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Posts from the ‘life’ Category

At the doorstep of 2021

The year is white from ends

with flourishing green in the middle

The year

The year is what we have chosen to be our reference point. The year starts and ends in winter in places where I have lived and still live. The end and the start of the year happen to be white very often or about 85% of the time, sometimes with snowdrifts and shiny snow blanket over grasses and frost on trees, sometimes – with only ice patches and mud, sometimes bitterly cold, but always in winter. I am aware it’s not everywhere like that.

The green part of year

I am a fan of the middle: from early spring till the last green grass stem is still growing. I stop painting winter right before Christmas, and in the recent years, I am trying to stick with my decision not to paint any snow. It is easily explained: I cannot wait for the first flowers and plants to come up. I will be digging soil in the backyard when it hasn’t even completely thawed yet. That is my gym and my exercise and always has been.

Sinful idleness versus meaningful doing

The age impacts the flow of time and our perception of time settings to a great extent. The older one gets, the more serious they are about using time wisely, at least I am. I do measure my days by accomplishments, not by hours. If I haven’t managed to get anything meaningful done during the day, I’ll be upset. Therefore, spending time just exercising or walking aimlessly while I can also get done something useful in the garden, is a sin for me. Just like idle sitting around or having small talk.

No small talk for me

I avoid small talk, I certainly do as much as possible. Walking is fantastic, and I add usually a target to it: one store or another, appointment or visit. If I’m in the middle of painting, I simply cannot answer the phone. That frequently involves making small talk. Paint dries quickly, ideas vanish and mood changes. We never paint with the brush and paints only, there are a lot of other factors which go into my art.

Nobody has all answers

It’s good to believe that we know all the answers as our age grows and gets past 60, but it’s not true. The more we know, the more questions arise. I am very thankful for my medical knowledge, pharmaceutical and diagnostic skills and clinical experience. That has really helped and not only me. It keeps making life easier. I’ve also discovered how Canadian doctors are not always up to standards and protocols, and how much their diagnosis can be affected by rush, generalized assumptions and plain misunderstanding or inattention.

Superficiality

Superficiality is very widespread. The justification is that nobody has time. That is the biggest paradox of nowadays: everybody has plenty of time for fruitless scrolling through the internet on any screen that happens to be around, but no time for the good and meaningful things which make life worthwhile. Most people don’t ever read anything that’s under the picture or within the actual text, or the first 3 words at the best. Superficiality leads to sloppiness, disorganized and careless attitude in other areas of life.

Lack of quality

Quality is very quickly disappearing as the result, and lack of quality actually applies to absolutely all areas of our life. For instance, while I know that restaurants are having tough times, the restaurant and takeout food is just not for me and my family. We have gotten takeout meals a few times, and most of this food went to the garbage bin. It had no taste, no flavor, and there was certainly no love applied when cooking. High class workmanship and good skills in whatever walk of life we are looking for, are just not there. It makes no sense trying to get somebody’s help when it’s pretty clear you will have to do it over.

The year 2020

Everybody of us applies our own ratings and our own measuring tape based on experience, age, knowledge and so forth to whatever we are evaluating. Comparatively, I cannot complain about this year. The previous one, the 2019 was much worse since I lost my mom that year. Garden was doing extremely well this year. I put in many jars of preserves for winter. I had no live art classes from March to December, therefore, I was able to paint many more of my own paintings. Some of them are really excellent. Washing hands, disinfecting all items and areas, wearing a mask and staying at home was not a problem for us because we are a tiny 2-person family. Financials could be way better, but, unless one is a billionaire, that’s always an area which could be better.

December: snow and more snow
December: white and pure snow all around
Magnolias
Early spring magnolias, they blossom in my backyard
Spring lettuce
Lettuce comes up and produces early
Summer cucumbers
We were enjoying our own cucumbers in the summer and later pickles in the fall and winter
I had tomatoes from June to November, some got used in preserves
Summer flowers
Flowers in full bloom, this is already October
Bell peppers
Bell peppers or paprika were doing fine also, late October here
Last nasturtium
The last nasturtium blossoms, direct before the strong November frost
January sometimes comes with sunny days

Be patient

The COVID-19 pandemic probably will take quite a while to resolve. As we have seen, this virus mutated very quickly, thus, causing to establish whether the available vaccines still work for the new variants of this virus. It’s uncertain that more new variants won’t appear before everybody has received their immunization dose of vaccine. Only time will show how long we are staying safe and how long the vaccine actually helps keeping one safe: a year, 3 years, more years? Time is what we didn’t have so far. Being patient is very important, hence, everybody contributes to putting the COVID-19 pandemic behind us.

Wishing safe, healthy and good New Year!

Thanks for reading if you did!

Dimensions of time

Regardless of how fast and efficient we are, we cannot outrun time.

We learned at school how time is a measuring unit and were told later that time has more dimensions than just one and it can be bent just as any other dimension. All of us use time as a reference point. How would we be able otherwise to make an appointment or celebrate a birthday? Time is a deadline and time is freedom for some, and time is the reason we struggle so much fighting its impact.

Psychologically, time is a very complex phenomenon. Some people feel young at old age and some are born to never be young. Time becomes very relative with every single moment of our life. Waiting for something makes time go by extremely slowly and, especially, for young people, waiting lasts much longer than for the older ones. Happy moments make time sweep past so swiftly that the event might later appear as a dream. Sadness and fear slow the particular moment down. Desperately waiting for help in critical situations lasts forever.

Whether enjoyable or not, time cannot be stopped, avoided or disregarded. Certainly, everything still happens whether we know about that or not and whether we want that or not. Lack of knowledge doesn’t mean we can prevent something from taking place. There is also vice versa: we can change the flow of time and bend it in a favorable outcome for us or somebody else. Although, we are all subjected to impact and effects of time, we can still make it work for us and do us a favor.

To measure time, we do not always need days, months or years. Achievements and losses are excellent measuring units and reveal to much larger extent what and who we are and where we are going if anywhere. Zero movement in universe and nature equals regression that leads to the end of existence. Once the cells stop dividing and growing and we stop moving forward, we become captives of time and that’s the start of decline of any function. We as humans experience all dimensions of time simultaneously and in a never-ending manner.

We stick to general histories, but, in fact, the history has as many versions as is the number of people who interpret them. We carry around our stamp of time and we see the world in our unique way. So, how do we work towards a better outcome? How to make time not dash by, but stay with us in a meaningful, productive way?

Idleness doesn’t make any use of time. Meaningful activity makes it much more worthwhile. Meaningful activity is something different for everybody. Some will say that reading for pleasure is a waste of time and some will find it the best way of living. Entertainment is usually what we have made to believe we require, but it’s important what type of entertainment we are engaging in. Exercising can be useless time or the greatest achievement for somebody else. Relativity of time dimensions makes it flexible for us: bend it any way you can, just don’t throw it away.

The current time is a lesson in decision-making and responsible attitude. Blaming doesn’t help anybody. After all, it’s us personally dealing with the sequences. Being young means one can make many mistakes since they have more time to correct them. Being old comes with getting wiser: we have realized we don’t need everything we want and we are stricter with our choices. When time starts to run out, it does it very swiftly. This time is just as any other time period: while it feels people suffer for nothing, it’s never so. Until we haven’t learnt the lesson, we probably won’t be set free from bad experiences. Every single person makes difference today and now. I wish we went only for smart choices whenever possible.

Just a week ago
Fall flew by swiftly and became a memory
This was the snowy look we got 2 days ago

I hope you’re cautious and staying safe during this final stretch before the improvement sets in!

The soothing Sunday thoughts: October

If you walk in your thoughts far away enough, you could end up in a place called your past many years ago. You do not always want to be there, but as the years pile up, the memories swirl around like the falling leaves. The soft whispers have some secrets to reveal and things which you want to be always with you, are also around.

October light is sparklingly bright and untamed as it brakes through the still dense foliage and takes a spot on the backyard table next to my coffee cup. Things we want to let go and things we desperately would love to keep, yet, cannot. I always loved to paint October, but never enjoyed its arrival too much.

The question sometimes arises: did it happen for real, or did I only imagine that? The far away places of past can be anything, and it is kind of hard to keep the door to the memory gardens closed. Paging through old greeting cards is painful and sweet at the same time. I’d love to believe the ghosts are still here and silently watching over us, but nobody knows this for sure.

Things live so much longer than we do. So, we cannot throw out an old dress hence its ruffles hide some long-ago evaporated scent, and the lace fabric still remembers a touch from 40 years back. We cannot part with old souvenirs, so meaningless to people, who have no idea where they come from. Sometimes, all what remains is a small card and a dried flower or leaf between book pages.

October is like that for me: taking extended walks in the memory garden and trying to catch up with the current moments rushing by too swiftly. I, too, was convinced that I had answers to anything. That was when I didn’t have any life experience.

One more fall, one more calendar ending soon. It’s amazing how fast the years run away, but it fells like everything is still ahead. The best things which didn’t happen so far. The nicest surprises which didn’t want to come our way yet. The most adorable October which started just yesterday. Or a week ago, or maybe 2 weeks ago.

Some October leaves are meant to be kept so that our wishes could be written on them. Enclosed on a bright maple leaf is a small blessing. Simple, touchy, fading too soon. The satisfaction of this moment, the absolute essence of all things going away.

October leaves

This goes under my “The soothing Sunday thoughts” because it feels like Sunday, yet, it is Thanksgiving Monday in Canada.

Happy Thanksgiving, Canada!

Take this moment and blossom in it

The intelligence of plants and trees never stops surprising me. When we are saying: we have time we are cheating ourselves. Time allows us to be and use the moments we are in.

It’s a wonderfully warm and sunny fall morning. Quite rare pleasant warmth and undisturbed sunshine. It’s not interrupted by offensive noises, like loud music or silly human talk. This morning is filled only with birds’ chatter and soft whispers of leaves as they walk down the tree. The garden responds to the gift of the nature: everything that can is in bloom.

We as humans waste our time and do not use it in our favor. Look at the garden plants: they know what time is and they know when to push themselves to the full potential. This morning is magic with all the plants putting out their last blooms before the frost takes them away.

This post is short because words are limiting when it comes to describing beauty. The immense range of great emotions this beauty evokes is to tell us we do not have to go anywhere, but stay in the middle of this breathtaking landscape.

So, take this moment and blossom in it!

Nobody described the fall and our travels in the Universe better than Rainer Maria Rilke:

Herbst

Die Blätter fallen, fallen wie von weit,

als welkten in den Himmeln ferne Gärten;

sie fallen mit verneinender Gebärde.

Und in den Nächten fällt die schwere Erde

aus allen Sternen in die Einsamkeit.

Wir alle fallen. Diese Hand da fällt.

Und sieh dir andre an: es ist in allen.

Und doch ist Einer, welcher dieses Fallen

unendlich sanft in seinen Händen hält.

I encourage you to study German language. Nothing ever replaces the original. I translated this poem into Latvian many years ago, approximately in 1985. Since most people have no idea what Latvian language is like, I won’t insert it here. However, I’m attaching a quick rendering of Rainer Maria Rilke’s poem “Herbst” into English done by me. It’s my interpretation and how I experience this particular poem which resonates with me at this moment.

Fall

The leaves are falling as if from the distance,

as if in heavens gardens far-away are wilting;

these leaves are falling with denying motion.

And during nights, the heavy earth is falling

from all the stars into the loneliness.

We all are falling. This hand here is in fall.

And look at other one: it’s all around us.

But yet, there is One, who is holding

this falling never-ending-gently in his hands.

For illustration, I’m adding my garden gallery.

All sorts of pink blossoms

My roses

Pink climbing roses

Absolutely beautiful

Nasturtium

Bright orange nasturtium

Purple late fall blooms

Deep purple blooms

Nasturtium

… and yellow

Geranium, late fall

Extra colorful geranium

Pink hibiscus

Pink hibiscus

Beauty of backyard flowers in late fall

So many and so bright

Absolutely stunning

More geraniums and 

Nasturtium

more nasturtium

Enjoy the weather if it’s as good in your place!

 

Universe wishes us well, how we go with or against this plan

We, universe, nature and other people

We all create our own reality, and while doing so, we are interconnected with all other parts of the universe: the other people, nature, God and the highest power whichever one believes in. When you look at the brain activity chart, you can see numerous flashes which occur practically simultaneously. That is also how we as a tiny molecule of the universe are creating such flashes. People have tried everything: living mindfully, positively and using the law of attraction, as well as all kinds of significant rules we have invented so far. What works and what is just our illusion about living a full, balanced and abundant, life?

Our personal world we recreate every day

It is our world which we enter as soon as we wake up every morning. We do that as long as we live. We start out anew, fresh and on clean slate if we allow for that. When life is good, everything falls in place easily. We feel grateful, we feel that we are on the right path and we are sure the future is bright. The real problems start when life gives us tests and we have to overcome all kinds of obstacles.

The plan is always good

The purpose of a universal plan for us is always good and probably the best for the current situation. Can we see and understand it? Moreover, are willing to go along with it? Sometimes, one will understand the purpose of a situation only after many years and even decades. Sometimes, we will see what and why needed to happen sooner. This pandemic shows how vulnerable we are, and it really doesn’t matter what social class, financial wealth level, nationality, race or country one belongs to. This pandemic is to prove that as a human one is equal in the eye of the universe. One means no less and no more, but just the same.

Warning signs

We could argue that the current situation has nothing to do with a lesson from the universe, but it is simply the result of human negligence, error and mishandling of facts. As always, we get warnings and signs at first. Everything in the nature has been warning us for many decades. Deterioration of human health which is the result of attempts to achieve higher profits has been really alarming. Pollution and overcrowded cities, famine in some areas and wasting insane amounts of money for useless luxury items in some social groups, wrong values and mass production of cheap entertainment to keep humans in tight control, and so on and so forth. There have been many signs that the human race is on the wrong path.

Kind or harsh lesson, the choice is ours

Universe usually teaches us just like students at a regular school: at first, it is a general warning not to engage in some activity or process, then it is more targeted requirement to change the behavior, after that, we will receive strong corrective event which people, who feel like victims of situation, others or destiny, will call a punishment. In fact, the universe will try to stop you from destroying yourself while it is still possible with all kinds of means from mild warning to strong event that will change the route. Meaning, if you do not get the lesson with kind and mild suggestion, there is a need for strong means of correction.

Victim versus creator

If you see and perceive your personal world as a place where outside impacts every thought and step of yours and you have no say in the chain of events unfolding before your eyes, you are most likely feeling and acting as a victim: I cannot do anything about this. They have decided everything for me and I just have to comply and go with the stream. Now, if you are somebody who does not assume yourself as a victim, but rather somebody, who is in control of your own life and its events and who takes on the responsibility for results of your own actions, spoken words and thoughts, you will see that you can change and influence the chain of events. You can do that since you are the one, who understands that any current situation is created by you with your activity or inactivity, with steps you take or skip, with thoughts you pronounce or discard.

Patience is a virtue

Patience is something we seem not to have any more. When I hear people saying what a sacrifice that is to wear a mask, I’d like to ask them to think again. It is a preventive measure which helps us control the spread of virus and disease. From the first days we were advised no to travel, not to go anywhere, especially, not to fly and go abroad. Including March break, everybody was behaving as if nothing has happened. We heard that it’s not that scary as it sounds and there is no point in cancelling trip if one had paid for it in advance.

We are all connected

Now in the summer, people feel they cannot put off or cancel their parties and vacation travel. It’s vacation time and nothing will stop them from enjoying it. Well, we normally get what we ask for. It’s just so that this time adventure easily turns into trouble. This situation more than ever shows how connected the entire humanity is and how swiftly one person’s neglect and lack of judgement can affect other person’s life and health. You do not even know these people, but they will either work towards a better outcome or make bad outcome hit one harder.

True values

I’m not surprised big luxury brands are going out of business because this global situation reveals how unimportant it actually is for the global health to wear, drive or use a specific luxury item which is meant for show-off. Under mask, make-up becomes pointless. In the situation of social distancing, nobody really cares about one’s shoes, pants or dress. Hence, there are so many things which are of real value.

Blaming as lack of responsible approach

We might see this situation as a punishment for humanity if we feel like a victim. We might start blaming everybody and everything from government to food manufacturers, from lawmakers to neighbours and friends. That’s what a victim does: they blame something because they do not take responsibility for what they do and have done. In fact, your own health is in your own hands. That is very literary because you have to keep them in gloves and disinfect and sanitize frequently which I assume some people will also call a sacrifice. In fact, there is no punishment in the mind of the universe. There is no guilt or fault. That is an invention of the human mind to control victims and their behaviour. It’s easy to keep in control people, who fault themselves or feel guilty.

Universe wishes us well

The universe wishes us well. It will always try to work out the best scenario which meets your personal wishes and desires. I think you know that we have to be cautious about what we wish for. There is also a thing about negative sentences and the universal mind. It cannot hear what we say as a negative sentence. The same goes for small children. If you say: do not, they will only hear “do”. Therefore, sentences such as “I will not get sick” send out only one word “sick”, ‘I do not feel tired” means “feel tired” and so on. We have to use the affirmative form.

We have created every situation in our life

We have arrived at this day because of everything we have done, thought or said. That includes things we didn’t want to do or things we didn’t say out loud, or things we believed were unimportant. That includes signs and warnings we ignored. Blame is big nowadays. That means most people feel like victims, and social media and also TV strongly support that: blaming something or somebody and not being responsible for what we personally do. It is obviously a wrong way to approach any situation. It’s finally only us personally, who choose the fate of the globe. Every single person participates, and we either facilitate good outcome or cause harm for people we love most and eventually for everybody else. It’s in our hands to make things right.

Patched up with hope: life during pandemic

If we are lucky enough to live in some country like Canada where we have social security, fairly affordable health care and chances to get a job, some job, not always what we wish for, we stop believing in our own mortality. We know we cannot avoid passing away and it will happen sometimes, but that is a far-away event. We first enjoy, savor and are happy. After some very long time or possibly eternity, that might happen. That might happen after a great life which we have filled up with all kinds of achievements. We have fulfilled our dreams and everything is sunny in our peaceful valley of joy and pleasure-rich entertaining space. Slightly utopic, but internet says we all can do that. This doesn’t apply to time of COVID-19 pandemic, unfortunately, with everything being turned upside down and inside out.

The generations before cancer treatments, diabetes cures, artificial joints, artery stenting and transplanted organs, as well as efficient antibiotics, chemotherapy, fast and slow acting insulin, NSAIDs and steroids, blood pressure and cholesterol adjusting medications and antidepressants had to be more down to the Earth. Any health issue could have resulted in bad sequences and premature passing away. Therefore, people relied more on afterlife. If we didn’t have enough time to enjoy this life, we were quite sure that the best possible life awaits in a space which we had been told about depending on religion and personal belief. The shift nowadays is that we all want to experience the best possible life right now and here. We are not going to put up with anything less than paradise. This isn’t possible during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The COVID-19 pandemic has put extra pressure on most people. We hear often they cannot afford to wait; they cannot afford to buy one essential thing or another, they definitely cannot live as they used to. We also find out that virus has destroyed many lives, caused family conflicts, domestic violence and many people have succumbed to it. This might be the first time for somebody to realize that they are not bulletproof, I mean, that they, too, can become infected and have to undergo harsh treatment or even worse. The reality which threatens practically everybody, who slightly slips and stops observing the strict protocols of hygiene and physical distancing, has caused a gigantic wave of mental disorders.

While TV, social media and numerous internet sites remind us that we are not alone, that help is within easy reach, it can quite frequently remain only nice and cheering call without any follow-up action. We have to take into account that person, who is completely depressed (I am talking about clinically severe depression episode, not upset mood for a few days in a row), will take no steps to improve their condition. That is the nature of this condition: a complete ignorance of oneself, surroundings, situation and advice. They cannot do anything because they are unable to and they need some major break to become alive again.

The worst thing in pre-depressive state is analyzing everything: every word one hears, every glance, every message, every move and every reaction to what somebody else does or says. This leads to overwhelmingly negative self-assessment. The second worse thing is scrolling through social media and seeing how well everybody else is which leads to comparing one’s condition, situation and overall wellbeing to somebody else. If you do this for half a day or even longer, it is going to cause some reaction. There are usually only two types of social media messages which rise to the top: extremely attractive, extremely inspiring, extremely positive or plain bad and tragic. People will always look at a disastrous outcome. By numbers of statistics, that will be even more often than at something great and good. Have you seen how all traffic stops when there is a car accident on the road side? That’s exactly the same reason: it’s good to know that’s not our car and not us in it.

The best thing to do in a pre-depressive state is make oneself tired with physical work. Physical work with readily visible results beats physical exercise. Physical work which shows that we have achieved something immediately brings pleasant tiredness. We can look at spotless floor, bright and fresh laundry, planted flower bed, weeded garden, organized and clean room or house, sparklingly shiny windows. It’s good to split wood, dig soil and submerge hands in it. The only problem is to make that happen and start doing, overcome resistance and sometimes simple laziness.

Living in never-ending rush people forget about the energy which everything has, gives or takes. Let’s look at TV, computer, laptop or similar devices. While we believe we have got good energy watching something inspiring, uplifting and calling to activity, the radiation and energetic waves of devices actually deplete energy. The contemporary English version of ancient religious text says: “We are made from earth, and we return to earth.” I do interpret it so that also during our presence on the Earth we can draw all energy we need from the Earth. That is literary making our hands dirty with soil, walking barefoot on the grass and along the garden path, hugging tree which speaks to us and planting seeds in order to enjoy the harvest.

Patch up live, live nice during pandemic

Hug a tree, kiss a flower

The tiredness which comes from working at computer is completely different from tiredness which originates in working outdoors or indoors. More than ever, we need to clean our mind, decrease pollution in our head and let our brain enjoy fresh air. That decreases chance of shifting from upset mood days into severe and clinically treatable depression. Acting on it early, might help a lot, tremendously, in fact. Instead of scrolling through daily data and death reports, instead of spending hours reviewing progress of medical treatments and vaccines (it is a slow process anyway), one has to turn their mind to completely unrelated things.

While we might not be living the best life, we deserve, we cannot start feeling like a victim of circumstances, global or local events, pandemic and virus. Victim’s mind uses destructive energy and suffering since they believe it is inevitable and unavoidable. The reverse chain sets in, and we literally start causing what we would prefer to never happen to us. Whatever path we apply to our current situation, it will help, although, not permanently. That is fine, too.

We do have a choice: to work or refuse to work with all sequences that this decision causes, stay alone or go out, use caution or show off how brave we are, take unnecessary risks or avoid being childish. It is good to be recognized as a hero, and some people will embrace it. Most of us for different reasons will not because we are not willing to pay the price. One choice is not worse than the other. The outcome is different, and we might or might not like it. Choice always stays with us. We can call it whatever we want but it’s in our hands to manage our only life.

Patch up life, live nice during pandemic

This is a path which takes to better times

Stay well, be firm in your decisions and do not follow any doubtful trends which threaten your safety or safety of people around you!

The lesson we are not ready to take

What drives today’s society

We all hope for some miracle to happen, although, not all of us even believe in miracles. We hope, there is some better life awaiting just around the corner, and when it’s all over: the silly crisis, the terrible virus struggles and suffering, the real life will restart. People, who can only feel comfortable with all the happiness components present, are definitely not well off. Hence, the protests, premature reopening of businesses and economy and extreme dissatisfaction resulting in depression, anxiety and loss of interest in personal life. It’s by far not about economy only, it’s a lot about human psychology and fears of unrests due to harsh living conditions, loss of income and tight restrictions.

Social show-offs

Our society lives in social media and thrives on showing off what they have, where they have been, how they look and how gorgeous they are. It’s like never ending competition of greatness which you, too, can achieve, if you just buy one thing or another, get one job or another or simply change your attitude. According to principles of full, meaningful, rich and happy life, we have to wake up every morning looking forward to our tasks and duties with a happy smile on our lips and be ready to tackle anything which is thrown at us. At the end of the day, we review it and fall asleep knowing that we did something great, useful, meaningful and important. This pandemic and crisis time puts it all to test.

Can you stand the test?

Do what you love and love what you do, right? Get rid of anything which makes you unhappy and dissatisfied. The problem with this attitude is situation like COVID-19 crisis. It is a time when you have to do what is necessary and required as opposed to what you prefer or like. Our attitude is such that we must have everything which is deemed necessary for a great life: comfort, help, support, hired hands to perform things we hate doing, lots of choices and plenty of money to cover it all. This situation tests a person on individual level and society as a whole. Can you honestly say you are fine with the results of this test?

Acceptance issues

Whether we want to admit or not, we live better than anybody before us ever had. We do not have that many time-and effort-consuming household chores, we can choose very many aspects of our life, including where to live, where to work, who to love, what to eat and what to wear and so on. While it is absolutely necessary to be in complete charge of our life, the emphasis on life’s sunny side only has created a distorted perception of life. According to happiness philosophy, there are no bad issues, and you choose only the best options for you. The current life situation doesn’t support that. The huge numbers of depressed, upset, annoyed and frustrated people show that they cannot accept the life as it is at this moment. Moreover, there is no coping mechanism in place.

It’s still the same and only life

The real life involves situations when we need to cope with accidents, disasters, losses, difficulties and struggles, as well as our readiness to accept a bad outcome, too. The global crisis shows that not only individual people, but also governments and entire countries cannot accept the reality and are short of coping mechanisms. The worst part of this is it’s not ending as soon as most of us would like it to. It’s a long-lasting disaster with many people losing their relatives, friends, grandparents and parents. This takes a lot of strength and a lot of willpower. While most of us were ready to accept the short-term inconveniences, the extended period of problems takes a huge toll. However, it is still our only life, we have to live through it. We can get back many things, but never time.

Celebrating Mother's Day

Although, nothing is as usual, we still honor and celebrate our mothers. Happy Mother’s Day!

Restricted Mother’s Day

This day is usually such a fantastic moment when we honor the people, who gave us life. While we have our mother, we are protected, guided and guarded from life’s most terrible issues. When the entire world turns against us, the mother is there with her support, smile and heart. She doesn’t care what everybody else says, she is your mother, she is always there for you. Mine at least was. I lost her last year, and it might be better for her not to go through these times of pandemic and our inability to cure old age people. You should feel very privileged if you still have your mother.

Long-lasting inconvenience

This will be a long-lasting inconvenience at the best and prolonged struggle with tragic issues in other cases. It is kind of sad that we need special laws and rules to make people see this situation for as serious as it is. While almost every site and ad say now to wear a mask, there are many problems with that. Simple fabric mask is like really nothing much. Masks should be single use only and disposable. In addition to mask, gloves and glasses are necessary, as well as a personal protocol for putting them on and taking off.

Have a good Sunday and enjoy Mother’s Day even if it’s over the phone or laptop, and don’t be short of kind words.

P.S. I just was outdoors and said to myself: it’s at least not snowing today. It’s May with winter weather this year.

Backyard grocery store: love, grow and eat red radish

Cold climate is perfect for radish

Maybe you love gardening just as much as I do. Maybe you love fresh vegetables and sprouts?

Maybe you just want to save money while eating top-quality food. Whatever the reason, radishes are great starting plant in the backyard. It grows in quite cold soil and it will grow even when it is almost minus degrees. In fact, radish likes cold climate. Once radish comes up, you can consume also the young leaves since they have the same nutritional value that the vegetable has.You can start radish as soon as the soil is ready to use. It only takes a few weeks and you can already consume it.

Greens and red radish: picturesque and delicious combination

Radish goes well with other early spring greens, for instance green onions or chives. Chives are up as soon as snow melts and the soil has just somewhat warmed up. Chives are also perennial, and you will enjoy them every spring once they are planted. Chives and green onions grow like weeds, no special conditions are required. The only requirement all these plants have is generous watering unless you have many rainy days. Radish will never be at its best quality if it has suffered from dry conditions.

Grow red radish

Great nutrients without much effort

What is the value of radish and greens? Huge. It not only tastes fresh and great, but it is also very low in calories, but very high in minerals and vitamins. Red radish contains vitamins E, A, C, B6, and K, and it is high on antioxidants. Radish has also fiber, zinc, potassium, calcium, iron, phosphorous, magnesium, copper. Young radish has milder taste, overgrown radish turns into fibrous indigestible matter. Therefore, we consume the red radish while bright red and juicy with bright white flesh.

Grow, love and eat red radish

Undeniable health benefits at no cost

Any fresh spring greens, especially absolutely organic greens as from your own garden, will contribute big time to immune system and provide with necessary vitamins and minerals. As I wrote before, each vegetable, each herb comes with its own unique, digestion-friendly complex of beneficial nutrients. Therefore, greens and early vegetables 100% beat the benefits one gets from synthetic and artificial supplements. Plus, they are clean of harmful chemicals and pesticides.

If you live in a large city

I feel sorry for everybody, who cannot keep distance from others during this pandemic. Especially, if your place is in a high rise, there is much less opportunity to have fresh and clean air, fresh (as from garden) vegetables, fruits and herbs. People with balconies can still devote some large pots, plastic bags (large size with holes for air) or boxes for planting herbs, greens and easy to grow vegetables. It depends on many things whether it will turn out as a great undertaking. Container gardens do not take much time. It’s spent mostly on planting and later regular watering.

Use time wisely and go for vegetable gardening

Most people have plenty of time this spring. Why not to go outside, dig up some area, add fresh top soil and seed something good for you? It is a nice exercise, fresh air and good food. Perfect combination!

Radish seeds can be also colored or attached to a tape, but they are not that tiny and quite easy to put in soil. Radish seeds should be spaced right away because it will not like being taken out and replanted.

Extra simple and extra healthy recipes

I like extra simple recipes which save me time and efforts.

Thinly sliced radish is great as topping on bread which you cover with some butter, cottage cheese plus cream and pinch of salt and pepper.

It goes well in any salad which contains lettuce and cucumber, dill and green onion.

You can always add hard boiled and sliced egg.

Love, grow and eat red radish

Extra simple salad of radish with leaves:

10 radishes with leaves, we use just the freshest and smallest; sliced, but radish leaves, dill and green onion are finely chopped, pour over kefir dressing, add 3 quartered hard-boiled eggs on top of mixed salad

All greens and radish salad

Bunch of carefully rinsed and washed chickweed, young dandelion leaves, soaked in strong salt water for 0.5 hours, washed; arugula or lettuce, 6-8 radishes with small, young leaves, dill, green onion, 1 clove garlic, salt, pepper to your liking. We thinly slice radish and finely chop any greens and garlic. Very small leaves do not need any chopping. Stir, pour over kefir, mix of kefir and sour cream or mustard dressing.

I never measure anything and use any variations of ingredients depending on what I have. Basically, one needs to feel what goes with what and use common sense. These recipes are what I would make for us. I haven’t included extra detailed handling instructions because I believe that everybody knows how to make some salad.

Mustard dressing

5 tbsp olive oil

1 tsp mustard, I use Keen’s hot mustard because I like it, but you can replace it with any other you prefer

1 tbsp lemon juice

1 tbsp balsamic vinegar

1 tsp liquid honey

Salt and small bit of paprika powder

Feel free to improvise with radish and any early greens, including weeds.

I do add radish to quickly broiled smoked salmon salad along with cucumber, greens, arugula, dandelion leaves or baby lettuce. Extremely delicious! Use balsamic vinegar dressing.

Broiled smoked salmon salad

Only benefits

That is such a vitamin boost. It will contribute to your immune system which we need right now and leave feeling more energized every time you have eaten it. Early spring greens with radishes will also cost you nothing if you put seeds in soil right now.

Never eat lots of radish since eating huge amounts might irritate stomach. Realistically, never eat anything in large amounts.

Stay safe and healthy!

Backyard pharmacy and grocery store: spring 2020

Stay safe during virus outbreak and take good care about your health!

To boost our immune system and overall health, weeds and plants from our backyard and nearby forest or park come at no cost and with extreme benefits.

I hope you are self-isolating and you can do so without worries, since due to nature of their work, many people still need to be out and working.

You have time now, so, use it in a meaningful way!

The COVID-19 outbreak reached Canada in late winter and early spring. It is quite sensitive time for many Canadians because our internal resources get somewhat depleted during the long winter months when there is lack of sunshine and we stay indoors a lot. Now with the outbreak, we must stay away from other people in order to be safe and to prevent virus from spreading. Since we stay home, we can do many things which improve our immune system and provide ourselves with healthy extras.

Nature has taken good care that we always have a wide range of vitamins and minerals available to us. The best part is: everything that we require to sustain good health can be often found in our backyard, nearby forest or park. All we have to do is use our imagination, experience and knowledge and utilize the natural resources to our benefit.

Early spring is the best time for taking advantage of natural resources and also seeding and planting. Nature has everything, and that includes all health boosting substances, all minerals and vitamins in the most suitable and most balanced form with high bioavailability.

This year, I’m suggesting you keep nettles and dandelions in some garden corner. Especially, while their leaves are young and soft, they are a fantastic addition to either meals or preventive measures and therapy.

To survive without watering, many weeds have developed extremely widespread and long roots. Thanks to such roots, weeds can absorb a lot more nutrients than our cultivated plants. Weeds are also stronger and more resistant to plant diseases. They grow without fertilizers and greenhouse conditions. Biologically active substances which we can obtain from wild plants and weeds are also in greater concentration, in a ready-to-use form. Weeds are survivors among plants and they can withstand any harsh conditions. This is a very good reason to use wild plants and weeds for our benefit and for our nutrition.

Strong immune system means a lot for our health at any time, but especially during virus outbreaks. Weeds boost our immune system like nothing else. Weeds are also the first ones which come up as soon as the soil thaws. We collect different parts of wild plants and weeds: leaves, roots, flowers or the entire plant. The best time for collection is early morning or late afternoon before dusk. That is the time period when plants have absorbed nutrients and their content is high.

My family was living in the countryside, not far from a small Latvian town during 60-s of the last century. We didn’t have any pharmacies or drug stores in the area, and, therefore, we didn’t use any synthetic medicines. How did we manage any health issues? There were not many, and we used lots and lots of herbal remedies which were available in extremely wide variety and in abundance. At a very young age, I learned how to recognize each grass, plant, flower and herb and memorized what it does, how much and what way to apply it. Therefore, I am not sharing that much clinical trial findings, but my personal findings and Latvian traditional herbal recipes.

We collect wild plants and weeds only in safe, clean places, definitely not along roads or highways with lots of traffic. Parks, where people walk pets, are also not a good idea. For immediate use, we collect healthy looking, undamaged parts of plants and we definitely blanch most of them. Blanching will also prevent from consuming any undesirable insects or germs.

Each plant comes with its own complex or set of useful biologically active substances. These substances are available in a well-balanced way. You can use wild plants and weeds in salads, soups, green smoothies, stews, pesto, on bread together with other vegetables or specifically for health purposes as herbal tea, extract, tincture, infusion or mixture.

Nettles are definitely a champion among natural treatments and health boosters: stinging nettle Urtica dioica, small nettle Urtica urens L., white nettle or white dead-nettle Lamium album. They grow in almost every backyard. The same goes about dandelions. Quite soon in our area, it will be time to start collecting birch buds and pine-tree buds. I planted specifically a few healthy nettles in a small area where they will be controlled from taking over other plants, hence my backyard does not have rich soil and nettles do not grow there naturally.

Nettle has everything for health

Some properties of nettle

Dried and fresh common nettle and small nettle leaves and roots, as well as white nettle flowers and leaves (they are not as rich as common nettle) can be used for numerous conditions and overall improvement of health. Common nettle is high in iron, contains vitamin C, vitamin K, group B vitamins and practically any vitamin which is useful for humans. Nettle contains numerous minerals, carotenoids and fatty acids, as well as various essential amino acids, chlorophyll, tannins, carbohydrates, sterols, polysaccharides, isolectins. Nettle roots contain oleanolic acid, sterols and steryl glycosides. Nettle seeds have also high content of these nutrients. The amount of useful compounds in plant depends on location, season, daytime of collection and how young and healthy the plant is.

Using nettle benefits any body system, but especially the immune system, nervous, respiratory system, hematopoiesis (blood formation at cellular level), cardiovascular system, muscles and bones, improves also gastrointestinal health, treats kidney, liver and gallbladder problems. We traditionally used them for joint pains, as well.

Nettle can help with blood sugar stabilization in diabetics. It has been observed that nettle tea lowers blood sugar. Using nettle makes person stronger after exhaustion or treatment of disease. Nettle is an important herb for treatment of anemia caused by iron deficiency.

Nettle juice and tea has been used orally as an additive for treatment of tuberculosis, bronchitis, cough, whooping cough and other respiratory symptoms. Latvian traditional herbal treatments use nettle to stop bleeding in lungs, abdomen and uterus, to treat upper respiratory problems, and especially for cleaning blood and for removal of toxic substances from the body. Nettle stops also wound bleeding, and not only that: nettle also possesses highly efficient antibacterial properties.

Nettle boosts metabolism within the body, increases hemoglobin and red blood cell levels, constricts blood vessels (thus, you cannot use nettle in hypertension), facilitates blood clotting, development of epithelial cells and tissue granulation (wound treatment, bleeding), normalizes menstrual cycle. Nettle has antiseptic, antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, pain relieving, calming, anti-allergic and diuretic properties. Nettle can be used with many chronic conditions when immune system cannot fight and protect us from harmful impacts.

Who cannot use nettle products and supplements or must be otherwise cautious?

People, who have hypercoagulation, e. g., excessive blood clotting disorder, high blood pressure, atherosclerosis, bleeding caused by uterine tumors, cysts and polyps, people with kidney failure and those, who suffer from blood clot formation in veins (thrombophlebitis), as well as during last months of pregnancy.

Some medical literature suggests that nettle hardly affects blood coagulation (content and form of vitamin K), and other literature warns to observe caution. I would always go with moderate use which applies to absolutely everything we introduce into our diet or health routine. Always proceed with caution when it comes to health.

In April, and if it is warm, also at the end of March, we can usually collect new and bright green nettle leaves. We pick common or stinging nettle and small nettle leaves with gloves, and they also require blanching before we use them in salad, soup, omelet, stew or simply as tea or compress. Some sources advice to keep nettle leaves in boiling water for 3-5 minutes. We watch that leaves do not lose their bright green color. Then, we use a strainer and quickly submerge the strained leaves into ice-cold water. We dry them in paper towel and use as we please. Stinging or common nettle goes well with anything that uses spinach as an ingredient. Therefore, similar recipes can be used. We prefer them with green onions or chives and yoghurt, kefir or citrus dressing, plus our favorite herbs.

Find remedies in the backyard

There have been clinical trials about herbal treatments. Review of some clinical trials about properties of nettle Exploration of nettle properties

Recipes and more suggestions will follow if there is any interest. Please, comment if you think you could make use of such addition. Since most people do not read anything, I’d just like to see whether it makes sense to post an article about nettle juice, nettle tea or some simple salad recipes and also dose suggestions.

Any herbal supplement can cause sensitivity or other reactions. I’d advice always try tiny amount (as with food) first or discuss it with your doctor in case of a chronic condition. Using herbal tea or tincture, as well as infusion requires to follow instruction about daily dose.

Internet advice, helplessness and pill which cures everything

Part 2

Relying on other’s suggestions

If you are easy to convince and sway towards decisions somebody else has made, you end up doing a lot of Internet shopping, following trends and chasing things which are at the top today, but gone by tomorrow.

Judging by TV adds, everything is cheap, almost for free and you just have to get it and sign up whether it’s an investment offer, health program, slimming and dieting web, you just have to buy a supplement, new type of food, treatment, cosmetics and numerous other services, endless devices and all of it is made for you. For you. Afterwards, you might wonder: what was so good about it? Frequently, there won’t be any benefit of using that product or you have a big chance to run into new problems.

Careful with pills

It is mind-blowing how many pills, supplements, drugs, medicines and health boosting substances people are using. It is so that there is a pill for anything. Some honestly admit that, in order to feel ok and go through the day and get a decent sleep, they need to take something. It can be even unclear what this particular thing does, but they need the feeling that they are doing something to look better, to feel better, to be energetic or to relax. Certainly, the numbers of offered solutions are so huge that nobody can anymore be sure what is exactly they need or what they can live without.

Synthetic supplements versus natural nutrients

Synthetic supplements versus natural nutrients

More is not better when it comes to medicine and supplements

It is concerning that we believe the more substances and health improving supplements we take, the better we are going to be. It is forgotten that the human body has so many mechanisms to regulate and adjust everything, and that literary includes every process from tiniest within a part of a cell to the most systemic processes. The body’s natural regulation and adaption mechanisms work until we step in and start unnecessary improving them. We destroy the balance our body works hard to maintain. It was never about more of one substance or nutrient, it was always about balance! Once we recover from one pill or drug, we quickly rush to another: maybe this is going to be the missing miraculous treatment! So, it just goes until we start suffering from allergies, hypo- or hyper levels of some hormone, enzyme, mineral and nutrient. Nature has it safe and right, but we always want to be smarter

Over-the-counter drugs and supplements

OTC medicinal products are designed so that they should not harm one when following the dosage advice. These products are also not designed to treat clinically significant issues and deficiencies; such treatments will take much higher and differently administered doses. Therefore, it is silly to make a serious health issue go away by using OTC drugs and supplements.

The effects of herbal remedies might appear much slower, but they are also safer. With supplement market so huge, it can be dangerous to buy and use unknown substances online, especially, if it is unclear who manufactures and distributes the product. Many supplements claim doing things which they never could. We cannot believe every claim which is not proven in documented and real clinical trials. Most supplements have not been tested clinically because it is a very long and very expensive process. Phrases: dermatologist, dentist, pharmacist  or doctor recommended mean literally nothing. It is just a phrase to convince you. For clinically tested medicinal products, there are clinical trial references, as well as clearly identified data about safety, doses and precautions. Lists of recalls are available in any country, and one should check them out at least time to time. You’d be surprised what you will find there.

It might be not what it seems

Our body can take a lot. Sometimes, all the stress signals go off and trigger protective mechanisms which are many and various. We don’t give up without fight, and the survival is encoded in every cell of us assuming there are no brain defects or mental barriers whether chemical, hormonal or substance induced. The signal that we are in danger will trigger all kinds of symptoms, and the body will immediately engage everything what’s available. If you take a pill every time to regulate these symptoms, the self-regulation mechanism might simply die off.

Make distinction between vitally important and unnecessary

There are life-threatening conditions which need to be cured, and there are so many symptoms which do not need interference with heavy drugs. Therefore, whatever the reason, you have decided to supplement your diet with anything synthetic or processed which all capsules, pills and powders are, regardless of their organic or herbal origin, you have to evaluate the necessity of this step. Unbelievably, drugs are trendy and supplements are trendy, too. For the matters explained before, you might not experience any improvement whatsoever, not to mention that when profit is behind the health claim, the ingredients of your capsule or pill might be not even be the ones what are listed.

Supplements versus real food

Supplements versus real food

Placebo effect

One might ask: why somebody reports feeling better if they take a pill which contains no active ingredients or nothing which relates to their actual health problem? Placebo effect has been recognized in practically all clinical trials, and, for the reason of comparing whether some particular drug really treats the condition, first phases of clinical trial involve a patient group which takes or is administered a placebo. This substance is neither improving nor harming a person because it does not contain any active ingredients. Yet, the outcomes frequently reveal that quite significant part of trial population on placebo feels better.

Real life placebo effects

We can frequently observe this effect in real life. There are many examples which relate to supplements. While celiac disease according Health Canada statistics is diagnosed only in hardly 1% of population, any grocery store will have large amounts of gluten-free products. Does any person who does not have celiac disease benefit from gluten-free diet? The answer is no. It would be like you are wearing strong glasses when you do not need them. This is treating a disease which one does not have. In fact, they are avoiding very useful and nutrient-dense products, as well as paying more for things they do not need at all. So, why do they feel better? First, that might be becoming more selective when using different products. Secondly, it is for sure the placebo effect. A person feels better because they are convinced that they are doing something for their health.

It’s in your brain, isn’t it?

Body as a whole system can be convinced and affected to a huge extent by being sure about something. There are examples in history how a person can die when they have been told they just took a dose of very strong poison for which there is no antidote. The same goes for miraculous healing. There are numerous examples how a person can recover when taking a pill of pressed mild herbal ingredients and being told that they are given the best drug which currently exists for that condition. We can definitely convince us one way or another. That is why most people want to take something, which is like a dot on “i”. One can talk and discuss their condition endlessly, but if they are given a pill or a capsule, even some powder, they will start feeling better. That certainly won’t be a lasting case with clinically serious or systemic diseases. You can test it for yourself. Give somebody a completely harmless pill of compressed low-dose herbal ingredient or just simple sugar pill (assuming they are not diabetics). You have to tell that person that they will sleep extremely well if they have insomnia, or they will stop experiencing indigestion if they have clinically insignificant digestive disorders, anxiety or depression. There will be results.

Make very careful and individually adjusted decisions

That brings us back to necessity of synthetic supplements. Many of them will be in doses which cannot affect one dramatically. However, buying supplements and vitamins, essential oils, cosmetic products, hair and skin care products from unknown sources can be very dangerous. It is not only because of extra high or low dose, but also there might be ingredients which you did not know about. Many drugs have been recalled since lab testing proved there were harmful substances in an even clinically strictly tested drug. They got there during manufacturing process. Now imagine how supplements which normally do not require strict documented testing could have just about anything! You should also be aware that consuming natural and unmodified food which you cook from scratch will provide you with all necessary nutrients and they will come in naturally suitable doses because you cannot eat 10 kilograms of beets, onions, bread, fish or meat at once. Therefore, whatever the advice, tailor it to your personal needs, condition, preferences and lifestyle, as well as age and gender.

Pill which cures everything

Synthetic isn’t as it occurs in nature, it is easy to overdose or treat non-existing issues

Overdoing with any nutrients and substances, which we call vitamins for simplicity, can have harmful and dangerous sequences, too. More in following posts.

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