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Check In #2 – Crash and Reboot

Check In #2 – Crash and Reboot

 

Well, it’s been another couple weeks. I had a pretty bad time for a couple weeks around the most recent holiday. No, it wasn’t the holiday itself. I think it was the pizza.

Yes. Pizza. I had been on the right track. The nettle tea was immediately helpful. However, I’d slacked off drinking the herbal tea. To be honest, I was mostly drinking cocoa, see previous blog for Yum! Not that it’s bad, but it’s not GOOD, like the nettle tea. I was eating well, and I started to slide, which always becomes an avalanche. I know that. Carbs lead to Sugar, leads to Coffee (my gateway drug), which leads to Latte’s…..soon I am drinking a Carmello a day…..and not sleeping.

There was pizza. And I ate the pizza. It was Mother’s Day! Then we had potatoes. Then we had hotdogs. Hotdogs aren’t even on my list as a food product, and normally I would eat without the bun – if I were forced to. However, we were running late – so I ate the hotdog and I ate the bun, then some crackers, and then ice-cream. I ran out of Walking Oatmeal for breakfast. Before I knew it I was getting latte’s on the way to work.

I stopped sleeping very well.

Well, that is no surprise!

***

I feel that we have to break down. It helps us define what is not working, or not working as well as we would like. Only through our failures do we learn about our successes. We learn what to fix. We re-tinker and make things work better. Where are the fragilities in the life-system I am trying to create? What are the behaviour patterns I fall into, which are not supportive? Say -why do we have so many carbs and lectins in the house?

I had already stagnated. I did not have all the pieces together. I knew one big piece I wasn’t doing. I wasn’t exercising. I was being sedentary, as per the CDC definition of >2.5 hours of moderate intensity exercise per week.

Yes, my stress had increased. Yes, yoga was nice, meditation was important. For me, however, herbs, diet, sleep….and exercise are my foundation. I was without one of my main supports. It’s hard to rebuild, while missing such an important piece.

Having started the process of actually changing my life, i.e. I’ve taken actions that will eventually pay off. I am however, still waiting for those changes to go into effect. This has actually increased my external stressors. I found myself going through periods of anger, then sadness, then calm, then…..the awful lethargy.

I started gently adding some exercise to my routine. Immediately I quit feeling cra-cray. Finding a way to change my habits, to allow myself to live healthier and more fully – that is the challenge.

Serendipitously, I later talked to a friend of mine. He is a researcher, by training and heart, and had put many of these things, and much more, into what is really a coaching program. He markets it to parents of autistic children, but it is applicable in any crash-and-burn situation. (Contact info at the bottom of the blog.)

This whole thing – It’s not Rocket Surgery, as my handsome fiancé likes to say. You know what to do – Rest, Eat a healthy diet, Exercise, Meditate, Drink some Water, Go Outside, Get some Sunshine, Be with People whom you like (Community), Sing.

You know the stuff… Me too.

We just have to do it.

That’s the only hard part.

 

So….. let’s go do it!

 

by Tama Cathers

 

For more information regarding my friend Chad Hinkle and his programs, contact:

chad@chadhinklemarketingresearch.com

For Coaching/ Autism: http://peopledecoder.com

For Marketing and Research: http://www.chadhinklemarketingresearch.com

 

 

Burnout and Stress

Quitting

Quitting

 

I quit my job. That’s not true – it’s more than.

I am quitting my profession.

That too is not true. I am giving up my belief in my profession. There will still be hours and days and month of work, maybe even extending into years.

 

 

Sometimes we open our eyes and the truth is seen.  Not uncommonly, this is very unpleasant.  We may have spent years not seeing certain things.  In addition, it is difficult to unsee what you have seen, to not know what you know. Some would say it’s impossible.

I opened my eyes during a CE course on stress reduction in my profession. I am a veterinarian.  I know – puppies and kittens all day.  Well…it’s not really like that.  It is a highly stressed, highly leveraged industry.  Recently, we lost several prominent veterinarians to suicide. I personally deeply felt the loss of Dr. Sophia Yin, the veterinarian who really brought Low Stress Animal Handling, and Fear Free vet care to the fore front. “They” started taking a look and studying our profession.  Recently the information has started to come out.   More and more, information is being accessible and presented – for those who want to hear.  At my last continuing education conference there was one course on stress burn out and meditation.   I went for the meditation.  What I found out: My profession is now rated as the number one job for suicide, suicide ideation, burnout and compassion fatigue. I guess that warrants being studied.

I went in to the lecture fairly dubious.  I seated myself next to the door, so I could leave if I got bored. A social worker, speaking at the conference, laid it all out for me. Each item she ticked off, I said “Oh! Yes – that’s true! And that. Plus there’s a lot more stressors than that, which she obviously isn’t even aware of. But Oh Dear! They only see a fraction of the tolls this work takes .”

I guess I was ready to be educated. I wasn’t ready to have the veils torn off my eyes. I pondered this new information, this new vision for several months. I have to admit, I think this seeing was my undoing.

After, I could never hold it together, blithely sail through the daily stresses, unaware. I couldn’t not see the stressors, and that was a problem. I kept noting them. I watched as they followed me and my fellow workers around.

That fuzzy one, that is Overwork – if feels so good, as you ‘Do Good’ – but like a giant leech, it sucks the life out of you!

That one over there is Referred Trauma. I know – It’s so tiny! It’s just a little bit of someone else’s story. But those bits stick to you. When you get hundreds or so of them on you…

That one beside it, yes, the bigger one, the one that looks like that aggressive dog, who can’t be restrained, muzzled, touched or even tranquilized, and who’s owner is saying he would never bite us, but also won’t hold onto the leash? That one is just plain old Trauma, much scarier than it’s cute little cousin. Still, you can just herd one of those big guys out the door. And usually you can.

The problems is they still hang out in the parking lot, attach their trunks and suckers to your cars – and follow you home. You don’t think they’ve moved in, until you can see them again, in herds roaming around your kitchen. Suddenly, you’re angry with your daughter for not finishing her homework, but don’t bounce back from it like you should, you can’t sleep at night, and forget romance!

 

“Veterinarians suffer from feelings of hopelessness, depression, and other psychiatric disorders two to three times more often than the general population,” quotes a Boston Globe article. One third (1/3rd) have anxiety, and another third are borderline for anxiety. (That equals 2/3rds of the veterinarians!!) 47% scored high on emotional exhaustion. 67% of female veterinarians showed clear signs of burnout and another study showed that 53% of male veterinarians were also in this category. Another report – 75% of vets studied fell below the average for resiliency. (Can Vet J. 2015 Jan; 56(1): 89–92.)

I can attest to that. My resiliency was in the crapper. That is why I started this blog and my herbal/food medicine. I got the flu and couldn’t recover. Of course behind that was, surgery, steroids, travel, moving, remodeling, poor social connection, divorces, custody suits, and a host of other stressors. But I got to the point that I could not physically recover. I certainly also had the burnout, stress and suffering. In the List of Signs and Triggers of Compassion Fatigue below, I tagged at least 11 of the 14 signs in Feb 2017.

Two studies published in the British Veterinarian Association’s journal, The Veterinary Record, found suicide rates are double or more those of dentists and doctors, and four to six times higher than the general population. 16% veterinarians have considered suicide, 9% have attempted suicide, and 49% felt they were still at risk to repeat such attempts, according to a 2014 CDC study.

Again, I totally understand this. My wishes for a tree to accidentally fall across the road and kill me, have never, thankfully, been realized. When I really noticed the places to where I have gone, AND I got a pretty simple flu and could not recover, I decide to make changes in my life. I prefer to have a life, versus a tree falling on me. In addition, I prefer to have a life, over having an existence.

 

My personal belief is that veterinarian medicine is a whole lot more stressful for a whole lot more reasons than even the outsiders see. I also believe that those in the industry, i.e. veterinarians, are blind to most of these stresses, most of the times. When we do see them, we blow them off. They still exist, they are part of the package. Unless you rip our blinders off, we won’t even see the boogiemen in the corner. and there is a reason for that – We don’t want to!!!

We like being veterinarian’s and we really want to do our best for everyone. That doesn’t make it a stress free career, it just makes it a blind career.

I love my profession. I am proud of the work I did to get here, the fact I Do Good in the world, that I make a difference, and can feeding my family through my work as a veterinarian. However, it is not longer a good place to be. It is no longer safe. I suspect it never was. So for now, I am taking a break. It may only be a few weeks or a few months. I may come back to my profession with a new outlook, or a new role. But for now – I am checking out.

I am trying to learn how to slow down. I am learning how to breathe, how to take the time to do a hour of yoga a couple of times a week. I am learning how to drive the speed limit, come to a full and complete stop at stop signs. I am blogging about my experiences as I change.

 

Resources and Notes:

Here is a list of Signs and Triggers of Compassion Fatigue from the Book Professional Burnout….

  • Exhaustion
  • Reduced ability to feel sympathy and empathy
  • Anger and irritability
  • Increased use of alcohol and drugs
  • Dread of working with certain clients/patients / staff
  • Diminished sense of joy of career
  • Disruption to worldview, heightened anxiety or irrational fears
  • Intrusive imagery or dissociation
  • Hypersensitivity or insensitivity to emotional material
  • Difficulty separating work life from personal life
  • Absenteeism – missing work, taking many sick days
  • Impaired ability to make decisions and care for clients/patients
  • Problems with intimacy and in personal relationships
  • Poor client care and low competition rates of clinical and administrative duties

 

Why do so many veterinarians commit suicide? – The Boston Globe

By Sy Montgomery SEPTEMBER 19, 2016https://www.bostonglobe.com/lifestyle/2016/09/18/why-many-veterinarians-commit-suicide/iCCgr46bIJpgEeesPHTe2L/story.html

Can Vet J. 2015 Jan; 56(1): 89–92. Suicide in veterinary medicine: Let’s talk about it. by Debbie L. Stoewen

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4266064/
JAVMA – Studies confirm poor well-being in veterinary professionals, students

https://www.avma.org/News/JAVMANews/Pages/160501c.aspx

 

Veterinarians are four times more likely than the average person to commit suicide and twice as likely as other healthcare professionals.

http://veterinarynews.dvm360.com/farewell-dr-sophia-yin

 

More than one in six veterinarians might have contemplated suicide since graduation. The survey results, based on answers from more than 10,000 practicing veterinarians

https://www.avma.org/news/javmanews/pages/150401d.aspx

Notes from he Field: Prevalence of Risk Factors for Suicide among Veterinarians – United Stated, 2014. CDC – February 13, 2015 / 64(05);131-132, Randall J. Nett, MD, et. al.

https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm6405a6.htm

 

Workplace stress, mental health, and burnout of veterinarians in Australia (PDF Download Available). Available from: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/51728726_Workplace_stress_mental_health_and_burnout_of_veterinarians_in_Australia [accessed Jun 12, 2017].

Professional Burnout, Vicarious Trauma, Secondary Traumatic Stress, and Compassion Fatigue…. Jason M. Newell and Gordon A. MacNeil (pg. 59), p.45 in Rank, Zaparanick, Gentry reading

 

food

Roasted Sweet Potato Hunks – Loving Goodness for Your Body

Roasted Sweet Potato Hunks of Loving Goodness for Your Body

Sweet Potatoe, Oh Sweet Potatoes!

My fiancé is the source of this Good Eat. He is my Sweet Potato – even more so when he makes these Roasted Sweet Potato Hunks.  He is a master of the grill. Even in the winter, he will grill these up. When we run out of gas, he consents to Roasting them in the oven, sweetie that he is. Me – I don’t grill. I roast. So whatever your preference – try these sweeties out.

Ingredients:

Sweet Potatoes – ½ to 1 per person

Olive Oil

Salt or Season Salt

A cooking device of your choice. We are going to talk about ovens and grills, but feel free to morph.

Instructions:

Cut sweet potatoes length wise into slices 3/8th – ½ inch thick.

Brush or spray with olive oil

Sprinkle with salt.

Cook until center is soft, and outside is slightly browned: Grill on medium 15-30 minutes, checking every 5-10 minutes. Or in an Oven at 350 for 30 – 45 minutes, broil the tops if necessary. One cheat step is to microwave them a few minutes, after you slice, oil and salt them.

Comments:

I personally love them browned to slightly blackened. Given our lack of carbs; potatoes and grains, these babies save me very often. I can eat them without having the cravings I usually get after most carbs.  And they are so sweet, this way.  They are like candy – honestly!

My dog, who lived to be 20, loved sweet potatoes. When we planted the he let us know when they were ready, digging them up just the day before I was ready, or stealing them out of the wheel barrow if I forgot them.

Even in Michigan, I am able to grow some sweet potatoes (apparently for my dog). The trick is to find a nursery that stocks them or to order them at the right time. They are not frost tolerant.

Other ways to incorporate sweet potatoes: add sweet potatoes and nuts to your salad, make sweet potatoe oven baked chips or roasted fries ( Love these too), make a sweet hummus.

Facts about Sweet Potatoes

Random Facts: Sweet potatoes are swollen roots of goodness, whereas regular potatoes are underground stems (tubers).

Sweet potatoes are native plants of Central and South America. They have been grown for over 10,000 years.

Christopher Columbus took sweet potatoes to Europe after his first voyage to the New World in 1492. They were grown commercially in the United States by the 1500’s. George Washington grew sweet potatoes at Mount Vernon. George Washington Carver – remember him and peanuts? Great Guy!  He developed 118 products from sweet potatoes, including molasses, synthetic rubber, glue for postage stamps and ink. (He was Amazing!)

North Carolina’s official state vegetable is the sweet potato.

I love North Carolina!

You can wear shorts at least one day every month, all year round, yet it has snow, oceans, and a beautiful drawl! Oh the green of it all!

VARIETIES

There are two varieties of sweet potatoes, firm and soft. The first variety to be grown was the Firm variety, and it was called….sweet potato. When the second variety, the soft variety, started to be grown, it needed a name to designate it. Since these soft sweet potatoes resembled yams of Africa, African slaves called them yams, and later the US Agriculture department took that designation.

They are not, however, yams, which you are unlikely to find in any supermarket, except perhaps a small international market. They are just the soft variety of sweet potato. Yams and sweet potatoes are not even botanically related. Sweet potatoes are in the morning glory family (– who knew! I didn’t!) Yams are related to lilies and grasses. (Again- who knew!)

Colors: In the United States, the orange variety is the most common, however, they also come in white, yellow, pink and purple varieties. The orange and yellow pack the most vitamin A, while the purple sort is great for antioxidants.

While both African yams and American sweet potatoes are fine foods, sweet potatoes have higher concentrations of most nutrients and more fiber, providing greater nutritional benefits than yams do. African Yams are drier and starchier. Sweet potatoes are….sweeter.

NUTRIENTS

It would be easiest to list some of the varied nutrients in sweet potatoes: are an excellent source of vitamin A, vitamin C, magnesium, copper, potassium, phosphorus, vitamin B1 (thiamin), vitamin B2 (riboflavin), vitamin B3 (niacin), vitamin B6 (pyridoxine), vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid), dietary fiber, carotenoids, choline, among other nutrients.

This means a lot of benefits: as an overview, they are good for blood sugar control, heart health, reducing stress, promoting relaxation, increasing immunity, cancer prevention, improving vision, skin and hair. They improve digestion, fertility and have anti-inflammatory properties. I will go over these in a little more detail.

The darker colored orangey ones are high in carotenoids, which are precursors to Vitamin A. They help our eyesight and have been found to decrease macular degeneration.   They also boost immunity, reduce cancer, and help with aging. A study from Women’s Healthy Eating and Living (WHEL) found that women with the highest levels of carotenoids had the least likelihood of cancer recurrence. Similarly, studies have shown carotenoids reduce occurrence of prostate cancer and colon cancer.

“For women of childbearing age, consuming more iron from plant sources appears to promote fertility, vision, reduce macular degeneration, heart health, immunity, reducing inflammation, and adding sleep and memory, “says Megan Ware in an article in MedicalNewsToday.

Choline and magnesium both improve nerve functioning, promote relaxation, sleep and reduce stress. High potassium (reasonable high) intake of Potassium is associated with a 20% reduction in risk of dying form all causes, in a report found here: (Increasing Dietary Potassium – Find Out Why Most People Need to Consume More of This Mineral, Today’s Dietitian Vol. 14 No. 12 P. 50, Accessed 13 February 2014.)

They are lower in sodium and have fewer calories than white potatoes — although they do have more sugar. Lower sodium is associated with healthier cardiovascular systems.In addition, they have this wonderful oddity. For a starchy vegetable, unlike others, they do not rapidly increase blood sugar. No blood sugar spikes! This is a benefit that occurs even in people with type 2 diabetes.

There is even more good news, the Beauregard sweet potato, which I personally have purchased at garden centers and grown in both Ohio and SE Michigan, may help control blood sugar. It is similar to a Japanese nutrient supplement called Caiapo, marketed to control blood sugar in diabetic.

RISKS

There are few risks if eaten in moderation, but they do mention some skin reactions – I believe you can turn a bit orange if you contentiously gorge on them for too long, and I suppose some people may be a little allergic if they roll around in the leaves, etc. (I am just making this last part about the leaves up – but it could happen.)  They may not be the best thing to consume large amounts of if you have a problem with oxalates and kidney stones. If you are on Beta-blockers, the high potassium could potentially be a problem, again – so eat with moderation. That is just plain sense. I love them – but I would never eat enough to turn orange! (I won’t speak for rolling around in them, and though I hate to say never, I never have done this yet.)

INFORMATION

For more information, go to the reference section and check out the article from livescience.com. I thought this article was well laid out, by health categories and covered a large amount of territory. While I want to chew it up and spit it back out for you, it will be easiest on us all if you just go to this excellent article and read up, while eating some oven roasted sweet potatoes!

References

SweetPotatoes.com, Facts on Sweet Potatoes:

Everyday Mysteries, Library of Congress website

http://www.boiled-peanut-world.com/george-washington-carver-inventions.html, George Washington Carver Site

http://www.livescience.com/46016-sweet-potato-nutrition.html, Regarding the Beauregard sweet potato:

http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/281438.php

http://www.care2.com/greenliving/9-reasons-t

 

Disclaimer: I am not a physician. No information here is intended to diagnose, treat or otherwise address human or animal health issues.  In addition, each species is different, so what may be healthful in one species is not necessarily non-toxic in another species.  This blog pro­vides gen­eral infor­ma­tion and dis­cus­sion about herbs, diet, exercise, stress,  health and related sub­jects.  The words and other con­tent pro­vided in this blog, and in any linked mate­ri­als, are not intended and should not be con­strued as med­ical advice. If the reader or any other per­son has a med­ical con­cern, he or she should con­sult with an appropriately-licensed physi­cian or other health care worker.

 

 

 

Personal Wisdom

Being Brave – Telling our Stories – A Prelude

Being Brave – Telling our Stories – A Prelude

I believe our stories have the ability to connect us, to make us feel that we are not alone, and to heal us. There is healing in our stories.  Knowing that you are not the only one who has felt the way you do, or has gone through the things you are going through – that is the medicine we all need.

Storytelling and story hearing are important tools. When we tell our stories over and over again, we become attached to the story, in a sense we become one with the story. However, when we hear our own stories, or something like our own story, from outside ourselves, then we break that cycle. The stories become just that. A story. Outside yourself. No longer breaking your insides. This is why when we hear others stories, and hear our own stories within them, we sit up and take notice. We nod our heads, and often have a huge sense of relief. This is why I will tell my story.

I believe what I have to say will be important -for someone out there.  Actually, I know it is important.  I have done the research and read the statistics: I know I will strike a chord. It may even save a real life, and living body that goes with it. (My opinion: No one can save their changing metaphorical life – I though I made that clear in a previous blog. Your life is going to die again and again – and you are going to have to recreate it again and again.) Maybe it will just ease some pain, either way – that is what I am after.

We all need connection and normalization. It has saved my life, well…at least my sanity! When I hear someone else’s stories, I feel better. I think: “Oh! I feel that way,” “I felt that way,” “I thought I was the only one in this situation,” “I thought I was crazy!” Whenever this happens for me, I also have a healing that comes with knowing I am not alone. If you made it through, I can.

I want to be brave and tell you what is falling apart. But to be honest, I am still scared. Almost too, scared. Almost.

To actually say what I am going through – out loud – is terrifying. This from the woman who will jump on crocodiles in the dark of the night in foreign continents, capture wild red wolves with a net, hike the Appalachian Trail alone, drink almost any strange beverage, and jump into almost frozen lakes on every continent!

But, but…. What if I change my mind. What if people who I still want to like and respect me, decide that they don’t like or respect my choices? What if I let slip the secret that life is not perfect? That jobs or careers are not perfect? That other people are not perfect?

Not only am I not perfect, but now the whole world is subject to inspection. That is a terrible, terrible thing to do to everyone else, with their perfectly built facades of lives, relationships, careers, health, etc. I dread the feed back. What if I crush your dreams? What if you will no longer love/respect/hire/talk to me, because I told you that it is an imperfect world and I am not happy right now?

I know, those fears seem stupid. I know we all have imperfect lives. I know we all need to be fed stories of others losses, failures, stumbles, and humanity. I know it’s medicine to give and medicine to hear.

As I gear up to be honest with my transitions and struggles, I allow myself the space to prevaricate. (I love that word! It is so uncommon that I get to use it! Definition included below.)

With that as a prelude, I will talk about Sweet Potatoes next week. Then there may be some Jackfruit. Then I will talk to you. Then I will tell you some Stories. I hope you will be better for them.

***

Prevaricate – pri-var-i-keyt – verb. To speak or act in an elusive way. Synonyms: Equivocate, to be evasive, beat around the bush, to shilly-shally, (now isn’t that a nice term!), to dodge the issue,  to sidestep the issue, to waffle. Example “She seemed to prevaricate when asked pointed questions about what she is talking about.”

by Tama Cathers

 

Food Medicine

Asian Beef Broth Soup

Asian Beef Broth Soup

It was rainy and cold and I was out of ideas for dinner one day. Craving this type of soup, I found a several recipes, made changes, and ended up with this soup. I like stir frying the veggies separately, as it keeps them from becoming over cooked. This requires a little more effort, and there is the standard recipe at the bottom.

I think this soup could be made in to a cool summer time alternative, if I were organized enough to not be starving when I made it. Still, it’s savory in the winter and not too hot in the summer. It passes the taste test for my kid, and when the veggies were kept separated, added just before eating, it traveled well, unlike second day Pho!

Lots of Veggies. Warm & Soothing. Quick to make. I like this soup very much!

 

Asian Beef Broth Soup

Ingredients:

1 ½ cup rice – Bonton (semi-sticky white) or Jasmine work well

1lb ground turkey or ground beef, cooked into large chunks over medium heat or 1 lb stew meat in 1 inch cubes

½ Tablespoon Olive Oil

1/2 teaspoon Sesame Seed Oil

*

4 Cups Beef Broth, or Beef Bone Broth

¼ Cup Soy Sauce

¼ cup Sake or Cooking Sherry

2 Teaspoons Sesame Seed Oil

4-6 green onions chopped

3 Tablespoons Brown Sugar

1-2 cloves minced garlic or 1 scant teaspoon prepared garlic

1 Tablespoon minced fresh ginger, or 1 ½ teaspoon minced ginger

*

1 ½ cup sliced carrots

1 ½ cup sliced bokchoy    (I love this stuff)

1 cup Chinese pea pods (flat) or green pea pods (puffy)

1 ½ cup sliced mushrooms

(I like portabella’s, shitake is nice too, but doesn’t pass the daughter-taste test)

Hot sauce: Sriracha or Ground Chili Garlic Oil

 

Instructions:

Start rice.

In a cooking pot, brown the meat on all sides. Drain meat if necessary (beef). Add beef broth, soy sauce, sherry, brown sugar, sesame seed oil, garlic and ginger. Have a sip of sherry. See – it’s only worth cooking with! Good thing your not drinking!  Cover bring to a boil and simmer for 10 – 20 minutes.

Stir fry the vegetables and add separately to soup. Cook carrots on high for 3-5 minutes, add bokchoy stem pieces for 2 minutes, then add onions, leafy bokchoy and mushrooms, stir intermittently, until tender, then add the pea pods last, so everything is still fresh and brightly colored.

Add hot sauce to flavor.

Serve jasmine rice, or optionally: finish rice by adding sushi seasoning to bonton rice and stir well while hot.

Serve soup, add vegetables, and finish with a scoop of rice in the bowl. Serve hot, or in summer, slightly cooled.

Notes:

Alternatively you can add the vegetables to the broth. Add carrots first, cook until starting to become slightly tender, but still bright – 5 to 10 minutes. Add the rest of the vegetables and cook 3 to 5 minutes so color is bright and tenders or vegetables are just slightly tender. It is harder to maintain freshness in the vegetables if you cook the soup this way, and left-over’s are not as nice, but it is easier, so warrants mention!

Herbal:

To add some herbal medicine, other than the fresh veggies, consider using some shitake mushrooms, and definitely throw in a slice of Astragalus root (often found at Asian Markets or health food stores, some Gobo root (Burdock – found at Asian Markets).

Burdock Information:

My daughter loves it, I think it’s fine, we think it tastes like celery. My fiancé dislikes it. He says it tastes like flowers, and is not something he wants in his soup.

Burdock root, with the Japanese name ‘Gobo’, and the scientific name Arctium lappa, is the tap root of a burdock, grown as a vegetable and flavoring agent in Asian cooking.

It is considered a winter tonic in Western herbal medicine, thus, it goes in most of my soups in the winter. It’s herbal actions also include use of the roots, seeds and leaves.

It is a perennial in the Asteraceae Family. There are no know side effects from Burdock or drug interactions, however , it is reported that you can get contact dermatitis from handling the plant. I suspect this means the whole plant and not the nice little roots you can by at Asian markets.

It is a great source of manganese and magnesium, calcium, phosphorus, iron, or copper.  It also has good amounts of folate, vitamin C, and pantothenic acid. Burdock has a high inulin, a prebiotic, it supports the growth of healthy bacteria. However, it is important to cook it well, or it can give you gas.

“The Difference between a Weed and a Flower is a Judgment” –  Unknown

 

by Tama Cathers

Burdock
Burdock in the ‘wild’
IMG_4026
Soup broth

IMG_4027

IMG_4028
Spicy options
IMG_4034
Second Day Soup
IMG_4028
Spicy options

 

Personal Wisdom, yoga

Breathing

Breathing

 

As my life falls apart and reforms itself, I am breathing. I know – it sounds so….

Innocuous. Ineffective. Inactive. Stupid. New-Age-y. Hippy Dippy – like who in the hell is that going to help?

 

Well – I think it will help me.

Remember started this whole blogging gig because I needed to change my life. Now my life is changing, and it’s really scary. And – really boring. Nothing is happening! Plus – everything is going too quickly. All at the same time.

So first, let’s talk about boredom. I must have a pathological fear of boredom. I hate the idea of just sitting, say waiting for my daughter to get out of school, just….sitting Sitting! Waiting…. for minutes at a time! Not getting some task accomplished! Ugh! I can hardly stand it. This paranoia of having nothing to do is what causes me to bring 3 times more work with me than I would ever think to get to. It also causes me to always be late, as I squeeze one more thing in. Yes, I CAN do a full weeks grocery shopping in 15 minutes – as long as things go perfectly well!

 

So back to breathing: I am taking this yoga teacher training. It is a wonderful system my long time teacher has been following for decades. As part of the training I got videos for home practice.

About 15 minutes into first video, the earth flow, still in a seated position, I wondered just how long this video was. Geez! I was still on the floor!

Twenty five minutes into it, I was thoroughly bored. I had Things To Do! Now I’d been seated, or on my back in a fetal position for almost a half hours. I rolled my eyes, and tried to breathe. The roommate in my mind, you know the one you can’t get rid of, and who never shuts up – the inner critic Yes! That one said, “How can you breathe, when you are so BORED!!!” “I am trying to be quite, and do my yoga!” I said to my inner critic. “This isn’t how MY teacher does it!” said the room-mate.  “This is the same flow she teaches, and the same training she took,” I said back.  “But it’s too sssslloooowww!” she said and stomped her foot. “OMG. I am going to die!”  Then an all out fight exploded between myself my talkative whiny ass roomate.

Fnally, we caming to terms that I was the winner, not the room-mate in my mind. We looked over at the clock – twenty seven minutes!

I breathed and followed the video. What would it be like, I wondered, if I just DID this? What if I just let this be what I do, for an hour, or however long this video is. What if this is exactly what I need to do: breathe and stretch. I made a commitment to myself – I was going to do the whole video, they whole time.  Yes, I might die –  but I was damn sure I’d die doing this  F ’ing slow yoga video!

I am not sure how I made it through. It was more like 60 of molasses than 60 minutes of yoga.

It was just what I needed. When I got to the end, relaxing in yoga nidra….I didn’t want to stop.

Don’t think this was the end of the battle, however.

 

Then next time I put on the next video, we were doing a ‘water’ flow. Instead of spending an hour on my back, I spent an hour on my belly. I wanting to walk away, again. I counseled myself to stay. It was so SLOW! It was so boring! Yes, but I would just breathed my way through it. I felt crazy. I felt like crying. Yes, but I reminded myself, of a story of a woman who started meditating. She cried through her first 90 days of meditating.

That is exactly what I felt like. Okay, I might have cried a little, which is when my inner room-mate made fun of me, stuck out her tongue, then left to do something ‘interesting.’ Which obviously wasn’t me!

 

The third yoga flow – Air. We did endless rounds of a sun salute. 60 minutes of the same 10 moves. SIXTY MINUTES!!! I thought I might die. Instead, I kept doing them, until my talkative room-mate had been pounded senseless with the monotony, lay on the couch of my mind gasping, then blessedly silent. Even my body gave up fighting just being there.

 

I got out the fourth and final video of the series – Fire. Yes! Action Adventure! This was going to be great! Always save the best for last! We had a real yoga practice here.

It was ssslloooowww. Yes, boring — whatever, but wasn’t it interesting, how my body felt? I felt composed of two parts; an outer part shell that moved and felt like armor, over the inner part, which felt like…..soul. It was like wearing a suit of a giant armadillo, look how it moves, so hinged and stiff, all around the soft inner part that it me. A ‘me’ that is almost like ….light. It is so…weird.

I felt like I was meditating. I felt like I was standing up, doing Tai Chi. I felt like I was some hermit monk, of ages past, doing rituals alone, in a deep honorable meditative space.

My inner critic apparently vacated. Curiosity had replaced her. Curiosity said “I know this is slow. Slowing down is what I am here for. I know this is boring….until it is not boring. Until it is fascinating.”

 

Slow is hard to do however. For one moment, I am doing it. I need that; the rediscovery of being fascinated by what is, not worried about what was or will be.

I know this is not going to make my world go back to rightness.

 

But maybe it is.

Maybe – it IS making it go back to rightness.

 

So next, I just repeat the series again.

And again.

And again.

 

by Tama Cathers, DVM, MS, BA Biology and Sociology, 2nd Degree in ToShinDo, Elemental Self Defense Instructor, Meditation Instructor, Threshold Choir Director, TriYoga Teacher Training Student, Sex Coach Trainee, Mixed Media Artist – Ceramics, Fused Glass, & Wire Wrapping, 2000 miler Appalachian Trail hiker, Gardener, and Herbalist.

Personal Wisdom

Wisdom – Fear, Certainty, Belief + Life Happening Anyway

Wisdom  –      Fear, Certainty, Belief  +      Life Happening Anyway

 

My life is falling apart.

I can see it happening.

It is ripping at the seams.

I am okay with that. Sometimes that is for the best.

Once upon a time, I did not know that. When things started to fall apart, when Kali knocked on my door, when I drew the Tower from the Tarot Deck, or when the knuckle bones fell a certain way, I dug in deep and fought the change. I tried – very hard. I Worked. And I suffered a lot. Now I know better.

Just because it’s okay, doesn’t mean that this is not going to hurt. A lot! Great change always does. Decades of life experience have taught me that. However – it’s still going to be okay. Yes, I can hear the metal grinding. Yes, the supports of my world are coming down and are about to crash into me. Yes, I will be crushed, and my metaphorical life, as I know it, will end. That is just how it feels when you go through big life change.

The real thing is this: You can’t stop it. Life will change, even if it breaks you to change. So you might as well go along for the ride, jump off the tower, walk in to the flame. At least don’t run shrieking or try to use your big guns. they won’t work.  You’re not getting off at any of the stops, in one piece anyway. Yes, the roller coaster is heading straight to the ground. Close your eyes if you want, this won’t take but a ‘moment.’ So says Time. but Time figures time in a strange way. This moment has been coming for 4 and a half years now.

That is how divorce is, for example. When I was recently post-divorce, I used to say, you have to be willing to die to get divorced; because your whole life, that which you created with your partner – it’s all going to die. Not that this should stop you – it shouldn’t. But it is true. Do know that 5 years later, say few people ever say they would willingly go back to where they were. Was it hard? Sure. Are they glad? Mostly, yes, most decidedly YES!

(No, I am not getting divorced! Silly! I am not married. And yes, we are good.)

The reality is – you can’t stay where you are anyway. Ever.

You are dying to that bit of life, one way or another – so it’s better to just let it happen and plan for your new life. The one that starts after the destruction. The one that is already sprouting within you. The one you will be much happier in living with.

 

Let the life sprouting in you grow

and I’ll meet you on the other side.

 

Good luck. I believe in you!

 

by Tama Cathers