levels of oxytocin (one of the brain’s wonderful feel good chemicals) by being kind and helpful. Ironically – or purposely – when you have more exposure to oxytocin it also makes you want to be more generous. So you can get into quite a self perpetuating cycle when you help other people.

When you’re in a “helping profession” it isn’t hard to get pulled in and empathize with someone else’s pain or troubles. If you do this a lot, it can lead to burnout, resentment, lower levels of functioning, and even taking on the pain or distress form other people. The idea that “I’ll do anything” to help another may be an occasionally good idea, but certainly not sustainable long term for most people.

I found early on that some clients just took it out of me. I’d be exhausted afterward, I’d have dreams about them, I would obsess about their problems and if I helped them. It wasn’t healthy and it wasn’t workable.

So I imagined I had two tubes of magical plexiglass in my spine. One contained my personal energy, the other was inspired form that core current but only through the plexiglass. The core tube was untouchable. I didn’t use it when working on clients, and it could only be replenshed or “touched” by energy that was of equal or greater vibration. I use the term vibration as a way to imagine some spiritual core foundational energy that every has. Except mine is in a tube. The the secondary tube can be used entirely, and it is easily replenished from the core tube.

Why plexiglass? It was easy to visualize, it was familiar, it seemed like a fun thing. PVC isn’t transparent, I didn’t like the feel of soft plastic. No real good reason it was just what popped into my mind long ago. Some people were imagining crystal tubes and gem studded things. I wanted simplicity and practicality.

I’ve had many clients, especially moms in labor or their babies, who I wanted to give my all to feel better, be safer, or come more quickly in the case of a laboring mom. I don’t let myself go all the way. I don’t use that core current.

This has made it a pleasure and a refreshing experience nearly all the time I work with people. I rarely have trouble “taking on” the stuff that belongs with my client. I usually have more energy after working. I feel safe from any psychic jolts or weird activities that can go on. it is imaginary – and it works well.

just recently I’ve been considering instrumentation. Monitoring devices. Because this is all well and good, but can I also watch and monitor how my different energies are being used? That would add more control and specifics to my imaginary system.

I’ve had some digestive issues, and discovered a “monitoring” system for that. It has worked fabulously in choosing what to eat and when. There is a visual image, as well as an orientation of a spiraling wheel. That tells me a lot about how the system is working, if there are current glitches to be concerned about, and it also seems that I can “add energy” to the digestive system and then monitor the effect. Imaginary of course, but actually very precise as well.

I suggest using the idea to make up your own imaginary system to do what you need it to do. Practice using it consciously for a month or two and then let it be an unconscious practice most of the time. I’m still considering imaginary monitoring systems and would welcome any ideas you might have on that front as well. So far monitoring digestion before during and after has been a huge help for me.

I don’t need it to be real – just effective.

Nostalgia for the Art Fairs

Monday, July 21st, 2014

Last week’s art fairs were unusual for having cool sunny weather. The fairs usually take place in scorching hot almost unbearable heat and humidity, broken only by often violent storms and rain. And more humidity. So I enjoyed walking around and seeing most of the fairs in relative comfort. I was glad this year I wasn’t wandering the streets pouring water over my head trying to keep cool.

This was my 44th time at the art fairs (yes, there are more than one – actually four or five or six depending on how you count). As I wandered, I was very nostalgic for all the other times I’ve been and what has changed.

The fairs had many more commercial booths interspersed with the artists. I found that disconcerting. And of course, those booths has people pushing their product much more crassly “selling” than the artists normally do. Although I was reminded of a time 25 years or so ago when I was swept up in the sales pitch of a guy selling pewter figurines with crystals. He talked me into buying it. Although at a deep discount he was a good salesman who wouldn’t let me go.

I used to buy a wooden box every year, until about 5 years ago I figured I probably had enough wooden boxes by now. About thirty or so. I also started liking the ones over $200 more than any others, and that was not a rational way to use my money. So that collection is “closed” to further purchases.

I do like the wood, and am still more attracted to that art than any other.

Back in the ’70s, when I first started going to the art fairs, there were a lot of “hippy” srtists with fancy wax candles of rainbow colors and I bought a lot of those. Incense, bongs, antler pipes, macrame, a number of remnants from that time that you no longer find.

Perhaps the biggest change is that long ago there were true street musicians and performers – slack rope artists, magicians, others who would travel and earn money being talented on the streets. They are gone. Even the musicians from Central and South America were missing this year with their pan pipes and small amplified guitars and traditional instruments. Where have they gone?

So the fair seems quiet. It used to be that everyone I knew went to the closing night – Friday night – at the “Graceful Art Stage” on E. University for Madcat and Gemini to close out the evening fairs. Dancing, hugging, talking, flirting, it all went on that night with great music and a sense of a wonderful tradition we were part of.

Even the water sellers and other venders were mostly silent. Was there a proclamation made against announcing your wares loudly? Pizza sellers, bottled water pushers, roasted almonds samplers, all seemed very restrained this year. Very quiet.

That was near to the non-profit booths that used to assemble at the Engineering Arch, S. U and E. U. I staffed a lot of booths there, for McGovern in 1972, for Ozone House for many years – we did face painting and were one of the first to offer that. I got into some heated arguments when I staffed a booth for the American Friends Service Committee opposing the death penalty. I even got applauded for one of them when I stayed reasonable while being shouted at.

The non-profit section was very quiet this year, and I walked by a few times without engaging with anyone including the Salvation Army guy who may not even know how that group has spoken out against gay marriage and urged celibacy as the only option for LGBT people.

I don’t think there are as many true bargains as there used to be. I still use the panniers I got from Bivouc almost 30 years ago when Eclipse was going out of business. Two pair of very sturdy paniers for my bike for just $20, the special rack to hold them another $10-15. I still use that as well. I bought lots of sandals and sneakers and other stuff deeply discounted. Orchid Lane would have sales and especially since I lost weight that has been such a great bargain that this year I had to pass by as I really don’t need more clothes. Have I changed or have the sales changed?

Every year I see certain artists, most notably a friend from high school (he was on staff st Community High School) who sells colorized sports prints. He used to sell antler pipes. It’s nice to get a hug and kiss from him every year. Sometimes we have a chance to talk, sometimes he is too busy with sales to say much at all.

I mostly go alone to the fairs, there is enough to see and do and having to keep track of someone else is distracting and sometimes I want to move more quickly than a friend. And part of the fair is stopping to talk to people you meet on the street – old friends, strangers, I make a point of striking up conversations with the artists and sometimes linger for a while. Most are friendly, some are bored, some try to sell something heavy handedly, some are clearly not people friendly.

I love this event. I spend a little money – usually not more than $100, and that hasn’t changed much over the ears. My biggest most expensive purchase ever was a large photo limited edition print by famous National Geographic photographer Steven McCurry, of a sacred gilded rock at sunrise in Burma. It was great to meet and talk with him. That was about 20 years ago. I still love that photo.

The summer has turned, the art fairs are over, now starts the winding up for fall.

The Thrill of a Bidet

Tuesday, July 1st, 2014

In-toilet bidets are cheap and very easy to install. They start at about $50 more or less, and if your plumbing is already in good order (shut off valve works, nut to the tank is hand-tightened only) about 10 minutes or less to install. Here is a link to the one I got from Amazon.

That is for a cold water version. If you need heat or other features, expect to pay hundreds for the unit and even more to install.

But the cold isn’t as bad as it sounds. Especially in the summer. All winter I get a few moments of warmth as my cold water line runs near the radiator pipes. I also ignored the instructions to cut the tubing from the bidet control to the toilet short – so that is warmed by contact with the rooms warmth. A friend who installed it in his home with a slab and no heat nearby – yow. That is a shock in the winter.

The advantages? Much of the rest of the world uses water to cleanse after toileting. They consider toilet paper a poor choice. They’re right. It is an odd and far less efficient and effective method. Environmentally, toilet paper use plummets. I’m already using recycled non-chlorine bleached paper, but it still eliminates most of that use.

It is fabulous for anyone sensitive down there – post birth, episodes of hemorrhoids, vulva sensitivity brought on by allergies or menopause, or most any other irritation. Water soothes, toilet paper scrubs and abrades.

On my advice, a person (who will remain anonymous) bought the in toilet bidet and loved it. But he bought one with a lift up sort of switch – not a flat dial one. Guests to his house didn’t know what it was and apparently there was some strange funny and also embarrassing accidents. He had to take it out. So if there are people using your toilet who you can’t pre-brief (pun intended) stick with a dial control rather than the fancier lever option.

I really hope these catch on.