Saturday, May 19, 2007

Keep Organic Foods Organic- Public Comment Needed Now

If you're interested in the purity of food labeled organic this will be of interest to you. It matters to me. Frankly, I don't mind a product having nonorganic ingredients in it -- I eat in major restaurant chains like most of the rest of us -- as long as I know what I'm paying for. But if I'm going out of my way to buy organic -- and paying a premium price because of it -- I want to know that the food I'm buying really is what it claims to be.

I recently received an email from an organization opposed to the proposed amendments to the National Organic Program at the USDA that were given an unusually short public comment period -- only 7 days were allowed until May 22. Supposedly this new amendment may allow nonorganic ingredients to be added to products labeled as organic when an organic substitute is not available. For example it would allow Anheiser Busch, one of the key lobbyists for these changes, to add nonorganic hops to beer it wants to promote as organic. It would also allow non-organically raised natural food colorings like annatto and beta-caratein to be added to products labeled as organic. Not a small issue for people with children who have autism, ADHD and other conditions that get significantly worse when a child eats food with additives of various kinds.

Personally, the organization that sends me these emails —The Natural Solutions Foundation—rubs me the wrong way with their fear-mongering over the top rhetoric. You can read and add your name to a petition they're sending (I did) by clicking here.

But I think it would be ultimately more effective to go directly to the USDA itself (I did that, too) so here's the information on how to do that:

Document ID AMS-TM-07-0062-0001
Document Title National Organic Program (NOP)--Proposed Amendments to the National List of Allowed and Prohibited Substances (Processing)
How to Comment Interested persons may comment on this proposed rule using any of the following procedures:
• Mail: Comments may be submitted by mail to Robert Pooler, Agricultural Marketing Specialist, National Organic Program, USDA/AMS/ TMP/NOP, 1400 Independence Ave., SW., Room 4008-So., Ag Stop 0268, Washington, DC 20250.
• Internet:
• Written comments on this proposed rule should be identified with the docket number AMS-TM-07-0062. Commenters should identify the topic and section number of this proposed rule to which the comment refers.
• Clearly indicate if you are for or against the proposed rule or some portion of it and your reason for it. Include recommendation changes as appropriate.
• If desired include a copy of articles or other references that support your comments.

Trusting Your Heart

Paul and I recently wrote to our client list about the possibility of us doing some kind of support group or class. MANY people tell us they're interested in such a thing but when we asked for feedback on developing this group only one person wrote back. We're still sitting with the decision as to whether or when to go forward. In the meantime I didn't write back to this one client until today. She had a specific concern about how to trust that her inner guidance is genuine. I felt her question was at the heart of why so many people come to us in the first place--they don't know how to trust their hearts so I thought I'd talk about that issue here.

Our client wanted to know the difference between "genuine" guidance and her usual self-talk mix of hopes and fears, "shoulds" and desires. This was my response:

"This could be the one concern everyone has from time to time, myself included. How do you know the difference between inner guidance and fears talking? Well, as I said before, sitting with something you're not sure about—especially when there may be fears running the show for better and for worse—is always the right choice. Far easier to get a more genuine response if you can get into a more meditative place before even asking. So, that's step one.

"Then, when you're not feeling driven by urgency and/or fear check inside again: is this something you really want to do? Something you dream about doing? Desire with all your heart (whether it would be good for you or not?) Would you desire to have this thing you're dreaming about EVEN IF it led to "mistakes" being made, disappointments, criticism, etc.? Well, if you really want it and trust that whatever the consequences are that you'll be able to pick up the pieces again and walk away with your head held high (at least I tried), go ahead. That's your heart leading you forward.

"If not, then you need to look at why you're being nagged about this decision. Fear can be a good teacher, too. "Gee, I haven't done the dishes. I SHOULD do it before going to bed but I'm just so tired. I really don't want to........but I know the consequences will be a return of the horrendous ant infestation we had last week when I did the same thing so.........ok, fear and "shoulds" win out. I really don't feel like the consequences of my action are worth going to bed early. You get the difference. Sometimes "shoulds" need to be listened to. Sometimes they don't. Think about the consequences. What are the "shoulds" attempting to protect you from?

"That's all I can think of for now.

"Thanks for responding to our email announcement. We'll keep everyone posted on our future plans when we have any. For the time being, though, we're not deciding because we don't have a strong enough desire to go ahead just yet.....just a nagging pull that comes up over and over. I think the timing and momentum haven't built enough yet and that needs to develop first. That's probably part of your answer, too, by the way. Right timing is part of everything. But I don't know how to describe knowing about that. I tend to trust my inner urgency in a more positive sense. For instance, I woke up this morning with an inner urge to write to you. I knew there was nothing in the way, no fear pushing me forward, and no obvious consequence I couldn't live with, so it must be time to go ahead. So I did."

At one point learning to trust my inner guidance and not allowing myself to be fooled by my inner trickster—the saboteur and/or loving guide that sometimes intervenes to teach us hard lessons—was a huge life issue for me. It seems, though, that when I'm less driven by fears and more driven by what I most want/need to do that trickster doesn't seem to get its foot in the door. I actually designed a flower essence based formula, "Trusting Inner Guidance," with that concern in mind.

But I haven't used this one in quite some time. I forgot I even had the issue.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Good News For Bees -- Go Organic!

It appears that organic farmers using tried and true organic methods of raising crops and tending bees have reported NO decline in the population of bees in their hives. Hint, hint. Pesticides, herbicides and genetically modified crops, among other things, are not good for bees and other living things! But the solution to the crisis needn't be that hard to find. Read more at

Friday, May 11, 2007

What Do You Want to Do With the Time You Have Left?

I used to work as a family consultant for people taking care of a loved one with Alzheimer's Disease, Parkinson's Disease, stroke and other neurological illnesses and injuries, and the vast majority of the patients involved were in their 70's, 80's, and 90's. There were no cures for any of these diseases, at least not in the later stages. All of these illnesses were correlated with high incidents of anxiety and depression and I have a strong conviction that some of these illnesses could have been reversed in the very earliest stages if the emotional and mental patterns underlying the illnesses could have been addressed. However, that's a topic for another blog entry or more.

I wrote a monthly newsletter when I did this work (same as I do now) and I'm currently rereading all those old articles for compiling into a book. While writing an introduction to accompany these articles I realized that the main thrust of my job (my current career as well?) was to help people come to grips with accepting the truth of their lives as they existed in that moment and get ready for and work with the changes they might need to make. Sometimes there was no change besides acceptance of the present day situation that needed to happen. If their loved one was resistant to alternative forms of help or secretly ready to pass on, there was nothing that could be done besides shepherd them through the process of letting go of their previous lives.

And yet that was hardly ever done. 99% of the people who walked into my office insisted that I help them figure out how to keep things the same. "Mom has to stay home as long as possible!" they would say. "She'll never submit to living in a nursing home. But I have to find a way to do everything that needs to be done because they won't allow a stranger into their house!" And on and on.

The idea that the time for transitioning was here rarely came up. After all, this wasn't hospice care. These patients didn't have a diagnosis that said they had 6 months or less to live. Many of them deteriorated one painful step at a time over the course of years and years. Their families were living with death and change without the permission of their loved ones, themselves, or our society to really let that reality in. How many of these patients said good-bye or made arrangements to heal old rifts or leave a special legacy for the ones they were about to leave behind? How many of them decided to go after special dreams in the time they had left, took time to travel, visit relatives who moved away, or did anything left over that they really meant to do?

They weren't of that mindset. Most of them spent all day in front of their television sets. Disconnected from active engagement with life. Stationary as much as possible. Not really happy but not admitting to checking out.

An exception that proves the rule stands out. She had a familial form of Alzheimer's Disease and was not clinically depressed. Quite the contrary. She had a great relationship with her kids who visited her and took her home with them for mini-vacations on a regular basis so her husband/caregiver could get some rest. She worked in her garden every day—in the end she ripped up all her plants and replanted them again the next day when she forgot why she took them out over and over again—but she was happy and engaged. She remained social. She went to church every day and, even when she could no longer figure out the appropriate steps to make a peanut butter sandwich, everyone who met her found her a pleasure and delight to talk with. What stands out most in my mind is that most people who are diagnosed with Alzheimer's Disease, especially the familial form, are dead within 7-8 years. The last time I saw her she was still considered to be in the early-mid stage of the disease and she had had the diagnosis for 15 years. She KNEW she had the disease, she talked about the diagnosis and what it meant openly, she participated in putting her affairs in order, and she lived her life to the fullest because she knew she was supposed to die from it and didn't really know how much time she had left.

Ironically, I think her family's choice to live as well as possible with the prospect of her death was the reason why she was having a longer and more functional than average (at least for Alzheimer' Disease) kind of life. We all could stand to benefit from that.

Monday, May 07, 2007

Flower Essence Aromatherapy and Paul's Aching Back

The other day my partner Paul hurt his back. He was bending over in our garden with his camera trying to get a picture of the bees hanging out in our poppies and was tensing up because those darn bees just never hold still. Pressing on, like the committed photographer he tends to be, he carried on through the pain and then laid himself up pretty good.

I was guided to try one of my flower essence/aromatherapy formulas. Flower essences are an offshoot of homeopathy. They have no smell and work by encouraging the body/psyche to bring forward whatever quality of healing a person needs next. They're 100% organic and I add them to organic essential oils and jojoba to capitalize on their healing effects. I then channel Reiki into every one. In this case, I was guided to use the blend I call Releasing Worry and Fear.

When people are in pain or going through any kind of physical or emotional crisis, they tend to generate a lot of fear: "Oh no, what have I done?! This hurts so much! Will I never get well? Is there something really serious going on?" and on it goes while the body tenses up and increases the painful contractions of muscle fiber even more. I put a few dabs of my Releasing Worry and Fear on the skin directly where it hurt and in less than a minute Paul let out a sigh of relief and said "That feels so much better!" I didn't do massage and had only just begun to add my own energy healing into the mix. I didn't have to. But, I keep thinking, what if someone did have a massage or other therapeutic bodywork practice? Just imagine what that could do!