Accepting Change with the Vibration of Autumn!

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Red Power is SunMoonYinYang

The season of change is upon us! Equinox energy is abundant with opportunities for transition and transformation. In the northern hemisphere, the fall equinox celebrates balance with the pinnacle day of equal dark and light, presaging a shift into more dark than light. Although not everyone will be ready—or willing—to embrace this change, fall equinox is a great time to think about your own balance.

Saying “So long!” to summer is bittersweet for many, and just plain bitter for some!  Aside from the obvious, undeniable shifts we see outside in nature, there’s a lot going on inside our own personal nature. Autumn provides a fantastic opportunity to acknowledge that we all change and that transformation is natural and a normal part of life. 

The subtle and not-so-subtle seasonal shifting is multi-faceted and its effects are deep-reaching. Harnessing the energy of autumn is a beautiful way to accept the changes and create more harmony in your life, and it’s a powerful way to welcome winter! But our reluctance to go with the flow has the potential to amplify our discontent.

Have you been hitting the snooze button lately?

Getting up in the morning may not be as easy now as it was when the energetic rays of summer slipped through our windows to give us a gentle nudge. Sunlight stimulates the production of serotonin, the “happy hormone.” Serotonin is “the precursor for melatonin; it helps regulate the body’s sleep-wake cycles and the internal clock” (www. medicalnewstoday). Sunlight directly affects this internal clock, or circadian rhythm, “a roughly 24 hour cycle in the physiological processes of living beings, including plants, animals, fungi and cyanobacteria” (http://www.sciencedaily.com), and shorter days with dimmer light means less serotonin production and less melatonin. Our sleep cycles will shift in response to this decrease.

The dynamics of this natural change slows down our biochemistry; the bear in hibernation is slow-down in its extreme! The body will seek to compensate for this initial decrease in energy, possibly by seeking out the quickest fix with caffeine, sugar, and carbs—just a heads up to avoid the potential “fall.”

Our bodies may require more sleep as we adjust to the seasonal shift. So, first off, pay Screen Shot 2018-10-26 at 3.04.55 PMattention to your sleep/wake cycle and ditch any guilt about it. I don’t believe there is a single bear on the planet who is feeling guilty about hibernation. Why should you? Negative emotions are like sludge in the energy flow. With our energy already slowing down, adding to it with feelings of guilt is a recipe for mood swings and depression.

Why not embrace the changes in your circadian rhythm with a salute to nature’s ability to willingly let go and celebrate the shift? We’ll be affected physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually, so let’s take a look at what we can do to remain as balanced as possible during this time and increase our vitality and well-being.

EmBODY the Spirit of Autumn

Being mindful of your nutritional input can make all the difference in relation to your energy levels and your ability to be fully alive! The decrease in serotonin is a good place to start. Despite the fact that serotonin plays a major role in your brain chemistry, it is actually produced in your gut!  Gut health is critical for balanced brain chemistry. We often start with diet changes by removing items, which can start our change process with the energy of loss and/or scarcity. Try adding something to your nutritional regime that can make a positive change in your gut health, like drinking fermented drinks such as kombucha (fermented tea) or kefir (fermented milk). Improving your acid-alkaline balance will yield results on many levels and will reduce inflammation, helping that belly feel summer-slim.

Screen Shot 2018-10-26 at 3.10.10 PMAnother dual-role player in our biochemistry alongside serotonin is Vitamin D. Not commonly referred to as a hormone, vitamin D plays a major role in the dynamics of our biochemistry. Since our natural doses of Vitamin D come from the sun, the lack thereof can lead to deficiencies. Some symptoms of vitamin D deficiency are: bone, back and muscle pain; fatigue and tiredness; depression; bone loss; hair loss; and an overall compromised immune system, making us more susceptible to allergies and the cold and flu “season.”

To counteract these deficiencies, increase Omega 3s by eating more fatty fish (like mackerel and salmon), cheese, and egg yolks. Vegans and vegetarians can eat more mushrooms and drink fortified soy and/or almond milk. Plant-derived supplements (www.peta.org) are more bioaccessible, absorbable, and good for everyone. The Five Element Theory of Traditional Chinese Medicine “associates the energetic vibration of Autumn with that of our Lung and Large Intestine organs” (www.tcmworld.org). To support these organs, include pears, roasted almonds, chick peas, honey, celery, mint, and white sesame seeds into your diet.

EnvironMENTAL Cues

Fall is a time for self-reflection and introspection. With the shorter days and colder temperatures, we begin to turn inward. Because we are more inwardly focused, our Spirit becomes more accessible. It’s a great time to take a deeper look inside, to ask questions like: Who am I? What am I? Am I fulfilling my human potential? We don’t necessarily need answers; we are simply checking in to see whether the outside world we live in supports the inside world we live within. 

The autumn season gives a big shout-out to the act of letting go. With the changes in sunlight and temperature and the need for change of habit, our moods are directly affected.  It’s often easier to make changes and start new routines when you have a partner. Why not choose the environment to help you? The environment will not oversleep, cheat on a diet, or let you down in any way in terms of commitment.

The trees must release their leaves in order to conserve the dwindling supply of energy that they will receive from the winter supply of sunlight. Perhaps the bounty of color is nature’s way of celebrating this release? Those leaves don’t go straight to brown, dry up, and die straight away. Instead, there is a generous and beautiful transitional shift. Our spirits brighten and our moods lift each time our eyes fall upon the colors of autumn.

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For regions that don’t have these visuals, the energy of this shift mingles with the energies of the planet so that subtle shifts can be felt and experienced with enough power to announce the arrival of autumn. It’s simply Nature’s way.

EMOTIONal Effects of the Season

Change does not occur in the comfort zone, and although the autumn season lures us Screen Shot 2018-10-26 at 3.16.44 PMwith cozy sweaters and comfort foods, these pleasures do not guarantee a smooth transition. The onset of SAD (Seasonal Affect Disorder) or “winter depression” can be triggered by the fall season. With all the changes in our biochemistry that come with the season, it is no wonder that some of us may have a very difficult time adjusting!

Another factor possibly exacerbating this issue is the fact that the vibration of grief and loss is powerfully present in autumn. The fading of sunlight, vegetation, warmth, and long, lazy days are obvious losses that can set off any residing blocked energy of loss within you. Again, Traditional Chinese Medicine acknowledges grief and loss as an elemental force of the season. Whether you have experienced the loss of a loved one, place, thing, or even a belief, the energy of loss can get triggered during the season of loss.

Screen Shot 2018-10-26 at 3.29.34 PMAs difficult as it may sound and seem, embracing the loss may help the flow of the energy pass through you more swiftly. Viewing the flow of grief as a river sweeping through your energy body and cleansing it of emotional blocks is a great way to embrace your grief. For those of you who may be in the throes of sorrow, this may be an important time to seek extra support or to make a greater effort to stay connected to people who help you feel safe.

SPIRITUALly Spry

Spiritual spryness refers to our energetic fitness. There is a robust flow of energy out there at this time of year—we can see it in the colors of nature and feel it in the bite of the breeze. It’s definitely an invitation to increase our sense of vitality.  In order to do this, we need to enhance our energetic flow. The carefree days of summer offered an opportunity for a more relaxed living routine, which might have led to things piling up. It makes sense for us to remove clutter and get more organized now.

The energy of this season is about letting go, organizing, list-making, and the like. This is a great precursor for our natural desire to start the upcoming New Year off with a fresh, empowering start. Clearing away clutter of all kinds is a wonderful way to fine tune your intentions in preparation for the upcoming season of rebirth and renewal.

This act of clearing can be just as overwhelming as it is inspirational, so take the concept

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http://www.turbosquid.com

in small doses. Try not to think “weekend” or “dumpster.” Instead, invite the idea that the next time you come across a small item that you haven’t used or needed in a long time, you will consider tossing it. Start small, similar to clearing a few twigs at a time from a blocked stream. Clear a few more, and then a few more, and the next thing you know, the stream will be flowing full force and you may not recognize your own home!

The same goes for thoughts, behaviors, and habits. Think about how much more available attention you can put to use to not only gain a deeper sense of peace, but to apply yourself to achieving goals and enhancing your life! There are many ways to help retrain your mind; meditation, for instance, or EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique or “tapping”). Again, you don’t need to go big! Just  commit to a 5-minute meditation. Begin by simply becoming mindful about taking a single breath. Our life starts with a single breath—don’t underestimate the power in that!

Some Simple Steps to Autumn Solace

Autumn carries the frequency of change. The season vibrates with the energy of transition and transformation. Seasonal change is going to happen and there is nothing you can do about it except to resist it—but will that serve you?  Resistance may be a necessary part of your tradition of change, but keep in mind that holding on for too long to what has passed can have adverse effects on your overall health and wellbeing.

When you are ready, here’s a brief list of suggestions to help you increase your sense of vitality and enhance your sense of wellbeing:

  • Take time for introspection. Meditate or vegetate, whatever makes you chill.
  • Cleanse your body. Add fermented food and/or drink to help improve your acid-alkaline balance. Invite a gentle cleanse or fast, or simply eat lightly for a short period.
  • Drink plenty of water to help flush out toxins and energize your cells.
  • De-clutter. Start small if needed; recall the twig-blocked stream, and take away one twig at a time until the flow increases.
  • Get organized. Initiate list-making and restructuring on all levels—with your “stuff,” with your schedule, with the way that you think.
  • Practice letting go. Join the spirit of the season and invite letting go of unwanted anything. A simple exercise can be taking a mindful breath. Think “in with the new” with each inhale and “out with the old” with every exhale.

Thank you for aligning your energy with me. May you enjoy an abundant harvest this season and approach the winter months with a sound spirit, strong immune system, and a fantastic flow of vital energy!

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Sources in order of appearance:

http://www.fpvforums.org/yin-yang-in-nature-yin-yang-in-nature/red-power-is-yinyangsunmoon-zps4ca755e1.html

https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/kc/serotonin-facts-232248

https://www.sciencedaily.com/terms/circadian_rhythm.htm

https://www.peta.org/living/food/5-ways-to-increase-your-vitamin-d-intake/

https://www.tcmworld.org/092217-2/

https://www.turbosquid.com/3d-models/3d-pile-branches-pbr-model/1127662

https://www.stuff.co.nz/the-press/news/101939742/autumn-expected-to-be-warmer–and-wetter–than-usual

 

 

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Thriving on Supplements by Janice Messino

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I live by the idea that the status of my health is mostly maintained by my lifestyle and, to some degree, my genetics. Even so, I know I miss the mark on a balanced diet on many days! To offset those less balanced days, I choose to support my health with specially chosen supplements that assure my body is getting what it needs—not just to live but to thrive. I am not alone in this quest to feel my best. 

Screen Shot 2018-07-24 at 9.00.07 PMAs consumers, we have been misled in a multitude of ways, but many of us have learned better. We no longer blindly accept a prescription; we now know to ask questions. We are learning how to take better care of our health in order to ward off the need for taking a pharmaceutical. We now have easy access to a great deal of health information, making us better-informed patients. And as patients, we have developed a preference for being treated as an individual, not a collection of symptoms. In other words, we have shifted our health paradigm and, in doing so, have become empowered. Screen Shot 2018-07-24 at 9.00.28 PM

As we learn to take better care of our health, the supplement market has expanded to meet our newly-informed needs. This might explain why the supplements market is predicted to grow at a rate of almost 10% for the next seven years and reach a value of $280 billion by 2025. This upswing is, of course, driven by you.

Thriving–or just Surviving?

The late Dr. Linus Pauling, a Nobel Prize-winning physical chemist and peace activist, was a wellness pioneer who strongly advocated for high-dose vitamin C for some specific conditions and for a better state of health overall. The daily amount of vitamin C recommended by Pauling was well over the Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) set by the Food & Drug Administration. The RDA claims to be a “level that is sufficient to meet the nutrient requirements of nearly all healthy people.” But, according to a study of 4,700 adults in the US that used only a modest health assessment, less than 3% of participants were considered healthy. If most Americans are not considered healthy, then the RDA’s guidelines inappropriate for most Americans. It seems that the RDA allows for just enough nutrients to sustain ourselves. Pauling campaigned for levels of nutrients that would allow us to feel our best and to thrive, not just survive.Screen Shot 2018-07-24 at 9.06.03 PM

Pauling was not well liked by his fellow health professionals and was often called (at the very least) an unorthodox thinker.  Many years later, his research findings are taken more seriously. According to Dr. Joseph Mercola, “newer evidence suggests there might be something to Pauling’s heretical claims after all. In fact, a lot of the scientific literature published on vitamin C in the two decades since Pauling’s death support his claims.”

More than 170 million Americans take dietary supplements such as vitamins each year. According to the most recent report from the American Association of Poison control Center’s National Poison Data System (NPDS), not one person in the US died from taking a supplement in 2013. That’s not to say that there isn’t a quality difference between brands. There is! Many supplement companies take extraordinary pride in the production of quality products. To insure safety and effectiveness, supplements should be cleanly sourced and backed by scientific evidence. So, choose a high-quality supplement from a manufacturer and reseller you trust.

 Prescription Death

Unlike the safety of supplements, “about 128,000 people die each year from drugs prescribed to them. This makes prescription drugs a major health risk, ranking 4th with stroke as a leading cause of death.” In light of the high degree of safety of supplements and the considerable number of well-documented deaths caused by prescription and over-the-counter medications, we might ponder why the FDA isn’t investing more time into making prescriptions safer and less time looking for the disadvantages of supplements.

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According to Dr. Christiane Northrup, prescription and over-the-counter medication accounts for close to 80% of the deaths reported by U.S. Poison Control Centers. Even seemingly-harmless acetaminophen, the ingredient in Tylenol and other pain-relieving products, has a dismal track record. The US Poison Control Centers report that “there are 100,000 calls to Poison Control and 56,000 visits to the emergency room, 2,600 hospital admissions, and nearly 500 deaths per year.” Deaths from properly-prescribed medications taken as directed are estimated at 2,460 per week. That number doesn’t even include deaths from prescribing errors, overdose, and improper use! Clearly, in a side-effects contest between vitamins, minerals, and other supplements versus prescription and over-the-counter medication, nutritional supplements come out on top!Screen Shot 2018-07-24 at 9.19.07 PM

In my supplement-taking regimen, I make it a point to include supplements which can potentially raise my longevity. Cutting-edge research shows that NAD (nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide), a chemical compound found in every cell in our bodies, can promote longevity. NAD is said to slow down the aging process by “mitigating chemical stress, inflammation, DNA damage, and failing mitochondria.” Its neuroplasticity-enhancing effects can reverse some age-induced deterioration, such as the cognitive decline associated with Alzheimer’s disease. NAD seems to have the same wonderful longevity effect that is associated with calorie restriction and exercise, and we can’t get it from our diet, no matter how healthy our diet is. But we can take it as a supplement.

All the evidence points to the benefits of supplements, along with a healthy diet and moderate exercise, to make all the difference in our health and longevity. For more information on how to make supplements part of your wellness practice, contact Create Health, where we follow the latest research and carry only the finest supplements.

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Source for citations in order of appearance:

Global Dietary Supplements Market Industry Trends and Forecast to 2025. Data Bridge Market Research. Accessed July 11, 2018. https://databridgemarketresearch.com/reports/global-dietary-supplements-market/

Mercola, Joseph. Was Linus Pauling Right About Vitamin C’s Curative Powers After All? Mercola. Accessed July 11, 2018. https://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2015/11/23/vitamin-c-curative-power.aspx

Nutrient Recommendations: Dietary Reference Intakes (DRI). National Institutes of Health. Accessed July 11, 2018. https://ods.od.nih.gov/Health_Information/Dietary_Reference_Intakes.aspx

Preidt, Robert. Less Than Three Percent of Americans Live a Healthy Lifestyle. WebMD. Accessed July 11, 2018. https://www.webmd.com/fitness-exercise/news/20160322/less-than-3-percent-of-americans-live-a-healthy-lifestyle

Mercola, Joseph. Was Linus Pauling Right About Vitamin C’s Curative Powers After All? Mercola. Accessed July 11, 2018. https://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2015/11/23/vitamin-c-curative-power.aspx

Over 170 Million Americans Take Dietary Supplements. Nutraceuticals World. Accessed July 11, 2018. https://www.nutraceuticalsworld.com/contents/view_online-exclusives/2016-10-31/over-170-million-americans-take-dietary-supplements/

Light, Donald W. New Prescription Drugs: A Major Health Risk With Few Offsetting Advantages. Harvard University Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics. Accessed July 11, 2018. https://ethics.harvard.edu/blog/new-prescription-drugs-major-health-risk-few-offsetting-advantages

Northrup, Christiane. Vitamins Versus Drugs: Which is Safer? Accessed July 11, 2018. https://www.drnorthrup.com/vitamins-versus-drugs-which-is-safer/

Schroeder, Michael O. Death by Prescription. US News and World Report. Accessed July 11, 2018. https://health.usnews.com/health-news/patient-advice/articles/2016-09-27/the-danger-in-taking-prescribed-medications

Harrington, Stephen. Anti-Aging Mechanisms of NAD+. Life Extension Magazine. Accessed July 11, 2018. http://www.lifeextension.com/Magazine/2018/2/Anti-Aging-Effects-Of-NAD/Page-01

 

Can the Wine Cork Help Save the World?

There is a recent movement away from using traditional cork closures due to some inaccurate and bad press. In investigating the cork for this blog and for the Spaz on Wine, Uncorked Podcast,  I was delighted to find that there are many reasons, all good, to buy wines with natural cork stoppers. The history, romance, and earth saving qualities of the natural cork is captivating. Read on, my friend!

History of the Wine Cork

Even though the natural cork is under hot debate right now, the cork as a stopper may date back as far as the ancient Egyptians. Modern legend often attributes its promotion to Dom Perignon, the famous 17th century French monk. Wine myth contends that he may have popularized the use of cork stoppers over the more commonly used wooden plugs. Four hundred years later and the cork continues to be a topic of discussion. The good news is the wooden plug is out, but the concern now is that screw caps and plastic stoppers are gobbling up market share in the world of wine closures (Gifford, 2016). These competitive stoppers are eating away at the tradition, the ceremony, and the sexy sizzle of the traditional cork.

Let’s face it, it’s the wonderful anticipation when the bottle is offered, the unwrapping of the foil capsule, the dignified pull of the cork, the gentle pop of its release, and the presentation of the cork that sets the scene for that marvelous first sip of wine. The slow expectation heightens the total wine experience. Just as it’s the sizzle that enhances the taste of the steak, it’s the looking forward to, the delayed gratification of that first sip that builds our anticipatory desire.

The Sexy Sizzle of the Wine Cork

For centuries wine enthusiasts, both novice and expert alike, have waited for the cork to be pulled, and when in public, presented to them. (Listen to Why Does Your Waiter Hand You the Cork? on Green Ink Radio to discover the answer to this age old question.) It was the love affair of ritual that continued to entice the modern wine consumer up until the last couple of decades.  Sadly, the pomp, the sizzle, the anticipation has all begun to fade. Other players have entered the wine closure field and devoured almost 40 percent of the traditional cork market share (Gifford, 2016) and in many ways are stripping it of its old world elegance and tradition.

Fast forward to the aluminum screw cap; in terms of ceremony, it just doesn’t measure up. Sure, it’s quick and easy, but it’s about as romantic as a TV dinner. Yes, it does reduce spoilage, a little. And yes it is convenient as hell. But it’s sort of like putting on sneakers with a prom dress, practical but inelegant. Nonetheless, it has gained popularity, particularly amongst millennials, and now accounts for 20 percent of the wine-closure market. Then there’s the plastic stopper. Need I say more? A plastic plug in a living thing? Eegads. Nevertheless, it too has extracted 10 percent of the stopper trade from the cork industry (Gifford, 2016).

What’s so Great About a Cork?

There’s such a rich history of the cork, it is infused with legend, romance, and a little mystery (answers found on Spaz on Wine, Uncorked Why Does Your Waiter Hand You the Cork?). But in addition to that, there are numerous economical, enological, and environmental reasons why we should select natural cork stoppers when making our wine purchases:

  • It is made from the bark of the evergreen oak. No trees are killed and it is sustainably harvested (mantoncork).
  • The cork is biodegradable, aluminum screw caps and plastic plugs are not.
  • The Mediterranean Cork Forest is comprised of over 7 million acres, which would be neglected or chopped down if not for the production of cork (Gifford, 2016).
  • It’s environmentally friendly. The Mediterranean Cork Forest offsets 20 million tons of Co2 annually (Gifford).
  • The Portugal Cork Forest has the greatest plant biodiversity of anywhere on the planet, with over 135 different thriving and unique species (Gifford).
  • It provides a safe habitat for the endangered Iberian lynx and the Barbary deer (Gifford).
  • It offers the ecological benefit of providing over 100,000 wine cork related jobs, which are among the last well-paying agricultural jobs available (Gifford).
  • There is very little risk of getting a tainted wine from a natural cork stopper (currently about 1 percent due to recent technological advances) (Gifford).
  • Corklins! Corks are made from the bark of the evergreen oak, so using them as stoppers creates some of the same effects as aging in oak barrels (Pomranz, 2018). The phenolic compounds released are tannins, polyphenols, and phenols (Schmitt, 2018). These phenols interact with catechins and malvidins and form different, enhanced compounds, named Corklins (Pomranz).

Sell the Sizzle, Baby!

My father often repeats the old sales saying, “You sell the sizzle, not the steak.” Well, my recommendation to the Cork Forest Conservation Alliance is Sell the sizzle, baby. Opening a bottle of wine with a natural cork is a sensual experience. It speaks of old world charm and days of yore that can be recaptured in that brief, timeless moment of drawing the cork away from the mysteries held within. A screwcap is just not going to be able to provide that sort of classy pomp. Let’s return to the prom dress analogy for a moment. Don’t get me wrong, I love my sneakers (probably more than I should), but nothing, and I mean nothing can compete with a pair of high heels to complete the overall prom look and experience. Go to a prom in sneakers or go in high heels. What is the more elegant choice?

The Cork Forest Conservation Alliance has a big job ahead of them. At Green Ink Radio we wish them the best! They are working to save the Mediterranean Cork Forest and its inhabits. Their slogan is “Pop a Cork, Save a Tree.” Hey, I’m doing my part saving the world, one bottle at a time. Why don’t you join me? Salute!

Resources:

Gifford, J. (2016, February 25). How millennials (almost) killed the wine cork. The Atlantic. Retrieved from: https://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2016/02/wine-cork-comeback/470961/

Mantoncork.com. The history of cork. Retrieved from: https://www.mantoncork.com/cork/

Pomranz, M. (2018, June 8). Are ‘corklins’ the reason wine bottled with a cork tastes different? Food & Wine. Retrieved from: https://www.foodandwine.com/news/wine-cork-taste-different-corklins

Schmitt, P. (2018, June 7). Compounds called corklins found in cork-stoppered wines. The Drinks Business. Retrieved from: https://www.thedrinksbusiness.com/2018/06/compounds-called-corklins-found-in-cork-stoppered-wines/

 

Transforming Transgender Treatment

When did it Happen?

I don’t know exactly when it happened; I have no recollection of the exact moment in time when working with the transgender population became a focus of my therapy practice. Like all things in life, it was a confluence of events and knowledge, a synergistic melding of intention, experience, and information. It was a slow drip to the realization of one of my life’s purposes: to be there, to show up for people who need me.

It all started several years ago with a homosexual student at the college where I work. He began to educate me extensively about the LGBT+ community. I was enthralled and soon realized how little I actually knew. Then my nephew came out as a transgender woman (he has since gone back to his biological gender, so my pronouns are correct).  My sister struggled mightily with this decision and was genuinely heartsick and that led me on an odyssey of exploration in support of her. I’m sorry to say that I continued to call my nephew by his birth name during this time of transition. It wasn’t in defiance, in hindsight, it was because I didn’t try hard enough to break myself of the habit of using his birth name.

Tony Ferraiolo Blasts It

A transgender male college student helped me work through my confusion and ignorance. He is an advocate and activist and is changing the world, so thank you Ben Crowley! He graduated this May, so I will need him on speed dial to make sure I get it right when working with trans clients in the future. And then the brilliant Tony Ferraiolo came to town. He gave a presentation at Three Rivers Community College and showed his amazing, award winning documentary, A Self Made Man. Simply put, it shook my world. My lingering heterodominant and gender binary biases were blasted to smithereens.

We Reject it Because we Don’t Understand it

And just about then the calls started coming into my practice from trans folk looking for support. I took every client. They taught me so much about the human experience—not just the gender one—for which I am forever grateful. As we sit across each other in my little living room and they share their stories, I am profoundly attuned to how universal our experiences are… and how dissimilar. I have gleaned that it is within these whispers of difference that the world germinates its seeds of cruelty to trans people. Why? My guess is because we don’t understand it and so therefore we reject it. The bigger question then becomes: What can we do to make their world better? How can we ameliorate the transgressions? (Pun intended.)

Be an Ally

Well, I’m glad you asked! There are a lot of great resources out there. I suggest you educate yourself on how to become a true supporter. We can actively enhance the lives of trans people and be an ally by supporting the following National Center for Transgender Equality (NCTE) and Slate recommended initiatives:

  • Providing gender neutral bathroom facilities in all public places to keep them safe and promote laws that allow them to use the facilities of their identified gender. Remember: They are far more likely to be victims of violent crimes than perpetuate them.
  • Support the informed consent model for medical treatment not the gateway model that insists on medical professionals making the final determination of eligibility (Urquart, 2016).
  • Promote the ineffectiveness and actual harmful effects of conversion therapy counseling through legislative action.
  • Ensure that your state and insurance company support the medical necessity of transition-related medical care.
  • Promote social justice through advocacy for fair labor practices for transgender people.
  • Use their identified names and pronouns!
  • Refrain from asking them about their surgeries or treatments. You don’t talk to people about your genitals and they don’t want to talk to you about theirs. Geez.
  • Support comprehensive anti-bullying policies.
  • Advocate for gender identified justice system housing and fair treatment if incarcerated.

The above list is just a very brief summary of a few of the things we can do to help and support our trans friends and relatives. For more comprehensive information and recommendations, please visit www.transequality.org

Pure Joy Podcast

I was recently interviewed on the Pure Joy Podcast about my work with the transgender population in my therapy practice, Spaziani Therapy. Co-hosts Joy and Jennifer approached the questions from two different perspectives—Joy’s questions were thoughtful and deep, even profound, and Jennifer’s were joyful and practical.  Listen to the interview on Green Ink Radio on Spaz on Health. But don’t forget to tune into our sister podcast, Pure Joy Podcast where Joy and Jennifer explore trans’ issues and a lot of other cool topics.

Please remember that when in doubt, err on the side of compassion and sensitivity. Trans folk are just that—folk. We are all in the same boat of human experience, reaching, evolving, grasping, and being. So, be kind and… show up.

Resources

National Center for Transgender Equality. Downloaded May 25, 2018 from www.transequality.org

Urquart, E. (March 11, 2016) Gatekeepers vs. informed consent: Who decides when a trans person can medically transition? Slate. Downloaded June 2, 2108 from http://www.slate.com/blogs/outward/2016/03/11/transgender_patients_and_informed_consent_who_decides_when_transition_treatment.html

Marley’s Mother of a Brunch

Recipes by Tricia Spaziani

Doggone Good Cooking

Tricia Spaziani is a down-home, modern day hostess and self-taught chef. She serves up old style hospitality, great food, and good fun. The proud mom of 13 rescue dogs, every meal she cooks is witnessed by her keenly observant pack. They are her official taste testers. They usually approve. The humans she hosts always do.  With Mother’s Day fast approaching, this is a hearty, quick and easy menu that will wow your guests.

We featured Tricia’s Marley’s Mother of a Brunch on Spaz on Health on Green Ink Radio because home cooking is a far healthier alternative to eating out. How, you ask? Because it is far less expensive, you can control your portions, and you can adjust ingredients to your liking. Also, cooking and hosting at home builds connections with family and friends and enhances intimacy in a way eating in a restaurant does not. Pull up a dog, a flute of mimosa, invite family and friends, and try these delightful recipes!

Bone appetite!

Marley’s Mother of a Brunch

Marley’s Honey Blueberry Muffins

Marley

 Ingredients:

2 Cups Flour

1 Teaspoon Salt

3 Teaspoon Baking Powder

3/4 Cup Fresh Blueberries-rinsed

1 Cup Milk

4 Tablespoons Honey

1 Egg Beaten

1/4 Cup Melted Shortening

Preheat Oven to 350F

Directions:

Sift flour, salt, baking powder and blueberries together. Mix milk, honey, beaten egg, and melted shortening. Add dry ingredients. Stir quickly just to incorporate. Fill a greased muffin pan half full. You may also use muffin liners. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes until brown.

Marley’s Italian Torte

Ingredients:

2 Tubes of Crescent Rolls / Divided

1 Teaspoon Olive Oil

1 Package of fresh baby spinach- 6 to 8 ounces

1 Cup fresh mushrooms – I use cremini

7 Large eggs

1 Cup fresh grated Parmesan- I use Strevechio

2 Teaspoons Italian Seasoning

Fresh Ground Pepper to taste

1/2 lb. Thin Sliced good Deli Ham – I use Black Forest Ham

1/2 lb. Thin Sliced Hard Salami

1/2 lb. Thin Sliced Provolone Cheese

12 ounces of Roasted Red Peppers- drain them and pat them dry – another option is sun dried tomatoes packed in oil

Preheat oven to 350F

Directions:

Place a 9-inch spring form pan on heavy duty foil and wrap it around pan. This prevents leaking. Then unroll one tube of crescent dough and separate into triangles. Press onto bottom of pan to form a crust. Seal seams well with fingers. Bake 10-15 minutes or until set.

Easy Italian Torte Crust

In a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium-high heat. Add spinach, mushrooms, cook until mushrooms are tender. Drain on a paper towel or in a colander. Remove all liquid.

In a large bowl, whisk six eggs, the parmesan cheese, and the Italian seasoning and pepper.

Layer crust with half of the meats, cheese, red peppers and spinach mixture. Pour half of the egg mixture over the top. Repeat with remaining meats, cheese and vegetables, top with rest of the egg mixture.

Hearty Vegetables Are Key

 

Unroll and separate the second tube of crescent rolls into triangles, then press together to form a circle while sealing the seams. Once a circle is formed like a pie crust, place it over the filling. Wisk the remaining egg, brush over dough.

Bake uncovered, for 1 to 1/4 hours until done. During the baking process if the edges of the crust brown too fast, cover loosely with aluminum foil. Once done, loosen edges with a knife and remove spring form rim from pan. Let torte rest for 15 minutes before serving.

This recipe can be made without the meat, just add additional vegetables.

Enjoy, Trisha style!

Marley’s Easy Greens & Tomato Salad

Pour a package of spring mix into a bowl.

Slice grape tomatoes.

Shred a handful of basil leaves.

Splash with olive oil and balsamic vinegar.

Sprinkle with sea salt and fresh ground pepper.

Marley’s Grapefruit Mimosa

Pair this delicious brunch with a Brut Prosecco and freshly squeezed grapefruit juice to taste.

Blood orange sparkling water is also an excellent accompaniment.

Don’t forget to spay and neuter your animals!

Tune into Spaz on Health’s Marley’s Mother of a Brunch Episode to hear Marley’s cute rescue story. We dedicate this brunch to this beautiful girl. Don’t worry, she got a bite.

Volunteerism: Pre√ to the Afterlife

Volunteers Can Keep Their Shoes On

I suck at volunteering. I’m far too selfish, over-committed to other things, and, okay, lazy. I truly respect and admire people that volunteer their time and efforts. They will receive greater credits in the afterlife ledger. Volunteers? Move to the right for expedited check-in. No belts or shoe removal required and you can keep your laptops in your bag.

But what about those who donate money, but not time? Does that decrease our positive valence in the eyes of the eternal life judges? Is volunteering inherently more worthy than financial service? That entirely depends on what you value more. Personally, I treasure every spare moment, but not the pennies in my wallet. Donors also make the world a better place.

According to Harvard Health writer, Stephanie Watson, volunteering isn’t just good for the world, but healthy for us, too! It contributes to increased social connectivity by volunteers interacting with others during their selfless deeds, which in turn results in lower levels of loneliness and depression. It also appears to lower blood pressure and contribute to longer lifespans.

However, even with these perks (both earthly and celestial) clearly in mind, I cannot motivate myself to give up a Saturday out of my precious time to dish out soup, clean beaches, or even rally at the Capitol around causes I am passionate about. Why the hell not? Am I a bad person? No. I am not; I have my moments, but overall, I’m a decent person. I give a lot of money to charitable and philanthropic causes yearly (listen to Spaz on Health, Teammates for Life episode to learn the difference). Does that count? Will I get to move to the front of the coach, cattle-herding-like line in the afterlife because I was generous with a dollar? Maybe not so much. I never give more than I can afford. I never do without so that others can have. I give the little extra I can because I work two jobs and have a tiny amount of padding right now in my life (subject to change with any unexpected car or home repair expense).

Vianna Saves Girls Lives with Basketball

What makes someone deliver unselfishly of themselves to the universe? Are they born different? Are they more evolved? Yes. And yes. Take Vianna McGugan, for instance, who is my old friend and classmate. She retired from her work at Pfizer and now devotes her life to saving young girls from early pregnancy, rape, and even death in Uganda. Vianna is saving lives by introducing basketball to these young women and linking that with continuing their education in schools she is creating.  She created the organization Teammates for Life to provide the scaffolding for all the amazing lifesaving projects she does. This remarkable woman doesn’t just mail a check (insert sheepish grin); she goes and lives there, in third world country accommodations, fights entrenched misogyny and tribal antagonisms, digs wells, and recruits the young women she coaches. In her stateside time, Vianna is fundraising, sharing awareness, and collecting shoes and clothes not only for her girls, but for entire villages. She definitely has a spot in the expedited line to glory, glory in the highest. Her hopes are to grow the program from 30 girls to hundreds. See how you can help (if you’re an armchair do-gooder like me) by clicking here to donate. Even we lazy philanthropists can support Vianna so that she can get more girls out of their oppressive villages and into school and sports.

Raina Saves an Animal in Some Way Every Day 

Another volunteer that takes my breath away is my sister, Raina Spaziani. She is involved with so many animal charities that I have lost count. She donates over $40,000 a year to animal rescue organizations and initiatives. Additionally, she is in the process of developing her own no-kill cat shelter. She spends every spare moment raising funds for organizations like Pet Pals, providing transport for dogs and cats on death row from the South to shelters and homes in the North. She devotes a large part of her time petitioning and demonstrating for legislative change and tougher laws on animal abuse, building dog houses for neglected and chained dogs, and even going so far as to chain herself to a dog house in the blistering hot summer sun to raise awareness and create legal change around animal neglect and abuse. She is so committed that she suffered years of bullying and threats because she called out identified law enforcement agents for animal cruelty. The abuse still goes on. But, she continues to fearlessly speak out with a visceral rage against cruelty of those that cannot defend themselves. Raina literally saves an animal’s life every day of her life. For a while I had to stop opening her emails because every time I did, I ended up with a dog.

Lisa is a True American

My dear old pal, Lisa Middents, brings it in the activism category. She too will be in the accelerated afterlife line. She rallies, demonstrates, writes letters, coordinates and organizes protests, educates, and brings her family, too! She is a liberal for justice, so if that’s not your thing (if not, my suspicions are that you probably wouldn’t be reading this blog, so I may be talking to myself right now) you may not agree with her politics, but you would still admire her dedicated fervor to truth, liberty, and justice for all.

She is an American fighting for the country and inhabitants she loves—all inhabitants. She takes volunteerism to a new level and is passionate about Meal on Wheels, and coordinated this walkathon too, all the while tending to a dying and beloved father.* Lisa is unfailingly kind, generous with her time, and passionate about the good fight. She’s most certainly another front of the line candidate. I am entirely confident that she won’t have to take off her shoes in the afterlife.

 She Ruined Designer Handbags

Not that long ago, I shared with my sister Raina that I owned a designer handbag that cost a small fortune. Aghast, she said to me, “Do you know how many animal’s lives I could save with that money?” And so now, I think about my purchases with that ruling the abacus—how many lives could this pair of boots, purse, new curtains, ring save? Both animal and human? I’m not saying that I will stop shopping and plan to give all my money to charity and philanthropy (you didn’t listen, did you?  And you still don’t know the difference, I suspect.) or to live in a hut without indoor plumbing . But I am far more considered. Sad news for Nordstroms: She has ruined designer handbags for me forever.

What Line Will we be in?

So, the big question: What line will we get in if we only donate but don’t volunteer? I like to think we help the rock stars of change make their music. Without funding, they are unable to accomplish their miracles. We may not be born equal in the do-good area, but we can certainly help the gifted change the world, which can’t hurt our cause either. (Let’s face it—it’s always about us.) My bet is maybe we’ll have to take off our shoes and show our laptops, but there’s a small chance we’ll be able to keep our belts on.

God Bless You

*Good night, Paul Middents, rest in peace. You were an amazing American, serving your country for 34 years as a Captain in the US Navy. You are upon whom your daughter modeled her dedication to nation and liberty. It was a privilege to know you. You were always kind, and you tolerated our teen years. God bless you.

 

 

Our Love Affair With Pharmaceuticals by Janice Messino

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I wanted to write about “Big Pharma” (aka the pharmaceutical industry) and how the industry affects all of us. I didn’t realize that I was personally affected, especially since I believed that, with my education and background, I knew better. However, in the past I, too, had allowed myself to be taken in. It all started coming back to me—all the drugs that doctors had, at the very least, suggested that I take; the flood of free sample I had been offered,  diagnosis after diagnosis. This was all before I started to take a close look at how I could use supplements, diet, and lifestyle to diminish or remove the physical symptoms I was experiencing. I don’t recall ever being educated by doctors as to how I could help myself through diet and lifestyle. As it turns out, I am not alone. 

According to Fierce Pharma, 9 out of 10 drug companies spend more on marketing than on drug research. CBS News reported in 2016 that the pharmaceutical drug industry spends $5.2 billion annually on drug advertising, a jump of 60% in just four years. This would account for the nonstop ads for pharmaceuticals. All the ads end with the same phrase: “Ask your doctor” about this drug or that. Thus, your doctor is also subjected to an onslaught of pharmaceutical marketing in a variety of delivery methods to the tune of $24 billion a year.

The Drug Pushers Screen Shot 2018-04-23 at 5.49.32 PM

Sales representatives are the connector, foot soldiers in every drug maker’s attempt to reach us through our doctors. You might think that drug representatives would have a science or medical background, but this is not necessarily true at all. Pharmaceutical sales representatives do not come empty-handed. They visit doctors with samples (how many of you have been given these samples by your doctor who is overly positive about this new drug?), brochures and pamphlets, “swag” (branded products), personal gifts, and invitations to dinner. They may also invite a doctor to “educational” meetings where industry-paid doctors speak about particular drugs. Typically, these meetings are like infomercials; highly biased in favor of the drug with evidence taken from research that was designed, run, analyzed, and funded by the drug company itself. Sales reps are schooled only in promotional material, not in the science or medicine behind pharmaceuticals. To be fair, many doctors will take this into consideration.

The Crimes

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Most drug companies have been fined a substantial amount for ethical issues. For example, Seroquel, made by AstraZeneca, is an anti-psychotic intended to treat schizophrenia and bi-polar disorder and has life-threatening side effects. It was being marketed for sleeplessness, dementia, and depression. This is known as going off-label and is a dangerous practice. When a drug is marketed for an off-label purpose, it has not been approved by the FDA for that condition and has not been studied for risks or dosages related to the condition. AstraZeneca did not admit any wrongdoing but settled for half a billion dollars, according to Lew Morris, former Chief Counsel for HHS office of Inspector General.

Just about every drug company has paid out for similar problems; it’s not just one drug company for one drug. According to the Corporate Research Project website,

  • Johnson & Johnson paid out 2.2 billion for criminal and civil allegations involving off-label marketing of a psychotropic drug and kickbacks to doctors and pharmacists to encourage off-label usage;
  • Eli Lilly and company agreed to pay 1.4 billion for off-label marketing of Zyprexa, another schizophrenia drug;
  • Glaxo Smith Kline was fined $3 billion for kickbacks paid to doctors and other health professionals to get them to prescribe and promote Wellbutrin (an anti-depressant) as not just an antidepressant, but as the happy, sex-drive-increasing, and skinny pill. 

This list is but a scratch on the surface of the myriad false claims, marketing fraud, and bribery payouts made by pharmaceutical companies. After all, pharmaceutical companies must make a profit and answer to their shareholders, but at what cost? If you would like to learn more about your doctor and their dealings with the pharmaceutical industry, go to Open Payments Data and search your doctor, hospital, or drug company for more information.

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http://www.revenuesandprofits.com

Sources for data in order of appearance:

https://www.fiercepharma.com/marketing?page=0%2C1

https://www.cbsnews.com/news/drug-ads-5-2-billion-annually-and-rising/

http://www.pewtrusts.org/en/research-and-analysis/fact-sheets/2013/11/11/persuading-the-prescribers-pharmaceutical-industry-marketing-and-its-influence-on-physicians-and-patients

https://www.i-lawsuit.com/seroquel-linked-serious-life-threatening-side-effects/

https://www.corp-research.org/jnj

https://openpaymentsdata.cms.gov/

https://revenuesandprofits.com/understanding-the-new-pharma-business-model/