Natural Health, Uncategorized

It’s OK to be Tired

napThere, I just gave you permission. Probably no one has done that since you were about 3 and you took daily naps. I have so many people come to me for acupuncture and one of their main complaints is fatigue, exhaustion, low energy. They hate it and they want their energy boosted. Then when I ask about their schedules they are: full time moms, and or working full time, caring for parents, pets, a home, volunteering, exercising a lot, gardening or skiing or running marathons or who knows what else. And I tell them, I think you’re tired…because you’re tired. It is so American to think we can fire on all cylinders 24/7 and never run out of energy, but it is decidedly Un-American to be tired. Ever. We are a nation of accomplishers (ok I made that word up) and doers and achievers. Not nappers. One of my Chinese professors, an MD in China, told me that when he worked there 20 years ago, it was totally acceptable, and most people did this, to close your door or sit in your chair around 2pm and rest for 20 minutes. I think you might get arrested if you tried that in America. Or at least lose your job. I don’t know if that is still true in China, with such a different economy and work environment now, but I thought that was fascinating.

At one point I went to my MD and said I must have low thyroid or anemia I was so exhausted and I requested blood work (which she did. I was fine). She was from India. She asked me “2 very young little boys, work, home, and no help at all? No, your thyroid is fine. You are just tired. Do yoga.” I loved that Dr. But she was right. I was tired, because I was TIRED! So of course I do a full intake on every client who comes to see me, and many of them do need their energy and their digestion and their overall Chi to be boosted, which I do through acupuncture herbs and the recommendation of mediation or yoga. But I almost always now add, that we should not forget to allow ourselves to be tired. We are tired. Our bodies are telling us so loud and clear. And so….we should rest. Easier said than done. But we should not think this is an illness to be cured, rather it is a need to be met. Lie on the sofa, even if you only have 5 minutes. Or let yourself be lazy and not do the 100 things you need to do on that one morning both kids are in school. Just start be recognizing, that we already do so much, we should be kind to ourselves, as if we were 3 again, we need to lie on our blankies and have some quiet time. At least I know I do, and I do it every chance I get. Which is not that often. But when I do it, I make sure I do the most important part of all, I enjoy it. I don’t feel guilty or berate myself. I soak it up. One Z at a time…Zzzzzz….

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Natural Health, Uncategorized

I’m Going to Settle

Woman meditating

That’s right, I’ve decided it’s time to settle. And I’m so happy. That word has such negative connotations, settling – like it means accepting less. And for me, it does mean settling for less, but in a good way! In fact, at the risk of being dramatic, it’s changing my life, this settling. This year has been the most stressful of my life with a major debilitating illness, a 400 mile move with children who struggled with it, financial stress, and then the unexpected death of my mother just two days after she left our house at Christmas. It has been awful. Plus I work, I have acupuncture practices in two different states, and run I a home, am raising two boys and two young energetic big dogs, I was stressed! So much so that it started to impact my parenting, and that’s always where I draw my line. Or maybe where it’s so obvious how badly I’ve been treating myself that I finally see it. A few  weeks of watching my stress and short temper effect my kids and I thought something has to change!! But what? I can’t just never clean my house or do laundry or exercise the dogs or help the boys with their homework or go to work or………you know how it is, the list goes on. So what did I do? I read the word “settle” somewhere, in passing, and it was like a lightening bolt. That’s It! I thought. I needed to teach my mind to settle. Like muddy water in a pond all churned up my mind was chaos. My reality is busy. My mind was chaos. So that even on a rare day where I had a little free time, I still felt totally frenetic and swamped, even if I wasn’t. Because my mind was always in overdrive. I didn’t know how to settle down. How to let my mind settle, let the pool of water settle, let all the junk flying around in the water settle, let my breathing settle. Settle. For some reason this word has helped me enormously. I have meditated on and off for 20 years, but even that sometimes feels like an effort, “Clear the mind” – but sometimes I can’t. But settle, that I could do. I started sitting for 20 minutes in the morning and 20 in the afternoon. This is what’s recommended in Transcendental Meditation, about which I know nothing, but I decided that sounded reasonable. Long enough to make a difference but not a ridiculous thing to ask a busy working mother, like an hour morning and night. 20 minutes I could do. And I have. And the results were instant. I mean instant. No struggling to get meditation “right”, no wondering if my mind was clear enough, my inner voice quiet enough or positive enough. I had no agenda. I just let my mind settle. Tried to empty my mind, but if thoughts wandered in and out, that was fine too, I’d just ask them to be quiet, like patrons joining a violin concert a few minutes late. Just keep your voices down little thoughts and you can stay too.

Whatever it was about that word, it has shifted me. I instantly, that first night, slept through the night for the first time in months. And this week when I’ve woken and instantly gone into my default mode these days – panic – I just tell myself kindly to settle. And next thing I know I’ve gone back to sleep (this is a major development for an insomniac). And I feel as if I had so much more time in my day. That’s the strangest part. I don’t. But I felt all this room to get through my day more peacefully rather than rushing and short tempered and always feeling like I didn’t have enough time. My life on the outside didn’t get less hectic, but my life on the inside did, and so there was all this quiet space that hadn’t been there before and it changed everything about my day. So there it is. Really I am settling for less. Less stress, less chaos, less pressure inflicted on myself by myself, less worry. I see my mind as a cloudy pool of muddy water and I let the silt settle to the bottom, let my mind be clear and wow, it’s beautiful when that happens. I was instantly kinder, more patient with my children, and happier. Just happier, which is always a good thing. So there it is. It’s time to settle. Nothing wrong with settling for less 🙂

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Happy First Day of Spring! A Time to Plant the Seeds of Your Intentions!

spring_flower_by_raylau-d4rremu

It’s that time of year, even in Maine it is warming up. Earlier than usual, but here it is, the first day of Spring. The earth is soft and muddy, birds are singing their joyful spring songs, and I am looking at seed catalogs. It’s time to start planting the tiny seeds that will miraculously grow into a lush, abundant garden in a few months. And so it is with our intentions, plans and dreams. All winter, the most Yin or cold, quiet, restful time of year in Chinese medicine, we gather resources, we rest, we plan. And now that Yin time of year is turning to Yang – the more active, warm, productive time of year. The ideas and intentions we created and meditated on during the winter have, by now, formed into actual ideas, plans. These plans are the seeds of what we will create this year. A seed is really just a concentrated piece of energy, information, intention. And now is the time to start planting so those seeds can slowly grow and bear fruit!

As it is with actual seeds, we need our intentions to be specific. If your intention is “I want to be happy,” that’s great. But it’s more likely you will reach your goal if your seed is more specific like, “I want to spend more time relaxing/swimming/learning to fly a plane” whatever it is that will make you happy…You need to know what you want. And you need to be specific. The universe will mirror  your intentions, will bring to you whatever energy you are putting out. So if you can specifically envision what you want, you are more likely to have it grow successfully. Seeds are very specific. You don’t plant a seed and maybe it’ll be a sunflower, maybe it’ll be an eggplant. You plant a specific seed and that specific plant will grow. So know what you want, concentrate your energy on specific intentions, then plant them. But that’s not the end, once planted you must tend them carefully.

As we plant our seeds we need to be sure to nurture them, new plans or ideas are fragile at the beginning, we can’t plant the seed and just walk away, then months later be upset the we don’t have a lush garden. Seeds need to be protected, watered, given sun and warmth and protection from wind or snow. And when they first emerge from the ground, don’t be upset if they don’t look exactly like what you wanted. Keep nurturing, keep your intention focused. I read once that if you pulled up every tomato plant as it emerged because it didn’t look like a tomato, you’d never get a tomato. At first a tomato plant is a tiny green shoot that doesn’t look like it could ever produce a big red vegetable. But nurture the plant and it will eventually give you exactly what you wanted.

So go outside, soak up some equinox sun and birdsong, focus your intentions and plant them as seeds in your mind, in your life. Now is the time for those ideas that have been quietly forming all winter to start to move into the realm of action, where you make your first moves to make the dream into a reality. And all the while don’t forget to stop and Spring garden!

Natural Health, Uncategorized

My Mother Just Died. Here Is What I Know…

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My mother just died. I spent a wonderful Christmas with her and my father in our home, with our two sons. It was picture perfect. They left on the 26th. By the 29th she was dead. Though she had been ill, she had been so alive just days before, the news rocked my world to a depth I could never have imagined. My mother. I don’t have a mother any more. I feel like I lost 1,000 different people; from the frail old woman my mother had suddenly become due to her illness, to the robust grab life by the horns mother who raised me, to the patient mother who sat in a rocking chair in my bedroom every night when I was afraid to go to sleep when I was 9,  to the fun mother who let all my friends come over and cooked us big dinners in high school, even to the mother with whom I didn’t always get along. I lost them all. And here is what I know now…

Love everyone. Love everyone. Period. That’s it. It is NO more complicated than that. If someone is really bad for you, then don’t have them in your life. But you can still send them love. Love is ALL there is. The second I found out my mother died, I felt her so strongly, I mean really and truly felt her like she was there, all week that we were at my parents’ house grieving and supporting my dad and arranging things, even standing next to her casket, I can tell you with 100% certainty, she was there. And the thing is – she was perfect. She was joyful and light in a way that I had never felt anyone be before. Because when someone dies, they go back to the total perfection from which they came, from which we all came. Perfect complete joyful versions of their souls. But here’s the kicker – we are that when we are alive too, we just can’t see it. We are all perfect, right now. You are, I am, my father is, the grumpy lady at the gas station is. Of course we have to have daily coping skills to not let toxic people effect our lives, I don’t search out unpleasant people as friends. But the point is – love everyone. Did I already say that? Though my mother and I didn’t always understand each other, by my 20s I had finally gotten this – love her. Just give. Stop trying to get all the time. Give perfect love and your relationships will be perfect. I don’t mean there will never be hurt feelings or misunderstandings or they won’t bug the heck out of you. But the relationship will be perfect. Love without worrying about your little needs, without grasping and wanting. Give love freely and abundantly and with joy. Because before you know it, someone you love is gone. Gone. And the main comfort you will have is knowing that you loved them completely. Loved their imperfect, difficult, wonderful selves with our imperfect, difficult, wonderful love.

What I know for sure is that the moment we die, we return to complete perfection. But what I hadn’t realized, is that that perfect soul is within all of us all the time, right now, right here. So don’t wait for death to start seeing that perfection, celebrating it…loving it. Start now.

Natural Health, Uncategorized

Happy Fall Equinox!

imgresThere are only two days a year when there are equal amounts of dark and light at the equator – Fall & Spring equinox. It is marked with rituals around the world and throughout the ages as a time to celebrate the richness of the harvest and to acknolwedge both abundance and balance – tangible and intangible – in our lives. The pagans would light a candle and bless the cakes and ales put on their altar. This day in the Wiccan calendar is known as Mabon and the cakes represent the masculine forces in nature, and the ales in the chalice represent the feminine. Again it is a time to honor balance, between the seasons, the light and dark, the masculine and feminine, and in all ways.

In China the fall Equinox falls on September 23 and is the half way point between “First Fall and First Hoar Frost”. At this equinox it is tradition to make sacrifices to the moon (in the Spring they are made to the sun), as the moon, the dark, the cold, the yin is the time of year approaching. Rice filled dumplings are eaten to celebrate this time. Though because September 23 doesn’t always fall on a full moon, and it is important that the moon be full for these rituals, so now it is often celebrated at the “mid-autumn festival” which is timed around the first fall full moon. Dumplings are given as gifts. This is the moment when yin and yang are in perfect balance. One fun tradition in China is to try and balance and egg on it’s end. This can only be accomplished on the equinox. Because yin and yang are in balance right now, it is important to eat foods that balance heat and cool, and to start preparing the body for the cool weather ahead – continuing exercise to boost immunity, and eating foods the strengthen the lungs (important for preventing illness in TCM) such as rice, honey, nuts and dairy products.

So here’s to a day to celebrate balance, abundance, harvest and health as we head into the colder, darker months ahead!

Natural Health, Uncategorized

Fall: The Time To Gather Seeds. And Ideas, and Intentions and Dreams…

IMG_6792Fall is here. The summer lovers are sad about this, but I am thrilled, I love the fall. The crisp air, changing leaves, the holidays beginning…to some this time of year is about endings. And it is, as is each season in its way. But really this season is about the earliest stages of beginning to. In Chinese thoughts of yin and yang, deep within the deepest part of the yin is the seed of the yang. And deep within the deepest part of the yang is the seed of the yin. So in deepest winter, we begin to turn toward sun and warmth. In hottest summer, there is the seed of winter within. And so in the fall, there is the ending, the reaping of the harvest, and the dying of the plants. But it is also a time to gather seeds and plans and ideas to store over the winter.

The big expansive active energy of summer has faded, and as we enter the months that are about IMG_6795rest, rejuvenation,quiet and stillness, and planning, we start by collecting the fruits of our labors over the summer. From all the plans that came to fruition, and even the ones that didn’t, there are wonderful seeds to be harvested – lessons learned, new ideas, new inspirations. So gather the seeds now to collect and store and ponder over the long winter. These are the seeds that contain your next project, your next move, your next career change, relationship, lifestyle shift, or just continuation on a path you chose to stay on. The summer is ending, but the spring planting of new things starts right now. The seeds are in your garden, and in your mind and body. Be conscious of which ones you chose to carry into the next year, and which ones you chose to leave behind and not re-sow. Your great joys and achievements are simply the results of choosing carefully which seeds to grow with your time, energy and love.

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Natural Health, Uncategorized

Chinese Year of the Snake is Ending. Time to Shed Your Skin…

snake skinThe Year of the Snake is ending. Soon we will enter the exciting year of the Yang/Wood Horse which I will write about at Chinese New Year at the end of the month. Was your year of the snake a complicated one? Snake years are an interesting combination of things. Snakes are seen as symbols of wealth in China as snakes seem always able to find a meal. Images of snakes wrapped around a rabbit are often hung on doors and windows during spring festival to indicate prosperity. But the snake is also considered jealous and suspicious, even malevolent. So if you have had a year that was confusing or particularly full of ups and downs, you may be glad to see the snake slither away at the end of the month.

But as with all years, we have gathered information and experiences, good and bad, that help us grow. And as we grow it’s important to shed our old skins. Let go of things that held you back, inhibited your growth or got in your way. The things you no longer need will only weigh you down as we gallop into the year of the horse so take a moment to let those things fall off you like the snake does and be ready to begin a new year newly emerged, fresh and just a little bit older and wiser.

More on the year of the horse coming soon…!