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Posts from the ‘happiness’ Category

Flow of time: where does it take us?

I arrived to Canada in 2004. I did not know what to expect, but I was very impressed by greatness of many things, and everything felt to me huge. I mean everything. Latvia where I came from is a small country, and, therefore, the endless wide roads, the high-rise buildings, the downtown Toronto with its busy streets and, especially, the size of any province was so different from what I was used to.

Well, time flew absurdly fast then, and I got married in October 30th of the same year. It’s very amazing that it is my daughter’s birthday on this day, too, which I hadn’t even realized when we made all arrangements. We stayed in Niagara Falls in a newlywed suite which had number 3010 on the door. Something else, or what?

Well, we got married in The Small Wedding Chapel in Niagara Falls. My family was in Latvia, so, my fiancé decided not to invite his family also, just to be fair to each other. Very tactful, I’d say. Therefore we headed out to Niagara Falls the day before wedding. The weather was mild and sunny during the day, although, it was the end of October. These pictures were taken by the numerous by-passers who all kept congratulating us, so, it felt wonderful actually.

I cannot believe it’s been 13 years. The flow of time is very different from what it was back then. The best part is that my daughter is 38 today and we celebrate the 13th wedding anniversary. So much fun together (over the internet because she is in Latvia).

Everything worked out quite well. My husband has proved himself to be the best, most loving and most honest person ever and he is still the same excellent man who I met back then. He has had a lot of patience and understanding in the situations when my health really gave up. When we are saying “…in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, till death do us part” at the wedding, we rarely can be aware of what is ahead in reality. It has not been all that smooth, but, thankfully, we are managing everything.

We got married in Niagara Falls

Signing …

Happy me, well, we tried to take each others pictures first, and then the by-passers helped

This is us 13 years ago

While we are still very young we believe that nothing really changes as we get older, except it is a larger number. We assume we will have the same ideas and the same attitude, and the same capability when executing different things. That is so wrong! I just now have started to understand how my parents felt at older age, and I am very lucky to have my daughter as my best friend because my top energy levels matched time of her being young and very energetic and passionate.

We are a lot smarter. Life teaches us if we are willing to pay attention and to learn the lesson. We find out that some ideas were simply silly and that the world isn’t there to please us and make miraculously our wishes come true without any effort. We have learnt that lots of things require fighting for them and that path can take a lot of turns, too. It’s never as if going from point A to point B. There are always obstacles and problems, and all kinds of disturbances.

The most important things for a family are love, trust and respect. Without any of this missing, marriage is going to have cracks. The most important thing for an individual is the mental and physical health. While I have a lot of brain power, excellent memory and very strong willpower, the physical side is somewhat suffering. Well, I hope the future is friendly and has some better things for me and us.

Being an older white, legal immigrant in Canada is not quite the same as being a refugee. Refugees are treated very well here and receive extreme support. I haven’t received ever any smallest or tiniest support whatsoever. My only support has come from my husband so far, and I am happy and grateful for that. Other than that, my expectations did not come true: I wasn’t met too friendly wherever I turned to in Canada, and I haven’t made too many friends locally, as well. Realistically, I was already 46 when I relocated to Canada; so, it’s not the same as when one is 16 or even 26. I have turned from a very social person (I worked at high schools and colleges in Latvia, it was work with and among people) to a very isolated person. My lack of health has contributed to that also, a lot actually, but still, I did not expect such ignorance from the local community and people. It has been as if approaching some unbreakable brick wall: there is very little interest about what I do and offer. I suppose one has way better chances if they have classmates, schoolmates, University time friends, childhood friends and obviously relatives in the country they work and live.

Well, I have only my husband.

Here it goes: to our 13 wonderful years together! I want to thank my husband and God for this great time and I certainly believe that the best times are still ahead of us.

P. S. I have to apologize to fellow bloggers for their kind and numerous comments and likes to previous posts, as well, as thank you to all who keep following my art site https://inesepogagallery.com/ I will approve everything and I will return all likes as soon as get a bit better and all my stuff is sorted out. That won’t be today because it is our wedding anniversary. Thanks to everybody!

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Looking for wild things in the wild

Before I fly home, I definitely had to make some mushroom picking trips.

It’s something I miss a lot in Canada and which is plenty in Latvia.

It’s a land which has maintained its ecological integrity. Forests are quite wild and frequently not that much walked or travelled, although, large number of people would enjoy them, pick wild berries and mushrooms there. These natural forests are extra clean compared to highly developed countries.

It might sound like a walk in the park, but it actually isn’t. It’s not that easy to get over the fallen tree trunks and branches, bushes, thick young firs, aspens, birches and bushes. There is no path usually and one goes led by intuition or guess since wild mushrooms do not grow everywhere, but they are friendly neighbors of some particular tree and moss combination, as well as they like some grasses and dislike or never grow near others. King boletes love outskirts of the forest and can be also found near old roads. The orange-capped boletes grow rather in long grasses, but every forest is different and one has to figure out where they might be hiding.

It is a sporting activity that carries a lot of excitement, hence, finding a bunch of king boletes makes one happy and also proud.

The rainfalls and pretty warm weather this September definitely helped mushrooms grow fast and almost in every forest.

I regret I do not know such places in Ontario, but one should most likely drive for many hours in order to find a clean place where wild mushrooms love growing. It was just slightly out-of-town in Latvia, but we made lots of stops. Every ditch that separates road from the forest was full of water, and getting in the forest was a challenge.

I personally enjoy to a huge extent picking mushrooms, I like eating them, as well, but still: nothing compares to overcoming all obstacles and getting a full basket of nice and valuable mushrooms. King boletes belong to the most nutritious wild mushrooms and they are pride of everybody who takes a walk in the forest. It is believed they help conquering even cancer, not to mention that their protein content can exceed the amount of proteins in meat. Dried king boletes contain more protein than meat.

It is a wonderful food and can be prepared in very many ways: Latvians make mushroom sauces, soups of mushrooms; we dehydrate and dry them and use afterwards either as powder or spice; dried mushrooms can be added to broth, soup and any other dish. We pickle them and prepare delicious salads. Wild mushrooms can be prepared with salt for winter and then eaten any way one likes. They go into pies, and it is not only a snack, but a very delicious main course on many Latvian dinner tables.

Enjoy the pictures! Well, some picture-taking was very tricky since I had the basket on one arm, it was heavy, not less than 4 kg, I balanced myself on some small dry patch and here and there it was almost impossible to place the phone so that it would take a picture.

Golden chanterelle

The poisonous beauties: fly agarics or fly amanitas

The bright red poisonous mushrooms frequently signal that king boletes are not far

Small king bolete getting out of moss after rain

To get the close-up, I pushed moss down, a bit  larger king bolete

Orange cap aspen boletes, so lovely!

This family of orange cap aspen boletes was hiding in long grasses

Full basket of orange cap and king boletes

Absolutely delicious and extraordinary beautiful

They were so firm and so fresh

I took like 100 pictures, I couldn’t resist because I rarely have such an opportunity

I will catch up with my blog friends once I am back home. My trip will take some time and, unfortunately, there is large time zone difference, and that will require adjustment from my side.

 

Think pink: how to return to life after a long treatment

A few suggestions which work for me

If you just took the last pill, are still struggling with the treatment medications, are just getting in or out of a long treatment, I know where you are coming from.

The treatment of my current health issues lasted for 1349 days so far. It hasn’t ended yet, but I am getting back to life and back to normal everything. 1349 is just a number. It is just a number that has resulted from many months, weeks, days, hours and minutes spent trying to feel better. Did you know that every minute in pain lasts longer than an hour doing pleasant things?

I have tried everything. I am not saying that my personal experience is going to work for everybody, but some parts might.

The inevitable side effects

Many people go through very long treatments and use medications that also destroy them along with a cure. Side effects manifest on our body and on our mind in many very different ways. The cure of bad issues and severe conditions always comes with undesirable effects. Always, that is the nature of chemicals which can be extremely harsh at times.

I just downloaded some beautiful pictures of flowers and could not resist sharing them. I attached them below text.

Looking at, thinking of and seeing beauty in nature helps me relax and makes me forget pain and bad feelings. Does the beauty have the same effect on you?

If it does, you should put yourself together as much as you can and get out there and look at flowers, trees, listen to bird songs and watch wild animals like squirrels or rabbits, chipmunks or similar creatures. Watching undisturbed flow of a very simple life supports the weak, recovering body and certainly gives more strength.

The first suggestion is: do not put pressure on yourself. Just don’t do that. Treatments are always accompanied by strict schedules, doctor’s appointments, nurse visits, meal times and sleep hours. Everything is scheduled. When we start feeling better and when it seems we are strong enough to do absolutely anything and embrace the globe, we should take things easy. Especially at this moment. We should move step by step, not rushing, not exhausting ourselves even more.

With recovery and as the undesirable effects wear off, we are experiencing unusual additional energy. Small bit of willingness to open our eyes. A desire to breathe very deeply. An intention to walk without concerns about getting dizzy and shaky. Wow! That is success!

That is the hugest success we can only imagine. We never think it is such a pleasure to simply walk without pain. Well, it is. I know how it feels to suddenly wake up after long months of being in a subdued mood, blundering around half-asleep, having no willpower to even want something. Recovery after a long treatment is similar to being reborn.

Colors regain brightness. Sounds become clear. Light is blinding. Sun is so intense. Yes, we probably have to wear sunglasses.

The other suggestion is as follows. Many medications require specific approach: staying out of sunlight, not consuming some particular foods or drinks and so on. We cannot forget about these warnings after the last dose of medication because its activity may continue way beyond this point. Being cautious is a good habit when starting or discontinuing medications. Alcohol does not work with any medication: it either inhibits the positive side or enhances it. I believe staying away from alcoholic drinks is a basic when recovering or while using meds.

The most often observed side effect must be nausea and feeling sick. It is unfortunately that our body wants to alert us, and we know we are wrong and the body is right, but we have to continue with meds. I had extreme episodes of nausea. To the point when I could not even think clearly. Nausea did not allow sleeping or resting either. I somehow found aloe vera juice. The stuff that worked for me was with pomegranate flavour. I am extremely sensitive to any substance, and regular anti-nausea pills never did what they were expected to, but with aloe vera juice I achieved a state when I was feeling practically normal. I took it after quite a lot of water on empty stomach and then as prescribed: 4 full large spoons.

The third suggestion is moderation. Moderation in everything. No extreme foods or entertainments, no extreme physical loads or exercises. Living around the neutral zero isn’t that bad at all. Overdoing with physical exercises can through you back, so can eating out too much or having too many drinks.

It’s a heavy work for the body to return to normal daily routine without strong pills, injections, i/v pumps or i/v lines. While it is such a relief to get off meds, there is an in-between period. It is better to get back to life slowly than destroy everything that was achieved through so much suffering.

Meanwhile, the last suggestion is think pink! Soft and dreamy colors in the environment work their magic. Pictures drawings and paintings of beautiful things in calm colors do the same: relax the tension, make our mind happy and that’s when we are really back on track.

Think pink: create happiness

Think pink: troubles go away

Think pink: send and receive love

Think pink: beauty has so many faces

Think pink: recovery is just a step away

Think pink: no other color speaks so loudly about feeling good

Think pink: this is how we win

Think pink: it is a good color to make face and soul look fresh

Dream vacation … is not happening, how to get over the disappointment

Dream vacation is something I wish you, me, and everybody.

Every human being needs a vacation here and there: from routine, from work, from health problems, from pain and from people who get on our nerves. While I lived in Europe, I practically never had a vacation. Theoretically, every teacher had a very long summer vacation over there, but what do you do for 3 months without any money? That was reality. Salaries were so miserably small that after receiving the vacation pay, usually for almost 3 months at once and paying off debts that one had accumulated over the winter months, there was nothing left. So, the situation is like this: I have now fairly good weather, all kinds of free time and zero money for 3 months or a bit longer until the first salary rolls in. What do you do because you still want to eat and need some basics to survive?

I loved to pick mushrooms, gardening and since early childhood I have been sewing and designing outfits. I was getting up at 5 am, quickly run around the forest to get enough mushrooms for selling on the Riga Central Farmer’s Market, tried to sell them as fast as possible because there was only 1 train going back to where I lived. During these a few hours I also needed to shop for things I was out and then I had to literally run head over heels to catch the train.

If I had some sewing order I would do sewing. If I had somebody interested in private classes, I’d teach also during all summer. I could also do some gardening afterwards to put more food on my table. That was having a vacation, but still working harder than even during the work months.

Once I relocated to Canada I learned that everybody goes on vacation: one time in winter and for 2 weeks in summer. Nice! I mean, 2 weeks is a very short time period to do something meaningful, but still: one probably can catch the breath. Luckily, my husband loves traveling. We tried camping, too, but I find it sometimes scary and sometimes too time-consuming because the sun goes down very fast and after that it is really boring. Darkness. Silence. For night owls like me, that is tough. Sleep runs away, it feels that all insects are straight after me and I also hear some strange steps behind the wall of tent. Not to mention sudden rain, getting lost, not being able to find a decent campground and so on. We usually got products and all camping gear and ended up sleeping over in a motel until we finally gave up the idea about camping without a camper that provides a safe shelter.

Dream vacations happen rarely. There is always something: no time, no money or no health. The last 4 years have been troublesome for me. I would so much love to take a vacation from all pains and health issues. I feel like I totally deserve that.

So, how do you get not upset about some could-be-way-better vacation? How do you get over disappointment that it is not possible again to just leave everything behind and go away for a dream vacation? By making expectations more realistic and down to the Earth. By simply living through the summer and experiencing the best of everything available.

It is a good start not to scroll through social media sites where people share their real or polished up vacations, resorts, beaches, fancy foods, fantastic outfits, extremely exciting foreign cities and far-away lands, best summer destinations what money can get and so on. Keep it simple and enjoy what is within reach.

You might have a very pleasant vacation just a year later.

Secondly, there is something happening locally, too: fairs, food fests, music festivals. If you are a fan of crowds, that is a place to be. What if you are not happy being among lots of people and would rather be on your own? In that case, you could take longer walks, see exhibitions, go to the theatre or some smaller scale musical or art event.

Gardening is the best pass-time for any age, any health condition and any marital status. It comes with an added bonus in a form of freshest veggies possible.

Thirdly, there are plenty of people who are restricted by their health. It can be very tricky to get away when somebody is after surgery or on strong medications. It can be not in your best interest to take a long trip when there are certain life-threatening conditions that require ongoing medical attention.

So, what do you do? Get all crying and in tears because you know you won’t get away? Become angry and nasty because “everybody goes on vacation, only I cannot”? Send sad messages to friends or relatives painting yourself in black mood and feeling like a victim of circumstances? We can certainly do all of the above, and it won’t make us feel one small bit better.

I know that these who wait long enough receive what they are longing for. It might be not the next week or next month, but it will happen. It is true that vacation feels very different at the age of 30 and at the age of 60 or 80. Do you want to wait? Do you feel like it is worth waiting? No, it’s not worth killing oneself about what could have happened, but didn’t because of … all kinds of things. It is not worth trying to figure out why everybody is so lucky and happy and you are not. That is life. Life gives us vacations when it wants, not when we require. With the best case scenario, desires match opportunities.

Well, I always hope that the next year will be better than the previous one. I am going, though, to see my mom, my daughter, my sister and my grandchildren, as well as friends at the end of August. The weather is not going to be splendid in Latvia around that time, it never is, but the best part is meeting people who I love at least once a year. If you have somebody who you haven’t seen for ages, maybe it is a good time to go and pay a visit?

Finally, there are hundreds of great things that don’t require any extra huge spending.

There are numerous new books which wait to be read.

Sketchbook invites to add something new. Maybe you are in coloring? Fashion designing? Maybe make something new for yourself or your home? Maybe spend much more time with your closest ones? It sometimes feels everything else comes first and our direct family can wait. It should be straight the opposite: we have to make many other things wait in order to give our best part to the family. I hope you have a nice summer!

Can gardening save your life?

I know people who have survived thanks to gardening.

So, are you the lucky one with a garden?

That could pretty much be an answer to many of your health problems and even save your life, because doing gardening will make your life so much more enjoyable and even support you financially and save money.

It just said on the news that one-third of the world’s population was obese.

That is the most recent statistics. When we imagine how many places on the Earth cannot provide people who live there with any food or clean water, it becomes very clear that so-called developed countries are the ones mostly suffering from this disaster. It’s no surprise it comes as a combo of all kinds of cancers and dementia, plus diabetes and cardio-vascular fatalities. Diseases are getting younger. We thought stroke was more likely to happen after 40-50, it’s affecting now people 16 years old and even younger.

This happens due to food production which is very distant from the way we were having food even 50-60 years ago. With every year, more newly discovered chemical combinations, supplements, taste enhancers, coloring and thickening agents, preservatives and so on and so forth, have been replacing natural food. Not to mention 90 types of artificial sweeteners which replace sugar.

When we think dairy, do we imagine pure chemicals in the container with a label organic cream? We don’t. Yet, it isn’t even a cream, but some mix of things that make this substance look and to some extent taste like cream. The whipping cream isn’t a cream, and milk that comes from powder or egg mix that doesn’t have real eggs in it: that’s all processed already. Cheese is the most affected because it’s easy to replace real ingredients with chemicals in cheese. Your breakfast flakes: they are already processed, if they were not you’d have raw grains. Natural and good fats such as organic butter have been replaced with chemically created fats for some 80 years. That refers to any margarine, oils of not organic origin and obviously all pastry includes that: bread, bread type of snacks, etc. since it really needs some fat or it goes stale the next day.

So, what difference does the produce you have grown on your own make?

Huge. If you have ever tried freshly picked cucumbers, tomatoes, zucchini or peppers from the backyard, you know how much richer the taste is. At some point, it’s impossible to compare garden produce with fruits and vegetables from the grocery store. Greens and herbs such as green onion, dill, parsley, basil, thyme and sage from the grocery store wilt right away and they never feel really fresh because they soak them in water by spraying all the time at the store.

Farmer’s market is a good place, however, sometimes prices are extremely high (at least in Whitby, Ontario) and the produce does not look that great.

By growing our own vegetables and fruits we know what they contain.

I love that I know exactly how my vegetables are grown: what water I use, what soil, etc. Small gardens can be easily weeded manually; there is no need to use chemicals to conquer weeds. It’s also easier to control any pests in case they would appear with simple household supplies.

It makes an incredible difference for me: I just walk outside and choose whatever I feel like having for meal. Being in fresh air and having so much stuff for eyes to enjoy is definitely an added bonus.

Plus, one does not need any gym to stay in a good shape: thankfully garden work involves all kinds of moves, exercises and tasks.

I know that not everybody can live in a house with a decent size backyard. I live here also because we rent this place. Yet, there are millions of people who only have lawns everywhere: in the front and in the back. If we would start with lots of people growing healthy chemical-free vegetables and fruits not only for themselves, but also for a few other people, we might end the cancer, cardio-vascular, diabetes and obesity epidemic. We might just also have better mental abilities because of that; and some garden work is always useful as opposed to scrolling through screens or snoozing in front of TV.

This is how gardening will make you healthy:

You will get lots of exercise without paying fees for gym or designating specific time for it;

You will be rewarded with crops that are clean and contain many times more nutrients;

Naturally occurring minerals, vitamins and other good substances are only found in FRESH garden produce;

You will avoid harsh chemicals by using in your gardening only natural fertilizers and composted plant food;

You will have something to take care of and you’ll never feel lonely;

You will have peace of mind, place to relax and ability to clean the bad energies when being in contact with the soil;

You will save money on organic herbs, fruit and vegetables which we really need, but which are not in a good shape at grocery stores and very expensive;

Kids find gardening attractive because we can monitor the steady development and growing;

Gardening is suitable for any age or condition: we can always find ways to do things easily;

You don’t have to travel far to be surrounded by the nature;

Garden can become the most inspiring thing for writers, artists, designers and other creative folks;

By doing gardening and consuming only fresh and chemical-free produce you will literally help your body and brain fight diseases and manage easier the existing conditions.

So, gardening might save your life, especially if gardening becomes your passion.

Please enjoy the purple blossoming in my garden!

Chives in bloom

Purple iris

Close-up

Lovely faces of pansies

Isn’t it pretty?

The many shades of beauty

Easy to grow, always smiley

 

Burnout syndrome? Chronic fatigue? Turn to the nature

Popular assumption is that burnout is the result of excessive stress. Stress management system of the body is a very complex multi-action trigger and response system that involves both branches of the autonomic nervous system: sympathetic and parasympathetic, the brain and the HPA axis (the hypothalamic–pituitary–adrenal axis), as well as other pathways.

Burnout syndrome and chronic fatigue syndrome are quite difficult to diagnose because when somebody experiences frequent headache, chronic pain, depression, anxiety, insomnia, loss of appetite, lack of interest in anything, hormone imbalance and irritable bowel symptoms: these symptoms do not immediately make us think about low cortisol and a suppressed HPA axis which have eventually resulted from stressing oneself to the maximum over long periods of time. Physical and mental exhaustion manifest as similar set of symptoms, therefore, overdoing with inappropriate physical activities, overloading one with duties or studying and learning until complete exhaustion occurs is not a good idea.

Burnout syndrome and chronic fatigue syndrome may seem to be very different, but they are quite similar, in fact. The same hormonal abnormalities are present in both conditions, as well as similar complaints about physical symptoms. It could be that the brain has decided to shut down the HPA axis activity in order to prevent us from damaging our body completely. If we did not experience tiredness, sleepiness and exhaustion, we would probably work until our body is permanently damaged and unable to recover. Research suggests that the brain, and the HPA axis may be responsible for the fatigue experienced during burnout and with chronic fatigue syndrome.

Our body loves balance, so that all mechanisms and systems can work in a well-adjusted, well-balanced way. We certainly want to be safe and rich, and have no financial struggles. Many people go for 2 jobs or work even at 3 places. Nobody has cancelled family or kids; that takes our condition to the point when every single day is too short. When we start feeling worse and weaker, we can get done much less, so one wonders how that was possible I studied and worked and still had time to go out and enjoy? This pretty much affects any tasks we have to deal with: whether work or relationship related, and it does not stop there. Burnout causes to lose any motivation and interest in the job or activity which could have been even exciting and good opportunity when we started out.

It is not always work which causes somebody to burn out. It is usually a combination of things. That can be job that has become very difficult to cope with, too demanding boss or too many tasks; sick parent who needs daily care; kids’ education that needs attention, difficult and worsening relationships with spouse or friends who were there to support before, so on and so on. Loss of somebody very meaningful, especially if this person was more or less associated with anything we do. Stressful situations and events just pile up and we seem to have less and less control over them and less and less power to manage everything.

The worst part is that these emotions and feeling completely ill are like a vicious circle: they will not go away until the cause of never-ending stress is eliminated. It is easy to say: quit the job or leave the family, move to another city or town, or place your parent in old folks home. Most often the financial situation and debt are the most stubborn issues. Still, if you reach the point when it is almost impossible to keep doing that job or fighting with duties or people, you will have to quit it. Your health will demand it. In burnout syndrome, mental issues prevail; chronic fatigue manifests more as a physical illness.

Feeling good and healthy makes everything else happen.

My personal recipe before one turns to brain-affecting medications or drugs and alcohol is being in the nature. Being with it, in it and having oneself immersed in the nature. That is why these who have a garden or backyard are better off.

The soil and grasses have huge power: as you touch soil with your hands or stand bare-foot on a fresh, green grass, the bad energy flows out and energetic imbalances return to normal. We have so much electricity in us that sometimes it just needs to be unloaded. Give it to the soil, return into natural circulation. Doing garden work is good in any regard and no gym can ever compare to that. Don’t do this to become the world’s best gardener: do gardening for yourself and as much or as little as you can.

The other thing that makes time and everything else disappear is art. Meditation with pencil or brush. How wonderful is that? Drawing flowers or scenes where everything is included and balanced. Peaceful soul reaches out to the beauty of nature. Be careful, though, if you do art for achieving the status of the best artist ever, but not to relieve your stresses, there won’t be results. I am talking about activities which are completely different from your daily duties. Who cares what your drawing or painting is like? Nobody, as long as you have let stresses go for a while.

If you are an artist or writer who feels completely exhausted and swallowed down by the competitive world, you will have to choose nature for walks, forests for discoveries and gardening for making brain and body more saturated with simplicity.

Simply switching activities can help, too.

The worst way to gain more time is depriving oneself of sleep. Sleep has to be made a big priority. Cannot sleep? Drink chamomile with honey, lemon balm (if you do not have low blood pressure because it lowers blood pressure a lot), literary: smell roses and lavender.

Late night is not the time to resolve anything. Morning always knows better.

Why am I suggesting such simple things for extremely complex conditions? Because I’ve been through this. The last stretch of 4 years was horrible. I have made through it without falling apart completely only because of nature, garden, work in fresh air and art. It is not that easy to paint or draw after a bad fatigue episode when everything hurts. It is not easy to get back to life after being exhausted or depressed. If we don’t do anything, nothing good can happen either. Change is hard work, but we need to find strength within ourselves. Nature is smart, way smarter than we admit. It is very rewarding to find a part of our strength in the nature.

This is what heals me

The fantastic fragrant air raising from apple blooms: it works like a medicine

Lilac beauty and fragrance therapy

The spring blossoming this year was so intense that I could not resist taking a few more pictures.

Enjoy the blooming!

Why to declutter your life now: the many powers of spring

Do you feel happier also just because it feels like the cold and snow seem to be gone? I do for sure. It is difficult to explain how much the dullness and darkness can affect us. It does this in so many ways: I hear people engaging into comfort foods, some just sleep over or hibernate and some other try to do their best to accomplish something. I belong to these who try to accomplish something, but it is so tough. I have to put pressure on myself all the time during winter months.

Why so many New Year’s resolutions fail? The timing is simply bad because we still have in us the ancient need to save energy for the spring awakening. That is nature; these are genes and our personal clock which dictate that.

Spring arrival is in so many ways better than the New Year: we finally get to do things that were postponed due to the cold and nasty weather outdoors. That includes even such routine chores as throwing out garbage or things we will never need, but are keeping “just in case”. Decluttering only our living and work space is not enough. We definitely have to declutter our mental space and mind also.

That is the energetic power of spring!

Chives: green despite the snow we had just 2 days ago!

We can go ahead with all the health ideas we have, in particular, because we will be able to put on our table the greens and early veggies we have managed to start and accommodate in tiny, small or larger back yards, balconies, front yards and anywhere where we can plant something. It does not have to be big in order to give as a huge spring vitamin boost. NO synthetic supplements can ever replace the nutrition from real sprouts and baby greens.

Therefore, your spring greens will not only make you healthier, but also give plenty of pleasant emotions. While we watch the seed germination and sprouting we become so aware that something tiny can have an insane power. The growing power.

What are the easiest and fastest things to start with? Any herbs, any green onions, chives, radish, lettuce and similar plants. They practically require very little care: we have to only provide them with sunlight and water after planting or seeding.

Strong and bright green nettle leaves; in fact, they can be added to the spring mix

It is a huge relief when the weather forecast puts us in a better mood: birds are singing so gladly and loudly, the sun is painting shadows on tiny grass stems, and there is a promise of warmer days being here soon.

It is also time to reorganize everything from our attitude and blog to contents of our wardrobe and different garbage hiding spaces in our living space. Decluttering is such a big matter because stuff just grows around us and we need to make space for fresh air to get a brain functionality boost also indoors.

You might consider reading the blog posts of your fellow bloggers instead of just clicking on “like” from your READER this spring. That is a wonderful blogging habit, and it not only shows your respect and interest in others, but helps discover different opinions and views on the same subject. You’d be surprised how many more returns via blog traffic and personal friendships one can make just by being an attentive blogger and leaving a comment here and there. I would imagine most bloggers are like me: if you never comment on my blog, I most likely will not engage in the comment section of your blog either. Think about that: blogger community is a place where mutual interaction is appreciated.

This is the best time to start with physical activities also because there will be less side-effects and it will happen seamlessly. It feels very natural to walk more and work outdoors in spring.

This is the best time to engage in new eating habits and to get rid of our bad habits. The seasonal change to a better weather makes any swift changes easier tolerable.

This is the best time to start loving oneself because we can change our outfits, switch to nicer colors and use some lighter make-up.

Tulips are getting ready to go, as well

All inspiration we need is right before our eyes: squirrels and chipmunks running around like crazy, birds singing, plants budding and grasses sprouting. Daffodils, bluebells, crocuses, wild anemones and tulips are up. That is a genuinely new beginning. Do not miss that.

The happy women come from a place called appreciation, respect and love

March 8th is my most favorite spring day and celebration. Not in a political and feminine rights way, but in the way which says that every woman has to experience some time how beautiful, loved and appreciated she is. Bring me tulips and daffodils; bring me wild anemones with their blue smiley faces, bring all the spring flowers so that I can be proud and happy once again that spring has arrived and I am so happy to be a woman! I always was, and I could imagine not being a woman ever.

I believe self-aware, self-confident, mentally strong and creative women come from families where the feminine side is greatly appreciated. Where helping with each step and idea is always supported by the masculine strength; where the stability and long-lasting genuine love is the basis of a relationship. I happen to have a fantastic family. My mom is always the soul and my dad always was the responsible and supporting part of our family. My husband is everything I could wish for: not only in what he says, but especially in what he does.

Real appreciation and love mean fixing one’s broken wings so that they can fly again, that means being a shelter in a rainy and stormy day since we rarely have only unshaded and undisturbed sun flowing over us. That might mean creating and giving someone completely new wings when the old ones are not any longer repairable.

Women can do everything, they can wear everything and they can be anything they want in 21stcentury. The only chains we put on ourselves are our inability to leave abusive workplace, abusive relationship and abusive partner.  We sometimes overdo with equality and that can harm us. The echo and the response are based on what we do and say. Allowing humiliating one means giving more power to the abuser.  It can be very tough at times to just pack and walk away since there is always hope that we can fix anything, and that is not true. There are people who will never change, never improve and never love anybody else, but themselves.

No money can buy genuine love, honest appreciation and respect. We have to earn respect and respectful attitude by being confident and persistent with our principles, choices and intentions.

I don’t see why in places like Canada women would need to march for their rights: we are entitled to have any job, any position, to live as and where we wish. We have rights to have and express our opinions. Women’s right are really well present here.

In soviet times, it was strongly emphasized that there should be no difference made between men and women, hence, that is discrimination. This was understood or rather misunderstood as women drinking Vodka from large 200 g glasses in line with men, women riding tractors and heavy machinery and smoking and swearing like the roughest men. Women construction workers with a Vodka bottle and hammer in their hands. That picture was sad, and I can recall some images of those so-called very masculine women who had drunk themselves to the bottom. Lots of that has changed by now, but alcoholism among women remains a big issue around the world since it often takes hidden forms. Some addictions are much more difficult to cure in women than in men, and medications do not actually work the same way, too.

Woman’s DNA is completely different, and the life-long program set by the female DNA and epigenetic factors result in many distinctive body and mind processes throughout the life. That does not mean only the genetic inheritance, but also includes all chemical reactions, hormone activity and inactivity periods; how and when genes are turned off and on. That shows in appearance, skin and bone structure, specific features of body systems, etc. There are lots and lots of physical distinctions which definitely have impact on mental processes, as well. However, it is well overdone nowadays just by making only the apparent distinctions important: woman is so much more than a dress, make-up and high heels.

Woman is the muse, the flight of thought, the germination of idea and the continuation of human race. Woman is a witch and a goddess, woman is a mother and a daughter, and woman is the one who keeps fairy-tales alive by telling them through thousands of years. Woman is the wise great-grandmother who has seen it all. Woman is the intuition and inspiration; she is the one who puts flowers in a vase while her husband takes home the daily bread. Old-fashioned point of view? Maybe, but it has proven to be working so well.

I wish every single woman experienced some time how appreciated and loved she is! I certainly have. I’m also very proud and happy to be a woman. Happy International Women’s Day!

Healthy lifestyle habits that put you at risk for undesirable side effects

We live in a global environment: any news flies around the planet in seconds and that includes fake promises, expectations and lies about healing miracles. It is quite difficult to distinguish between scientifically proven truth and assumptions on which many potential cures are based.

Why does that happen? We have to understand that in nowadays profit-taking world it is not consumers’ health that always comes first. While many companies which intend to manufacture health promoting products start out honestly, there are also very many companies that use the consumers’ trust in miracles in their favor. TV and media advertising do not promote only good and well-tested products: they will advertise anything that looks like it might be true and brings in money.

Considering the epidemic obesity rates, which include early childhood and young age obesity, abnormally high numbers of patients with cardiovascular and cerebrovascular, as well as heart diseases, not to mention cancer epidemics, people need something promising. TV, phone, laptop and computer screens scream to us: vitamins and supplements are the answer!

This era is also characterized by extreme efforts trying to maintain youthful look and energy, as well as live and stay active longer. There was no long-term research present when the first statements about the beneficial use of synthetic vitamins and supplements as our daily routine were made publicly available. Since the naturally occurring vitamins, amino acids and minerals played such an important role in functioning of our body and mind, it was simply believed that more of these nutrients are better. It was believed that the source of these nutrients was not the most important aspect.

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For how many decades now have you heard from your doctor: just take some multivitamins, use omega-3 or fish oils, don’t forget vitamin C and E; obviously we all suffer from lack of vitamin D and calcium, so these should not be forgotten either? That has become such an indisputable healthy life-style feature that you will find hardly any person in the developed countries who hasn’t been on lots of vitamins and supplements at some moment of their life.

The CONCERN ABOUT OVERUSE OF SYNTHETIC VITAMINS and SUPPLEMENTS is growing with every new clinical trial that has been carried out to observe whether there are any significant benefits from such synthetic supplement use. The findings are shocking at some point. While almost everybody knows by now that multivitamin use did not result in any health benefits, not everybody is still aware that over-the-counter supplements do not do what they are supposed to, as well.

Millions of people reach every day for their calcium or vitamin D3 pill, or combination thereof.  Here is a quote from Science Daily (summary of a clinical trial): “Taking calcium in the form of supplements may raise the risk of plaque buildup in arteries and heart damage, although a diet high in calcium-rich foods appears be protective, say researchers at conclusion of their study that analyzed 10 years of medical tests on more than 2,700 people.”

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/10/161011182621.htm

Almost everybody over 50 believes that taking calcium supplements will aid in avoiding bone fractures and loss of bone mass and its mineral density: osteoporosis. That is not the only review; there are quite a few clinical trial conclusions that state the same: calcium in the form of a synthetic supplement does not provide with the same effects as consumption of dietary calcium, calcium naturally occurring in food products.

Meticulous testing showed that most of calcium taken as supplements did not even get to the bones: it was partially excreted with urine (hypercalciuria was quite common among calcium supplement users) and also calcium spikes were observed which does not happen with calcium-rich food intake. Judging by tests which showed no improvement with bone density, researchers believe that the other part of synthetic calcium dose is absorbed by soft tissue which explains arterial plagues and calcification of arteries. Calcium spikes were also responsible for heart conditions. Strokes and coronary artery blockages occurred much more frequently in those taking high doses of synthetic calcium supplements. Moreover, there was not observed decrease in fractures or osteoporosis.

Journal of the American Heart Association  https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/10/161011182621.htm

Quote: “Because of the widespread awareness and treatment of osteoporosis with calcium supplements among older adults, this population would appear to be at greater risk of developing the adverse consequences of positive calcium balance, including vascular calcification.”

 “Calcium may be involved in pathogenesis of CVD (cardiovascular diseases) through multiple pathways, including through influences in lipid metabolism, insulin secretion and sensitivity, inflammation, thrombosis, regulation of body weight, and vascular calcification.”

The same goes for so much widely popularized omega-3 or healthy fatty acids. The evidence from many clinical trials exploring different conditions, such as omega-3 effects on cardiovascular and heart diseases, strokes and heart attacks, impact on brain function and delays of age-related dementia, rheumatoid arthritis and quite a few others, is very unconvincing. The widespread assumption that fatty acids may help delaying onset of some heart conditions, eye degeneration, brain malfunction and prevent cancers has no strong scientific evidence. It was noted that people who lived far north and consumed mostly fish suffered less from the above mentioned conditions. It wasn’t taken into account that their physical loads may be way different or their environment might be almost pollution-free. Therefore, it was soon assumed (and that was based on the facts that human body does not produce omega-3 fatty acids, therefore they have to be consumed) that synthetically processed omega-3 might contribute to higher levels of absorbed omega-3 fatty acids. We know by now that more is not better. MORE SUPPLEMENTS that exceed the daily allowance for such doses can cause significant health risks. Omega-3 fatty acids interact with medications, as well. If you are taking fish oil, especially fish liver oil, vitamin D and vitamin E, you are at significantly higher risk for bleeding. When all these supplements are combined with blood thinning medications (anticoagulants) that many people take to prevent thrombosis or heart attacks, the outcome might be seriously bad because the blood clotting will be significantly affected.

None of the previously carried out clinical trials about benefits of supplemented omega-3 use has provided with statistically significant proof that such use is beneficial for any of these conditions, but healthy life style and consumption of omega-3 fatty acids from clean food sources is. Therefore, it is much more advisable to eat good food and stay away from supplements, unless your doctor has prescribed them. That might be a drug form that is different from the over-the-counter form and, therefore, it might work for you. Uncontrolled use of any kind of supplements when somebody is already on prescription medications can be DANGEROUS  and it CAN AFFECT THE WAY YOUR PRESCRIPTION MEDICATION WORKS. Always consult a doctor, assuming your doctor is aware of the newest scientific discoveries and follows up on developments in the area of synthetic vitamins and synthetic supplements.

US National Institute of Health publication https://nccih.nih.gov/health/omega3/introduction.htm

The truth is that synthetic supplements have a different chemical composition; it is not the same respective vitamin or mineral which we are absorbing from food. Therefore, the metabolism pathways and the way this supplement or vitamin act and behave in the body are not completely known. It is also believed that vitamins and minerals from natural sources work the way they do because food usually contains a set or combination of minerals, amino acids and vitamins in their natural form which is recognized by the body; and this recognition is due to the program which is set by our very individual DNA.

Next articles will review the problems with synthetic antioxidants, vitamin E (the only synthetic form which is available at pharmacies: alpha-tocopherol), vitamin C and some other supplements. If you do not know where to look for supplement and vitamin recalls (there are quite a lot of them), google Health Canada and FDA websites. Such lists are publicly available.

 

 

How to feel good and survive the dullness of depressing winter days

Do you have your favorite recipe for surviving dark, cold, nasty winter days?

I’ve seen and heard from a lot of people recently who are in cold and bad winter weather areas that they don’t feel well. Sneezing, coughing and aching is nothing new in winters when we change rapidly from minus 20 and move up to plus 7 degrees within a few days. What do you do not to stress out your body and yourself even more?

Most people assume stress comes from outside: too much work, too many interruptions, inability to do any task properly because of so many obstacles and disturbances, emptying and exhausting relationships, impact from energetically draining people with bad attitude around us, failure to implement our plans and goals and so on. In fact, most stresses come from inside the body, hence, we have so many adaptive mechanisms and so many systems that try to regulate the processes inside the body and mind in order to bring us back in balance.

This is certainly a period when we should nurture ourselves. Be easy and loving towards ourselves. Be patient and take one step at a time. My personal favorite tools for surviving winter come from my grandmother, my mom uses the same things, I continue using these simple remedies, and my daughter doesn’t mind them either.

Cold or heat: our body systems have to take on any stresses. That can cause mood fluctuations and add to discomfort, especially if we are already having some condition. Brain chemicals sound complicated and so they are, however, there are nice extremely uncomplicated things which can help them return to balance. Once the digestive and immune system are properly taken care of, headaches and heart aches disappear, anxiety and nervousness evaporates, blood pressure and blood glucose levels normalize, and having no inflammation is the best thing that can happen to us. Inflammation within the body causes most of our troubles.

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Tea will not only warm up, but also provide with numerous health benefits.

Rose hip tea for toning ourselves in the morning: it is a strong antioxidant, rich in vitamin C, helps digestive and immune system and decreases inflammations in the body, it helps fighting all diseases caused by inflammation, and almost anything can be related to inflammation. I know an older man who would never miss his morning dose of rose hip tea. He said it was really boosting his energy and activating his defense mechanism to take on any difficult tasks he has to face that day.

Chamomile tea for calming, warming and healing: relieve your stress, anxiety. Enjoy a cup and it will also reduce pain and any kind of stomach disorder, as well as take care of good sleep and your immune system.

Mint is always handy for keeping us in good shape because it improves digestion, reduces pain, eliminates inflammation, relaxes the body and mind and boosts the immune system.

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Did you know that you can test any tea putting it in cold water to see if it is really natural? If putting tea in cold water results in color which could be only achieved with very hot water, it is clear: coloring agents are added.

Do people with strong immune system also get colds or only those ones who have some underlying conditions?  If you are mainly healthy and still young, such cold periods should be shorter and affect you less. Cold is not flu, but it is caused by multiple viruses, especially rhinovirus. We all know how to treat colds, but when cold is persistent and doesn’t go away with over-the-counter remedies; we have to see the doctor in order to avoid all kinds of complications.

SAD? Seasonal affective disorder, I mean? We can become sad, sluggish and start feeling drained, definitely. It often seems that alcohol could be just the right cure from this sadness, upset and depressed mood, but, in fact, alcohol is a bad company for winter time, especially when one is heading outdoors. Feeling hot is very misleading because we get such sensation due to widening blood vessels. We do not feel how cold the air in reality is, and that can have serious sequences. Secondly, alcohol makes depression, anxiety and stress worse. For a moment one can be uplifted and flying in clouds, not that much later and the next morning when all bad experiences return with double force. We are already fragile in frequently changing weather conditions due to lack of fresh air and outdoor activities. Why to add more stress to our sensitive self?

You will have heard most likely about vitamin D supplements. The sunshine vitamin. Much less daylight can affect us, no doubt about that, however, if you are a person who always believes more is better, remember that we still need to be tested for vitamin D levels in order to know how much and if to take it. Overdoing a lot with vitamin D will cause kidney failure. We have nowadays all kinds of things added to regular foods, so take into account in how many combinations you’re already getting it supplemented.

We cannot go wrong with vitamin C since it is very difficult to actually consume it in levels that we could talk about overdose. The only important thing is that artificial vitamins and other substances will not be absorbed in the same way as the ones from natural sources. That means, naturally occurring amino acids and vitamins are much more effective because your body cells recognize them and know how to use. The absorption level usually varies and depends on plenty of other nutritional components; however, absorption level of an artificial supplement is never 100%.

We are drinking less water when it is cold, and when temperatures are so low it is very easy to overlook dehydration. Also, if your home or work place isn’t that cozy and warm it is extremely tough to make one consume some half a liter of water in the morning. People who are not diabetics can try hot water with honey and lemon. Diabetics should still stick to water. One bottle of water before anything else on empty stomach makes huge difference.

The other very useful, healthy and nutritious way of helping ourselves is replacing heavy dinners or big lunches with soup. Like all Latvians, I love soups, as well. Normal Latvian family can have a soup dinner a few times a week. We make soups from everything what is available, but very often beet soup, fresh cabbage borscht (definitely our family’s favorite!). We make beet soup with any type of meat. We love all kinds of vegetable soups, melted cheese soup with paprika, Latvian style meatball soup, obviously chicken soup, pea soup, smoked salmon soup, sauerkraut soup, bean soup with smoked ribs, many kinds of sweet fruit and dumpling soups … The list is endless since it is possible to cook a very warming and delicious soup using just basic vegetables, bones and meat. Soup is an extract of vitamins, nutrients and minerals. Everybody can adjust it to their taste and preferences. Soup heals, warms up and recharges. Plus, it’s not going to give your stomach digestive issues.

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Winter is a time when we should be really taking good care of ourselves. I do not deny the importance of being physically active and engaging in physical exercises, but for lots of people the main part of surviving winter will be as basic as: how to keep ourselves healthy. Making a cup of herbal tea is so hilariously easy! Just do it; a few times a day and one more time before you go to sleep. Even these who do not feel well can manage that.

It is also important to have plenty of light whatever light one prefers: soft light, warm light, bright light for hobbies, candle light for soul and good thoughts; it doesn’t matter. We need a lot of light until the sun moves higher up in the sky.

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