Monday, January 25, 2010

Life Wellness Monday – Stress Reduction

Blessings, Darlings!

I’m starting our 100% increase in wellness series with the emotional wellness category. Specifically on how to better deal with stress, because life is full of stressors and change – what we are aiming for – is yet another stressor. And because I know MY blood pressure is up …from stress as well as other reasons like heredity, diet, weight, yaddayaddayadda.

Stress is defined as emotional and physical effects caused by our responses to external events. I sort of disagree with that definition a bit – I guess they’d see ‘having cancer you don’t know about’ as not being a stress but having an doctor TELL you that you have cancer as external and thus a stress. Eh. WebMD goes into stress in detail so you might want to read their article at Because our minds and our bodies are connected in so many ways, stress affects not just our emotional state with worry, insomnia, and what have you but it also affects our body over time, lowering our resistance to infections, contributing to head aches, stomach problems, high blood pressure, etc. Not to mention (but I will) that not all of our responses to stress are healthy for us. Many people smoke more or drink more when under stress. Others are emotional eaters …. or non-eaters.

You can’t have a life free from stress. And since stress is part of growth and change, even positive growth and change, joining me on our 100% Increase in Wellness path is going to be a stress. Looks to me like we’d best learn to handle it as well as we can.

Fortunately, there are lots of areas here where we can take specific actions.

Some stresses in our lives are ‘optional’, and one simple step might be to avoid those stressors. There are some political pundits I simply do not watch/listen to, because I feel that they lie or ‘bend’ the truth, are hateful, etc. I do not watch them anymore. Someone else can monitor them instead of me.

If noise is stressing you in parts of your life – noise canceling headphones or regular ear plugs are wonderful things.

Still, other stresses are going to come through. What do we do about those?

If at all possible, solve whatever is causing the stress. That will have the most impact! But you and I both know that you can’t personally solve the problems in the economy, you can’t make the world safe for everyone, and the drivers on the road with you ARE nuts.

Exercise is one grand way to help you handle stress, especially if you work to focus on the exercise while doing it rather than on the external worries. And a physically tired body can usually overrule a running-on mind when it comes to sleeping at night. Dancing counts as exercise, by the way!

Meditation can be used to help the body and mind relax. There are meditative practices in all religions and many philosophies. Aryeh Kaplan’s book “Jewish Meditation” might be a great resource for Jews and most Christians, Catholics have resources on contemplation, atheists can pick any number of religion-free types (see Benson’s “The Relaxation Response”), etc. We non-Judeo Christians have lots of types of meditation our traditions use, as well as guided meditations and visualizations to choose from.

Oh, speaking of visualizations, once upon a time my car was stolen. It added to the stress I was under at that time. What I did was buy a white 7 day candle from the Hispanic foods part of the grocery store, set it up safely on my stove, and lit it. Whenever the anger, worry, stress of not having a car, etc. built up, I sent it to the candle flame to be consumed and transmuted into energy that I could make use of for positive things in my life. Like cleaning instead of pacing, for example.

Eating right when under stress will help your body deal with stress far better than eating too much, too little, or too much junk food. If you are stressed to the point it’s hard to eat, try mini-meals of a bit of protein and a bit of fruit and veggies. A half or quarter of a sandwich and a half or quarter of an orange. A small chunk of cheese and half an apple.

Yes, Chocolate has some effects that relieve stress. But it only takes a tiny bit of chocolate to have that effect, the rest is overkill.

Sleeping all day, or barely sleeping at all can be the result of stress. Work to get your full night’s sleep. You’ve heard the drill before. No evening caffeine. Stop watching stimulating TV a couple of hours before bed. Use your nightly rituals to help get you ready for bed.

Other things might choose to help you deal with stress – depending on the outside cause behind it – might be better time management, outsourcing some tasks you have been doing, etc.

Finally, there’s the BIGGIE – get professional counseling to help you deal with emotional stress. It might be just what some people need. Desensitizing therapies, for example, work particularly well with both phobias and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. I have a bias towards that and other cognitive-behavioral therapies.

Now – choose something and DO IT. That’s the key here. You’re only after a 11% increase in your level of relaxation. Which of these ideas, or some other idea, will get you that level of improvement?

I’m going off to meditate … but I’ll also hit up my husband or spawn for a back rub later.

Frondly, Fern

Sunday, January 24, 2010


Finally! In about 3 more weeks we'll be getting our share (1/10) of a pasture raised organic steer.

We do this about every 18 months to 2 years. Not as often as I'd like, but coordinating the purchase among the group of us busy women is not easy. LOTS of props to Suz, who does the organization! w00t! What a woman!

Splitting a steer, or half a steer, really brings the price down to the same price we'd pay for the same beef - factory farm raised, not organic - in a supermarket. But I do buy the factory farmed supermarket meat between our bulk purchases. Because I'm cheap, and money is tight.

This is our first purchase from this farm and using this slaughterhouse. We were dissatisfied with the previous farm and the last steer - which was tough as nails.

I'd love to split a hog or goat or lamb, but that hasn't worked out yet. Maybe someday.

So we're working on eating out of the freezer for the next 3 weeks to make room from the beefiness. I'll be making stored bones and veggie scraps into stock, making stock into soup, turning sale price meat into meals, etc. I started this in ernest a few days ago, tho' - and since I make meals army-sized, we won't be needing anything out of the freezer again for days, I have so much in leftovers in the fridge. Well, I'll take one container of lentil soup out for lunches tomorrow, but that's it until Thursday.

The slaughterhouse we'll be picking up the beef at this time has far better hours than the previous one. Usually we DC area folks would drive out to the Hagarstown area Friday night, have a slumber party at Suz's house, then drag our sorry butts out to pick up the beef before the place closed at 8:30 am. This time I think I can sleep at home, then go up to Suz or even meet them all at the slaughter house for pickup. Then back to Suz's for the first 'even distribution' of meat .... followed by trading cuts we aren't as fond of for cuts we like more. THAT is a hoot.

How many of y'all are into either organic/pastured meats or bulk buying? I kind of figure that the preppers reading are doing more bulk buying and the pagans are getting more organics, but it could well be all of y'all!

Frondly, Fern

Saturday, January 23, 2010

"You" Time

Blessings, Darlings!

It's Saturday Morning.

Are you awake? Are you sleeping in? What are your plans for the day?

If you have a 'typical' work schedule, then Saturday Morning is YOUR time. It doesn't belong to your job, or getting ready to go to your job. It's the time you can spend working on YOUR goals. Not just getting a few minutes in on them, but big gobs of time in on them.

So why do so many people spend their free time Saturday Morning sleeping in? Or their free time evenings watching hours and hours of crap on TV?

I'm not anti-sleep, or anti-relaxation ... but I keep hearing folks say that they don't have time to achieve their goals, and these same people are telling me all about what was on TV last night, or how they slept in on Saturday until the kids needed them. Babygirl, if you're asleep while your kids are asleep in the morning, and watching TV while they are in bed in the evening, then you're going to have to work on your goals while they are awake. Which is why you don't get anything useful done.

I'm not saying that I'm some paragon at this. It's something I constantly struggle with. But I've learned that even a little bit of 'better ME time management' always pays off so much and so quickly!

Sometime in the next few weeks, when I address Time Management in the Monday Health Series, I'll address why multitasking doesn't work well as a strategy for getting goals accomplished. For now, the call to action is to use your "My Time" wisely. Don't squander it!

Frondly, Fern

Friday, January 22, 2010

My Son, the Dropout?

What's a Druish Mother to do?

My spawn is considering not taking classes this winter/spring semester in college and working instead. Partly because money to pay for the semester is tight (but we could manage it) and partly because we might move before the end of the semester.

My husband is against him taking a break from college, saying that jobs are hard to find and we probably won't move till after the semester is over, if we move at all. The whole 'why we would move' thing would take a blog post of its own, and husband doesn't want me to post that. I WILL say that we are not being foreclosed on - we rent, so it's not like we haven't been paying the mortgage!

Spawn went to the campus yesterday and talked to an advisor there. He wanted to know if it was a problem going back to school if he dropped out for monetary reasons, when he had to decide by, etc. The advisor had just had that SAME conversation with the previous student s/he had seen. And has been having that discussion with HUGE numbers of students. Families can't pay the same amount that they have been paying towards college. Student loans thru' the government have been cut back. Student loans thru' banks are harder to get.

We're lucky - neither we nor he have taken any loans to pay for spawn's college education. So if he does drop out, he won't have to deal with paying those back. Nor will he have to when he DOES eventually finish college. I expect that many of the other students facing this decision have that extra pressure on them.

I dropped out of college for a while back in my wild youth - it was clear my grades weren't going to get me into law school, and I needed to decide what to move into next. So I went to secretarial school (the same one my Aunt Ann had gone to some 40+ years earlier!) and did secretarial then administrative assistant work until I returned to college. So I'm comfortable with whatever decision the spawn makes, as long as he works. Even if it means working at McDonalds.

Stay tuned.....

Thursday, January 21, 2010


My husband and spawn do not like beans. How can I be even a prepper, let alone my goal of being a survivalist, if my family fails one part of the beans/bullets/band-aids trinity?

There are a few ways they will condescend to down some beans. The husband will eat beans if there are some in his beef-based chili. The spawn will choke down refried beans. And green beans, rather than high-protein dried beans, are loved.

This is getting to be more and more of a problem for me as I focus more on prepping and as we struggle to pay down debt on a low income. Beans are cheap and healthy eats!

So this year I'm cooking one bean-based dish a week. Like warm potatoes and lentils in Italian dressing, or lentil vegetable soup with dumplings. Trying to get them used to eating a bean dish or two regularly.

They may never choose felafel over gyros in a Middle Eastern restaurant ... but at least when presented with red beans and rice at home, they will eventually eat it civilly. I hope.

Monday, January 18, 2010

WEEKLY WELLNESS POST: Improve Your Wellness 100 %

Blessings, Darlings!

It's now almost 3 weeks into the new year. Do you know what that means? It means that most of the people who have made resolutions involving ... well ... ANYTHING are beginning to slip up on them. By February 1 the long-term users of health clubs will be able to get at the machines easily again, and grocery stores will stop having great weekly sales on diet foods.

By April 1, health club memberships and home exercise equipment will be readily available in classified ads.

It IS hard to change life habits. Change is painful enough, but add hunger or sore muscles or tendonitis or (my usual one) getting sick 2 or 3 weeks into an exercise program on top of that, the probability that the change won't stick increases dramatically.

It doesn't have to be like that.

I say that you can improve your health 100% in 21 weeks by making a series of SMALL and RELATIVELY EASY changes.

We all know that wellness is multi-faceted. Most wellness professionals seem to break it down into 7 major categories, along the lines of Physical, Mental,
Spiritual, Career, Environmental, Relationships, Financial. Or they do a tripartite division - body, mind, and spirit - a la Dr. Andrew Weil, at While I'm a Celtic Reconstructionist and DEEPLY into triads, and I have been into Dr. Weil's books for almost 40 years now - I find his three categories too broad, containing too many subdivisions, leading to a feeling of being overwhelmed. I prefer the 7 part division.

Here's the theory I'm putting forth, and that I'll be expounding on during this health series: IF you make ONE permanent change within ONE part of ONE the 7 aspects of health every three weeks, aiming for a 10 percent improvement in your health from what you have now THEN in one cycle thru' the 7 aspects you get a 94% increase in your health in 21 weeks. Not quite the 100% I talked about in the title, but close enough. Besides, once thru' the cycle once ... you start the cycle over working on one other goal within each of the 7 aspects. Two complete cycles in a year will yield over 200% increase in wellness!

In this series, every week I'll be writing about - cheerleading, if you will - one part of one aspect. You don't have to wait till I start cheering you on in next week's post to start making changes. You don't have to make the change I write about, or do them in the order I propose. Start ANYWHERE, aim for a 10% improvement in that one thing. A few weeks later, make another change that you think will net you another 10% wellness increase. Small changes, synergistic and cumulative over time.

Heck, aim at the low-hanging fruit first. If you know an easy change that will net a big improvement, go for that first. Let success build on success by starting that way.

Before I end this, let me make one thing VERY clear - wellness isn't just for the 'able-bodied' or those without chronic diseases. Wellness is about living the best life you as a UNIQUE INDIVIDUAL can live. It's not a once-size fits all thing, and all improvements for are based on where you are starting.

Frondly, Fern

I'm Baaaacccckkkkk

Blessings, Darlings! And, uh, Happy Secular New Year!

Sorry for neglecting the blog for so long. But we (husband and I) FINALLY got our business web site revised and up last Friday. Yesterday I played at being a web spider and went over the site link by link, page by page. I made a preliminary list of 49 things that were wrong with it, and we're now working our way thru' that list.

You can see our new business baby at . I'll warn you in advance - virtually every video that is supposed to be there is not made yet. But every dang link works!

Meanwhile, for this blog, I'm planning to start a healthy living series today. Updates on that should be every week. Usually on Mondays. Sometimes on Tuesdays, since I'm planning a trip to visit my mother, who is now in a nursing home 900 miles from me.