Here, There and Everywhere

Posts tagged ‘health’

It Has Its Own Shape

Good Grief: A Companion to Change and Loss by Dipti Tait.
Review by Gabriel Constans.

411Up78mHJLGood Grief: A Companion to Change and Loss is rich with personal insight, and emotional intelligence. The following quote alone is worth the book’s weight in gold. “It’s a natural process, like the tides that come in and out on the shore of the ocean of your consciousness. Some are high; some are low. It’s about learning how to surf the waves of grief and not drown in the intense sorrow of loss.” Ms. Tait shares the story of her experiences and reactions to her mother and father’s deaths, and how she has learned to not only ride the waves, but to help others stand up on their own board.

The realizations of grief’s depth and width within our lives is written with clarity, honesty, and compassion. The author’s realization that loss is variable and unique to each individual, based on a myriad of factors and conditioning, is vital for acceptance and healing. “A grieving period is individual to the person who grieves. It has its own shape, form and identity based on belief systems, personal experiences and our own unique programming.” This is so true, and yet we often want a cookie-cutter method of how to proceed and navigate loss, without taking our uniqueness into consideration.

This book shares many aspects of grief that we may feel, or think about, but often do not acknowledge, let alone process. There are chapters on loneliness, guilt, shock, stress, and the reality of loss in our daily lives, as well as the possibility for growth. Ms. Tait provides a number of ways to work with our emotions and thoughts that surround grief. These include journaling, the Three P’s (Positive thought, Positive Actions, Positive Activity), moving into emotional intelligence, and the “No/Yes Principle”. “The self-healing process begins when a person can recognize that they want to change.”

There is little doubt that Good Grief: A Companion to Change and Loss is well worth your time and attention. You may also find that it helps you live with the pain of loss with a little more understanding, and acceptance, and provides that bit of support that perhaps you had not have realized was needed, or available. In addition to getting a copy of Good Grief, by Ms. Dipti Tait, you may also wish to take a look at my book Good Grief: Love, Loss & Laughter. It is similar to Ms. Tait’s, but told through the eyes of a number of people experiencing the death of a loved one, as well as my interactions with them.

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More Alive Than Ever

Love: The Beat Goes On by Lynda Filler.
Reviewed by Gabriel Constans.

51JCGXkVO9LHer life was flying, her heart was dying. Lynda Filler had a new job, loving family, and an almost too good to be true newly acquainted man she called “my cowboy”. There’d been for-warnings, “messages”, shortness of breath, but nothing really stopped her in her tracks (literally) until 2008 when she is told she has a form of congestive heart failure called dilated cardiomyopathy. Doctors told her it was a death sentence and she must “get your affairs in order”. Nine years later, after driving alone for many months between Canada and Mexico, visiting a shaman in Sedona, New Mexico, and realizing, “I was the change that needed to happen in my healing”, she wrote Love: The Beat Goes On. She’s more alive than ever.

I worked with hospice and bereavement programs for many years. Most people I met was dying, or had had someone die. Whenever I heard about someone having this or that “terminal” disease (or as the author calls it “dis-ease”), I accepted it as reality and tried to help them (and their loved ones) prepare as much as possible, and live whatever life was left to the fullest. Ms. Filler not only didn’t go along with the “program”, but somehow trusted something inside, and outside, herself. Against medical advice she took her own road. Her journey was not random. She learned to honor her intuition, take some risks, and, pardon the clique, follow her heart.

The chapters in this journal are most fitting and include – “The Widow Maker”, “Every Breath I Take”, “Swollen Heart”, “You Are Not Your Diagnosis”, “Red Rocks and Thunderstorms”, “Doctors and Doctorates”, “Is it a Miracle?”, and “It’s a Mind Game”. There is a perfect mixture of describing an event, what her personal reactions, thoughts, and feelings were about the experience, and her understanding and actions (if any) in response. Even though this pattern progresses throughout her writing, Lynda also becomes acutely aware that she is not what she writes about. “I have huge respect for all who survive anything, but I am not my story.”

Love: The Beat Goes On isn’t melancholy, or sanguine; it is as real as real can be. I know of few people who have learned to believe in something beyond themselves, willingly take steps into the unknown, and trust their own gut, as has Ms. Filler. Her life is example number uno of how to live a life of genuine belief and faith. Not in a religious sense, but with practical down-to-earth actions and spirit. This memoir is interesting for personal reflection, and provides a number of suggestions on how others can use what Ms. Filler learned for their own challenges. She doesn’t claim that her way is the only way, but her still being alive gives a lot of credence to what she has to say. “When I walked down from that vortex, my step was light. My heart beat normally again… and I knew it.”

 

Yadda Yadda Yadda

Just Sit: A meditation guide for people who know they should but don’t. By Sukey Novogratz and Elizabeth Novogratz. Illustrations by Niege Borges. Reviewed by Gabriel Constans.

412a0ezS86L._SX373_BO1,204,203,200_If the writers of Just Sit could do so, they would reach out from the page (or screen) grab you by the throat, wrestle you to the ground, and hold you there until you started meditating – metaphorically speaking. That is what it seems to take for us to stop with all of our excuses (real and imagined) and actually do it. The Novogratz’s do everything in their power to convince us – joke, explain the benefits, teach us the fundamentals, and answer every possible question. “10 million Americans meditate, 6 million of them because their doctor told them to.” Let’s just pretend our doctor told us to and start doing it.

Whether you are just beginning, or are the oldest living meditator on the planet, the insights and instructions within make a lot of sense. It includes steps for how to meditate, questions that arise once we’ve started, and why we are reluctant to begin in the first place. “Meditation is a way of training your mind to slow down, to be responsive, not reactive, to bring you into your life and out of the constant chatter that’s going on in your head.” It is often this chatter, and mind-fuck, that keeps us from paying attention to our selves, or side-tracts us once we’ve begun. One of the most practical, and enlightening aspects of this book, is how to work with such thoughts, feelings, and actions. How to “observe” our experiences without believing we “are” our momentary experience.

Here are some of the questions people ask. If some of these sound familiar, join the crowd.  “I feel like a fool. How do I get past it?” “How does just sitting there help me train my mind?” “My mind is sharp already. So why would it need training?” “Can anyone meditate?” “What can I or should I expect?” “I understand prayer, but meditation seems a little out there for me.” “Can I do meditating wrong?” Here’s the crazy part. The answer to most of these questions is, “For meditation to work, you actually have to do it.” Go figure. What a wild idea. “The biggest secret to meditation is all you need to do is show up.” Like exercising the rest of the body, the mind needs attention. It doesn’t happen overnight, and it takes practice.

The introduction says, “Meditation Is Not for Sissies”, which reminds me of another book “Growing Old Is Not For Sissies”. In other words, it’s not always a bed of roses (though that could be quite thorny). One of the reasons people avoid meditation is because we begin to see what’s going on, and what we are telling ourselves about what’s going on (with our body, emotions, and thoughts). It isn’t always pleasant, but it is what it is. Sukey and Elizabeth Novogratz invite readers to watch whatever arises. “In order to deal with your shit and have a way better life, you’ve got to be willing to show up and sit in the much.”

So, there you have it. Grab yourself by the scruff of the neck (gently), get a copy of this book and Just Sit. “Yeah, yeah, yeah. It’s hard. It’s difficult. I don’t have time. It doesn’t work for me. I don’t know what to do.” Yadda yadda yadda. Stop believing you are what you think (or feel), and take a chance. What have you got to lose? As the author’s state so simply, and brilliantly, with one of the headings, “WARNING: Conditioning impairs freedom.”

P.S. The illustrations, and layout, match the words, and greatly enrich Just Sit with clarity, wit, and wisdom.

Down to Earth

41QaxKjEXjLFruits for Life by Dr. Amrita Basu
Reviewed by Gabriel Constans

Dr. Basu takes us on a journey, from A to Z, through the health benefits of fruit. “A guide to knowing what to put inside your body for a healthy you.” This ear, nose and throat MD, and medical college professor, provides just the right amount of information, without going overboard with complex descriptions and scientific jargon. It is also understood that she is only sharing information on what has been backed up by research, and clinical experience.

Fruits for Life is based primarily on foods available in India, and many are labeled in Bengali, and Hindi, as well as being written in English. Most of the primary fruits described however are accessible throughout the world in some form or fashion. Chapters include: Banana: Goodness in fruit, flower and stemFigs the miracle fruit: Younger youMango Malda and MeNuts About Nuts: To have or notEggplant and Allergy: Fruits you should knowIndian Gooseberry;  and Watermelon Wellness.

Regarding apples, “Packed full of fibers and micronutrients that keep your skin, teeth, heart, lungs healthy.” Speaking of figs, “What’s not to like about a fruit which prevents aging, keeps your rain, heart and bowels healthy?” Referring to figs, “Very high in vitamins C, E. K, foliates, carotenoids, potassium, fibre and antioxidants.” The benefits of citrus skins are highlighted, “Peels are storehouses of phytochemical, which can decrease blood pressure and prevent cancer, if research is to be believed.”

One of the benefits of Fruits for Life is the down to earth, next door neighbor, feel it has to it. Even though Dr. Basu doesn’t sound preachy, or snobish. It’s more like you’re sitting down for tea and you happen to ask her a question about apples, guava, or mangoes. She provides suggestions for how much fruit to eat, and how often, as well as some personal stories about her home village, husband, daughter Rai, and family. If you have any curiosity about the health benefits of fruit, this book will quench your thirst, and fill your belly, with mouth-watering morsels of information and knowledge.

Spice It Up With Heart

Nothing spices up a relationship like romance. Whether you’ve been together ten days, months, years or decades, sharing your love and desire for your partner is the ultimate aphrodisiac. Everyone wants to be adored and appreciated. You don’t need a lot of time and money or a doctorate in sexology, to keep the sparks flying. Here are a few ways to re-vitalize, reawaken and jump start your partnership.

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Place flowers that are visually stimulating on the table and change them several times a week. Roses’, tulips, daisies, forget-me-nots, gladiolas, sunflowers, carnations and orchids are just some of the vast array of plant species that provide sensual images of curves, softness, rising, opening and merging.

Take a TO DO list to your office or place of work. On the list write down special, thoughtful things you are going to do for your partner every night when you get home from work. Help with the dishes, finances, dinner or childcare; massage their neck and shoulders; stop and get them a card or gift; pick up a movie they’ve been wanting to see; or just telling them how much they mean to you.

Get up early in the morning, while your love is still sleeping and make them breakfast or go out and buy breakfast. Serve them breakfast in bed, with accompanying flowers and coffee.

Ride bikes, run, walk and/or hike together in the woods, meadows, valleys or parks. Keeping fit maintains your health and increases the odds that you will live longer to enjoy one another’s companionship.

Allow time for each of you to be with friends and family separately. Friendships outside the relationship are vital. Nobody can be everything or fulfill all your emotional or creative needs. Give your partner the freedom to interact and connect with others. Talk with your partner about your friends and family; let them know about their ups and downs. Though your time with others can be special, don’t keep secrets.

Join a club, church or civic organization together. Get involved. Help your selves and your partnership, while helping others. Remember that your marriage is dependent on many factors, including family, friends and community. Your relationship doesn’t take place in a vacuum. Honor the connections and lend a hand.

Give your partner a massage, from head to toe or vice-a-versa. Apply hot towels and massage oil. Try different scents and oils until you find one you both enjoy. Take your time. Intimately explore every muscle, curve and crevasse. Ask if you’re applying too much or too little pressure. Trade giving and receiving massages if you have enough time or alternate evenings for one, than the other. A good massage can be as sensual and pleasurable as any sexual act, especially when it is given with attention and care.

If time alone was the main ingredient for a loving partnership, than everyone would be in bliss at a specific given moment, but the spice that really keeps the fire’s burning is attention and care. It is the time and attention that make the difference.

If you feel that you aren’t getting the same kind of thoughtfulness in return, talk about it, don’t let it slide or take it to bed. There is nothing wrong with conflict, as long as you learn how to work with it and accept your differences.

Take a pause from thinking about your self and help your partner with their coat; give them a hug and kiss before you leave and when you return; check in throughout the day and ask about how they’re feeling, what they’re thinking; become an emotional barometer that tunes into your love’s weather station.

Remember what brought you together and attracted you in the beginning. Think about your deepest intentions. What do you want from your relationship? If it is money or sex, it will never be enough; if it is security and safety, you will never feel completely safe and secure; if it is to love and be loved, there is a good chance you’ll find it. Whenever you forget why you’re together, return to your heart.

Every Child Deserves Care

Because every child deserves care, love and hope.
From The Rwandan Orphan’s Project

The ROP is an orphanage and a center for street children located just outside of Kigali, Rwanda. We provide housing, clothing, food, health care, education and many other needs to nearly 100 vulnerable children from around Rwanda. We are able to provide these needs solely through the donations of individuals like you. The ROP has no corporate or foundational support and relies on the charity of ordinary citizens to achieve our goal of providing a safe place for children, free from desperation and the dangers of life on the streets.

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At the ROP we believe that education is our children’s best hope of escaping the strong grip of poverty. Because of this all of our children are either enrolled in our in-house catch-up school or go to secondary or vocational schools around Rwanda. We feel all children, regardless of the hardships they may have endured in the past, deserve a chance to make something of themselves.

Being a small, privately funded charitable organization we struggle every month to raise the necessary funds to provide for our boys. There are many ways you can help, detailed in our How You Can Help section.

Shona’s Sun Salutation

Shona’s Sun Salutation
by Gabriel Constans

This smoothie is one of our son Shona’s favorites. It is good for small children, since the ice-cold water helps to relieve some of the pain of teething. It also gets your motor running in the morning. It has a good aftertaste and “tickles the mouth.” Sunflower seeds add just the right amount of sweetness.

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Yield: 4 cups

2 cups ice-cold filtered water
2 large bananas
3/4 cup sunflower seeds
3/4 cup raisins

Place all the ingredients in a blender, and mix on medium speed for 2 minutes.

Pour into glass or cup, drunk up, and stretch towards the sun.

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