It’s Mother’s Day and my birthday. I am such a lucky woman. Totally blessed with loving daughters, a lovely little apartment, a small pension, a great little job that I can do from home (teaching English to children in China online) and more than enough. My cupboards are generally filled and I am able to have a few of those luxuries that make me smile and add to my contentment.
Some people don’t think I have a lot but I have everything that I want and need. To others I have a heaping helping of abundance. I have so many friends that have been devastated from the military occupation of Palestine – homes destroyed, children murdered……that is what the opposite of my life can look like.
But my joy and sense of abundance is not in comparison to others, it’s just what I feel. Nothing works more successfully for my sense of joy than writing out my Gratitudes. This is a habit I acquired more than 20 years ago. I was inspired by Sarah Ban Breathnach in her Simple Abundance book, by Oprah, and by the Secret (book and film). I write out 5 things that I am grateful for from the previous day. If I get off this path and I start to feel lousy, I reboot with this practice and quickly am restored to my grateful and abundant self. I always urge others to just give it a 14 day trial and just see how it feels.
I love a little self indulgence – cosmetics, having my hair coloured and styled (yup, folks, I am not a real blonde!!), acquiring new clothing (at least, new to me), dressing up my living space, flowers, plants…………..I love surrounding myself with “pretty things” and I love delicious, fresh and healthy food! I also totally adore my daughters and my grandson!
Flowers on the table
Hair and make-up
I know there are so many people that just can’t acknowledge Joy – they feel so deeply the hurting in our world. I understand it but if I don’t indulge myself, if I don’t create balance for myself, I won’t have the energy to help others and to be a dissident voice on this planet. I am all about balance.
Now on my Priestess path – my ordination as a Kohenet is just a year away – I believe that we are created in the image of the Divine. I am so blessed to feel that Love and Inspiration. I encourage those of you who can find that Presence to embrace it – to Love yourself. I encourage you to acknowledge your Gratitudes, to indulge in what you love, to smile even when it hurts. “Fake it til you make it, Baby.” The People are rising – let’s change this world. Let’s make a difference! Let’s spread love and respect. This is your day!
So here’s the thing. I love writing and I love my blogs. I was so excited about my Sixty in the City idea. I couldn’t wait to get started. Ideas flowed in my head and my heart. When I was out ideas, words, sentences, paragraphs, and pictures poured in. This is my passion. I love sharing ideas and hopefully inspiring others. Ok, so what happened ….why did I stop? Why do I have lists of blogging ideas in my “To Do List” and why haven’t I written in months? Why? What stopped me? Hmmmm…… time to explore the usual suspects.
The old tapes I suppose. What do I mean by the old tapes? Those are those thoughts that flow through our mind. Crap that other people told us or crap that we repeatedly tell ourselves? Can’t, shouldn’t, wouldn’t, couldn’t. Yowzers!! How did that stuff get into my head?
I pride myself on a cup that is more than half full and often spilling over. I think that I am a “take charge, get it done, kind of Womyn”. I never leave dishes in the sink or laundry unfolded. I plan my meals, plan my grocery list, take time to cook healthy from scratch food, keep my home neat and tidy, stay in touch family and loved ones, remember birthdays and special occasions, make lists and check things off. Yup, you got it….I can busy myself with a lot of mundane details and tell myself that I was too busy today but tomorrow….no the next day….ok no….next week…. I’ll do it….cause I love it. What’s going on????
Looking back over the years (and when you are sixty, there are a lot of years to look back on) I know that many times when I was on the brink of following my passion to have my own business as an Alternative Healing practitioner. My passion for facilitating groups to inspire womyn to create the changes they want for themselves and for the world…..I didn’t follow my own advice but instead took a different path. Consistently a solid, dependable job or contract would come my way and how could I say no to stability and normality? I am not criticizing those choices. I was a sole support parent with 2 amazing daughters who I wanted to provide for. I am certain that isn’t all there is to this pattern, though. My daughters have been self sufficient and stable on their own for over a decade.
Last spring I found a great inspiration partner. We both wanted someone to keep us on track to achieve our goals. We met every other week and we created a whole system to keep us motivated. It was so exciting and so organized. We called our goals sun rays and each ray was a stream that we wanted to pursue and follow. In this time I got my licence to marry couples and started officiating weddings. I was blogging very regularly and many of my ideas were unfolding . I started my training to become a Kohenet (Hebrew Priestess). I was doing it!!! And… Then…I …Stopped !!!!!!!!! Right in the middle of doing what I was sure I loved and what I am still sure I love. What happened? One thing only….I got in my own way.
The really awesome part of all this is that it’s ok to stop and it’s ok to start again. The old but timeless song, “take a deep breath, pick yourself up, dust yourself off and start all over again.” Listen hear
What have I done? I found my old mentors again …..Sarah Ban Breathnach, Louise Hay and Sark. I dug out my vision journal and I have enjoyed looking at it again. (some photos from my old vision book)
Today I am going to start working on expanding that vision journal with my new visions and discoveries. Sarah Ban Breathnach suggests that you get piles of old magazines and cut out pictures that you are drawn to, putting them into separate piles for the various parts of your life. Here is a description from one of her books.
You can usually find Sarah’s books in second hand book stores. I suggest starting with “Simple Abundance”. Currently I am using “Something More” as my guide.
I am ready to commit to me again…..that means healthy choices and exercising, it means writing out my gratitudes from the day before, giving thanks to the Goddess, reading something inspirational. It means making a commitment to my personal success by creating an action plan and following it though. For me it means stepping out of my usual comfort zones. It means finding joy in all the little spaces like walking barefoot on the beach in November in Nova Scotia or wandering through the Allan Garden Conservatory in Toronto on Boxing Day when it is cold and rainy outside.
Winter inspiration at Allan Gardens Conservatory, Toronto, ON
Finally I am ready and able to return to my blog. What are the expressions? The best laid plans of mice and women….. or God is laughing at our plans. Yup, how true!! I just could not find that energy to write about myself during the massacre on Gaza this summer although my intention had been to write every week.
The healing journey is just that – a journey with all the ups and downs of climbing a mountain, swimming across an ocean or that journey of love. Wow!!! My practitioner of Traditional Chinese Medicine, the wonderful Emily Babaris, told me it would be hard. I scoffed. Ha!! Joke was on me. It is hard and it is a lot of work and it is so darn worth it!!!
I have to say that I am discovering a side of my personality I wasn’t really aware of. At my last treatment, Emily mentioned that my tongue was a bit swollen indicating that I am over –thinking. Oh yeah, my name is Sandra and I am an over-thinker!!! I have definitely been more than a bit obsessive/compulsive. I take my blood pressure over and over, I test my blood sugar way toooooo much and I weigh myself ten times more than I promised myself. Need a sign to carry…BEWARE – OBSESSIVE COMPULSIVE OVER-THINKER. Actually if you know me, you probably know I don’t need the sign. Yikes!!
Now let me tell me you a little bit about the work. I am no longer taking any medications. I have stopped all four – nothing for blood pressure and nothing for my type 2 Diabetes. I am taking Chinese herbs that have been prescribed and drinking a special tea every day. I am eating healthier and less food. I am exercising at least 30 minutes every day and I am trying to meditate regularly as well. I see my TCM practitioner at least once a month for acupuncture and this month I went to a registered massage therapist for a full body massage.
How do I feel? I feel amazing!!! On average I am losing a half pound to a pound every week. My skin is clear, my eyes are bright and my energy level is beyond anything I have experienced in the past several years. I feel younger and lighter and healthy and happy. It is the best feeling ever. For the past 3 years I have been plagued with body pain – hip, knees, joints – stiffness and creakiness. It’s gone!!! Gone!! I am walking up and down stairs now without leaning on the handrails and without taking one step and bringing the other foot up but walking up and down stairs like a normal healthy person. I am walking faster and further and I don’t arrive so stiff and sore and exhausted. I feel myself breathing deeply and easily.
Well that is the physical side to it. The struggle of the journey is not giving up desserts especially ice-cream or cutting up piles of vegetables for every meal and not eating after dinner or 7:30pm. The struggle is the ongoing conversation inside my head. I worry about what I am eating, I worry that the numbers are not as low as they should be and I worry that it is not possible to meet my goals and be healthy. I write to Emily at least once a week. Today she reminded me that healing is a journery and healing takes time and that for now I am fairly stable. For me I hear her saying calm down….you are on the right path.
This is the right path for me. I spent my life since I was 30 talking about alternative healing and avoiding western style medicine. I then jumped right in with both feet and followed the plan of my general practitioner – every few months increasing the medicines and feeling sicker and sicker – truly becoming a patient. I hurt all over, my stomach burned, reoccurring diarrhea, lack of energy and every time I took my pills I felt like I was poisoning myself. I tried smudging my pill bottles and blessing them…..nothing really worked.
So what is it I am eating? Typical breakfast these days is a bowl of steel cut oatmeal with almond milk, some berries, and a generous sprinkling of cinnamon. Lunch is a big salad with tomatoes, cucumbers, celery, peppers, onions, avocado, olives and feta. Dinner varies but I try to have a few vegetables (cauliflower, broccoli, green beans, brussel sprouts, zucchini), brown rice and some type of protein. I am limiting my meat and fish to 3 to 4 times a week. I love chicken – broiled, baked or grilled. Sometimes I sprinkle Panko crumbs over them (lowest sodium of all crumbs). I actually made my sausage using ground lean turkey. I mixed it with ground fennel seeds, cumin, thyme, oregano, red pepper flakes, and then rolled each into a little weiner shape and wrapped individually in tin foil. Omgawsh, they are delicious without added sodium or nitrates. Guilt free eating!
I am most proud of my exercise routines. I am the one who hates exercise the most, fears the gym and just hates to sweat. I know that I have always loved dancing and that there are certain songs that made me start moving even in my chair….soooooooooooooooo…..I made a playlist of workout songs on youtube. I have songs from the 50’s to today. Kt Tunstall and Chubby Checker and everything in between. Remember YMCA, Pop Goes the World, the Macarena, the Chicken Dance???
I have several hours of music and don’t have to play the same ones over and over which keeps my routine fresh and interesting. Here is my playlist. It includes a few yoga workouts that I really like as well.
At home I lay out my yoga mat, put on the tunes and dance. I stretch, do some yoga moves and work up a sweat for a half hour. Most important – I smile, I breathe and I laugh a little.
I invite everyone do just that – smile, breathe and laugh a little
This is my healing story. For many, many years I have been uncomfortable with the model of Western medicine. Each year for the past five years, my doctor has added another medication and increased the doses as well. I am now stiff in all my joints, my knees hurt, and my digestive system is often upset. I have high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes. Since the diagnosis of diabetes last August, I have lost over 20 pounds. For the past few months I have been exercising regularly. I walk a few kilometres each day because I do not have car. I have just returned from a 22 vacation which was key in reducing stress. I arrived in Greece on Day 10 almost completely pain free. Was it the hot and sunny weather or the pleasant and relaxing days in France? I am going to explore it all in my journey for health.
A few months ago I started seeing Emily Babaris, a practitioner of Traditional Chinese Medicine. She is located on the Danforth near Chester Subway Station in Toronto. For the first 6 weeks I had an acupuncture treatment every week and I have been taking herbs twice a day as well. My intention is to stop taking the medications prescribed by my doctor and rely solely on the Chinese medicine. This will mean continuing to lose weight through health eating, exercising at least a half hour every day, and reducing my caffeine intact to one cup of coffee from the two I have been enjoying each morning.
I love the Weight Watcher model for weight loss. It has always been successful for me. In 2003, I lost 35 pounds following their plan. I have to admit I have never attended a meeting or paid a cent in fees. I obtained their books and calculators from friends and family. The point is I ate a healthy well balanced diet and I counted my points. I maintained that lower weight until now. Once in a while, I find that eating out a lot will cause a weight gain of as much as 10 pounds but returning to my own cooking and reduction of salt will reduce that within 14 days. My goal is to lose another 50 pounds.
On Tuesday next week, I will meet with my family doctor to ask for her support in reducing my medications. I hope she will agree and continue to monitor my health through regular blood tests.
I have read about the side effects of the medications I am taking – one is said to cause diabetes and another leads to high cholesterol. That is the next medication she is expecting to add to my arsenal very soon. All of them cause joint and body stiffness.
I became a Reflexologist in 1995 when I was in my thirties. I became a Doula assisting women while birthing. I was committed to alternative medicine and had my own practise in London, Ontario. I worked in many modalities with Reflexology including flower essence remedies such as Bach Flower, Homeopathy, Aromatherapy, Touch for Health, Healing Touch and Reiki.
I started on this path when my oldest daughter was 12 years old in 1993. She was catching one virus after another and missing 5 to 10 days of school each month. It was a stressful year for her with her Bat Mitzfah scheduled in the spring and her personal commitment to school work, family and friends. Every time she was sick, I called the doctor who prescribed cough syrups and decongestants, Tylenol and often antibiotics. One day I just said this is enough! I took a course in healing foods. The next time she was ill I made a healing broth and had her drink it. NO medications. She got well and was not sick the next month. From then on, she and her sister caught a cold once year at the most. The cycle was broken. I shared this recipe with many others and always had very positive feedback from those who took it for colds and viruses, digestive problems and other mild illnesses.
Healing Broth Recipe
3 cloves of garlic
1 medium onion
Half a head of broccoli
½ medium size cabbage
4 stalks of celery
Season with a little soy or tamari sauce
Ground black pepper
12 cups of water
Bring the water and all the ingredients to a boil and simmer for 90 -120 minutes. During simmering check the water level and add more if it looks low.
Drain the broth and keep the vegetables for adding to stews, soups or casseroles. I often puree them and add a little broth for a yummy cream of vegetable soup.
Serve immediately. Drink a cup of broth 3 -4 times a day for healing and cleansing.
I don’t believe the broth is the answer to my current health issues but I am committed to a new regiment of healthy eating, exercise, and Traditional Chinese medicine. I invite you to follow my journey.
For 3 decades SandraLaya Ruch has been inspiring women to live their lives to the fullest. She is a firm believer that anything is possible and each of us must dare to dream. She encourages women not be held hostage to our victim story but to use our survival as a reminder of our strength and possibilities.Ruch, began her global activism for the rights of women and children as a young woman. For almost 10 years, Sandra played a prominent role at Canada’s only national Feminist peace organization in Canada, the Canadian Voice of Women for Peace (VOW). As a committed peace activist, she lived and managed numerous initiatives in conflict areas working with International Feminist organizations. As a result of her human rights advocacy, Ruch has been arrested and detained several times both abroad and in Canada. Her speaking is a journey about conflict, crisis and commitment to living a meaningful, substantial and significant lifestyle.From her extensive women empowerment experience and expertise, Ruch provides timely insight for women and how they can begin to see and manage conflict differently. She is a sought-after speaker on strategies for social justice and empowering women to come into their voice.SandraLaya Ruch is the founder, and CEO of Sixty in the City which helps empower women to live meaningful lives. Ruch views conflict and crises as pivotal moments in our lives that can deepen our significance or destroy it. Ruch sees extensive conflict for women at work where levels of anxiety are heightening, not lessening. Often anxiety stems from women’s desire to have life work balance. Given the fact that most today’s organizations continue to advance and promote employees who work more hours and carry more stress, women face enormous conflict. The manifestation of this is detrimental to women employees and their respective employers. With Ruch’s 30 year women empowerment background, she provides organizations with a customized speaking programs, aimed to equip women with a completely new perspective on conflict, how to embrace it and to enjoy it.Both a Mother and Grandmother, SandraLaya raised her daughters independently facing many of the struggles familiar to single parents. She is no stranger to domestic violence and the dangers that women experience in a patriarchal society.
“We must look for the opportunities waiting for us”. SandraLaya Ruch