More Than Just Dirt

 

yesterday-it-rained-by-akuokuo-vallis

There’s no time like the present.  I had that scribbled on a piece of paper– taped to a window that only gets opened on nice days.  I often do that–put little reminder notes here and there–and everywhere.  And today was very warm for January.  There’s no time like the present–a personal meta message to do something unusual.

But–with yesterday’s rain– everything’s all squishy.

So squishy that a bad boy red fox with black eye liner eyes– which made him look more bookish than bandit–was able to squish under a gap in the fence and strut around the back yard like he owned it.

I put my little reminder note in my pocket.  I figured I had all day to get to it–and I would– eventually.  I even knew what I was going to do.  Kookaburra does it all the time.

yawning-by-akwelle-vallis

You should have seen Kookaburra– frantically running around, searching for every  trace of that Don Juan fox with his oh-so-obvious-nightly-howling serenades.  I envy her, though. She has an electricity about her–a particular way of expressing herself with total abandon–no matter who’s watching.

I waited until the  housekeeper across the street went home. She’s always watching.  I even know where her perch is.  Sometimes I’ll wave just to get a reaction.  Then the curtains will move.

koko-and-kookaburra-by-akwelle-vallis

With shoes and socks off–and a towel nearby– and the hose at the ready–I finally found just the right spot– and I plunged my bare feet into that super squishy, cold dirt.

And it was spectacularly exhilarating.

 

Confessions of a Wheat Belly

It has been 2 months, 1 day, 4 hours, 10 minutes and 15 seconds since my last cupcake. I am now officially grain free.  I honestly never knew I had a problem until I changed my diet.

 

img_1362

 

 

My dog, Kookaburra, has been grain free since she was a puppy. Looking back– I can now understand (and relate to) the crazy behavioral issues she had during her transition from kibble to grain free.

 

img_0790

 

Initially, I found myself secretly, quietly perusing images of cupcakes and (yes) sandwiches on the internet.  Then my wheat addiction symptoms got more serious.  I bought food magazines and cut out pictures of bread and other grain filled gems and pasted them on my bathroom wall!  I was also light headed and a tiny bit cranky.

 

 

But, to support our mother’s path to wellness and her newly prescribed grain free diet, my sisters and I have decided to remain grain free too. As Dr. William Davis, #1 New York Times Bestselling Author states, “Once wheat-free, always wheat-free is the best policy.”

 

wheat-belly-total-health-book

 

Question:  

  • Is there a difference between Gluten-Free and Grain Free? 

Answer:  Yes

  • A gluten-free diet is a diet that excludes the protein gluten. Gluten is found in grains such as wheat, barley, rye, and a cross between wheat and rye called triticale.  
  • Rice, corn, barley and oats are allowed.

 

img_0679

 

  • A Grain-Free diet is a diet that excludes all grains including wheat, rice, corn, barley and oats.  
  • According to Dr. William Davis, a Grain-Free Diet is the healthiest.

 

selfie

 

In a recent interview from https://www.wellnessmama.com, Dr. William Davis  states:

  • Wheat, harboring its hidden gliadin protein, increases appetite.
  • Wheat is a weak opiate. Eat wheat, you want more wheat, you want more carbohydrates. 
  • When we eat more grains, we gain weight and acquire all the health consequences such as hypertension, high cholesterol, arthritis, acid reflux, and diabetes. 

img_1057

 

To celebrate our new grain free life–I have decided to reincarnate my favorite popcorn snack into a non-popcorn (grain-free) snack.  It really is just as delicious.  Enjoy!

 

 

Non-Popcorn Snack

1 cup marcona almonds, salted
1/2 cup dried cherries or cranberries, sweetened
3-4 ozs. dark chocolate bar, chopped
1/2 cup manchego cheese, cubed
3 cups popcorn (eliminate)

Mix all ingredients in a bowl.

 

 

The Company of Dogs

According to https://www.medicalnewstoday.com  — looking at “puppy dog eyes” triggers a 300% increase in a person’s oxytocin levels – the “love hormone” involved in maternal bonding.

img_0675

According to https://www.Helpguide.org :

  • Dogs in particular can reduce stress, anxiety, and depression, ease loneliness, encourage exercise and playfulness, and even improve your cardiovascular health. 

 

img_2657

 

  • One study even found that when people with borderline hypertension adopted dogs from a shelter, their blood pressure declined significantly within five months.

 

  • People with dogs have lower blood pressure in stressful situations than those without pets. 

 

img_1302

 

 

  • More than any other animal, dogs have evolved to become acutely attuned to humans and our behavior and emotions.

img_3791

 

 

  • While dogs are able to understand many of the words we use, they’re even better at interpreting our tone of voice, body language, and gestures.

 

img_1299

 

 

  • And like any good human friend, a loyal dog will look into your eyes to gauge your emotional state and try to understand what you’re thinking and feeling.

img_1290

 

  • Stroking, hugging, or otherwise touching a loving animal can rapidly calm and soothe us when we’re stressed or anxious.

 

 

  • Playing with a dog or cat can elevate levels of serotonin and dopamine, which calm and relax.

 

 

  • One of the reasons for these therapeutic effects is that dogs (and cats) fulfill the basic human need to touch.

 

img_1304

 

 

  • Taking a dog for a walk, hike, or run are fun and rewarding ways to fit healthy daily exercise into your schedule.

 

 

  • Studies have shown that dog owners are far more likely to meet their daily exercise requirements

 

img_1306

 

  • And exercising every day is great for the animal as well. It will deepen the connection between you, eradicate most behavior problems in dogs, and keep your pet fit and healthy.

 

 

 

In Search of an Acupuncturist

img_3216

 

David Crow’s “In Search of the Medicine Buddha” is one of my favorite books.  It’s about an acupuncturist, David Crow, who leaves his acupuncture practice in San Francisco to study Tibetan healing practices in Nepal.

 

97576

 

When my mom first had her stroke, I knew acupuncture could help her.  The problem was finding an acupuncturist who made house calls.  When I found one who did–the next problem was convincing the nursing home/ rehab facility of the value of such a service. Long story short, they were not convinced.  The medical staff would not even allow our mother to leave the facility for acupuncture treatment. My sisters and I had to wait (3 months) until our mom was home before she could be treated by the acupuncturist.

 

pink-clouds-19x24-inches

 

When the acupuncturist, Matt Brookman (http://www.brookmanacupuncture.com), first came to our house, he asked our mom about her concerns.  Our mom said she was “miserable” and wanted to feel better.  She was in a lot of physical pain and was mentally drained. The main concerns my sisters and I had centered around our mother’s emotional state–plus her insomnia, excessive night time urination and anxiety. The acupuncturist  evaluated our mom by looking at her tongue and checking her various pulses.  The acupuncturist then explained that the meridians of the body he would be working on for stroke recovery are the same meridian points  that affect emotional balance.  A win-win for us!

 

 

According to The Academy of Classical Oriental Sciences (www.acos.org):

  • A meridian is an ‘energy highway’ in the human body. Qi (chee) energy flows through this meridian or energy highway, accessing all party of the body. Meridians can be mapped throughout the body; they flow within the body and not on the surface, meridians exist in corresponding pairs and each meridian has many acupuncture points along its path.
  • The term ‘meridian’ describes the overall energy distribution system of Chinese Medicine and helps us to understand how basic substances of the body (Qi, blood and body fluids) permeate the whole body. The individual meridians themselves are often described as ‘channels’ or even ‘vessels’ which reflects the notion of carrying, holding, or transporting qi, blood and body fluids around the body.
  • Practitioners of Chinese Medicine must be as knowledgeable about these meridian channels as the Western Doctor is about anatomy and physiology of the physical body. Without this thorough understanding, successful acupuncture treatments would be difficult. A practitioner of Chinese Medicine must know how and where to access the qi energy of the body to facilitate the healing process.

 

img_0640

 

Matt, the acupuncturist, also prescribed  Chinese Herbal Medicine for our mother. Matt ordered the herbs for us.

 

 

Our job was to cook the herbs in water and give them to our mother in the form of a tea twice a day.

 

 

Matt’s acupuncture treatments along with his prescribed medicinal tea have proven to be crucial components in our mother’s recovery.   And Kookaburra is happy because she finally has a new boyfriend!

 

img_0658

 

 

First Night Jitters

img_2606

Once we got home, my sisters and I had to figure out how to get our mom out of the car, down a few steps, onto the walkway  and into the house– in a wheelchair.  At this point our mom was unable to maneuver steps well.  The therapists at the rehab facility told us to remember, “right foot up, left foot down.”

img_1006

 

But the rain made walking more complicated.  We had to figure out another way. For some reason we thought carrying our mom in the wheelchair was the easiest option to get from A to B.  It was a clumsy mess.  But– finally we got her to the front door and eventually into the house.

 

front-door

 

Once inside, our mother was in a state of total disbelief.  It was like she was returning from war or prison.  We were  prepared for the little things like getting rid of the floor rugs and making sure we had plenty of pull-up diapers and wipes and even a bath lift and shower chair. But we were miserably ill prepared for the emotional aspect of our mother’s return. We were each experiencing a sort of PTSD.

 

 

I kept waiting for my own emotional meltdown.  I busied myself by spending time with Kookaburra.

 

steps2

The therapists warned us against installing a stair lift to get our mom from the first floor to the second floor.  They said stair lifts promote laziness. Instead they suggested bumping up the stairs.  That first night–it took us two hours to bump our mom up those fourteen steps. We were all exhausted.

img_2619

My sisters and I divided our time with our mother– giving each other breaks to avoid burnout.  I chose the night shift.  I crazily thought this would be easy.  That first night was easy.  Our mom slept like a baby.

img_1732