• Earthing

    Have you ever noticed how amazing you feel after walking barefoot on a beach or through dewy grass?  Have you experienced an indescribable peacefulness after swimming in the ocean or spending the weekend camping?  As a geologist, I’ve spent a fair number of days sprawled out on rocks soaking up the warmth while eating my lunch and basking in the great outdoors.  I was always aware of a connectedness and exhilaration that would come over me, but I just assumed it was the fresh air.  While being outdoors is the one common denominator in all these activities, I have recently discovered that there may be an additional explanation that is based on science and the electrical potential of the Earth.

    The Earth is basically a limitless reservoir of free mobile electrons.  What this means is that no matter what type of charge comes in to contact with it, the Earth can completely absorb the charge or send electrons to neutralize a positive charge.  This is the reason we have a ground in electricity.  If there were ever some power surge, the excess energy would dissipate in to the ground where it is neutralized.

    The desire to go barefoot or dip in to a body of water, therefore, may be a biological desire to neutralize electrical energy in our body and to tap in to the diurnal electrical rhythms of the Earth.  We all strive for balance and to be “grounded” and this might be exactly how this term evolved.

    It has been proposed in research over the last 30 years or so that almost every type of modern disease and psychological or physiological stressor can be attributed to an abundance or scarcity of electrons.   That may sound a little oversimplified but let me explain what I mean.

    Having positively charged free radicals in the body can wreak havoc on well-being.  Free radicals are basically just a molecule that have an unpaired valence electron, which leaves the atom or molecule unstable with a positive charge.  Presence of free radicals is otherwise known as something being oxidized (basically the same process as rusting).  That is why there has been an advent in understanding the benefit of consuming anti-oxidants or using them in skincare products.  Oxidants are what ultimately cause tissue damage, aging and degeneration because these positively charged free radicals go barraging through healthy tissue seeking electrons to become stable and harm the tissue from which they take electrons in the process.

    If our bodies are full of these free radicals from stress, environmental toxins or dietary toxins, coming in to contact with the Earth will basically allow the free electrons to flow in to the body and neutralize them before they cause damage. Chronic inflammation is thought to be associated with the damage caused by free radicals as the electrons are poached from the tissue.  Inflammation is associated with many of the diseases that plague our modern society including heart disease, chronic pain, diabetes and arthritis.

    In addition to reducing inflammation, coming in to contact with the Earth (otherwise known as Earthing), is hypothesized to improve stress levels, increase energy and decrease insomnia as a result of normalizing the diurnal electrical patterns in the body and equilibrating them to the natural pattern of the Earth.   Earthing can be a great thing to do once you have traveled across time zones for this reason.  Putting yourself in to contact with the Earth resets your daily clock and adjusts your circadian rhythm to the new time zone.

    It is such a simple thing, Earthing.  We obviously evolved as a mammal that was meant to be in contact with the Earth without insulating barriers.  Even early humans walked with conductive materials on their feet such as leather or skins and slept on the ground.  Have you ever noticed how often modern day humans are in electrical contact with the Earth?

    That’s right.  Almost never.  Take a look around and notice how many adults and children are walking around with shoes that put a rubber or plastic barrier between us and the Earth.  How many houses are completely removed from the Earth, covered in insulating materials such as wood, carpet and/or elevated and completely removed from any contact with the ground?  Almost every single one.

    How To Earth

    Earthing is really easy to do.  You can get the full benefits of coming in to electrical equilibrium with the Earth in about 15-20 minutes a day.  It’s as easy as being in contact with the earth or a conductive material that is in contact with it (rock, ceramic tile, or concrete like in a basement or on a sidewalk, etc.).  Walking in direct contact with the Earth works great, as well as just placing one’s feet or body on it.  If you like wading in the water, it can be accomplished there, especially saltwater, which has extra conductivity.

    In the book Earthing: The Most Important Health Discovery Ever? I checked out after I had an interest in this subject, the book’s author, Clint Ober, talks about grounding devices (such as bedsheets, pads for forearms or feet at the computer, etc.) that can be connected to an outdoor grounding device.  I also just stumbled across a resource for Earthing devices that sells products and has a great video that summarizes this post.  I haven’t had a chance to try them yet, but am thinking about ordering one of the products.  It sounds as though the effects of sleeping grounded are profound.

    But just walking around barefoot or lazing with as much skin as possible touching the Earth is pretty easy to do!  The feet work particularly well because of the vast amount of nerve endings, whose tissue is supposed to be especially conductive.  It has the added benefit of stimulating the feet, as in reflexology.  I find it interesting that our feet evolved to be such reflex points at the same time we were always making contact with the Earth with them.

    Next time you’re working in your garden, walking on a beach, working in your concrete floor basement, or attending your child’s sports match, try removing your shoes and see if you feel any different after about 15 minutes.  Note your pain, energy and stress levels, happiness, and sleeping patterns.  This is something so simple to try and really you have nothing to lose.  It seems like a pretty easy thing to convince kids to do too!  This simple act has brought a lot of healing energy in to my life.

  • Apple Cider Vinegar Rinse for Hair

    To make your hair soft and shiny, try rinsing it with 1/4 cup of apple cider vinegar mixed with 1 cup of cold water.  Apply the solution by pouring it over the hair after conditioning and then rinse with cold water to help seal the cuticle.  Take care to avoid your eyes.  This is a really inexpensive way to clarify the hair and make it silky-looking.  Add a few drops of any essential oil if you like to help eliminate the vinegar smell, though it mostly evaporates after the rinse.  My favorite oils to use in the solution are either rosemary, lavender, or bergamot.  Try using a few drops of tea tree oil if you have any problems with dandruff.  You may find you don’t need to use conditioner on the days you do this.

    This is a trick I have been using for some time and my mom recently told me my grandmother used to use it as well.  She would wash her girls’ hair in the kitchen sink and rinse it with a vinegar water solution.  I love hearing about these tried and true simple tricks that have been passed down through the ages.  Apparently the hair and scalp are both slightly acidic so this rinse just helps to balance the hair to its natural pH.  Not to mention, you all know how much I love vinegar for consuming and for beauty!

    While I’m talking about hair and vinegar, I’ll use this post to tell you that I did try using the whole “no ‘poo” method.  Besides the name “no ‘poo” which really annoyed me, this method just didn’t work for me.  It basically consists of washing hair with a solution of baking soda diluted in water and using a vinegar solution as the conditioner.  If you try Googling this, you will see what a craze it is.  A lot of the people that have tried the method really rave about it.

    I loved the idea and always appreciate resourcefulness and anything that applies to the whole “want not, waste not” philosophy but I just couldn’t get this one to work.  I tried tweaking a lot of things throughout the process including the type of vinegar, the ratios, and the frequency but absolutely nothing worked.

    I feel like I gave it an honest try because I spent five weeks doing the method during which time I basically looked like a greasy drowned rat.  Normally I consider natural to be beautiful, but I felt like a little misfit throughout this whole experiment.  I think the way I felt was reflected in the way I interacted with the world and I was kind of moping around.  Even my mom admitted it looked terrible!  When your mom tells you a look/practice isn’t working, listen up people!

    The whole concept still makes a lot of sense to me.  That is, our hair produces extra oil to compensate from it being stripped of shampoo and that many of the ingredients in shampoos and conditioners are bad for the environment and unhealthy for us to absorb through our skin.  But I just wasn’t looking professional or feeling like a sexy bitch walking around looking like a well-fed meth head.  I am thinking I might give it a try one of these days again, especially if I go hang out in the wilderness for a couple of months!  I suspect I would have adjusted more quickly had I just completely quit washing my hair for a month and hardly used the baking soda shampoo.

    After the failed experiment, I did go out and find some sulfate-free, all-natural shampoo with argan oil and seaweed extract by the Seawood Bath Company that has a eucalyptus and peppermint scent that I am really loving.  Actually Chief found it at Whole Foods since I didn’t have any shampoo or conditioner in the shower for him.  I don’t think my hair has every looked better since I started using this shampoo and conditioner.  Walking around with it doused in natural oils for five weeks may have helped my cause though!  I am using the apple cider vinegar rinse 1-2 times per week.

  • Unfolding

    a haiku, by Emily Ness

    Ephemeral blooms
    Buoy my profound wonder
    That now never ends

     

    This haiku was inspired in Houston on a warm, fragrant walk to my bus stop in the morning.  That’s where many of my poems and stories are born.

  • Filing System To Simplify Life

    Many years passed during which I fantasized about the perfect filing system.  One day I acted upon my deepest latent desires and made my OCD wishes come true.  For more background, the zenhabits website has a great post about how a filing system can simplify your life and increase productivity.  For my system, I got inspiration from Jean Chatzky’s book called Make Money, Not Excuses and followed a system she outlined.  The steps are below:

    Step 1: Get a small file box with a carry-handle.  These are available at any office supply store, Target or any other sort of discount retailer.  Or… if you’re feeling fancy or need an excuse to get organized…The Container Store! That’s right, I just gave you an excuse to go there.   The reason you want a filing box with a handle is this is basically going to be your portable, frequently updated, current file cabinet.  You can bring it out to the dining table to make quick adjustments or bring it to your tax person or CPA when necessary.

    Step 2: Get all supplies necessary for organizing and filing bills.  I like to keep mine in a sturdy fabric box near my other filing equipment.  I’m sure a craftier person than I could have fun making one, but I purchased mine.  I have modified the list from Jean Chatzky’s book and it is listed below:

    • Hanging folders.  Decide early on if you are going to commit to letter or legal-sized for your box and folders.  Be sure you have the filing tabs that go along with the folders.
    • Sharpie markers.  The fine point ones are especially useful.  But… what is even better than sharpie markers is… (cue flashing lights and dramatic removal of a velvet curtain)…a label maker.  Jean suggests getting one if you have poor handwriting, but I suggest getting one if you really want your filing to be something you get excited about! **
    • Manila folders (again, decide letter or legal)
    • Stamps and envelopes
    • Letter opener
    • Stapler (red Swingline if you’re an Office Space fan 😉 )
    • Calculator (I love my trusty old TI-83 from high school maths)
    • Pens and pencils
    • Paper clipsIMG_3614

    Step 3: Neatly label your hanging folders. (Sweet joy, it’s time to play with the label maker!!!**)  I like to use the following categories:

    • Banking
    • Brokerage Accounts
    • Taxes
    • Home (or Apartment)
    • Benefits/Compensation
    • Auto
    • Credit Cards
    • Health Care
    • Legal
    • Children

    Other ideas for main folders (with subfolders):

    • Pet(s)
    • Travel
    • Mom and Dad (or anyone else you’re helping to take care of)
    • Lifestyle (examples below)
      • Goals
      • Ideas
      • Well-Being
      • Hobby (for example, I have one folder for writing and one for yoga)

    Step 4: Populate your hanging folders with manila folders for specific areas.
    In each of these main hanging folders, you will want to put a manila file folder for each separate entity of the main category.   As an example, for credit cards, I have a manila file for Chase card and a manila file for CitiCard.  For Home/Apartment, I have one folder for homeowner’s insurance and one for utilities and so on.  Each one gets labeled with the year because when the year is completed, you will move this folder out of your pristine carry-handle box in to a non-portable file drawer.  Eventually it will become obvious which large categories you need and which manila folders you need.

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    Jean recommends having different color folders depending on if it is yours, your spouses, or shared.  Right now Chief and I have all our accounts separate so I have made a portable filing cabinet just for him.  I color code by whether things help me become financially abundant.  All my credit card or auto things are in a red folder (bad!), brokerage and banking in green (money, good!), and neutral things like home or hobbies in yellow or purple.

    In Chief’s filing box, I have a folder entitled “Children” and a manila folder for each of his kids.   In those manila folders, you can save things like important milestones, report cards, and some of the best or most meaningful artwork.  It will then always be organized by year.

    Step 5: Once a year, transfer the previous year’s manila folders from the portable box to the non-portable drawers.
    When the end of the year comes, I then change over my whole file system and throw away anything that can be dumped.  For all the main categories, I have a matching hanging folder in a larger non-portable wooden file cabinet.  Once I’ve filed my taxes, I throw out anything in the main file cabinet from the previous calendar year that I no longer need.  I then move the recently completed year’s manila folders in to their hanging folder in the floor cabinet.  Next is producing new folders for the new calendar year. (Label Maker Time!**)   As an example, as I changed over a couple weeks ago once all my taxes were submitted, I shredded all the Chase credit card 2011 statements I had been storing, moved the Chase 2012 manila folder in to its hanging folder in the main file cabinet, and created a Chase 2013 manila folder in my portable system.  Some of your hanging folders will have multiple manila folders from previous years.  As an example, your taxes hanging folder will probably have seven previous year’s worth of tax returns in it.

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    I leave the stuff I don’t need for everyday in my main file cabinet (e.g.  old tax statements, medical records, art and furnishings paperwork, divorce papers, and miscellaneous invoices and receipts).

    It sounds like a lot of work and initially it was.  Now that I have my system up and running though, the switcheroo only takes me about 3-4 hours once/year.  I usually do it as I watch mindless movies over Netflix on my computer.

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    Staying on top of this requires short bursts of weekly or monthly maintenance and one committed evening of annual maintenance but the peace of mind it brings in having organization and knowledge of all your important records is immeasurable.

    In regards to which things you should keep and which things you should toss, I have a list of guidelines that I have taped underneath the top of my portable filing cabinet  I typed up the list based on the guidelines in Ms. Chatzky’s book.  The link to download the PDF file is below.  I do recommend checking out her book if you want to become more financially savvy.  She has some great advice on how to divvy things up whether you are a one or two-income family,  some basics on investing and planning, and how to get more control over your finances if this is an area you feel insecure or worried.

    HowLongtoKeepPaper

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    ** For those who get excited about things like label makers, read on:

    There is endless fun to be had with label makers and it brings such a sense of peace and organization to my life.  One thing I will mention is that you want to be sure you get label tape that isn’t clear (in case you need to cover old writing up) and stock up on the label tapes while at the office supply store because it’s really annoying when you run out at the wrong time.  I keep a photo of the kind I like on my phone as well as a photo of the printer cartridges I need because I can never remember when I am at the store.  The label tape is expensive so this part is really kind of extravagant and is to get you excited about filing more than anything!  My label maker even has a key to make a cat face which was a real bonus.  Though it’s possible others don’t get quite the thrill out of label makers as I do??

  • The Price of Perfection

    Micro-fiction by Emily Ness

    A galaxy of longing could not describe the infinite urge the creator had for things to be just as he had left them.  It was not to be so.  Everything had gone pear-shaped in the short period of time during which he left his nearly finished experiment to grab a snack.

    When he returned, he found the entry to the tidy lab that housed his workbench had warped with the weight of his ideas. He was now stuck rimming the threshold, perched on the edge of the space-time continuum.  If he stepped any closer to witness the disaster, he would be in danger of slipping in to the vast hole created in 4-dimensional fabric.  He had no desire to be caught in the vortex that would flush him in to otherworldliness like scummy bubbles after a child’s bath.

    So he held still in all dimensions, orbiting nothing and everything.  He watched what was once everything he had hoped for vanish into something that would never become.  He briefly considered taking the plunge, reasoning that if he dove, at least his failures would not come before his eyes because his past was now creating a new future.

    He had just released the most precious commodity that countless workers had spent the last 14 billion years cultivating.  Father Time’s son was a joke.  He had failed.

    Old Father Time had been unconcerned with aesthetics.  He was responsible for the clutter that was strewn all over infinite space and this had never bothered the old man a bit.  His son felt it was his duty to pick up the pieces.   He worked his whole life to overcompensate for his father.  He had made it his mission to embark on a meticulous mission to clear the mess of space and put it back in to the bin where it belonged.

    It had almost been in its final assembled form, condensed in to a tidy ball, coiled and rearing with potential energy.  The last task necessary before the unveiling was to assemble the metadata about his life’s work.  He figured that in case anyone had another accident due to carelessness like his old man had they’d have some guidance regarding the inner workings of the universe on how to assemble it again.

    But this perfect primordial atom somehow escaped under its own weight and formed a singularity out in to a new universe, a new blossoming of space-time expansion.  Now it would be up to a new keeper to be born some billion years later and figure it all out again.

    Father Time’s son gave a resigned sigh and decided he may as well go out and have a beer.

    This story is based on the prompt, “A galaxy lof longing…”

  • Banana Chocolate Smoothie

    This is one of my favorite things to drink right after a hard workout.  The natural sugars help restore energy and the protein repairs muscle.  It also makes for a really delicious and satisfying breakfast.  It tastes like a milkshake if you need an appetizing word to lure your kids to consume something healthy.

    • 1 medium size ripe banana
    • ¾ cup whole raw milk (or almond milk for vegan or lactose intolerance)
    • 2 tablespoons cocoa
    • 1 tablespoon honey
    • 1 tablespoon flaxseed
    • Couple dashes cinnamon
    • 1 cup ice cubes

    Blend all ingredients together using a blender or hand-blender.

    Bananas are full of potassium, which can help balance fluids in the body and maintain muscle function (e.g. prevent cramps).  They are also full of fiber, vitamin C and vitamin B-6 and work great for any indigestion issues.

    I have recently discovered a dairy farm nearby, Stryk Jersey Farm, from which I can get raw unprocessed milk from pasture-raised, grass-fed Jersey cows.  It is unpasteurized, is not homogenized and contains a healthy distribution of beneficial bacteria, enzymes and nutrients in their raw form.  This milk is really high in protein and mixing it in to a smoothie will keep you full for hours.  It’s not available in some states, but look in to if you’ve been curious about making your own dairy products or introducing the health benefits of raw milk.

    Cocoa is full of flavonoids, which can help to prevent heart disease by decreasing blood pressure, reducing inflammation, balancing good and bad cholesterol and improving blood vessel health.   And it tastes divine!  Cocoa does have a little bit of caffeine so be sure to consider that when deciding what time of day to have this smoothie (or giving it to little ones).  Cocoa also helps to decrease insulin resistance so can help prevent Type 2 diabetes or decrease the amount of sugar-related health problems you might be having such as problems with yeast, or Staph.

    Flaxseed is high in fiber, lignans, protein and omega-3 fatty acids.  Be sure to buy the kind that are ground so the body can more readily absorb what is contained within the seeds.  They need to be stored in the refrigerator.

    Honey contains beneficial bacteria and is full of antioxidants.  Try to use local honey in helping the body to adjust to local pollens for controlling allergies.  Be sure it is raw and unprocessed so that pasteurization does not destroy the healthy bacteria and other beneficial natural compounds.

    Any time I am adding a sweetener like honey or a type of fruit sugar, I like to add some cinnamon because cinnamon helps regulate insulin levels in the blood.

  • Drunken Red Wine Bath

    Chief has been out of town most of this month so I have been faced with my usual dilemma…what to do with the bottles of red wine that I can’t finish before they start to turn.  This bath is the perfect way to enjoy a glass and not feel compelled to finish the rest of the bottle by oneself!  If you want an excuse to throw it back, just forget you ever read this post. 😉  This is also a good opportunity to use up leftover wine after a party.

    Bath Recipe

    • 20 drops of jasmine essential oil (it usually comes blended in jojoba oil)
    • 1/4 cup grape seed oil
    • 1 cup of Epsom salt or sea salt or a combination
    • 1/2 bottle red wine

    The antioxidants in the wine and grape seed oil help to heal damaged skin.  The jasmine provides a sensual scent.  The grape seed, jojoba and jasmine oils moisturize and nourish the skin.

    I am addicted to Epsom salts for the way in which they soothe aches and pains in muscles and joints and reduce inflammation as a result of overuse, injury or arthritis.  It seriously feels like you have had a massage after soaking in Epsom salts – pretty fantastic for a fraction of the cost!

    Epsom salts are basically just magnesium sulfate named after a bitter saline spring at Epsom in Surrey, England.  By soaking in them, your body absorbs these nutrients through the porous membrane of the skin organ.  The magnesium helps regulate enzyme activity for biochemical reactions in the body, maintain muscle and nerve function, and regulate blood pressure.  Sulfate helps to flush toxins and other salts from the body by the process of reverse osmosis.

    The sea salt has the same theory.  It contains mostly sodium chloride, but also has macro-minerals (including magnesium) and nearly 80 trace minerals that are beneficial for our bodies.

    I like to keep both my Epsom salts and sea salt that I buy in bulk in glass jars near the bathtub.  It’s sexier looking than the Walgreen’s Epsom salt bag!

    The red wine won’t stain your tub, but sparkling wine also works.  It might be nice for the morning after a celebration with some citrus oils like grapefruit, tangerine, or bergamot.

    Soak for 20 minutes.   Maybe for once soaking yourself in wine WILL solve your troubles!