water

Adding More Water As a Metaphor For Life

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  I had an experience with my new fountain recently that made me think about adding more water as a good metaphor for life.

I got this new baby a few weeks ago to add some ambiance to my office and my life. I love the soothing sound of water running and I have to admit I fell in love with this thing the minute I saw it. I got it to the office, figured out the setup and plugged it in. I immediately noticed the submerged motor was a bit louder than I'd expected so I added water as needed but the sound was still pretty loud. I tried a few more combinations and finally decided it was good enough. Let it be.

But then I went back and looked at it more closely. And then I closed my eyes and listened carefully. Have you ever tried using all your senses, as you are able, to solve a problem? It's amazing what stands out.

When I listened carefully, I heard the motor fill up and reengage and then I heard it sputter and choke. It occurred to me that maybe there wasn't enough water. I added a bit more slowly at first and then I poured probably four times what was in lower bowl.

Guess what? No more noise from the motor. All you could hear is the trickling water. Turns out, adding more water was the solution.

I think adding more water is a good metaphor for life.

A lot of people struggle with drinking enough water. It's something I hear time and time again as a health coach.

During the winter or in cold climates, it's especially a challenge because of the weather. In hot weather, we're more present to dehydration or we associate water with refreshment and "cooling off". When we are cold and freezing, we don't necessarily associate cold glasses of water with refreshment. Ironically, it's during the winter where we may need water even more because we're eating denser, rich foods and probably more sugar, salt and fat than we consume during the summer. The air is also more dry and we are inside in environments running heat all day. Dehydration contributes to a myriad of symptoms like fatigue or chronic pain and stiffness which we then cover up with foods like coffee or sugar or lifestyle habits that don't serve us. Netflix binge, anyone?

Water represents fluidity and movement. We often attach meaning based on whatever is happening in our lives. I've been watching (and re-watching) this recorded seminar with Pema Chödrön lately where she speaks of water. She talks about the river and how some people cling to the edge and get tossed about and the people who relax and let go and float down the middle of the river. Naturally, things like currents and rocks and stuff appear in the middle so it's not like floating down a lazy river in an inner tube like I did when I was a kid. It's still scary and hard sometimes.

But it's less scary and hard to go with the flow of things as they are, she explains, than to cling to one fixed point on the river, clutching for permanence and security. While it provides some sense of comfort, the water keeps rushing past and we have to keep clinging to hold our place. Clinging takes a lot of effort.

Flowing is scary but perhaps less so than clinging, with the right mindset and with enough practice.

 

So, consider if you're listening to your body the way I listened to that fountain to troubleshoot how to fix it. Are you paying close attention to what you actually need or have you made a decision that what you're doing is good enough?

And notice if you're clinging to the riverbed in your life, attached to outcomes and certainty, or are you flowing with things as they truly are?

 

3 Natural Ways to Stink Less

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Heeeeeyyy guys! Guess what time of year it is? That's right. It's late spring/early summer. Sprummer. #patentedword

As a health coach, this means a few important things for me:

1) it's easier to get lots of locally grown fruits and veggies

2) I find exercising to be easier to plan for and execute

3) I'm more conscious of my body odor

Yup.

I pay attention to this year-round, actually, because I've learned it's actually a good indicator of my internal health.

The first time I discovered this was back in 2005 and I was living in New Jersey, where I was born and raised. I smelled really, really bad. I can't even describe it.

Ok, I'll try.

I pretty much smelled like two skunks had taken up residence under both arms and lived there, spraying each time I raised my arms. This lasted about a month or more. I don't remember what made it go away.

When that familiar smell returned a few times in the past few years, I paid attention closely. I was a health coach now and felt like a detective on a really important case. What was I eating? How much water was I drinking? Was it coffee? Too much sugar? Not enough greens?

I tried everything to get rid of it.

Everything except using regular deodorants. Despite being raised on things like Teen Spirit (the song and the body care product) and...wow. I just had to spend about three minutes thinking of other companies or brands. It's been that long since I used those things...I began using natural deodorants in 2000 and haven't gone back.

I know. I know. You want to tell me, practically shout at the screen maybe, how those things don't work. It's true. I've worked in natural food stores for 15 years and I've used every product on the market. Some actually make the problem worse.

I have a few pals who have ventured into Make Yer Ownville and produced some great products. I've found a few things I use from natural food stores.

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But I'm going to let you in a little secret: I forget to wear deodorant more often than I remember it.

Yeah. It's weird. But sorta cool, too. I have become so familiar with my body, I know exactly what's happening with it. Most times when I stink, it's because I'm doing something that isn't serving me. There was one exception when I came home from surgery in 2012 and could barely handle how badly I smelled, but I am pretty sure it was because of some really extreme and extenuating circumstances. I do not use over-the-counter pain relievers except on rare occasions and this was the first time in my life I was on an actual prescribed pain killer. I have never used or been prescribed any medications to use on a daily basis except for when I was trying to clear up my acne twice in my life and I gave up after a few weeks. That shit doesn't work, or didn't for me, anyway. Just because I don't use them, I am not making a judgment statement about scrips because I know different folks have different needs but consider if there's anything you might do to reduce your current regimen if you are on Rx.

I will tell you that I was on some pretty intense anesthesia, obviously, and then took anywhere from 1-3 prescription painkillers a day for another two weeks. And as those chemicals exited my body, it was not awesome. Well, I take that back. It was actually pretty awesome to experience how powerful the drugs were and how my body processed exactly what went in it. 

I was really glad when all that stuff moved through my body.

Now, when my body creates something close to that stink, I know a few things are happening. Have some fun and experiment with these variables and see what results you get. Give them each a week or ten days and see what you see. It means not using the deodorant you've been using, which might be one of the coolest things you do for your body in a while. Spend a few minutes researching the ingredients, and you may reconsider whether or not you want to keep applying that to your skin, the body's largest organ, every day. Remember that your cells absorb everything you take in, and that includes what you apply to your skin.

Here are three natural ways to stink less.

1) Eat more greens.

Body odor, in my experience, is connected to my body's ph levels. You remember that stuff from chemistry and biology, right? Yeah. Alkaline and acid. What color is it on that little strip of paper? Ok, your body works the same way and what you eat will affects your body's ph levels.

I will make this so easy for you:

More simple carbs, protein and sugar = more acidic

More veggies and GREENS = more alkaline

BOOM!

If you stink, consider your body needs more chlorophyll from dark, leafy greens. Chlorophyll is nature's deodorant because it helps cleanse your cells and blood.

2) Drink more water.

Dehydration is a big bummer on so many levels and in so many ways. One major way reason you want to stay hydrated is to help flush your body of all kinds of crap. Water helps cleanse everything, from your skin to your colon and all your other organs. When stuff doesn't get flushed out, it backs up. And that can generate some powerful stink. #justsayin

3) Reduce your stress.

What, me, stressed? It's sprummer! Yeah, I know. But stress is still there, even when you don't feel  stressed. It can be subconscious. When we are stressed, our body releases hormones like cortisol. Those hormones can contribute to the output of your body's musk. You know pheromones--those chemicals that attract us and make us want to move in closer to someone? Yeah. That's some powerful stuff. This works the same way. When your body is detoxing from tough times, it may generate more odor. I am pretty sure it contributed to the experience I had after surgery, too. I mean---yeah. Having a life-changing surgery will conjure up some intense feelings and stress hormones.

♦♦♦

Listen, I'm not a doctor. I'm a rockin' health coach. I share a combination of what I've learned from my training and what I experience just living my life. This is some wisdom I've gathered over the past six years and I hope it is helpful for you in some way.

What is your experience with natural deodorants?

What, if anything, have you noticed about what you eat, your stress levels and your BO?

Teen Spirit photo courtesy of Sabrina.

Natural deodorant photo courtesy me.

Thriving vs. Surviving

Maya Angelou, writer, speaker and general all-around incredible person said: "Surviving is important. Thriving is elegant."

 

For most of my young life, I was merely surviving. I was not thriving. I would read these words, printed on a card I had and I would think, "yeah. That would be nice. Someday."

I had a lot of days where surviving was my best. It was all I could do, but I still did it, day after day.

When I experienced my first break-up at the age of 23, I was totally devastated. Totally. It was my first love, my first relationship, first sexual relationship and first domestic partner. It was the first time I had really loved someone with all my heart and my soul. When she left, I felt like I couldn't breathe. My guts went to shit. I cried and cried day after day.

But I still woke up every morning, swung my legs over the side of the bed and put my feet on the floor. I showered, got dressed, drove to work and was early every single morning. I don't think I ever took a day off. I was teaching eighth grade at the time and my students never suspected a thing. That went on for years. Years. I wasn't grieving the end of one relationship. I was grieving everything that relationship had opened up inside of me--stuff that had been buried down deep for years.

Last year was different. I was struggling with an experience that was just as difficult as the end of a relationship, if not more. I was grieving the end of something as I was living in it--my old self, my body, my identity, my name, my voice. This experience was really different from the past because I had that old experience to draw on. What had I learned from all that suffering and grief? What had I learned about myself? What had I learned about my own resiliency, tenacity and coping skills? What new skills and self-love tools had I now acquired? There were many days that I remembered Maya Angelou's words about thriving versus surviving.

I was determined to not just survive through my experience but to thrive in it.

So I made a plan.

I surrounded myself with tools to thrive, not just survive.

I know that's why I feel so amazing today, as I approach my year anniversary of deciding to physically transition to male. That anniversary is coming up in March. That was the month I decided to take intentional steps toward making a change that would alter my experience in this life forever. It was the month I decided to stop surviving and start thriving.

Before I made that decision, I was struggling. I felt hopeless, helpless and depressed.

I remember being so afraid to make a move but also feeling that deep down, this was not a way I wanted to feel for the rest of my life. I knew if I didn't make some big choices and take some big chances things wouldn't improve for the better. I saw myself reflected back to me in my clients: people on the edge of greatness and afraid to take the steps and make the moves they needed to make to change their lives. I wanted to walk my talk and I saw the big shift I was avoiding in my own life. So I decided I'd seek out whatever I needed to improve my situation--so I could move from surviving to thriving.

Some times, all we can do is survive. Our best is getting up, throwing our legs over the side of the bed and making it through another day.

But with the right tools, the right motivation and the right amount of self-love, self-determination and courage, we can move from surviving to thriving.

My tools were:

  • good, whole, healthy foods every single day

  • plenty of sugar and foods that didn't serve me (because perfection isn't realistic)

  • a consistent bedtime every night. At least 7 hours.

  • lots of water

  • good friends and mentors who are good listeners

  • my own health coach

  • a great specialized and experienced therapist

  • a deep spiritual practice that I nurtured every single day

  • exercise. Even when I didn't do it every day.

  • crying. Sometimes daily.

  • days off when I needed them

  • lots of movie-watching

Those are a just a few. This was my list.

This was how I moved from surviving to thriving.

 

Surviving was the least I could do. Thriving was a choice I made. 

And one I make from moment to moment each day.