Saturday, September 29, 2012
Wednesday, September 26, 2012
Fall is so gorgeous in Vermont, particularly the vibrant shades of red and orange, so today’s “take a break” is all about going outside and collecting leaves from your neighborhood. There are so many ways that you can use these leaves, but since I adore chocolate in all forms, my first suggestion is making chocolate leaves.
Saturday, September 22, 2012
Thursday, September 20, 2012
Wednesday, September 19, 2012
Saturday, September 15, 2012
Complementary and alternative medicine (CAM), refers to those practices that are not typically the first approach to treatment offered by Western medicine. Spend any time in a major medical center these days and you’ll see a number of different CAM approaches being offered-from massage therapy, touch therapy to acupuncture. In fact, many doctors, dentists and other medical providers are being cross trained in various aspects of CAM. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM), and well respected institutions, like the Mayo Clinic, include CAM treatments as part of their information on Diseases and Conditions.
In continuing the series on CAM practices, this post focuses on acupuncture. A meta analysis (a study looking at lots of different research), released this week, has found that acupuncture does relieve pain. The 29 studies reviewed included almost 18,000 patients. The researchers concluded that acupuncture works better than usual pain treatment and slightly better than fake acupuncture. The results "provide the most robust evidence to date that acupuncture is a reasonable referral option," wrote the authors, who include researchers with Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York and several universities in England and Germany. Archives of Internal Medicine 9/10/12.
According to NCCAM, which funded the study, The term “acupuncture” describes a family of procedures involving the stimulation of points on the body using a variety of techniques. The acupuncture technique that has been most often studied scientifically involves penetrating the skin with thin, solid, metallic needles that are manipulated by the hands or by electrical stimulation.
Practiced in China and other Asian countries for thousands of years, acupuncture is one of the key components of traditional Chinese medicine. In TCM, the body is seen as a delicate balance of two opposing and inseparable forces: yin and yang. Yin represents the cold, slow, or passive principle, while yang represents the hot, excited, or active principle. According to TCM, health is achieved by maintaining the body in a “balanced state”; disease is due to an internal imbalance of yin and yang. This imbalance leads to blockage in the flow of qi (vital energy) along pathways known as meridians. Qi can be unblocked, according to TCM, by using acupuncture at certain points on the body that connect with these meridians. Sources vary on the number of meridians, with numbers ranging from 14 to 20. One commonly cited source describes meridians as 14 main channels “connecting the body in a weblike interconnecting matrix” of at least 2,000 acupuncture points. NIHCAM
How exactly and why acupuncture works is unclear to western science, so that alone will cause some providers to dismiss it out of hand. Others, who have seen the impact on patients not only refer to acupuncturists, but some have been crossed trained in the discipline.
Acupuncture is often used to treat various types of pain, including headache, migraine, joint, dental, post operative and chronic. It’s also being used for a variety of other conditions including: post operative nausea and vomiting; allergies; fatigue; depression; anxiety; menopausal symptoms; digestive disorders, including irritable bowel; infertility; insomnia and to ease the side effects of chemotherapy.
In traditional Chinese medicine, acupuncture involves inserting long, very thin needles just beneath the skin's surface at specific points on the body to control pain or stress. Several weekly sessions are usually involved, typically costing about $60 to $100 per session.
Things to consider about acupuncture
• While some insurance companies cover acupuncture treatment, others, including Medicare, do not.
• There are relatively few complications from the use of acupuncture. However, it can cause potentially serious side effects so find a qualified practitioner. The FDA does regulate acupuncture needles and requires that be sterile, nontoxic and labeled for single use. Practitioners should use a new set of disposable needles taken from a sealed package for each patient and should swab treatment sites with alcohol or another disinfectant before inserting needles. When not delivered properly, acupuncture can cause serious adverse effects, including infections and punctured organs.
• To find a qualified acupuncturist, consider the following:
- Many doctors, dentists and other professionals are trained in acupuncture.
- Ask your provider for a referral. Many medical providers have acupuncturists that they work with.
- Most states require a license to practice and have specific laws pertaining to the practice of acupuncture. Check to make sure your acupuncturist has such a license and operates within your state’s laws. Check the national and state list of Acupuncture Organizations from Acupuncture Today
- Ask family and friends who have recently had acupuncture about providers they liked.
- Many whole food stores, yoga centers and even business directories will provide lists of acupuncturists in your area. Be sure to check qualifications.
- Find out about pricing and payment before you begin treatment.
Wednesday, September 12, 2012
I’m still under the spell of Paris, where I fell in love with the gargoyles and chimeras. It’s important to set the record straight about these creatures. First of all, a true gargoyle is basically a drainpipe, designed to get water off the roof and away from the building. There is a trench in the gargoyle and the water typically comes spurting out of their mouth. Yes, Notre Dame is loaded with them as are several other buildings in Paris.
Often referred to as gargoyles, the creatures perched on the balcony of Notre Dame are actually “chimeras,” which are mixes of different types of animal parts. I couldn’t help but imagine them having conversations, as some of them looked down right bored.
“Look at that gal getting off the bus. Does she really think that’s an appropriate outfit to wear to church?”
“Geesh, same view for 850 years. You’d think they’d let me move around or something.”
“If that little kid screams one more time, I’m going to give him something to scream about.”
Today’s post is writing a haiku about what the gargoyles and/or chimeras of Notre Dame might be saying. For example:
See the American guy
Staring at me
Very scary dude
Need some inspiration on writing? Check out Creative Writing: A Master Class. This is free from the Academy of Achievement and includes such writers as John Irving, Alexander McCall Smith; Toni Morrison, John Updike, Nora Ephron and many more.
So if you aren’t in the mood for poetry or writing, what about making a nice Dryad Bracelet? Easy to make and can put you in a fall mood.
Saturday, September 8, 2012
This week we settled our son into an incredibly small room, a seven story walk up no less, as he starts his freshmen year at the American University of Paris. When your last child leaves home, be it for college or some other reason, it certainly gives one pause. However, when they are six times zones away, on a different continent and in the very amazing city of Paris, the thoughts become a bit different.
There is much to love about Paris. Sunday is a day of rest for the city, a welcome change from the US where it’s business as usual for many places. Every few feet there is a café, where the chairs are positioned so you look out on the street, sidewalk or incredible gardens. Parks are in abundance and, if you arrive six hours before your hotel is available, which we did, check your luggage at the hotel and take a refreshing nap on the grass in the shadows of the Eiffel Tower. Lots of interesting things to see and do-they even make it affordable to see various museums, as the first Sunday of the month is free admission. The food is delicious (oh, those macaroons), and maybe what I loved the most, it’s a city designed for walking. Oh, I almost forgot the Seine. You must have flowing water and the Seine is a joy to walk along.
That noted, I found the continual reminders of conflict, war and struggle, via the variety of memorials that seemed to be on every street corner and bridge, to be quite depressing at times. Signs appeared in all sorts of places pointing to the homes or hangouts of the once famous or infamous.
My sense was that the city was memorializing what was and not celebrating and exploring what they could be. At Parent Orientation, the Dean of Students noted, as he hummed a few bars of France’s national anthem, “you wont hear a lot of that at the Olympics. We don’t produce great athletes, but we have great museums.”
On the flight home, I found myself mulling over my impressions of Paris-noting that I was in the old part and not the business district- along with this new stage of life. I decided that I didn’t want to be like this city, focusing so much on what was. Rather, what could I create in this new phase of life?
My first thought was that when my next passport is up for renewal, I want to be traveling and exploring so much that I need extra pages for the stamps from the various countries I’m visiting. Paying for such travel is an issue, but I have some ideas. For starters: anybody out there interested in having me as a guest speaker, run a workshop or program, teach a course? I’m a good public speaker, have lots of experience and am very affordable. What about an article or two?
But I digress from what I learned about life in the chronic disease lane while in Paris. There were the usual reminders, such as
• Be aware of your past, embrace your future, but most importantly, live in the present.
• Take advantage of life’s cafes-stop, take breaks and just observe
• Get out and walk. Find the parks and bright spots where you can enjoy the sunshine.
In watching how people were trying to fit in, and how much I didn’t, it made me think about the isolation that happens so frequently with people dealing with serious illness. There was no way I was going to become French proficient or turn myself into a high fashion Parisian female in a week, Actually, the latter would never be an option. I was the only person in Paris wearing Keen sandals. Now there's a fashion statement!
I couldn’t help but think of the incredible amounts of energy we expand trying to fit in. Whether it’s an illness, or circumstances, we can easily make ourselves feel alone and isolated. The bottom line is that we all have considerable value, no matter how we appear, speak, act, or what our health status might be. Our best is more than good enough. To read more on this topic, check out the following:
The most eye-opening event of the trip happened minutes before we were home. Having been awake, due to our travel schedule, for 24 hours, I was driving while my husband periodically dozed. Shortly after we entered our town, I suddenly felt a pull on the steering wheel. I had fallen asleep and was drifting off the road. It scared me no end. In fact, when we made it home, I couldn’t sleep as I realized how easily we could have been hurt or worse.
Given that it was almost exactly five years to the day when I was trapped in our house fire, it’s not surprising that this incident put me off kilter. At some point, I had to stop worrying since the combination of jet lag and an inability to sleep is not a good scenario and terribly unhealthy.
Once again, I was reminded that there are far greater powers at play then myself. Again, I had a sense, or a reminder, that there are things I need to do. There is a purpose for me.
I can’t say exactly what I am suppose to be doing or why I was spared from the fire or from a nasty road accident. However, I have come to believe that the universe does seem to have a scheme and it’s best to try and flow with it instead of fighting it.
Saying yes to the universe doesn’t mean I want bad things to happen to me or anyone else. I learned an important lesson, which I won’t soon forget, about trying to push my body when it’s over tired and stressed. Instead I am a bit better at accepting of what happens. By understanding that there is a bigger picture and there is connectedness among us, I can deal much better with life. Consequently, I am a lot more content, which is so good for well-being.
As Ben Franklin, who enjoyed Paris, noted, Happiness consists more in the small conveniences of pleasures that occur every day, than in great pieces of good fortune that happen but seldom to a man in the course of his life.”
Wednesday, September 5, 2012
The recipe is simple:
- 3 vanilla beans (cut lengthwise down the middle)
- 1 cup vodka
- glass jar with tight fitting lid
Make sure the vodka covers the beans. Mason jars are great for this. Store in a cool, dark space for a minimum of two months. Shake periodically and watch the color change.
Vanilla beans purchased on-line are going to be about half the price of ones you purchase at a store.
If you have friends that are gluten intolerant, (Celiac’s Disease), you need to be very careful about what type of vodka you use. While the following are gluten free vodka’s, if you get to the liquor store and forgot the list, just ask: Star Vodka, Tito Vodka, Chopin, Ciroc and Ketel One
Vanilla sugar is also a delicious treat. Take 2 cups of regular granulated sugar and 1 vanilla bean. You can put in a food processor and blend together, or slice down the side of the bean and scrape seeds into the sugar. Bury the bean into the sugar and store in an airtight container for several weeks. If you have left over vanilla bean skins (the seeds have been used in another recipe) just bury them in sugar and let them site. Use the vanilla sugar for cookies, coffee or whatever.
Use the vanilla to make some spectacular gifts for the holidays including, Vanilla Almonds.