Keeping current in wellness, in and out of the water
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The phrase self care is popular these days. I personally am very happy to see this concept become a trend. For far too long high maintenance has been praised as a status to which we should all aspire. Personal trainers, stylists, shoppers,, chefs, and spin doctors of every sort are employed taking care of the needy and the wealthy who have no life skills to care for themselves. I enjoy personal care and attention as much as the next person, but I believe that by turning over too much personal care to professionals one becomes a product more than a zesty, lively expression of our own personality. It is vital to get down to basics when we define self care. It must be different for each individual because we each prefer unique ways of being soothed, pampered, or restored. By taking responsibility for one’s own pampering one discovers new and valuable ways to keep our bodies and minds healthy. There is no single formula, but there are elements that work well in combination to create a self care ritual or practice.
Personal time to recharge and invigorate can be used in all kinds of ways. Here are some ideas to try:
I had to mention the bath because this is the classic way people think of self care. I agree that a long soak in a tub with some essential oils can be just what is needed to restore vitality. Not everyone is a bath person. I encourage you to look around for ways to take care of yourself as only you can. I enjoy trying photography in nature. Sometimes I even produce something worth sharing. Enjoy, gentle reader. You are in charge of you.
Deal with the negative people you encounter
“You cannot have a positive life and a negative mind.” ~Joyce Meyer
1. Recognize and accept their toxicity
First and foremost, it is important to identify and accept that someone we know is a negative person. This can be difficult, especially when the person is someone we care about. Either way, we must be careful not to allow their negativity to transfer onto us. We need to accept that negativity is toxic and will only breed more negativity. It is especially important to avoid complainers. People who complain have given up hope that their actions can make any difference. We must be careful not to enable complainers by always listening to their woes.
2. Stop playing savior and/or problem solver
As human beings, we are wired to connect. For most of us, it is in our nature to lend a compassionate ear to someone who is in need. We must be careful not to let ourselves fall into the…
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If Mr. McMurphy doesn’t want to take his medication orally, I’m sure we can arrange that he can have it some other way. But I don’t think that he would like it.-Nurse Ratched
The shadow America does not want to face is our mental health system. Mental health treatment has been a barbaric system of emergency drug administration with no hope for cure. My parents could afford the best available when they needed help in their last years. The problem was finding any ethical and effective treatment for them. Everyone was ready to charge big bucks, but nobody had any real therapy (or even care) for the patient. They had unlimited access to all drugs, but no access to careful diagnosis or medical ethics. When I volunteered for the VA my Vet was long-term suicidal, and there was no available help for him either. I am sure there are some quality programs somewhere, but before going out and spending twice as much money giving people twice as many drugs, why not evaluate the efficacy of the treatments used now? I am going out on a limb and say our neighborhood system of mental health treatment is damaging to all concerned. Random pharmaceutical drug use is not healthy, mentally or physically.
In my neighborhood, here in central Tucson, where you can virtually buy drugs in the middle of the street and there is probably a weapons concierge who will bring a selection of guns to your house for purchase, a 6-year-old was found with a loaded gun in has backpack at school. His dad was arrested for an old felony charge so the kid who said he did not know how the gun got into his backpack is now probably a foster kid while his father serves time. This is the reality for the youth here, and they may or may not know how the gun got there, but they know it will not be the last gun they will see. This deep, sociological, complex problem will be resolved by government programs with an arsenal of pills. Is that, in any way, believable?
We also have a very large mental health center available to the public and funded by Medicare. It is close to a public bus stop with a convenience store on the corner. People from all over the city can come, buy enough alcohol to be over the limit, and be admitted for the night to the mental health clinic. If they are not at the limit, they simply walk back to the store and buy another pint of liquor. They will be given prescription drugs as a result of the entry to the clinic which they can sell right there in my neighborhood. The clinic is supposed to make sure that the patients leave the area, but of course there is no way to enforce that rule. So the patients are released to repeat the cycle. Spending twice as much money on this will create at least twice the insanity and grow creepy petty crime around here. It is a risk to continue to pretend we are treating mental illness or Vet suicide. Money spent on this denial while asking for more funding is running from the reality that systems profit from status quo, and not from change. We need fundamental change, comprehensive. Stopping the madness will involve stopping the flow of drugs as a substitute for therapy. This is a war on drugs worth fighting and well within our power.
The discipline to finish, to study and to sweat out the details is the path of tapas. Yoga’s mandates for a balanced life, yamas and niyamas regulate the ease with which we find enlightenment. Tapas is right effort, or dedication. All our efforts are subject to the energy we exert and the commitment we create within our minds. Belief alone will not bring the rewards that confidence combined with focused work can yield. Self discipline often involves forsaking some addictive or wasteful pursuit for another more admirable one.
As a library freak one can proudly wave the flag of how many books one reads. I have been enchanted with libraries all my life, and consume content (as it is now known) like there is no tomorrow. Although I say health is my real wealth, the truth is that the Pima County Library is the only thing that ever actually makes me feel super rich. I free range browse, check out certain books many times for recipes and pictures, and mindlessly and greedily reserve every single book on my current obsession. I have exhausted the cookbook section in several of the local branches. I am attached like crazy fire to the idea of never ending books. The price is right, so what could possibly be wrong with this picture?
Suddenly, a pop quiz about books from my author/ally:
Chris Brogan, who is a favorite author as well as a sometime correspondent/ally issued a challenge to join him in a year of restricting oneself to reading only three books. It is called the Three Book Diet or #3BD for those who speak hashtag. When the idea was mentioned I quickly found ways to cheat and not really do it, but do it as an experiment. I was planning to make my third book a revolving cookbook from the library. After all, I could never be away from the library for an entire year. This mental rebellion itself was a strong clue to the real motives active here. When confronted with the idea that we may flit through book after book while never digesting or using any of the valuable methods or ideas acquired I did not need to ask for whom this challenge tolls. It tolls for me. My picture is in the cosmic dictionary under dilettante who has read almost every book in the world……not to mention all the various training ad infinitum….(please, not to mention). I have done my best to choose the three books with integrity, and as little cheating as possible.
The first one already has a notebook with it so I get a two for one..How to Think Like Leonardo da Vinci by Michael Gelb is a great book I have read once and then some. Sacred Contracts is a book I am studying thoroughly with the tutelage of the author, Caroline Myss. The ever brilliant Mr Brogan has taken the third with his new book, The Impact Equation. The challenge involves journaling and making use of the books chosen in an interactive way. Since Leonardo and Carolyn are already in the workbook homework format, and Brother Brogan is tweeting about it, it seems like a cohesive package. Yesterday I drove a route that ALWAYS includes a visit to the library. I thought very carefully about what a year would do to my feelings of abundance. It is not an easy decision, but I believe that tapas will become my new source of abundance.
What does the word restore man to you? Do you think of groceries, batteries, credit, or your spirit? When stress exhausts your spontaneous zest for life, how do you recover ? If bombed out cities can be restored, so can your severely wiped out spirit. There are many methods available, but restorative yoga is an easy to learn, simple to use sequence that brings bliss to most people almost instantly. A good class will introduce the props and the various poses. The teacher can make sure the student is properly aligned and taking personal limitations graciously. This YouTube teacher gives a good guide to the uninitiated.
After some instruction one can decide which props to own. This collection can grow over time, and none really wears out, so the bolsters and straps are good investments. I also have learned how to deconstruct a hotel room to create the temporary props I want in the moment. Folded blankets and pillows work well when they are all that is available.
The undisputed queen of restorative yoga is Judith Hanson Lasater. She is a delight as a teacher. If she comes to your town I highly recommend that you seek out her workshops. She has that yogini presence that is precious in and of itself, but her compendium of knowledge is unique and powerful. She is a physical therapist, was thrown out by Mr. Iyengar (I always love the heretic) and a brilliant author. Living her yoga, indeed, is her conduit for teaching. She is a shining example of balance between the active and the restorative parts of life. If you are not lucky enough to see her in person, all of her books are excellent.
“[Let] go of your attachments: your attachment to being right, to having total control, or to living forever. This process of letting go is integral to the process of becoming whole.”
― Judith Hanson Lasater
I am openly afraid of doctors. I avoid contact with them, except in social settings, where I am fine with them. I know they don’t want to practice medicine during social times, and I certainly don’t want to talk about the way they practice. I go to the dermatologist, the dentist, and the optometrist. I have no issues with those office visits. I am fond of teeth cleaning, and go 4 times a year. If I wonder about a symptom in my own body, however, a medical doctor would be the very last person I would ask. I have relied on my friend who is a chiropractor to diagnose, treat, and advise me for the last 20 years or so, since Dr Fulford retired. Now Dr. Sue, my chiropractor friend, is leaving to go to work for the VA in Las Vegas.
While dog walking with my neighbor a couple of days ago we discussed the state of medicine and how things have changed so drastically. I told her I was fine with Dr. Sue leaving because she has introduced me to a very cool MD who practices emergency medicine and acupuncture near my home. I walked home and promptly created a mini medical emergency by chopping off the tip of my index finger while cutting a watermelon. Dr. Eric was already on my mind, having been so recently mentioned as medical savior, so I called him. I found some Neosporin and bandages, did some first aid, then finished making melon juice. Things looked bad to me initially, but when I learned Dr Eric was not going to be in his office for another week I had little pain and the bleeding had been stopped. I said thanks for calling and told him I would come in next week if I have gangrene. I have met him and taken a young friend to his office for acupuncture in the past. I had a very good impression of the way he approaches health. I am satisfied that he will take care of me at the same time I am totally freaked out at the idea of strange doctors in a hospital. The good news is that my finger is healing well without even an aspirin needed.
Maybe there are people with unreasonable fear of doctors, but I like to think of my own as a practical one. After having Dr. Fulford as my primary physician, then Dr. Sue, I believe I have learned enough to distinguish dangerous docs from the ones who do no harm. I feel lucky not only to be healthy, but also to have had the best care in the past. I hope to need as little as possible in the future.