May Goodness Win

In our corner of the world, a very interesting thing is happening. Hundreds if not thousands of workers and thousands of customers are calling for the return of a CEO of a grocery chain who was fired in a corporate move that is half corporate take-over and half family feud. What is emerging is a story of a man who treated his thousands of employees with respect, compensating them well for their loyalty and their role in making this business successful and who at the same time offered consistently lower prices to his customers many of whom were lower income. One of the most interesting aspects of this business model was the successful profits of this company in a very competitive business space (grocery store margins are known to be notoriously tight.) However these profits weren’t enough for the other family members who lived on the other side of the country. They took control of the company and ousted the CEO. I’m sure they were shocked by what happened next.

At a time when many corporations whose employees are doing work that could be considered moderately or low skilled are paying their people as little as possible and treating them as replaceable, unimportant cogs in a wheel, this CEO knew many of his employees by name and was known to personally reach out when someone became seriously ill or lost a child through-out many stores in a three state area! Mid-managers have put their necks on the line and shut down supply chains, emptying perishables on store shelves and employees at all levels have demonstrated for the return of their beloved CEO. Stories of his kindness and of employees bravely taking a stand are rapidly making the rounds of social media and hitting the local news channels.  People know they can work for any old jerk anywhere but that the leadership they enjoyed is rare and precious. In many ways they are fighting for all of us across this country – a battle for respect for “common” workers that are responsible for keeping many, many businesses humming along. It feels like a fight of good over evil. I am praying that goodness wins.

May Goodness Win

May the inclination of man
to love man rise up
and fill the heart so full
that the conscious mind
can only make one choice.

To treat brother as brother.
To treat sister as sister.
To treat fellow humans as fully human.

May lifting hands
replace the feet
that kick down.
Let those who stand
upon another’s back
in the illusion of tallness
step down
and feel the heights
of a loving heart.

May we discover that
true strength, lies not in power
but in shining a light
into the darkness
so those yet in the dark
may see -

Oh beautiful light of
kindness, let us
see the words to your music
and sing the songs of the earth
‘til the winds are full
of the sounds of gladness.

To see more about this story:

Check out this video of 10,000 people protesting!  Do you know of any other CEO that would inspire this kind of reaction?
http://www.wcsh6.com/story/news/local/biddeford-saco/2014/07/25/market-basket-rally/13161411/
 
And this story -
How Market Basket’s Deposed CEO Earned Employee Loyalty

It’s rare for people to fiercely protest the firing of their boss. Employees at the New England supermarket chain explain what sets ousted CEO Arthur T. Demoulas apart.  Read more here.
 

(Garden) Containers – Weekly photo challenge

Containers are a huge help in my gardening.  I use them for growing tomatoes on the porch, as a hose guard in the flower beds and of course to simply hold flowers.

hanging containers of begonias on the porch

hanging containers of begonias on the porch

this pot of petunias makes a very functional but lovely hose guard keeping the garden hose from crushing the perennial garden behind

this pot of petunias makes a very functional but lovely hose guard keeping the garden hose from crushing the perennial garden behind

a pot and a fabric shopping back with tomatoes on the porch.  food & a privacy screen all in one!

a pot and a fabric shopping bag with tomatoes on the porch. food & a privacy screen all in one!

this house recently contained a family of sparrows while the wrens raised a family in the house below

this house recently contained a family of sparrows while the wrens raised a family in the blue bird house below

bird houses (375x500)What’s your favorite way to use containers in the garden?

Lyme/Babesia Update: My Miracle Summer

For a long time, I didn’t think I’d ever get to write this post but here it is. I think I have finally made it back to feeling normal (pretty darn close!). Time will tell if I get to a point of complete cure but for now I am grateful beyond words to have gotten my life back after a long, tough journey of dealing with Lyme Disease and Babesia.  After 3 years, I can live with well-managed or remission.

 Summary of my Lyme/Babesia journey

  • Memorial Day Weekend 2011 – 3 tick bites while camping. Bull’s eye rash 3 weeks later. Received a Lyme Diagnosis and 2 weeks of antibiotics.
  • Summer & Fall of 2011 – increasing symptoms of memory loss, problems with spoken and written language (especially written), drenching night sweats, burning & tingling in fingers & toes, feelings of disorientation – almost lost – in places that I knew well, increasing fatigue. I wonder what is going on. Is it my thyroid? Peri-menopause?
  • November 2011 – ND I was consulting makes preliminary diagnosis of mid to late stage Lyme Disease which is then confirmed by urine PCR test in January, 2012. Start treatment immediately. Am told about 50% of people get better in 3-6 months. Another 30% get better with continued treatment and 20% are never cured. I agree to follow an anti-inflammatory “Lyme Diet” to help my immune system and give up gluten, dairy & sugar as well as many other foods that I test sensitive to and eat as many fresh, organic foods as possible.
  • Winter 2012 – treatment is horrible, like being on chemo. Lot’s of nausea & months of experimenting ‘til find antibiotics & herbal combo that works and that my sensitive system can handle. Symptoms ramp up with bacteria die off with severe pain in knees, fingers and toes, severe burning in fingers and toes, I have to edit my writing at work over and over and I can barely walk around the block or drive the hour to the office. Drenching night sweats continue. I am sleeping very poorly and am exhausted. When not at work I am often on the couch or in bed. March of 2012 tinnitus & bell’s palsy like tingling in my face begins.
  • Spring & Summer of 2012 – with an acceptable treatment regimen I have slow & steady progress. Fewer bad days. Rare nausea. Pain decreases and I start to walk further and brain function improves. All my best energy goes to work. Clearly it will take me more than 3-6 months to get better.  I explore alternative mind-body-spirit therapies to support my healing.
  • February/March 2013 – I attend a support group meeting and get a suggestion that I may have Babesia as well (a red blood cell parasite that is also carried by ticks) and to try a round of treatment with Cryptolepis, a malaria herb. My ND agrees and miraculously the night sweats go away and my improvement leaps forward over the next few months.
  • Summer 2013 – I am feeling way better but decide to quit my community-development job, work with my husband and drastically reduce my stress levels and eliminate my 2 hour commute to see just how far I can get in feeling better. Though I am thrilled with my progress, I don’t want to stall my improvement. I want more than tolerating my life.
  • December 2013/January 2014 – I adopt an approach of leaning toward what brings me joy and paying less attention to Lyme. I start taking art classes after a 33 year hiatus.
  • March/April 2014 – Night sweats have returned over last few months. I take another round of Cryptolepis and they disappear.  We add in other complimentary herbs to see if we can beat the Babesia for good. We add P5P back in to address the lingering Bell’s Palsy-like symptoms. I have immune testing done and add in other supplements and foods that will optimize my immune function. My goal is to strengthen my body so it can fight the Lyme on its own. After a year of heavy metal treatment the Cadmium levels are down but lead is still too high. FDA has changed access to the drugs. I take a break and we figure out next steps.
  • May 2014 – I have a scare with another tick bite. Knee pain resurges for a few days, hot-flashes 2-3 times a night. I rent a low-level laser from a complimentary practitioner and use it at home for 3 weeks.
  • July 2014 – I have felt fantastic for the past month & a half. The best I have felt in 3 years! I’ll be finishing up Babesia treatment this month. I’m still taking some herbal medicines for Lyme, and several immune support supplements. I continue the healthy diet. I will begin to experiment with days off the Lyme treatment to see how that goes. I wlll be re-starting heavy metal treatment for another 5 months and hope that it will finally clear the tinnitus and continue to strengthen my immune system. I hope that overtime, my memory gets back to normal like my body.

Backpacking with "M" looking healthier than I have in 3 years.  Yay for miracles!

Backpacking with “M” looking healthier than I have in 3 years. Yay for miracles!

In the meantime, I am enjoying my miracle summer. The miracle of being able to go for an 8 mile hike. The miracle of going on a short overnight backpacking trip and feeling “normal” muscle soreness & “normal” fatigue. The miracle of being able to work in the garden, do house chores, go for a swim and still have enough energy to go out in the evening and enjoy live theater in the park – all in one day. Every day of normalcy feels like a miracle and I start out each day voicing my gratitude out loud.

From “There Can Be Miracles” by Mariah Carey

Many nights we pray
With no proof anyone could hear
And our hearts a hopeful song
We barely understood
Now we are not afraid
Although we know there’s much to fear
We were moving mountains long
Before we know we could
There can be miracles
When you believe
Though hope is frail
It’s hard to kill
Who knows what miracles
You can achieve
When you believe
Somehow you will
You will when you believe

From the Muppets “True Blue Miracles”

“I believe in miracles
I know because I’ve seen
Once a year the place I walk the trees are filled with green

 

From “Miracles” by Jefferson Starship

If only you believe like I believe, baby (If only you believe like I believe)
We’d get by
If only you believe in miracles, baby (If only you believe in miracles)
So would I
If only you believe like I believe, baby (If only you believe like I believe)
We’d get by
If only you believe in miracles, baby (If only you believe in miracles)
So would I

Here’s hoping for miraculous recoveries for my fellow Lyme/tick-borne illness sufferers both those I know and those I have never met.

Forest Bathing

Forest. Bathing.
I have been bathing myself in the healing energy of forests for years but called it things like woods walk therapy. I recently learned that in Japan walking in the woods for healing is called “shinrin-yoku” or “forest bathing.” And it turns out that science is now proving what my intuition already knew, forest bathing reduces stress hormones (cortisol), lowers blood pressure and heart rate. For me, the longer I walk in the woods, the more comfortable I feel in my own skin.

From a recent backpacking trip this June with my husband.  It was a cold morning and the lakes were covered by a thick blanket of fog that rose as the sun came out.  Luscious forest bathing time!

From a recent backpacking trip this June with my husband. It was a cold morning and the lakes were covered by a thick blanket of fog that rose as the sun came out. Luscious forest bathing time!

It also looks like my penchant for gardening barefoot because it feels so darn good is now being backed up by science too. By connecting to the earth’s energy, which is now being called “grounding” or “earthing” we are exposing ourselves to electrons that can act as powerful antioxidants and affect thyroid function and blood sugar.

Ever since my kids got old enough so that I could exercise outside without getting a babysitter, I have had zero desire to join a gym and exercise inside ( group exercise like yoga, tai chi and dancing being exceptions). Simply put, I feel better exercising outside than inside. If you have noticed a pattern here you won’t be surprised that science is now backing up what my mind and body already knew – people that exercise outside report more revitalization and energy and less anger, tension and depression.  The times in my life when I have had the least free time to spend outside have always been the times I have felt the most out-of-sorts.  Now armed with all of this new scientific information, I know why my body & mind would crave time outside in the woods.  Apparently my feelings of having a nature deficit were not random but smart, powerful messages.

What things do you “know” from experience that science is finally catching up with?

Raw beet, fig & pumpkin seed salad

beets, figs, pumpkin seeds, onions (600x450)

grated beets, chopped figs & onions, pumpkin seeds

My craving for a raw beet salad overcame my dislike for grating the beets.  I followed my desire for something sweet & something crunchy and came up with this salad that was so yummy I had to share it.  Don’t worry too much about measurements – just use the proportions that appeal the most to you and enjoy!

Ingredients:

  • 1 med-large beet, grated
  • 3-4 dried figs, chopped smallish
  • 2-3 T finely chopped onion
  • 1/3 cup green pumpkin seeds (pepitas)
  • Dried orange peel (rehydrated) or fresh grated peel(optional)
  • Olive or Safflower Oil
  • Balsamic vinegar
  • Salt & Pepper

Put all of the vegetables and fruit in a bowl. Add pumpkin seeds and toss all together. Put oil, vinegar & salt & pepper in the amounts that you like in a small bowl or glass measuring cup and mix together well with a fork. Pour over the beet mixture & toss. Adjust dressing ingredients to taste.

Serve as a side salad or add some to your green salad. Yum!

raw beet salad - beautiful colors!

raw beet salad – beautiful colors!

Artistic license to be happy

Noticing to learn.

That is my work of the day after spending almost 10 hours working on my first ever acrylic painting following several hours yesterday on the under-painting layer. (Technically my second painting if you count the abstract practice mixing colors piece we began with.) I painted through my morning walk time, teeth brushing time, showering time and checking email time – you get the idea. I would have been a starving artist, literally, except that my dear husband made me breakfast & lunch.  (Isn’t he wonderful?!)

My first reaction upon finishing was being happy with what I was able to create with my own two hands. But then, a couple of hours later that little critic started to whisper things like, “you SHOULD have remixed that blue in the napkin.” “Shhhh!” I said. And then, I reminded myself that it is okay to notice the lessons of what I learned from this experience – that is kind of the point of taking a class – learning from each project. But I can at the same time give myself artistic license to remain happy with my painting. “Noticing to learn” feels so much better than listening to that darn perfectionist critic I have been working to tame!

art class homework - still life layer 2

art class homework – still life layer 2

This is my first experience with an on-line class of any type.  (There was no internet when I went to school!)  Largely I am very happy with the experience.  I already know the instructor since it is the same person that I just took drawing classes with.  The hard part is not being able to get real-time feedback on things like mixing colors or on the brushes I am using – does this brush really stink or is it just me?  However, I would still recommend it.  I do like being able to go back and watch the video or read the instructions a second time.  You can check out the class here.

the first layer - underpainting - the idea is to paint the opposite of the planned final color

the first layer – underpainting – the idea is to paint the opposite of the planned final color.  Notice the cherries look like olives!