Thursday, October 24, 2013

Here is my handle

"Though I cannot flee
From the world of corruption,
I can prepare tea
With water from a mountain stream
And put my heart to rest."

~Ueda Akinara 

I have never been much of a coffee person.

A large part of the reason has to do with the taste of it. Most commercial coffee tastes like very bitter to me and I've never been a person who needs something to help wake up in the morning. It's not a lack of appreciation for the beverage, it's just a personal choice. Hey, anything involving intricate designs of foam on something I plan to eat is a very appetizing concept to me.

Tea, now that is my hot beverage of choice.

Hot chocolate is a very close second, however there are times when hot chocolate is not available. For some reason people don't normally sell hot chocolate in summer months, go figure.

Green tea has always been my goto choice. Not only do I love the antioxidants, but the taste is my favorite.

When I was in Japan we learned about the Japanese Tea Ceremony. This ceremony is an intricate series of steps reflecting on Japanese culture. The tradition has changed throughout the history of Japan and now ritual is not just a celebration of the beverage, but a living glimpse of history. The precise movements, order of events, and mental clarity makes the entire process very relaxing. There is so much information available, if you are unfamiliar with the ceremony I'd advise you to look it up.

Tea, more so than any other food, is a ritual for me.

My mother gave my a little teapot which currently sits next to me as I write this. It's blue with an intricate white flower design and fake gold trim. It's a personal preference to always make a full pot to prolong the tea experience. Even when it is no longer hot, the iced tea is very refreshing. Nothing else in the world works to recharges me as quickly or fully as tea does.

Tea is perfect on cold fall nights wrapped up in a blanket working on a graduate paper. Tea makes me feel calm and able to ignore the world outside for a few minutes. Tea is the perfect drink to share with friends during deep conversations or after a great feast. There are very few moments in time where tea is not an appropriate drink.

So embrace the warmth in a cup and relax for awhile. Forget your worries and take just a second to enjoy the ceremony of the small moments in life. It is often the simplest times we overlook and take for granted because we do them so often. So take care to appreciate the littlest things that make up life. Enjoy it before it gets cold!

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Oh Doctor, my Doctor!

“He's the best physician that knows the worthlessness of the most medicines.”- Benjamin Franklin


I'm a person who has struggled with health issues for most of my life. Endometriosis, Lyme Disease, Thyroid Issues, and Seizures are some of the big ones that have affected my life but there have been others. Growing up as the daughter of a medical advertiser, my family was also well versed in medical knowledge. They sought doctors not just for their fancy initials, but for their quality of care. The best relationships I've had with medical professionals are the ones who look at the entire person when it comes to diagnosing a medical condition. They are the ones who know how much environmental factors and other life factors can affect a person's health.

Today I had the unfortunate experience of dealing with a medical professional who was so arrogant, it was dangerous for me.

I spent a lot of my life on medication for various ailments. There were times when biological functions were not quite functioning in my body and the only way to correct them was through the use of medication. I'm in no way anti-medication because I know without some I have taken, my quality of life right now would be significantly impaired and so would the lives of some people I love. One of the greatest things about the world we live in now is the amazing advancements in medicine and some of these advancements could never have been dreamed of even one hundred years ago.

BUT, I don't think the first reaction from a doctor is to push medication on a patient as a form of treatment.

In my youth, my father would give me catnip tincture to help me sleep or reduce pain. When my mother was pregnant with my brother, she worked closely with a Chinese herbalist in Chicago and her doctor to make sure she had a healthy pregnancy. Now some of my close friends are midwives, Reiki practitioners, massage therapists, music therapists, equestrian therapists, and lots of other professions focusing on the person as a whole to work on individual challenges.

As I've spent almost an entire year living on my own and "being an adult", I've been able to adopt some healthy habits. Healthy habits are things that can impact your life in the long run and it did take me some stumbling to get on track with some of these things. With my life as stressful as it was, healthy eating habits got thrown to the sideline with my unfolded laundry. Although my laundry currently sits in a nice cozy pile next to my bed, I cooked fish not from a can for myself for the first time in ever. Recipes normally forgotten on my Bookmarks menu are being cooked up because there is actually time in the week. The biggest part of my healthier life has been reducing my stress load overall. Having time to do things tomorrow if there is not enough time today is truly a blessing.

I'm a person who needs big neon signs from the universe to properly understand the direction of life. Lucky enough, this is one of those neon signs. I've spend almost a year working towards being the healthiest person I can be and this is just another push in the same direction. Eating healthy, exercise, getting enough sleep, laughter, and most importantly reducing stress are the right prescriptions for me.  Within one hour I had contacted my doctor, who shares my hesitancy with over-medication, and we are working on a new game plan. This plan will be more holistic and natural with less side effects.

Being healthy is not easy and it does take time. Some days are rougher than others and it is important to have a team who has your back, however the team my be assembled (capes optional). Today my team was my Primary Care Professional, my mother, myself, and my cats. Yes, after my morning stresses I relaxed with my feline counterparts. What better way to enjoy a beautiful fall afternoon than with a catnap in the sun? It's exactly what the doctor ordered.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Artistic Love

As is often the case, relationships don't always work for many reasons. Sometimes it is the wrong person. Other times it is is the wrong time for the people to try to make things work. More times then people want to admit, they are clinging to something because they are more afraid of being alone.

My strongest relationship is one I've only recently been able to rededicate my time to and I couldn't be happier.

I've been in a relationship with preforming for, well, a long time. I'd celebrate my anniversary, but It's been an on/off affair for a bit so time is relative.

It started out being the tall kid who had to make the waves for the pirate ships to sail on. That was actually after I memorized everyone's lines in my kindergarten Christmas pageant. My preparation was in part because if everyone suddenly got sick and could not preform, I could totally pull off the entire show! Yes, I was that child.

For the past two years I've had the amazing pleasure of being a part of an award winning Vaudeville Troupe: The Dark Follies. They help to nurture my creativity and push me to be the best performer I can be. No wacky idea is too crazy for them, as proof by my lovely Chivalrous Shark. Last night was the fifth anniversary show and tonight is the spooky Darker Follies. 

I'm madly in love with preforming and specifically seeing something creative come to life. I've seen sculptures, dances, and music pieces take shape in ways completely unexpected. 

Life is a lot like art is so many ways. We think we know what we want the finished picture to look like, but the process is not entirely in our control. We can get the right canvas, set up the paint, and then a cat comes running by knocking everything over a making blue paw prints over everything! We can choose to go with it or we can fight against the universe. Now, it is totally appropriate to take a moment to cry in a corner if you need to before moving on. That's all part of the creative process and it's unique to every person.

Now if you'll excuse me, I need to go dress up and play with a glow staff.

Check out The Dark Follies because they are amazing!

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Green Eyed Purple People Eater

An Emotion is (usually) a reaction to a specific event. We tie our emotions to things the same way we tether balloons to the wrists of children so they do not become lost. For those on the Autism Spectrum, the amygdala in our brain processes emotions differently. From a structural point of view our brain is hardwired to deal with emotions differently.

Emotional competency involves understanding the physical effect our emotions have on our body and what we can do to understand our, as well as others, emotions. Cognitive behavioral therapies are sometimes used to help teach children about emotions using stories to help illustrate the points. It's not that we are trying to be oblivious, we honestly don't understand a lot of the emotions other people spend so much time focusing on. For many of us, it is easier to temporarily ignore the uncomfortable emotion and try to understand it at a later point when we can analyse it.

For my graduate class I chose to write a paper on Emotional Regulation and will be immersing myself in the topic for the next few months. So I get to pour over dozens of scientific articles about the study of emotions, how we react to emotions, and how we can have a healthier relationship with our emotions. I am specifically focusing on the Autism community, but again this is one of those important things EVERYONE could benefit from learning more about. Needless to say, I'm totally psyched to be able to dork out for hours on end researching and pouring over all the information.

This brings me to my biggest confusion.

Almost all emotions serve a purpose. Happiness to cherish the moments of bliss. Sadness reminds us of our loss in many different forms. Anger and the process of anger is a very undervalued emotion which causes more problems than you can shake a stick at.

Jealously is... different.

In this day and age, we combine the terms envy and jealousy. This further complicates the matter because envy is a defined emotion and jealousy is not. Seriously, Scientists cannot agree on any one definition of jealousy. Jealousy is a complex combination of emotions like anger, insecurities, and disgust amongst many other emotions. The complex and intangible nature of jealousy hurts my head.

Some scientists separate envy as wanting what another has and jealousy as a fear of losing what you have. Envy does have the power to motivate people if they channel their envy to a productive use. If you are envious of a fit person enjoying life and that motivates you to become more fit, that is a positive use of envy. Jealousy has destructive power rooted in a protection or hoarding mentality of wanting to keep your shinies all to yourself.

As a Autistic person, I download emotions in my own special way. I do my best to understand my own emotions and I have actively worked to trying to understand other people's emotions. Body language, facial expressions, word choices, and many other things are affected by our emotions. It wasn't until I started to try to figure out jealousy that I became aware of the global lack of understanding of Jealousy.

We paint pictures, write songs, and do our best to make sense of a senseless emotion. Some scientists think there may be an evolutionary root to jealousy connected with the desire to pass on our genetics. I think jealousy is a word we assign to emotions when we don't want to deal with the real issue. Abandonment, insecurities, heartache, and every other painful emotions that makes us feel worthless. Jealousy is rooted in the fear we are not worthy.

But we are worth it.

You are worth good things happening to you. You deserve the best and can work towards being your own personal best. Just because someone else has a bright light shining, it does not take away the strength of your light. Your light is still bright and brighter because you know how things were before the light. Don't worry, the light does not go away. Your light never has to go away unless you want it to.
      “Jealousy is a tiger that tears not only its prey but also its own raging heart"- Unknown