I first came across this story while researching and advocating for a postive outlook on the tranisiton into menopause. I had been growing increasingly tired of the way this very normal phase was being medicalized as I feel menopause is one of the most powerful transitions for a woman. As I stumbled on it again earlier this week, I started to think about all transitions, especially those that feel rather difficult. Struggles don’t have to cripple us, in fact, if we look at them as part of our birthright to growth, they can actually help us fly.
One day, a small opening appeared on a cocoon; a man sat and watched for the butterfly for several hours as it struggled to force its body through that little hole.
Then, it seems to stop making any progress. It appeared as if it had gotten as far as it could and it could not go any further.
So the man decided to help the butterfly: he took a pair of scissors and opened the cocoon. The butterfly then emerged easily. But it had a withered body; it was tiny and shriveled wings.
The man continued to watch because he expected that, at any moment, the wings would open, enlarge and expand, to be able to support the butterfly’s body, and become firm.
Neither happened! In fact, the butterfly spent the rest of its life crawling around with a withered body and shriveled wings. It never was able to fly.
What the man, in his kindness and his goodwill did not understand was that the restricting cocoon and the struggle required for the butterfly to get through the tiny opening, were ways of forcing fluid from the body of the butterfly into its wings, so that it would be ready for flight once it achieved its freedom from the cocoon.
Sometimes, struggles are exactly what we need in our life. If we were allowed to go through our life without any obstacles, it would cripple us. We would not be as strong as we could have been and never been able to fly.
People are often unreasonable, illogical, and self-centered; Forgive them anyway. If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives; Be kind anyway. If you are successful you will win some false friends and true enemies; Succeed anyway. If you are honest and frank, people may cheat you; Be honest and frank anyway. What you spend years building, someone could destroy overnight; Build anyway. If you find serenity and happiness, they may be jealous; Be happy anyway. The good you do today, people will often forget tomorrow; Do good anyway. Give the world the best you have, and it may never be enough; Give the world the best you’ve got anyway. You see, in the final analysis, it is between you and God; It was never between you and them anyway.
~ Mother Theresa
This quote rather amazes me. When I read it, it is one of those passages that I truly feel in my bones. I feel it in my heart. I know it is the way I want to behave, always and in all ways. But here is the catch: I am usually reading this type of message during my allotted “screen time” each day while sitting on my couch surrounded by the love of both 2 and 4-legged family members, sipping hot tea and letting my face mask dry. Rarely (ok, almost never) does something of this significance flash through my mind while someone who has envy, jealousy, mean, destructive and illogical actions is coming at me. Yesterday, I sat in civil court for over 3 hours waiting to defend myself against the harassment and malicious prosecution of the squatters in the unit next to me. I was not alone, as they are also suing other neighbors of mine for equally preposterous reasons. I don’t understand it. I don’t even know these people but they seem to be mentally disturbed and mean spirited, flying high with agendas way beyond their filed suits. I have long stopped asking the “Universe” why things happen as they do, thanks to “Wisdom.” However, how am I supposed to sit and hear horrible, wicked, hateful things about myself, that are blatantly defaming lies, and still induct the spirit and message of peaceful loving people like Mother Theresa? How am I to hold onto who I truly am when my blood feels like it is actually boiling due to this crime affecting me on personal and professional levels? How am I to forgive and love in this circumstance?
I’ve been thinking about this incessantly, especially after we did not receive a judgment, only a continuance. That’s right, I have to go back. I have to be near the darkness again. It isn’t over. My thoughts have lead me to that familiar place; that place where love and hate are not mutually exclusive but standing next to one another, existing simultaneously.
I can love that these are fellow humans, once dependent little babies. I can have compassion for their motivation, their need for money, their sense of desperation and at the same time, I can hate this experience, their actions and the resulting stress falling down on my family. I can forgive them but I can hate the damage, the disappointment, and the fear that has been mustered up in my fairly charmed life. I can love my life, have faith in it and trust that all that is in play is meaningful and needed and I can hate the gut twisting feeling of injustice and victimization. I can love and hate at the same time and I think it is really important.
Maybe that is really the gist of what Mother Theresa was saying. Maybe, despite feeling the blast of destruction aimed right at me, I heard her words anyway.
I belong to a “club” in my neighborhood that has fostered friendships, a community and social and emotional stimulation for me for over 2 years. It has been one of the best things that I have ever been a part of and I am so grateful that it and everything about it was brought to my life so as I travel on this path of mine, I stumbled upon it.
But lately, things have been changing. (sorry for the vagueness but I am still working through this) I am not feeling the same sense of support or belonging that I once did. I am not feeling that same spirit that filled my heart once by simply being there. Who knows what happened. I do know at my ripe age of 48 that the only constant is change. Maybe it is me, maybe just the natural progression of the “club”, who knows. But here is where I stand. When something like this happens, as humans, I think it is natural to want to start colluding with others and bitching and complaining perhaps to create a sense of validation for the waning feelings by talking negatively about this, that or the other thing. But for what? I can choose to be a victim of my perceived changes in this club or a creative cause in my life. I could gossip or protest, or, use this as an opportunity to reassess my own needs. Perhaps choose a new club, do something different and love, accept, take responsibility for my experience and move on with grace and appreciation for what once was! Whether it is at work, in your family or at play ask yourself, are you a victim or a creative cause in your life?
Keep on becoming…..
First of all, thank you so much for visiting my BLOG! I do love that word, as very few words are both a noun and a verb. Yes, this is my BLOG (noun) and I will BLOG (verb) on issues and topics, which I feel, will stimulate thoughts, conversations, actions, behavior changes or insights for people who are looking to grow in their health and their lives. I am quite aware that there is a sea of information out there… posts, tweets, articles, videos and more! My goal is to help you sift through information and facilitate true understanding. I want to help put the “dots really close together” so that you can connect them and truly own your own health care.
A mentor of mine always has said “words don’t matter, you have to feel it in your bones!”
I wrote the above paragraph when I started my “blog” over 2 years ago. As I started off in the “blogging” world, it felt like I was learning a whole knew language, one filled with words like “brand” “search engine optimization” “conversion” “likes” “followers” “strategy” ETCETERA~ J I thought to myself…..hey, what is all this, I just want to help people! But I was so excited to have a voice and help that I learned the new marketing mumbo jumbo and took off writing. Turns out that my initial fervor to simply and truly help pull the dots close together so that folks can connect them and use their own mind, understand something at the core and own their choices and health got stymied by my own internal process. I started out wanting to blog weekly and did ok. Then summer hit, I got a bit busy and I tapered to twice a month. Then, there were some dark months as in NO BLOG. Then……I started to notice this deep, yet strange resistance to settling from a busy practice, an intense personal fitness regimen, fielding media inquiries, family obligation and other events that keep me on the move to sit still and write. It became so daunting that I actually talked to a professional about it. Here is what I came to understand. For several reasons, mostly those stemming from my upbringing, I feel that if I slow down and relax (the state needed to write and express) I am in fear. It seems that if I reside in vigilance (moving, doing, accomplishing), I feel safety. There in lies my issue with settling, sitting, thinking and blogging. I know I have a voice. I know there is an undying need in me to facilitate understanding in the swirl of marketing medicine and health and I vow to continue to know my fears, my opportunities and myself so I can grow and continue to express.
Thank you for your patience and let’s keep on becoming together.
I see a lot of active people in my practice. Many of them have sprains, cuts, bruises, scrapes, and all kinds of minor (and sometimes not so minor) trauma. In times past, comfrey was considered a powerful healing plant and would have been a remarkable natural intervention to relieve pain and hasten healing. Unfortunately, comfrey contains liver toxic compounds (pyrrolizidine alkaloids, or PA), so its oral use was banned in the United States. Some doctors were even concerned with creams and soaks, for fear these compounds would absorb.
Fortunately, there is a new comfrey topical cream that is great for open wounds, so any cuts and other normal results of an active life can be healed quickly. The other good news is that this comfrey cream is safe for children as young as four years old, so it’s an option even for kids who get into enough of their own scrapes.
Thanks to a wonderful blend of age-old wisdom and modern plant science, there is a type of comfrey that avoids the problem of liver toxicity altogether. This variety of comfrey, known as Symphytum x uplandicum NYMAN, has been designated as “Trauma Comfrey” by the German Health authorities a specialized species, much like a patent.
This special form of comfrey has been specifically cultivated to be low in PA content. Plus, only the aerial parts – leaves, stems and flowers – that are naturally PA-free (rather than the roots that typically have a higher PA content) are used.
Three major compounds in this comfrey cream are allantoin, choline, and rosamarinic acid. They are powerful.
- Allantoin quickly helps regenerate damaged tissue, including; skin, tendons, cartilage and bone.
- Choline helps injured blood vessels and nerve endings recover faster.
- Rosmarinic acid fights inflammation and slows down cell damage.
For anyone needing relief and healing from everyday bumps and bruises, or more serious injuries and trauma, this clinically tested comfrey cream, known as Traumaplant®, is the one I recommend. It’s safe for kids and adults, and to me it’s like having an entire medical kit in just one tube.
I have a radio show that airs every Wednesday at noon Pacific Time on RadioMD.com called “Mindful Medicine”. It is simply another format for me to hopefully “knock ‘em alive” with empowering information that can help people be their own PCPs “primary care providers” and have their homes be their own HMOs “Health Maintenance Organization” Get it?
I am fortunate to have a fascinating and amazing regular contributor, Dr. Jacob Tietlbaum MD, join me every week to talk about easy, effective, natural ways to help people take back control and manage their health. Jacob and I were talking very passionately about the newest recommendations, handed down from a government agency, which suggested (based on a faulty calculation) that many more people would be candidates for taking statin medications. We both were fairly incensed about this notion, knowing that statin medications come with serious risks and side effects and research has shown that there are many common lifestyle choices that are far more likely to be associated with a lower risk of heart attack and heart attack death than taking statins medications. Some of these include eating chocolate, participating in regular exercise, getting adequate nutrition and having cats. YES, having cats, check this out:
Cats More Effective Than Cholesterol Meds for Preventing Heart Disease Deaths:
A research study found that having a cat can reduce stress in people’s lives, and consequently lowers the risk of having a heart attack or stroke or developing a heart disease. The findings are based on a 10-year study, carried out by the researchers at the Stroke Research Center at the University of Minnesota. The study, which looked at 4,435 Americans, aged 30 to 75, showed that those who did not have a cat had a 40 percent higher risk of having a heart attack and a 30 percent greater risk of dying from other heart diseases than those who have or have had a cat. The study was presented at the American Stroke Association meeting in New Orleans. Unfortunately, in this study owning a dog did not have the same heart protective benefits. Several studies have confirmed that owning a pet reduces stress, decreases blood pressure and cholesterol, and reduces risk of depression. This makes cats (and other natural alternatives) much safer, cheaper, and more fun than cholesterol lowering medications!
If cats aren’t for you….rest assured there are still SO many more ways that are clinically proven, effective and devoid of serious side effects to help prevent and treat heart disease!
YOU ARE YOUR OWN PRIMARY CARE PROVIDER! Stay informed and… MEOW!
When I was in medical school, living on a shoestring budget, one of the treats I used to give myself was a trip to the day spa. Even though I lived in a very warm climate, there was nothing more invigorating and soothing to me than being able to sit in a sauna and sweat out my stress.
The use of heat and traditional sauna therapies in healing goes back for centuries. The Native America’s have been using sweat lodges for ceremony and medicinal purposes for over 40,000 years.
New sauna technology has proven much more effective for cleansing the body than the traditional sweat lodges of the past. Heat produced from infrared wavelengths is much more thorough than conventional heat produced from hot rocks or steam. Infrared light—which is the invisible part of the sun’s spectrum—can easily penetrate tissue to about three inches deep. Because infrared light heats the body directly (not just the air around you), it raises the core body temperature increasing central and peripheral vascular circulation, respiration and sweating. This is awesome for the body as an increased cardiac output and heart rate are accompanied by a decrease in blood pressure. The increase in respiratory rates raises oxygenation and lowers carbon dioxide content and sweating assists the excretion of toxins stored in body fat and organs. Who knew I was doing so much more than sweating out my stress J! My trips to the day spa where indeed a treat and something I couldn’t afford to do regularly! The good news is that infrared saunas are surprisingly affordable and energy efficient for any home saving me future trips to the often-expensive day spa. The most recent full spectrum infrared technology has also lead to an increase in research and benefits beyond increasing circulation, lowering blood pressure and assisting with detoxification. Infrared sauna therapy also has been proven to assist in weight loss, decrease pain, rejuvenate skin and heal skin conditions like acne, psoriasis and eczema. For example, a single infrared sauna session can burn up to 200-600 calories and researches have been tracking the incredible results of using infrared therapy on lower back and upper body pain. The even better news is that you can actually have this extraordinary comprehensive healing therapy in your own home! Companies like Sunlighten (www.sunlighten.com) are empowering wellness by offering safe, affordable and effective infrared saunas. I experienced this particular brand recently while visiting a friend in Santa Fe. How nice it was to come in from a hike after a long night of reconnecting, eating and drinking and sit in the sauna and “passively” heal the damage from the night before and restore my vigor and vitality.
I was so motivated and inspired that I am purchasing one as soon as I can. Not that I am trying to put myself out of business but I do believe that a sauna a day will keep the doctor away!
One of my biggest passions in this life is to be helpful in people using their own minds and thinking about what is good for them regarding health, wellness and medicine. There are so many confusing messages, ideas and advice available. I feel it we can just slow things down and really utilize are minds, we can truly find out what is best for each individual.
I have tag line I use often: “Let’s think this through”. I didn’t actually come up with it, it more or less came to me. You see, I would catch myself each day that I was in my clinical practice saying to a patient during our visit ……”lets think this through”. Because in my mind, that is what practicing good medicine and partnering with a patient is all about!
I start by taking a comprehensive medical and social history as primary tools to begin to understand someone’s story and from there I will conduct any physical exams and select laboratory tests to help pull other pieces of the clinical puzzle together. The sweet spot for me is being able to take all the information about someone, their habits, their history, their behaviors, their relationships, their results even their self beliefs and knowledge and simply think things through as how it is or has contributed to how they are feeling and presenting clinically.
This “thinking things through” is the sweet spot because it helps me to understand contributing factors as to why someone got to where they are with their health in the first place and even better what we need to do about it. What we need to prioritize and strategize to help that person reach their optimal health. It also is very empowering to my patients to identify and then be able to control contributing factors that are affecting their health adversely. When you take the time to get to know someone’s story and simply help them “think things through” even the most complicated health conditions start to show a simple path towards healing.
Too Much of a Good Thing can certainly be BAD!
When there is an excess of any hormone in relation to the whole intricate system we call the “endocrine system”, an overall imbalance develops, and health problems can arise. When there is too much estrogen and not enough progesterone to counteract its effects, the situation is called estrogen dominance.
Estrogen dominance is a multifactorial situation and is caused by such things as exposure to excess environmental xenoestrogens, use of synthetic estrogens such as the birth control pill and hormone replacement therapy (HRT), anovulation (lack of ovulation during menstrual cycle, which is not uncommon among women older than 35), digestion issues (which tax the estrogen- detoxification process in the liver), unrelenting stress (which strains the adrenals and the thyroid), unresolved emotional issues, poor diet and negative lifestyle factors such as smoking and alcohol use.
How does estrogen dominance specifically alter women’s health? It has been linked to a wide range of conditions, including increase in PMS symptoms, uterine fibroids, and endometriosis, as well as symptoms including allergies, decreased libido, fatigue, fibrocystic breasts, headaches, infertility, irritability, and fat gain around the abdomen and on the top of the thighs. In addition, numerous studies demonstrate excess estrogen can cause breast, uterine, and ovarian cancers (which are all considered estrogen dependent cancers) cervical dysplasia (a precancerous condition characterized by abnormal changes to cervical tissues) and even contribute to menopausal symptoms.
It is easy to see how in our contemporary lifestyles estrogen can begin to dominate the hormone scene. The prevalence of xenoestrogens form the environment; the use of HRT and oral contraceptives; diets skewed in favor of nonorganic fruits, vegetables, meats, and dairy products (which frequently contain xenoestrogens); stressful lifestyles; and increased estrogen production because of anovulation, imbalanced ovarian function and hysterectomies all contribute to this ultimate inbalance.
Cancer is one of the most disconcerting of the possible outcomes of estrogen dominance. Because cancer rates are increasing every decade, it is likely that cancer has touched your life in some profound way. I know I am seeing more women with estrogen-dependent cancers in my clinical practice than ever before. The American Cancer Society (ACS) estimates one in three women will develop some type of cancer in her lifetime. Breast cancer rates have increased from one in 20 in 1960 to one in eight today, though the rates have slowed since the 1990s. But the ACS says breast cancer incidence rates have increased lately in women older than 50.
Among the risks the ACS lists for breast cancer are long menstrual history (early onset of menses and late menopause) and use of oral contraceptives and postmenopausal estrogens and progestin. These risk factors increase the lifetime exposure to estrogen.
Harmful estrogens are difficult to detoxify and are stored in fat. In a recent study published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, researchers linked obesity to breast cancer. Women with a higher body mass index (BMI), which equated to higher levels of body fat, also had elevated hormone levels, particularly of estradiol, which is the more potent of the estrogens produced in the body. The researchers concluded, “The increase in breast cancer risk with increasing BMI among postmenopausal women is largely the result of the associated increase in estrogens”
According to a study featured in Cancer Causes and Control, women can reduce their breast cancer risk by maintaining a normal weight, because that reduces the amount of hormones stored in fat.
Other things that are extremely important to remember to protect your tissues from an excess of estrogen and begin to restore function in your hormonal system are:
- Eat a diet full of organic whole foods and fiber and get at least 5-9 servings of fruits and vegetables each day.
- Identify and decrease any unrelenting chronic stress and support your adrenal and thyroid glands with proper rest and supplementation.
- Restore any digestive imbalances and make certain that you have plenty of good bacteria on board to crowd out any over growth of yeast or bad bacteria.
- Decrease exposure to xenoestrogens by wearing and using safe products free of hormone disruptors such as parabens and phalates.
- I recommend Theo Colburn’s book “Our StolenFuture” and www.ewg.org for further reading.
- Search for a practitioner that will offer safe and natural relief for symptoms during hormonal transitions and decrease your use of HRT. Try visiting www.naturopathic.org .
- Decrease your use of alcohol and if you smoke, please stop.
With today’s stressors being multiple, constant and prolonged, it is quite easy to lose one’s cool which, unfortunately, just makes any situation worse. I call it “having a short fuse syndrome”. So, how can you keep your cool and “lengthen your fuse” during times of strife such as your commute in terrible traffic or interactions with angry clients, terrible customer service agents, aggressive co-workers or that fussy family member? Believe it or not, the answer is in your brain. Yes, your brain! Our brain is equipped with two sides of the nervous system. The sympathetic nervous system is that which control our response to these multiple, constant and prolonged stressors. Our “fight or flight” is carried out here. On the other side, the parasympathetic rules our ability to rest, relax and repair. One of the biggest problems we are having in our modern day is the imbalance in the activity of these two parts. This simply means that the sympathetic part of your brain is getting way too much action and the parasympathetic part is being completely left in the dust. However, you can successfully balance out this situation by purposefully engaging in powerful parasympathetic behavior (PB). PB is different for everyone. It is that certain person, place or thing that helps you unburden. For some people, it is taking a bath, for others it is spending time with their grandchildren and, for me, it is being outdoors near any type of wild life. The key is that you need to do it daily. Yes, that is right … daily. I have noticed that in order to break this cycle and work towards creating a balanced nervous system and therefore longer fuse, it isn’t the quantity of time spent in PB but the quality and consistency. I have a patient who lives on the west coast yet works on the east coast. Every morning when he turns on his computer he is greeted with 3 hours of work (due to the time difference) and it was making him a stress ball. So, we initiated a “power pause” for his PB. Each morning, before he turns on his computer, he stops, breaths deeply, reflects on his gratitude and purpose, reminds himself of what is really important and centers himself for his day. He started out doing this for only 3 minutes at first, but he is now up to 20. He does it daily and reports that it has helped him in all stressful situations because he feels more in “control”. WOW! I love that! It doesn’t take long to have the powerful parasympathetic part of your nervous system activated again to help you grow your fuse, balance your brain and keep your cool!