Archive for the ‘Wellness’ Category

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.

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.

…SHOULD be.

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.

……and……

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.

Might.

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.

Redirected, Day 1

I was up until after midnight last night reading and processing the available information on nourishing my body back to health. It seems there are a number of considerations.

I need to detox.

I need to alkalize my internal environment.

I need to drastically improve my red blood count.

I have to decide what I will put in my body in what combinations and when.

I was awake at 6 AM this morning processing all that information. There were things to be done. There was filtered water to retrieve from the massage center next door. There was lemon to squeeze into said water. There was extra virgin olive oil to swallow.

That last one will make a person question how badly one desires healing.

I decided it was time to add walking to my morning routine, so I put on my tennis shoes and took a walk around the block. It’s actually more like 4 blocks. And with no significant quantities of O2 hitting the cells, it didn’t happen at a super fast pace.

That’s okay. At least it happened.

Then there was the post-walk vinegar-water drink to consume.

Breakfast was next on the agenda. Modified Huevos Rancheros. There were tomatoes to dice, onions to mince, and garlic to smash. A dash of olive oil in a skillet over moderate heat turned my veggie mixture into a warm, juicy topping for two gently-fried, sunny-side-up eggs plucked from the hens nest within the last two days.

The delicious aroma almost dragged my 14 year old out of bed. Almost.

The taste was pretty darn good, too. Why don’t I cook like this all the time?

Oh yeah….I’m a bit on the lazy side.

My flank steak for lunch needed a marinade, so I quickly threw that together, went next door to give a massage, and came right back to start chopping cabbage and shredding carrots for a modified coleslaw recipe. It seems healthy and healing bodies really like raw cabbage.

And yes, I used a cutting board and a knife to shred my cabbage…by hand…my hand.

FYI–I’m accepting donations for a really good food processor if anyone is feeling sorry for me yet.

Oh, and there was celery to prepare for my morning snack. The meal plan calls for almond butter, but my chiropractor indicated my body is not ready for nuts, so I made some hummus instead.

My Asian marinated flank steak was pretty darn good, and my coleslaw was edible.

More reading and information processing plus ordering a bottle of liquid iron supplement from drugstore.com, then my body demanded a nap, so I obliged it.

Post nap found me standing at the cutting board again. There was guacamole to make which means more tomato and onion dicing, lemon juicing, and avocado smooshing. Cucumbers needed slicing. Cantaloupe needed prepping. Squash for the grill had to be scrubbed and sliced.

I was busy.

Supper for me consisted of grilled turkey tenderloins, grilled squash, cucumbers and guacamole, and cantaloupe.

This is actually a pretty yummy way of life, and the chickens are eating quite well off of the trimmings and cuttings.

I’m wondering how in the world this is gonna work when I actually have a busy day and no time to shop, prep, and plan food.

Next up……figure out how to grow and juice wheat grass.

I’m now taking donations for the arse kicking (or in this case wheat grass smooshing) Omega juicer.

Anyone?

Redirected

It’s funny how things come along in life to serve as a point of redirection.

Yesterday I got redirected.

Yesterday I was given the opportunity to decide whether or not I truly believe what I say I believe….

….about health, nutrition, wellness, medical intervention, and more.

Yesterday I learned that I have fabulous cholesterol levels. I also learned that as far as a sonogram is concerned, most of my internal organs look pretty good.

Most of them, anyway.

And most of my blood work was pretty good. Most of it….except the little detail of my hemoglobin–my almost non-existent hemoglobin. It seems a 6-point-something-or-other is a little low when ideal is 12-16. The doc commented that she was amazed I was even able to get up and walk around. Guess that explains some of the fatigue that’s been plaguing me lately. I just thought I was really out of shape.

Then there is the matter of my “baby”. It seems there is an alien thing growing inside and around my 44 year old incubator.

No, I’m not pregnant.

Thank God.

My diagnosis was basically exactly what I had already self-diagnosed and the reason I even went to see a traditional doc in the first place. I am exhibiting symptoms of a benign uterine fibroid. I had already decided I could manage one of those, although some things might have to change about my diet.

I had purchased the “Living with Fibroids” book, and  I had done lots of research before hand. I was pretty sure I could handle this.

The part I wasn’t counting on was just how big the fibroid collection turned out to be and the unexpected thickened endometrial lining they found. Seems I have 3 mm too much for comfort.

The medical approach in such cases is referral to a GYN for biopsy of the uterine lining and likely hysterectomy due to the size of the fibroid.

I am, after all, kicking out a good solid blood transfusion each month at this point.

And I mean it’s not like I’m gonna need that uterus to make more babies, right? So medical logic says let’s just cut that sucker out and eliminate the problem.

Except that doesn’t solve the underlying problem.

My diet and lifestyle have created this thing. Cutting it out isn’t going to solve all my problems. In fact, it will add a few to the mix. My hormones are already jinked up pretty badly. I’ve known this for a couple of years now, but I’ve procrastinated doing anything about it. I’m pretty sure cutting out an entire organ that contributes to what’s left of the production of natural hormones is probably not the greatest of ideas.

And the synthetic stuff is just totally scary.

I am not a horse.

Besides, where will the alien grow next if we cut out its host and don’t change the environment that’s supporting its growth?

After processing all of the information I have so far and considering things like the expense of surgery, I realized I was being given an opportunity. …

I preach that the body has the ability to totally heal itself if given the right nutritional and energetic support.

I watch people put their eggs entirely in the western medicine model of cut, slash, burn and shake my head in pity.

I am now faced with an opportunity to put my money where my mouth is.

Literally.

I can totally change my diet and the internal environment of my body, or I can continue consuming things that deplete my body of life force energy.

I can nurture my girl parts back to vibrant health by using food and herbs as medicine, or I can let the whackers take my parts away forever.

I realize some people hit a point at which there isn’t an option left. Cutting the body  part off or out is sometimes the only option for survival. My heart breaks for them.

I, on the other hand, still have time and a choice.

On this fourth of July, 2012, my choice is eating cake and ice cream in celebration of my second daughter’s 18th birthday, or eating homemade guacamole and cucumbers. One feeds the alien. One feeds me. Once creates the acidic environment that encourages tumor growth. One provides the alkalinity to feed, nourish and repair damaged cells.

My game plan includes my MD, my chiropractor, a naturopath, a hormone-compounding pharmacist and quite likely an acupuncturist. Gotta get the iron depletion resolved immediately. I even have a game plan for that. Just gotta run it by the doc and see if she can find a way to make it happen.

It also includes an abundance of raw alkalizing foods….all of which have to be washed, sliced, prepped, and more. Broccoli and cabbage are my new best friends. Dairy, sugar, and anything with gluten are the enemy.

I think I have a new full time job.

Good thing I like guacamole and cucumbers.

Anyone for a big heaping bowl of coleslaw and a cup of herbal tea?

 

PS: I don’t need your prayers. God didn’t make me eat crap and God isn’t going to fix it for me by some miraculous intervention. I need your encouragement, positive energy, and an occasional batch of organic broccoli and carrots that I don’t have to take time to wash and cut up. I also need your massage business. Eating healthy isn’t exactly cheap. Much gratitude in advance.

This Is What Jesus Looks Like

The past two weeks, I have removed, relocated, boxed, and stored any number of images of Jesus, the “Blessed Mother”, various saints, and more. While my own feelings toward organized religion, including that of my husband’s mother, are a wee bit hostile (understatement), the one thing I can say about my mother-in-law’s faith is that she lovingly sent money to people she believed were helping the poor, even when she probably didn’t have it to send.

In many ways, I have felt my own faith heritage has been both a blessing and a curse. The church of my childhood and most of my adulthood unquestioningly and abundantly sends money wherever people are hurting or in need. However, the legalistic aspects of both of these systems of religious belief often left me feeling the methods and rituals were more important than the original purpose.

It has become a habit of mine to point out that what we see on Sunday morning has absolutely nothing to do with Jesus. Therefore, my feelings toward anything “church” have become very disconnected from my feelings about the human being that was Jesus of Nazareth.

And then I see a post like this one over at Trey Morgan’s website.

And this one.

And all I can say is this MUST be what Jesus and the apostles looked like. Forget the pretty windows. Forget the little trays of crackers and grape juice. Forget the warm bathtub waters of a baptistry. These people are feeding hungry, desperate human beings and doing everything in their power to heal them. Jesus did those very things.

These people get it.

If you read Trey’s website, you will notice that he has a paypal donation button on the right side of his page.

I am about to hit that button, because this is the image of Jesus I want the world to see. Not some halo enshrined angelic entity created by Michaelangelo. Not some White Knight wielding a flaming sword and cutting off heads.

This is the face of Jesus.

This is where I want my money to go.

Confessions of a Middle Aged Mommy Jogger

Warning all males: Gross female commentary follows. Read at your own risk.

It’s time you know the truth.

I have a lot of truth to tell.

Middle-aged mommy truth.

You see, a little over a month ago I started jogging. I haven’t jogged since I was in my EARLY 20’s. There is a very good reason I haven’t jogged since that time.

I HATE running, jogging, or anything that resembles the aforementioned beast.  Loathe is another word that comes to mind.

Yeah….

You might be wondering why I would be doing something I loathe. It’s really quite simple.

I am determined to chase down and tackle the 20 year old who stole my body. I’m not worried about the jerk who stole my laptop, ipod, and air conditioner last month. I figure God will take care of that one for me, or he’ll eventually meet up with on of my pistol packin’ friends and regret his birthday. Meanwhile he gets to burn his brain cells out smoking something he bought with the money from hocking my stuff….something that my hubby probably tried back in the 70’s (and wishes he could enjoy again).

But the teenie bopper who stole my bod needs to be tackled, beaten, and forced to return the hot merchandise.

Therefore I must get in shape enough to chase her sorry thievin’ butt down and inflict the aforementioned punishment. If cattle rustlin’ is serious enough in Texas to warrant a good old fashioned hangin’, female goddess body snatching is surely worth at least as much.

And so I jog.

And with a 42 year old bladder that’s supported four oversized uteruses, it’s always an adventure.

Note to self: three glasses of iced tea consumed in the two hours prior to running is not the most intelligent thing to do with the aforementioned equipment.

It’s just not.

Matter of fact, I’m seriously considering a modification to my massage pay scale. Instead of payment in Jackson’s, I may want to require payment in Depends.

Or maybe I’ll just take tips in Depends. I kinda like those Jackson’s. The bill collectors probably prefer Jackson’s, too, unless they are female, 40+, and have recently taken up jogging.

Or maybe someone will just give me a tip that says, “Hey Genius…..don’t drink tea before you run.”

I really hope that little hard body jogger that kept passing me recognized the dark gray on my light gray shorts as a serious sweating problem.

That’s what it was…..sweat.

Yeah.

Sweat.

Because middle-aged mommy joggers …ahem….sweat….down there. A lot.

And that’s all I’ve got to say ’bout that.



Starting Fires and Getting To Answers

Enough already with the battle cries and the dragon slaying and the minotaur gutting. Time to have a little fun and play  around with what’s really important. Today, that happens to be the warm cozy campfire, which is the result of Danielle LaPorte’s hot new package of technological genius she calls The Fire Starter Sessions.

I’ve been following Danielle’s blog, White Hot Truth for over a year now. Not long after I found her, I decided I wanted some of what she had, so I signed on for one of her private Fire Starter sessions. It was good for me because it helped me to realize some things about where I was headed on the road to independent business woman. Important things. Critical things.

Naturally when she announced that she was putting out an ebook “experience” called The Fire Starter Sessions, I was totally on board. One on one was good, but I am at another place on my journey at this point, so I jumped at the chance to get a “redo” of sorts.

She poses some Burning Questions that get down to the nitty gritty about how a person sees themself, their business, and their “how-to-get-it-done-ness”. I revisted those questions yesterday. Interestingly, my answers have shifted a bit in the last 15 months since my private Fire Starter Session.

When someone at a party asks you what do you do, what do you say? And how do you feel?

This is a work in progress. I’m refining this. As of this morning, my three liner would be, “I own a business called Superior Performance Wellness Center where I help people heal with touch, education, and movement. I am passionate about  alternative health and wellness, locally grown foods, and using the body’s wisdom to improve mental and physical performance. My wellness center currently offers massage therapy and some locally grown foods, however, I am looking to expand my services to include infrared sauna sessions and yoga classes as well.”

Maybe I’ll figure out a way to slip in some of my cool titles like Licensed Massage Therapist, Licensed Brain Gym Instructor, Certified Physical Educator, Technology aficionado, microphone goddess, etc. Feel free to post suggestions for improvements in the comments.

How do you make your money? What are your revenue streams? What makes you the most money?

As of today, I am still employed as a technology facilitator for a school district. It is definitely paying the bills at this point. As of June 16th, something else will be paying the bills. My other revenue streams include massage therapy, conducting Brain Gym workshops, and a new one–providing adaptive physical education services to special needs children.

Brain Gym workshops provide the biggest one-time infusion of revenue, but the massage is more consistent over time, and I anticipate the adaptive physical education services will be the most lucrative.

What do people thank you for most often? What do they come to you for, or say about you most frequently (“positive” or “negative”)?

I had a couple of friends help me out with this one in the original Fire Starter session. Overall, the result is still the same. People thank me for  helping them feel better, whether it is through encouraging or being a cheerleader for them, helping them step by step through a problem, working out a sore, stiff muscle, or teaching them tools that empower their own success.

When do you feel powerful, passionate, free, incredibly useful, excited, inspired?

This one is pretty easy. Anytime I am able to empower someone by teaching them how awesome their body really is, it rocks my world. I love being in front of a room full of people who are looking for a way to improve their lives or the lives of those around them. I love sharing what I know, and watching the amazement as others experience the impact of what I have taught them.

I also feel quite useful and excited when someone leaves my massage table deeply relaxed, or in significantly less pain.

What do you think your form of genius is? What are you amazing at (work or life related?)

I am amazing at showing people a way to succeed and then cheering them on in that success. My true genius is as a spontaneous educator. I love to have an encounter with someone who is on the verge of a meltdown, teach them some of my cool mojo, and see their eyes light up as they realize the potential power of what they have just experienced. Planned events are okay, but spontaneous rocks!

Who do you think is really cool, or elegant, or powerful?

I made out a list yesterday, then I went back to see my original list from last year. I liked parts of both lists. Here’s my new condensed list: James Garner in The Notebook and Danielle LaPorte–she oozes cool and powerful….and I’m not just saying that because she wrote this thing.

What books have inspired you?

My recent reads are on my mind as kicking me into gear: Conversations with God (all three), Dance of the Dissident Daughter, Leaving Church, The Yoga of Jesus, Animal Spirit Guides.

What would you like to stop doing?

I would like to stop should-ing. Either do it because I want to or let it go. I am releasing my (non) housecleaning guilt. Stop working in a concrete cell doing things for condescending people who should have learned how to help themselves by now. Stop making someone else money. Stop obsessing over feedback from others.

So…what would you like to do with your life and career? (Money is no object. Dream.)

My dream is to own/run a wellness center/retreat complete with body therapies, yoga, nutritious yummy foods, and a kick-ass environment that screams peace. Phase I in progress.

As you read through these questions and my answers, what comes to mind? How would you answer these for yourself? If you know me, do you see any room for improvement in how I answered them?

Tree Sex and Nature's Womb

The title might be a little over the top, yet there is something so amazing about a year in which nature outdoes herself in productivity.

This winter saw an abundance of snowfall in our region. The old timers say lots of snow is what the fruit trees love. I’m sayin’ lots of snow is what EVERYTHING loves.

Notice I didn’t say Every BODY. Plenty of people got really tired of the stuff this year. But the outcome of enduring that endless parade of snowfalls means we’ve got good things on the way.

There is a small plot of dryland wheat pasture just east of the Wellness Center. That means the farmer plants it, but its only water comes from the rain and snow over the winter. No wells. No irrigation ditches. No center pivot sprinkler system. Not even a strategically placed waterhose.  I’ve watched it for a couple of years now, and this is the first time since we’ve owned property over there that he’s had any success.

And it is GORGEOUS.

That’s my word for the day.

GORGEOUS.

Saturday I heard the whir of something with an engine outside the wellness center windows. I looked out and someone had a swather in his wheat pasture laying out wind rows of freshly cut wheat hay to cure before baling it.

Mother Nature done good this time.

Then I started thinking about all those beautiful blossoms that had been gracing the trees with their GORGEOUS-ness a few weeks ago.

Cherry Blossoms 2

Cherry Blossoms in Bloom at the Farm

Peach Blossoms

Blossoms and pollination are tree sex, in case you didn’t know it.

I decided to inspect the various fruit trees around the farm and wellness center.

I wasn’t disappointed.

Tree sex and a mild mother nature this spring means we have fruit.

Tiny green apricots are hiding behind big floppy leaves. It’s been several years since they survived the late spring freezes.

The old plum tree next to my in-laws house is proving itself to still be worthy of existence.  Not many plums on there, but enough to make a statement about the amazing bounty we are going to experience this summer. This old tree spirit can say the womb still works. For all you non-scientists out there, the fruit is the womb for the seed. That’s such a fun word. Womb.

My grapevines have tiny grapes peeking out. This is their third year in the ground, and I am very proud that they are showing signs of productivity.

Tiny cherries are everywhere on the collection of cherry bushes that are located around the farm and wellness center. I’m betting they will be the obnoxious sour kind, but they’ll get eaten by something. If not us, then the birds will likely feast this summer like never before in recent years.

My two year old peach trees are popping out all over with tiny peaches, while my apple trees are holding off a bit longer, taking their time, just beginning to think about showing their pregnant bellies.

Yes, this year is shaping up to be one of new life and rebirth in ways far exceeding fruit and veggies. Life itself is being reborn for so many.

An incredible and amazing harvest is in the making.

Time to go plant some zucchini!

Hippozebrapotamus Sightings and Other Self-Image Issues

I like me.

Really I do.

I even like most of my body, most of the time.

I can look in the mirror at 42 years old and say to myself, “Honey, you rock!” and really mean it. I clean up well. I think.

Hunky Farmer Boy says it, too, so it must be true. Of course being of the male species, he can do that at 6:30 AM on a Saturday morning when my eyes are swollen shut and I have crusted drool glued to my face. I’m not sure his opinion is always completely accurate, but I’m really glad he finds my 42 year old swollen eyed drool-faced self worthy of his ….ahem…..attention.

And this fabulous self-image rocks along pretty good most of the time.

MOST of the time.

Until someone brings out one of those nasty, obnoxious, things called a camera.

Don’t get me wrong.

I like cameras.

As long as I am behind the lens and not in front of it.

And I don’t even mind being in front of one as long as I never ever ever ever never EVER have to see what distorted torturous images of humanity were captured by that lens.

Because unless it is capturing a picture of my kids, HFB, a peach blossom, or any member of the human species OTHER than me, a camera lens is just another one of those horror house freak mirrors that stretches and bulges it’s subject in all the wrong places.

Because I can’t possibly look like that. I’m much slimmer and substantially more gorgeous than THAT!

After all, I was a Beauty Queen. Miss McKenzie AND Miss Tulia 1986. I had the crowns to prove it. I even had the glamour shots thing done after the second rugrat came along in 1995-ish. THAT camera said I looked like Reba McEntire.

All cameras should be outlawed except that camera. It can stay.

And those clothes. My gorgeous look like a million bucks clothes. Black slacks, sort of shimmery two piece animal print top. Very classy. Until a camera destroys the look.

Kill the camera.

Death to the camera.

Leave me with my fantasy.

PLEASE?

Some well-meaning, helpful type wants to show off my progress on my new business.

Then take a dang picture of the business, NOT ME!!!!

Oh no.

He wanted me in them.

I’m thinking, it’s been awhile. Maybe cameras have improved. Maybe his is one of those glamour shot cameras that will make me look like I SHOULD be the owner of a wellness center.

Nope.

No such luck.

(cue Jacque Cousteau voice)

“What we have here folks is the rare hippozebrapotamus of the species married-with-four-children-and-too-busy-to-take-care-of-herself.”

Looks more like I need to find a wellness center instead of own one.

And shut my trap long enough to smile for the evil camera.

And how appropriate that this particular shot is in front of a danged refrigerator.

“Notice how well the specimen spans the width of the refrigerator.”

And they say black is supposed to make you look thin.

LIARS!

Did I mention how much I HATE cameras?

We Interrupt the Regularly Scheduled Schedule for a Little Bit of Self Care

I am home today, ditching work/school. Funny thing about it….it was an easy decision. Usually it is an agonizing decision and unless I or a child is on our “deathbed”, off to work I trudge. Sometimes even a child on her “deathbed” couldn’t convince me to use those precious leave days. Often Dad has been relegated to stay home or the kids tough it out by themselves.

You can submit my nomination for Mother of the Year award now. I know….I’m a shoe-in.

But today was different. Yesterday saw some sort of stomach annoyance attempt to derail ME. I was tougher. I ingested my good gut bugs. I drank my kefir. I endured the labor-like waves of muscle spasm that would occasionally slap me into reality. I sat in my corner of the office away from anyone else, answering the phone, answering emails, and making only one out-of-the-office delivery. After all, it wasn’t that bad, just annoying…..all day….and still annoying this morning.

Then munchkin #4 comes stumbling into the living room this morning crying and holding the trashcan. What’s up with this thing? Preying on poor innocent children. Is she dying? No, not really. Same thing….labor pains. They come and go. Those things suck, especially when there isn’t a tax deduction when it’s over.

Then I looked outside. Cold and cloudy. That was all I needed. This would be my day to rest, read, write, cook, and take care of the only kid I have left who still willingly curls up in my lap. Time for some self care. Time for prioritizing appropriately for once. Time to release.

First order of business? Ginger tea with raw honey. Such spicy sweetness on an agitated digestive system. I was never one for ginger snaps or crystallized ginger, but ginger tea is nice. Must be all that other stuff they put in there to disguise the peppery ginger. Munchkin liked it, too.

Second on the list? Clean up the kitchen. Ugh. Unfortunately I’m not sick enough to get out of that one. It actually wasn’t that bad this morning (by our standards), so I was done fairly quickly.

Food? What’s one to eat when everything that touches the inside of your digestive system triggers the cramp from hell? Nothing. But we might as well wash that pesky little bug right out of our gut, right? That means soup. Broth. Maybe some nutritious veggies. A little bit of starch. This recipe. Hope it tastes as good as it sounds. I doubled the garlic. Everything should have double the garlic. Garlic kills bugs…and artery clogging stuff….and cold viruses….and friendships, but only if you forget a breath mint.

Now to find a good bread recipe for the bread machine. Whoever invented bread machines should win a Nobel prize for something. Those things are awesome. I’m thinking my egg bread recipe wins….because I have lots of those…..eggs that is. Thirty something laying hens pretty much ensures that I don’t run out of eggs and egg bread.

I suspect bread is one step removed from Elmer’s glue, but it is so flippin’ good. Especially hot. Especially with melted butter dripping through its little bread pores. Yeah. I’m thinking that’s not exactly on the top ten list of healthiest foods.

That’s just too bad. This is self-care day. The soup is mega healthy. It’ll wash down the bread and butter, and the Herculean peristalsis activity will probably remove them both prior to absorption, so it’s all good.

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