How Do You Want to Feel?

How do you want to feel? What are you willing to do to experience that feeling? That’s the premise of Danielle LaPorte’s book The Desire Map, which is featured as part of my favorite books list to the right. In it, Danielle guides the reader through a process of brainstorming a list of feeling words that correspond to various areas of our lives including career, relationships, spirituality, leisure, and more. From those lists, the reader then narrows the collection to a few words that seem to appear more frequently than others. These words represent how the reader would like to feel in all areas of life. Based on the words chosen, the reader then identifies what he or she is willing to do to experience that feeling. It’s like goals setting in reverse. The focus is on what works for us, rather than the “should”.

I have completed this process each of the past two Decembers. Every time, I learn a little more about myself and discover areas where there is room for some personal growth. There were three words last year. This year there are four. Those four words serve as a guide along my path throughout the year. I journal over those four words. I make decisions around those four words. I plan purchases around those four words. I even do some things that seem counter-intuitive to those four words in support of those four words.

The first word is light. If ever there was a word with more possible meanings and nuances, I don’t know what it is. This word is in my life to represent all of them. I desire to feel light. I desire my physical body to feel light. I desire the environment around me to feel light. I desire my emotions to feel light. I desire the world around me to feel light. Light is a word that invokes many possibilities on the road to feeling great and becoming a better version of me. I am in the process of helping my body find a lighter and healthier state. I am attempting to reduce the amount of “stuff” that exists in my space. I am even working on my thoughts so as to support a lighter, more positive view of the world. That’s not the easiest thing to accomplish in these times, but it is important to me.

The second word is inspired. I desire to feel inspired. Inspiration comes in many forms. I am seeking them out. I have found many free sources of inspiration via You Tube. I have found additional sources of inspiration through my Audible subscription. I have pursued conferences and learning opportunities that light a fire of passion beneath me. I have invested in such motivators as Tony Robbins and I listen to the recorded telephone calls of multi-level-marketing businesses because their purpose is to inspire. I intend to raise the vibration not only of my own energy, but that of others as well, simply by them being around me. Energy is contagious and while I cannot fix the anger and vitriol that spews daily across various news sources, I can seek out inspiration so that I, in turn, can inspire.

My third word is accomplished. Last year I chose competent. That was sufficient. I needed to feel like I could do my job at an acceptable level. This year, competent isn’t good enough. I choose to feel accomplished. I choose to recognize the time, resources, and energy I have put into my education and acknowledge the value I bring to the organization for which I work. I am focused on maintaining positive self-feedback and avoidance of self-criticism. There will always be those who are ready to criticize. I don’t need to contribute to the sea of naysayers. I’ve done enough of that during my life to last the rest of my life. I will readily own my weaknesses not as weaknesses but as areas that either do not interest me or areas for which opportunity exists for learning to occur. My accomplishments are significant. I have done enough. I have been enough. I am enough. I am accomplished, and I will continue to demonstrate and feel accomplishment through my personal and professional life.

The final word that is joining me on my journey this year is secure. This may be the most important word along the way this year. Security embodies many aspects. It includes feeling secure in my job. It includes feeling secure in my home. It includes feeling secure in my relationships. It includes feeling financially secure. It is also a lesson in trust. I feel secure, because I believe I AM secure. That doesn’t mean challenges won’t come and the winds of change won’t blow. It means that I have a back-up plan and I am doing things to ensure an ongoing sense of security in my life. It means paying the bills. It means occasionally picking up those extra shifts. It means buying the life insurance. It means taking a hard look at that job “opportunity” to see if in fact it aligns with my core desired feelings. It means taking some risks to open the door to even greater security. It means being patient when patience is at a premium.

How do you want to feel? Grab a copy of Danielle’s book and work through the process. Then grab a copy of The Desire Map Daily Planner and take some time each day to journal about what you are doing to feel the way you want to feel.  Share your core desired feelings in the comments below and tell us how this approach is changing your life.

Oh yeah, just so you know, there are affiliate links in this post, however, I only share the super cool ones.


My Delusion to Inspire

When I was a freshman music major back in 1986/87, there were two things I figured out. The first was how much I hated spending my afternoons in the cramped closets that were the music practice rooms. The second was how much I loved my Fundamentals of Physical Fitness class that all students were required to take as part of our liberal arts education. That class was the first step toward changing my major, and it proved to be a catalyst for what would become my life’s passion.

Don’t get me wrong. There is NOTHING I truly love about exercise. What I loved (and still do) was the idea of physical fitness, the knowledge surrounding health and fitness, and the power they gave me to control part of my life. I also loved sharing this amazing information about health and fitness with others. I had dreams of becoming an aerobics teacher, but lacked the courage to just do it. I had thought I might go to graduate school to study exercise physiology at Texas A&M and someday work as a cardiac rehabilitation specialist. Instead, my passions turned toward a wonderful man and the idea of having babies in the same small town in which I had lived all my life. My passion for health and fitness morphed into a job as an elementary physical education teacher. The master’s degree came from West Texas A&M, and it included not only health and physical education emphasis, but elementary education, as well.

My role in the realm of health and physical fitness transformed over the years, but the passion never died. As life sped by and my babies grew into young adults, my desire to help others find health never faded. I searched and fate handed me another way to live my passion—holistic nursing. Somewhere in the interconnectedness of mind, body, spirit, and emotion lies the whole person. Dis-ease takes a toll on many, and teaching, supporting, and guiding those who so desire back to a state of balance (ease) is one of the most rewarding endeavors I can imagine.

The search for tools, techniques, strategies, and knowledge to help both myself and others find healthy balance continues to this day. Not everything science says should work does work. Exercise doesn’t always consistently push glucose into the cells preventing or reversing pre-diabetes and diabetes. I know this because I am living that journey. Cutting carbohydrates helps, but it doesn’t solve the problem. There is more to find, more to research, more to learn, and more to share. We are similar in many ways, yet we are all different. We are different makes, different models, and different styles. My desire is to bring my experiences, trials, frustrations, and successes to you to evaluate. My delusion is that my efforts might inspire you to be your best self and together we can change the world.

SIMPLE Conference Day 3 Part 3

Tuesday afternoon’s break out session with Dr. Kreitzer focused on Integrative Nursing, which is a way of being, doing, and knowing that advances the health and wellbeing of people, families, and communities through caring and healing relationships.

She shared the six principles of integrative nursing along with nursing care practices for each: 1) Human beings are whole systems inseparable from their environment, connected and dynamic; 2) Human beings have the innate capacity for health and wellbeing; 3) Nature has healing and restorative properties that contribute to health and wellbeing; 4) Integrative nursing is person-centered and relationship-based; 5) It is informed by evidence and uses the full range of therapeutic modalities to support and augment the healing process moving from least intensive and invasive to more depending on need and context;  and 6) It focuses on the health and wellbeing of caregivers as well as those they serve.

While all areas are important, that last point may be the most significant because one cannot give to others what one doesn’t have to give. Some tips she gave for taking care of ourselves as nurses included developing a personal plan for health and wellbeing, taking time for self-reflection and contemplation DURING your shift, and engaging in reflective practices such as journaling. Integrative nursing requires mindfulness, presence, intuition, and intention.

Mindfulness means connecting with empathy to your patient and being present with them in that moment. It is being responsive rather than reactive.

Intuition can be taught by pointing toward pattern recognition. Nursing narratives are a way of sharing this intuitive experience with younger nurses in which seasoned nurses share their stories of “knowing”.

There are many resources on the Center for Spirituality and Healing website at

Finally, my most interesting day of the conference wrapped up with the most amazing experience of traditional Mexican healing in the presence of two very gifted and knowledgeable curanderas.

We boarded a bus and drove across town to a temazcal or Mexican sweat lodge. The ritual process was very similar to that of our Sunday night experience, however, the fact that these were Latino women, one of whom was from Mexico and the other having apprenticed under her in Mexico helped to lend a greater sense of legitimacy to the ceremony than was previously experienced. No disrespect intended to the first ceremony we experienced. This just had a much different feel.

We paid our respects to the four directions and to the earth and sky through prayers and rattling instruments. We then bowed low and entered the temazcal which is a dome-shaped building with herbs and steam that represents (once again) a womb. We were provided a rag, a bucket of water, and a handful of exfoliating herbs to use during the ceremony as needed to rinse ourselves and detoxify. There was a beautiful assortment of chanting, singing, drumming, and even some shouting during the course of the ritual. And the heat….wow. It was very hot. Very steamy. But not miserably so. It was a very healing aromatic steam. Each of us had our own issues that came forth, but none of us were aware of anyone else’s issues. Near the end of the ritual, we were offered some cool tea brewed for supporting our detoxification process. We were later able to listen to and discuss with our hostesses much more information about their knowledge, training, and tools.

What amazes me most about this entire experience is the incredible healing knowledge these women possess. The University of New Mexico honors that tradition and knowledge and recognizes its practices as truly complimentary to the healing process.  I will definitely be seeking out more information and training on this process in my quest to expand my role as healer.

There is more information gleaned from the conference, but for now, I will close this series of blog posts and move on to other tasks that require my time and attention. The experience was such a gift on so many levels. The energy of the people in attendance and presenting was such that my normally introverted, crowd-avoiding self felt so alive in their presence. Over and over we were reminded that we are not just nurses and doctors and therapists, but that we in fact are healers.

May I remember every day with every person I encounter that my life’s calling is to be a healer, and may every action and every word that comes forth from me be healing in some way.

SIMPLE Conference Day 3 Part 2

Our Tuesday afternoon sessions included talks on the growth and future of integrative medicine education , the role of herbal medicine, and cultivating well-being in our lives, along with a break out session on integrative nursing, which of course is exactly where I needed to be. With topics like these, you can see why I simply could not put Day 2 in one blog post.

Dr. Andrew Hyman shared with us how the new nomenclature in healthcare would be “-omics”: words like metabalomics, genomics, and bionomics will be making headlines. He even went so far as to call it an “-omics revolution”. Integrative medicine will (and does, I believe) view disease as a pathological imbalance and the keys to successful treatment will be early detection of those imbalances through individual assessment via relationship based medicine. In order for this to become more widely accepted, there will need to be a shift to non-hypothesis driven research.

And then there was Dr. Tieraona Low Dog. Oh my. This woman’s energy and spirit will remain with me for a very long time. I can only hope one of my grandchildren will be named after her. I truly want to sit at her feet and learn. This vibrant, beautiful spirit so full of life and positive “kick-ass” energy spoke about herbs and plants and how incredible they are. She talked about how generations of people have known about their healing properties and they have known how to combine them to maximize their effectiveness. She spoke of how the pine trees communicate with us and with the rest of nature. When attacked by the bark beetles and faced with that distress, they emit such a strong “pining” aroma that the wasps are drawn to them to lay eggs in the larvae of the bark beetle and help defend the trees.

She shared with us some frightening statistics. There has been a 400% increase in anti-depressant prescribing since 1980, and that adaptogenic herbs such as ginseng, holy basil, ashwaganda, and rhodiola (I hope I have those close  to correct) each have very specific properties and specific roles that could significantly help our bodies through various types of stressors. Rhodiola may be one of the best herbs for addressing fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome. Panax ginseng is good for older men with cold extremities, and erectile dysfunction. For them it can be life changing. For a 25 year old, it’s probably not an ideal choice for improving energy.

Dr. Low Dog joked about the paranoia people have with chamomile and its potential for generating an allergic reaction. She said over one million cups of chamomile are consumed per day and there have been less than one dozen reports of allergic reaction in 100 years. People LIKE to be afraid of plants and herbs. She also mentioned herbs that were studied for generalized anxiety disorders in a dose escalating study that lasted 8 weeks. Bottom line, the depression/anxiety indicators were reduced. She also reported on a study that compared hops, valerian, and passion flower to the effectiveness of Ambien. There was NO difference in performance.

She went on to talk about butterbur extract with magnesium for migraines emphasizing the importance of using the extract with alkaloids removed. She shared how licorice suppresses inflammation, and since most disease begins with an inflammatory response in the gut, this is significant. She continued her talk with information on berberine as an antimicrobial that restores the intestinal barrier, making it beneficial for treating leaky gut and decreasing blood sugar. She shared how it also prevents peanut anaphylaxis in mice, so may have great potential in treating food allergies.

Bitters were mentioned as something that is an antimicrobial pathogen-killer and bronchodilator. Interestingly, sweet taste receptors inhibit the release of the antimicrobial action of bitters. In cases of antibiotic resistance, berberine makes drugs more effective by inhibiting e-flex pumps causing a synergistic effect. Berberine is very effective in cases of bladder infection and diarrhea. Caution should be used, however, in that it has a high interaction risk.

Dr. Low Dog shared that in consideration of the heightened state of concern over ebola, we would be wise to remember that while pharmaceuticals are not great at addressing viruses, plants are. Many plants have excellent anti-viral and anti-bacterial properties. Elderberry syrup at an equivalent of 5000-6000 mg of berries (read the label for crude equivalent to find this info as it is different from milligrams of extract) is recommended for treating influenza.

NF Kappa B inhibitors include turmeric, chamomile, and green tea deserve attention as well. Tumeric has over 6000 articles and 65 trials. It must be combined with piperine (a type of black pepper) to extract it’s properties in the body. As for tea, Dr. Low Dog simply said, “Drink it.” Black tea, green tea, white tea, the type doesn’t matter. It’s all good.

She concluded her talk by stating that when you support diverse farming, you make a statement that you want to support the earth. She offered some suggestions for sources for quality herbs including Gaia Herb Farms (they have webinars available), Natures Way Purple Top Extracts (take according to directions on the bottle), or anything that has USP or NSF on the label indicating 3rd party testing. Her website is and she offers a course called Foundations of Botanical Medicine.

The remainder of the afternoon was spent listening and conversing with Mary Jo Kreitzer from the University of Minnesota. We heard two excellent presentations on Cultivating Wellbeing in Our Lives and Communities and Integrative Nursing. The reality of our system of “health” care in this country is we spend more than any other country, our outcomes are near the bottom, access to care is still a very real concern, and we have an incredibly high incidence of medical errors and death directly attributable to this system. In areas where health care is working, they take a whole systems approach including healthy lifestyles and healthier environments. She says it is not only the government’s role, but is also society’s commitment to the health and wellbeing of the entire population.

So what is wellbeing? It is a state of being in balance or alignment, happy, healthy and prosperous. It is safe, content, and peaceful, in harmony and connected to purpose. In a single word, it means being WHOLE. A Gallup poll indicated that only 7% of people throughout the world are thriving in all areas, regardless of faiths, cultures, and nationalities. Sense of purpose seems to be significant. A study of 6000 found that people with a greater sense of purpose and direction in life were more likely to outlive their peers and had a 15% lower risk of death than those who said they were aimless. The health risks of being alone are comparable to those of smoking, high blood pressure, and obesity but balance in relationships is also very important.

Community wellbeing is equally important as those people who live in cities with low wellbeing are twice as likely to have a heart attack as those living in communities with high levels of wellbeing. The university of Minnesota has a website called Taking Charge of Your Health & Wellbeing at I think the aspect of wellbeing that I found most significant was the importance of nature and nature based therapies along with the concept of evidence based design, which aims to make it easy to do the right thing.

She went on to discuss work place wellbeing and how only 30% of employees feel engaged at work. It has been referred to as White Collar Salt Mines. “For most, work is a depleting, dispiriting experience that is getting worse.” Authentic connections, positive relationships, alignment with purpose, and effective teams, along with a culture of safety are important to having a sense of wellbeing at work. She even proposed a new leadership position called Chief Wellbeing Officer for organizations to embrace. Sometimes the smallest changes can make a significant difference in the overall wellbeing of individuals and organizations.

She concluded her presentation on wellbeing with a quote from His Holiness, the Dalai Lama, “Dedicate yourself to the wellbeing of others and you will find happiness.”

To be continued……


SIMPLE Conference Day 3 Part 1

My alarm went off way too early this morning because I stayed up way to late last night typing. Tonight I am suffering from nerve damage to my index finger and thumb from gripping my pen insanely tight today as I frantically tried to take notes. One session was during lunch, and the salmon trumped the note taking. I’m still not sure what that other stuff was, but I suspect it was black rice. All I know is lunch was classy and the guy talking had the most interesting things to share.

Some of this stuff is so common sense that it is hard to believe I could be amazed, yet these folks really brought their “A” game with the evidence base (aka research/numbers) to back it up.

The day began with 6:30 AM yoga. It was amazing. I miss yoga. I think that may have to be a goal I set for the coming weeks and months. Yoga needs to be in my life on a regular basis.

Breakfast was a bit disappointing for the 50% of the group who are basically gluten free. They served nicely wrapped croissants with eggs and avocado, along with fresh fruit. I wanted to eat that croissant pretty badly, but I knew my tummy would distract me very quickly if I indulged. So I saved the “indulge” for the salmon sauce and key lime pie at lunch. I’m pretty sure whatever evil I consumed, I dripped out of my pores in the sweat lodge tonight.

Today was truly jam packed with some amazing presenters and fabulous topics. We began the sessions with a discussion by Dr. Victoria Maizes on environmental chemicals and women’s health. She has authored a book entitled Be Fruitful: The Essential Guide to Maximizing Fertility and Giving Birth to a Healthy Child.

She shared that the impact of DES from the 50’s and 60’s is still being seen in the grandchildren of those women who took it during pregnancy. She also reported that over 80,000 chemicals are un-studied or under-studied according to the President’s Cancer Panel. Babies in the US are being born “pre-polluted”. Nine months in the womb preprograms us for diseases that manifest 50-60 years later. Then there is the issue of stressed mothers in pregnancy.

OB/GYN’s are not stepping up to the plate to warn pregnant women about toxins other than alcohol and drugs, and they rarely ever take an environmental history. Many feel the rise in autism has an environmental-chemical cause at work. A study of twins in which one had Parkinson’s and the other did not revealed that the chemical exposure trigger likely occurred 40  years prior to the onset of the disease symptoms.

BPA (found in plastics and food cans) is linked to increased obesity. Mice that were exposed to DES in high doses were actually small in size whereas mice exposed to tiny amounts of DES were obese. This negates the dose causes poison theory. Children and fetuses are more at risk for chemical exposure problems, and the first child may get a larger dose of chemicals due to their storage and excretion in breast milk.

And then there are the endocrine disruptors in tampons and sanitary pads. Dioxin, chlorine, plus pesticide residue from GMO cotton crops gets placed in a very absorptive area of the female body. It’s no wonder women have issues with thyroid.

Companies are replacing BPA (because consumers are demanding it) with BPS. It is still not safe. It simply has less research proving it isn’t safe. Best practice is to avoid plastics and use glass to store food.

Assess your workplace, home, hobbies, and childhood fun for sources of toxins that may be triggers for disease. She told a story about a friend with breast cancer who remembered how she and her brother used to chase the crop duster planes through the fields. The object of the game was to see who could stay in the chemical mist the longest.

We can advocate for change with our dollars by purchasing products from the “green marketplace”.

Food decisions need to be organic whenever possible. Learn about the dirty dozen and the clean 15. Organic IS better if for no other reason than safer soil, no sewage sludge for fertilizer, no GMO’s, and no antibiotics. They are also pesticide free, which should help to reduce the toxin load. We also need to advocate to keep the organic standard pure in light of big food companies becoming involved in the organic food market. Choosing to eat from the clean 15 of conventionally raised foods reduces pesticide exposure by 92% vs. eating the dirty dozen. Oh, and babies should NOT be given only rice as a first food. Can you say arsenic?

BPA was in 90% of urine. It leads to obesity and heart and prostate problems. Avoid canned foods and opt for flash frozen. Plant based diets are less contaminated than animal diets which have antibiotics and chemicals/pesticides that are stored in animal fat. A Korean study looked at whether diet makes a difference in toxic exposure levels. 25 people stayed in a monk temple and were fed locally grown pesticide free foods. Their toxin levels dropped quickly. Another study on BPA showed three days of clean eating dropped BPA levels in the body significantly.

Water is usually contaminated with things like lead. Over 50 pharmaceuticals have been found in water including endocrine disruptors such as birth control pills. Most cost effective solution is carbon filtration. Environmental Working Group ( has a water filter shopping guide.

And we haven’t even talked about cosmetics and EMF exposures yet. There is a free educational module at on environmental health.

That, folks, was the first session.

The second session talked about research into gut bacteria. My favorite line from that session was, “70% of stool is shed microbiome. They double every 20 minutes. If we don’t poop, they run out of room.”

Our diet shapes the types of microbes we have in our gut. Those microbes extract nutrients from the food we eat. Some types are associated with high fat diets and some are associated with a high plant diet. Metabolic syndrome in mice treated with antibiotics (to kill the gut critters that a pre-diabetic person has living in there) resulted in improved glucose tolerance test results. Along those same lines, offspring of moms exposed to antibiotics during gestation were more likely to experience diabetes.

Bottom line, our life span appears to be linked to the makeup of our gut microbiome.

The third experience of the day was a breakout session presented by a group from UNM-Taos, which is a community college. They shared how they are bringing integrative medicine to underserved populations by teaching it within the associate degree and certificate programs they have. Many students are single moms and are on Pell grants, so the education gives them access to the information on integrative medicine practices so they can become self-healers. One of the most interesting ideas shared was the concept of getting mindfulness practices into the schools as young as head start by implementing breathing practices before the children go home.

The most significant take away from this class came not from the presenters, but from a really nice blonde-haired Jesus-looking dude who is an RN and LMT at Holy Cross Hospital in Taos where they have a care team that provides CAM services to patients in the hospital. They have a number of folks on staff that are trained in a variety of complementary practices. He specifically mentioned the orthopedic doctor who would “order” massage, acupuncture, or aroma therapy for his patients. I was fascinated by this “care team” concept. Not only do they take care of patients, but they also take care of staff members as needed and as time permits.

And that rounds out HALF of Day 3. It’s bedtime. The best will have to wait. The best includes integrative nursing and the temazcal. More on those later.

2014 SIMPLE Conference Day 2

Day 2 of the SIMPLE Conference started at 5:30 AM. Last night was way too short, but there is no way I’m going to miss a single thing, so this body was out of bed, dressed, and sitting in a meditation circle at 6:30 AM.

That meditation lady must have known I had some people in my life that needed a blessing of protection. She also knew there are a couple of people that I need to bless and release in hopes that they resolve their stress so I don’t take it on as mine. They got blessed. Let’s trust that it works.

Today was absolutely jam packed with information and presentations and interactions. Breakfast was shared with a beautiful soul who is a doctor for Indian Health Services in Shiprock, NM. I quizzed her at length about her work there and my interests, motivations, and concerns with doing the same.

My take aways for today:

Integrative Medicine is the way to truly help people manage their health. It was likened unto “teaching a man to fish” as the old proverb goes. It is empowering to the patient.

Dr. Andrew Weil’s name is pronounced “wile” (long I sound). Oh, and I sat about 40 feet from where he was on the podium presenting. He said what we currently have is not a health care system, but a disease management system and it is not sustainable. Unfortunately so far, health promotion/disease prevention does not pay where insurance and reimbursement are concerned. Due to the flow of money into the pockets of a few who have total control of elected officials, there can be no meaningful change in healthcare via government mandate. Change will have to come through grass roots efforts.

He predicted that allopathic high tech medicine will be a specialty in the future rather than the norm and that community hospitals may be gone and replaced by integrative health and healing centers that teach how to eat, exercise, garden, prepare food, and provide spa services. These clinics will manage health, not illness. Unfortunately it may take the collapse of our entire health care system to make this happen.

Health is an inner state of balance and resilience in which we can interact with the environment and its toxins without harm.

Laughter can turn off genes that trigger diabetes mellitus type 2.

Physical activity increases overall wellness, and sitting is the new smoking.

There’s a new book coming out called the Dorito effect by Mark Shatzberg. The premise is we do not crave sugar, fat, and salt. We crave flavor and our food is increasingly flavorless. Thus we have a billion dollar industry in chemical flavoring.

Chronic low level inflammation is the root cause of chronic diseases and age related illness. If it is allowed to persist, it develops into coronary artery disease, Alzheimer’s and cancer among others. Therefore it is important to choose an anti-inflammatory diet.

Inflammation affects emotional health. Cytokines are produced and they increase the risk of depression and suicide significantly. Therefore, anti-inflammatory drugs may potentially be used to treat depression more effectively than those currently being used.

The microbiome in our gut is a cool thing. There is more microbial DNA in us than human DNA. Changes in microbiome could be a “root cause” of illness. Four factors have affected the microbiome: 1) use of antibiotics, 2) the shift in what we eat, 3) the rise in cesarean deliveries, and 4) the decline in breast feeding.

There may be a connection between seizure disorder and celiac disease.

Fermented foods may be more effective than probiotics at populating the microbiome.

The reason organics are important is to avoid toxins.

Anti-inflammatory diets may be beneficial for mental and emotional well-being due to correlation between inflamation and psych disorders.

Chronic stress is the inflammatory disease of the 21st century.

In response to claims that integrative medicine lacks adequate research, there is more than most people realize, and a great deal of allopathic (western) medicine has NO research to back it up.

Often esearch fails to detect the health promoting benefit of integrative medicine that exceeds the patient’s original complaint. Ex. Patient being treated for prostate cancer reports that is lifelong issue with post nasal drip has resolved.

How doctors react to new information is more a function of source than content.

Stress and burnout is a huge issue in med schools (and nursing schools). Mindfulness practices are being implemented in some schools as part of the curriculum.

Docs who use mindfulness practices see an decrease in emotional exhaustion and an increase in empathy.

Chronic stress impairs memory, learning, and leads to premature cognitive decline. Meditation breaks the cycle of chronic stress response feedback loop by forcing us to focus on what is happening in the present. Our minds cannot be anxious, so the cycle is broken.

Clinician mindfulness practices can improve patient health outcomes.

Research shows that 21% of student stress is modifiable. Mindfulness practices should be embraced as a core competency. Mind-body medicine is the physiology of de-stress.

Burnout is serious in the medical profession, but it starts in students and is often seen within the first semester.

Mindfulness must be fostered in the curriculum and in the culture.

Gut bacteria interact with artificial sweeteners and send messages to the body to produce more glucose.

Personalized medicine vs. medicine that is personal

Diabetic complications were reduced by 41% in those patients treated by high vs. low empathy doctors.

Six weeks of petting rabbits yielded a 60% reduction in atherosclerotic plaques.

Takotsubo cardiomyopathy is heart failure caused by stress with no evidence of heart attack or blockage.

Meditation decreased cardiovascular death by 48%.

And then there was Ayurveda and panchakarma.

My bed once again beckons my tired brain to rest.

2014 SIMPLE Conference Day 1

I am at the 2014 SIMPLE conference in Albuquerque, NM this week. SIMPLE stands for Symposium of Integrative Medicine Professionals in the Land of Enchantment.

Let me tell you……these are my kind of people….and then some.

I am surrounded by those who seek to identify evidence based practice among the complementary and integrative therapies and who choose to take the very best of the allopathic (Western medical) model, traditional oriental medicine, traditional Mexican healing, and traditional Native American healing, along with a nice dose of Ayurveda all in an effort to truly heal rather than just manage symptoms. These are not people looking for the next great cholesterol medication. These are people who seek to eliminate the need for most pharmaceutical medications except as a last resort.

These are people with Ph.D. and M.D. behind their name who know there has to be a better way and they are putting together or finding the research that shows us what that better way is. These are some of the most highly trained medical professionals in the country, and I have the privilege of “sitting at their feet” to learn.

Our first day was considered “pre-conference”. I paid extra money to participate in a workshop on herbalism and a community healthcare visioning ritual. The herbalism conference had some very knowledgeable people presenting, and I did learn some things. Unfortunately, I didn’t feel it had the depth of knowledge I craved for the investment.

My greatest take aways from herbalism: 1) In areas where the water has higher concentrations of lithium occurring naturally, the suicide rates are much lower than in areas where the water has much lower levels of lithium. 2) Kava is used to allay violence in tribal cultures. 3) My use of prepackaged herbal teas in their little tea bags is pretty much useless, so I shall be acquiring some of the good stuff and putting it directly in my hot water to steep and float.

Oh, and I simply must get my hands on a sweet neem plant. It has such an interesting aroma.

And now for the highlight of day 1…..

Approximately 20 of us participated in what was called a Community Ritual for Visioning. Most had no idea what they were getting themselves into. I have been to enough of these types of things in this part of the country to know that “ritual” means somebody is going to shake and rattle something and chanting and fire will probably be involved. Some of the other poor souls thought they were going to write some sort of mission statement. I couldn’t help but wonder who in their right mind would pay money to do THAT.

We gathered outside by the hotel pool in a circle of chairs that had a chiminea at one end. The fire was stoked, and the guides for the evening led us in a Shamanic-type ritual. We began by honoring the four directions with a prayer to each. We were then asked to write on a piece of paper something we wished to release that related to our health care practice or to health care in general. I knew about this assignment, but it wasn’t until we were in the midst of the four directions prayer that what I was to release became crystal clear to me. That was a cool moment.

One at a time, we were invited to the fire to kneel and toss our “releases” into the fire to be consumed. Each of us was surrounded by the supporting energies of the five guides shaking their shakers and holding a bowl of tobacco. As our paper burned, we were offered the bowl of tobacco and each of us tossed a bit of the tobacco into the fire to finish our personal “burning” ritual.

After the burning, we lined up to go back inside as it was quite chilly in the New Mexico mountain air and wind. We were each cleansed with smoke from burning sage to remove negative energies and escorted into a dark room to lie down. I honestly don’t know if my mind finally decided to be quiet or if I fell asleep, but I was eventually startled back into reality with a whisper to arise and take the hand of the person beside me. We were instructed to keep our eyes closed and we were led single file while holding hands through the darkness until we reach a place where we were advised to get on hands and knees with shoulders touching.

Soon I felt the strange sensation of someone crawling beneath me through the tunnel that symbolically represented a birth canal. One by one, each ritual participant made the journey through the tunnel. I was next to last, so my journey was much shorter. Once all had completed the “birthing” experience, candles were lit and we were invited to allow our bodies to move freely (dance) to the sound of drums and flute. Most of us were quite shy about this process as it felt akin to being in a charismatic church and being asked to let the Holy Spirit move you. Gradually most began to make some effort to move our bodies with the rhythm of the drums to celebrate our rebirth.

Still sitting in the darkness, we turned to a partner and shared what we had experienced. Although I am open to this process and interested in it, having a “profound” experience to report back to others continues to allude me. I often feel as though I have to stretch a bit to identify something worthy of sharing and therefore feel compelled to apologize for my lack of awe. I shared my “aha” moment by the fire in which the knowledge of what I needed to release became crystal clear. Others were so moved and grateful for the experience of rebirth. I was grateful to be in a warm room and not on my hands and knees anymore.

Lest you think I was put off by this ritual, please know that I would pay my $30 and do it again in a heartbeat. An opportunity to be face to face with a small group of like-minded people in such an intimate space is one I will always pursue. The energy dynamic generated feeds me on a level I cannot adequately explain. It made the stress of being a lone ranger at a large conference so much easier. It gave me a glimpse of the hearts and minds of people from many different healing professions and from different parts of the country. It was yet another attempt to break down my wall in hopes that someday I WILL have that profound experience with the universe that knocks my socks off.

I topped off the evening by inviting myself to follow the ritual guides to a very late supper. Since I intruded on their space, I tried to keep silent and just listen to their stories. I felt a little bit guilty, as if I had crashed their private party, but I was hungry and didn’t want to eat alone. One gentleman had donned a long hooded black cape and appeared as though he were a warlock or a character out of Harry Potter. I wasn’t quite sure whether to be totally creeped out of admire his courage to be such an individual. I opted for admiration and amusement. It is definitely an experience I won’t forget. I later discovered that he was an M.D., as was the lead guide of the ritual. I’m not sure why I was caught off guard by that fact, unless I just never expected a doctor to be a Shaman.

As for what I chose to release, we shall see in the coming weeks how that works out for me. I released fear, doubt, and self-deprecation as they relate to my nursing practice. They went up in smoke. I will never cease to be keenly aware of the knowledge I do not have, but it is time for me to embrace what I do possess and to walk in some level of confidence with that knowledge while feeling confident that I can always ask for help with that which I do not know.

Oh, and I also “burned up” standard hospital food in hopes that someday a clear liquid diet will consist of healing bone broth instead of red jello, Sprite, and Gatorade.

And on that note, I poured my exhausted body into bed and slept like a rock. So ended SIMPLE Conference 2014 Day 1.

For The Men Lucky Enough to Win My Daughters

I was blessed to be loved by a man who knew how to be a great husband. I want my girls to be as blessed as I have been. There are several things I would like for the men in my girls’ lives to know…just in case no one ever told them:

1. Always make her smile.

2. Never ever ever cut her down or insult her….ever.

3. Make sure your words always help her to feel good about herself.

4. Mother nature is not always kind to her, usually because of the sacrifices she makes to give you children. Find ways to appreciate her body and the changes it endures. See the beauty in every stage of life.

5. Brag on her to your friends, and to her friends, and to anyone who will listen.

6. Be her friend, her companion, her lover, her soul mate, the wind beneath her wings.

7. Support her efforts to feed your children the healthiest way possible. Never make her choose between pleasing you and nursing her babies. Find a way to enjoy the process as much as she does. Encourage her and find ways to help her when it isn’t as enjoyable.

8. Talk to her. Tell her about your day. Listen to her tell you about hers.

9. Crawl yourself out of bed and change a midnight diaper and bring a baby to bed for her to feed.

10. Feed her while she’s feeding your babies. 

11. Hold her hand while walking down the street.

12. Hold her head when she’s puking her guts up.

13. Tell her she’s beautiful no matter what length she wears her hair.

14. Play with your kids when you get home from work so she has a few minutes to soak in the bathtub. She probably hasn’t had thirty seconds alone all day.

15. Hire a babysitter or find a grandma and take her out on the town often.

16. Take her on adventures.

17. Be her knight in shining armor.

18. Allow her freedom to grow and evolve.

19. Teach your kids to love and respect their mother. Set that example for them.

20. Be affectionate. Let your kids see that you adore their mom.

21. She is not your maid. Put your underwear in the hamper.

22. Realize that she doesn’t necessarily need you to solve every problem. Sometimes she just needs you to hold her while she walks that path herself.

23. Teach your children to be kind, caring, and honest people. If you manage to do that, they will be successful in every part of their lives.

24. Hitting is not discipline and it is not love. There are a thousand ways to train up a child that don’t involve hitting. Learn about them.

To be continued………

Weirdo Ideas to Rock Your World

There’s a fun little game of sorts that’s going around Facebook lately. Everyone is posting a list of little known things about themselves to share with the world.

It got me to thinking about what sorts of things I would post.

And then I realized my list would probably bring about the fall of the free world plus result in several defriending me…. And I worried about the impact on my business, but then I realized that I don’t have much business these days and the clients I do  have are super cool.

Worst case scenario is they’d just start praying for me, and I’m okay with that.

So here are 25 things some may have suspected about me, but didn’t know for sure, some of which may totally rock your world.  Just let it be. I don’t need an intervention. 

1. Between the ages of 21 and 30, I had all the answers….to everything…and anyone who disagreed with me was either ignorant or just plain stupid.

2. By age 38, I had figured out that nothing was as black and white as I had thought and all of it was just an opinion of what was possible, especially the things people said were black and white, especially if it could be used to justify a point of view. 

3. Today I see only possibilities, and pretty much no certainties.

4. I choose to believe in a higher power, but it has no resemblance to the God most people teach about in these parts.

5. I had a “rode to Damascus” experience that resulted in my decision to leave the church  I had been a part of my whole life. The message delivered to me loud and clear was that it wasn’t mine to change and that I needed to leave them alone and go my own way. So I did. No regrets. No, it wasn’t an audible voice. But the migraine symptoms (flashing lights) were pretty clear, and the message I intuited from the process was crystal clear.

6. I think Jesus was probably a Yogi, or Buddhist monk….or at the very least the missing years were spent studying with the wise men from the east who probably weren’t Jewish Rabis. It’s just a hunch. 

7. I do not believe in a miraculous resurrection. I believe it completely detracts from Jesus’ entire purpose and the teachings that are most likely to be truly his based on historical evidence.

8. I believe Satan and Hell are creations of human imaginations, most likely as a means of controlling people through fear.

9. I am fascinated that otherwise completely rational scientific people who are skeptical of EVERYTHING that they can’t touch, feel, smell, or otherwise prove (or sell) are willing to suspend rational thought when religion is involved.

10. I tend to think we are energy beings wearing a costume or space suit of sorts. (And no, I am not one of Tom Cruise’s minions.) Since matter can’t be created nor destroyed, I tend to go with the possibility that our existence preceded our birth and (more popularly) will continue long after our physical death.

11. …which means I believe in the possibility of reincarnation.

12. Pretty sure I might have been burned at the stake in Salem, Massachusetts in a previous life. I might have even been Laura Ingalls or one of her sisters, too. Who knows? The possibilities are endless.

13. I think it’s POSSIBLE we choose our parents and choose our experience before we arrive. (How would you like to be THAT travel agent.)

14. The concept of fractals as the foundation of the universe as well as our bodies fascinates me. A world is relative, but the pattern is similar no matter what the size or scale. I view the human body as a universe and the cells of our body as tiny planets. 

15. What some people refer to as the holy spirit I believe to be my own intuition, inner knowing, or inter-connectedness with the universe and all of its energy beings.

16. I choose not to pray for people by asking an outside force to do something. I tend to think healing prayer/meditation should involve consciously focusing attention on the person and sending them healing energy from my own inner source. I think this can be done either in person or over any distance. 

17. I think it is POSSIBLE that many of the reported miracles attributed to Jesus in the Bible COULD have happened. Having read some about yogi’s and the power of intention, and energy transference has left me intrigued about the possibilities.

18. I think it is inappropriate to believe that any sacred text was inspired by a deity. It is especially unacceptable to believe that “our” book is “THE” deity inspired book. It is downright tragic to use such writings as the basis for making laws and justifying prejudice….unless of course you wish to use the section of the book that mentions LOVE being the one and only law that matters.

19. I once purchased the services of a person who claimed to channel Jesus Christ on my behalf. I credit her with saving me a ton of money by telling me I did not really want to go to  nursing school……because at the time, she was right, but a few years later I was ready. 

20. I can facilitate and feel positive energy shifts in people who are stressed or in pain. The cool part is when they happen to be “energy sensitive” and can feel it, too. 

21. People who are intuitive fascinate me. I have this weird fantasy that some stranger (or acquaintance) will randomly come up to me one day and tell me something they could not have known about me, or that they will provide an insight or direction I need to move along my path. 

22. I really don’t have confidence that #21 will happen because I truly believe I should be able to attain the needed insight by trusting my own intuition. 

23. I believe illness is almost entirely a result of poor nutrition and emotional baggage, and while I totally believe the body is capable of healing itself, I am glad there are some medical interventions to help it along when my brain and emotions don’t want to cooperate. 

24. I once had an atheist massage client contact me because he saw the lotus flower on my sign out front and decided maybe I was safe and nonjudgmental

25. I was once told by an energy medicine guru that my aura was blue with a touch of pinky rose. When I told her I worked around computers, she quickly shook her head and said, “Oh no, that’s not your calling at all.” She was right. Computers were not my calling, but helping people overcome challenges is. At that point, I knew for sure my computer guru days were numbered. Blue is the aura color typically seen in people who are drawn to the helping professions…teachers, nurses, counselors, etc. I didn’t tell her I was a teacher or a massage therapist until after she told me the colors. 

 This is my list as of today at this point in my life. Tomorrow, the list may be completely different. I seem to change in some way on a daily basis as I learn more, experience more, see more, and do more. 

Life is so much fun! 


Getting My Summer Solstice On

Summer Solstice 2013 is here. In recent years, it seems to have become quite popular to have some sort of celebration or ritual on the solstices. Some suggest the earth’s energy is uniquely aligned at such times. Others simply mark it as a point of new beginning or transition in their lives. For me, it’s typically either the day of or the day after kiddo #3’s birthday. That means I SHOULD be celebrating in some form or fashion.


I’m not much of one for celebrations, rituals, traditions, or anything remotely similar. There’s really no particular reason other than I’m just really lazy in that department. My kids have grown up highly deprived of the aforementioned experiences. Quite frankly, if it weren’t for their sweet daddy, they’d have no life.

Yes. I know. I rock. Just hand that mother of the year trophy over to me right now.  <sarcasm>

This year, however, I had an opportunity to participate in a real Summer Solstice event. With all of the usual obstacles and excuses removed and a very gracious invitation from the host, I couldn’t say no.

My alarm went off promptly at 5 AM and I was greeted by the usual pre-programmed pot of coffee, minus half enough coffee grounds since I ran out last night. Better make that “greeted by a very weak and nasty pot of pre-programmed coffee”. A quick shower and blow dry of the hair, application of non-toxic sunscreen, attention to clothing and teeth (much appreciated by those in attendance, I’m sure), and I was off for my 20 mile drive to the thriving metropolis of Nazareth, Texas.

We gathered at Casa La Entereza, the unique and beautiful home of Darryl Birkenfeld and JoAnn Starr. “A Labyrinth Retreat on Summer Solstice” began just as the sun attempted to peak through the morning clouds in the eastern sky. We were introduced to the first presenter and led to the labyrinth area. After a brief explanation, we each took a turn stepping into the labyrinth to begin our walk in concentric circles, silently meditating along the way. Upon reaching the center of the labyrinth, we stepped down into the kiva, pausing on each level to experience the power and energy of the seven chakra-aligned rock steps with their embedded crystal energy concentrators. The base of the kiva includes a place to sit where we continued our silent meditation. One at a time we exited the kiva and made our way back around the labyrinth returning to its beginning.

Some people are very good at emptying their minds of all thought and sensing the subtle energies that surface during a time of meditation. Me? Not so much.

My mind did something like this:

“Okay, Girlfriend. Empty your min…wow! Those rocks are sure crunchy sounding!”

“Focus, Angie. Pay attention to what you are feeli……Hey, there’s the Padre!”

“Yoohoo! You are supposed to be meditating. Pretty sure this distraction thing is………I wonder what’s for breakfast?”

I’ll spare you more torture.

Obviously I need a bit more frequent practice at the whole emptying my mind thing. Seriously, though, as I neared the end of the labyrinth two thoughts presented themselves with brilliant clarity.

Humans almost always tend to find some way to explain that which they do not easily understand when they are not comfortable with a simple I don’t know.


My typical description of the person I used to be is not supportive. I am, rather, an evolving human being, as are all other human beings. We are just at different places in our evolution.

Most probably won’t see the profoundness in such a revelation. That’s okay. It was significant to me, and that’s what the entire process is about.

Our day continued with a delicious home baked breakfast including casserole, salsa, fruit, dip, and some incredible sticky roles along with juice and coffee. A nice lady everyone calls Steve Ann (or something like that) was our cook. It was all I could do to keep my inner piglet from bursting forth and devouring the entire counter full of food. This lady can feed me anytime.

Two morning sessions followed. We divided into groups and took turns enjoying another labyrinth and kiva experience outside and a meditation inside the beautiful casa. The labyrinth activities were directed by Joe Franco of Dimmitt who designed and led their construction. When he indicated we’d be sitting in the kiva in silence for 20 minutes, I thought my brain might explode.


But it didn’t.

That proved to be the fastest 20 minutes of my life.

On my way out, I chose to walk the labyrinth barefooted. After all, the really good earth energy demands it. While it wasn’t like walking on hot coals (as if I’d know what that was like), it was quite stimulating to the pressure points. That’s New Age lingo for I’m-a-tenderfoot-and-it-was-all-I-could-do-to-tough-it-out-to-the-end. Nevertheless, I kicked some energy meridians into high gear with that trek. That’s New Age lingo for my spine tingled.

Once back inside, Elaine Sullivan led us through a guided meditation. I have some weird hang-up with my three year old self. I always have a hang-up with my three-year old self. Every “find your inner child” meditation I’ve ever done has resulted in that girl showing up. One of these days I’m going to get a shrink to help me find and unpack her baggage. Needless to say, it was an emotional and moving experience for me.

Lunch was next. The menu was a slice of heaven. We were served a delicious Paidom pot roast, mashed potatoes, brown gravy, green beans, home grown salad greens, and strawberry-rhubarb pie.

And hot rolls with sesame seeds…So much for being wheat free… I had two. Yum doesn’t do them justice.

I wonder if Steve Ann will marry me.

I’m pretty sure my husband would be okay with it.

We enjoyed a bit of after lunch relaxing and visiting with each other. I met some people who are a lot like me in their thinking and ideals. We had some good discussions about subtle energies, the link between emotions and health, and some of our personal stories. It is always comforting to find others whose journeys have led them down a path similar to mine. It certainly helps me feel much less like a total weirdo when I am in the company of others like me.

Our final session was a time of reflection and sharing led by Elaine. The connections with people, the beauty of our space, and the synergy were all so peaceful and comforting. It was a delightful end to a day of recharging and rejuvenation. Lemon bars made by a gracious retired Texas Tech professor of German topped off our day of self-reflection and healing energy.

My left-hemisphere-dominate self found the day to be well worth the time and the short trip. I am exceedingly grateful to Darryl for including me in the retreat. My brain knows it was good for me. For those who are more sensitive to subtle energies (and even those who are not), I highly encourage you to participate in the next Labyrinth Retreat at Casa La Entereza. Your body, mind, and spirit will thank you. If you are one who easily senses subtle energies, you will absolutely love it.

Once again to Darryl Birkenfeld, thank you for being such a gracious host and planning a truly unique retreat experience.

See you next time.

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