Sauerkraut Update

Last month, three of us spent a few hours shredding 7 giant heads of cabbage to make sauerkraut. Full story here.

Not in my kitchen! Sheesh, it’s a messy project.

Then the full 5 gallon crock sat for about 5 weeks.

Also not in my kitchen!

After about 4 weeks, I received a report that it was starting to smell funky. Those aren’t the exact words, but I can’t bring myself to type what my dad actually said. 🙂

Earlier this week, a qualified taste~tester deemed it “done” and 12 quarts were jarred up and refrigerated.

A pint sells for $12 at my local co-op, so that’s equivalent of almost $300 of kraut for about $13 worth of cabbage and salt. Plus a boat-load of probiotics. Not a bad way to spend a Sunday afternoon!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving to my American readers! May you be safe, happy, healthy, and peaceful wherever you are. 

I’m also celebrating my 20th Reiki anniversary today! It was this day in 2002 that I received my first Reiki 1 certification (I say “first” as I’ve completed the training a total of three times over the years, being the nerdy lover of learning that I am.) from my teacher and current- day friend, Laura Bruno. Thanks, Laura! ❤ I can’t imagine where I’d be without your magic. 

Many of the things for which I am thankful, today and every day, have been enhanced by my ongoing Reiki practice. Health, relationships, career, prosperity, happiness, and creativity; each has been improved by the steady influx of divinely guided life-force energy. 

Everything except my true self is being gently transformed- all the limiting beliefs, stories held in the ego-mind, suppressed emotions, blocked energy, and unhealthy coping mechanisms. I’m basically a long-term alchemy project! Reiki is removing impurities to uncover the pure essence of who I truly am; revealing the gold that had been disguised by lead. 

In the beginning I was solely interested in pain relief and being free of the chronic discomfort that subtly (and sometimes not-so-subtly!) directed every aspect of my life. Eventually I discovered the underlying mental and emotional patterns that locked the physical pain into place and began the work of exploring the psycho-spiritual realm. Over time, I began to align, step by baby step, with my soul’s purpose. I’m not saying that it was easy or pleasurable the entire time, but I was gently guided and rewarded by this magnificent force called Reiki. Knowing I wasn’t lost or alone, even when it seemed that way, gave me the courage to keep going and accept responsibility for creating the life of my dreams. 

Giving thanks is a consistent part of my daily ritual. It’s a simple way to access a higher vibration and invite more good to flow towards me. I can actually feel the energetic shift that takes place within me. This instantaneous feedback is great motivation as it feels so good!

Gratitude can be used as a spiritual bypass strategy- overriding uncomfortable emotions and shadow aspects of the self in order to feel better in the moment. That’s not what I’m suggesting here! Instead of using gratitude as yet another distraction from being present in the moment with whatever is active, it can be a useful touchstone to remind us that life is a flux of ups and downs. It’s possible to experience both grief and gratitude, anger and gratitude, fear and gratitude. There is room for it all. 

There’s always something to be grateful for, even when it might not feel that way. Oxygen. Gravity. Bees. Wifi. Indoor plumbing. Sunshine. Sticking to the basics can be an easy introduction. Next time you’re doing an inventory of that for which you are thankful, tune in to the energy of gratitude rather than merely making a mental list. That will add some oomph to your practice and open up a whole new level of well-being. 

What are you most grateful for today?

When Everything is Falling Apart

It can be really difficult when things don’t go as expected. It can be even more difficult to trust that what is falling apart is what holds us back. The good news is that you don’t have to figure anything out. It’s a simple matter of remaining present with whatever comes up in the moment. (Notice I said “simple” and not “easy”. They are often very different!)

I love how Kyle Cease breaks it all down in this 15 minute video.

There’s No Such This as “Just” Anxiety

I get so frustrated when clients come to me with chronic pain, discomfort, or uneasiness which doctors have labeled as “just” anxiety. As if anxiety isn’t real and therefore the effects of anxiety don’t matter. GAH! (Post edited to remove a lot of creative cursing!)

Recurring headaches, digestive issues, insomnia, pain, inability to focus, and skin irritations can all result from anxiety. These conditions are no less problematic than those with medical origins. To suggest that anyone should just resign to living with such challenges because they result from anxiety rather than disease is absurd.

Anxiety produces a very real physiological response that can disrupt all the body’s systems. I’m remembering a time when a friend and I went for a hike. We were having a lovely time until suddenly I thought I might have left a pot simmering on the stove. It didn’t matter that I have never done any such thing or that we’d be gone for two hours and if there was to be a fire, the damage would have already been done.

There was no logic-ing my way out of the racing heart, nausea, and muscle tension that ensued. It’s an understatement to say that I was flipping out. And when my friend refused to join me in panic mode, claiming fatigue as an excuse not to rush back, I could feel my blood pressure rising and intense anger building. (Insert image of The Incredible Hulk!) My body responded immediately with a sympathetic nervous system (AKA stress) reaction that was not helpful (and fortunately not necessary as the stove was indeed off) but very much real.

It took some time for my system to reset itself, but I eventually calmed down. Imagine experiencing a similar state of panic as a common occurrence. The body would be constantly challenged and would suffer very real physiological consequences. I’m sharing this example to illustrate the power of the body-mind connection; it’s not an accurate depiction of chronic anxiety at all, but hopefully gets my point across. This stuff is real!

If you’ve had an experience of being dismissed by the doctor from whom you sought help, I’m so sorry. This is where western medicine fails a lot of people. If the problem can’t be found with a microscope or scan, it’s considered irrelevant. Just because thoughts and emotions are outside the range of the average MD’s practice doesn’t make the situation imaginary or hopeless. Looking outside the box can provide answers that aren’t always visible from inside the system.

In addition to (thankfully) rare anxiety attacks like the one I described above; I experienced a low-grade, consistent anxiety for years. Probably decades, but I was pretty good at ignoring it in my youth and liberally applying numbing and distracting strategies as I got older.

As my spiritual practice evolved and I became more capacitated to sitting quietly and tuning in to what I was feeling, I often noticed an uncomfortable energy residing in my solar plexus that I came to label as anxiety. It wasn’t the flipping out kind, but it was ever-present and kept me from living my best life. Once I discovered its presence, I was able to treat it with Reiki and self-compassion. With consistent efforts and the invaluable practices of slowing down and saying no to opportunities and invitations that didn’t resonate, I’m happy to say that it’s mostly absent. It appears upon occasion with a message that I’ve made a decision that isn’t aligned with my values, and when I correct my trajectory, it fades automatically.

Anxiety doesn’t need to be a lifetime sentence. In addition to prescription medications, there are a wide variety of complementary and alternative holistic options. It’s one of the most frequent complaints I hear from Reiki students and clients, who report relief with consistent treatment. Psychotherapy, meditation, herbal remedies, flower essences, aromatherapy, enjoyable movement, EFT, nutrition, and yoga are just a few of the strategies besides Reiki that can have effective results. Sometimes the shift comes from reevaluating a relationship, living situation, or career.

What if anxiety is the body’s way of telling us something is off and requires our attention? Ignoring such a message can have destructive consequences over time; like taking the battery out of the smoke detector to stop the noise. There are lots of ways to treat anxiety, and likely one that suits your personality, lifestyle, and resources. I’ve gone the DIY approach myself, and guide others who wish to follow this same path, as well as those who seek professional help from a Reiki Master.

One thing is for sure- it’s not going to magically disappear. Nor will the symptoms. If your doctor has let you down, please seek assistance elsewhere. That might be as simple as looking up “breathing exercises for anxiety” on the web or scheduling a long-distance Reiki session. Such an easy step might be adequate to calm down enough so that you can figure out what the next steps are.

“Stop trying to heal yourself…”

Wow! I just love this quote from Jeff Foster. It matches my personal journey of accepting all the things as they are. It’s impossible to be whole if any part of me has been rejected, so I’m choosing to welcome everything. It’s a practice with a steep learning curve, but every step forward results in greater peace within.

“Stop trying to heal yourself, fix yourself, even awaken yourself. Let go of letting go. Stop trying to fast-forward the movie of your life, chasing futures that never seem to arrive. Instead, bow deeply to yourself as you actually are. Your pain, your sorrow, your doubts, your deepest longing, your fearful thoughts…are not mistakes, and they aren’t asking to be healing. They are asking to be held. Here, now, lightly, in the loving arms of present awareness.”

― Jeff Foster, Beyond Awakening: The End of the Spiritual Search

For Those Who FEEL it All

Last week I was in a workshop with 27 people. The facilitator asked for a show of hands: who had ever had the experience of being “too much”? 26 hands shot up. 27 actually, because I raised both of mine! The outlier was having internet difficulties and off camera, so it’s possible that we were unanimously agreed.

I’m not going to even attempt to define what being too much means. This isn’t that kind of post.

Instead, I have a song to share for everyone who feels it all and believes they’re too much. You’re not alone!

It’s a sweet melody with touching lyrics. I think it’s worth the short ad YouTube requires.

Here’s the link if you’d rather purchase it. I bought the album and have been listening on repeat today. <3.

Motivation for Practicing Self-Care

A new friend recently asked me how I motivate myself to do all the practices that keep me well. He finds it hard to believe that I prioritize spending time every morning tending to body, mind, and spirit. It all feels like a chore to him even though he sees the value in putting in the effort to influence the inflammation and mood disorder that plague him consistently.

My short answer is, I’m motivated by a desire to avoid pain. Secondarily by the desire to actually feel good. Because I know that when I regularly tend to myself, my baseline hovers between content and joyful, and I like it there! I wish I had some lofty, awakened, altruistic piece to add, but really it’s the age-old strategy of avoiding pain and seeking pleasure that fuels my efforts. 

Decades of experimentation have revealed a personalized formula that is consistently reviewed and adjusted, but more or less ongoing. I meditate first thing in the morning because it gets me in touch with my deepest self and internal wisdom. It feels good to experience this connection while starting my day off intentionally. I like to spend a few minutes reading something inspirational to elevate my mood. Currently, “The Four Agreements” sits on my coffee table, next to my journal, where I flush out all the thoughts, helpful and unhelpful, onto the page to clear my mind. 

This sets the stage for creative writing, which is my current challenge in terms of motivation. When I make the time to express myself, a wonderful sense of purpose and joy emerges. My body needs some sort of activity to prevent pain and potentially enjoy pleasure. I have chosen a “movement” practice, often dancing or bouncing, sometimes yoga or hiking, because that sounds a lot more inviting than “exercise”. Just that word brings up dread! And to top it off, I nourish myself. I’ve come upon the perfect combination of macros that works for me and keeps me satisfied and stable for several hours. 

A good part of making all this happen is the devotion. I’ve decided that these efforts are valuable, and designed them to fit into my life in a way that best suits my needs and availability. I’m a morning person, so I load up on the yummy stuff that allows me to coast through the day, and rest in the evening when my energy drops. This isn’t a good plan for everyone, but it totally works for me. Your plan should work for YOU! 

Another piece of the puzzle is planning. Breakfast doesn’t happen but looking in the cupboard at the last minute and wondering how mustard and noodles can become a nourishing dish. I keep myself set up for all these steps, which is why the book, the journal, and the pens are all within easy reach and my tea kettle gets set up before bed. Today I managed a visit to the farmers market before before work so I would have a stocked frig and the opportunity to do some food prep on my day off.

So we have devotion and preparation as two key elements. The third is Reiki. My daily Reiki practice is intended to heal and support myself. This helps remove any blockages so that I can remember why I go through all these steps every day. To FEEL GOOD. It also helps me when the resistance arises- not to squash it, but to investigate and then compassionately tend to the parts of myself that have other ideas about how to best use my morning. There’s often a negotiation that ensues, with younger aspects of myself demanding freedom. They get their say, and often a promise for downtime or screen time later in the day, and I allow my mature self to make the decisions.

Another helpful factor is setting the bar reasonably low, AKA setting myself up for success. My movement commitment is an easy 10 minutes. Once I get going, I usually continue longer than that, but having such a doable goal makes it much easier to begin. If I faced an hour-long goal, it would feel oppressive and I’d likely make all sorts of excuses to avoid it altogether. 

Now, there are some other items on my to-do list that don’t respond to this same strategy. Things I don’t actually want to do are an entirely different story! I think it’s important to acknowledge this. If there’s something you continually aren’t doing, there’s a good chance you’re just not into it. Is it negotiable? Often we carry the “shoulds” from cultural or familial programming and once we realize that this “should” isn’t in alignment with our own desires, it can be liberating to let it go. 

Other items might be obligatory. Like vacuuming. UGH! I don’t like vacuuming one bit. But I do enjoy having a clean floor, so I focus on the end result and offer myself a reward (a leisurely walk or a hot bath, for example) for accomplishing the less-than-pleasant task. 

To sum it all up, I don’t really need to motivate much because I like pleasure and dislike pain. Over time, I’m made consistent baby steps and created the circumstances to move in that direction. Meditation was first. The rest followed, bit by bit. Most of my good habits were developed on an average of one per year. That’s both doable and has an amazing cumulative effect when you keep at it. It’s not to hard to keep at it when you are enjoying the rewards and have Reiki on your side. 

Happy Reiki Day!

I’m so excited to be on the receiving end of a remote Reiki session today!!! A few weeks ago I’m was feeling pretty worn down and recognized that I needed some extra support. I remember listening to a podcast where the woman being interviewed recommended getting LOTS of support, not just the bare minimum. I chuckled to myself, and thought, hmmm… that’s what I’ve been doing! Just getting the minimum to keep going and relying, over-relying actually, on my self-care routines.

It took me a few moments to figure out what would be the most helpful. The idea of dragging myself to yet another appointment, potentially trading working hours for relaxation, didn’t resonate at all. Even trying out a new-to-me bodyworker in the neighborhood didn’t float my boat. These things are so subjective! 

I’m not sure why it took so long for me to figure out that thing that would help me the most is the thing I most often recommend. Didn’t see the forest for all the tree, I guess. 🙂 I booked a long-distance session with my teacher, Laura Bruno, who happens to live 1,000 miles away. No worries. Reiki can travel. And it can bend time, so I’ve set up my session so that she can do it during her working hours, and arrange for it to arrive at 10pm. When I will be off my feet, no longer tending to busyness or business, tucked into bed and maximally receptive. 

Even we caretakers need some caretaking. I seem to have taken on the role of the caretakers’ caretaker, as I have many clients who are in heavy duty caretaking roles. They come to me for support when they get depleted, or better yet to prevent getting depleted. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that I need to keep my own tank full so I can keep operating. And tomorrow morning, I will wake up with a full tank, magically restored while I was resting. 

How does it get better than that?