Friday, December 30, 2011

What's It Going To Take?

As I sit and wonder about the emotional wars many of my peers are fighting, I ponder the who's, why's, what's, when's, where's and how's of this war they are fighting. Not that I haven't fought this battle myself. On the contrary: I have fought it, and I've come out a victor. I've realized that every day I breathe is a gift to myself and a gift to my loved ones.

Some bask in the clouds of negativity, which will do nothing but encourage the thunder to roll and enable lighting to strike. Who wants to live in a constant state of paranoia, fear and doubt?

Choose happiness, my readers!
Choose life, my friends!
Choose love, my loves!

"I think you know, more than you say
You say it makes you happy when I stay
When I stay, I stay far away
What’s it gonna take for you to be happy?

I think you’re sad, I’m sad for you
You make no change, nothing you do
Will alter your thinking, and this is true
What’s it gonna take for you to be happy?

I want you to run to the wind
Laugh in the breeze
Sing at the top of your voice
I want you to dance in the rain
Don’t cry anymore
Don’t you know it’s a choice?

I think it’s time, time to move on
Look to the future, the here and beyond
You are not weak, but so very strong
What’s it gonna take for you to be happy?

I want you to run to the wind
Laugh in the breeze
Sing at the top of your voice
I want you to dance in the rain
Don’t cry anymore
Don’t you know it’s a choice?

I think you know, more than you say
You say it makes you happy when I stay
We’re only actors, this life is a play
What’s it gonna take for you to be happy?"

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Considering the Alternative

           A precocious four-year old little boy with curly brown hair and the biggest green eyes you have ever seen has a life-debilitating skin disorder. His big sister calls him “Bubba”, his parents call him “Sport” and his pediatrician calls him “Un-diagnosable”. Three and a half years of tests, treatments, and no results led this little green-eyed angel’s parents to Arizona where they were told of a medical facility practicing only alternative medicine. One round of allergy tests later and “Sport’s” parents were given the tremendous news that their little man has a food allergy which is causing his skin to break out. A lifetime of watching what he eats has replaced the worry of a lifetime of a skin disorder, and he is now a happy, normal, healthy little boy.

She was thirty-eight years old, overweight, and suffered from high blood pressure. Through the course of the winter months she developed a sniffle which then turned into a cough. Taking the matter into her own hands, she bought an over-the-counter cold medicine which in turn reacted with her blood pressure medicine prescribed by her primary care physician. Thirty-six hours later her friends and family were mourning the devastating loss of such a sweet woman. While traditional medicine is considered the norm in today's American society, alternative medicine should very rarely be the alternative.

The majority of America is familiar with the concept and tools of conventional (or traditional) medicine such as blood work, shots, x-rays, and prescription medications. What is the alternative approach? Alternative medicine is the use of plant and mineral based products for treatment in conjunction with physical and nonphysical therapies.  Alternative medicine treats the body in a holistic manner; instead of diagnosing and treating one specific ailment (chronic back pain for instance), practitioners looks at the body as a whole and treats the body as a whole. According to the Hippocratic Oath, physicians are required to “prevent disease whenever I can, for prevention is preferable to cure.”

“Most foods today have been genetically altered, irradiated, over-processed and refined, tainted with pesticides, hormones, preservatives and chemicals. We are all exposed daily to polluted air and water. Our work and living environments contain radiation, microwaves, metal toxicity, (dental fillings) and an overabundance of electromagnetic frequencies. Sure, your medical doctor can put twenty dollar names to a million different diseases, but there is really only one physiological cause and one simple cure. This is why for decades, Naturopaths and other natural healers see their clients able to heal every disease known with simple broad spectrum natural healing programs,” explains Marcia Aschendorf, a physician of Naturopathic medicine.

Critics may dispute the fact that although alternative medicinal remedies have been in existence since the presence of mankind, the progress of science is a better choice for medical practices. Natural medicine is in actuality the foundation for modern medical practice due to the fact that half of today’s prescriptions derive from plants. The difference is that you are putting a one hundred percent natural product in your body, rather than one that has been processed in a lab and lost much of its integrity along the way. Alternative medication often brings other benefits beyond what you might expect. For example, you might take feverfew to get relief from a migraine, to then find complete and total relief from your nauseated stomach. These dual effects are what make alternative medicine holistic in approach and so unique.

Some may wonder how alternative medicine compares to traditional medicine in terms of cost, as many health insurance policies do not cover naturopathic physicians or herbs. A trip to see your primary care physician in order to receive a prescription for Claritin (for relief of seasonal allergies) will run you close to one hundred and twenty dollars; not including the cost of your prescription refill that will last you three months. An ancient practice that has proven to be accurate and beneficial is to take a teaspoon of local honey a day. Because of the verified effectiveness of eating this local honey it makes perfect sense to give it a try first.

Opposition will come in many different forms, as is the way for anything different or unconventional. While some may dispute the fact that “popping an Advil” for a headache is quick, convenient, and culturally acceptable, if an individual is taking care of their body by ingesting enough water throughout the day and increasing their awareness of environmental stresses to then alleviate them, the chance of even getting a headache is tremendously minimalized.

I, personally, struggle with respiratory issues twice a year. For the last ten years I have been in the hospital every October and every April for bronchitis and have contaminated my body with the use of steroid-filled inhalers, allergy tablets and prescribed narcotics to ease the pain of coughing. My bronchiolar episodes last an average of two to three weeks and makes living my life to its fullest capacity a chore during those times. This year, with the onset of my seasonal bronchitis, I started a consistent system of Echinacea, vitamin C, eight glasses of water a day, and plenty of rest. Within four days, and without a trip to the hospital, I am cough and congestion-free and feeling one hundred percent better.

Why then, is traditional medicine the cultural norm in today’s society? Do you take Paxil to ease your anxiety because that is what your mother did? Do you see your gastroenterologist because a friend suggested him to you? Take some time out for you and understand the dangers of polluting your body with chemical based medicines. You wouldn’t water your flowers with a margarita; why fill your body with something that doesn’t belong?

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

The Power of Positive Living

The more I delve into the different areas of holistic healing and natural medicines, the more I learn how closely affected our physical bodies are to our emotional and psychological bodies. Take stress, for instance. For some people when they are stressed or anxious, knots can form in the back or neck. For others, stomach issues can arise; and again, for others, migraines take over their bodies and even immune systems can drop so the common head and chest colds gain control over day to day living.

While some of these issues are truly medical concerns, a lot of these concerns can be initially eliminated by taking several minutes out a day for yourself. I will attempt to lay out a simple plan that has worked for me, and I am hoping will work for you as well!

1. Before you even get out of bed in the morning, mentally list all things you are grateful for. My list will sound something like this:
* I woke up to a brand new day! A brand new day means a brand new page of my life's book. What shall we write in it today?
* I have a hubby who adores me, and who also is adored by me. Whether I have a busy day or nothing to do, I have a cheerleader and support system already rooting for me before I even open my eyes!
* I will get puppy kisses today.
* I have the energy and passion to accomplish __________ today!
 2. Take five minutes to do several yoga poses and stretches. This gets your blood moving in the morning, and in the process of basic "exercise" you are able to mentally program your thought process for the day. Some different thoughts that I will think during my five minutes of yoga are:
- Breathe in alertness, breathe out sleep. Breathe in awakeness, breathe out sleep.
- Breathe in strength, breathe out weakness. Breathe in peace, breathe out anxiety.
- Breathe in the positive, breathe out the negative.
 3. Remember that in all instances, in every minute of your day, you are responsible for the way you perceive all things. If someone is ugly to you, your response is your decision.
"How people treat you is their karma... How you react is your own"
Taking ten minutes out of your day for yourself is a lot less strenuous and way more beneficial than taking trips to your chiropractor or having a label slapped on your for having IBS. These small things have helped slow me down, has relieved years worth of back pain and has all in all given me the power to positively change my day. The power of positive thinking leads to the power of positive living.


Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Have A Nice Day!!

John wakes up at promptly eight thirty. He gets out of bed, without hitting the snooze button and goes straight to the bathroom. I’ve always been envious of those “morning people” who don’t have to use the modern-day miracle of a snooze button. He showers his six foot frame and then proceeds to brush his thirty-two teeth. Clothed in a medium-size dark-colored shirt,  thirty-two inch dark-wash jeans, grey Saucony’s and black frame glasses, he brushes his sandy brown hair, adjusts the stray hairs of his over-grown beard, grabs his black Velcro wallet and keys and walks out of the vintage, art-deco inspired loft apartment.
At ten o’clock on a Tuesday morning, not much is going on at Wally World. There are retired men and women going for their morning walk, as depicted by the nice khaki and black slacks, the rainbow of button-down shirts and white Reebok walking shoes. After the exercise, they congregate at aisle number six to pick out today’s Number One Doctor Recommended Vitamin Supplement For The Senior Society. Gathering the necessary weekly items of wheat bread, whole milk, and Fig Newtons, they march to the tune of “Blue Suede Shoes” to the register and check out.
Noon comes and goes with the rush of business professionals grabbing personal provisions. The hurried click of dress shoes resonate off the hard cement floors and up into the twenty-five foot high ceilings. A flash of black dress pants and a pressed, white-linen shirt speeds by to grab a “healthy” lunch from Subway (it’s better than McDonald’s, right?) and the aroma of Genoa salami, spicy pepperoni, Black Forest ham, lettuce, tomato, provolone cheese and freshly baked bread linger longer than the professional’s entire rendezvous into Wal-Mart.
It is now after five in the afternoon and the scene has changed. Busier, more hectic, and more vibrant is the atmosphere. Young parents toting small children and pushing shopping carts over flowing with frozen pizzas, Kool-Aid packets and diapers maneuver their way through the crowded aisles and to the line.

“Mom, I want this!”
“No. Put it down!”
“But I NEED it!”
“You don’t NEED anything; PUT IT DOWN!”
Teenagers are now rudely pushing their way between the young families, bouncing children’s rubber balls, riding bikes through the aisles and shopping for new clothes, makeup, and electronics. As John is walking the store, a young teenager catches his eye. She is wearing jeans that have multiple tears in the legs, a neon green tank top, a sweatshirt that looks to be two sizes too big, and on her shoulder is a cute multi-colored handbag. As she shops for eye shadow that specifically matches her tank top, she discreetly drops a small container of face cream into her bag.
Keeping his distance, but never losing sight of her, John follows her. She meets up with her group of friends and proceeds towards the checkout counter. As she digs through her cute multi-colored handbag to retrieve her wallet, one of her friends says something funny and all three of them start to laugh. She pays for the eye shadow and walks towards the door.
“Excuse me, ma’am, my name is John and I work loss prevention for Wal-Mart. I have reason to believe that you have something in your purse that you have not paid for. I need you to follow me to my office so we can talk more about this.”
After having her empty the contents of her handbag on the counter in his office, John finds three containers of face cream, a tube of mascara and a 100-count package of hair bands. Big blue eyes tear up as she takes a seat on the cold, ugly, brown leather couch.
“According Wal-Mart policy, I am going to have to call the authorities. Wait here while I go make the call.”
John calls police dispatch to get an officer to the store. The police officer shows up within twenty excruciating long minutes and the young teenage girl with the neon green eye shadow gets escorted off by the officer. As she is ushered out of the door, she turns around and exclaims,

“I’m sorry, sir! I promise, I will never do it again!”
“I am so glad to hear you say that, Miss. Have a Nice Day.”

Forty-five minutes of paperwork and one less indigent later, John walks back out on the store’s floor to look for another thief, another victim of society’s “entitlement fever”, another man or woman, another teenager or business professional. Digital cameras, face cream, dog food, DVDs, golf balls, and packaged meat are all under the protection of John.
A perfectly symmetrical circle, colored a pleasantly bright yellow with black markings inside the shape, depicting two oval eyes and a thin mouth. Brought into pop-culture existence in 1963 by American commercial artist, Harvey Ball, then internationally through the use of multinational public corporation, Wal-Mart, we now see this emblem and think to ourselves “Don’t Worry – Be Happy”, “Have A Nice Day”, or “Roll Back Prices!”.

All shapes and sizes of people will walk into a Wal-Mart store at any given time – day or night – at any given location. Upon seeing this American icon when entering the store, it is their choice, as well as yours and mine, to “Have a Nice Day”.