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Synchronicity

A few weeks after I started meeting with my nutritionist, Ann Marie DiGregorio, fate again stepped in with an opportunity to try an Acupuncturist at the Serenity Source Wellness Center. I have been going there for many years for massages and Chiropractic adjustments with Dr. Anthony Pusateri. The Doc helped alleviate many problems with my back and shoulders and he put me on the path to better health.

I wanted to avail myself of all the natural help that I could get and hopefully make faster progress, so I started treatment with Rory Crouse.  My team of healers was growing. I immediately knew that I made the right choice. Rory’s knowledge was astounding and I felt as if he could see right into my body and soul. With my permission, he and Ann Marie consulted and complemented each other in their treatments and recommendations.

I had never experienced acupuncture and was immediately fascinated with the ancient healing method.  Rory’s demeanor was so professional, concerned and calm, that I instantly felt better, just walking into his office. His sense of needle humor instantly resonated with me, as there is nothing like laughter for healing. It has been almost a year since I first experienced acupuncture and I am still in wonderment of Rory’s knowledge and ability to relieve budding problems.

I felt as if I was being guided on this path to healing. So many wonderful healers were seemingly placed right in front of me. Though formerly not a disbeliever in Angels, my attitude was changing as I truly felt my prayers for healing were being answered.

For the last six years, I had been happily watching my Grandkids.  However, I was about to become an empty nester, when my youngest went to kindergarten. With more time presenting itself to me, I began to question what the next phase of my life would bring.

My guidance felt so strong that I read, Doreen Virtue’s, Angels of Abundance. Her knowledge and contact with angels became irrefutable to me. I consulted her Archangel Oracle Cards, to learn more about angels. Out of 45 angel cards, the same messages kept appearing as I selected several cards each week, looking for answers.

Several cards that appeared over and over were Archangel Zadkiel’s Teaching and Learning, Archangel Chamuel’s Career Transition, Archangel Gabriel’s Creative Writing and Archangel Jophiel’s Patience.  About the fourth time in a row that I picked Teaching and Learning,  Creative Writing and Career Change, I said out loud, “I hear you.” I had chills and tears. The more that I open my heart and mind, the more blessings that seem to be rolling in and the healthier I become. Each day is so exciting!

 

Jack of All Trades…

So, I was telling my mother that I signed up for a cheese making class at the library and her response was “great, are you getting a goat?” We laughed when she said it, but there was more than a kernel of truth in her response. I have a tendency to jump into the wine barrel of life, with both feet. I tend to stomp around extracting every bit of essence that I can from my latest endeavor, and then move on. My husband is very supportive and my family  very patient.  Often times, they are actually eager to hear of my latest passion, but they know there is probably more coming.

I tended to see that as my shortcoming, until I read in the preface of Louise Hay’s book, Loving Yourself to Great Health, “I have always loved learning new things, and I believe that every hand that touches me is a healing hand. In this way, I have found many wonderful people doing extremely good work, and I often like to share what I’ve learned from them with the rest of the world.” Ping, that statement resonated with my love of learning and sharing. I realized that I don’t have to be a Master of anything, as long as I glean something positive, retain something and pass it along.

Up to this point in my life, I have tried to play the piano and guitar (at which I am still picking), studied writing and distributed a Good Newsletter to work mates, became a Reiki Master, dabbled at learning French and Spanish and sold customized vitamin supplements, to name a few. I am currently using and learning about essential oils, making Kombucha, growing sprouts, taking a Tai Chi class at the library, practicing yoga, walking with my husband and riding my bike. You can see why there might be a lot of eye rolling whenever I start a new project.

My theme has always involved, self-improvement, creative outlets and healthy ideas that I love to share. All of these seem to go hand in hand for me. When I am tapping into all of these, I am the healthiest, mentally and physically.  It isn’t always easy to figure out what makes us tick, but I believe it is worth the effort, in order to live fulfilled, healthy, lives. Tennis anyone?

 

Mind/Body Pioneer

Once my eyes were opened to other healing paths, so many books seemed to pop into my consciousness. One of the first was Louise Hay’s book, You Can Heal Your Life,  published in 1999. Louise was a counselor who began to see connections between her patients’ thought processes and their health. From there, she developed affirmations to assist her clients in changing their thoughts and consequently changing their health.

Louise Hay’s theory is that our thoughts influence our bodies and they respond accordingly. Loving ourselves is the foundation of her teaching and something that is not always easy to do. She was a pioneer when she proposed these theories and based upon her life experience, she developed positive, loving affirmations specific to each ailment.

From her autobiographical notes, she used these affirmations to love and heal herself as well. Her first book of affirmations, was self published and she went on to found her own publishing house called, Hay House Publishing (hayhouse.com). Her latest book, Loving Yourself to Great Health, is amazing. She collaborated with two ladies specializing in holistic nutrition and optimal living,  Ahlea Khadro and Heather Dane. Together they produced a bible for happy, healthy living.

During the last few years, I was plagued with several strange physical issues. Last year, after consulting with many doctors with minimal positive results, I began seeing a nutritionist, Ann Marie DiGregorio.  After keeping a diary of what I was eating, she pointed out that I needed more nutrition and was possibly on the verge of an autoimmune disease. She suggested that I take certain supplements, de-stress, eat organic food and ease up on sugar and wheat.

Within weeks of following her advice, all my irritating symptoms disappeared. I was pleasantly surprised to find Ann Marie’s advice almost mirrored Louise’s in the book, Loving Yourself to Great Health. I was excited to find out Ann Marie is not only a nutritionist, she is a life coach.  She also helped me identify emotional issues that were contributing to my physical problems.

One delicious suggestion from both Ann Marie and Louise, was to drink bone broth. It is grass fed or free range bones that are simmered for 24-36 hours to extract the collagen and nutrition from the bones. It is part of Louise’s daily regimen and one of the secrets to her good health, youthful appearance and great skin. Guess what is bubbling in my slow cooker! It is also available at natural food stores, such as Cornucopia in Sayville.

After several visits with Ann Marie, reading Louise’s book and reigniting my practice of using  affirmations, I began to feel healthier, fearless and excited. A few of Louise’s affirmations that are my favorite are, “I see with love and joy”, “my loving thoughts begin my healing journey” and “I am safe and at peace with life.” Whenever I say these, I immediately feel my shoulders loosen, my mouth smile and my stomach relax. Louise is 90 years young, healthy, still excited and engaged in life. I certainly want some of that!

 

Chicken Gene

Having more than my share of chicken genes has been a challenge for most of my life. My knee jerk reaction has been to deny any interest in doing anything that would have remotely caused injury or stress. This limiting worldview made me feel, alternately set apart, cowardly and confused.  What the heck was I afraid of?

Thankfully, I grew up with a best friend named, Kay Driscoll. Kay would not take no for an answer and dragged me everywhere she went. I began to study her and others, whom I admired and tried to fashion myself after them in bits and pieces. Where she was gregarious and could talk to anyone, I was shy, and quiet, until I began to find my voice. Courage was something that I observed in Grandma and Mom and I was determined to channel that somehow.

As I began to adopt traits that I admired in other people, I became open to thoughts and customs different from my own and those of my family. Yoga became an entrée to tame my anxious mind as well as challenge my muscles. It interrupted the noise in my head that often led to negative thoughts and introduced me to meditation. I read, Timeless Healing, by Dr. Herbert Benson, who is a cardiologist and the founder of the Mind/Body Institute at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston. He established the Mind/Body Medical Institute at Harvard and became the founding president in 1988. He believed in a person’s ability to heal themselves through meditation and consequently, so did I.

Dr. Benson was one of a handful of researchers in the connection of mind and body medicine at that time. He proved that by relaxing the body through meditation, the responses from the body included lowered blood pressure, heart rate, breathing and metabolic rate.  In medical school he was taught that in five years time a good deal of what he had learned would be obsolete and as a result, he was intent on identifying a source of healing that would be timeless.

Stepping on this alternative road was an easy progression, given the foundation I had from Grandma. The more peace I found, the more addictive it became to explore alternate healing modalities and down the road I went.

 

Roots

Perhaps growing up around superwomen and on Grandma’s farm, influenced me to embrace a nutritious, healthy, lifestyle. As a young married woman, I explored growing my own vegetables, making bread and canning. The amount of energy and mess that followed preparing, sterilizing and filling dozens of jars soon lost its luster. Plus, I obsessed over the possibility that I would poison my family with botulism. Nevertheless, I persevered and had even greater appreciation for Gram and Mom.

Gram’s routine was to go out early in the morning, pick tomato worms off the plants, weed and prune them. So I attempted to follow her lead, with little success. My farming outfit consisted of rubber boots and rubber gloves. It was a bit more difficult to catch those squirmy, fat, green, creatures. I finally succumbed to sharing the bounty with God’s critters.

Aunt Ruth and Uncle Bill were great baymen, as in Great South Bay, Long Island. They supplied us with crabs, clams and fish, every summer. I learned how to shuck the clams, however the first time I attempted to clean and filet a fish, the scales exploded all over the kitchen including the ceiling and I was left with a fish stick. I think glue is made from fish scales.  My superwoman cape was looking pretty ratty but it didn’t stop me.

My relatives often compared me to my fraternal grandmother. I thought that may have left me out of the superwomen gene pool. My other grandmother was pretty special, but I didn’t know enough about her, to put her in the supernatural realm. She lived three hours away, so I didn’t get to spend much time with her. I hoped at least to have inherited her and my father’s sense of humor.  I thought I might be relegated to drinking beer and watching sports with Dad, which if I admitted it to myself, was a lot more appealing as opposed to the non-stop actions of my mother.

Not having much money lent itself to the art of doing many things by hand and from scratch. My attempts at sewing for my daughters and myself often had us looking like we were just off the prairie. It was satisfying, if not attractive. Thankfully, our resources picked up enough to relieve me of my millinery efforts.

Limiting my daughters sugar intake was thwarted by our neighbor, whose kids had whole packages of cookies and candy under their beds. Our house had a “two cookie” rule, that confounds my daughters to this day as being barbarically restrictive.

I forged ahead, exploring ways to create a healthy lifestyle for myself and my family. I began to practice yoga, which was a bit outside our family norms, fifty years ago. Mom always exercised, basically yoga stretches, but yoga was an alien concept at that time. I bought a book, “Richard Hittleman’s Yoga, 28 Day Exercise Plan” and it became a foundation for my lifetime practice. I wasn’t sure where I fit into my family genealogy, but it didn’t stop me from trying to make them proud.

Your Intentions Create Your Experience

Your intentions create your experience, according to Doreen Virtue in her book, Healing With The Angels. That seems to be true of the women in my Mother’s family. Grandma, healing and cooking, Mom, crafting, baking and taking care of people and Aunt Ruth, traveling and collecting friends and recipes. My three other Aunts lives followed their different paths.

Aunt Laura, the oldest, was nomadic. She moved almost every year with her husband and two kids in tow. According to family tales, she could not resist an advertisement for a free month’s rent, which must have been a common occurrence in the boroughs of NYC. At the end of their lease, my Uncle would frequently leave for work with a note indicating his new address. The packing, moving, cleaning and setting up would be taken care of by Aunt Laura. Her large extended family provided strong backs for the heavy lifting. As she got older, she finally settled down and bought a house on Long Island in Cutchogue.  This move was with her second husband, who perhaps had more influence over her migratory tendencies.

Aunt Martine (Tina) was born to move too, but her motion was predominantly in her automobiles. She was always in motion and frequently wore out the tires and engine before her car was paid for. Perhaps, she also had an intention to be married to a man named Harold, as she did that twice. She commuted daily from Connecticut to NYC to drop off Uncle Harold at work.  Then she would either go back home, or continue out to Long Island to visit her sisters and brothers who were spread out in different towns. At the end of the day, she returned to pick up Uncle Harold and head back to Connecticut.

Aunt Tina loved people, laughing, parties and high heels. She was never without her heels and dressed for a party. My Mother said that Aunt Tina’s leg muscles were so affected from wearing heels that she was in pain walking without them.

Aunt Margaret (Marge)’s intention must have been to be rich and she accomplished that. She excelled at selecting stocks and bonds.  She was prudent with her spending and when she was young, bought a car with saved pennies. She religiously watched the ticker tapes from the financial program, along with The Louis Rukeyser’s show. Evidently she was a good student because she parlayed her modest income into millions.

Aunt Marge’s other passion was having a mate. She accomplished this many times, but unfortunately her five husbands predeceased her and none of the unions produced children. After an appropriate period of mourning, she would begin a search for a replacement. In her eighties she finally gave up and lived alone and thankfully her fortune took care of her quite comfortably.

Each of the sisters and Grandma were truly superwomen. I absorbed wisdom and joy from each of them. Though Mom and Aunt Ruth are the only living sisters, the others have left their legacy on the rest of the family. Aunt Ruth’s recent visit from California, disclosed that Grandma’s healing muse was Dr. Henry Lindlahr, a groundbreaking, naturopathic practitioner. Grandma’s inquisitive mind ultimately paved the way for my passion for natural healing.

You Are What You Think

If you are what you think, then my mother thought about a happy, healthy, long life, filled with love for family, friends and acquaintances.  As a young woman, she traveled alone, cross country by train, to meet my father who was in the Navy. They lived in San Diego and Oklahoma, without friends or family around them. When my father was sent to fight in the war, she returned home to Brooklyn. While he was away, she gave birth to my brother.

They survived on very little income as so many families did during and after the war. One of her favorite stories was when her sister, Ruth and she lived together. They were trying to cobble together a meal to celebrate my cousin’s birthday. The two families contributed whatever they had to make a cake magically appear.  With more family coming, a meal was the challenge. They scrounged up 21 cents and Mom headed out to the store. The only thing to be found was a rather large oxtail. Neither had ever cooked one but that didn’t stop them from throwing it and the few vegetables they had into a pot.

Dinner was served and their brother, Ole, who had a more conservative pallet, probably would have refused the soup, if he knew what it contained. To their amazement, he complimented them on the meal. Aunt Ruth and Mom still laugh when they tell this story. I’m not sure if they ever told him.  Her life was not without challenges, but she met them with stubborn optimism and joy.

Aunt Ruth was the youngest sister and her thoughts and dreams must have been of traveling the world and sampling it’s food. That is just what she did. When she and my Uncle Bill retired, he from the New York City Fire Department and she from a bank, they sold their house, bought an air stream trailer and off they went. They traveled to every state and most countries. They even spent six months on a travel caravan in Europe. When their money ran low, they would hunker down and work at odd jobs until they saved enough to move on to another adventure. One unusual job was selling Christmas trees in Las Vegas. Another had Aunt Ruth working in a vitamin factory, sorting and bottling pills.  She said that she was doing pretty well until the conveyor belt increased the speed. That image still makes me chuckle. On their journeys they collected friends, recipes and memories from all over the world.

The two sisters certainly had different dreams but both had an identical outlook that involved lots of love, laughter and fun. Their other three sisters were all different. Imagine what they were thinking…..

 

Olympian

My mother Clara, was an Olympian in spirit and potentially in reality. Her achievements in swimming and diving were noticed by her teachers early in high school. She was asked to assist the teacher with class swimming lessons and invited to train for the Olympic diving team.  Unfortunately, it required travel that was too costly for the family at that time.

Her physical activity continued throughout her life, including calisthenics with the grandkids, cartwheeling across the front lawn, bike riding and yoga. My daughter and I signed up for a yoga class and Mom was happy to try it. She was the most limber of the three of us and she had to be in her 70’s at the time.

Mom said she felt like an eternal 18-year-old in her mind and that parlayed into a youthful outlook on life and no limitations as to what she would do and try. One time, her young friends from work invited her to vacation with them in Cancun, even though she was several decades older than most of them. They promised to keep what happened in Mexico private, but later pictures emerged. Apparently, an exotic drink induced her to silliness that she swore she doesn’t remember to this day.

My brother’s friend, who was about 18-years-old at the time, ate dinner with us every night for at least a year after his parents suddenly passed away. Not only was her table always filled, so were her beds. She invited family members and friends alike to stay, even when there was only room in the basement. My friend stayed with Mom and Dad for months after her own mother died. She needed some love and time to readjust.  A cousin also lived with them for quite a while until he was able to find work and his own apartment. Grandma also came for extended visits, as she moved about the family. No wonder my father drank…

The most interesting boarder came after Dad passed away and Mom was living in an apartment complex. Her neighbor’s husband frequently traveled and his wife was afraid to stay by herself. They were from India and the husband asked Mom if his wife could sleep at her apartment while he was away. The problem was, Mom didn’t know her other than to wave and say hello and the woman didn’t speak English.  Of course, Mom said yes and the woman would show up with her pillow and blanket. They would have tea together and Mom would try to teach her English. Eventually, they moved but would still bring presents for Mom from their travels.

This youthful, loving spirit is alive and well to this day. Her fellow assisted living residents, marvel at her physical and mental condition. She is intent on becoming a centenarian and has only two years to go! I believe her attitude, good nutrition, exercise and her vinegar tonics have brought her this far and will keep her chugging along.

 

 

Fast Forward

My Mother, Clara, is a chip off the old superwoman’s block and took up where Gram left off. In her prime, she was a baking wizard, who managed to work full time, keep a lovely home and always have a great meal and dessert waiting for us. Her nutritional regimen was right in line with Gram’s, lots of fresh fruits and vegetables and good home cooking. If you could see the starched tablecloth at dinnertime, then a vegetable was missing from the table. The smells of roast beef and hot chocolate cake still cause flash backs.

Her desserts were legendary. There were demands by her hosts and guests alike for her trifle, raspberry nut bars and venetians, as well as scores of other delights. Her Norwegian, krumkaka cookies were made one at a time on a special iron heated on the stove top. It flattened the runny mixture into a round disk, which then had to be rolled around a wooden dowel. After several minutes of  cooling, the cylinder was slid off for the next one. It was a labor of love that would sometimes be done well into the night. I was often recruited to do the tedious rolling job. As I got older and the Fall days began to cool, my coworkers would begin asking if Mom had started her Christmas baking. Clara’s cookies were always in great demand.

She also carried on Gram’s tradition of having a full table. There was always a neighbor, friend or an occasional stranger, sharing a meal. Her table was always set with a starched cloth and lovely place settings. My early, established trait of eavesdropping on adult conversations blossomed. I loved to hear the gossip and news of the neighborhood. As I got older, I was thrilled to be able to sit at the table and absorb some wisdom as well.

Another passion of Mom’s was sewing and making crafts. Her old sewing machine was spitting out clothes for me until I was out of high school.  She then made clothes for my daughters. When they grew up, she began crafting her own versions of baby clothes, baby bibs, pot holders, plastic bag holders, book bags and tons more. The demand for her crocheted scrubbies was greater than her supply.

Several times she turned down requests to market her products because she didn’t want the pressure to produce.  She loved making her novelties at her whim to give them away to her friends and family. Her heart was as big and generous as her mother’s.

 

Fertile, Iowa

It isn’t clear what made Gram want to go to Fertile, Iowa. She certainly was fertile enough where she was, having birthed three children already. Another mystery was how she ever got Grandpa, a seafarer, almost a half century in age, to leave Brooklyn.

Early 1913, Gram had gone back to Norway to visit her family.  She ended up extending her stay because she gave birth to her third child, Olaf.  This was in 1914, just prior to the start of World War I. The family story is that she was having a hard time booking passage back home.

Around 1915, with three small children, Laura, Margaret and Olaf, in tow and one reluctant husband, they set off for Iowa. I never left my house to go grocery shopping with two small children, yet she boarded a train for days with three toddlers and grumpy Grandpa. Her lessons of courage were buried deep in my DNA.

They settled in Fertile and set up a small farm. She planted her garden to feed the family and bought a cow and some chickens. Gram would drive the wagon into town to sell her eggs, milk and butter. Her fourth child, Ingrid was born there.

A wheat mill was probably the highlight of the town built on the Winnebago River by a Canadian, William Rhodes in 1853. The town had 207 people according to the census of 1910. Gram’s family swelled the ranks to at least 213. As of 2010, the population had grown to 370 but the local website swears the figure is even higher now.  A year or two after they moved there, the population was reduced to 212.  Grandpa had hightailed it back to Brooklyn and left Gram there with her little farm and family.

Not long after, Gram followed him back home to Brooklyn and they bought a fishing or clammers’ cabin. It was a small square box with an outhouse. The main room was turned into a kitchen/dining room and they added a small living room, bathroom and bedroom and porch downstairs, upstairs two small bedrooms. In the next seven years they swelled their family size to 10 with the addition of  Clara, Hjalmar, John and Ruth. Grandma remained in that home until 1965. We wonder to this day how so many people fit in that small house.