Embracing The Crone

 

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Embracing the Crone

Growing up in our culture, we are told youth is beauty. Aging is undesirable- even though it’s preferred to death in most cases.
As young girls, we push ourselves to mature- to surpass the golden milestones: thirteen, sixteen, eighteen, and the all-important twenty-one! We pass from child, to maiden.
Then as twenty-something-year-olds, we cringe as thirty approaches. Where did those crinkles around our eyes come from? Is that our mother in the mirror?
The biological clock ticks, tocks. Some of us have children, some not. But all of us pass from maiden to mother. If we aren’t mothers to children, we are mothers to family, pets, friends, even personal undertakings, desires.
We fight off aging, reluctantly getting dragged into our forties and earning the title Middle-Aged. Before you know it, kids are grown, and our fifties peek out from the other side of the mountain. The dreaded “old” is coming for us and we fight it tooth and nail. We exercise like crazy to regain our flat bellies and round butts. We dye, tint, Botox and lift. We look longingly at ourselves in the mirror wondering what happened to our youth and soon find ourselves grasping onto middle-age while that, too, goes floating by.
Aging is inevitable unless the unwanted happens- an untimely death. So why do we abhor it? Is it because all our lives we have been told that older women aren’t beautiful? For centuries, older women have been described as hags, biddies, old crones. No wonder we panic at the thought of aging! Everywhere we look, youth is embraced, cherished, worshiped. In the magazines, the movies, on the billboards. They all tell us “Young is Beautiful.” But what if I told you that aging doesn’t have to be that bad? What if you discovered that some of the trade-offs- firm breast to saggy; smooth skin to wrinkled; sharp eyesight to blurry- were worth it as we achieve grace, self-acceptance and wisdom?
I would like to offer up a different vision of “crone”. A vision that has been embraced by many. One of a wise woman, whose soul shines from eyes crinkled with laughter, wrinkles that hug the compassionate face, a body still strong and able, even with pockets of pillows placed here and there. An elder woman whose dignity and understanding surround her in a light of peace, love, and wisdom. With her, always, the guardian spirit of the owl. Owl reveals wisdom, seeing beyond the dark.
At fifty-five, I step onto the path of the crone, and I invite you to journey with me on this magical, loving path- the Path of the Crone and the Owl.

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Sacral Chakra – Swadhistana

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Sacral Chakra- Swadhistana

The sanskrit word for the sacral chakra is swadhistana. This chakra is located about three inches below the naval and governs the kidneys, bladder, reproductive organs, sacrum and hips. Its color is orange.

Imbalances in the sacral chakra can include chronic menstrual cramps, endometriosis, infertility, sterility, prostate problems, hip pain and sciatica pain. The glands that are governed by the sacral chakra are ovaries and testis. Any health issues with these glands should be considered an imbalance of the sacral chakra.

The element for the sacral chakra is water, which ties it in close with the emotions. If you have experienced deep emotions, particularly stressful emotions, it’s a fair bet your sacral chakra is in need of some love.

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To balance the sacral chakra, try soaking in a warm bath with a few drops of rose or jasmine oil. Add some epsom salt to help with hip and sciatica pain. Swimming is another great way to balance the sacral chakra, as is dancing and yoga. If you choose dance, try some Latin music.

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Working with your sacral chakra is essential for pursuing your dreams. It’s the chakra of creation. Feeling stuck in a rut with your creativity? Wear orange. Have a favorite spot to do your creative work such as writing, drawing, painting, sewing? Paint one of the walls orange, or place some orange items about the space, where you will see them as you work.

Another way to keep the sacral chakra in balance is to place boundaries up and let others know you expect them to respect your boundaries. Don’t forget- respect the boundaries of others as well.

Do meditation complimented with an oil diffuser or burning incense. The oils that work well with the sacral chakra include rose, jasmine and orange.

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Carry or wear tiger’s eye, gold topaz or coral to maintain sacral chakra balance during difficult times.

Animals associated with this chakra are sea creatures. Playing music made from whale songs is one way to connect to these creatures. So is visiting the ocean.

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Foods to help strengthen the sacral chakra are liquids. Pure water or jasmine tea are good examples.

The positive archetype for this chakra is the Emperor/ Empress.

The negative archetype for this chakra is Martyr.

A good yoga pose to practice for the sacral chakra is the Cow Face Pose.

How to do the Cow Face Pose:

Sit on the mat with your legs in front of you and bend your knees so your feet are flat on the floor. Slide your left foot under the right knee to the outside of the right hip. Cross your right leg over the left, your right foot will be to the outside of the left hip. Bring your heels in close to the hips. You might have to use your hands to tug them into place. Be mindful of your limitations. Sit evenly on your sitting bones.

Stretch your right arm straight out to the right, bring it straight up and bend at the elbow so your right hand is behind your shoulder, elbow straight in the air. Bring your left arm behind your waist and hook your right fingers with the left fingers. If you can’t touch fingers, use a towel to help make the connection.

Hold pose for one minute, then release, and switch sides.

 

* Please check with your healthcare provider if you are new to yoga. Remember to never force any position. I recommend seeking a trained yoga instructor for beginners.

 

Finding Balance Through The Chakras- Muladhara

Muladhara -The Root Chakra

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You may have heard of Chakras, but are unsure of what they are and what their purpose is. I am going to do a series of blogs focusing on each of the seven main chakras because when it comes to being in balance, it’s important to have well balanced and open chakras.
The word “chakra” is Sanskrit and translates to “disc or wheel”. The term refers to spinning wheels of energy located throughout the body. These wheels help to move the body’s prana, or vital life source.
Chakras govern every part of the body: bones, tissues, and organs as well as emotional, mental, and spiritual well-being.
There are 114 chakras in the body. I will be covering the seven main chakras: root, sacral, solar plexus, heart, throat, third eye and crown.

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The first chakra is the Root Chakra. Located at the base of the spine. It covers the bones, feet, knees, legs, perineum, colon and coccyx. It is symbolized by the four-petal lotus flower.
The color associated with the root chakra is red. This is the location of the fight or flight decisions. It stirs up passion, anger, and drive. Think about it- when someone is angry, it’s said they are “seeing red”. Red is tied to love- red hearts. When you “fall in love” it’s basically the energy falling through the chakras into the root chakra. When you ‘rise above’ something, you are rising out of your emotional root chakra to a higher state of mind.
The root chakra helps to keep us feeling grounded, balanced, and secure. When the root chakra is off balance, we might experience insomnia, anxiety, phobias, and substance abuse. We might have issues with constipation. We might have aches and pain in our feet and our legs.
To balance the root chakra, it’s important to maintain a nutritious diet and adequate sleep. Dancing and drumming help to bring the root chakra back into balance.

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The element associated with the root chakra is earth. Walking outdoors, especially if you can do so barefoot, helps to ground us and bring our root chakra into balance. You can also bring earth inside the home with vases of flowers, houseplants, and pictures of nature.
Oils associated with the root chakra are cinnamon, sandalwood, rosewood, black pepper, cloves and cedarwood. Burning incense with these oils will permeate the air with their root chakra healing properties. You may try burning some during a meditation to balance the root chakra.

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Foods that help strengthen the root chakra are those high in protein such as nuts, dairy and meats. Be careful to eat organic when possible, and if any meats are digested, make sure they aren’t factory farmed animals.
Stones that help balance the vibrational frequency of the Root Chakra include hematite, ruby, garnet, onyx and tiger’s eye.
The animals associated with the root chakra are elephant and bull. If you want to bring your root chakra into balance, you can place small statues or pictures of these animals about your home or place of work.

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The gland associated with the root chakra is the adrenal gland, and care must be taken to not overwork the adrenal gland. Moderation in caffeine and alcohol can help with keeping the adrenal working properly.
Positive Archetype of the root chakra is Mother.
Negative Archetype is Victim.
A great way to open and balance your chakras is to visit a Reiki practitioner. They work with energy and can help to open blocked energy centers.

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There are several yoga poses you can do to support the root chakra. A great one to start with is Mountain Pose.
To practice Mountain Pose, stand with the bases of the two big toes touching, heels slightly apart, bringing your second toes parallel. Lift your toes, spread them and place back down. Slowly rock back and forth, side to side, slowly coming to a stop, letting your weight settle evenly balanced on your feet.
Lift your ankles and the arches of your feet. Squeeze your lower legs towards each other.
Tighten the muscles of your thighs and rotate your thighs slightly inward.
Tuck the tailbone slightly but not so that the lower back rounds. Keep your hips even with the center of your body.
Slightly draw in your belly. Inhale while lengthening your torso. Exhale and lower shoulder blades down and back.
Broaden your chest across the collarbones while keeping shoulders in line with the sides of your torso.
Keep arms straight, fingers extended, elongate your neck.
Keep your breathing calm and even. As you exhale, allow your spine to lengthen more. Your gaze should be soft and forward.
Hold the pose for one minute.
***PLEASE NOTE*** I suggest you get professional instruction for yoga poses to make sure you are doing them correctly. I also ask you seek medical advice first if you have any medical health issues.

 

Food as Medicine

We are never too young to start a healthy diet. We definitely benefit from it as we age.
Almost two years ago, I decided to no longer eat meat. Partly due to health concerns, partly due to spiritual acknowledgements, and partly because I don’t hunt or raise animals for food. I have no idea how the meat sold in stores was processed, how the animals were treated.
I tried several times over the years to become vegetarian, but I never followed through because I was too used to cooking with meat. Trying to figure out what to eat that was vegetarian, that tasted good to me, that was within my cooking skill range, was a bit daunting. In the end, I would always go back to tuna casseroles and sloppy joes; smothered chicken breast; and breaded pork chops.
Once I made the commitment to “go vegetarian”, I made it my mission to make sure I was not only getting all the nutrients and protein I needed, but to find easy but tasty wholesome meals to make.

While going vegetarian isn’t for everyone, it never hurts to cut back on meat consumption and fill up on healthy vegetables, fruits, berries and nuts.
Luckily, we now have many tools at hand where we don’t have to purchase a whole vegetarian cookbook that has only a handful of recipes we like to eat. There are tons of free on-line recipe sites with plenty of options and lots of information on switching to a vegetarian diet.
One of my favorite places to go for recipes is Pinterest. I am going to share with you a recipe from GreenValleyKitchen.com that I found there that is easy and fast to make and was a hit with both me and my carnivore husband.
Along with being tasty, it’s very healthy. Let’s look at some of the ingredients and go over the health benefits:
*Asparagus is loaded with nutrients, helps to protect against and fight cancer, reduces inflammation in the body. It’s a brain booster and a natural diuretic.
*Walnuts help reduce bad cholesterol, improve metabolism, control diabetes, boost mood and have anti-inflammatory properties.
*Lemon aids in digestion, helps absorb Vitamin C, and boosts energy and mood.
*Parsley improves digestion, has anti-inflammatory properties, helps control cancer, diabetes and arthritis, and is a diuretic.

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Ravioli With Sautéed Asparagus and Walnuts
Ingredients
1 – 8 oz package of fresh ravioli – I used ravioli with spinach and cheese
½ pound of asparagus – snap off the tough ends – chop asparagus into thirds or smaller.
1 half lemon
2 tbs butter
¼ cup walnut pieces
2 tbs minced parsley
6 twists of pepper ( I honestly wasn’t sure what twist of pepper is, I just used a pepper grinder)
2 tbs grated parmesan, plus some to serve at the table.

Instructions
Bring a large pot of water to a boil.
While waiting for the water to boil, chop your asparagus into thirds (snap off tough white ends and discard). Mince parsley, squeeze lemon, and measure out walnuts and butter.
In a large saucepan, melt 2 tbs of butter over medium heat until frothy. Add chopped asparagus to the pan, stir slightly to coat asparagus with butter and cover with the pan with a lid. The asparagus should be slightly damp when adding it to the pan. The pan should only be on medium heat so you don’t burn the butter or the asparagus. Cook for 4 to 5 minutes – depending on thickness of asparagus.
While asparagus is cooking, add ravioli to boiling water and cook as per the package instructions – my package said 4 minutes. Drain when done and add to a bowl.
When asparagus is done, remove asparagus with a slotted spoon. There will be some browned butter left in the bottom of the pan. Add asparagus to the bowl of ravioli.
Add lemon juice and 6 twists of black pepper to the pan with the remaining browned butter and bring to a boil and stir for 30 seconds. Pour the butter lemon sauce over cooked ravioli and asparagus. There will not be a lot of sauce – you just want enough to lightly coat the ravioli.
Add walnuts, parsley and 2 tbs parmesan cheese – toss gently to mix.

 

Served with a side salad, this really was a simple, wholesome meal.

Enjoy!

Planting a Garden

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These past few days have found me perusing gardening books, seed catalogs, and articles with instructions to the perfect compost pile. It’s been a long time since I’ve had a vegetable garden, and I have never lived in Colorado until last fall, so the climate, the soil, are new to me. In Florida, my few attempts at container gardening were lost to bugs, heat, and vermin.
My butterfly garden thrived, however, and kept the birds and bees happy as well. But vegetables, well, it’s been over 22 years since I had a vegetable garden. So now the fun begins. My old butterfly garden sits in Florida surrounded by what remains of my old life there. The memories are beautiful, but now it is time to make new memories and sow new seeds. If the milkweed I planted in Florida fed the being of the Monarch butterfly, so did the people in my life feed my soul.

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Here in a new landscape, I will cultivate seeds in my gardens. The butterfly garden will be filled with such treats as milkweed, wisteria, purple haze, thyme, and petunias. Pollinators will thrive from the newly planted food source, clear of pesticides, and birds will gather to rest and feed. The vegetable garden will produce healthy, nutritious food for our household, and contribute to the birds, bees, and butterflies. The brilliant hues of flowers, leaves, herbs, will serenade our homestead- Nirvana Acres- in a symphony of color as the wildlife contributes to the artistry of our surroundings.
Pulling up roots, moving halfway across the country, and settling down anew parallels my current garden undertaking. After all, isn’t life basically about planting seeds, giving them nourishment, tending them carefully, and harvesting the fruit of our labors? Life, too, is like a garden. We decide what we will fill it with and who to fill it with. We cultivate our relationships, careers, and pastimes. Our bookshelves are filled with books that inspire us, intrigue us, entertain us. We might have collections to please the eye, or to declare what we love, what reminds us of a value. Pictures to harness memories. Favorite blankets to curl up under. We fill our lives with people who enrich us, enthrall us, are endearing to us. Souls that bring smiles to our faces, love in our hearts, laughter to even our darkest nights.

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It’s good sometimes, I think, to reflect on what we have planted in our life garden. Do we need to weed, to prune, to dig anything up? Should we water more or less, fertilize, rearrange? Is everything producing for us, or do some things need to go? And what would we like to have that we have yet to plant? Slowly, I am meeting people and making new friends. I tenderly plant them in my Beautiful People garden. Different shapes and sizes, they each contribute to this wonderful thing I call My Life. And eventually, I will share with them the food from my garden and the beauty of the flowers that will surround us.
As winter rolls on towards spring, my advice is to take time to find out the state of your garden and what you have planted there. Remember, you harvest tomorrow what you plant today.

 

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Creating a Map

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One of the key factors to living a better, happier, wiser life is health. If you don’t have your health, what do you have? Our health determines in a large way how our daily lives play out. Are we able to work? Can we live independently? Are we enjoying life, doing things we love? Or, are we living with pain and disease?

There are things we can do to protect our health. Most people are aware of what they should do, even if they don’t practice those ways. On the other hand, sometimes life deals us a hand that no matter how healthy a lifestyle we live, health struggles exist.

In either case, we need a game plan. A way of going about our lives, living the best possible life we can in any circumstance. That isn’t always easy. We might sometimes feel, if only there were a map to show us what to do, and how to do it, it would be so helpful.

Since we are each individuals, not everyone benefits from the same path. What works for me might not work for you, and vice versa. That’s why it is important to gather information, and piece together a map for our individual selves to follow.

This year, I am going to periodically include written interviews with different experts on how women can reach the answers they are seeking, plot out their maps, get new ideas, or even review old ideas.

I begin with Tatiana Thompson, a health coach who has her own business- Simply Grounded Health.

 

Sharyn: Tatiana, can you explain why you decided to become a Health Coach?

Tatiana: A​ ​few​ ​things​ ​converged​ ​to​ ​get​ ​me​ ​on​ ​this​ ​path: I’ve​ ​been​ ​a​ ​physical​ ​therapist​ ​for​ ​30​ ​years.​ ​I​ ​have​ ​practiced​ ​in​ ​a​ ​variety​ ​of​ ​settings,​ ​the last​ ​8​ ​years​ ​has​ ​been​ ​at​ ​my​ ​local​ ​hospital​ ​(Venice​ ​hospital).​ ​​ ​As​ ​you​ ​know,​ ​our population​ ​here​ ​is​ ​geriatric.​ ​Almost​ ​every​ ​patient​ ​I​ ​treated​ ​had​ ​a​ ​medical​ ​history​ ​that inevitably​ ​included​ ​heart​ ​disease​ ​and​ ​type​ ​2​ ​diabetes.​ ​​ ​Many​ ​patients​ ​were​ ​obese.​ ​All​ ​of these​ ​patients​ ​were​ ​limited​ ​in​ ​functional​ ​mobility​ ​(walking,​ ​moving,​ ​living). This​ ​became​ ​so​ ​frustrating​ ​to​ ​me,​ ​because​ ​heart​ ​disease​ ​and​ ​T2D​ ​is​ ​preventable​ ​and even​ ​reversible. And​ ​I​ ​found​ ​that​ ​I​ ​could​ ​only​ ​teach​ ​the​ ​patient​ ​only​ ​so​ ​much​ ​in​ ​the​ ​stressful​ ​environment of​ ​the​ ​hospital.​ ​​ ​I​ ​found​ ​opportunities​ ​to​ ​dialogue​ ​with​ ​the​ ​families-they​ ​are​ ​less​ ​stressed at​ ​being​ ​in​ ​the​ ​hospital,​ ​by​ ​definition. (See​ ​my​ ​website​ ​for​ ​more​ ​details​ ​about​ ​my​ ​path.)

Sharyn: Who are your clients?

Tatiana: I​ ​work​ ​with​ ​women​ ​who​ ​are​ ​ready​ ​to​ ​enjoy​ ​the​ ​fruits​ ​of​ ​the​ ​awesome​ ​life​ ​they​ ​have created​ ​so​ ​that​ ​they​ ​can​ ​attain​ ​their​ ​future​ ​goals​ ​and​ ​dreams​ ​with​ ​health​ ​and​ ​vigor.​ ​​ ​I help​ ​women​ ​who​ ​are​ ​suffering​ ​from​ ​low​ ​energy,​ ​struggling ​with​ ​weight​ ​and​ ​decreased movement,​ ​maybe​ ​even​ experiencing ​joint​ ​pains.​ ​​ ​​ ​Maybe​ ​they​ ​are​ ​concerned​ ​that​ ​their​ ​bodies​ ​won’t let​ ​them​ ​do​ ​the​ ​things​ ​that​ ​they​ ​have​ ​been​ ​dreaming​ ​of​ ​doing.
I​ ​offer​ ​a​ ​total​ ​body​ ​and​ ​energy​ ​transformation​ ​program.​ ​​ ​I​ ​help​ ​my​ ​clients​ ​attain sustainable​ ​habit​ ​changes​ ​so​ ​that​ ​they​ ​just​ ​do​ ​life,​ ​food,​ ​movement​ ​in​ ​a​ ​way​ ​that​ ​is​ ​best for​ ​their​ ​body​ ​type.
Regarding​ ​different​ ​foods:​ ​​ ​there​ ​are​ ​lots​ ​of​ ​fads​ ​out​ ​there.​ ​Lots​ ​of​ ​new​ ​spins​ ​on​ ​old knowledge.​ ​​ ​I​ ​believe​ ​that​ ​we​ ​each​ ​know​ ​what​ ​our​ ​body​ ​needs​ ​to​ ​be​ ​functioning​ ​at​ its best​ ​capacity.​ ​​ ​Our​ ​body​ ​is​ ​our​ ​best​ ​teacher​ ​and​ ​experimenter.​ ​​ ​Listen​ ​to​ ​your​ ​gut.

Sharyn: How has becoming a Health Coach changed you?

Tatiana: This​ ​journey​ ​has​ ​me​ ​living​ ​differently​ ​than​ ​before.​ ​I​ ​have​ ​a​ ​morning​ ​ritual​ ​of​ ​thinking, journaling,​ ​creating​ ​my​ ​day​ ​for​ ​success.​ ​​ ​Meditation​ ​happens​ ​infrequently,​ ​sadly.​ ​​ ​I include​ ​exercise​ ​almost​ ​daily;​ ​and​ ​I​ ​tailor​ ​it​ ​to​ ​my​ ​body​ ​age.​ ​​ ​I​ ​can’t​ ​run​ ​anymore because​ ​I​ ​know​ ​that​ ​will​ ​stress​ ​​my​ ​​spine.​ ​I​ ​walk​ ​briskly,​ ​I​ ​do​ ​yoga,​ ​I​ ​bike.​ ​​ ​I​ ​eat​ ​foods that​ ​give​ ​me​ ​energy.​ ​I​ ​try​ ​to​ ​avoid​ ​foods​ ​that​ ​rob​ ​me​ ​of​ ​energy,​ ​because​ ​that​ ​just​ ​isn’t acceptable​ ​anymore​ ​for​ ​me​ ​to​ ​feel​ ​shitty​​after​ ​eating​ ​a​ ​past​ ​meal,​ ​for​ ​example.​ ​So, that​ ​hits​ ​nourishment/movement/mindfulness. Each​ ​one​ ​of​ ​my​ ​choices​ ​are​ ​not​ ​difficult​ ​at​ ​all​ ​at​ ​this​ ​time.​ ​​ ​It​ ​is​ ​just​ ​how​ ​I​ ​do​ ​it​ ​now.

Sharyn: Do you work strictly with women?

Tatiana: I​ ​do​ ​advise​ ​men.​ ​​ ​Not​ ​children​ ​nor​ ​teens.

Sharyn: If you had to list one piece of advice that women can start doing today for a better tomorrow, what would that be?

Tatiana: The​ ​most​ ​important​ ​things​ ​that​ ​women​ ​can​ ​start​ ​doing​ ​now​ ​to​ ​make​ ​a​ ​positive​ ​change​ ​in their​ ​health: Follow​ ​your​ ​gut​ ​instinct​ ​about​ ​what​ ​foods​ ​rob​ ​you​ ​of​ ​energy​ ​or​ ​give​ ​you​ ​energy.​ ​​ ​And then​ ​MAKE​ ​THAT​ ​CHOICE​ ​that​ ​feeds​ ​your​ ​body​ ​best. You​ ​are​ ​never​ ​too​ ​old​ ​to​ ​improve​ ​your​ ​diet​ ​and​ ​movement​ ​and​ ​thinking​ ​habits. Drink lots of water.

 

If you feel you could benefit from Tatiana’s help, she is simply a phone call away. That’s right! You don’t even have to go to an office to speak with her and develop a plan. She can do it all over the phone. I am including her information so you can check out her webpage, her facebook page, and give her a call.

Tatiana​ ​Thompson, Simply​ ​Grounded​ ​Health
Website: Simplygoundedhealth.com
FaceB​ook Page: ​Simply​ ​Grounded​ ​Health
Email- tatiana@simplygroundedhealth.commaphealth

Trading My New Year for a New Day

Happy New Year’s-

Each December 31st, people eagerly wait for the clock to strike midnight so they can wipe the slate clean and begin anew- with new goals and aspirations. Letting go of the past year, they await the new year with all the excitement of a child waking up Christmas morning to a pile of presents beneath the tree.

Time is marching on and with the flip of the calendar year, we anticipate all the great things to come, great things we will accomplish. It’s a new beginning. Or is it?

Starting again each January is akin to repeatedly going back to the starting line of the race. How can you win, much less finish, when you keep going back to the beginning? And what happens to all those steps we took in the previous year? Don’t they count for anything?

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Here’s a thought. Why wait until January 1st to let go of bad habits, bad relationships, bad thoughts? Why do we need a new year to start new goals?

The key is to be here, now, in this moment. Want to eat better? Start today. Exercise more? No time like the present. Be more productive? Start producing.

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When the clock strikes midnight and announces the New Year, take time to reflect on all that transpired the previous year. Also take time to reflect on the positive changes you have made throughout the year that you are still carrying forth into the new year. Wise Crones know yesterday is gone, tomorrow is never promised and today is here right now.

happy new year

Footprints on Our Soul

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It’s been said that some people cross our path for a lifetime, some for a season, some for a reason, and all leave footprints on our soul.
As we go through life, sooner or later we experience the loss of someone we love. A family member, a friend, a pet. The older we get, the longer the list becomes with the names of those who leave us as they journey to the next level of existence.
We, too, will be leaving here someday. It might be soon. It might be in the distant future. The question we should ask ourselves is, what footprints will we be leaving on the souls of our earthly companions?
A couple of weeks ago, I was unpacking boxes from our move to Colorado. I was focused on getting together my writing/ meditation room, setting up books, organizing my desk, hanging pictures, and placing various statues and gemstones. As I sat back and looked around me, I noticed so many items that had been gifted to me by my dear friend, Nancy. Even though we now lived miles, and states, apart- it felt as though she were there in the room with me. Her energy permeated the space in every direction, every corner.
The following morning, I excitedly grabbed my laptop, intending to email her my thoughts and feelings. That no matter the distance between us, we were close to each other in spirit, in heart, in soul. I could have called, but she was sick. She was in transition. She wasn’t up to speaking on the phone. I knew if I wrote, someone would read her the email.
I never wrote that email. Before I typed it out, I discovered she had left this earthly existence the previous night.

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There are no regrets that she didn’t get the email. We had spoken numerous times over the years about how important our friendship was. We were soul-sisters. Best friends. We verbally expressed to each other the importance of our cherished friendship. We both understood the footprints we left on each other’s soul were embedded with gold and lighted with the love of that friendship.
I have been blessed with many great relationships. Some long lasting, some short lived. I have also had relationships where people plodded heavily across my soul, leaving deep, uneven grooves I worked hard at smoothing over. There have been footprints of jealousy, rage, anger, manipulation. These I sweep away with care and concern. I prefer to run my hands lovingly over the footprints of love, joy, happiness. I tuck these away in a safe corner of my heart. And I wonder…
What footprints have I left? I would like to say they were all light and happy. But I know better. While I have left many loving, happy footprints, I know there were times I left behind dark, heavy prints. It saddens me. I want to do better. I want my footprints to be light on the souls of others. I want them to have meaning, substance. When my energy flows into someone’s space, I want it to bring uplifting light.

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It’s a goal, to be the best I can be. To practice love and compassion. To offer space for someone to just be.
I hope those who felt a heaviness from my steps can forgive me. I am a work in progress. Each day I strive to be better. Do better. Walk lightly. And I ask you, what footprints are you leaving?

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Gratitude

November arrived, ushering in the full brunt of fall, and bringing forth comments of what we are thankful for and how we plan on celebrating the day our nation sets aside to officially Give Thanks.

This got me to thinking on the many times a day, week, month, year, someone says “thank you” to me, or I to them. But how often do we really think on those words, “thank you”? Do we always mean it, or do we offer it as a remote reply as we hand the customer back their change, or someone picks up a quarter we dropped and hands it back to us?

We were taught as children to say “please,” “thank you,” and “you’re welcome.”. Manners are important. But did anyone really teach us why we should be thankful?

Many times life will serve up opportunities by which when someone gives us a helping hand, we truly are thankful. We then may feel grateful someone was able and willing to help. Thankfulness then moves into Gratitude.

At the start and end of each day, if we take time to truly think about the things we are grateful for, the people whom we are grateful for, our hearts become lighter. It can be something as major as a lifesaving surgery, or as simple as seeing the rose bush bloom. Being grateful is telling the universe we happily receive that which is good in our lives and are open to receiving more. It also moves us to show our gratitude in ways that help our fellow beings on this planet, thereby making the world a happier, better place in which to live.

While November brings the official day of thanksgiving, it’s important to remember we have all year to show our gratitude.

Happy Thanksgiving! And may we all be blessed with gratitude.

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Dem Bones, Dem Bones

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Halloween is right around the corner, and a cartoon of dancing skeletons brought to mind the perfect subject to write about- Bones.

As a child, I was told how important it was to drink milk and eat my fortified bread for strong bones.

In my twenties and thirties, I was often schooled by doctors, advertisers, female co-workers, and female friends on the importance of calcium supplement. You just couldn’t take enough calcium if you were a woman, I was told. Drink your milk, eat your yogurt and cheese, and take a daily calcium supplement to keep from having fragile old woman bones later in life!

I tried taking calcium supplements, but the chewable ones upset my stomach and the pill forms stuck in my throat. I decided I would just make sure I ate enough calcium rich foods and worry about osteoporosis when I got old. Devouring cottage cheese, butter, yogurt, milk, ice cream, I figured I had this calcium thing covered. No thought was given to my calcium leaching habits of drinking coffee and soda pop.

Turning the corner to 50, I asked myself, had I done enough to build up my bones?

Our bones are constantly being made over. New cells form, old cells die. By our mid-thirties, the rate of new bone cell growth slows down. Enter menopause, and new bone cells almost come to a complete stop. Therefore, it is important to build up our bone producing cells in the first half of life with calcium rich foods and weight bearing exercise.

It’s equally important to reduce calcium leaching foods such as soy milk, coffee, soda pop, tofu, white flour, and processed meats.

When menopause comes into play, many women choose to use hormone therapy replacement drugs. It’s an option I chose not to take, mainly because it increases your risk of breast cancer. I also try to follow the natural path with my body as much as possible. So, I focus on diet and exercise. HRT is a personal choice to be made by the individual after consulting with their doctors and research. I want to stress, I am not saying it is wrong, it just it isn’t for everyone, and it isn’t for me.

Regardless, every woman should follow a proper diet and exercise routine. Walking, weight-lifting, yoga, dance and jogging are all great weight bearing exercises. If you have physical issues that interfere with those types of workouts, check with a physical therapist to find out a routine you can do. And pick something you enjoy so it will easily become a part of your daily schedule.

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Women’s diets should include daily yogurt containing only milk and culture. Stay away from the added flavorings, sugars, color additives. You can easily mix berries, nuts, and honey to flavor your yogurt. Cooked greens and herbal infusions of red clover, nettle, or oat straw are also excellent choices.

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Still not sure how to make sure you are fulfilling your calcium needs? Visit a nutritionist. There are also many books and websites available to help you adjust your lifestyle to one that lovingly takes care of your bones.

I am including a recipe from the Susan S. Weed book, New Menopausal Years, The Wise Woman Way.

Just as it’s important for us to build up our bone producing cells the first half of life, it’s equally important to reduce calcium leaching foods in the second half of life.

Bonny Boney Brew

Nettle  1 oz, dry
Horsetail  1 tbsp, dry
Sage  1 tbsp, dry

Crush sage between palms and drop into a quart container with the other two herbs. Fill jar with water just off the boil. Cap tightly and allow to brew for at least four hours, though you may allow it to brew overnight. Strain; drink as is or heat and add honey. I like to add ice and drink it cold. You can substitute red clover, oat straw, or raspberry for the nettle.

Each cup contains same amount of calcium as a cup of milk.

Balanced Crones Chop Wood and Carry Water. Some Plant Butterfly Gardens

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We have all been there. That place of overwhelmed, over anxious, over worried, over stressed. There are times when it all piles on at once, leaving us in complete distress. As women, we often bring much of this on ourselves. We often take on the problems and worries of spouses, children, friends, co-workers. We want to help. We want to nurture. And we are super women, right? We can do it all and still have time to do more.

News Flash-  we aren’t super women, just women who do their best. We are, after all, only human. And sometimes we reach the breaking point.

I had reached that point in my life some years back. It was as though everything of importance in my life was out of control. The burden of stress became too heavy to carry. I slipped into depression and went into zombie mode, going through the motions of daily life without fully being attached to it. I would rise, go to work, come home, and plant myself on the couch, curled up under the heavy blanket of sadness.

But I couldn’t own up to it. After all, I was a mom, I was a wife, I was a business owner. I had to have it all together, didn’t I? And it wasn’t as though it was some clinical depression brought on by imbalance of chemicals in my brain. It was certain issues in life that were sad, scary, and spinning out of control that had me feeling so defenseless, so beaten down.

I wouldn’t bring any of this up to family and friends. It was my problem to be dealt with, not theirs. Wasn’t I a spiritual person? Didn’t I meditate? Perhaps I hadn’t in awhile. I knew about life, and love. I knew about my perceptions of God. Why wasn’t any of this helping?

I laid on the couch frequently, not wanting to clean, cook, read. I rolled up in grief, soaking in my sadness, feeling as though I was sliding down a slippery slope and unable to find anything to grab onto. And I didn’t sleep. Sleep brought on nightmares.

One day, a good friend whom I hadn’t seen in awhile, took one look at me and said, “What’s going on? You look like shit. You look like you’ve been dragged through the mud and stomped on.”

I was taken aback, not because she said I looked like shit, but because she knew that something wasn’t right. She saw right through my facade. So much for my acting abilities.

As I explained my situation, she gave me some solid advice. I needed to bring myself back into balance. I could not possibly help anyone until I helped myself. She suggested yoga. She suggested getting back to meditation. Nothing was going to get better, she said, until I got up and made it so. Balance. I was off balance.

I went home and thought on what she said. I had tried to meditate but my anxiety wouldn’t allow it. I had picked up the bible and looked for some verse that would shed light. Lord knows, I prayed. And then I picked up my book about Buddhism. I hadn’t really read much of it. I decided since nothing else was doing the trick, might as well try this.

In those pages, I discovered what I needed. Chop wood, carry water.

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No, I didn’t go out with an axe and chop down trees followed by fetching water from a stream.

Chop wood, carry water refers to putting your focus fully on the task at hand. If you’re washing dishes, concentrate fully on that task, getting the water temperature right, adding soap, picking up the plate, scrubbing, rinsing, placing on the dish mat. Once all is washed, concentrate on the drying. The towel texture. The wet becoming dry.

As you concentrate fully on the matter at hand, there is no wandering of the mind to current worries and struggles. Doing dishes, there is only dishes. Folding laundry, there is only laundry. But enough about household chores!

My way to chop wood and carry water was to plant a butterfly garden. I decided it would be nice to have some butterflies flittering around, spreading their beauty and joy. Yes, a butterfly garden. I researched species of butterflies common to my area, and the plants they fed on, laid eggs on. I went into the yard, found a perfect spot by the fence, and dug my garden. By hand.

Each rip of grass and weed from the dirt was a symbol of ripping out the pain and hurt from my soul. Finally, I was ready for the planting. I planted milkweed, sun daisies, pentas, butterfly bushes, along with parsley, basil, and rosemary. I stuck in a small bird bath and some decorative rocks. Each thing I planted and posed in the garden brought light into my heart. I was rebuilding my soul, one plant at a time.

Then came the butterflies. Monarchs, Zebra Longwings, Swallowtails, Queens. And after them, the caterpillars. Cute, small, pretty little creatures, munching away happily, oblivious to any of the dangers around them.

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The swallowtails quickly ate through the parsley, and my husband and I did more than one emergency run to get more. Same with the monarchs on the milkweed. The garden was a daily duty, and dependent on me to keep it from going rogue, from dying out.

I couldn’t control everything happening in the world around me, or to the people I loved and cared about. But I could control this butterfly garden. I could keep it thriving and growing into a wonderment and a sanctuary for butterflies, bees, and a variety of animals.

Then, something marvelous happened. I awoke one day and realized that  I felt better. I was smiling. I was happy. While the butterflies thrived, so did I. I had made the world a better place, if only in one small corner of my yard.

My meditation times started becoming more frequent. I began yoga again. My couch grew cold and lonely. I was in the sun. I had found my wood and water. There was a peace in my heart. I could talk to God again.

There are times when people need to seek counseling for their depression. I would never suggest anyone try to deal with it alone, or stop taking any meds they may be taking without speaking to their doctor.

But for most people, I think, if we just learn to chop wood and carry water, we can find purpose. We can find balance. And in finding balance, we can bring balance to others.

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