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salt water; alternative to chemical lawn sprays

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During the late 90′s, I began to really center my attention around a handful of things that I could manageably direct my time and energy toward with an effort to make some sort of difference regarding the ways that we interact with our planet. By then, it was apparent to me that population growth was the largest threat to our imposing resource use and to the natural stability of our planet. The collection of “stuff” (the journey that our material commodities take from production to packaging to transport to purchase to use to landfill) and the reckless use of chemicals directly upon our Earth—both residentially and agriculturally—were two other wide-spread customs that I chose, through education, advocacy work and devoted personal practice, to focus on.

I spent several years researching agri-chemical companies—the products that they mass market and the cumulative effects that these sprays have on the wildlife they are consistently applied to—very much including us. I hand delivered letters to those surrounded by agricultural land and allocated time to reaching people through local media. During this stretch, I spent many hours out in the field, talking with farmers—often silently taking note of the visible nervous system effects in the older generations.

Though I slowly surrendered to the reality that my time and efforts were creating little change, the large-scale use of herbicides and pesticides has, throughout the years, remained an issue that I feel very passionate about. So, when we moved to a new living space last year to discover a certified bundle of poison ivy around our home, it became important to me to find a feel-good compromise between our wellbeing and the wellbeing of the small piece of land that we have the opportunity to work with and to nurture.

As much as I love and appreciate poison ivy for the beautiful plant that it is and the role that it plays in our ecosystem, many of my friends and family members are amongst the estimated 85% of our population who reacts to it after an up close and personal mingle.

Many years ago, I used salt water on a couple of poison ivy plants around the home that I was living in at that time, and it was really effective. After a bit of research, I decided to add vinegar to the mix, and discovered that both brews—salty water and salty vinegar—work impressively well.

  • 1 gallon vinegar or water
  • 1 cup salt

Mix together and carefully spray on leaves of plant. This blend isn’t picky about what it will eliminate from your yard space.

Admittedly, I have a difficult time even spraying this mix on poison ivy. While I choose to occasionally (and mindfully) use this brew on the above-mentioned plant, I don’t use it for any other plant. Instead, my family and I embrace the beauty and value that these herbs have and add to our lives. Dandelion, plantain, clover, sorrel, chickweed, thistle and many more incredible, nutrient-rich greens make their way into our kitchen during their growing seasons. They are welcomed gifts.

Each year, millions of pounds of chemicals are carelessly sprayed on gardens, lawns and, extensively, on farmland. These harmful brews make their way into the bodies of the animals living in and on this land, our bodies, our waterways—and, irreversibly, into our groundwater supply. Research in Germany has revealed significant amounts of glyphosate (used in Roundup) in the urine samples from those living in the city. I am certain that similar results would be found in any country where spraying has become customary.

**Please share the above spray mix with friends and family who routinely spray their gardens and lawns—and help decrease the amount sprayed on our farmlands through supporting local, organic farms and farmers.

 

(elephant journal, april 2014)

laughter medicine

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I adore a good chuckle. Not just any variety of chuckle—a really hearty one. The kind that leaves you gasping for air, clutching your mid-section and complaining about how much your face hurts for minutes after. I love the variety of laughter that arrives when all inhibitions are released; when there is no worry about what’s right, what’s acceptable, what’s proper or how or what others are seeing; laughter that urges you to reach out to someone, if only to avoid falling. Beyond blissful is the type of unguarded laughter that instantaneously invites others to this euphoric place, alongside you; even if they have no idea what you’re laughing about.

Laughter is such an innate, unlearned response. Infants begin to smile during the first few weeks of life and begin to laugh only months into their journey. It is awe-stirring that we are all born with this intrinsic affinity towards smiling and making noise out of pure delight for…errr…whatever we find funny. For anyone (that would be all of us?) who simply feels really incredible after a hearty laugh, laughter having measurable benefits won’t come as a surprise—or maybe even an interest. However, for those with enough intrigue to intermingle the whole beautiful, riotous mess with a smidgen of science, here are eight very good reasons we all should lean into a belly laugh (or 20) every day.



Laughter relaxes the whole body.  
A good, body-involving laugh evaporates stress and relieves physical tension, relaxing muscles for a stretch of up to an hour after.

Laughter releases endorphins.
Merriam-Webster’s definition of endorphins: any of a group of endogenous peptides found especially in the brain that bind chiefly to opiate receptors and produce some pharmacological effects (as pain relief) like those of opiates.
My simple definition of endorphins: feel-good, feel-happy chemicals.

Laughter boosts your immune system.
I’ve come across several studies that suggest that laughter helps to boost your immune system through decreasing stress hormones and increasing immune cells/infection-fighting abilities, improving the body’s overall resistance to disease.



Laughter protects your heart.
Laughter improves the function of blood vessels and increases blood flow,  decreasing high blood pressure, which can help protect against a heart attack and other cardiovascular complications.

Laughter dissolves distressing emotions.
Go ahead. Enjoy a good laugh the next time you and your partner are spiritedly processing through a difference. It’s so difficult to feel nervous, angry or sad while you’re deep in authentic laughter.

Laughter holds us in the present moment.
When we’re laughing, we’re focused on whatever is funny in the moment. We’re not replaying the past or worrying about the future. We’re simply enjoying what is here—what is now.

Laughter helps us connect with others.
Simply written: it feels good to laugh with someone. It feels great to laugh with someone. It feels great to laugh with anyone. Laughter is a sort of bonding cement—deepening the bonds that we experience with people we’re already close with, and forging bonds with people we’ve only recently met. Feeling connected is, in general, one of the most important foundations of good health.

Good humor shifts perspective.   
This allows us to see situations in a less menacing light. Just as I was beginning to write this, my daughter (already in a questionable mood) stepped it up a notch or three on the voice decibel meter. Out of seemingly nowhere, I told her that she was acting like a pirate. She followed up with announcing that I was acting like a recycling can. We went back and forth, eventually wrapping up this nonsensical back and forth with “acting like a smurf’s knee.” By that time, we were both laughing so hard that we could barely understand each other. The moment was entirely transformed. Neither of us could recall what she was upset about to begin with. The ability to laugh, play and have fun with others not only makes life more enjoyable, it also helps to revamp problems and strengthen connections with others. People who incorporate playful humor into their daily lives discover that it renews not only themselves, but has a ripple effect—reaching many of the people surrounding them.

Regardless of how badly we might feel or how tough things may momentarily seem, laughter has the ability to immediately transform our surrounding matters. It has the ability to bring us into a cozy space; to a place of pure joy and bliss; to a new and more balanced perspective; to happiness, over and over again. There’s really nothing quite like a really good, from-the-gut, tears-streaming-down-the-face, nose-wiping, can’t-quite-breathe, where-did-the-seat-go, belly-aching guffaw.

To those for which a good laugh happens far too infrequently: the invitation is always there to just laugh. Laugh heartily. Laugh often. Laugh while you’re rolling out of bed. Laugh while you’re making breakfast. Laugh while you’re making love. Laugh, solo-style. Laugh in large crowds. Laugh while you’re crying. Laugh until you are crying. Laugh when your heart hurts. Laugh when your heart is happy. Laugh when it feels appropriate. Laugh when it feels inappropriate. Laugh until you have no idea what you’re laughing about…and then laugh some more.

And say cheers to consistently finding ourselves amidst a hearty concoction of unrestrained medicine. No doctor or therapist required.

***

“Laughter is the shortest distance between two people.” 
—Victor Borge

“Man is the only animal that laughs and weeps; for he is the only animal that is struck with the difference between what things are, and what they ought to be.” —William Hazlitt

“Laugh as much as you breathe and love as long as you live.”
—Andrea Levy

 

(om yoga & lifestyle; april issue; 2014)
(organic lifestyle, 2012)

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taking time to unwind

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—8 Simple Ways to Slow Down & Restore Balance—

Walk
Solo-style in a forest or other natural area—barefoot.
Clear your mind, and connect your body and being to the Earth; deeply breathe in the surrounding air.

Turn off electronics
Electromagnetic fields do their part to create feelings of imbalance within our minds and bodies. Turning off lights, computers, radios and switching your phone to airplane mode for long stretches during each day (and night) gives your body a break from constantly trying to find balance against these frequencies.

Focus on yourself
Release the notion that you always need to be focused on household, family and/or work-related matters. Feel good taking a yoga class, watching a movie, scheduling a massage, or losing yourself in a good book.

Say no
If you feel exhausted, learn to turn down social engagements and/or other events and requests.

Take a break from social media
Social media sites are an amazing and easy way to stay up-to-date and connected with friends and family. There are so many wonderful and beautiful friends who many of us, amidst our packed days, might rarely connect with otherwise. Perusing through posts and daily on-goings, however, can take up a large chunk of time and places some of us in front of the computer for lengthy stretches each day. Occasionally forgoing computer time and opting for face-to-face connections and/or other enjoyable activities can help us feel more balanced and present.

Sleep soundly
Allowing our physical bodies to take a break, clean up, recalibrate and repair is essential to good health.

Write
Working out thoughts on screen or paper can be a really effective way to organize and/or release mental chatter. Writing offers up a way to take conscientious time to think about how we’re feeling, what we’re wanting and envisioning and move it from (maybe constant) mind play to a more tangible space, which can be easily accessed later.

Breathe deeply
Make time to sit still and to focus on deep, belly breathing. Breathing deeply eases all areas of our body and being into a tranquil and present space. The far-reaching benefits of managing stress in this way are phenomenal.

 

(om yoga & lifestyle; april issue; 2014)

making eggshell calcium

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It has been well established that calcium and magnesium are needed to maintain healthy bones and a well-functioning body. What isn’t as well known, focused upon or shared about from the supplement industry is that using these (as well as other nutrients) in isolated form isn’t easy for our bodies. Many mineral supplements are derived from inorganic matter and, if not easily recognized and absorbed, can do more harm than good. “Recommended daily allowances” are pushed, and therefore naturally considered by many people simply trying to keep their health in check—however, it doesn’t matter how many milligrams of anything we “should” be taking everyday if that supplement is going burden our bodies.

I first learned about eggshell calcium from a chiropractic clinic that I used to routinely visit for preventative care. Amongst many other informational pamphlets, there was a write-up on the wall titled, “Lemon Egg.” I laughed about this title each time I glanced at it, thinking it might be some sort of humorous insert amongst the more serious-sounding brochures; yet, I was instantly curious. Who can walk away from an intriguing tale of “lemon egg?!” After spending a bit of time researching the nutrient profile of eggshells and being aware of the lacking assimilation abilities of many on-the-shelf calcium products, I decided it was worthy to try and gave it a go. Not only would I be increasing my mineral intake, but I’d also have a good use for the eggshells that make their way to the compost every week.

Unlike many mineral supplements, which provide minerals in secluded form, eggshells offer a harmonic balance of elements. With a comparable composition to our bones and teeth; one whole medium sized eggshell provides about 750 – 800 milligrams of elemental (bioavailable or absorbable) calcium and over twenty other microelements.

In researching eggshell calcium, you’ll notice that some sources make mention of taking a matching amount of magnesium alongside the eggshell calcium content while others do not. Naturally, each of us should always make decisions based on what feels good and right for us. Because I avoid nutrients in isolated form, my personal approach has been to pair the nutrients from eggshells with magnesium and other mineral rich foods.

(It’s worth mentioning that vitamin D is vital to good mineral absorption. A good cod liver oil (I like Green Pasture’s fermented varieties) during the colder months, and soaking up plenty of sun during the warmer ones should provide an adequate amount.)

Below are two at-home methods of extracting the calcium from egg shells.

For both methods, any kind of egg can be used, but it is most beneficial to use eggs from pastured, happy, healthy birds. Aside from supporting the humane treatment of animals, eggs from unhealthy birds raised in confined, factory-like conditions will not have the same nutrient profile as eggs from humanely raised and well cared for birds.

1. Powdered Eggshell

  • Remove egg white while leaving the nutrient membrane intact. Gently rinse empty eggshells.
  • Spread the broken pieces out onto a dry towel and allow them to completely air dry.
  • Break the eggshells up into small pieces and grind them into a fine powder using a small food processor, coffee grinder or by placing them into a bag and using a rolling pin to “powder” them.
  • Store powdered eggshells in a covered glass jar or container in a dry place.
  • To pull the calcium out of the eggshell, place 1/2 teaspoon of the powdered eggshell into a small dish and add the fresh juice of one half of a lemon. Mix well—the mixture will start to bubble and foam.
  • Leave at room temperature for at least 6 hours, but no longer than 12.
  • Take 1/2-1 tsp. of this calcium mixture per day.

2. “Lemon-Egg”

  • Place 3 clean, whole eggs in a wide-mouth jar.
  • Cover the eggs with freshly squeezed lemon juice.
  • Clove the jar and place it in the refrigerator. You will begin to see bubbles forming on the eggs as the eggshells dissolve into the lemon juice.
  • Gently agitate the jar a few times per day.
  • After a day or two, when the bubbling stops, carefully remove the eggs without breaking the membrane—you can use them as you would normally, either raw or cooked.
  • Take 1/2-1 tsp. of this calcium mixture per day.

Note: Because different amounts of lemon juice will likely be used each time, if you’d like to adjust the amount you take based on the amount (in milligrams) of calcium, you can figure out your desired dosage by dividing the approximate amount of total calcium by 400 milligrams. For example, if you use 3 eggs and each egg provides 800 mgs of calcium, you’ll have 2400 mgs total—divided by 400 equals six doses.

References:

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11281164
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15018022
http://www.mendeley.com/research/eggshell-calcium-prevention-treatment-osteoporosis/

 

(elephant journal, march 2014)

pineapple cake—paleo style

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it’s been a really long while since i’ve ventured into any sort of cake territory. lately, i’ve had a bit of a love affair going with both pineapple and sunflower butter, and the thought occurred to me that—blended with a little coconut flour and a pasture-raised egg—they might bake into a decent dessert.

…and they did!;)

(here’s a sweet reminder that i have some sort of aversion to measuring; so the below are not amounts that i used—they are amounts that i think i used…)

enjoy.

  • 2 cups pineapple
  • 1 jar of sunflower or almond butter
  • 1 egg (pasture-raised)
  • 2-4 dropperfuls of vanilla stevia
  • 1/4 cup coconut flour
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. sea salt
  1. in a food processor; combine the pineapple, sunflower butter, eggs and stevia and pulse until blended—leaving the pineapple a bit chunky.
  2. in a bowl, combine the coconut flour, baking soda and sea salt.
  3. mix the pineapple and sunflower butter mixture in with the above dry ingredients.
  4. pour batter into an 8 x 8 inch baking dish (optional: top with fresh pineapple).
  5. bake at 350° for 45 minutes