Laura G Owens ~ Writer

Humanity. Health. Happiness.

Author: Laura G Owens Page 9 of 14

September 11th Survivor Tree: The Meaning of Life

Photo credit: Janey Henning

9/11 Memorial, Tree of Life, September 11thWatch: September 11th Survivor Tree Story. (1 minute 53 seconds)

This summer my family and I visited the September 11th Memorial. It was quiet, stirring, reverent and beautiful, surprisingly not laden with overwhelming sadness. It was instead, tinged with it.  The place felt for me, like stages of death acceptance when disbelief, anger and grief move from the how-can-we-go-on wrenching place, to a glimpse of peace.

I’m of course, injecting my own feeling into the footprint memorial of a once mountainous horror.

We inject our own meaning into what we want to feel.

 

This year I choose to avoid the burning images and the reading of the deceased. I’ve seen. I’ve heard. Hundreds of hours. We all did. I still gasp in my mind at the images in Life of bodies jumping out. That image, perhaps more than any, is seared.

To choose death over burning alive is a “choice” beyond understanding, and so our mind will not rest.

Humans are programmed to understand, to survive.

I hold echos of that day, smudges of ash remain, but now I want the ashes to blow away. I honor and respect the memory of our lost Americans and their surviving families, but re-visiting the horror, at least today, no longer serves me — and so I say good-bye.

September 11th Survivor Tree Story. 

In this moving video the Memorial guide escorting widow Alice Martin lovingly refers to the Survivor tree as “her.”

“She’s” a natural living treasure who sprouted new limbs from her injured tree elbows. Survivor produces lovely white flowers every April, a celebration of flourishing, despite. The Memorial team, the guide explains, may propagate saplings. I think that would be fitting.

Baby trees born from their Survivor mom, saplings with no memory or history of September 11th, their roots untouched by the Unimaginable.

Tree of Life. Tree of Perseverance. She is a Survivor.

P.s. I appreciate that I happened to watch the video just after I happen to read the definition of “existentialism” on Wikipedia, which I think I get, and I think I identity with.

It’s been a while since I read The Metamorphosis in English class. The notion of transformation via waking up a roach is an image I want to avoid.  A butterfly, a loved dog, fine. I can’t even look at our Florida-famous Palmetto bug (aka big roach) without literally screaming “eek” and going into a fetal ball.

I wonder, do philosophical ideas like existentialism come pre-loaded with head-scratching reactions? I think therefore, I am confused.

I appreciate as well that I saw the Survivor Tree video after I hit the Wiki link about “nihilism,” a concept regularly confused with existentialism. Apparently Nietzsche wrote of both philosophies so the two ideas were erroneously placed together.

I reject Nihilism. “Life has no intrinsic meaning or value.” Blek on that. Life has meaning alright, even if I’m the one placing the meaning.

Survivor Tree knows life has meaning. She breathed long and gasping under burning rubble just so she could come back to tell us.

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Hiring out labors of love: Outsourcing our inner selves, love, kids and other personal realms

Photo: Free digital photos.net

Labors of love, once our exclusive personal domain, are now available for hire. But when we outsource our inner lives do we lose more than we gain?

Paying for personal services used to be a privilege afforded only the wealthy. Now professionals are accessible to the middle and upper middle class chasing the increasingly elusive free time.

Arlie Russell Hochschild, author of the book, The Outsourced Self: Intimate Life in Market Times, describes outsourcing our inner lives as paying for “emotional labor.” The transactions are however, complex despite the fact or maybe because they leave our closest relationships out of the equation.

Interested in a no-strings-attached friend to listen to your problems over lunch or to join you on a trip to Europe? Companies can rent companions. Need a “mom” or “grandma” to attend an event? Filler family members are available. Can’t settle on the right name for your child? A nameologist will narrow the list.  Read more….

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Travyon – Zimmerman case stirs worldwide dialogue on racism. Why this case, why now?

Trayvon Martin and George Zimmerman caseWithout thinking, we all accused George Zimmerman of being an angry racist vigilante hell-bent on teaching a roaming black kid a lesson.

It didn’t help that he wasn’t hauled in right away for questioning after a young man walking home eating Skittles, presumably minding his own business, ends up dead.

Law enforcement fueled our anger when they dragged their feet, as did Rev Jackson when he came to town to tell the world how we should feel. After we watched the family mourn, the protesters scream and the world-wide attention titillate Central Floridians, the dialogue moved past who dunnit.

 

Photo credit: Talia

The question we have to ask is why this case, with these players, in this town, did this crime take on a life of its own? It’s a case bolstered by massive high-profile attention which prodded people to take a look at their own go-to beliefs about racism and justice.

Sanford, a town only 30 minutes from my house, isn’t so unique in it’s long-time simmering racial tensions. Read more….

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cure anxiety, cure depression, kavinace, holistic healing, natural cures for mood disorders

Letter to the anxious, the panicked, the depressed: Healing starts here.

cure anxiety, cure depression, kavinace, holistic healing, natural cures for mood disorders

(Picture courtesy of: FreeDigitalPhotos.net)

It astounds me how many people today are desperate for help to manage their long-time anxiety and depression.

 

Many people have been caught, some for decades, in a medication loop with their doctors. Numerous physicians with the best intentions, simply practice what they know — conventional symptom-based medicine, rather than applying a functional, holistic and integrative approach to treating their patients.

We are complex beings, mind and body. You can NOT separate the two for how they affect each other.  It is I believe, impossible.

Because most doctors based on their schooling, focus on conventional treatments rather than integrative approaches, patients suffer needlessly  for years. Their health, job and relationships spiral down, and in the most severe cases of mood disorders — suicide sometimes becomes the final solution.

A firm belief you deserve to feel good is the best springboard toward finding answers, towards solving any problem.

Woman desperate for help off the anti-anxiety medication rollercoaster

Recently a woman from Canada named Lisa emailed me. She explained that she’s been on a roller-coaster of anxiety-depression medication for years.  She had great success managing her anxiety with cognitive therapy but due to life stresses, Lisa had setbacks.  Over time she gained 150 pounds and was at the end of her rope. Today, back on track, she’s 26 pounds away from her goal weight, weaning off two medications and in search of a natural approach to help her replace the GABA meds long relied on.  She told me one of her doctors had her stop her benzodiazepine meds cold turkey, a dangerous protocol that sent her brain into a serious tailspin.

After reading a few of my GABA articles, Lisa asked me in an email, for my advice. I told her I wasn’t a doctor; I don’t claim to have the answers to managing mood disorders or that my answers are vetted for 100% accuracy, but I do extensively research what I write from peer-reviewed sources (Pub-med etc).

And more, I offer what I’ve learned through my own experience. Ultimately however, people have to do their own homework.

My advice to anyone trying to recover from anxiety, panic, depression and insomnia

Dear Lisa,

Wow. It sounds like you’ve been through it.

Of course I’m not a doctor but I have spent a fair amount of time, over 10 years, researching natural mood and hormone balancing, largely because I suffered with fibromyalgia (no longer) and monthly mood swings (PMS, PMDD) the result of a long-time benign pituitary disorder and other factors.

More recently I came out of a very serious bout of unexplained insomnia that led to panic, mild depression and overall misery. The bottom line for what steers my work is I believe we are supposed to feel good. Anything less is unacceptable.

I try so hard to find answers, to steer my own well-being rather than “accept” from doctors quasi-solutions — as so many of us have come to expect, particularly as we age.

Brain “hiccups” or imbalances are the result of the interplay of one or several hereditary, chemical, environmental (food allergies etc.), and psychological factors (stress, bad childhood, trauma), and I might add recovery is also contingent upon — attitude.

We breed what we believe.

The combination of all these factors can have a complex and cascading effect on your health. Yet, any imbalance can be cured or at least managed with more effective and safer treatment protocols than long-term meds —  or “learning to live with it.”

The traditional approach of trying various medications is often a band-aid until the underlying causative factors are uncovered and addressed:

  • Neuroendocrine (hormones – neurotransmitters, the Hypothalmic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA axis) feedback system)
  • Psychological stressors (work, relationships, childhood trauma, crisis)
  • Environmental (food sensitivities, chemical, pollen etc.) U subscribe to a holistic approach for healing and in some cases to integrative healing (low dose traditional meds in conjunction with natural therapies).

As an aside, the mind-gut connection is regularly ignored as a potential contributor to mood  disorders. Food sensitivities, chronic gut inflammation, can wreak havoc on the brain. A good probiotic is useful (Jarrow etc.) as well as digestive enzymes — but food sensitivity or allergen avoidance is ideal.

When I was suffering from insomnia it threw me into a panic, the result of my brain getting out of whack from severe sleep deprivation, high cortisol and an adrenal imbalance. After weeks of doing extensive (and desperate!) research I found a website called Integrative Psychiatry, a company located in Sarasota, Florida.

IP offers tests for various functions involved in mood, sleep and cognitive/attention issues.  Many companies offer self-testing that includes a print out to explain your results, but IP also offers a one hour consult over the phone with a Physician’s Assistant who explains implications and suggested treatments.

Admittedly, their solutions are tied to purchasing their products but I trust the company’s recommendations I received – it worked.

IP’s testing and supplements are expensive, unfortunately, but if you contact IP they’ll help you pinpoint which test(s) can address your specific issues, and you can shop the supplements online in search of better value.

Lisa, shame on the doctor who told you to cold turkey benzo’s, that advice wasn’t only ignorant — it was irresponsible. The nurse at IP suggested I take a low dose of Klonapin to sleep and while I only took it for for two weeks she told me to wean off it gradually.

Kavinace supplement for anxiety, panic, sleep and to wean off benzodiazepene drugs

Among other things, she suggested I try Kavinace which contains a derivative of GABA found to be more effective than straight GABA supplements or L-theanine.  It also contains Taurine. It’s non-addictive and non-habit-forming, although I suspect all supplements have at least some potential to habituate.  I can’t say if that’s the case for Kavinace.

(Product description of Kavinace)

Kudos to you for practicing yoga. Yoga’s been proven to increase GABA in the brain so it’s a great idea to incorporate this ancient practice into your mind-body balancing journey.

Holistic healing requires a gradual sleuthing process to pinpoint causes. Once you nail down the underlying causes (not the least of which is a belief that you CAN recover and that you DESERVE to feel good) recovery is INEVITABLE.

Lisa, I hope some of my suggestions help. Holistic healing can sometimes take longer than a shot-gun approach of rotating medications but holistic and integrative medicine offers an effective, safer, LONG term approach to healing and well-being.

I suggest you:

a) Test for underlying causes

b) Taper your benzos using 1-2 capsules of Kavinace as needed

c) Get an IP consultation to discuss your test results

d) Don’t underestimate the potential for a food sensitivity which increases inflammation in the body, elevates histamine in the brain (an excitatory neurotransmitter) and can contribute to or exacerbate an anxious state.

e) Continue with cognitive therapies and mind-body work (yoga).

f)  Perhaps find a belief system that resonates within you — mine is Law of Attraction. Whether it is God, nature, or some spiritual force, having a belief in a good and divine power can be quite comforting and empowering.

All the best. To feeling good.

Laura Owens

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Are bioidentical hormones safer than synthetic? Science says yes.

Photo - Sally Howard

(Photo credit: Sally Howard)

Hormone replacement understandably, (but needlessly), scares women to death.

Should we worry? Should we suffer from peri, pre or menopausal symptoms (or from surgical menopausal symptoms?)

NO.

When women ask me if bioidentical hormones are safe and if they’re safer than synthetic hormones (Premarin, Provera, birth control as hormone replacement (HRT) etc.) my answer is that hormones just need to be respected.

They’re powerful. Medterms defines a hormone as:

A chemical substance produced in the body that controls and regulates the activity of certain cells or organs. 

Cells and organs pretty much cover the gamut of the body.

But, once you test (saliva or blood spot testing? It depends) I urge women to use bioidentical hormone replacement NOT synthetic as I was instructed by my doctors to use for 20 years (due to a pituitary disorder I have called empty sella syndrome.).

Synthetic hormones are radically different than bioidenticals in their molecular makeup and in how your body uses them — and reacts.

“Unlike synthetic hormones, bioidentical hormones are structural replicas of endogenous human hormones. Bioidentical hormones are derived from soy, yams and other plant extracts, which are modified in a lab to identically mimic the molecular structure of your hormones.” (“Bioidentical Hormone Therapy.” BodyLogicMD.com, 2002)

Synthetics = more side effects.

Any HRT however, needs to be monitored. Unopposed estrogen of any kind (not balanced by progesterone) can be dangerous.

Why bioidenticals? 

Consider this:  A piece of apple and a piece of apple-flavored candy might have a teeny, tiny amount of taste in common but in reality what an apple IS down to it’s organic molecular properties and how your body USES the apple is RADICALLY different than how your body uses the apple candy.  That’s how I view bioidentical hormones vs. synthetics.

Here’s the science behind my statement:

(From Women in Balance)

The science behind bioidentical hormone replacement therapy.

Int J Pharm Compounding 2002;6(2):142-6

“Differences between synthetic progestins and bioidentical progesterone in terms of their effects on breast cancer risk, estrogen dominance, and vasomotor symptoms are discussed. The review also covers the use of testosterone for postmenopausal women who have androgen deficiency because of surgically induced menopause. Androgen deficiency is also seen in women receiving estrogen replacement therapy, which reduces bioavailable testosterone because it increases levels of sex hormone binding globulin in the blood.”

The author concludes that bioidentical hormones are more effective and safer than the synthetic alternatives, but hopes that large trials will soon be conducted to confirm their promising effects.  
Link to Abstract

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Raising kids to embrace diversity in others, be inclusive

teaching kids to honor diversity be inclusive

“Children don’t come with instructions, but they do come with open minds,” writes Christopher Metzler, Ph.D., an authority on issues of diversity and inclusion. How can you encourage your kids to remain open-minded and to celebrate diversity?

Metzler suggests that once kids start to comment about differences they notice in others, that parents listen to the language they use. If your child uses hurtful words, discuss why they’re hurtful. Explain, according to their age, why stereotypes don’t tell the whole story and can be divisive.

Growing up, my parents regularly exposed my siblings and me to artifacts, ideas and foods from other countries, the result of their travels all over the world. They  were so excited to explore other cultures that by default, so was I. In our home “different” meant interesting — not scary. Read more….

Photo: Paul Gooddy


 

 

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When is it okay to let your teenager get cosmetic surgery?

plastic surgery, cosmetic surgery, plastic surgery in teenagers, teenagers, teen makeover

BullyingStatistics.org reports that in 2010, one in seven children grades kindergarten through 12th was a bully or a victim of one. With the surge of social media, schoolyard teasing can become a viral onslaught, forcing some teenagers into acts of desperation.

Child psychologist Richard Gallagher told ABC News Nightline (“Bullied on Facebook, Teen, 13, Gets Nose Job,” Oct. 2011)parents should keep kids off social media until they’re at least 15. And while a child might be physically ready for plastic surgery, he says the child not be emotionally prepared. Gallagher suggests instead of surgery, parents teach kids how to combat bullying. (originally posted on Sheknows.com)

Read more…

 

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Are your kids getting enough vitamin D? Likely not.

vitamin d, kids and vitamin d

Photo credit: David Castillo Dominici

You might think your kids are getting enough vitamin D but a 2009 study published in Pediatrics found that 9 percent of kids ages 1 to 25 were deficient in vitamin D and 61 percent were low. The researchers linked their findings to increased cardiovascular risk.

Kids with levels less than 30 ng/mL of vitamin D were more likely to have low serum calcium and HDL (good cholesterol) and higher blood pressure…

Read more at Sheknows.com

Photo credit: David Castillo Dominici 

 

 

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Joe Paterno’s death reminds us of most complicated emotion – ambivalence

joe paternao, ambivalence, loss of a loved one, deathI recently experienced a death in our family. I’m not ready to write about it because it feels disrespectful to my departed and to my loved ones to talk directly about my ambivalent feelings.

Instead, I’ll write around my feelings.

I started to think about ambivalence, about loving someone “but” having mixed emotions.   Today I ran across an article about Joe Paterno, his death and how of course his family grieved. Along with mention of his passing was a link to his role in the sex scandal case.

Joe Paterno was revered, he was respected by an entire community — “and/but” the world was horrified.

Talk show show host Dr. Phil tells his guests when you follow a sentence with the word “but” you’ve nullified everything you just said.  I think love can be conditional, or rather, how you want to feel when that person is around has conditions.

How you feel about a person’s death depending on their age or circumstances, depending on the life they led, depending on the impact they had in your life or in your mind’s eye, can make “but” the only word that pulls incongruent thoughts together and softens your cognitive dissonance.

Without disclaimers we lie to ourselves and change history to our blurry convenience.

And while blurry memories may bring us closer to closure, to forgiving and emotional freedom, maybe we should SEE clearly before we fuzzy our thoughts so long that time muddies the truth — and then the truth no longer exists.

Anyone who followed Paterno’s role in the child sex scandal case knows the outrage over his failures, they knew about the fortress of worship and blind loyalty behind Paterno’s protected kingdom of collegiate football, an institution where it was blasphemous to question the ruling class of winning coaches.

This was a hierarchy not unlike the Vatican where power and prestige is sometimes cloaked in cheers, chants, prayers and scorekeeping, (Sinner Zero, Repenter 1) where the very highest servants of the Almighty God and Almighty Win keep the People looking UP with distanced worship, bowing from afar until evil is out of focus, recognition or even possibility — until all that’s left to see is what we want to see.

To speak ill of the departed is to slap the living and pummel the deceased.  Yet,  uncomfortable residue after someone dies while it doesn’t, (and shouldn’t) ever steer how we live our own lives, unresolved ambivalence about someone or something needs to be laid to rest for peace, for comfort to come.

Ambivalence is a topic that fascinates me endlessly. The paradox of emotions we carry with us, more, how we react to our ambivalence and what this creates in its wake.

Over the past ten years I’ve written about The Ambivalence of Motherhood, an institution so idealized, romanticized and revered that (at one time) to speak of anything but glory and gratitude and sheer bliss at bottles, bibs, breastfeeding and hours of laundry and Barney was akin to saying you hated your child and rebuked womanhood.

I never felt motherhood was black and white. I only felt my love for my daughter was crystal clear.

Betty Friedan in her landmark, groundbreaking book The Feminine Mystique, coined the vagabond emotion women used to chase with therapy sessions and valium as “the problem that has no name.”

Ambivalence is in fact, that wispy unharnessed inner nudge we can’t quite put into words or hold with utter confidence.

In the early revolution of inner discontent about something or someone, ambivalence doesn’t get a comforting nod of knowing from others who privately feel the same.  Ambivalence is at first a maverick, uncomfortable and unsettled and lonely. It never invites others to join the revolution until enough people say it’s okay — and then the shouting rolls out from every doorway and blog.

Ambivalence is left for people with “issues” or for pioneers to shape into slow and eventual acceptance.

To love and yet……

I now write so openly about ambivalence —  because I’ve written so openly about ambivalence.  The endless gnawing has to feed itself or it can never become peaceful resolve — at least for me.

Ambivalence feels as innate for me as saying I love you to people I trust, and even so, I feel compelled to frame my thoughts about motherhood into something people can easily reconcile, to put my disclaimer for those who can’t feel two sides of the same story at the same time, so they won’t think me a monster.  

So, this is what ambivalence feels like:

That you can love your child so deeply, so intensely so passionately so fully so gratefully and yet not love what as a new mother, motherhood takes away.

That you can love your child and hate the boredom of at home. That you can want to be home and yet want to be at a career you worked big hours to achieve — that you want enough hours for you, but not too much away from her.  That men can grapple this with zero societal reproach but when women grapple out loud they are selfish. 

Resolved ambivalence is having a secure foot in both doors, it is to acknowledge and finally shrug at ying and yang, dark and light, cold and warm. It is to admit to wanting it all and why you want it all. It is to know that one feeling can exist with another and yet you are still full and complete and good and enough.

I know this unharnessed emotion doesn’t sit well for most people because it asks for confessions that haven’t been reconciled and approved by others.

I know it’s why after my loved one died and I carefully with pause, emailed my family my feelings of ambivalence — that no one responded. Urgent and pressing matters trumped my ruminating about my mixed emotions. I genuinely understand that the unfinished business and feelings simmering behind “the one who died” will need to sit in escrow until/if, people are ready, that it is not for me to make someone else’s ambivalence come to light.

Ambivalence is “the problem with no name” until it is time to give it one.

Where does your ambivalence sit?

Photo credit: David Castillo Dominici

 

 

 

 

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Conserve your willpower, because it can get tired and run out……

willpower, decision fatigue, ego depletionDecision fatigue, a phenomenon increasingly intriguing psychologists today given the growing culture of endless distractions and over-stimulation, is a term coined by social psychologist Roy F. Baumeister. Vaguely introduced by Freud, he believed people constantly struggle to manage their inner desires against the external pressures of the ego, which in turn requires mental energy.   Willpower is much like a muscle and when fatigued through overuse or when the brain is deprived of the energy necessary to sustain willpower, e.g. glucose etc — your willpower wanes.

Every decision you make, even insignificant ones like whether to have lemonade or water, and every temptation you avoid depletes your willpower.

How can you prevent ego depletion and bolster your willpower for what really matters to you? Read more…. (original article on Healthmango.com).

Photo credit: Ambro

 

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