Monday, May 31, 2010

Akwaaba means...

Akwaaba means
"welcome" in Ghana, West Africa.
but you really don't have to travel that far
to enjoy the spoils.

so take your time. slowly sip your mango juice.

enjoy the sweet scent of geraniums.

close your eyes.
breathe deeply and take it all in.

embark upon a regal retreat.

and indulge in the comforts of home away from home.

silence fills the air tonight,
rest is only a pillow away.

*I have been very blessed to experience the pure pleasure of Akwaaba Mansion in celebration of my best friend's birthday. If you ever get the opportunity, do allow Akwaaba to spoil you!

Friday, May 28, 2010

conscious friday: for peace...

prayers sent up.

have a Conscious Friday and a divine long weekend.
one love.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

a wish...

before releasing the ballet dancers atop the left thistle, i closed my eyes and imagined my prayers being whisked away by a swirl of wind and floating throughout the universe, touching the hearts of those who need them. one love.

Monday, May 24, 2010

tonight, i pray...

the sun rises over the blue mountains
casting a most revealing spotlight
on the innocent women and children
needing, and faithfully relying on
the divine guidance and protection
of the Most High JAH.

Jamaica. i see you.
tonight, i pray.
one love.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

weekend note...

these very special narcissus flowers
originate from the 1800's garden
of my friend's great-grandfather.
i captured them just for you.
i hope they brighten your day.

CONGRATULATIONS are in order...
Darcel has given birth to her first son!
Sending lots of positive vibes her way.

for our brothers and sisters in Haiti
and all those suffering around the world
you remain in my thoughts and prayers.
though my heart aches, hope springs eternal.

may JAH JAH guide and protect the I.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

outside this window...

it's a beautiful world
outside this window
but within these walls
lives a dark and sinister force,
the warden of my mental prison,
who subject innocent children like me
to unimaginable pain and suffering.
can someone please rescue me?

*this piece is written from the perspective of a child living through any form of child abuse - emotional, physical, sexual, verbal harm or neglect. chances are, you will walk by one of them today.
i pray for them.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

these are the moments...

the mood is set
the sound of jazz fills the air
the scent of lavender and vanilla
rises from the bubbling hot spring that is my bath tub
only the soft flicker of candlelight keeps me on this plane
but then, the door slowly creaks open and before long
i am surrounded by barbie dolls on a play date
and the infectuous giggle of a very happy child
these are the moments of life
that soothe my soul. sigh.
hope your weekend is filled with loving moments.
one love.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

guest post: The Power of Patience

From time to time, some of my friends stop by my Necessary Room. I just love having company over. My good friend, Chris - author of An Inch of Time - is here today to share a very special guest post with us. She was kind enough to share this photo of Buddhist monks creating a mandala - the epitome of patience - to accompany her post. Please join me in welcoming Chris.

one love.

Like an alcoholic entering Al-Anon admits they have a problem with alcohol, I also have a problem, but it isn't alcohol. My problem is impatience and I am an impatient person. However, a potentially life-threatening situation recently occurred forcing me to confront and deal with my impatience.

Early last month I was involved in a serious auto accident involving a teen-aged driver. Both of us, for the most part, were able to walk away from the accident without any serious injuries and I hope it continues to stay that way. Two days after the accident my new car, less than a year old, was declared a total loss. While I did not cause nor contribute to the accident, and since negotiations are ongoing between our respective insurance companies, I won't go into the specifics of the accident.

In the early days after the accident there was a flurry of paperwork to complete and phone calls to make and return. It is often said in times of great stress, strengths emerge in people they never knew they had. Unbeknownst to me buried within the tangled mess of this accident, patience emerged.

Patience has some amazing abilities. I've learned to be, and continue to stay calm. I've learned when we are patient, particularly during stressful times when our patience is stretched beyond its limits, sometimes things turn out remarkably well. It's been five weeks since the accident and so far things have gone well, much better than I would've expected. I have a new car and my life is somewhat back to normal although driving is still a little shaky and I've become hyper-vigilant.

Maybe this is mere coincidence but I truly believe buried in many things that happen to us, be it good or bad, there are lessons to be learned. Some heed these lessons, others need a rude awakening so they are forced to learn these lessons. However, there is one other valuable lesson I learned as a result of this accident, forgiveness and compassion towards the other driver.

Life is often not a patient process but I believe, and have since learned, patience has the ability to ease and help us navigate those rough spots more smoothly.


Tuesday, May 11, 2010

look down too...

i could have looked up at the sunny blue sky in awe
but instead i chose to bend my head
and gaze deeply into her shadows.

Monday, May 10, 2010

in her own words: What Would Wanda Do?

This is a photo of the Three Sisters in the Cascade Range in Oregon. It was provided by Wanda, author of the inspirational blog, What Would Wanda Do? I've been very blessed to have Wanda as a treasured blog friend for well over a year now. She is definitely a never-ending source of wisdom and knowledge, and has taught me so much that I fondly refer to her as "my guru". If you have never had the opportunity to meet Wanda, she's actually quite welcoming so please feel free to stop by her blog and say would mean the world to me. Today, I am pleased to share with you a little heart-to-heart conversation we recently had. I do hope you enjoy. one love.

Could you please introduce yourself and give a brief description of your blog?

I'm a native Oregonian. I'm a mystic. I love animals and my family. I have a wide range of interests and information, and I rarely lack an opinion. I like to have fun and make people laugh. I've been a teacher, musician, therapist, coach, counselor, consultant, musician, gas pump jockey, fry cook, and plywood millworker...among other things.

My first blog came out of a class I was taking during my coaching training with the idea of creating a professional presence. Eventually, I stopped posting there and started What Would Wanda Do? because this concept is more fun. It started out as an "advice column." However, when I am lacking questions from my readers, I post quotes that I find inspirational and thought provoking, along with my photographs (especially of my two orange Manx boys) and my own musings. Now it is a discipline for me. I try to post every day.

I do love receiving questions from readers on any topic. So bring them on!

Can you tell us a little bit about where you live? and your hobbies.

Portland, Oregon is a preview of heaven. I live an hour and a half from the ocean and an hour (or less) from the mountains. The weather is mild most of the year--not too much snow and a tolerable number of really hot days. We have plenty of opportunity for outdoor activities. I grew up in Tillamook--where they make the cheese--and I can't imagine living more than a couple hours from the ocean. Growing up, a trip to the beach was a 15 minute drive. That's about right! I love looking at the mountains. Once I had a friend visiting from Detroit. He could not believe the beauty that I get to look at every morning when I get out of bed.

We have great restaurants from all cultures. I guess you could say I am a that's one of my hobbies! Last night I had Ethiopian food.

Until recently, I liked to play golf. Then a foot injury sidelined me for a few years. This year I plan to get back out there and see if I can break my streak of double par games. (Hey, don't laugh! ...oh, well...go ahead.)

Last year, we started an organic vegetable garden in our yard. This year, I plan to build a root cellar and a worm bin for composting. We already compost as much as we can, but with worms the process goes so much faster and the nutrients are even richer.

I am also working on a book that I plan to publish on The Man Who Became a Tree is a tribute to my father who died in January at the age of 87. It is a picture/story book that will include my photos. Stay tuned and I will let you know when it is available.

Look twice. Motorcycles are everywhere. I was most surprised to learn that you ride a motorcycle. Bet you didn't know that I'm also a biker chic (i.e. rear-seat-holding-on-to-my-hubby-chic). Tell me my dear, are you a Harley Davidson girl? (giggling). Why does riding a motorcycle appeal to you? Do you ride for any particular charitable causes?

I ride a Honda Shadow ACE Touring motorcycle (1100cc) and drive a convertible. I started riding motorcycles when I was in my 20s. I love the feel of being out in the open. Riding is a meditation for me. It is important to be aware of everything all at once in order to stay safe, so it is an exercise in being fully present in the moment. Being aware of one's own limitations and energy level is an important safety factor, too, so when I am not up to riding (or my foot is acting up) my top down car is a great option. The only time I put the top up is when it is precipitating and I can't go fast enough that the drops (or flakes) blow over.

I haven't done any rides for causes. Mostly I like to ride with friends and I am always looking for people to ride with. Know anyone who wants to go with me?

I didn't know that about you and your hubby. Send me pictures!

Now I don't really hear much about Oregon as a destination or tourist spot. Can you enlighten us about your home state and some secret spots you'd recommend for us to visit?

I mentioned before that I am a native Oregonian. Actually, I am second generation. My dad was born here, too. This is the only place I have lived and I can't think of anywhere else I would rather live--except maybe a tropical island.

You can find everything here: Ocean, mountains, desert. Wine country, great restaurants, food carts, farmers markets--lots of local and organic. Water sports, hiking, camping, hot air balloon festivals, great theater, hot springs, symphony. Crater Lake, Mount Hood, Ashland Shakespeare Festival, Rose Festival, Cannon Beach Sand Castle Contest.

If you can name it, we likely have it. If you are coming for a visit...let me know. One of the things I love about bloggy land is the people I get to meet--virtually and in person.

With regards to being a musician, what is your instrument(s) of choice? What genre of music tickles your soul?

I play guitar. I started out taking accordian lessons when I won 6 months worth of lessons at the county fair. My parents had a couple of guitars around the house and I picked them up and taught myself to play when I was in Junior High. That has been my instrument of choice ever since. When I was in my 20s, I took a year to travel the country with a friend and play gospel music. We spent some time in Alabama recording an album--you know, that was back in the days of LPs and vinyl!

Now I like to listen to old rock and roll, Hawaiian music, Jimmy Buffett, some Bob Marley--anything that reminds me of the islands.

6. What is your chosen profession? What do you find most fulfilling about this line of work?

Currently, I am a Licensed Professional Counselor, Individual-Executive-Corporate Coach/Consultant, and Licensed Massage Therapist. I have always known that the mind and body are inseparable. When I work with people, I pay attention to body, mind, and spirit as a whole. I love being able to help people find the path in their lives that makes them healthy, productive, and happy. I am not very good with small talk and I am an introvert. The work I do allows me to talk with people (mostly one to one) about what is meaningful in their lives and to help them find answers to questions or solutions to problems. I've never been very good at jobs that don't have some deeper meaning.

I do a lot of work with people using nutrition to resolve their mental health issues. For many people, medications don't work or have so many side effects that the negatives outweigh the positives. Often we are able to look at their food sources and intake or other products that they use and make changes that will resolve their issues of anxiety and depression.

The coaching and consulting I do is with corporations, as well as individuals. I love working with corporations to improve their communications, resolve internal conflicts and teach relationship repair. Helping CEOs look at their values and approach can affect the whole business and improve quality of life at work for everyone in the company.

I try to stay on the cutting edge of my professions and attend a lot of continuing education. As a result, I use variety of effective techniques/technologies and that keeps me interested.

Last month, I had the honor of officiating at the wedding of my niece to her beloved. (Did I mention that I am ordained?) We had a great party!

With regards to the health care system in the USA. How do you feel about the recent passage of President Barack Obama’s health care reform bill? What hope does it bring to the estimated 52 million uninsured men, women, and children currently living in the USA?

Passage of the bill is a good beginning. Let's face it, health care is a "for profit" industry in our country. The insurance companies make a huge amount of money and the more they can not pay out, the more they make. One of the things that the new law will do is stop insurance companies from dropping insureds when they get sick. That has been one of their profitable schemes. An individual pays premiums for years, never needing to use her insurance and once she gets sick, the company drops her. Not only does she lose her coverage, but she can no longer get coverage anywhere else because now she has a pre-existing condition. Hello? That will also change with this bill's passage. Pre-existing conditions will no longer be cause for rejecting insureds.

While it doesn't go so far as to include a public option, it will eventually make Medicaid available to anyone who makes less than 133% of the poverty level--including men. We have to begin to realize that people are one of our greatest resources and keeping them healthy keeps them contributing.

This health insurance reform bill doesn't touch quality of care or the actual medical delivery system. However, we have to start somewhere and there is potential for real good to come from this.

It also includes some measures for increasing healthy behaviors--bike paths, programs to increase activity in school children, and...the one I love...requirements for posting nutritional information on menus of restaurants that have more than 20 stores. I understand that McDonald's has already started decreasing their portion size in response to this requirement.

One observation I’ve made is that the television airwaves and just about every form of media (radio, magazines, etc.) is inundated with promotional advertisements for prescription drugs. Do you have an opinion as to why these adverts are so prolific in American society?

Oh, honey...don't get me started on drug companies and their advertising. Once again, the motive is profit. With each new drug that comes out, the "standards for what's healthy" favor of the drug companies. For example, it used to be that 240 was considered a healthy total cholesterol level. With all the new drugs that are coming out the new "healthy" level is considered to be 200.

Research shows that people with total cholesterol at less than 170 are at greater risk for depression, stroke, and death by all other causes than heart disease. I have friends who have been on statin medications who have had so many side effects--pain and weakness...not to mention altered brain function--that they could hardly walk down a flight of stairs. I had another friend whose total cholesterol (on medication) was 138. The doctor thought that was wonderful!

My understanding is that Prozac was one of the first drugs that was marketed directly to the public via print and television ads. "Ask your doctor about...." Look where that has taken us. It was so effective that I have heard medical people say that patients will come in and ask for a medication, but have no idea what it really does.

And have you listened to the list of side-effects? Why on earth would you want to take a medication that might cause "stroke or death" unless there is a greater chance that not taking it would be worse?

Don't get me wrong. Medications do save lives. I am not suggesting that people should never take medications. However, educate yourself! Find out what you are taking and why you are taking it. Look at the list of side effects and pay attention to your own body and your own experience. Talk to your doctor about any concerns. Make an informed decision and listen to your well as to your doctor.

Some of the medications say that the a particular side effect only occurs in 1% of the population. I seem to know a lot of the people who fall in the 1% category. They tell their doctor that they are experiencing an effect and it is not uncommon for the doctor to say, "That's not possible." I just have to reiterate: Be an informed team member. Know your body. Pay attention. Find a doctor who will work with you. Taking another medication to counteract the problems of the first med is not always the best option.

You and I share a deep appreciation for the natural way of life. Can you tell us about the different natural care methods (as opposed to drugs and conventional treatments) you’ve used in your work and daily life.

One of the simplest things people can do to begin improving their lives is look at what they eat. I consider my organic garden to be part of my health care regimen. Eating organic means that we are not ingesting as many toxic ingredients. Growing and eating organic is good, not only for the person, but also the planet.

I am a big fan of homeopathic, herbal, and natural/nutritional medicine. Let me just say that if you take nutritional supplements, look for quality, pure, food based supplements. If it has been processed or manufactured, the body can't use it as well. A chemically produced or modified vitamin is not as effective as a pure food based vitamin. Garbage in is...well...garbage in.

Natural substances cannot be patented. So if a drug company wants to get a patent, they have to somehow change a molecule here or there that will allow them to show their product is unique. Believe it or not, the change of a single molecule can make the substance less effective for the body to use.

On the other hand, just because a substance is considered "natural" doesn't mean that it is completely safe across the board. Here again, it is very important to be informed and aware. Know what you are taking. Know how your body is responding. Pay attention and consult an expert if issues arise.

We live in a society where many view natural care with much apprehension. Is there anything in particular you tell your clients to explain more fully the benefits? Any particular books you’d recommend reading for someone contemplating pursuing natural care alternatives.

I guess I would reiterate what I said before. Be informed and use quality products. You hear a lot of negatives about natural remedies.

One argument is that they are not safe. Nothing is safe if it is not used correctly. It doesn't matter if it is a pharmaceutical or an herb. When people don't use the product in a wise and informed manner, there is potential for bad effects. Know the directions. Know your body.

Another argument against is that you can buy "natural remedies" that don't contain the substances they are advertised to contain. That is true. However, if you are an informed consumer and do your research, you will find that a company that produces "pharmaceutical grade" products will make available independent assays showing their products' purity and the amount of the useful substance it contains.

On the other hand, generic medications--which is what most insurance companies will cover--don't always contain what the original brand name contained either. I know of a chemist with a drug company who will not take a generic medication due to the amount of fillers and the reduced amount of the medication. That's why generics don't work for some people or why a medication might stop working for someone if their pharmacy switches to a different manufacturer for their supply.

Then there is the issue of research. Drug companies do double blind studies (or some variation thereof) and tout that as the best kind of research. However, that is not the only kind of research. There is a significant body of anecdotal evidence concerning natural remedies and people's experience with the benefits. This is legitimate, as well. Research requires money and many natural companies just don't have the same kind of money available as drug companies do to perform extended blinded studies. We also know that just because a drug company does research it doesn't mean that they report all of the results. Look at all the lawsuits against drug companies who haven't reported the full information.

A lot of good books are out there. One that has had a great influence in our household is Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon. It is based in the work of Weston Price, a dentist in the 1930s. He traveled and looked for cultures of people who had good dental health. What he found is that those who had good dental health also had good overall health. Then he studied what they ate. This book talks about what he found. It's also a recipe book. It contains a lot of information.

Given the dominance and dependence on western medicine, do you think that natural care methods will ever be generally accepted in modern society or get to a point where it will covered by health insurance? Are there any particular health care initiatives you'd like to share with us?

Natural medicine is where it all started. I don't think it will ever go away. How accepted it becomes will depend on the individual. I am more concerned that our access to it not be limited than that it become universally accepted. That may be splitting hairs, but I think it is important that we continue to have choice.

Some insurance companies will cover natural care. Some health care programs/facilities are developing "Complemenary and Alternative Care" branches. I think that is wonderful.
Regarding initiatives and/or political actions: Generally speaking, while I am in favor of public protection, I watch for bills that restrict our access to natural foods and medicine. Many of those are motivated by big corporations (agribusiness and pharmaceutical companies) and are about protecting their profits--not our well-being. At the risk of being a broken informed.

You always have the most poignant quotations from a variety of sources on your blog. Can you tell us who or what inspires you?

I subscribe to some email lists that send me quotes daily. Often I use those as jumping off places for my blog posts. The most important aspect of life for me is spirituality. Many times you will notice, I use quotes that have some message about quality and meaning of life.
Spirituality is multi-dimensional. It is about how we live and where the rubber meets the road, so social justice, compassion, community, care of the earth are all important. I grew up in Christian churches and my heart still follows Jesus's message of Love. As far as I am concerned, that is the most important message of any religion.

I sincerely admire and appreciate you as a strong, accomplished woman. Thank you so much for spending this time with me in my Necessary Room. Have you any parting words for those reading this interview?

I am honored that you chose me for this interview and thanks to everyone who came along to "listen in".

*Necessary Disclaimer: The information in this interview is presented for educational purposes only and for the free exchange of ideas. It is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any physical or mental condition, or to prescribe or promote any particular means of care. It is not intended as a substitute for the advice and treatment provided by your own physician or other medical professionals. In the event that you choose to use this information for your own health, you are prescribing for yourself and neither party in this interview assumes any responsibility therefrom.