Archive for ‘Healthy Living’

May 13, 2015

Before you spray…

A Scott’s sales rep came to the door yesterday telling me he could spray to kill all of the dandelions and other weeds in our yard, fertilize the lawn and spray to get rid of all of the mosquitoes. I politely told him, “No thank you. I don’t mind them and am actually growing plants to attract insects and pollinators instead of kill them.” He then offered to use their organic line and estimated that it would be $56 to “take care of” our yard. Again, I smiled and said, “No, thank you. We’re not interested.” at which point he offered me his business card, told me he was also a realtor and offered to do a property value estimate if I’m ever interested.

We have no plans of moving.  Part of why we bought this house is because it’s just behind the nature center which has a lake. Mosquitoes, whether we like it or not, come with the territory.

Don’t get me wrong, I hate mosquitoes just as much as the next person, but the SPRAYS they use ARE NOT SELECTIVE. That means they don’t just kill mosquitoes, they also kill everything else including bees, butterflies and other beneficial insects.

I realize a lot of people don’t like insects, but we NEED these insects. Our food system relies on them. I don’t think most people know or understand the impact that spraying their yard for mosquitoes has on our food system.

Yes, I’m a gardener and every year I hope for an abundant harvest from my garden, but this isn’t about my garden. This is effecting food on a much larger scale. This is about the food on everyone’s table.

Our pollinators are disappearing at alarming rates and our food is going to follow. This isn’t something we can ignore or pretend isn’t happening. It’s not going to be okay or correct itself on its own.

This time of the year, when everything is in bloom, my yard is typically abuzz with bees and other insects feeding on the nectar and pollen from dandelions, creeping charlie, flowering crabs and dogwoods. This year I have seen a couple of wasps pass through and a handful of flies. That’s it.

It would be so easy to blow it off and try to reason our way out of why I don’t see them in my yard, but the truth of the matter is that I work to create a bee, butterfly and insect friendly yard and they are not here. My yard is a minute sample of the greater picture. Looking at my yard is like looking through a sample under a microscope. If the insects aren’t in my yard, that means they aren’t around.

Am I worried that the fruits and vegetables in my yard won’t get pollinated and will produce less fruit? Of course. But what really bothers me is that the fruits and vegetables on a greater scale aren’t getting pollinated,  which is a much larger problem.

All of this makes me so sad. They are making it so fast, cheap and easy to kill-off the insects that we think are a nuisance but fail to tell people that they are also killing off insects  that pollinate the plants that give us our food.

We have smoking policies in place to protect people who don’t smoke from breathing in second hand smoke.

Spraying our yards doesn’t work the same way. If we spray, we are not just impacting our yard and our neighbors, we are impacting life on the larger scale.

We need to stop pretending that what we do in our yard is our choice and that it doesn’t impact anyone else, because it does. It impacts EVERYONE else.

The next time you go to buy groceries, look at the produce section and imagine it empty or sparce with extremely expensive produce. Imagine coffee so expensive that it becomes a luxury. Do you hate spending so much money on groceries? It’s going to continue to get more and more expensive and we will have less and less available if we don’t change what we are doing.

We need to fix our system, fast. Some states are banning neonicotinoide pesticides. A couple of cities in the Twin Cities metro area have also banned them. But until they are fully non-existent we need to be our own advocates.

That’s not to mention the detrimental effects directly on people. Pesticides are also hormone – altering (endocrine disruptors) which alter the natural function of our bodies in many, many dangerous ways.

If our world were balanced, it should be ungodly expensive to spray both herbicides and pesticides because the effects are damaging on a global level. Damaging to our health, damaging to our food system, not to mention damaging to the soil, water and air we breathe.

It shouldn’t cost $59 to kill everything that lives in a 1/3 of an acre lot, it should cost at lot more than that because in reality, it does.

December 25, 2013

Environmindful Monday Tip #7

I had the best intentions of writing an inspiring post on Monday. I was going to take a little twist on the theme of Environmindful Monday.

Monday’s tip was going to be about doing something to be kind in the environment around us; the people we meet, pass by the street, see in a store or ride the elevator with.

My tip was going to be: Hold the door. I thought it sounded simple and some of you may already do this, and I was going to suggest applying that concept everywhere you go and in everything you do.

I was going to suggest you hold the door for whomever is behind you, hold the elevator door for the person coming down the hall, ask what floor they are going to and push the button for them. Let someone go in front of you in line (no matter how long the line is). Let someone have that parking spot you were waiting for.

Be of service, in some small way, to everyone you encounter.  Do it with a smile and expect nothing in return. Don’t be offended if you don’t get a thank you. Keep doing it. All day. 

Get coffee for a coworker who you wouldn’t normally grab coffee for (even if you don’t drink coffee yourself).  Do something small, do something nice, then feel what it feels like, deep down inside, to do it “just because”.

This is a busy time of year. People are darting from place to place,  stores are busy and lines are long.  You can feel the stress and could cut the tension in the air with a knife.

I was going to tell you that each of us has the opportunity to make a positive change the environment around us and collectively we can make an even greater impact. I was going to tell you to go out, be merry. Spread happiness and cheer. Be compassionate,  and be gracious because we may never know the value of our actions.

We may help a tired parent get home to their family in time to hug their children before bed, we might help someone be on time for a meeting or we may simply put a smile on someone’s face.

But then something changed. I was out and about, wrapping up the last of my Christmas shopping and was in stores long after they should have been closed.

Heading out after dinner I was grounded, happy, holding doors, smiling,  letting others go first.  Then something happened.  I can’t explain it. The next thing I knew I was in the parking lot screaming at a lady who tried to bully me with the brush guard on her SUV as it was coming at the door of my little car while I backed out of my spot… and I lost it.

Maybe it was that all the holiday rush caught up to me. Maybe it was because my lips were dry and split when I smiled at the last person. Maybe it was because when I tried to take a deep breath in as I got into my car, the frigid, subzero air sucked the life out of my lungs and left me gasping for oxygen.

Whatever the case, rather than being calm and compassionate, when she accelerated at my car, I reacted. I screamed at the lady with the big red eyes and a gigantic scowl on her face, “Seriously?!?  You were at the opposite end of the row when I started backing out!!!  Since when does driving a big fat SUV give you right of way? Where are you going in such a hurry anyway? Nobody else is open at this godforsaken hour! ”

I continued, yelling at her in my rear view mirror too, finally ending with, “MERRY CHRISTMAS TO YOU TOO!”

Maybe she had a crummy day and just wanted to get home OR maybe she’s the spawn of The Grinch. Whatever the reason for her actions she got the best of me.

So you didn’t hear from me Monday because I didn’t want to be a hypocrit.

But I will say this… I still think we can change our environment. So be nice. Smile. Be caring. Be compassionate. And, yes, hold the door.  At the very least, don’t bully people in parking lots for they may wish for you to get coal in your stocking!

In all seriousness, I wish you and yours a very happy, safe and healthy holiday season and hope someone holds the door for you.




December 10, 2013

Environmindful Monday Tip #3

If I were to be paid a dollar for every one of my good intentions that slipped away I would be sitting on a beach in Maui sipping Mai Tais, but alas, I’m not.  Instead, I’m sitting in my home in Minnesota looking out on a white-blanket-covered-landscape on this brisk, 4 degree, -11 windchill, Tuesday morning writing my Monday post.

Why?  Well let me tell you.  Back in the sweltering heat of August, I signed on with Norwex to be an Independent Sales Consultant.  With this new job, much like the gardening related work I do during the summer, I don’t work the traditional 9am – 5pm, nor do I work a standard Monday – Friday.  Instead, I work when it works best for my customers, which means I pay closer attention to the date than day of the week, so it is easy for me to lose track of what day it is.  It also means that when I woke up today… I thought it was Monday.  It wasn’t until I was getting my son ready for school that I realized I’d already gotten a uniform ready and packed a lunch once this week which meant, yikes!  Today is Tuesday! I didn’t do my Environmindful Monday post yesterday!

So, in the spirit of keeping my good intentions in motion and keeping the ball rolling on Environmindful Monday Tips, if it’s alright with you, I thought I would just proceed forward pretending today is Monday and post another tip.

Environmindful Monday Tip #3

  • Reuse envelopes for grocery lists. We all get envelopes in the mail, almost daily, and sometimes we even get an envelope inside an envelope. Rather than just tossing envelopes in the recycling bin, there are some great ways to reuse them.  Typically there is only printing one side of the envelope, which leaves the other side clear for reuse.  And… envelopes just happen to be a great size for a grocery list.  But wait!  They also come with the added bonus of a pocket perfect for holding coupons!  As you find a coupon for your future grocery trip, slip it in the envelope, add your item to your list and when you’re ready to go shopping just grab your list and go!  (Slick and slick, right?)

We keep a stash of envelopes in a drawer in our kitchen to use for grocery lists and scratch paper, but I keep another stash in my office because they are also great for stashing checks/cash to take to the bank: cash on the inside, itemized list of deposits on the outside.


We hold our grocery list to the side of the refrigerator with clip with a magnet on the back.

IMAG6047  IMAG6048  IMAG6049

You could also easily make a full tablet, similar to this notebook my son made at the Green Gifts Fair by punching two holes in the top of a pile of envelopes, pushing a rubber band through the holes and looping the ends of the rubber band around a popsicle stick, stick or other found object (such as cut up game board as shown in the photo).

That’s the tip for this week.  See you in 6, if not sooner.

Less waste = more green space.

Be. Mindful.


November 12, 2013

Breakthroughs: Going Through The (E)Motions

ImageCoyote … you devil!You tricked me once more!
Must I sit and ponder,
What you did it for?

It’s fall, autumn, that time of year that my outdoor energy gravitates indoors where its warm.  It is also the time of year when I become more introspective.

The past year was pretty incredible for me.  I took a 9 month certification course, started an Urban Farm in my front yard and I injured myself.  I’m sure those who know me aren’t all that surprised for the latter.  I seem to have a knack for doing this.

The injury is deep in my hip. After nearly six months of wishing the pain away, taking prescription pain killers and trying to proceed with life as usual even though my body wasn’t playing along, I finally went to see my doctor and got an MRI.  Upon seeing the results she suggested I go to BodyWorks Physical Therapy.  At first I wasn’t interested.  I did physical therapy somewhere else for my back last fall and after spending thousands of dollars I was really no better the day I left there than the day I walked in, at least not what I went in for.  However, when she described this therapy to me, I was intrigued. 

Eventually, I agreed to go.  If they could help me walk without collapsing, and go up stairs in the normal fashion instead of scooting myself backwards while sitting on the steps, then it was definitely worth a shot.  Besides that, walking with a limp, stiff and hunched over like I was 95 years old was getting old too, especially since I’m still fifty-plus years away from that!

So I went.  And thus started on a journey to healing that I never expected.  BodyWorks Physical Therapy is based on myofascial release physical therapy with other forms of therapy mixed in.  I’ve been learning that the fascia is strongly connected not only to our motions, but to our emotions.  I’ve been going to therapy twice a week for a little over a month and the progress has been pretty amazing.  In fact, today, on my way into my appointment I was pretty proud of myself: I’ve been doing my stretches at home, not everyday, but at least a few days a week, I’ve seen progress both in my hip and back (leftover from last year) and other than a new pain in my upper back, things are really starting to look up.

Today was assessment day.  I was a few minutes (okay, more like 10) late for my appointment because I didn’t have time or rather, make time, to fill out the assessment form that they sent yesterday, so I sat in the parking lot and filled it out before I went in.  In my mind I thought it was better to be late with my homework done than to be on time without it. 

When my appointment started, my therapist told me we were going to focus on the assessment today more than therapy.  (Kind of a bummer but a necessity,)  As he started reviewing the form, he commented that I didn’t have any goals.  I laughed and replied “I didn’t fill that out?” realizing that while completing the form, I skipped the goals, with the intention of going back to them, I didn’t. Still laughing, I said,  “I guess I’m goalless.”  My therapist didn’t laugh.  He proceeded to tell me how important goals are and that if I don’t have any, that they (all of the therapists at BodyWorks) feel sorry for me. If I’m not connecting the daily exercise to the goals or I have no goals, then I’m just going through the motions. (At this point I’d already confessed that I have been doing the exercises, but not daily.) He continued, telling me that if truly have goals I will journal about the goals and journal about the pain.  I was sinking with each word that left his mouth.  My spirits, that were lifted, floating like a helium balloon as I entered the room, quickly fell to the floor. Deflated. Lifeless.

Much as I wanted to be mad at him, I knew I was really only directing my anger and disappointment in myself in his direction. His words hit me like a ton of bricks.  “I journal!” I responded, trying to defend myself, “… but I’ve never written about any of this…”  The more I thought about it the more I realized he was right.  If I were really committed to my goals I wouldn’t have been late, today or any other day.  I would have come on time or even early, with my homework done.  It didn’t matter that I was late because I was doing my stretches and lost track of the time.  If I’m really committed to getting better then I would find a way to get my stretches/exercises in every day, no matter what, and on a schedule that wouldn’t make me late to anywhere I might be going.  The stretches that I need a helper, I would let my family know that this is really important to me and my healing and that I need their help, every day.  Oh, yes, this hurt all right.  Acknowledging that I’d been playing games with myself was painful.  I think that’s what they refer to as a harsh reality, isn’t it?  The truths hurts, so to speak. 

The realization that I have been in the way of my own healing hurts too. Stunned, the tears streamed down my cheeks.  My therapist responded with, “Whatever emotions are going on in there, related to this… you need to feel them and let them out.”  All I could muster up for a response was, “Uh, huh.”

As the assessment went on I asked about some of the exercises.  I told him that one of the stretches still really hurts and asked it that pain will eventually go away.  His response?  “Not until you talk to it and ask it what is going on, why it’s there and release the emotions you have in there.”  “Shit.” I thought but responded with, “Okay.”  At the end he told me I only have 6% improvement.  I tried explaining that it was skewed by the new pain in my upper back.  He entered info into his laptop but didn’t acknowledge what I had said.  He wasn’t being rude, he just wasn’t going to humor me, just like he didn’t with the goals or any number of other things that had come up during the appointment.  That’s when it hit me that this is no joking matter.  If I want to fully recover then I really need to take this seriously, all of it.  Then the appointment was over.  He wished me a nice afternoon.  I managed to muster up enough friendliness to return the gesture.

After I gathered my things I humbly left the room and headed out of the office.  The receptionist gave a friendly goodbye and I respectfully gave her one in return, but as I smiled in her direction I felt more like crying.  I don’t remember much of the walk back to my car.  Instead I was lost in thought, processing the pain, the games I play with myself and trying to figure out why I play them.  I fought back tears every step of the way (obviously not letting my emotions out like he’d suggested).  As I approached my car I couldn’t help but laugh.  Just an hour earlier I thought I was doing pretty well.  I was happy, upbeat, I was even patting myself on the back for the “progress” I had made.  Funny how that turned around in such a short period of time!  Then I remembered something else: each physical therapy room in BodyWorks has a room themed with one of the Native American Animal Medicine Cards, there is usually a picture of that animal on the wall, along with other related items in the room and of course, the medicine card for that animal…  I was in the Coyote room today.  I remember walking into the room looking at Coyote on the wall and thinking, “Oh, boy.  What are you going to do to me today?”

If you’re not familiar with Animal Medicine Cards, Coyote is the Trickster.  This quote is taken from the book Medicine Cards, by Jamie Sams and David Carson (also the card on the wall of the room).

There are thousands of myths and stories about Coyote, the great trickster.  Many Native cultures call Coyote the “Medicine Dog.”  If you pull this medicine card, you can be sure that some kind of medicine is on its way – and it may or may not be to your liking.  Whatever the medicine is, good or bad, you can be sure it will make you laugh, maybe even painfully.  You can be sure that Coyote will teach you a lesson about yourself.

Much as I didn’t want to encounter you today, thank you, Coyote, for helping me see the games I’ve been playing with myself, preventing me from achieving the successes I want.  Thank you for making me question and ask myself why I play these games, making me realize that pain, illness and injury are the only “excuses” I allow myself to slow down or to say, “no” to others.  Thank you for helping me see what my goals are and helping me realize how important they are in life. Thank you for taking the blinders off of me, allowing me to see what I want to be doing and feel what doing something that isn’t true to who I am and what I am called to do is doing to my body. And thank you for helping me remove the excuses and road blocks I’d put up, giving me the courage to write again. 

Thank you, Coyote.