Firestone Friday – Poem I

She’s never been my sun;

she’s a vibrant moon,

and when her tides pull me in,

the waves crash and carry

my howl

for her.

                                                                             – Strong Language

 

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Strong Language, and Bloody Creations

I spent most of 2018 in the bedlam of poetry. Poetry is like a wound — one that pains and one that heals. The wound is internal, garnering leverage over the organs with every experience the poet encounters. It forms and it festers, spreading wildly throughout the trunk of a person until it finally reaches the hands. And, through claws rigid with purpose, the poetry is expelled as ink onto parchment. The lesion that once victimized the poet transforms into liniment that relieves the aching reader.

My poetry was finally, fully expelled in November 2018 when I published, with great trepidation and greater reward, my first compilation of poems: Strong Language. It could be argued that our most powerful appetite is for creation – a constant master that renders us unable to leave behind the mechanism of construction. We cannot help but to compose. What day or what hour didn’t see you forming ideas, designing sentences, or shaping reality? Creation is the only passion we don’t put down even in our sleep.

It was equal parts triumph and relief to fashion 77 wounds into an ordered piece of writing. Enthusiastic for every breed and every style of literature, my mind hammered the stone in a thousand different shapes at once. I could not tell the stone what shape I wanted, for I wanted them all. So, I abandoned expectations, prescriptive rules, and reservations to just form as many sculptures in as many styles as my mind ached to construct. My book of poetry is without a determined style and is without a certain format. It is a flowing river of bloody letters expelled from my wounds.

Poetry is alluring yet strikingly powerful – a delicate strike of lightning. I will remain in the storm a little longer.

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Diabetic Holiday Gift Guide

chocolate
via: greenandblacks.com

I tried a thousand ways to write that title in a jovial, snappy way, but you’ll have to take what I gave you. You get the point: here is a list of low-glycemic gift ideas for our loved ones with blood sugar sensitivities. See why I was struggling with all of those clunky words?

Holidays can be especially frustrating for those of us with sugar sensitivities (or any food sensitivities, really). While Uncle Eugene polishes off his fourth tray of Christmas cookies, you’re left poking around the vegetable tray, looking longingly at the table of bright, delicious-looking desserts. Even with my theatrical flare (sorry, Uncle Eugene), the point is clear: people with blood sugar sensitivities struggle most during the holidays, as seemingly everyone else opens chocolate-covered treats, and they’re stuck without.

No more! Joyfully, companies and manufacturers have noted the need for diabetic-friendly treats, and have answered. What I mean by that is corporations have recognized an untapped market and exploited it. Ah, capitalism — it keeps things moving!

Here are some gift ideas for your diabetic and sugar-sensitive loved ones. Haven’t you just missed buying them holiday treats?

  1. Here is a Keep Healthy Low-Glycemic Sea Salt Brownie Bar — let’s be real; these are alternative desserts and snacks, not grandma’s homemade brownies.

Keep Healthy Low Glycemic Protein Bar, Sea Salt Brownie, 12g Plant Based Protein, 5g Fiber, Certified Organic, Gluten Free, Vegan, Kosher, 1.97-Ounce Bars (Pack of 16)

2.  Green & Black’s Decadent Dark Chocolate Bars

Green & Black�s: Organic Dark Chocolate 70% (1 x 3.5 oz)

3. ChocZero Chocolates

ChocZero’s Dark Collection, Premium Dark Chocolate, Sugar Free, Low Carb. No sugar alcohols, All Natural, Non-GMO -4 Bags(50% Dark, 70% Dark, 85% Dark and 92% Dark, 40 pieces)

4. Keep Healthy Coconut Crunch Bar

Keep Healthy Low Glycemic Protein Bars, Coconut Crunch, Organic Vegan Energy Bars, 12g Plant Based Protein, 6g Fiber, Gluten Free, Dairy Free, Kosher 1.97-Oz. (16 Count)

5. Simple MD Chocolate Almond Mediterranean Bars

SimpleMD Chocolate Almond Mediterranean Bars, High Protein, Low Carb, Gluten-Free, w/ Red Wine and Olive Oil (12 Pack)

6. Sweet Chipotle Think Jerky

Think Jerky Sweet Chipotle Grass-Fed Beef Jerky (Pack of 5)

You’ve probably missed purchasing snacks and desserts for your loved ones as much as they have missed receiving them! May this list give you some ideas that renew your gift-giving! What other low-glycemic treats have you found?

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This is a platform to discuss and reflect on ideas, advancements, questions, and other musings. I am neither a health expert nor a member of clergy. The only authority I have to speak is my experience — I yield no degree or certification to give you medical, psychological, or religious advice. This is simply where minds come to meet and broaden.

We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.

Are You Suffering?

beach

That’s like me asking you if you’re staring, glossy-eyed into your phone. Of course you are, right?

We’re all suffering from something, because this world stubbornly refuses to pander to our needs — depression, arthritis, anxiety, autoimmune disorders, skin conditions, PTSD, digestive disorders, and sufferings unto infinity. We’re all burdened by physical, emotional, and spiritual frailty.

It’s good and bad, isn’t it, that all of those things are so deeply connected? When we struggle mentally, our bodies are without energy and health, and when we struggle physically, our minds just can’t operate. The good thing is this: healing and redemption, then, can flood all of our being. Making healthy choices, honoring our bodies, and pursuing a higher life washes over the full of us. When we pursue health, our entire being can’t help but to be redeemed.

Honoring our bodies

Sometimes, it feels like there isn’t much here to honor, right? Wrong! As frustrating (and disappointing) as they can be, our bodies are of incredible value. What else lets you consume an entire chocolate cake and somehow come out alive? Or who let’s you stay up all night, throwing back cold ones and then still wakes you up in the morning? Your body is your most loyal and forgiving companion.

And we can do better for it. Let’s make decisions a little better each day, choosing life over lethargy. Reach for the nutritious food, rewarding your body for getting you this far. Conquer your cravings by falling in love with new, super foods.

Yes, you know what’s next: exercise. Walk to the coffee shop to enjoy a cup of coffee or tea. Better yet, walk with a friend during lunchtime or after work. (Truly, you wouldn’t believe the health benefits of companionship. Here is a great Ted Talk about the incredible effects of companionship.)

Pursue health by making small, achievable steps each day to build a life that is both more uplifting and more fulfilling. You know it’s real, because you always feel better (and are better) after you exercise or go a full day eating according to plan. So let’s go.

Understanding health

What I hear most from people reluctant to embrace a healthier life is the misunderstanding of what it means to make healthy choices. It isn’t starving, it isn’t boring, and it isn’t a waste of time. It’s creating a menu of new, nutritious food, it’s self-care, and it’s rewarding.

Avoiding common offenders like gluten, dairy, preservatives, and chemicals and fueling your body with the nutrition it needs allows your body to overcome much of our suffering. When we’re burdened by physical and mental ailments, our bodies are crying out for relief. Let’s give it to them.

Here are some ideas to consider as you build a better, more fulfilling life:

  1. Eat healthy — no, I’m not talking about eating grass. I’m talking about local, farm-raised meats, eggs, and raw milk, vegetables, fruits, nuts, beans, and fermented foods, like sauerkraut and kimchi.
  2. Exercise — get out there and explore a little.
  3. Sleep well — for probably the first time, make sleep a priority. It’s actually one of the most important parts of your day (yes, I mean night!).
  4. Relax and enjoy life — practice deep breathing, make time to read a book or watch your favorite TV show, eat slowly and savor your food, and cherish the people around you.

That sounds like a pretty good life, right? As our bodies heal, so too do our minds. May you find yourself more at peace.

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This is a platform to discuss and reflect on ideas, advancements, questions, and other musings. I am neither a health expert nor a member of clergy. The only authority I have to speak is my experience — I yield no degree or certification to give you medical, psychological, or religious advice. This is simply where minds come to meet and broaden.

Boosting Your Lymphatic System

Of all our systems (digestive, immune, nervous, lymph, etc.), lymph just doesn’t get the attention it has earned. Our lymphatic system is in charge of managing defense and detoxification — not a small job, right?

The lymphatic system is this: a waste-management and protection network that moves lymph fluid throughout the body, with primary operators being tonsils, spleen, and thymus.

Perhaps, the enormous function of the lymphatic system is more powerfully expressed by considering the burdens we endure when it isn’t functioning properly:

  1. Joint and muscle pain
  2. Skin eruptions, including acne and eczema
  3. Arthritis
  4. Chronic fatigue
  5. Frequent infections, viruses, and illnesses
  6. Cancer formation

When the body’s defense and detoxification system isn’t functioning well, we become bogged down by lethargy, illness, toxicity, and disease. Our channels are blocked, causing a buildup of toxins — how could we not develop burdensome symptoms?

As critical thinkers, then, we wonder, “what could make our lymphatic system perform poorly?” We are. Our lymphatic system doesn’t have a pump. This means that it relies on our breathing, laughing, exercise, and anything else that causes muscle contraction to function. With our troublesome diet and our incredible lack of physical activity, our lymph fluid is sitting idle, unable to carry toxins.

How to jump start your lymphatic system

As usual, our bodies are pretty forgiving. If we put a little effort into this, we can help our lymph system to help us. Here are some simple ways to earn back the functionality of your lymphatic system:

    1. Exercise & Rebounding – because muscle contraction spurs lymphatic movement, any movement is beneficial. However, rebounding — jumping on a trampoline — is the most beneficial exercise for lymph, as it uses gravity to push the lymph toward the heart — where it needs to go. I recently purchased a mini trampoline. It’s delightful.
    2. Laughing – of course, you can’t force yourself to laugh (I know, because my jokes often meet a silent audience!). However, seeking laughter in internet videos or your favorite comedy may be the healthiest choice you make all day. Who knew?
    3. Dry brushing – this is a unique process I have cherished. Dry brushing is exactly what it sounds like: you purchase a stiff-bristled brush and brush your skin toward your heart. You can purchase one here: Yerba Prima Tampico Skin Brush
    4. Teas are useful for almost every health function, and lymph function is no exception. Red root and burdock root have been shown to promote healthy lymph function by stimulating lymph flow. I have even noticed an enormous decrease in allergy symptoms since starting the tea.  Organic Burdock Root C/S

For a system that does incredible things for our health, it doesn’t take much to help it along. Try some of the ideas above and let me know if you find relief from your symptoms! Stay healthy.

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This is a platform to discuss and reflect on ideas, advancements, questions, and other musings. I am neither a health expert nor a member of clergy. The only authority I have to speak is my experience — I yield no degree or certification to give you medical, psychological, or religious advice. This is simply where minds come to meet and broaden. 

We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.

The Bee’s Knees: The Importance of Raw Honey To Us & Our Planet

bees
via: https://www.facebook.com/backmountainhoney/

As you sit at the picnic table in your backyard, sipping sweet tea and reading a new release, your perfect picture is shattered when a bee buzzes rapidly around your head, hurling you into that all-too-familiar panic attack. “I hate bees!”, you exclaim, clumsily knocking your drink over onto your new book.

Even through my theatrical flare you’ve come to know (and love?), you know what I’m saying: our perspective of bees is negative, as though they are violent pests that exist only to ruin perfect summer days. Ah, but that general opinion is a terrible oversight!

Most importantly, there is a distinction between hornets/wasps and honeybees. While hornets and wasps live only to make us suffer (really, that’s the scientific explanation), honeybees are those adorable, bumbling pollinators and honey-makers that serve an enormous purpose.

The Benefits of Raw Honey

When I say “raw honey,” I mean honey that hasn’t been heated past pasteurization. That means all of the beneficial enzymes, nutrients, and minerals are alive and well. Honey that is rapidly heated beyond approximately 95ºF (in the microwave, for example), strips the honey of nearly all of its healing and restorative power. All commercially processed honey is pasteurized and is chemically similar to processed sugar (I guess that doesn’t make for a healthy alternative to sweetener!).

Here is a sweet sample of the effects raw honey has on our health:

  1. Raw honey is antibacterial and antifungal, which makes it great for gut health (eradicating bad intestinal bacteria) and healing wounds.
  2. The sweet stuff is filled with antioxidants and phytonutrients.
  3. Honey soothes a sore throat naturally.
  4. Consuming raw honey is believed to build immunity against pollen. Enjoying raw honey can help to ease seasonal allergy symptoms in the same way allergy shots work to calm the immune response against allergens.
  5. Raw honey is a healthy alternative sweetener. You can boost your digestive and immune health while sweetening your tea or treats — what more do you want?

Raw Honey & Our Planet

You’ve probably heard. On top of our many failures and disappointments as human beings (we are rich in those, aren’t we?), the crown jewel is this: the rapidly diminishing population of bees. It is understood that the bee population is fading because of 3 primary reasons: varroa mites have infested bee populations with a devastating virus, our insecticides and pesticides are obviously (too) effective, and we’ve mowed down a significant fraction of their food supply (plants and flowers!).

We need bees for pollination — how can plants and crops successfully grow without the help of our bees?

A staggering amount of bee colonies in our nation exist within beekeeper facilities. Considering that, beekeeping is essential to our bee population and, therefore, the quality of our food and life.

That means beekeeping and raw honey production are beneficial to our health immediately and in the future. What else could I say to express the profound value of it all?

As usual, the best sources of raw honey are local providers. There’s no rival to being able to see the beekeeping facility, meet the beekeepers, and become intimately familiar with their processes. Up-and-coming beekeepers, Back Mountain Honey, of Mansfield, PA, are doing the good work — sustaining bees and making raw honey. In 2018, they will host a Sponsor-a-Hive program to welcome the community’s support in their beekeeping adventure. You can go to their Facebook page for more information and the opportunity to message them directly and learn more about sponsoring a hive.

For immune support, for healthier digestion, for common colds and ailments, and for our planet, choose local raw honey. I made it through this whole piece without making a bee pun. That’s how serious I am beeing.

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This is a platform to discuss and reflect on ideas, advancements, questions, and other musings. I am neither a health expert nor a member of clergy. The only authority I have to speak is my experience — I yield no degree or certification to give you medical, psychological, or religious advice. This is simply where minds come to meet and broaden.

 

Letting Go: Releasing Control

via Daily Prompt: Release

chains
Photo credit: wakingtimes.com

Even a title that suggests a discussion about relinquishing control is unsettling isn’t it? We want control, we crave control, we need control. We hold onto the details of our lives with white knuckles.

And what do we have to show for it? Strained relationships, stress, and regret? Our relationships are strained because we try to manipulate the other person to our whims and we resist when they try to do the same to us. We’re stressed because it’s exhausting and disappointing to manage everything (especially the unmanageable). We’re regretful because every disappointment is our fault, because we’re in control of everything, right?

The greatest irony is this: when we abandon control — in that very moment — we finally achieve freedom and triumph. How could we, though? How could we loosen our grip on our own lives? If we don’t obsessively monitor our lives, who’s going to take care of us? Enter: God.

Abandoning control only makes sense when we’re granting God the power. I don’t know about you, but there’s no one else I want to transfer control to — not to my boss, not to my parents, and not to the government. Only to God can we entrust our intentions every morning and dreams every night. And only He will honor us when we grant Him control.

Add up all of the love everyone has for us and it still can’t rival the providential love God has for us. He loves us even more purely and carefully than we love ourselves. That  sounds like someone who ought to hold the reigns.

Next time you’re stressed over deadlines, nervous about job opportunities, anxious about relationships, or overwhelmed by the vast details of life, offer your control to God: “Lord, I could try to anticipate and control everything, but I know that I’ll fail, because I have every time before this. Take the reigns on this one. Whatever you would do or wherever you would send me, let me follow your path. You work all things for my good. How could I help but to trust you with my life and heart?”

May The Lord bless you as you give more of yourself to Christ!

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This is a platform to discuss and reflect on ideas, advancements, questions, and other musings. I am neither a health expert nor a member of clergy. The only authority I have to speak is my experience — I yield no degree or certification to give you medical, psychological, or religious advice. This is simply where minds come to meet and broaden.