I'm not big on pharmaceuticals for any type of health condition. While drugs can do wonderful things for those who really need them, I feel that modern mainstream medicine really tries to push prescription drugs onto patients. In many cases, drugs only provide short-term relief for deep-seated physiological issues that need to be treated at the core. This has been my personal experience anyway, so take it with a grain of salt. Modern medicine can do amazing things as well.
I've long wanted to try acupuncture for my chronic pain conditions, and today I had my first treatment. The treatment plan for my particular conditions revolves around pain management, as there is really no cure or reversal of these issues. This is what I've been told by mainstream doctors, and have found to be true in my own experience. I have never really found more than short-term pain relief with any type of method or treatment thus far, but I am certainly hopeful and open to the possibility of a lifelong solution.
My first acupuncture session was a very good experience. The Doctor administered needles in about 10 different spots, after which I was instructed to lay on the table and relax, with music for about 30 minutes. She then applied some analgesic essential oils, to reduce inflammation in some key problem areas.
The results: I feel very relaxed and at ease. I have a general, widespread feeling of physical and emotional well-being. The pain is nearly gone, and my muscles feel very relaxed. I'm interested to see how the pain progresses over the next few days, and how long the relief lasts. I was told that one must start off with regular sessions to see real improvement, and then decrease treatments over time. At this point, I am impressed, and would definitely consider going back.
I wanted to share this experience for others that may be considering alternative medicine routes. I have also found alternative medicine practitioners to be more compassionate and geared toward patient welfare than many mainstream doctors that I have encountered. I think this is due in large part to the huge demand on conventional doctors and nurses, and the way that our medical system is structured. So we must still give them credit for doing their best in an unideal world. And again, many of them are truly amazing individuals.
For anyone considering acupuncture, massage, or anything non-mainstream, I urge you to do so. you will never know what it can do for you unless you take that first step and schedule an appointment!
For those of you who have not seen it yet, I highly recommend the documentary Blackfish. This very well-made and insightful documentary follows the case of Tilikum, a performing Orca at Seaworld responsible for the death of his female trainer, and injuries of several others. The film casts a disturbing light on Seaworld, and it's cruelty and negligent treatment of the orcas and other sea mammals it keeps in captivity.
I myself have been to Seaworld several times, and was under the impression that the park was somehow performing "research" or helping endangered sea mammals, or possibly rehabilitating them in some way. This is not the case, as I have learned from Blackfish and my own research. Whales and dolphins are highly regarded as some of the most intelligent animals on earth, with complex social structures and tight-knit family groups. What Seaworld and other marine parks have done to these animals is deplorable and irresponsible. It saddens me that we are exploiting these beautiful animals for our entertainment. In taking our children to Seaworld, we are teaching them that keeping animals in captivity so that we may have an afternoon of watching them perform is acceptable.
Please watch this documentary, as difficult as it may be. It is available on Netflix, and you can learn more about it at:
One of my favorite times of the year is spring! Although it's not quite here yet, now is the time to start prepping your garden beds. I've cleaned up all of the weeds and dead plants from last year, and turned the soil. I've also added compost and a little organic fertilizer. This is a view of one of my front flower beds with a rose bush that is already starting to come back.
These are the two beds that I did today. I planted seeds for peas and spinach, which should be frost tolerant, so if you live in a warmer climate they can be planted now!
This is my cute little patio just outside the garden.
Now is also a good time to start your seeds indoors for plants that are not frost tolerant. I've done 3 types of lettuce, arugula, and 4 or 5 different herbs. Use egg cartons and be frugal! You don't have to invest in the fancy trays they sell at the store.
My houseplants were a little put out as they had to make room on the windowsill for seedlings. More pictures to follow as the garden grows!
So much has happened in the past year and a half that my jewelry and my Etsy shop, which I truly enjoy, have fallen by the wayside. But now that I'm in a new place in life, and a position to put creative energy back into it again, I'm feeling much more balanced. One of the most insightful and obvious statements I've ever come across came from a Chinese fortune cookie I once got. The fortune read "it is now, and in this world that we must live." Is there really any greater truth in life than this? Is there really any other time or place that we can live? Whatever the circumstances of our lives, it is right here, and right now that we must live and breath and and accept everything that is right here in front of us. There is something so achingly sweet about doing this when we face obstacles, grief, losses, heartbreaks. To just let those feelings come...to allow them to be with us, residing in our physical bodies. Noticing all of the thoughts they create, and then let all of it fall away. And what about times when our life situations are happy? I feel more and more lately that it is essential to accept this as well. External circumstances like jobs, relationships, money, etc. can create "happiness" that is fleeting, as it must be...all things are impermanent and ever-changing. This "happiness" is always temporary, and always passes. But as illusory as it may be, it is truly ok to accept this "happiness" and enjoy it. Accept it without fear of losing it, without anxiety. Accept it for exactly what it is...a beautiful cloud passing overhead, intersecting our life's journey for a moment to bring us some peace. It may not be the innate, resounding joy that comes from knowing and being one's true nature, but it is a very nice step on the journey.
Here is a really simple wrapping/packaging idea for those who sell their work, or for everyday gifts. I love love love to use brown kraft paper bags and boxes for wrapping. They are super cheap online or at your local craft store, and I love the look of the natural brown paper. They are so easy to decorate and personalize. You can also get a long roll of brown kraft paper for wrapping larger gifts and packages. If you sell on Etsy or another venue, customers will really appreciate your creative packaging. I have had many complements from customers on the way that I wrapped their items.
Here I have just stamped my paper bags with rubber stamps. I can't express enough how awesome rubber stamps are. You can do just about anything with them from making gift wrap, to your own greeting cards and stationary. If you are looking to get into crafting but don't know where to start, I highly recommend investing in some cute rubber stamps, and different colored inks. You can also carve your own stamps, but that may have to wait for another day...As you can see, stamps have really jazzed up my paper bags. These are 5 x7 bags, which are great for small gifts and gift cards, and travel through the mail well.
There are a lot of options for further decorating your package. I like to close my little bags with a fun sticker. For crafters, it's great to use a "handmade with love" or other fun sticker to let the recipient know that you made it especially for them. For ribbon, I like to use natural twine or raffia. Baker's twine works great too.
So here is the finished product. So as you can see, this is a really easy way to make your own packaging, and the results are much more natural and creative than the glossy stuff you buy at walmart.
This is what my packaging for my customers looks like. I've used green and white baker's twine, and a little Buddha charm. The charm is just a little extra gift that they can make a necklace out of, or put on their keys. If you sell your work, your customers will see your special wrapping and feel as though the item they've purchased is a little gift from you to them! Creative packaging goes a long way toward building customer loyalty.
Welcome to my blog for the simple things that enrich our lives. Most of us probably work full time or at least part time out of the home, or within the home. Careers, children, pets, paying bills, and all of our other obligations consume a large percentage of our time, and ultimately our lives. That is why the simple things that we do for our own pleasure and satisfaction are so important. I believe it is critical to make time for these activities during our busy week, to promote stress relief, mindfulness, and joy. Everyone needs a creative outlet that provides a mental and spiritual break from the work week. Do we all have to be artists painting masterpieces, or brilliant sculptors? No. All we must do is find our niche--the one simple pleasure that brings us joy and satisfaction. Yoga, meditation, cooking, drawing, pottery, knitting, sewing, writing, running, playing with our pets...these can all fit the bill. The reason I call this blog "the art of living," is because there is so much more to our daily lives than just the stress and the drudgery of all the mundane tasks and obligations we must complete. There is room for art if we make it. And the "Zen" part? I believe that our creative work allows us to tap into the Zen, the Now, the Presence of every moment. We can lose ourselves in these moments and get much needed spiritual restoration. So whether you have already embarked upon your artist's work, or are still searching for the shoe that fits, please join me for fun, creative, and inspirational ideas for daily living, and daily Zen.