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Archive for the ‘Wellness’ Category

It’s been a challenging year, watching a friend transition from being a fun drunk to being immersed in a psychotic episode. It’s been difficult for our community of friends, for his family, and for anyone who happens to be in his presence. My friend Jay (not his real name) has had “episodes” for most of his twenties. During that time, he’s attracted the presence of police and mental health professionals, but has always managed to get his shit together enough to pass as “normal” and stay out of the confines of a box.

I had fun last summer, hanging out with Jay, drinking wine on the porch of an evening while staring at the moon and listening to the deafening roar of crickets, and going on night bike rides with vitalizing conversation, exploring hidden places. Somewhere in the dark of winter, Jay slipped into depression and began complementing his beer obsession with whiskey. Summer returned, and Jay, tagged with an official diagnosis of bipolar schizophrenia, became manic.  He began taking mass quantities of psychedelic drugs, which when used in their traditional shamanic role, are incredible helpers to insight and transformation. In the grip of a whiskey mania though, LSD and magic mushrooms became for Jay a gateway to psychosis.

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upwardly mobile!

Pharmaceutical companies are working to create a pill that will work like a female viagra, boosting the sex drive and function for women. Right now what’s being tested not being found effective enough to be worth the side effects (ugh) but the FDA is excited about the project and encouraging further research.

My easy reaction to this is “oy vey.” As with the birth control pill, it can be easy to root for projects that help women take control of their bodies, but – as with the pill- I wish we would learn to do this by working with our partners and our natural animal selves to get in touch with the cycles of our bodies, instead of popping pills.

Camilla Paglia thinks so too, and she explains further in a short op-ed piece in the NYT that acknowledges a lot of the same cultural problems addressed by radical homemaking. Read the full article here, and then go get off the computer and remember your body and all its complicated functions.

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"The Venus of Laussel, our earliest sculpture in relief, was carved in stone over the entrance to a cave of the same name in France and painted with red ocher. She holds in her right hand a crescent horn with thirteen notches carved on it; her left hand points to her pregnant belly. it is as if she is giving a lesson in sex education, showing all who enter the ritual cavern exactly what is to be celebrated there." —Vicki Noble

Menstruation is a natural and healthy part of being female, a cyclical reminder that we are an integral piece of the planet that gave birth to us. Yet our culture denigrates this sacred body process to the area of dis-ease. There are pills to cut the pain and gain emotional control, odor fresheners for the “down there” smells, and all kinds of blood catchment devices (pads, tampons, cups). If we’re tired of enduring our periods, modern medicine can even give us a shot to make our periods go away completely. What used to be a celebrated ritual of woman and community is now something we don’t talk much about, except to “fix” it so it interferes with daily life as little as possible.

Before electric light artificially lengthened our day, women in communities used to menstruate together, typically, ovulating and menstruating at the full and new moons. As author Vicki Noble states in her fabulous book, Shakti Woman, detailing the shamanic journey of the female: “When the moon passes through its phases of waxing and waning, dying, and being reborn as a new crescent, this can be felt—physically, emotionally, and psychically.” We can only imagine the power of something like this—a tradition bonding women in a community together, generation through generation.

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The dandelion is a much maligned meadow plant, a native of Europe. Americans fiercely and defiantly dig out and poison this miracle plant, for no obvious reason other than they think they should. I started thinking for myself, and I have found out quite a bit about this miracle plant.

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Cachexia is a term which means being in a general bad state of health, seemingly referring to the American medical system and the health of Americans in general. Rather than taking a reactive approach to health care (such as taking pills to mask symptoms), do-it-yourself (diy) health involves taking a proactive approach–claiming and maintaining health as a normal condition of daily living.

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The feral lunch

I enjoy challenging myself. I threaten to kick my own ass, and however it plays out, I learn about myself and usually expand my personal comfort levels. This week I challenged myself to eat from my yard for one meal each day I am home.

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“February was like a being in labor transition- not being fully in one place or another; yet feeling the discomfort, wanting to stay put and needing to move forward…. March is like the second stage of labor. We get to shift gears. We can see and feel the finish line because it is in sight–Spring is coming…. Pushing (or putting our inner musings from winter out into the world) gives us an active role in getting there.”
Teresa Robertson, founder of Birth Intuitive

In Chinese medicine, Spring, though we love it, though we feel the relief of the melt, is seen as the most aggressive of the seasons. If you think about it for a minute, it makes sense. The Push is real. The element for Spring is Wood. Wood controls Earth with its roots, holding things in place, moving tons of soil to make way for its growth, pushing down for stabilization, pushing up towards the sky. The growth of Wood (and all plants in general) must inherently be aggressive. Buds are not gentle things. They burst forward aggressively, they strain against gravity. Growing is tough business!

If you find that your migraines are suddenly worse in the Spring, muscles are achy, your digestive systems is acting up, depression is seeming worse, or that PMS is getting you down more than usual, remember that it’s the Wood element inside you responding to seasonal changes with the rest of the northern hemisphere. These changes in your constitution are actually quite normal. A gentle liver cleanse is great this time of year, as the Liver and Gallbladder are the organs associated with Spring and Wood. These organs are also the ones in charge of aggression, irritability, but also vision for the future, planning, and organizing.

It’s a great time for self-reflection, cleaning out your proverbial closet, and making plans for the rest of the year. In this way, Spring is actually the best time to address resolutions and begin new healthy habits. The insight that this time of year can lend is not to be ignored!

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acupuncturist. bourbon enthusiast. knitterbakerlover.

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