One Day at a Time

I’m so tired of seeing “COVID” this and “COVID” that in my social feeds. I get it. Stay inside. Wear a mask when you absolutely have to go out. It’s depressing. And there are so many people out there trying to “help” (AKA get their 15 minutes in the spotlight). I’m really over it all. Don’t get me wrong. I feel horrible about what’s going on and I am so grateful for the people who are risking their lives every day to keep people (like me) safe. 

There actually is some good content coming out by some people who are finding creativity in their confinement. Some of it is sad; some heartwarming. I love that entertainers/musicians and those sorts are streaming free concerts/plays/other content to cheer us up in this stressful new life we’re in. But the volume of it is overwhelming.

It is a surreal time in this world we’re sharing. (Thank you, Captain Obvious!) These kinds of situations are supposed to happen in movie plots, not real life. What’s next, Universe? Zombies? Oi.

But this is real life. This is our real life now. And I’m trying to do my part by…not doing. I’m here, in my house, with my dogs. Thank goodness for streaming apps. But it’s still hard. After three solid weeks at home, I’ve found myself skipping over most of the COVID-themed content in my social feeds. Is it wrong that I am desensitized? I prefer to think of it as emotional self-preservation. The worst of it is reading about people who aren’t taking this seriously and are putting more lives in danger. Get real, people.

I’m not going to talk about politics: who did what / who should have done what. I’m focusing my energy on the here and now. This is where we are. Now what? It’s heartwarming to see how so many businesses and individuals are stepping up to help wherever they can. Sewing masks and retooling equipment to manufacture much-needed PPE for our medical professionals. I have faith that we will come out of this a stronger nation because of these pockets of love and generosity.

I understand this experience is different for each of us. We each must navigate through our own lense of truth and sensibility. We all have our tolerance levels and personal methods for coping with stress. Some of us need to shout about how we got here. Some of us need to desensitize with meditation, exercise, streaming, wine…whatever works.

I am an IT consultant, and my current situation is that I’m sitting at my computer all day every day while I wait “on the bench” for a new project. The client I was working for had to redirect their budget to support…you got it, COVID 19. So here I am.

Currently I’m working on some small internal projects and self-training through whatever means possible so that I may be more of a value-add on my next project assignment. In the meantime, though, it’s a bit stressful, and I’m having a hard time staying focused. Will I really get a new project or will I soon be added to the count of n million Americans filing for unemployment benefits?

I know how fortunate I am. I am still being paid my full salary. I am not having to put my life at risk delivering food to people (like me) just to keep a roof over my family’s head. I’m not on the front lines caring for infected patients who are not able to see their families in person…and I don’t have to worry that I may become infected and bring it home to my family. 

I’m actually in good shape, considering. That fact is at once comforting and disheartening. For me, there is guilt that comes with safety. But also gratefulness. Some days I’m up, others I’m down, and still others I swing wildly between the two states. 

I am also an artist, so I have that to keep me distracted. Except I’m not making art. And I’ve got a great space set up in my home for yoga and meditation. But I’m not doing that. For now I’m stuck in a funk. But I know I’ll come out okay in the end. Sometimes I need to sit in a funk for a bit. For whatever reason, that’s my process. But I’m getting up every day and showing up…for whatever happens. I try to get some fresh air every day, but even if the only thing I can do is put one foot in front of the other, I am moving forward…one day at a time.


Online course at Coursera from Yale on the Science of Well-Being (10 week free course).

BetterHelp is the largest online counseling platform worldwide. 

Questions to my readers:

How are you coping in this crisis? What works best for you? Do you find that one thing works for you consistently or do you use multiple tools or activities to stay calm and productive?

What Is Wrong With Me?!

This story is a bit of a downer, as it describes my attempt to figure out the cause of a host of physical symptoms that began for me several years ago. Could be interesting if you’re going through something similar. Or you might just want to move on to another post if you’re not interested in this type of story. There are also some resources at the bottom that could be helpful if you’ve having a tough time of it.

For the past several years I have experienced panic attacks on a sort-of regular basis. For the first couple years I thought something critical was going wrong inside my body, but none of my doctors could tell me what it was. I went from doctor to doctor, telling my story of dizziness, lightheadedness, nausea, phantom pains in various parts of my body…in various combinations and at frequencies I could never pin down to an event or meal or…anything. I had landed in the ER multiple times over these unpredictable symptoms, and each time nothing was found. I was not only frustrated, I was becoming embarrassed and ashamed. Why was I feeling this way if nothing was physically wrong? And how was I supposed to make it stop if no one could tell me what it was?

The thing that helped me begin to recognize my symptoms for what they really were was a phone call with my cardiologist. I had visited him a couple times over the years in my search for what was wrong with me, always with the same result: learning that I have a strong, healthy heart. That would be great news for most people, but considering how long I’d been searching for a cause of my ongoing discomfort, I looked forward to just about any diagnosis. Just tell me what it is.

On this particular day I was having an exceptionally difficult time with my symptoms and was my at wit’s end. I decided I needed to see my cardiologist right away. So I called to make an appointment and proceeded to state my case with the nurse for why I needed to see the doctor today. She was not having it. I eventually wore her down and she put the doctor on the phone. After hearing me out, the doctor proceeded to suggest to me, very gently and kindly, that maybe the pain I was feeling in my arm and chest that day was…fibromyalgia-related. Oh.

I was, at once, angry, humiliated, and defeated. I have always found my cardiologist to be very kind and compassionate. And his message to me on this day was delivered in the most kind and compassionate manner. But it still stung.

As I pulled myself together in that gas station parking lot, the reality of my situation slowly sunk in. The symptoms I’d been having were – at least partially – something my mind was making up. While I definitely had physical symptoms, my mind was evaluating them and attempting to categorize them, under the filter of my fear response. My anxious mind was so busy working to solve this puzzle that it twisted the reality of my chronic condition into something critical. As my dear friend D says of herself, I can talk myself into a coma. It’s true.

Over time, my emotional state over this not knowing had progressed from anxiety to panic. Of course I had heard of people having panic attacks, but those things happened to other people. Not me. I wasn’t even convinced they were real. I certainly never dreamed they would be something that I, Miss I’ve got Everything Under Control, would ever face. But here I was.

Somehow, in the aftermath of my reality check, the Universe landed me on the doorsteps of a holistic general medical practitioner. These types of practices are difficult to find, even at this time in our world, but I found one that took my insurance and was even located in my area of the city. The catch with this practice was that they required a $300 annual membership for all patients. The claim was that this allowed them to take more time with each patient. I didn’t care the cost. I wanted someone to take a look at the whole picture. I needed to get to the bottom of why I was having these panic attacks. I needed them to stop.

I was assigned to the PA (Physician’s Assistant), and this turned out to be a good thing. She was fairly young, but not so young that her experience would be in question. She was also extremely compassionate. On my first visit, we talked about my problematic symptoms, my blood sugar wellness (I am a Type 2 diabetic) and my thyroid hormone levels (I had had a thyroidectomy a couple years prior). As we talked through all of this, I couldn’t hold back my tears. I was frustrated and tired. I felt I had tried everything. I cried through the entire visit.

As the visit with the PA came to a close, we reviewed her list of recommended supplements, the list of levels she planned to test from all the blood her tech had drawn earlier in the visit, and…she suggested I make an appointment with the psychotherapist who had a office at the back of their building. I was resistant and a little offended at first, but then thought, What I’ve been doing so far isn’t working, so why not? I went home and called to make an appointment.

At our first meeting, I could see this was something I needed and opted to do weekly sessions until I was through my crisis. What I learned over the next few weeks was that what I had been experiencing was PTSD. Yes, I said it. PTSD was something I had always associated with veterans. I’ve since learned this is something that affects all sorts of people who have experienced all kinds of traumatic events.

I had a traumatic childhood, and had been in therapy multiple times in the past, but I had never gotten to the point of having panic attacks until my latest traumatic event: a romantic breakup. I’ve gone through more romantic breakups in my life than I choose to share at this time, and typically I get through them and move on and I settle into my normal life pretty quickly.

This latest breakup was different. Short story is, he was an alcoholic, which I should have known going in, but chose not to acknowledge the signs. Fast forward to three years later when I make the decision to move out. He handles it reasonably well, but then eight months later we’re back together, then we split again, then together again. It was a crazy train of my own making. More detail about why/how this was all happening will come out in a later post…maybe. Basically, he wanted us to remain friends, but he’s wasn’t capable of being platonic with me. And I clearly have boundary issues.

Fast forward again. It’s 3 1/2 years after the initial breakup, and he’s sitting across from me in my backyard after helping me with yard work (his platonic offer). As we’re talking, he’s suggesting something we can do together. It feels like a date. I can feel my chest restricting. I look him in the eyes and tell him, I need you to let me go. He looks me in the eyes and says, I don’t want to let you go. 

Shortly after that I received another drunken email telling me what a bad person I am. I blocked his number and refused to see him again, but I spent the next year or so wondering if he was lurking somewhere. I was afraid to drive through his part of town in case we might run into one another. He was phoning and emailing my daughters to try to get information about me.

I thought I had been managing the stress of this, but obviously not. I had blocked his phone number so he could no longer text or call me, but I kept his email open because, as I have shared with my friends, I want to keep my finger on the pulse of the crazy.

Once I figured out I was having panic attacks, I tracked my symptoms back to the beginning. My first episode happened at work, shortly after I began planning my exit from the relationship (the first time). I think that’s pretty telling. Imagine how much more stress I was carrying around 3 1/2 years later dealing with the same cycle of behaviors.

The thing that is the most disturbing for me about my eventual diagnosis is that none of my doctors would say the words panic attack to me. I had to put those words out there myself. I’ve since learned that unaddressed anxiety can build up loads of adrenaline in your body and cause panic attacks. A body needs exercise, or meditation, or…therapy…to move that adrenaline out. And panic attacks, by definition, come out of nowhere, and often cause you to feel like you are going to die. Even now, while I understand – intellectually – what is happening, I still sometimes feel like…maybe this is the time it’s real.

Since my discovery I have used therapy, meditation, EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique) Tapping, and even exercise to help me through difficult times. Every person’s needs are different, so there’s no one-size-fits-all solution. These things have helped me.

So what is the moral of this story? Listen to your body. Listen to your inner being. When you feel like something is wrong, sit with yourself and  breathe. I know it can be hard to take that step back when you’re in the midst of feeling like your world is upside down and you don’t know why. But breathe for a minute, and then ask for help. Talk to your doctor and be open to the idea of therapy. There are so many things going on in the world today, it’s difficult at times to have a positive attitude each day. So allow yourself the space to feel bad when you need to. But if feeling bad becomes the norm, reach out. If you don’t find the help you need right away, try someone or something else. I’m still working through the emotional baggage I’ve carried around most of my life as well as the new things that are added as I move along. It’s a lifelong journey. I’m working on it.

Below are some resources to consider.

Love and light to you!

Best Meditation Apps of 2018 – I’ve tried a couple. This article gives you a legit review of several. – Convenient, affordable, private online counseling. Anytime, anywhere.

EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique) – Tapping is another great tool. I use it and I can honestly say, it works!

The Mental Illness Happy Hour – Great podcast (in my opinion). It’s an interview show where all sorts of emotional issues are discussed. It’s not therapy in the official sense, but I do find that I feel better hearing stories about what some other folks are dealing with. Sometimes it gives me validation, sometimes it helps me see that my life is not so bad.

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline – If you’re feeling really bad and can’t reach out to someone you know, please give these folks a call. You’re a beautiful person and we want you here.



My New Breville Juicer

My doctor recommended a juice cleanse. This was in response to my complaints of no energy and feeling generally bad. I’ve juiced off and on for years, but not recently. I’ve never done a cleanse.

I bought juice from Coco Greens to get me started. Coco’s does a three day, re-packaged, cold-pressed juice cleanse. You go into their store and they’ve got all the juices you need in a thermal bag sitting in their fridge waiting for you. They also offer a soup cleanse. And you can purchase juices and soups a la cart if you prefer. They didn’t have any thermals ready when I got there so I bought a selection of juices and soups. Even though the soups are also very much like juices, I felt like I was “eating” a meal when I heated up some soup instead of drinking a cold juice.

At first it was easy, then it wasn’t. But once I got past day three, I began to feel better. I decided to continue – not 100% juices, but at least one juice a day. I loaded my fridge with produce. Then my JuiceMan burnt out. It was a Friday morning. I had just starting making my morning juice and it pooped out in the middle of the kale. Nuts.

Not to be discouraged, I Googled “Best Juicers” and found a site that rated the Breville JE98XL Juice Fountain Plus as “Best Bang for your Buck.” Next stop –! I have Amazon Prime which gets me free shipping, and due to a new delivery option, my brand new Breville arrived at my door at 10:00 a.m. Sunday morning! Life is good!

Today was my first chance to use my new juicer. I had purchased a bunch of veggies for juicing prior to the burnout, and while waiting for delivery of the Breville I had a gallon growler filled at the I Love Juice Bar to carry me through. So…by the time I got to juicing, my produce had been in the fridge five days – it had to be used. Instead of looking up recipes, I decided to juice all the produce I had on hand in one big batch.

Turns out, I like juicing a larger quantity. I’ve always juiced a single serving at a time, believing that the nutrients are best when fresh. But…juicing a single serving takes almost as much time as juicing a larger batch, and I’m more likely to drink juice if it’s handy.

What you’ll see below is apple, carrot, spinach, kale, romaine, beet, cucumber, lemon, grapefruit and ginger. I like to go heavy on the ginger because I like the taste.

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I had enough produce to fill the pitcher twice. I did the kale, romaine, beets, a cucumber and a couple apples in the first pitcher, when poured it into a gallon jug. I finished up with the remaining produce.

As stubborn I was about getting started on this, I have no desire to go back to eating three solid meals each day. I have much more energy now, my mood is better and I am no longer suffering from fatigue. Have I lost weight? Um, no. But that’s fine as long as I feel better.

I ended up with about 1/3 of a gallon of juice, which will last me through my mid-morning juice tomorrow.

The aftermath: It does make for a lot of dishes – another argument for juicing a larger batch!


I really like my new Breville juicer! It’s much quieter than the Juiceman, and it is built for bigger batches. It has a larger feed tube, so I was able to put the apples in whole (they were small). I followed the user’s guide suggestion to line the pulp container with a plastic bag. What I didn’t do – and should have – was check the pulp container for fullness after filling the pitcher the first time. When I was all done and took the machine apart to clean it, the pulp had backed up in the chute and there was a big ball of it remaining in the filter cup. Lesson learned!

I’ve been at this a few weeks now, and while I no longer have cravings, I kind of miss them! But – feeling good is so much better than having a craving for something that will make me feel bad! The plan I’ve been following is:

  • Before Breakfast: Large glass of water with the juice of one lemon (I sometimes add Stevia to make it less tart.)
  • Breakfast: 16 oz juice
  • Mid-Morning: 16 oz juice
  • Lunch: 16 oz juice or salad
  • Afternoon: 16 oz juice
  • Dinner: Soup or salad
  • I also drink LOTS of water throughout the day
  • Additional Snacks/Refreshments: Pumpkin Seeds, Various Nuts, Hot Tea, Coffee

I am not going to label myself a vegan or even vegetarian, but I am having good results on this plan. And while I plan to continue eating this way into the foreseeable future, I’m sure there will still be a juicy burger or some chicken wings happening on occasion!

Final Thoughts on My South Pacific Adventure

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Gosh! What a crazy, scary, EMPOWERING trip! At a time when I was feeling broken, I made a drastic change in my life, and “launched” that change by hopping a ship to Fiji!

In the year or so leading up to this trip I had been feeling less than inspired at work. I had worked for five years for a really great company and was doing work I loved, but somehow it wasn’t satisfying anymore. I was having trouble getting up in the mornings and I would return home each night physically and emotionally drained. I had also been struggling with some physical symptoms that had me wondering if I would ever feel good again. I knew I was in need of a change in my life, but wasn’t sure what that would look like. Making the decision to do this trip was the first step.

Going through the exercise of planning the trip helped me begin to look forward to things again. As scary as it would be, I knew I needed to quit my job. I had been thinking about making a change anyway, and to do the trip right I was going to need to take much more time off than I had left in my PTO bank. I also didn’t want to feel the pressure of “what I’m coming back to” at the end of the trip.

One thing leading to another, I decided that since I would be leaving my job anyway, I’d give myself a year to do whatever I needed to do to feel better. I didn’t know for sure what was causing my physical symptoms, I only knew I needed to fix them. But that wasn’t all. Feeling tired and unwell all the time meant I wasn’t spending time with my two loves, art and writing. I decided I would go on my trip, and then I would spend the rest of my “year off” creating art and writing.

Even many of my closest friends don’t know this, but writing has always been my first love. I haven’t shared that a lot because of old tapes in my head that tell me “you can’t make a living as a writer,” and “well, I hope it’s at least cathartic” (i.e., nobody would want to read your dribble). Rubbish! I’ve been sitting on a draft of my memoir for more than ten years. Time to dust it off!

The story I told on my way out of  my job was that I was leaving to pursue my art. I told that story because I felt it would be more readily accepted than, “I’m going to write.” To most people, that would not compute. “How will you pay your bills?” sigh. Well, now I’m saying it. I’m going to write!

Back to the trip…

While traveling on my own in a foreign country did cause some additional stress, it also forced me to think about things in different ways. It broke my patterns. I couldn’t run to my safe place and hide. I had to find my way around. I spent 24 days figuring things out for myself and making decisions for myself without consideration for someone else. I tried new things. I started conversations with people I didn’t know. I began to feel less anxious and more powerful!

Okay, I’ll be honest. While on the ship, there were times I would seek out the safety of my cabin, but mostly I was out experiencing. I slathered my body with mud in Fiji. I danced on the pool deck. I made friends with a wonderful Ukrainian couple from Melbourne. I watched a glass blowing demonstration and had wine and cheese on the upper deck. I donated money to the casino. I sat at the stern of the ship after dark watching as the foamy tail of our departure reached back to meet the reflection of an invisible moon.


Now, two months later, my trip is a surreal memory. Admittedly, some of the euphoria has worn off as real life takes over again, but I am finding the energy to do the deep work of fixing myself. Through working with a therapist, I have discovered that most of my physical symptoms were stress related. Turns out I have some grieving to do.

These days, I do spend time on my art, but I spend equal amounts of time meditating and writing. Rather than pushing myself into a specific direction, I’m listening to my body and going where my heart leads me.

So…I’ll continue to “do what I do” for the next few months and see where I end up. I would love to continue writing and creating art as my primary activities indefinitely, but if I must go back to working for someone else, I know I’ll be better prepared to handle the ups and downs that go with it.

This trip has helped to set me on a course of self-discovery and healing. And so, as I wrap up “the story of my trip” I raise my glass to toast my new life, whatever it turns out to be!

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Repressed Grief

Watching the movie P.S. I Love You on TV.  About 40 minutes in I break into a major crying jag. First, the movie is really, really, sad. It’s about a young couple who have been married 9 years when the man gets a brain tumor and dies.  Shortly after, on the woman’s 30th birthday, she learns that her dead husband has arranged for her to receive letters from him at various intervals for the foreseeable future.

It was at the memorial service scene where I broke down. Nobody close to me as died recently, so why did it affect me so strongly?  I felt the pain and emptiness that comes with the loss of – someone in my life. It doesn’t take a death to cause that feeling. There are many losses that can hurt just as deeply.

I watched the movie the day after I had been locked out of my apartment because of an apartment fire in another unit in the building. I had not been home at the time of the fire and by the time I got home the fire had been put out and all emergency personnel had left the scene. I didn’t have any idea anything had happened while I was away. There were no notices posted anywhere and I had not received a phone call or an email. I had no clue. I found out about the fire because my garage door wouldn’t open.  I keep the privacy lock on at my front door because I always come and go through my garage. My apartment was locked down from the inside. I called the after hours maintenance contact, who filled me in about the fire and said that power had been cut off to my garage. Nice.

To top it off, instead of coming out to take care of my issue, Maintenance Guy sent an office resource to handle the job, and after an hour and a half, Office Boy had made no progress and had headed off to some undisclosed location to get something, and after ten minutes had not returned. So I called the after hours number again and left the message that it was after midnight so I was getting myself a hotel room and would present them with the invoice in the morning.

At around 7 a.m. the next morning I drove back to my apartment to see if they had by some miracle figured out how to open my garage door. They hadn’t. The leasing office at my complex normally opens at 9:00 a.m. during the week. I stopped by the leasing office to see if someone may have come in early to manage my issue. Nope. I drove back to my hotel, had breakfast, and then left a message with the leasing office asking that they call me as they are in so they could share with me their plan of action. Nobody called.

I drove back to the office at 9. When one of the other office staff members greeted me at the door I stated my name and apartment number. No recognition. I explained that I had been locked out of my apartment all night and stayed in a hotel. I handed her the invoice. Across the room I saw Office Boy. He clearly had not told anyone what had happened the night before.  Neither had Maintenance Guy. Really?

I was told I would have to wait to see the Office Manager because she was currently speaking with another tenant who had been affected by the fire. The tenant lived in the apartment below the unit where the fire occurred. She had experienced water damage. But she had still been able to get into her apartment and sleep in her own bed.

When I was ushered over to Office Manager, I shoved the hotel invoice at her and told her my story. She apologized profusely. She had had no idea this had happened. Clearly, but there was no excuse for that. She offered to have the amount of my hotel stay deducted from my next month’s rent. “Not acceptable,” I told her. I had just paid my rent for the month and wasn’t interested in waiting around for a month to get my money back. She said she would have to call “Corporate” and she would do her best to get me what I wanted.

I left the office still angry and feeling patronized…but also feeling something else. Helplessness…neglect. I had showered at the hotel, but had had to dress in the same clothes from the day before – don’t ask about my underwear. I couldn’t go to work that way. What was I supposed to do?

I drove to the parking garage at my job, turned off my car and sat for a minute. My phone rang. It was Office Manager. Did I know my garage door was open, she asked? Had I gone over that way when I left the leasing office? “No,” I told her. “You said your maintenance supervisor was just on his way over.” “Well, the door is open already,” she said. “You can get into your apartment now.”

Fast forward to the end of the day. I spoke with a lawyer who said I should take the offer to credit the hotel bill against my next month’s rent.  Sigh. But, good news (relatively speaking), I have a brand new garage door opener (something about “the  event” had damaged the wiring in the previous opener). And the leasing office’s Corporate office approved an immediate refund of my hotel expense. Vindication.

Back to the movie which I’m watching at the end of a day of feeling angry, patronized, frustrated and…helpless. So of course I would be a little extra emotional watching a very sad movie. But it’s more than that. What had this story of loss triggered inside of me? Which wound had it ripped open, jagged edges inflamed and leaking fresh blood? The feeling was so familiar.

It was the sense of helplessness on being locked out of my home twice while living with my alcoholic boyfriend because he was passed out drunk inside and had locked the house from the inside. Both times there was nothing I could do to get in except break a window, which would have wakened the neighborhood, or call the police (which would also wake the neighborhood and also intensify the sense of humiliation associated with the situation.)  I chose to find another place to spend the night.

It was the hurt of knowing that no matter how much love I showed my boyfriend and how genuinely loving and caring he was toward me when he was sober, he was still willing to lie to me when he was drunk. He would lie about being drunk and never lost his determination to defend himself against all reason. It felt insulting to me.

It was also the sense of loss I felt after finally leaving my alcoholic boyfriend and then attempting to remain friends with him so I can support him through his journey to sobriety…something he wasn’t willing to do while I was still the romantic interest in his life. There is still a big hole in my soul for losing my best friend to alcohol. It’s a hole I’ve been reluctant to try to fill again. I have had one date in the year and a half since I moved out. I just don’t have it in me to go another round.  I guess I have some work to do myself.

The Benefits of a Neti Pot

Have you ever used a Neti Pot? What’s a Neti Pot you ask? Well, a Neti Pot(sometimes spelled “Netti”) is a small plastic pot (or it could be ceramic or metal) that’s used to rinse your nasal passages. The idea is to wash away mucus buildup and soothe irritated nasal passages in a more natural way.

I had heard about them from several people before I broke down and bought one of my own.

I have found that when used regularly it really does make a difference! I typically have my worst trouble with allergies in the Fall…I think it’s the ragweed that does me in. But this Fall has been extremely easy for me in that respect.

While I did take Zyrtec off and on for a couple weeks back in August (before I started using my neti), I haven’t had any since then. In past seasons I’ve had to take allergy meds consistently from late Summer until the dead of Winter.

Here are the basic steps for using one:

1. Fill the pot with lukewarm water

2. Add some salt and stir until dissolved. Sea salt is recommended, but some manufacturers will include a supply of salt with the Neti Pot with your purchase. I use the SinuCleanse brand pot, which comes with a good supply of saline powder packets.

3. Lean over the sink, place the spout of the pot into one nostril and then tilt your head slightly so the water will pour through that nostril, through your sinus passage and come out the other nostril. (Sounds gross, I know, but once you get over the grossness of it it’s really not that bad.)

4. Blow the water out of the nostril you began with.

5. Repeat #’s 3 & 4 with the other nostril.

Here are some other things I’ve read/learned:

1. Breathe with your mouth open. If you don’t, you’ll end up with a bunch of salty water leaking from your sinuses into the back of your throat. Sometimes even with my mouth open I’ll have some leakage, but I’m getting better at learning how to breathe.

2. Don’t snort the solution into your nose. That would be bad. I guarantee that if you do you’ll be very sorry.

3. If you feel stinging in your nose area, try using less salt until you build up your tolerance. (I find that if my sinuses are swollen I’ll feel some stinging in my nose, or worse, behind my eye. While I find it quite unpleasant, it’s not a show stopper. For the eye burning, I apply a little pressure with the tip of my finger to the upper inside corner of the eye area, below the end of my eyebrow. That usually relieves the stinging for me.)

4. I’ve also noticed that my left sinus passage is typically more swollen than the right and that if I rinse my right sinus first, then try the left, I’m more likely to experience burning in the left nostril. But if I start with my left, that doesn’t happen.

As I’ve mentioned, I use the SinuCleanse brand pot. I bought it at Walgreens, on sale for $14.99. I’m on my second neti. My first one met a horrible demise…I dropped it into the toilet one morning as I was loading it with salt before getting into the shower. Sure, I had to reach in to pluck it out, and, yes, I could have run it through the dishwasher and it probably would have been just fine…but I just couldn’t bring myself to use it again after that.

That brings up another thing. In all the demos I’ve seen I’ve never heard it suggested that you could use it in the shower, but that’s actually my preferred place/time to use it. I typically use it only once a day, so I figure…why not use it in the shower? I’ve already got my makeup off, and if anything goes wrong, I won’t have to change my clothes!

And speaking of frequency, because this method is drug-free, you can use it as often as you need.

There are lots of videos on YouTube on the subject, but few are really informative. Most are of people making it appear like a horrible experience. I watched several of them and picked out one that I felt was helpful.

This video goes into some history of the neti pot and why you might want to use one. It also talks about some other beneficial practices. It is by Ellen Kamhi from It’s about six minutes long, so get comfy…

Sinus Relief Naturally

Have a happy, healthy day!

My New Fav Green Smoothie

I just made this one up today. This is also my first try putting ginger into a smoothie. I’ve heard lots of people trying it, but I’d never had the courage before. I really liked it!

Here’s the recipe:
1/2 pineapple, 1 apple, 1/2 lemon, 2 carrots, romaine lettuce, 1 tbsp coconut cream, 1 tbsp hemp oil, 1/2 inch fresh ginger, almond milk, water.

To blend it, I started my Vita-Mix on Variable speed 1 and added a couple slices of pineapple, then gradually turned it up to 10, adding more sliced up pieces of fruit and the romaine. Then I added the coconut cream, hemp oil and ginger and flipped it up to high for a minute or so to let it all smooth out. I also added some almond milk to thin it out some, and in the end decided to add some water as well.

It actually was more orange than green because of the carrots…and the romaine was light in color…but it was very yummy!

I ended up with about 40 oz. of the stuff, so I had a nice big glass for breakfast and another for lunch.

In case you’re wondering about some of the ingredients, I’ve provided some info. You can read more by following the links.

Ginger: According to the website, in Eastern societies, ginger has always been known for its healing powers. They site it specifically for treatment of nausea and motion sickness, migraines, arthritis, blood clots and cholesterol issues.

Coconut Cream: The site, describes Coconut Oil as a food that:

– can help you lose weight
– can help boost your energy level
– can help you age better and be healthy
– doesn’t mutate like vegetable oils when heated at high temperature (frying, for example)
– is rich in Lauric Acid, a proven antiviral and antibacterial agent
helps digestive disorders like Crohn’s disease, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, and Colitis
– is a powerful agent in killing intestinal parasites
– boosts metabolism and raises body temperature of thyroid sufferers

(I should note that coconut cream is a more condensed form of coconut milk, and that by adding water to coconut cream you get…you guessed it…coconut milk! I bought mine

Hemp Oil: In an article on, hemp is touted as “Nature’s Perfect Food for Humanity.” It is said to have a pleasant nutty flavor. (I wouldn’t know about that. When I mix it in my smoothies the other ingredients overpower it, so I really don’t think I’m tasting it at all.)

Hemp Oil is full of Omega 3 & 6 oils, which we all know by now are “all good.”

The site lists symptoms of Omega 3 deficiency as:
Growth retardation, weakness, impairment of vision and learning ability, motor incoordination, tingling in arms and legs, behavioural changes.

Omega 6 deficiencies are said to cause:
Eczema-like skin eruptions, loss of hair, liver degeneration, behavioural disturbances, kidney degeneration, excessive water loss through the skin accompanied by thirst, drying up of glands, susceptibility to infections, failure of wound healing, sterility in males, miscarriage in females, arthritis-like conditions, heart and circulatory problems, growth retardation.

The site also states that, adding these good oils back into the diet can virtually turn these symptoms around. That’s good news!

There really were so many benefits listed in the article you’ll really have to read it for yourself, but the claim is that hemp oil “could provide all of our Essential Fatty Acid (EFA) requirements for life.”

I will say, however, that cold-pressed is what you want. If it is heated when it’s processed, it’s no better than all those icky cooking oils you find in the grocery store.

Drink up!

My Beloved Vita-Mix!

(Warning: This is part personal opinion and part advertisement…but it’s all good!)

I have a new love in my life. It is my new Vita-Mix 5200. When I received my Federal Stimulus check I deposited it, and then immediately went online to order my fabulous new toy. Check it out…isn’t it beautiful?

I’ll be straight with you…they’re expensive. My total purchase came out to almost exactly the amount I had deposited – which is a lot of money for a piece of kitchen equipment – but they’re virtually indestructible and they come with a seven year warranty, so I felt it was a good investment. Besides…everyone in the raw food community I had talked to up to that point had said they loved theirs, so I was very excited at the prospect of having my very own machine, in spite of the cost.

So I ordered the 5200 and got the package with both the wet and dry blades, just in case. I haven’t used the dry blade yet. That one is for things like grinding nuts or seeds into something like flour. You can also mix and kneed bread with the dry blade, but I’m not sure I’ll use mine for that since bread isn’t on my good food list.

I have used the wet blade, though, for all sorts of raw and vegetarian goodies. Here’s a short list:

  • Green Smoothies My favorite is baby spinach with just about any combination of fruit. Add a little Hemp oil and you’ve got a great energy drink!
  • Mango Sorbet Fresh organic Mango and some ice – it’s that simple!
  • Chopped Cabbage for Salad The first time I tried chopping cabbage things did not go well. Then I waatched the DVD that came with the machine and learned the trick – it’s actually super easy!
  • Vegetable Soup (Not raw, but very tasty!) I like to use sauteed leeks and onions as a starter, then add organic vegetable stock to complete the base. Chop up a variety of your favorite organic veggies, and you’ve got a great healthy soup! To give it a creamy base, put a cup or two of the broth into the Vita-Mix and give it a spin, then pour it back in with the rest of the soup.

The Vita-Mix website even has a section for raw foodies. And there’s a community for Vita-Mix owners of all types to connect and share information. It’s called Vita-Village (corny, I know).

I’ve had my Vita-Mix only a few months, but it is one of the most effective tools I have to support me in my raw food adventure.

If you think you might like to try one, Vita-Mix offers a 30-day no-risk in-home trial…and you can get FREE Standard Ground Shipping if you click the banner above or use this link! If you prefer to upgrade your shipping method, the banner or link will get you a discount off of expedited shipping.

Happy Eating!

Raw Carrot & Orange Cake – It Rocks!

I have to pass this recipe on to you because it’s just so yummy! If you like carrot cake, but the “real” stuff is too sweet (or unhealthy) for you, this recipe is perfect! Not only does it not contain all those things I need to stay away from (flour, oil and sugar), but – believe it or not – it tastes very much like the real thing!

I found the recipe quite by accident. I had been searching for a recipe for something like raw mushroom pate because I had these great looking portobello’s in my fridge and I was anxious to try something new with them.

But the Universe had other plans for me. Somehow, as I was searching, I stumbled onto this great recipe for raw carrot cake! Now, understand, I’ve seen plenty of raw carrot cake recipes in my travels, but so far the pictures haven’t made me want to try them. This one is different. The picture above the recipe (see top of post) looks very appetizing, and the cake I made looks even better!

I won’t post the full recipe here…you can pop on over to Raw Food Chef Russell James’ blog when you’re ready. But I will provide a couple of tips from my experience making it.

First, I made it in an 8 x 8 baking pan, so mine came out a little higher than the one in the picture above. I’d say mine is about 1 1/2″ to 2″ high.

I made the “icing” first, and set it in the fridge while I prepared the base. That worked well, and the base was plenty firm enough that I didn’t have to worry about tearing up the cake as I iced it.

Last, I did not put it into the dehydrator, as the recipe suggests. I just finished the base and put the icing on it right away, covered it all and set it in the fridge.
About 10 minutes later I pulled it back out of the fridge so I could have a piece (I couldn’t wait!).

Getting that first piece out of the pan was a little tricky, but I managed to do it without mangling it too much. It really was no more difficult than getting the first piece of any kind of cake out of a pan like mine. And when I pulled the pan out of the fridge this morning to cut myself a piece for my lunchbox the rest of the cake was still in very good shape…no bleeding or falling over of stuff into the empty space I’d left the night before.

Here’s a picture of my version after I’ve been in it a few times 😉

That’s it! There are several ingredients, so there’s a lot of chopping to be done for the base, but you can chop each thing and dump it into the bowl right on top of the last thing you chopped, and then when you’re all done chopping, just mix it all together. Simple!

I would highly recommend this recipe to anyone who has ever moaned in ecstacy over a warm slice of carrot cake! (I’ll have more on the fate of the portobello’s in a later post.)

The Effect of Seasonal Changes and Stress on Fibromyalgia

It’s interesting how season changes and emotions can play into your overall feeling of well-being. For the past three weeks or so, I had been feeling achy and sore just about every day, and the degenerative disc in my lower back was inflamed to a degree that almost had me heading back to the chiropractor.

I had a feeling the change in seasons was contributing to my achiness, but I know that food can trigger it as well. I had hoped the changes I made to my diet recently to manage the diabetes would help, but in this case it did not. While I did notice an improvement in my mood and overall sense of well-being after restarting on raw food, the achiness remained.

Until about three days ago. On Wednesday morning of this past week, I woke up, got out of bed and walked…pain free…to the bathroom! It felt great! And I felt another positive boost in my attitude as well.

What made the difference? I have a couple theories. First, I think the recent change in weather had an affect. We’re heading into Fall weather here, but it’s been slow going. The weather has been warmer than usual, and pretty dry as well. I won’t get into all the details, but weather definitely is a factor in the severity of fibromyalgia symptoms. If you want to learn more, there’s a great article about it here:

My second theory is that I have recently been able to release some of my frustration over my job. I’m still working for the same company, but I’ve been moved into a position that I feel suits me better than my previous one. The atmosphere in this group is much more positive, and I feel I will have more freedom (and support) to dig in and make a difference. That’s important to me.

So..even though the weather has changed again since last Wednesday, I still feel pretty good!