It’s time we had this talk…

It’s time we had this talk…

It is time we had a serious discussion about death in our country. A discussion within our families, with our friends, strangers and churches. It is time to take the  mystery out of death. I find it interesting that in all religious texts that I have read, the act of taking one’s own life, is perhaps, the greatest sin possible. Why is that? Many of us desire at least some amount control over our final days and how we wish to die. We lay great claims to our freedoms in this country – what greater freedom do we have then to end our time, here on earth, on our own terms?

Several groups like Death Café are now gaining popularity as a space to have that conversation. The Death with Dignity movement is strengthening and now making some legislative ground. As of 2016, four states have now created laws regarding physician assisted suicide. However, it is still tightly controlled by legislators, allopathic doctors, and many of the details needed for this to become a reality have yet to be worked out.

Where did this whole concept of “life at all costs” come from? Perhaps it is ultimately from the Hippocratic Oath: First, do no harm. As for the cost of this policy, it comes in all types; financial, physical pain, mental degeneration, not to mention spiritual freedom. Today our veterinarians treat our dying pets better than our doctors are allowed to treat our fellow human beings in the later stages of life and dying. We must start talking about “quality of life” as being more important than “quantity of life”. Even with the best written Advanced Directives such as living wills, the laws are still on the side of keeping you alive at all costs. Harm can indeed mean, keeping someone alive, against their wishes, well past their expiration date.

Here in the USA are starting a great experiment in Oregon and other states with physician assisted suicide for the terminal ill. The restrictions are strict and often not serving the populous that needs it most. Mental competency and less than a six month life span are conditions required for approval. This leaves many dementia patient unable to take this option, even if they had stated being in favor of this option before the dementia took hold. On top of this only a minor percentage of people actually given the drugs and the option, actually chose to use them. We will have to wait and see how this process works, but so far it has not really changed the overall way people die. Even in Oregon, as well as, every other state in the United States, it is unequivocally illegal to take your own life.

There are many ways to end life and as one gets older. There are plants that may help with this. We naturally start to think about dying and how we would like to have it occur. We worry about being the only one who thinks that way, which is why having others to talk with so important. It is okay to think about and talk about death, and the many ways to die. Death is the only natural conclusion to life.

Death Cafe’s are held the 3rd Tuesday of every month from 6 to 8 pm at Asian Healing Arts in the FlexSpace, please come join us for a lively conversation.

Time for Self Care

Yes it is finally time for me to have some self-care.  The class I am taking this weekend is all about self-care and I don’t feel a bit selfish about it.  Of course it does help that there are CEU’s attached to it, and it is the starting point for the next series of instruction that I have been planning on studying; Arvigo Techniques of Maya Abdominal Therapy. For me however, there is something about camping out at a cheap hotel and taking a class in a larger city that has really good food from different countries. Yes, it is all about the food. I had Lebanese food for lunch; Lamb Kabobs, with the best spinach I have tasted in a long time.  I get really bored with the food in our little town, I keep hoping that we just get a flood of Asians moving in and opening restaurants.  Whenever I go away for any length of time, I try to see how many meals I can have.  That is sad, and I also know that I will be working it off for the next month. Good thing a new set of Yoga Classes will be starting soon not to mention the QiGong and Kungfu.

I have overworked myself since moving the office and getting the FlexSpace off the ground.  The Open House was a great success and our first Death Cafe was an incredible discussion which also informed me that my hero Caitlin Doughty was speaking in town last week, I managed to fit that into my schedule too.  I scheduled this class and then thought what am I doing, I must be crazy? I did right. This is just what I needed. Low key, working on only ourselves, lots of anatomy and stuff I already know so no brain bender there. I can drink my tea and contemplate my navel-literally! This class is all about abdominal work. Plus, I get worked on by one of the instructor’s tomorrow morning. Why can’t all classes I take be like this?

I am now hopefully stepping back on the difficult work and working on the things that I like to do. I am happy to help my friends old and new cultivate their ideal classes.  I hope to start bringing in other teachers for things like this that I am attending this weekend, because the FlexSpace is larger than this space and if they can do it, so can I.

Another hopefully fun thing, and certainly no stress, will be starting up this next Friday morning. Tea with Me!  Yes, I am there, in the office having tea. If you want some tea, just want to ask a quick question. Want to actually see the being that writes this stuff.  Just want to see the FlexSpace to see if it might be useful for something you are dreaming to do. Or want to share a favorite story, or a joke stop on by anytime from 9am until I kick you out so I can work on my first client at 10.  Come have a cup.

Hotel with free wifi –oh yeah – okay so I am doing some work as I sit here with my belly full of good food, after a good massage, drinking good tea. But nothing mind boggling or strenuous, more like catching up on some things and tidying up some loose ends without the puppy coming up to me and slobbering all over my keyboard. No birds telling me what they want me to be doing, no dust bunnies letting me know that I should be vacuuming. Just the hum of the way overused and entirely too old air conditioner (and it is February) to keep me company. Time for creative thought and action. I don’t get enough creative time these days, and boy do I need it.

Having the time to relax and be creative is one of the best things that I can give myself for self-care.  I prefer to write in the mountains but any room to myself will work, as long as the tea kettle is here.  Did you know that is some countries menstruating women take time away from responsibilities to enjoy creative endeavors? I learned that today in class. I think we all need a break from life every now and again to just do something creative.  Something that gives joy to you.  If you cannot find the joy in your own life, it is really difficult to be joyful with others.  Once you have joy it is natural to want to spread it around.  Joy that is spread around, seems like an awfully good idea to me.

Play games, walk in the park, rent a canoe and paddle around, make music. Paint, read, write, sew, or plant something. There are so many things that are creative or can be creatively done that it seems like endless possibilities.  Bring joy into your life, give that gift to yourself.  You will not regret it.

Sleep is also important, and some of that I need to get right now. I hope you do something for yourself this weekend, something that lets you know that you care for you. Lunch tomorrow will be with one of my dearest oldest NC friend, we have the same tastes so it should be good, I can’t wait.

New Space/New Opportunities

Life is always fascinating in the way it works. I have had to just trust the universe on the very way I pay for my life as meager as it is. A few months ago the building that I have worked in for nearly 15 years was put on the market. The building has been sold twice since I moved into it and I have had no issue. This time, I have this gut feeling. The neighborhood has drastically changed, the building is in poor repair and it wasn’t that great to begin with. But it has been just what I needed over the years of serving on state and national boards and keeping my practice going full tilt. My office is my sanctuary and my storage unit my home away from home. This time I know that it will be bought, it will be razed and it will become some lovely condos. It is what is right to be there now. It is time for the landscape to change and the block to be complete. It is time for me to move on.

I felt very ambivalent about it all from the start of looking 4 months ago. I knew that something would land and it would be just the right thing for me. I stayed open to all possibilities and yes, I even did have days of slight panic as I would look at the calendar and think, hmmmm, the management company hasn’t offered me any new lease, or space. Sometimes my heart would sink when I would search out a place only to go… yeah, no! It was Goldilocks and the three bears over and over again, too dark, too big, too small, too far north, too in the next state over…

Even when I first looked at this building I will now be moving into, the space I saw was too big. One thing was different however, the owners, lovely amazing women, sisters even. They took an interest in me, and in my work, and in what it could become. They read my website, my blogs and they still wanted me to be in their building. I am sure they will read this too so Hi Gals! They were able to work some magic, and within a week I was looking at another space in their building and this one was “Just Right”. Of course, I didn’t realize that at first as my long time suitemate was not able to come along and share the space with me, leaving me with higher rent and once again too much space. So, I will admit it, I freaked again. There it is was, the perfect space for me, but what was I going to do with all that extra room?

Bring in the clowns, or just that crazy group of people I call friends.

I realized that I could use this space to do the things I wanted to do, long before I started working to advance my profession through service on a state and national level. When I named my company I purposefully named it Asian Healing Arts Associates. I wanted to help many people both from the practitioners side and the public need side. At one time I foresaw actually running a big clinic, I got smarter with age and watching others and that is not what I want now.  Until this point in my career the word Associates has never been fulfilled, however, the basic wish to offer more is still there. I always wanted to offer classes and free clinics for not only for the alternative healthcare community but also the greater public at large. I wanted other practitioners in the Healing Arts to have a place to teach and work. It really sunk into my thick skull when thinking out loud to a long time client of mine about how to bring this about it dawned on me that she was always looking for space to put on Lamaze and Parenting classes. I give her credit for not smacking me upside the head but I guess I did that enough as we both laughed over my momentary brain death.

Then I started to think about all the people I knew that just needed a space to grow and release onto the world their own form of teachings. Within 24 hours I have already started the dialog with quite a few people about the future possibilities that this space lends to us. I have come up with a conducive layout of the space, and an estimate of the time and objects I will need to pull this off. I have negotiated, if that is what you want to call it, the lease and terms and know what I have to do in the next few days to make that work. All of this has happened so fast and easy. Great changes in my life have always been fast and fall into place whether I allow myself to stress out over them or not. I am glad that this time I did not allow the stress to take over too much and the flow has been outstanding. Overall I am more shocked than stressed and happy to know what direction my life and work will be taking next. Everything I could have possibly asked for in this transition has happened just as easily as it could thanks to two really cool ladies who I will now do my best to get a yoga teacher for.

I am nervous striking out on my own so to speak, but I know that I will never really be on my own, I will always have a strong group of loving friends and colleagues around me. I dread packing up my office and clearing out over a decade of stuff that has been stored there. I will obsess about every little detail that is required to move a business for the next four weeks. I will leave the details of a wall, door and I am sure some paint up to some competent person who is not me. I will use my dumpster to it’s fullest ability as I purge unneeded stuff. I will need boxes! There is so much to do, not to mentions websites for finish for people and updating my own, a music camp that needs applications up and ready by the end of the year and…. Oh yeah, my client load. I need to schedule a massage for myself! So, if you stop by, bring boxes. I have a move to plan and an open house in the new place to attend in the new year!

Letting go and loosing it

An amazing friend of mine once pointed out that you cannot let the fat go until you get the demons in your mind settled down. They must be on board with this venture too, as they are the reason you gained weight. I couldn’t agree more. My whole life I have thought I was fat and ugly. I am a Midwest farm girl, who can still lift hay bales even pushing 50 years of age.  I have no plans of slowing down. I am too poor to retire so my goal is to just keep going until I fall over, like my ancestors did.  This wicked thought of fat and ugly has been in my head for as long as I can remember. Looking back at old photos now I think holy shit! I wish I had the body now….how did I hate it so much back then? This way of thinking was further drilled in by living with actors and dancers in college and then moving to metropolitan cities were everything was more refined…

This morning, as I lay on my yoga mat taking in the heat of the Bikram studio before the class started, I lifted up my arms and looked at them. I have done this many times, but today I really looked at them. They are half the arms they use to be. Not length wise silly, circumference-ly speaking. When did this happen??? I found myself wondering. I am and always will be that farm girl with big bones and thick muscles one cannot overcome genetics. I will never be a ‘spinner’ size 2 with plastic tits, to match the billboards and the bikini commercialization of life we are forced to see every day. But I don’t have to be fat. OH, those demons just screamed….

Over more than 10 years and tenure, I put on a lot of weight under the stress of that job. I had no outlet: my personal life was not what it needed to be; I let myself get stresses out; –at one point my blood pressure was so high even the BP machine went “OMG!”

Change had to happen, I felt dead already inside, but I was not ready to give up. I made my choices as hard as they were. I stood up to those demons in my head and said “hey! You guys shut up already” and decided to make myself back into the person I knew I was. So I bounced around a bit from gym to gym and routines until I found what worked for me. That I would have never guessed would be Bikram Yoga, or as I called it for the first year, my daily 90 minutes in hell.

First I just wanted to see if I could actually sweat, within five days the flood gate was opened, I not only sweated but everything else started coming out of me. I must have been hell to live with and be around. Within a year I let go of a lot. My job, my position within the national stage of my career, my life, everything was dumped out on the table. Eventually I got up and walked away from everything. At one breakdown point a friend even offered to buy me a new lemon tree after admonishing me for not be a very good Buddhist, I realized then that it was one of those things I would just have to let go of.   Letting go sucks some times.

It has been five years from that starting point. The landscape is entirely different now.  I lost close to 70lbs in those first three years, and have maintained that more or less.   I was wearing pants with a 46inch waist and I wasn’t just sporting a ‘Muffin Top’ it was a damned “Brioche Top”. Worked that bitch off!  Ten inches so far, now I’m in a 35inch waist band with no major fluffy overhang, but there is more that needs to be let go. I have that last 30lbs to go…. I am saying 20-30 just to make it easier on those demons (cause they are still there).  This has been hanging around me for the last 2 years and it just doesn’t seem to want to budge. So, what am I holding on to?

Fear:

  • That I can’t do it
  • That I will still think I am fat and ugly anyways
  • That I will go too far
  • That I will lose my strength
  • That people will look at me
  • That I will hurt myself doing this
  • That the demons will scream too loud and everyone will hear them
  • That others will still think I am fat and ugly
  • That I will be …sexy

I am sure that there are a thousand other reasons. But it is time.

A few months ago I started in earnest again. Time was gained from completing my (I don’t know what number) master’s program (like I needed another piece of paper on my wall) and the yoga studio I love reinstated its 6am classes, which was a real key event. So I have started back in class at a much more reasonable rate of 3 to 4 times a week.  The strength is starting to come back; the flexibility has a way to go especially from a back injury two years ago. In fact, I am starting to feel like I am able to participate as well, if not better in class now than I was doing when I had to stop and take those 18 months off. I am at least starting to sweat again and let go. It feels good, yet not good enough. Bikram is the ‘anti-yoga’ of yoga forms as far I can tell, and the last part of the form is aerobic with all the quick position changes however I still felt like I need more movement. I have been walking at the gym and outside however now I can go without huffing too long, at too fast of pace, that the next notch up would be a full out run for me… and poohs don’t run! If you EVER see me running, just get a gun and shot whatever is chasing me! Please!!! as it is most likely a woozle.

Enter the new challenge: The home that I am now privileged to keep has a new machine… a rowing machine. After staring at it for weeks, poking it, sneering at it, complaining about it, I finally got on it. Unlike my past experience with a NordicTrack machine, I did not end up upside down and tied up in it for hours waiting for roomies to get home and free me.   It was actually intuitive, or maybe it was all the rowing across cow ponds when I was younger. This last week I have played around with it a few times, noticed some problems that created questions, found a friend who rows to come give me a lesson and now have started to add in the rowing on the days I don’t have yoga. It seems like a good complement plus I have this tablet thing, so maybe I can catch up on some of that TV show stuff people seem determined to talk to me about.  I did this once both on the same day…bad idea, unless you like having legs you have to pick up with your arms to move.

So from today forward, demons be damned I am letting go! Anyone who wants to buy me a pair of Levi’s 501’s 34/32 for Christmas go right ahead because this pair will be falling off me by then. I might even get my waist to equal my inseam soon.

See you thirty pounds from now.

 

Premeditative Murder

Today I committed Murder. No cold blooded killing, his was rather warm. Perhaps if mine had been colder it would have been easier. It was fully premeditated, I have been thinking about it and planning for it for well over a year, and actually committed to doing the killing in January. Everyone including myself thought I would come out of it before this fine first Saturday in April but I gathered the knives and went through with it.

He was gorgeous, that didn’t help, the beautifulness made it much more difficult. The fact that I held him in my arms and cuddled him for at least 10 minutes didn’t help either. I apologized profusely. I had to be shown how to handle the knife, how to even hold it, not use to cutting towards my hand it made no sense to me bring up fear of not only killing this poor boy but also hurting my livelihood, my fingers.

I cried, but I knew I had no choice, he was mine now, I could not take him home, and he had to die. First the knife got stuck in his bountiful plumage, next it rolled on the feather shafts, push harder I heard. Then her arm went around me and helped guide my hand that was shaking, ‘it is what he was born for’.

Pressure came I could feel the crunch of ligaments and tissue the squirm of the roster beneath my arm. Then the blood started to flow. I could not see it at first, I had to ask if he was bleeding. Then I saw the puddle, he shifted again and calmed as the blood drained from his body he slipped blissfully into the next realm. The confusion he felt, I felt. The fear he felt, I felt. The relaxation he felt, I felt. Then there was the coldness, the hollowness, the emptiness.

The rest was fairly easy going, having a good grasp of anatomy helps I guess in more than just medicine.  He was the smallest of the ones which made it difficult but I got the idea. Before I knew it he was bagged up and ready to go. I cried again for him on the drive home as he sat in the cooler behind my seat. When I got home, I scurried my chicks into their coop knowing that sometime in the future, their fate would be the same as the boy in the cooler. Then I did what I know from the movies every killer does, I cracked open a cold yummy beer, this one a 2013 vintage dark ale  from TJ’s, guess I will have to get another and put it in the cellar for the next time.

How did I get here? A quiet, somewhat meek, vegetarian for half of my nearly 50 years and vegan for about 6 of those years. There would have been a time in my life in my 20’s when this would never have been possible. While I would not have written the type of threatening letters and such that I know this farm owner/teacher has received and continues to receive…I would have simply not done what I did today. I grew up in farm country Wisconsin I knew and ate plenty of animals as a youth. My uncle was a high up person in a famous meat packing company, my father a scientist who at one point checked out cheese operations as part of his job. We got fresh eggs, milk and meat from literally (and yes, I am using that word correctly!) the guy next door.

My vegetarianism was my choice, I was never one of the militant types when it came to animal rights. Sure, I do dog rescue, but I also understand that as a human we are on the top of the food chain, not to mention that my dogs eat meat too. We humans are there however with consciousness; we have choices to make. Sometimes your body needs animal proteins and that is why animals are breed and raised for us to eat. But think about it: Was the pig you are eating ‘grown’ or ‘raised’? Did the hen really see the light of day before it was put on a truck to the automated processing plant? Did the cow whose muscle was just your steak eat grass or corn?  The HOW is what we NEED to look at now.

When I started eating meat again, I did it very much with the animal in mind, and today was part of that. I realized I could not quite reconcile my need for meat if I could not actually procure it, and by that I do mean kill it.  Now I know I can. Will I again in the future? Maybe. My beautiful rooster is in the crock pot now and actually smelling pretty darn good. Not many people can say that they killed, gutted and made their dinner. Next, will be adding the word raised to the beginning of that list.

It is the cycle of life, the world is fed on the back of the chicken. The trend of boneless, skinless chicken is appalling, besides the fact that you are losing all of the flavor of the bird, you are even more distancing yourself from the organic process of life and death. Death of a chicken is not that pretty, I can tell you that first hand from my life experience now, however death is a part of life. That boy had three strong hands and a lot of thankfulness and love as it passed on in order to make it into my pot tonight. I will be most thankful to its’ sprite when I eat him as his death helps feed me and give me life. I will never have another chicken sandwich without thinking of today, becoming a murderer changes you.

My choices have been to learn some level of self-sufficiency, now I have some chickens, their eggs will make lovely brownies and cakes, and eventually they themselves will become soup. I have gardens filled with everything I can grow, I have a small orchard and berry patches. I will continue to buy things from farmers I know, have a relationship with and respect. This is choice, living life consciously. Knowing that I cannot grow all that my friends and family need to survive on. I choose to live and eat food that is locally grown, organic as possible, and meat that is lovingly raised, humanely and consciously slaughtered for my consumption. Before today, I was not sure that I could kill anything that was not a mercy killing or a bug, but I can, and in some strange way I feel stronger and more okay with the fact of eating meat again. I felt that if I could not go through with this, how could I ever eat it again without beating myself up over the dichotomy? I remember hearing this ‘if you can’t kill it, you shouldn’t eat it’ type of talk from my vegan friends, well, I can so I will now move forward in that peace that my rooster had as he slipped to the next world to feed me tonight. And yes, I am still going to cry a bit more.