Catherine's Corner

Spring Awakening

March 2014

In like a lion, out like a lamb- or so the saying goes. Here’s hoping so. This winter has been a little rough on Canadians in our neck of the woods. Copious amounts of snow, bitterly cold temperatures and the ceaseless need to be prepared reminds me of adrenal fatigue. We have been in fight and flight for a wee bit too long. March,  the month of movement, just the sound of the word, inspires hope and breath and the chance of respite and new possibilities. The days will lengthen  and with that the light will begin to illuminate our lives and sweep away some of our dark and musty cobwebs. March reminds us that spring is upon us and with it, new beginnings. It is time to shake off our weary winter layers and re-imagine our lives, with clarity and boldness.

Spring fever seems to me the unleashing of passionate potential, held dormant and suspended in winter slumber. Hibernation ends and all the creative opportunities can be unleashed. The energy is transformative  and anything is possible.

This March, welcome the change, cleansing and feverish possibilities as catalysts to create the lives we wish to be living. Dream big,  laugh, love, embrace the flow, plant the seeds that will nurture your soul.

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HEART FELT

February 2014

February in Canada can be brutal. We are all tired and a bit worn out by the constant assault of weather related offences. We have been missing the sun and the warmth for far too long and are in dire need of a pick me up. Perhaps that is the true intent behind the holiday of Valentine’s Day; to reconnect and inspire ourselves with heart uplifting moments. Chocolates and relationships , those seem to be the stuff the holiday is made of.

Dark Chocolate is actually a wonderful heart healthy treat, as long as it is of the dark variety. It actually contains antioxidant flavonoids, which have been found by researchers to positively impact cardiovascular health when introduced into the diet.

There are a variety of nutritional supplements that also positively affect heart health. Omega 3 Fish oils, Co enzyme Q10, L-Carnitine, Resveratrol, Alpha Lipoic Acid, Quercetin and B Vitamins are just some of the top tools available to support cardiovascular health.

Lifestyle and diet are the keystone to heart health. We arrive on the planet with genetic predispostions but we are not slaves to them. What we eat, how we move and how we love , are the greatest sources for dynamic change and impact for our hearts. Our choices have consequences that are far reaching.

So in Ferbruary, as the days lengthen by 2 minutes per day, let us choose wisely, embrace the light that seeps into our dark and worn corners, nibble on chocolate, make love, laugh and move with abandon into the heart places that nurture and inspire our souls.

“Laugh, even when you feel too sick or too worn out or tired.
Smile, even when you’re trying not to cry and the tears are blurring your vision.
Sing, even when people stare at you and tell you your voice is crappy.
Trust, even when your heart begs you not to.
Twirl, even when your mind makes no sense of what you see.
Frolick, even when you are made fun of. Kiss, even when others are watching. Sleep, even when you’re afraid of what the dreams might bring.
Run, even when it feels like you can’t run any more.
And, always, remember, even when the memories pinch your heart. Because the pain of all your experience is what makes you the person you are now. And without your experience—you are an empty page, a blank notebook, a missing lyric. What makes you brave is your willingness to live through your terrible life and hold your head up high the next day. So don’t live life in fear. Because you are stronger now, after all the crap has happened, than you ever were back before it started.”
― Alysha Speer

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GREAT EXPECTATIONS

January 2014

The turn of the calendar always brings with it new hope, expectation and possibility. As if shedding a skin were possible, we put energy for a brief moment into our dreams of what “might be.” We reimagine the lives we wish to lead, and on occasion create a road map of how to get to that promised land. It would be glorious to have a magic wand to create that which we want in the blink of an eye but true change seems to require at times Herculean effort both mental and physical. No matter – embodying the mantra -” Be the change we want to see in the world” really does seem to create definitive and measurable change; change that can be seen and felt and ripples round and into all of our crevices and  sticky bits.

There is much talk about the law of attraction and for some, this seems just ” new age newspeak.” Recent studies have shown however, that we have ” mirror neurons” in our brains, that actually cause us to mimic the emotional state of the person we are observing.  This should give us pause to realize that our connectivity to each other is absolute; that we are beings who are influenced by that and those that we come into contact with. This ‘observer’ effect gives us clarity and choice. To see our dreams come true, to provide and nurture lives rich with meaning, it is necessary to surround ourselves with those who inspire and support.  When confronted with challenges and negativity, we can address the adversity, taking measures to prevent permeation.

So take heart; choose joy and let the great adventure begin.

 

 

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THE SWEET LIFE

November 2013

The hot topic in medicine and complementary health care circles is inflammation. There is considered opinion that the source of all dis – ease is inflammation. In understanding the causes inflammation, we become one step closer to inhibiting the development of many chronic conditions.

The answer appears to be sugar. Sugar – glorious, creative, productive ( it fuels our body), destructive, fat producing, cell destroying, “glycating” sugar. Sugar in it’s most base form, “glucose” is the essential driver and fuel for our bodies. We require 7-8 teaspoons of sugar per day, to perform at maximum capacity. The average North American consumes….37 TEASPOONS OF SUGAR per day. This phenomena is destroying our health, creating silent inflammation and killing us;  slow death through the wonderful term “GLYCATION OF THE FLESH.” In essence – sugar is eating us to death. We are eating it and it in turns eats us.

It is time to put into place strategies to reverse this trend. Our number one weapon in the fight against sugar is FIBRE.   The simplest way to think about it is, that Fibre is our friend – it modulates the sugar; it balances blood sugars and stops your brain from thinking it is starving. As a species, with our processed diets and fast foods we are limited in our fibre intake. Fibre is found in fruits and vegetables, whole grains, beans, seeds and nuts.

Fiber helps you lose weight, and here’s why. “It fills your belly, it acts like a sponge, it’s slower to be digested and absorbed, so it makes you feel full,” says WebMD Weight Loss Clinic Dietitian Kathleen Zelman, MPH, RD, LD. “It also provides bulk, which aids elimination, and it helps lower blood cholesterol.”

WE NEED TO BE MINDFUL OF OUR SUGARS AND FIBRE INTAKE. This  is one of the secrets to longevity and good health.

Your daily intake of sugar tspoons = ( # of CARBS – FIBRE GRAMS) divided by (5) Therefore One slice of high fibre bread at 20 carbs, with 5 grams of fibre would have 3 tspns of sugar.

Try it for one week. Discover how much sugar your body is taking in and think about what choices you can make to change it. Be realistic and create strategies that really work for you. Take the first step.

 

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The ABCs of Immune Health

September 2013

September… it feels like renewal to me. Back to school for many, change of season, pace, a chance to breathe and choose fresh, to begin again, a spiritual new year. There is something exciting in a clean slate; we are offered the opportunity to reinvent ourselves, to allow different facets of our personalities to regain balance. For those of us winding down from the extreme, frenzied pace of summer  in Muskoka, the season change is bittersweet. We all need a rest and a pause and a chance to usher in the autumn with grace and renewed strength. As the colours start to seep into the leaves of trees and transform our backdrop, we must take the time now to renew ourselves and harvest our resources.

With any change comes risk and reward. We want to make sure this year that we are strong and resilient and ready for all that life throws our way. Having a healthy immune system is one way to ensure this. So where to begin- there is a catalogue of choices to choose from in the way of immune enhancing nutritional supplements, herbs and vitamins. So let’s keep it simple.

For children in daycare: A probiotic daily – this will ensure they have some extra protection against the cacophony of shared yummy germs.

For back to school: Whether it be elementary, high school, university or college, a few basic supplements can protect your child and give them the best chance of staying strong and ready to learn. A green supplement all in one multivitamin in powder form that can be put into a morning smoothie or juice is the best way to start off the day right. All the basics are covered and you ensure that there are no nutritional gaps. If focus is an issue, make sure you add a fish oil supplement ( it can be tasty and hidden in the smoothie) that has a high level of DHA ( brain food) in it. Vitamin D is essential to maintain physical and emotional health with the changing seasons. There is also a fantastic supplement to really support the body called Deep Immune, it is especially useful for those who face more regular health challenges.

For all the rest of us: Greens, Vitamin D and Fish oil are the 3 basics for me. They will nurture the body and actually soothe the soul.

Stay healthy, embrace the change and have a wonderful September.

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NURTURE OUR GARDENS

August 2013

The gardens are full, the harvest awaits, it is time to reap what we have sown. I have been thinking about the garden analogy a lot lately. Tending our garden and our lives with mindfulness may actually slow our pace down just enough to allow us time to breathe and in doing so, allow us to grapple with the incredible challenges that come our way. I think that must be the tease, the enticement for gardeners – alone time to mess about and weed and uncomplicate, to create order out of chaos and to see divine creation at play.

Our lives are full and rich and often in need or nurture and tender loving care. How we face adversity seems to really be the the test for us as humans everyday. I do not believe there is one person on the planet who is not affected by stress. The cumulative effect of stress on our bodies, both mentally and physically is a growing concern for health care professionals. We need balance and are often the authors of our own fates, taking care of others before ourselves.

So… this month, this August, let us nurture our gardens. Let us take even 2 minutes out of our days to breathe and smell the flowers that bloom around us. Let us remind ourselves that kindness goes a far way in healing wounds. Let us weed and tend and reap… and enjoy the pick of our crop — let us harvest ourselves and take a moment for bliss.

 

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SUNNY DAYS!

July, 2013

Summer has arrived in all its fullness, bringing with it opportunities to enjoy food fresh from our gardens.  In the all too brief summer months we try to capture every available bit of heat and sunshine and let is sink into our souls to inspire and nurture us after the long winter. Summer is the time to rejoice in water, to play, to jump in the lake, to submerge and feel the cool breezes that refresh and revitalize.  For so many of us in Muskoka, summer is a crazy time as well. It is our busy season and we prepare, and pray and thrive off of the chaos that transforms our towns with the arrival of so many returning cottagers.  I give thanks that we live in a community that is so vital and rich, it is a wonderful shift in energy where we spin and move at a different pace, which is invigorating.

 

Summer also brings challenges. The wet spring provided a perfect breeding ground for black flies and mosquitos this year.  Natural bug sprays and creams are a dire necessity.  And the sun can be fierce – make sure you check out the health rating of your sunscreen –ensuring it is safe not only for your body but for the environment as well. If you go on the web to the wonderful resource   www.ewg.org/skindeep  you can put in the name of your sunscreen and see it’s safety rating.

 

Allergy sufferers have had a terrible time this year. Pollen has insinuated itself into all of our nooks and crannies.  In the face of this onslaught, we do have some wonderful tools at our disposal, both herbal and homeopathic.  Quercetin is a natural antihistamine and when taken daily can often just be enough to inhibit the terrible watery eyes, sniffles, sinusitis and headaches. There are a myriad of homeopathic combination remedies that are geared toward allergies as well, Pollenosi, Histaminum, to name a few.  Bell Lifestyles has a fantastic product called Allergy Relief, it  takes a few days to kick in, but once active in your system, it has inspired nothing but positive feedback.

 

Summer is fleeting. I need to remember amidst the craziness to allow it’s influence to be felt. To take the time to jump in the lake, go for a boat ride or walk barefoot in the sand. There is nothing more healing than taking the time to admire the sunset and to glory in a country night’s starscape.  Embrace your bliss this summer.

 

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Breathe deep and don’t let the pollen get you down

What is going on with all the allergies this year?  So many people who have never experienced seasonal allergies are finding themselves affected for the first time ever.  What starts off feeling like a tickle, quickly morphs into sniffles, sneezing, sinus congestion, watery eyes and headaches. Confronted with these symptoms on a daily basis is not only frustrating, but also absolutely debilitating. So what to do?

Many people use conventional antihistamine formulas like Claritin and Reaction. These drugs use ephedrine as their primary ingredient, a chemical that can produce side effects in some, and is contraindicated in populations on certain medications.

Luckily there are options. Homeopathy offers a number of choices; remedies that are either prophylactic or symptom reducing.  Equally effective are many nutritional supplements that combine herbs as well as vitamins. Some of the ingredients to look for are: quercitin with bromelain, lobelia, nettle, beta-sisterols, rosemary, basil and sage.  These ingredients help to promote a normal immune response to allergens, while modulating the body’s inflammatory response. The anti-oxidant activity combined with the antihistamine effect, ensures relief without the compromising side effects often associated with drugs.

So breathe deep, and smell the roses.

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HOW GREEN IS YOUR GARDEN

Greening our lives is a process of constant evaluation and reconsideration. It involves looking at the familiar and asking questions. It involves being open to change and possibility and especially it involves creating new habits and looking at the world we live in, in a new way. This is especially true for those persons who grew up in an age of excess, fast food, instant gratification and an obsessive consumerism. Greening means taking time, thinking, slowing down, making choices that are sometimes uncomfortable initially; it asks us to think beyond ourselves with regard to the greater good. It asks us to be global citizens concerned with the legacy we are leaving.

Greening can take many forms, it encompasses the personal choices we make as expressed in our purchases – with regard to the food we eat, the clothes we wear, the hygiene products we use, the products we choose which impact not only our health but the environment as well. We have seen such a paradigm shift in this last number of years. It would be inconceivable to many to litter, or not recycle, or smoke in public. Public opinion has turned the tide. This is not to say in any way that the battle is won – in fact, we have just started to scratch the surface of reversing the damage done by decades of obscene mismanagement and reckless indulgence.

Our jobs are simply to do the best we can – to work to make positive change in our lives, changes that create ripples. So be it the choice of seeds you use in your garden this year – organic heritage varieties that ensure a rich diversity and support healthy bodies and fair trade farmer co-ops
or
opting for green bug repellants, fertilizers and sunscreens
or
using biodegradable and compostable materials
or
choosing products which have made a commitment to healthy contents and minimal packaging
or
ultimately we send the message with our pocketbooks. Corporations care about the bottom line. We can influence that bottom line every day. If we want healthy, environmentally friendly, socially conscious companies to flourish – we must support them and in that same way let the corporations whose policies we abhor be forced to change their policies through public demand.

Greening begins at home.

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HOW GREEN IS YOUR GARDEN?

MAY 2013

Greening our lives is a process of constant evaluation and reconsideration. It involves looking at the familiar and asking questions. It invites up to be open to change and possibility and especially it involves creating new habits and looking at the world we live in, in a new way. This is especially true for those persons who grew up in an age of excess, fast food, instant gratification and an obsessive consumerism. Greening means taking time, thinking, slowing down, making choices that are sometimes uncomfortable initially; it asks us to think beyond ourselves with regard to the greater good. It asks us to be global citizens concerned with the legacy we are leaving.

Greening can take many forms, it encompasses the personal choices we make as expressed in our purchases – with regard to the food we eat, the clothes we wear, the hygiene products we use, the products we choose which impact not only our health but the environment as well. We have seen such a paradigm shift in this last number of years. It would be inconceivable to many to litter, or not recycle, or smoke in public. Public opinion has turned the tide. This is not to say in any way that the battle is won – in fact, we have just started to scratch the surface of reversing the damage done by decades of obscene mismanagement and reckless indulgence.

Our jobs are simply to do the best we can – to work to make positive change in our lives, changes that create ripples.
So be it the choice of seeds you use in your garden this year – organic heritage varieties that ensure a rich diversity and support healthy bodies and fair trade farmer co-ops
or
opting for green bug repellants, fertilizers and sunscreens
or
using biodegradable and compostable materials
or
choosing products which have made a commitment to healthy contents and minimal packaging.

Ultimately we send the message with our pocketbooks. Corporations care about the bottom line. We can influence that bottom line every day. If we want healthy, environmentally friendly, socially conscious companies to flourish – we must support them and in that same way let the corporations whose policies we abhor be forced to change their policies through public demand.

Greening begins at home.

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