Thursday, December 29, 2011

Texas Teen Ben Breedlove Posted Two Inspirational Videos on YouTube Before His Death

There are some who come into this life simply to inspire others.  One such person, Ben Breedlove, was one of those who managed to touch many people's lives throughout his short life, and even more so through his death. 

Sick with the heart condition 'hypertrophic cardiomyopathy' (HC) for most of his life, the Austin, Texas teen had three near death experiences, the first one at the tender young age of four. Not that his health condition stopped him from living. His parents describe what a wonderful young man Ben was, here.

One of his many accomplishments was the creation of several popular YouTube channels including one in which he gave advice to young teens. But the week before he passed on he created another channel.  This time he only uploaded two very powerful videos entitled "This is my life" Part 1 and 2, in which he describes (with handwritten notes) some comforting visions he had during those experiences 'cheating death'. In one of those visions, his favorite rapper, Kid Cudi, appeared:

“While I was still unconscious, I was in this white room. No walls. It just went on and on. There was no sound [but peace]. It I was wearing a really nice suit. And so was my favorite rapper, Kid Cudi. Why he was the only one there with me, I’m still trying to figure out. But I was looking at this mirror that was in front of me. The first thing I thought was damn we look good… I couldn’t stop smiling."

With a maturity beyond his years, he also explains how he saw the 'white light' and how comforting and at peace he felt. At the end he writes: "Do you believe in Angels or God?"  then lifts the last piece of paper "I do".

A compilation of the videos went viral, and Kid Cudi was so touched he wrote about it on his blog.

Ben uploaded those videos on December 18, and on the evening of December 25 he left the physical plane. He must have somehow known it was time. 

Ben was only 18 years old. Rest in Peace, you are now 'at home'.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Does "The Salt Solution Diet" Really Work?

I love salt!   I'm one of those people who pours it on everything, because food just tastes, well, pretty darn bland without those tasty little crystal morsels sprinkled on eggs, or poured into a boiling pot of water for pasta. My sweet tooth was replaced by my love of salty foods when I stopped eating meat many moons ago, and since my blood pressure, thankfully, is perfect I have never had to worry about my sodium intake. 

But as age has crept upon me over the years, so have the pounds. I am not overweight, but I have about 10 of them I would like to get rid of permanently, and they're clinging to me like a wet t-shirt.  When I got very sick with a nasty flareup of my Ulcerative Colitis two years ago I lost 30 pounds, twenty of which my body should not have dumped considering my height and frame, but I gained those extra 10 pounds and I want them gone, but not as a result of being sick.

I have never been much of a dieter, or calorie counter, and regimented exercise has always bored me to tears, but I started exercising a bit and cutting down on desserts and yet there they still are. Then, while standing in the grocery store check-out line I noticed a Woman's World magazine with the words printed in white "Is salt making you FAT?" and "Lose 11 lbs in 14 days".  The magazine got added to my purchases, and I immediately  read the article.

The article, excerpted from Heather K Jones, RD's book The Salt Solution, has some interesting notions about how salt makes you fat, so I decided to try the diet, as challenging as it was to find no-salt, low salt foods. I diligently followed the diet using the recipes and the guidelines in the magazine article, while I waited for my copy I had purchased on Ebay.  And guess what?  I didn't drop a pound in those effort-filled two weeks. 

I assume that it has worked for others, but it certainly didn't for me. Perhaps following the book's recommendations rather than the magazine article's would have made a difference, but I'll never know.  However, it's always worth a try, especially since you can find a hardcover copy on Amazon for .44cents plus shipping. Unfortunately, I spent $15.00 on mine on Ebay!  But the one positive thing I gained from the experience is that I have substantially cut down on my salt intake, which is probably a good thing since an excessive use of salt really isn't good for you. But I am back to sprinkling those luscious white crystals on some of my food, albeit sparingly; and will have to find another way to lose those annoying extra pounds.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Keys To Happiness: Paying It Forward- 'Life Vest Inside' Video

What I love about Facebook is not all the boring, mundane often overly personal things that people share on their FB page, but the wonderful nuggets of inspiration that float by my feed every once in a while. They are the ones that inspire me.  It's those words, or videos that keep me from pulling the plug on my FB page.

A few days ago someone posted the following video directed by school teacher Orly Wahba, founder of Life Vest Inside, on their Facebook page.  It's the whole 'pay it forward' concept, whereby you do something nice for someone, and they in turn are inspired to do something kind for someone else. Something we need to be constantly reminded of- being kind to others.

The mission statement for Life Vest Inside:

Charity work and community service are invaluable tools for bettering our world, but kindness is more than good deeds or volunteerism alone. Kindness is empathy, compassion, and human connection; it's a smile, a touch, or a comforting word. Even the smallest gesture can brighten a dark day or ease a heavy burden.

LVI works to cultivate the awareness that individuals can effect real and positive change in the people around them, simply by 'living kindness:' by embodying empathy and compassion in our day-to-day lives. LVI seeks to spread kindness and goodwill through the sharing of Acts of Kindness Cards, connecting our users to various inspirational media through film and the Internet. And further through the implementation of our Social Emotional Learning Program.

The wonderful thing about acts of kindness, is that not only does it benefit the receiver, it also benefits the giver, and more often than not it costs little to nothing. Just be aware of your surroundings and take the time to notice others, you will find plentiful opportunities to be helpful and kind.

This truly inspirational video also demonstrates how we are all somehow interconnected through these random acts of kindness. And what we put out comes back eventually comes back to us.

I hope you enjoy this as much as I did.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Happy Holidays 2011- Happy Hanukkah and Merry Christmas

Happy Holidays from Body, Mind and Spirit.

Whether you celebrate Hanukkah (Chanukah) or Christmas, be blessed.

With love enjoy.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Free i-Phone and Android Apps For Vegetarians and Vegans

I was looking through my June 2011 Vegetarian Times (I know, I'm way behind) and came across a cool Smart Phone app for vegetarians. Unfortunately, most of the best apps are for iPhone and Android, neither of which I have, and this one is no exception.  I do have a Blackberry, but will be more than likely switching to a Droid come next year, so  I thought I would check around and see what other apps might be available for free.

IVU VEGGIE PHRASES: The app Vegetarian Times was touting is for those who might find themselves traveling abroad and want to make sure they're ordering tofu instead of chicken.  Created by Ashley Burton ( a self-styled "geek"), it's totally free and can be downloaded from the Android Marketplace or  iTunes. It uses the International Vegetarian Union list of "Vegetarian Phrases in World Languages" to help explain to your waiter what you can or cannot eat; in 60 different languages, to boot. It doesn't get high grades from users, but I would think it would be worth a try, for free. For Android download here. I couldn't find it on i-Tunes.

WHOLE FOODS MARKET RECIPES: With this free app, you can find a store near you, then check on recipes according to your dietary preferences, find ingredients, then make lists and email them to yourself or friends. It also has nutritional info and even how to prepare the meal. Not exclusively vegetarian, however. For iPhone only.  For more information on what the app can do, and to download for free, click here.

I-VEGETARIAN: Here's one that helps find vegetarian restaurants, though from one comment, it seems like it might need some work.  For iPhone only. Download here.

CRUELTY FREE: For those who are concerned about animal testing on cosmetics and household products, this lists about 200 Canadian and American companies that are cruelty free. For iPhone only. Download here.

BE VEGAN: If you want a free vegan recipe app, try this one. It also has news, articles, videos and other information of interest to vegans. For i-Phone only. Download here.

VEGSCAN: This app scans the bar codes of products, and is a handy way of finding out if something is vegan/vegetarian or not. For i-Phones only. Download here.

HAPPYCOW VEGINOUT:, one of the best online sources for vegetarian restaurants and health food stores worldwide, has several apps, including a free one. I'm not sure what the difference is between the free version and the paid version, but here's the free one. For Android.  Download here.

VEGETARIAN RECIPES: Is exactly that, an app that lists daily recipes. For Android. Download here.

I can't vouch for any of these, although I plan on downloading some as soon as I get my Android next year. And as with most things, there are people who love the apps and others who complain, but what do you want for something that is free. The download links are from either i-Tunes, or the Android Marketplace, but you can go to their websites and search for yourself.  You might find others you like.

Sources: Make Use Of and the Internet.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Clearing A Stuffy Nose The Natural Way

Not being able to breathe through a stuffed-up nose because of a cold, allergies or sinus problems is no fun. At least with a cold the stuffiness eventually goes away, but for those of us who deal with clogged noses on a daily basis it's terribly frustrating.   Of course, there are OTC drugs that many people use, depending on the cause of the nasal congestion, but if you're like me, I'd rather go the natural route to clear up my sinus passages.

Many people swear by Neti Pots, but with the latest news regarding two deaths potentially linked to Neti Pot usage in Louisiana, some people might be a little hesitant to use them, although they should be safe if used correctly.  So what other choices do we have?


1. Simply Saline Solution: A purified saline solution that you inhale into each nostril. You can purchase this anywhere. I tried it several times, but I have very sensitive nasal passages and the solution caused some bleeding. If you are one of the rare people that can not tolerate the salt, there is another natural option.

2. White Sesame Seed Oil:  Sesame seed oil has antifungal, antibacterial, antioxidant, antiviral and anti-inflammatory properties so it's good for many uses, including clearing up that stuffy nose. This was recommended to me by my acupuncturist, who suggested  dipping a clean tissue in the sesame oil (the white not the dark), close off one nostril with your fingers and inhale deeply the oil into the other nostril. The white sesame oil is tasteless and odor free, and can be purchased at Asian markets or in most health food stores.  The only problem with the oil, is that it's a tad messy.

3. Hot Steam: Drop some eucalyptus, camphor or menthol oil into a bowl or pan of steaming hot water, drape a large towel over your head and breathe through your nose until there is no longer any steam.

4. Spicy Foods: Eating spicy hot foods will clear up nasal congestion, at least temporarily. Horseradish, Japanese wasabi mustard, Chinese hot mustard, anything with hot peppers.

5. Peppermint Candies: Chew or suck on some Altoids, or other peppermint or mint candy.

6. Acupressure Massage:  Here's a short video that demonstrates how to apply pressure to relieve sinus congestion.

This Chinese Medicine website has some additional recommendations, including the use of an eye dropper for the Sesame oil, which seems like a better choice than a tissue.

REMINDER: While these are natural remedies, there are some people who might be allergic to some of the herbs, sesame oil etc. Women who are pregnant should be particularly careful. And it is best to ask your physician or holistic health practitioner before use.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Neti Pot Use Linked To Brain Eating Amoeba Deaths

During cold, flu and allergy seasons, many will look for a more natural way of alleviating sinus problems.  Neti Pots, those Genie-lantern shaped contraptions made hugely popular by Dr. Mehmet Oz on the Oprah Winfrey Show, are one way people find relief.  Nasal irrigation has been around for centuries, originating as an ancient Ayurvedic treatment to clear out the nasal and sinus passages. Using a warm saltwater solution with purified or distilled water, you fill the neti pot and then

....hold it in the left hand. Bring the spout into the left nostril, lean over a sink, and as the head is tilted to the right side, tip the pot up to get the water to flow. Breathe through the mouth.

The aim is to get water to flow into the left nostril, around the area inside the nose and sinuses, and out the right nostril. Do this for 15 to 30 seconds, then change sides. It might take a couple of tries to get the right alignment.

People swear by it. But, as with most things you introduce into your body, you need to research and follow directions thoroughly.  Neti pot instructions state you are not to use tap water, only purified or distilled.  Tragically, two deaths in Louisiana have been potentially linked to the use of tap water in neti pots.   Apparently two people in Louisiana, a young man (20) and an older woman (51), have died from Naegleria fowleri, otherwise known as the "brain-eating amoeba".  As a result, Louisiana state's health department has warned neti pot users about the dangers of using tap water to irrigate their nostrils.

Dr Raoult Ratard, Louisiana State Epidemiologist, said: 'If you are irrigating, flushing, or rinsing your sinuses, for example, by using a neti pot, use distilled, sterile or previously boiled water to make up the irrigation solution.

'Tap water is safe for drinking, but not for irrigating your nose.'

He added that it is important to rinse the irrigation device after each use and leave open to air dry.

So it's not the actual neti pot itself that poses a danger, but the way in which it is used that can cause problems. It is believed that the two victims used plain tap water in their devices, rather than the recommended purified water, which is how the amoebas entered the brain.  The amoeba, which causes a rare disease called primary amoebic meningoencephalitis (PAME), migrates to the brain through the nasal passages and eats away at the brain tissue.  Once infected, the patient usually dies within days. 

Normally found in warm freshwater rivers, waterholes and lakes, this would be the first instance of Naegleria Fowleri amoeba showing up in tap water, and the CDC is still trying to determine if the two Louisiana deaths were connected to tap water usage or not.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Natural Prevention and Treatment of The Common Cold and Flu

Although it's possible to catch a cold or the flu during other seasons of the year, it's during the winter time that our chances increase tenfold.  Though many people get their recommended annual flu shot as the cold season approaches, many of us are unable to or choose not to go that route and prefer a natural method of prevention and remedy. For most people, colds and flu are a minor nuisance, but for others, especially those with certain health conditions the flu can be dangerous, even deadly.  According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), typically, 5 to 20 percent of the U.S. population get the flu every year, with an average of 23,600 flu-related deaths. That's a lot for an illness that usually can be prevented. As they say- an ounce of prevention.

PREVENTION:   So how does one prevent getting that nasty headache, runny or stuffy nose, sore throat, cough, fever or achy body symptoms the natural way?  It's all about keeping your immune system boosted or at least balanced, since the best way to get sick is when you happen to be run down.


1.   Make sure you eat a healthy diet full of whole grains, fruits and veggies.
2.   Get some exercise and plenty of rest.
3.   Take your Vitamin D3, year round. 1,000 to 2,000 IU per day is what is now recommended for adults, and some suggest doubling that amount during peak flu season (December through March). Research shows people with Vitamin D deficiency are more prone to colds and flu.
4.   Take your Omega3s, year round.  They are great anti-inflammatories, and antibacterials.
5.   Wash your hands constantly.  Especially if you are out in public.  Carry around those handy alcohol infused hand sanitizers, like Purell, and use them.
6.   Take Astragalus root, 6 to 8 weeks before the flu season starts. This Chinese herb boosts the immune system. I have taken it in the past and it was very helpful.
7.   Yu Ping Feng Wan, is another Chinese herbal formula that can prevent the onset of the common cold when rundown.  On several occasions my Acupuncturist has given me these little round black pills, and I managed to stay cold-free.
8.   Increase your Vitamin C intake, although there are some who think this is merely hype, and that it doesn't really help.
9. Don't touch your nose, eyes or mouth.

Now one can't always prevent the flu or a cold, and some people are just more prone to them than others.  But if you do start to feel like you might be catching one, the best time to attack it is right at the onset. Some of the herbal remedies I will recommend can help either stop it in its track, or at least lessen the duration and symptoms.

AT THE ONSET:  So you feel that scratchy throat, or that tickling sensation in your nose, what do you do? You can try any of the following.

1.   Take some Echinacea/Goldenseal.  Antibacterial, antiseptic, and immune boosting, the combination of these herbs can prevent the cold from developing into its full blown nastiness.  This used to work very well for me, but the immune boosting elements of the formula is not good for my Arthritis, so I am now unable to take it. And it's not something one should take for a prolonged periods of time.
2.   Start sucking on Zinc tablets. I use Cold-Eeze. I follow the directions, but Prevention Magazine claims more than 50 mg per day, is not good. Just make sure you don't take the Zinc with any citrus fruits or liquids.
3.   Southern Ban Lan Gen Chong Ji, is a hot Chinese herbal drink that you mix with hot water and is very useful to shorten the length of a cold or flu.  This is another product that I have used and found very helpful.  It is not recommended for pregnant women or diabetics, since it has cane sugar.
4.  Eat some garlic.  People always talk about giving people with colds chicken soup, but it's not the chicken that has healing properties, it's the garlic.  Garlic is antibacterial, antifungal and antiviral.  People can be allergic to too much, so be careful.
5.  Pump yourself with Emergen-C.

WHEN SICK:  So you are now suffering with the various symptoms of cold and flu, but there are still some natural remedies that can help you get through the worst of it. First of all drink plenty of fluids, rest and stay home until at least 24 hours after your fever is gone.  Use Kleenex when you cough or sneeze, so  you don't spread the germs around. Those germs can last up to 48 hours (some claim longer) outside of the body. 

1.  Sore Throats: Gargle with warm salty water. Chew on several pepper corns- the juice will soothe the throat. It will make your eyes tear, but it helps. Take a teaspoonful of honey and swallow, honey has antibacterial properties and can soothe the throat.  Drink some hot lemon water with honey, the lemon is chock full of Vitamin C and also boosts the immune system. Remember, though, young children should not be given honey. Drink some slippery-elm tea, which also coats and soothes the throat. Ricola throat drops.  For more remedies check here.

2.   Coughs:  Fritillary and Loquat Extract, from my Acupuncturist, works wonders.  Honey is also good for coughs.  You can also try Ricola cough drops.

3.   Fever:  I have never tried it, but some people swear by egg whites to lower fever. Here are some interesting remedies for children that I'm sure would be helpful for adults.

REMEMBER if the symptoms become severe or last for a prolonged period of time, get ye to a doctor, ASAP.

PLEASE NOTE: Most of these things listed here I have used to great effect. The Chinese herbals were given to me by my Acupuncturist. Please check with your doctor or health practitioner before you embark on any herbal treatment for any condition. And please do your own research if you find something you might want to try.

Photo source.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Jung Typology Test

Humanmetrics is a great little site that has a variety of personality and personal type tests that you can take for free. These tests, though mostly for fun, can give you insight. I took the Jung Typology test which is based according to  Carl Jung and Briggs Myers typology.  It provides the following:

Your type formula according to Carl Jung and Isabel Briggs Myers typology along with the strengths of the preferences

The description of your personality type

The list of occupations and educational institutions where you can get relevant degree or training, most suitable for your personality type
I didn't actually check the list of occupations, so I'm not sure what that might lead to, and whether you might have to pay for that information, but it was fun.  Click here to take the free test.

They also have a few other tests, but you have to pay for those. 

Monday, December 5, 2011

Prevention Magazines 7 Foods To Avoid and Why

Ideally, we should all eat unrefined,  unprocessed,  organic, fresh whole foods for optimal health. But that's not always possible. The cost, with the economy the way it is in this day and age, can be prohibitive,, and sometimes it's just easier to cook with canned instead of fresh.

But there are certain food items that are more harmful than others, and it's those products that we should either avoid altogether and replace with organic and/or fresh choices, or at the least with safer alternatives.

Prevention Magazine has created a list of the 7 foods that certain people in the know are telling us to avoid using at all costs.

Take the endocrinologist at the University of Missouri,  Fredrick Vom Saal, who researches the adverse effects of  bisphenol-A (better known as BPA), the chemical that is contained in some plastic bottles and the resin lining on those cans of tomatoes or tomato sauce.  Apparently the acid in the tomatoes causes that BPA (synthetic estrogen) to leach into the food, which can then cause an assortment of unwanted health issues:

from reproductive problems to heart disease, diabetes, and obesity.

The recommended alternative is fresh, or you can find tomatoes/sauce in those sealed cartons like Pomi, or you can try bottled.

Then there's the cattle farmer, Joel Salatin, from Polyface Farms who tells people to stay away from corn-fed beef and switch to grass-fed. Corn and soybeans are fed to cows for expediency, it makes them fatter quicker, and it's cheaper for the consumer. But with that lower cost is a cost to your health:

A recent comprehensive study conducted by the USDA and researchers from Clemson University found that compared with corn-fed beef, grass-fed beef is higher in beta-carotene, vitamin E, omega-3s, conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), calcium, magnesium, and potassium; lower in inflammatory omega-6s; and lower in saturated fats that have been linked to heart disease. "We need to respect the fact that cows are herbivores, and that does not mean feeding them corn and chicken manure," says Salatin.

They recommend buying grass-fed beef, I recommend going vegetarian.And that quick and easy popcorn you nuke in your microwave before snuggling up to watch "Sleepless In Seattle". Nope.  Toxicologist, Olga Naidenko who is a senior scientist for the Environmental Working Group, says there's a nasty chemical in the lining of the microwaveable popcorn bag which can also cause some not so nice health problems.

Chemicals, including perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), in the lining of the bag, are part of a class of compounds that may be linked to infertility in humans, according to a recent study from UCLA. In animal testing, the chemicals cause liver, testicular, and pancreatic cancer. Studies show that microwaving causes the chemicals to vaporize--and migrate into your popcorn. "They stay in your body for years and accumulate there," says Naidenko, which is why researchers worry that levels in humans could approach the amounts causing cancers in laboratory animals.
They recommend popping fresh popcorn in a skillet with butter as a flavoring, I would recommend just using one of those air poppers, which would be a healthier, fat-free alternative.

And what about spuds?  According to organic farm director, Jeffrey Moyer, one of the head honchos of the National Organic Standards Board, he won't touch a potato that isn't organic. Why, you might wonder, since we peel those suckers and we don't eat them raw.  Well, those lowly taters are subjected to an onslaught of chemicals that are absorbed into the skin:

Root vegetables absorb herbicides, pesticides, and fungicides that wind up in soil. In the case of potatoes--the nation's most popular vegetable--they're treated with fungicides during the growing season, then sprayed with herbicides to kill off the fibrous vines before harvesting. After they're dug up, the potatoes are treated yet again to prevent them from sprouting. "Try this experiment: Buy a conventional potato in a store, and try to get it to sprout. It won't," says Moyer, who is also farm director of the Rodale Institute (also owned by Rodale Inc., the publisher of Prevention). "I've talked with potato growers who say point-blank they would never eat the potatoes they sell. They have separate plots where they grow potatoes for themselves without all the chemicals."
Actually I have had non-organic potatoes sprout, but they recommend only buying organic. 

Salmon is supposed to incredibly healthy for you, chock-full of Omega3 Fatty Acids, but Dr. David Carpenter, a fisheries expert at the University of Albany, refuses to eat farm-raised salmon.

Nature didn't intend for salmon to be crammed into pens and fed soy, poultry litter, and hydrolyzed chicken feathers. As a result, farmed salmon is lower in vitamin D and higher in contaminants, including carcinogens, PCBs, brominated flame retardants, and pesticides such as dioxin and DDT. According to Carpenter, the most contaminated fish come from Northern Europe, which can be found on American menus.

They are also given pesticides and antibiotics, which in turn you ingest.

They recommend choosing wild-caught Alaska salmon, not the fresh Atlantic. I recommend going veggie.

Cancer researcher Rick North, refuses to drink milk with rBGH (bovine growth hormones). Cattle farmers love it, because it increases milk production, but those hormones are getting into your system too.

But rBGH also increases udder infections and even pus in the milk. It also leads to higher levels of a hormone called insulin-like growth factor in milk. In people, high levels of IGF-1 may contribute to breast, prostate, and colon cancers. "When the government approved rBGH, it was thought that IGF-1 from milk would be broken down in the human digestive tract," says North. As it turns out, the casein in milk protects most of it, according to several independent studies. "There's not 100 percent proof that this is increasing cancer in humans," admits North. "However, it's banned in most industrialized countries.

Pus, yummy. They recommend buying organic milk, or rBGH-free milk. I say switch to rice milk, one of the least allergenic foods around. Or if you aren't allergic to nuts, try almond milk.

And last but not least, the food that we were told if we ate one a day it would keep the doctor away, is no longer so revered. That, of course, was pre-pesticide days. But the lovely apple has been in the news lately, starting with Dr. Oz's claims of the dangers of arsenic in apple juice.  Mark Kastel, an organic foods expert will only eat organic apples. Apparently, the apple of all fall fruits would win the "most doused in pesticides constest."

They are individually grafted (descended from a single tree) so that each variety maintains its distinctive flavor. As such, apples don't develop resistance to pests and are sprayed frequently. The industry maintains that these residues are not harmful. But Kastel counters that it's just common sense to minimize exposure by avoiding the most doused produce, like apples. "Farm workers have higher rates of many cancers," he says. And increasing numbers of studies are starting to link a higher body burden of pesticides (from all sources) with Parkinson's disease.

So there you have it. The 7 foods, food products to avoid:

1. Canned Tomatoes
2. Corn-fed Beef
3. Microwaveable Popcorn
4. Nonorganic Potatoes
5. Farm-raised Salmon
6. Milk with Hormones (rBGH)
7. Nonorganic Apples

Source: Fox News

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Cherokee WIsdom: The Struggle Between The Two Wolves Within

There is something wonderful about Native American Indian wisdom. I came across this one about the inner struggle that goes on within each and every one of us. There are different variations but the one I saw  goes like this:

An old Cherokee chief was teaching his grandson about life.

"A fight is going on inside me," he said to the boy. "It is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves." "One is evil - he is anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, self-doubt, and ego." "The other is good - he is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith." "This same fight is going on inside you - and inside every other person, too."

The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather, "Which wolf will win?"

The old chief simply replied, "Whichever one you feed."
We don't have a choice about  the negative things that enter our minds, but we definitely do have a choice how long that negativity sits there and festers. It's a question of not allowing the "evil wolf" to take control of our lives, by not giving whatever negative emotion we might be harboring any energy, or 'feeding' it, as the Cherokee legend goes. We do this by replacing the negative with positive.  You can do this through positive self-talk or affirmations, or through EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique) a great method for dealing with everything from releasing negative emotions to overcoming pain.

It's not an easy struggle, but well worth the effort.

Photo Credit

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Taking The Stress Out Of The Holiday Season- Or, Don't Buy Johnny That X-Box!

The holiday season is upon us, and along with all the excitement and joy that this time of year brings for many, comes the inevitable stress (and depression) for many others. It's that Bah Humbug time.

Stress, other than during times of danger, is not our friend, and can lead to many health issues- from stomach troubles to colds, and pretty much everything in between. If chronic, it can cause major health problems including heart disease and a weakened immune system. It's all those chemicals, but specifically cortisol, released during the 'fight or flight' response to some environmental or social stressor, which can have a negative impact on our bodies, particularly if it remains in our bloodstream for prolonged periods of time.

More often than not, we create our own stress during the holidays by having unrealistic goals and expectations, from both ourselves and others. We rush around, frantically trying to figure out what gifts to buy for family, friends and coworkers, most of which won't be appreciated, and are more than likely unneeded. Getting nasty and mean-spirited when parking spaces become a premium at the malls, or pepper spraying or  trampling someone to death at a Walmart trying to get a bargain on Black Friday is not what the season is about. Feeling obligated to go to all the parties and the feasts that we're invited to, we overindulge in unhealthy foods and drink, which leads to unwanted weight gain, and that extra tire, and I'm not talking about the one in the trunk of your car.

American consumerism, bolstered by a retail industry that encourages it- by now extending the Christmas season to way before Halloween- has become a major problem . We overspend and overeat, when we can least afford to. We get all tied up in the hype and commercialism, and we forget the true meaning of this time of year, and what the spirit of giving truly means. During simpler times, kids were happy with a couple of toys under the tree - a doll, legos or maybe a bike; now if they don't have a truckload of gifts under that tree, including the latest X-Box, the kids go ballistic.

But, there are ways to handle all the stress that is part and parcel of this time of year, particularly those things you do have control over.


JUST SAY NO- Pick a few parties you want to go to and decline the others. With all the people that are invited to these shindigs, no-one is going to miss seeing you, believe me. Spend time with the people you enjoy and care about, not the one's who cause you grief.

GIFT GIVING/LESS IS MORE- When it comes to gift giving, tell your family and friends you are not exchanging gifts this year. Or offer to give a gift of time. Offer to babysit one night for your brother, or pull the weeds at your parent's house. Tell your kids they are getting one nice present and one small gift, and that they have to choose some toys from their collection to give away to charity. And if you do decide to get a gift for an adult, rather than stressing about what to give them, why not donate to charity in that person's name. In fact, if you are having a party, suggest people do that instead of bringing you a gift. Opt out of the Secret Santa's. How often have you liked what you received, anyway?

FOOD GLORIOUS FOOD: Instead of stressing over cooking a huge feast for a slew of people, eat out. Or, go simple and have a pot luck. Make sure everyone helps with the cleanup. If you go to a party, limit your alcohol and food intake, your body and waistline will thank you.

DON'T WAIT UNTIL THE LAST MINUTE- I'm the queen of procrastination, but there's nothing that causes stress more than waiting until the last minute to do something, including any shopping you might have. So make your list, check it twice and head out for the shops with plenty of time. The closer to Christmas it gets, the fuller the parking lots will be and the nastier you and others will get. It's not worth the added stress.

DON'T FRET OVER THINGS YOU HAVE NO CONTROL OVER- If you can't find what you want, find a substitute or move on, cross it off your list. Nothing is worth fretting over, especially if you have no control over it, which is pretty much everything other than our opinions and how we react to the circumstances in our lives. According to Stoic philosopher Epictetus,  to be happy we must know what is and isn't within our control. The only things we have control over are our opinions "and our impulses desires and aversions - in short whatever is our own doing." (Encheiridion C1). Wanting to control things that are not within our control can only cause unhappiness and stress: "Do not seek to have events happen as you want them to but instead want them to happen as they do happen, and your life will go well" (Encheiridion C8).

SLEEP/REST/MEDITATE/BREATHE- This is the time when our bodies and minds rejuvenate, heal, recuperate and recharge. Make sure you don't skimp. Get enough sleep at night, and nap or rest, if you can, even if it's to shut the mind down for a few minutes.

Meditation can also help with stress, as can deep breathing.

When you feel very stressed, take a deep, slow breath. Inhale fully, a long deep breath, through your nostrils. Fill the lungs. Hold for about 10-15 seconds and then exhale. As you exhale, think of all the stress flowing out of your body. Do that a few times.

HERBS/VITAMINS ETC- Instead of a cup of coffee, try a nice hot, relaxing, cup of chamomile tea. That should calm you down. Passion Flower, Oatstraw and Valerian are also calmatives. Ashwaghanda, is an Ayurvedic (traditional Indian) tonic which also has a calming effect. Siberian Ginseng enhances the immune function, strengthens the adrenal glands and helps the body adapt to stress. And don't forget the Vitamins and Minerals: B Vitamins are quickly depleted during times of stress, so shore up on your Bs. What the body doesn't use, it will eliminate. Stress also depletes Vitamin C, which supports the adrenal glands, a healthy immune system and inflammatory response. Stress also depletes magnesium, which is a very important anti-stress mineral that helps promote relaxation by helping the body utilize various antioxidants and vitamins. And for a mood enhancer, try Omega-3 Essential Fatty Acids. Omega-3 is not produced in the body, so you have to get it from foods or supplements, and most diets are sorely lacking.

For more information on herbal remedies for stress check here , and here.

When taking herbs, please check to make sure you are not allergic to anything, and that you do research before combining or embarking on any herbal regimen.

I posted this back in 2008, and decided to repost this year.

Cross posted at Confessions Of A Closet Republican.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Count Your Blessings- Thanksgiving 2011


Thanksgiving isn't just about the food. Yes, the turkey or Tofurkey and all the fixings, and the pumpkin and apple pies are all yummy, but that's not the only thing we should be celebrating. The true spirit of Thanksgiving is, obviously, about giving thanks for all the blessings we  have in our life. 

Granted, in this economy, some have more than others, but we can all find things in our lives that we can be grateful for.  I don't make much money in the arts, but I am very blessed to have a roof over my head and food on the table, and a generous family that supports and encourages me.  Today is the day to take stock of what you do have, however little that might be and give thanks. 

The above cartoon and the anonymous poem below put everything into perspective.

"Count your blessings instead of your crosses;
Count your gains instead of your losses.
Count your joys instead of your woes;
Count your friends instead of your foes.
 Count your smiles instead of your tears;
Count your courage instead of your fears.
Count your full years instead of your lean;
Count your kind deeds instead of your mean.
Count your health instead of your wealth;
Count on God instead of yourself."

I wish you all a very blessed Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Congress Rules Pizza Is a Vegetable

Okay, so Congress didn't actually come out and say that pizza was a vegetable, but they might as well have.  Aside from the fact that technically, the tomato is considered a fruit,  tomato sauce on a pizza does not constitute a serving of vegetables.  Although a registered Republican, there are certain issues that I don't  agree with, and our children's nutritional needs are one of them.  Childhood obesity in the U.S. is an ever-growing problem and something needs to be done.  Yes, some of that burden lies with the parents- they need to stop feeding their kids fast food and force them off the sofa and into the backyard to exercise. But since kids spend their days in school, and they are fed there, it is incumbent upon us to ensure they are fed properly. Congress, in efforts to save money is doing it at the expense of our kids.

The controversy boils down to this:

Congress wants pizza and french fries to stay on school lunch lines and is fighting the Obama administration's efforts to take unhealthy foods out of schools.

The final version of a spending bill released late Monday would unravel school lunch standards the Agriculture Department proposed earlier this year. These include limiting the use of potatoes on the lunch line, putting new restrictions on sodium and boosting the use of whole grains. The legislation would block or delay all of those efforts.

The bill also would allow tomato paste on pizzas to be counted as a vegetable, as it is now.

SDA had wanted to only count a half-cup of tomato paste or more as a vegetable, and a serving of pizza has less than that.

Nutritionists say the whole effort is reminiscent of the Reagan administration's much-ridiculed attempt 30 years ago to classify ketchup as a vegetable to cut costs. This time around, food companies that produce frozen pizzas for schools, the salt industry and potato growers requested the changes and lobbied Congress.

School meals that are subsidized by the federal government must include a certain amount of vegetables, and USDA's proposal could have pushed pizza-makers and potato growers out of the school lunch business.

The irony is that an unhealthy, overweight child is going to wind up costing the taxpayer a ton more money, down the line, when the kid gets sick from all that pizza and french fries for lunch.  Yes, Republicans have a point in not wanting government  to dictate what a child eats, but if the school and/or parents are going to skimp, then something needs to be done. Whether its more education or regulation.  Children are far more important than being pawns in political games.

For more on the story, click here.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Video of Man's Best Friend- Dogs Welcoming Home Returning Soldiers

There is nothing like a dog. Dogs truly are man's best friend. Loving and unconditional.  This is a heartwarming video of dogs welcoming home their soldier masters.

Source: WelcomeHomeBlog

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Giving People A Chance- Autistic Basketball player Jason McElwain

Here's a feel-good story for today.

Sometimes we just need to give those who are a little different a chance to shine. They inevitably will.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

"Letter From Dad and Mom"- or how to deal with our old ones

We often lose patience with our aging ones. This touching, 2-box Kleenex video is a wonderful reminder to be more loving with them.

The original "Letter From Dad and Mom" was written by Rev.  Fr. Ariel F. Robles in Tagalog and translated by various people into English. This version is apparently narrated by Darius Gabriel Bugarin.  Robles is the CWL Spiritual Director of St. Augustine Parish in Baliuag, Bulacan, Philippines.

Watch it and weep, and perhaps it will also inspire you to have more patience with your old ones.

The original version "Ang Sulat Ni Tatay at Nanay".

Thursday, October 13, 2011

The Health Benefits Of Tart Cherry Juice

I love cherries. They happen to be one of my favorite fruits, but I had no idea they were also chock full of  wonderful health benefits, at least the tart ones. Montmorency cherries (Prunus Cerasus), most notably used for preserves and pies is full of antioxidants, which some in the medical community claim help slow down the aging process, prevent certain diseases and help neutralize 'free radicals'.

Besides being high in fiber, they also are high in beta carotene, potassium and contain calcium, magnesium, iron, folic acid, Vitamins A, B6, C and E.   And besides being rich in antioxidants,  they also happen to contain natural melatonin, and anthocyanins. Not bad for a small, pitted fruit.

What all this means is that besides being tasty little morsels, tart Montmorency cherries can help with sleep problems (melatonin) and the anthocyanins have anti-inflammatory properties which can help with joint pain from arthritis and gout, and can also help with cardiovascular health. 

For those of us with chronic pain, it's a Godsend. For a long while I had my pain under control with various herbs and supplements, until I was given Procrit for a problem with anemia a few years ago.  The Procrit kicked in the pain and I have struggled ever since trying to find something that will help.  It wasn't until I started to add the tart cherry juice to my old regimen (at the recommendation of my acupuncturist) that I started to feel some relief.  I do notice a difference between the cherry juice concentrate and the pill form, but for travel the supplements are the only alternative. 


I use the recommended dosage of 2 tablespoons, which I love to mix with a glass of sparkling water, and drink it a little before bedtime. But I'm not sure the time really matters.  It helps somewhat with my insomnia, but I'm not sure anything would do the trick. It has a yummy sweet/tart taste, so you don't need any sugar.

There are several farms that manufacture the cherry concentrate, but make sure it's the Montmorency juice.  You can order directly from them, or check out the various online resources.  I just ordered two bottles from Amazon because, with the free shipping included, it was cheaper.  A 32 ounce bottle (which should last a month) will run you anywhere from $15.00 to $30.00 depending on where you buy it.   It might sound expensive but when you think you get approximately 30 glasses or so of juice out of one bottle, that's less than a can of soda, and far more beneficial.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Cherokee Indian Youths' Rite of Passage: Or God Watches Over Us No Matter What

Our email inboxes get inundated with mostly garbage these days, but every once in a while you receive a gem like the following alleged American Indian legend.  The message, while using what is claimed to be a Cherokee Rite of Passage as an example,  is actually all about having faith in God.  Whether it is an actual Rite of Passage or not is debatable (according to various Internet searches), but the message is worth embracing, true or not.  I have posted a YouTube version below. The wording is a little different, but the message is the same: even though we cannot see GOD, HE is still there protecting us during turbulent and fear-inducing times.

Do you know the legend of the Cherokee Indian youths' Rite of Passage?

His father takes him into the forest, blindfolds him and leaves him alone. He is required to sit on a stump the whole night and not remove the blindfold until the rays of the morning sun shine through it. He cannot cry out for help to anyone. Once he survives the night, he is a MAN.

He cannot tell the other boys of this experience, because each lad must come into manhood on his own.

The boy is naturally terrified. He can hear all kinds of noises. Wild beasts must surely be all around him . Maybe even some human might do him harm.

The wind blew the grass and earth, and shook his stump, but he sat stoically, never removing the blindfold. It would be the only way he could become a man!

Finally, after a horrific night the sun appeared and he removed his blindfold.

It was then that he discovered his father sitting on the stump next to him.

He had been at watch the entire night, protecting his son from harm.

We, too, are never alone. Even when we don't know it, God is watching over us, sitting on the stump beside us.

When trouble comes, all we have to do is reach out to Him.

Moral of the story:

Just because you can't see God, doesn't mean He is not there. "For we walk by faith, not by sight."

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

To Get The Best Prices For Herbs and Supplements Order Online

As someone who has a hefty regimen of herbs and supplements to take for two chronic conditions (Rheumatoid Arthritis and Ulcerative Colitis), I decided that purchasing them at the local health food store or Whole Foods was prohibitive.

Although I was never fond of ordering over the Internet, I succumbed when I discovered that I could get all of my supplements often for far less than I could at brick and mortar stores. I started by googling the products I take and discovered two online venues that consistently had the lowest prices: and I have used both of these for years, depending on which had the lowest prices for the supplements I needed at the time. When they varied by a few cents I would then factor in shipping costs.  Lucky Vitamin has free shipping for orders over $100.00 (my orders are usually well over $100.00 per order) and Vitacost had a flat rate for all orders, but has had a free shipping for orders over $49.00 for a while, though that might end soon. 

If your monthly needs are low, then it's probably not worth ordering online, after you factor in the shipping costs.  Then again, it still might be worth it.   I have saved a ton of money over the years ordering online, and sometimes there is a huge difference in price between ordering online and purchasing a product at a vitamin or health food store.   

Recently, I started checking for some of my items, and have found some great prices on there,  as well.  I have ordered a few things, but still find the two above mentioned websites to have the best prices.

For example, I have started using Kal's Cox-2 Control Body Comfort, as a replacement for Zyflamend for pain. Whole Foods sells it for $21.95 or so.  On you can get it anywhere from $13.19 to $18.74. I purchased it for $11.10 on luckyvitamin since I bought 4 of them (they give price breaks for larger quantities) and since I ordered more than $100.00 worth of products I paid no shipping.  That's a 50% discount for the exact same item. Vitacost does not carry it.

Now you might think the herbs and supplements that you order from an online vendor are old and possibly expired, or they're a generic brand-  they're not, at least not from the vendors I have ordered from.  These are the exact same brand items.

There might be some new sites that have cropped up since I did my research five or so years ago that have better prices, and perhaps I will do another search, but for the time being I will continue to order from any of the companies that I have mentioned. I will update if an when I do make any changes.


To get the biggest bang for your buck you need to compare prices.  Find out how much it costs you to purchase a product in your local health food store, vitamin shop etc. Then check the prices on any of the places I have mentioned above (I am not an affiliate of any of them) or google the product name and 'discount'. It will give you a list of websites that sell that product and their prices. Then check what their shipping charges are, if any. If there is a charge,  factor that in to figure out the total cost of the item.  More often than not, you will save  yourself a heap of money.  I know I have. 

You do have to make sure you order well in advance, before you run out, or you will wind up having to pay premium prices at retail stores, as I have, until the shipment arrives, and that can vary greatly.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

March 31, 2011 - World Prayer For Japan's Fukushima Nuclear Plant Waters

What happened in Japan is tragic on so many different levels, and the way the people of that country have conducted themselves is so very commendable. But after suffering through an earthquake, then a monumental tsunami, the magnitude of what is happening and could eventually happen at the Fukushima nuclear plant could make those first two disasters seem totally inconsequential. A nuclear catastrophe could adversely affect not just the Japanese people but the whole world.

So Masuro Emoto has asked the world to come together to pray for the waters of Fukushima today, March 31st, 2011, at noon in whatever time zone you happen to live. Since the 'ceremony' is not really religious in nature, those of you who are not spiritually inclined should have no problem participating.

Name of ceremony:

“Let’s send our thoughts of love and gratitude to all water in the nuclear plants in Fukushima”

To All People Around the World

Please send your prayers of love and gratitude to water at the nuclear plants in Fukushima, Japan!

By the massive earthquakes of Magnitude 9 and surreal massive tsunamis, more than 10,000 people are still missing…even now… It has been 16 days already since the disaster happened. What makes it worse is that water at the reactors of Fukushima Nuclear Plants started to leak, and it’s contaminating the ocean, air and water molecule of surrounding areas.

Human wisdom has not been able to do much to solve the problem, but we are only trying to cool down the anger of radioactive materials in the reactors by discharging water to them.

Is there really nothing else to do?

I think there is. During over twenty year research of hado measuring and water crystal photographic technology, I have been witnessing that water can turn positive when it receives pure vibration of human prayer no matter how far away it is.

Energy formula of Albert Einstein, E=MC2 really means that Energy = number of people and the square of people’s consciousness.

Now is the time to understand the true meaning. Let us all join the prayer ceremony as fellow citizens of the planet earth. I would like to ask all people, not just in Japan, but all around the world to please help us to find a way out the crisis of this planet!!

The prayer procedure is as follows.

Name of ceremony:

“Let’s send our thoughts of love and gratitude to all water in the nuclear plants in Fukushima”

Day and Time:

March 31st, 2011 (Thursday)

12:00 noon in each time zone

Please say the following phrase:

“The water of Fukushima Nuclear Plant, we are sorry to make you suffer. Please forgive us. We thank you, and we love you.”

Please say it aloud or in your mind.

Repeat it three times as you put your hands together in a prayer position.

Please offer your sincere prayer.

Thank you very much from my heart.

With love and gratitude,

Masaru Emoto

Messenger of Water

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Face Yoga - A Natural Approach To Getting Rid Of Wrinkles

Tired of all those lines and wrinkles that are part and parcel of the aging process? Not willing to have your face sliced and diced, or injected with toxins like Botox that will freeze your face in place, and make you look like one of the Stepford Wives or worse yet, Pinocchio minus the nose? Then 'Face Yoga' might just be the thing for you. The following 2 videos from give you some facial yoga exercises to help with those pesky wrinkles.

If nothing else, they're a hoot to watch.

For more Face Yoga facial exercises, click here.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Martin Luther King, Jr's Words Of Wisdom- Building A Creative Temple

Today we honor Martin Luther King, Jr. Cut down in his prime. But his speeches and sermons will live on forever.

Everyone is familiar with his wonderful "I Have A Dream" speech, but some lesser known ones, with a spiritual bent rather than political bent, are just as impressive and inspiring. So, I share this one from his "Building A Creative Temple".

Whenever you set out to build a creative temple, whatever it may be, you must face the fact that there is a tension at the heart of the universe between good and evil. Hinduism refers to this as a struggle between illusion and reality. Platonic philosophy used to refer to it as a tension between body and soul. Zoroastrianism, a religion of old, used to refer to it as a tension between the god of light and the god of darkness. Traditional Judaism and Christianity refer to it as a tension between God and Satan. Whatever you call it, there is a struggle in the universe between good and evil.

Now not only is that struggle structured out somewhere in the external forces of the universe, it’s structured in our own lives. Psychologists have tried to grapple with it in their way, and so they say various things. Sigmund Freud used to say that this tension is a tension between what he called the id and the superego. Some of us feel that it’s a tension between God and man. And in every one of us this morning, there’s a war going on. It’s a civil war. I don’t care who you are, I don’t care where you live, there is a civil war going on in your life. And every time you set out to be good, there’s something pulling on you, telling you to be evil. It’s going on in your life. Every time you set out to love, something keeps pulling on you, trying to get you to hate. Every time you set out to be kind and say nice things about people, something is pulling on you to be jealous and envious and to spread evil gossip about them. There’s a civil war going on. There is a schizophrenia, as the psychologists or the psychiatrists would call it, going on within all of us. And there are times that all of us know somehow that there is a Mr. Hyde and a Dr. Jekyll in us. [...] There’s a tension at the heart of human nature. And whenever we set out to dream our dreams and to build our temples, we must be honest enough to recognize it.

In the final analysis, God does not judge us by the separate incidents or the separate mistakes that we make, but by the total bent of our lives. In the final analysis, God knows that his children are weak and they are frail. In the final analysis, what God requires is that your heart is right. Salvation isn’t reaching the destination of absolute morality, but it’s being in the process and on the right road.

And the question I want to raise this morning with you: is your heart right? If your heart isn’t right, fix it up today. Get somebody to be able to say about you, "He may not have reached the highest height, he may not have realized all of his dreams, but he tried." Isn’t that a wonderful thing for somebody to say about you? "He tried to be a good man. He tried to be a just man. He tried to be an honest man. His heart was in the right place." And I can hear a voice saying, crying out through the eternities, "I accept you. You are a recipient of my grace because it was in your heart. And it is so well that it was within thine heart."

I don’t know this morning about you, but I can make a testimony. You don’t need to go out this morning saying that Martin Luther King is a saint. Oh, no. I want you to know this morning that I’m a sinner like all of God’s children. But I want to be a good man. And I want to hear a voice saying to me one day, "I take you in and I bless you, because you try. It is well that it was within thine heart."

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Happy 2011- Start Anew With A Clean Slate

I realize January 1st is just another ordinary day, but for some reason the fact that it's the beginning of a New Year, somehow signals change. It's a little like the feelings we get when the long, dog days of summer turn into the invigorating, crispness of autumn. We feel renewed and invigorated, ready to take on the world.

A New Year brings with it a clean, unwritten slate, ready to be written on. Not that we can't look at each day that we wake up as a chance to change our world- in fact we should-, but for some reason the New Year seems special in that way. It's a time to take stock of our lives and see what we want to hang on to, throw out with the old, or improve. I like to write down, not so much my resolutions for the year, but the things I want to manifest in all areas of my life, from the physical to the spiritual.

The last two years have been challenging on many levels, from the physical to the material, but I am about to list all the things that I want to improve, or change, or manifest in my life for the upcoming year. Writing those things down makes a difference. Don't worry about accomplishing them, just make the effort. And while you're at it, make a gratitude list. That is something we should do on a daily basis. You'll be surprised at how many blessings we actually have.

I wish you all a very blessed, happy and prosperous New Year. You have a new beginning, a clean slate- take advantage and make it the best ever.