Ahh………a little closer to spring! And George Washington’s birthday is today!! It’s encouraging to know that George also liked to garden; perhaps I trust a gardening president a tad more than others; anyone who gets hands in the dirt and appreciates home-grown tomatoes, is likely to have a clearer, more realistic sense of the world. In trying to plan for this year’s gardens, I walk around the garden beds, looking to see exactly what is there. It’s a little depressing; the blades of iris leaves lie flat and are ice-covered, in spite of our warmer weather this week and the ends of the current bushes are clearly nibbled by the hungry deer. The clematis and roses look lifeless in the cold. I’m sure they are still “wick” as the Yorkshire Brit’s might say, but right now my inner garden visuals aren’t working well. Back to the colorful catalogs for inspiration, for I must get my orders in!!
A few weeks ago, I listened to a series of seminars called “The Broken Brain”. They were offered by Dr. Mark Hyman from Functional Medicine at the Cleveland Clinic, and were published by Hay House. He was joined by at least a dozen other doctors, specialists in their fields, from other places; Harvard, NYC, Texas, etc. They were concerned that the way we all live, what we eat and the absorption of some very common toxins are contributors to the many health issues that affect our brains as well as our bodies, inflammation being the common denominator for many ills. They cited physiology that was unfamiliar to me (in spite of one comprehensive bio course at Cornell ☺, many years ago) but that made sense in relating to my chronic pain. I think we all know there are things we each could do to live in a healthier manner, but change isn’t comfortable. On the other hand, I’d really rather not be gnashing my teeth ten years from now because I didn’t listen to what I knew to be good ideas.
While I applaud those who can simply clean out their cupboards and eliminate all the “bad” things like sugar, processed foods, commercial oils, etc. and immediately function in a new and better way, most of us require easing into new habits and some compromise. Yes to improving my health, but No to making our meals seem like punishment for being alive. I mean --- oatmeal without a sprinkling of brown sugar? No cookies in the cookie jar? Never again the frozen oriental chicken puffs? Determining what works for us is crucial to success with a plan. I will find it possible to cut way back on sugar, make those spicy chicken puffs an infrequent indulgence, but cookies in the jar are non-negotiable, at least for one member of my family; maybe for several others. So moderation and more conscious, knowlegable choices are the answer for us when making healthy changes.
There’s also the matter of accountability; it is really easy to allow new determinations to dwindle away, and suddenly we’re back to old ways of being. Fortunately, I do have a person in place; the physical therapist physician who spent six weeks with me and my pain ---- to little avail. I told her that I was going to try some new ideas, and I’d get back to her in two months; thus accountability! At least it gives the remainder of our wintery months a new purpose. So wish me well as I slog through the snow to get fresh air and exercise, as I forgo Almond Joys (sugar leads to more inflammation), as I try to spend more time in quiet and meditation (quieting the brain) and --- most important --- as I try to remember to relax my entire being --- the toughest one of all for someone who has “alert” built into the genes.
Speaking of “tough”, the ice we’ve had for over two weeks has made walking around a bit treacherous. We arrived at church a couple of Sundays ago to find the driveway plowed and the steps salted, but the hand rails were covered in “black ice”; impossible to detect until one tries to hold on. And of course, we’ve had similar conditions at home. Watching the cats skid and scramble as they romp and play has been amusing, but trying to negotiate the paths and lawn to feed said cats and the birds has made me appreciate the balance exercises we do in Bone-Builders. I also hold on to the shrubbery a lot. Right now, most of the ice is gone ---- but undoubtedly, there will be more to come!
I recently got something via Email that talked about how healing sound can be. They were talking about certain techniques of sound that subtly vibrate within the body (gongs, humming and drums), not necessarily music itself, but I generally use music. Of course there are all kinds of music; some helpful and some not. A couple of weeks ago, I was part of a Sunday afternoon concert. While we were singing, I had no pain! Many years ago, when I was healing from a broken ankle, listening to a particular music tape allowed me to sleep in spite of the ache. (Of course, the down-side is that whenever I listen now to that same music, I begin yawning.) When I am engrossed in music or singing with others I feel happier and less stressed; the music must change the pain signals to the brain.
Even listening to music is a mood-changer. Some music is so jangling to the nerves that I must turn it off; it incites me right into crankiness. Other music (some of the oratorios) can remind me of the immense sadness in the world. The best music, of course, is whatever makes one’s heart sing and creates a mood of sunshine whether or not the sun is actually making its way through our northeastern clouds. It could be rag time, familiar hymns, Handel’s Water Music, the Irish Rovers or James Taylor’s husky crooning. It would probably be useful for all of us to be a bit more conscious of the sounds around us and how they make us feel. Be aware of what music or some of the world’s natural sounds can do for your days.
Regarding spring, a friend here in Spencer has seen blue birds, this very week, checking out the accommodations. In three weeks our daylight time will be longer, as EDT begins. A week after that, the spring equinox occurs. I hope the longer hours of daylight, and the inner delight that comes with signs of spring give all of us new energy for life in general. For me, planning the garden will help. One writer explains the driving need some of us have for playing in the dirt: “In gardens, there is hope.” * In a world that so often frightens and disappoints us, it is good to have some areas in our lives that give hope. I have found several --- and that’s a very good thing!
Carol may be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
*Grace Firth – born in the 1920s; died in 2014 --- authored four books on growing, preparing and preserving foods naturally.