Rethinking your ‘weaknesses’….

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As a naturopath you can feel a lot of pressure to be healthy and full of go all the time. If you aren’t bounding around with endless energy and happiness people might think you’re a bit of a fraud. Surely, if you were good at your job you’d be applying all that knowledge to yourself to live like Peter Pan, never ageing, forever.

Really ? Is that truly what people think ?

For the last few months I have been dealing with some health issues which are taking a little while to sort out. I was trying to treat myself and unsurprisingly, wasn’t totally successful  – it took me a while to accept that sometimes you need an objective, fresh set of eyes looking at what’s going on. I took myself off to see an integrative GP which was an expensive exercise in frustration that left me feeling flat. I continued to look after myself but I just wasn’t getting the results I wanted. After a couple of months of searching I was able to track down a very knowledgeable and approachable specialist (yes, they do exist) and we are working together to sort this stuff out.

When I first went to see her I had a strong sense of failure in myself. I felt like I was flying the white flag of defeat. I came out with a sense of hope, some new information and a plan of attack. I felt that someone was finally taking me seriously and was interested in helping me find some answers.

During this appointment I explained the treatment plan I had formulated to support myself and how frustrated I was at not being able to get the results I wanted. I was feeling like a big fat naturopathic failure until she said to me “If you hadn’t been doing these things you would have been in hospital long ago”.  Suddenly I was rethinking everything.

I had been doubting myself, my skills and my clinical abilities. I had been feeling like a failure because I didn’t have all the answers. That’s crazy – no one has all the answers. The best we can do as health workers is to take our clients issues seriously and be genuinely caring and committed to doing our best for them. I had forgotten all the people I have been able to help and was focused on what I saw as my weaknesses. Why are we so damn hard on ourselves ?

I saw a lovely friend/client the other day. We were chatting briefly about my recent health issues because there were some similarities to her own. She said to me that knowing this about me made me more relatable. It helped her feel that I actually understood what was happening for her. It made her feel less alone and more believed. It made her feel that I understood her frustration at having to search high and low for someone to take you seriously.

So here I was, feeling like a failure and a fraud and there was she thinking how good it was to be understood by someone who had experienced what she was going through. Now that’s a good reminder to rethink your ‘weaknesses’….

 

 

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Ho, Ho, Ho

merry christmas

Well this week has been an eye opener for me.

I have seen people deeply grateful for a fancy lunch at a restaurant which offers free food and presents as a grand gesture of Christmas community cheer. I have eaten yummy food and played with my gorgeous one year old niece who has single handedly bought back all the ooh and ahhh of Christmas again. There’s nothing quite like a baby to make you smile especially when she is babbling away and playing with her new toys.

I have seen a family benefit from a donation of toys and other goodies from a dear friend of mine. It’s incredibly heart warming to see complete strangers impacting in such a lovely way on each others lives.
I have said cheerio to clients till next year and watched them walk off with their arms loaded up with herbal medicines knowing that no amount of naturopathy is going to negate all the pudding they are going to eat ha ha ha.

I have spent hours in various supermarkets and fruit shops stocking up the pantry for the big day. I have listened to people get cranky and yell at their children. I’ve heard them threaten to call Santa and tell him to not bring the presents. I have seen people getting pushy and frustrated and not very cheery at all. To those people I say ” Bah Humbug!” and I also say that if the shops are trying your patience imagine how it feels when you are three years old.  So just stop buying into the hype and be gentle with the little souls entrusted to you.

I have been busy playing with my baby chickens, cleaning the house, planning the food and wrapping the presents.

I have been feeling hugely grateful for the fact that I can afford to do this and that I have a beautiful family to share it all with.

I hope you all have a lovely Christmas.

 

Keeping the faith …

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It’s easy to feel jaded sometimes. Christmas consumerism runs rampant, the shops are crazed with glitz and spending, everyone is feeling the effects of a long year and the parties just keep on coming.

I must admit that I have been starting to feel pretty tired and a bit overwhelmed by lots of stuff. The idea of a couple of weeks of down time appeals to me in a big way. I’m looking forward to books, swims, a road trip with my husband and dear friend Melissa, time with my family, trips to the library, helping my daughter nest into her new home, gardening and getting to know my new baby chickens Dorothy and Helen.

Life can feel very tiring sometimes so it’s good to know that just when you need it something comes along to keep you going…..

The last 48 hours have been a bit of a heart lifter. We spent a lovely afternoon yesterday celebrating the first birthday of our ‘yummy enough to eat’ niece. Watching her crawl around on my daughters lap with her little wobbly legs and gummy grin made me smile from ear to ear. A gorgeous woman at the party said she had bought a few things with her to donate to the charities and organisations that my daughter and I collect for … an amazing boot load of lovely clothes and toiletries filled my car. Then came an offer of a cot and mattress which will come in handy for some mum’s we work with who are feeling the effects of unemployment and limited opportunities.

This morning a dear friend Lauren offered up a Play Station on FB, “yes please” I said for a family I had in mind. I just got a message from Lauren saying that she’d picked up some extra presents for the kids and had even wrapped something up for the Mum.

These wonderful acts of kindness and generosity fill me with hope and help me keep the faith.

It’s easy to feel overwhelmed by harsh governments, climate change, greed, consumerism, violence … but these kind offerings are the antidote we need to keep faith and to continue to believe that things will get better…. one small act at a time.

Physician health thy self …. Labrynthitis

 

take care

 

People often assume that when you work in health you don’t get sick…. not true !

This last week has been a huge challenge for me. I got a cold a couple of weeks ago and, because I’m good at giving other people herbs and tips to heal themselves but not so good at doing it for myself, what started as a cold ended up as viral labrynthitis.

Scary name huh ? Sounds like something from the middle ages but it’s actually more likely to be middle ear.

I woke up at 3am with the room spinning and feeling like I had downed a bottle of tequila although there was no preceding party (and I don’t drink alcohol so that rules the slammers out).

I felt utterly nauseas and no matter how gently I moved my head the room continue to whirl and spin and it stayed that way for a number of days. I lost my sense of depth perception so putting one foot in front of the other became a major achievement. It was, without a doubt, one of the most unpleasant things I have experienced and although I am not fully recovered I can stand up now and that’s a big improvement.

All the things I do through the day without really thinking about it – brushing my teeth, having a shower, walking to the letter box, cooking, gardening, reading – were suddenly beyond me and I have to say that I am really looking forward to getting back to some normality and independence.

It has reminded me once again to be grateful for the incredible gift we are given when we are born with good health. I am careful with my health – eat well, no smoking or drinking alcohol etc – but am pondering now how precarious wellness can be when you’re not paying attention.

There are lots of things that can impact our health – genetics, stress, disadvantage, what we are taught about wellness, how we eat and exercise, our attitude, acquired illnesses or injuries to name a few. I guess the take home message is “Be grateful for your body and health and treat it with respect”.

My husband, who volunteers for the Rural Fire Service was just called out to help at an accident involving a young girl who crashed her car into a tree. The emergency services are there right now trying to cut her out of the wreck of her car. I feel utterly heartbroken for what she must be going through right now.

I bet when she got up this morning she didn’t even imagine this could be in her realm of possibility. None of us do. So today I am going to be grateful that I am slowly but surely on the mend and make good choices that help my body heal so I can get back to living my life.

I hope this finds you well and happy and looking after yourself.

 

 

Are you afraid or aware ?

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I have just finished reading a great article where the writer was talking about her decision to approach her fears differently. Instead of saying “I’m afraid…” she is now saying “I’m aware.. ”  Small changes in words, big changes in intention.

It may seem like playing with semantics but it changes “I’m afraid of coming out to my family” to “I’m aware that my family may need some time to adjust and understand but ultimately they love me”. It changes “I’m afraid of making some changes in my life” to “I’m aware that in order to make changes I am going to have to make some commitments to myself”. It turns “I’m afraid of being alone” into “I’m aware that things can change and I am going to love and enjoy the people I care about while I can”. It takes you from a place of anticipating the bad stuff to living more consciously and in a more productive way.

In my work in a women’s health centre I hear it all the time… I’m afraid to leave my abusive partner, get off the drugs, come out to my family, admit that the abuse I suffered wasn’t my fault, change my living circumstances, take the steps I need to get better….. Insert your own brand of sadness and difficulty here. Perhaps this new approach combined with lots of support could turn some really difficult situations into an opportunity to get back on track.

How much more empowering is it to say “I’m aware that things could be better and these are the ways I’m going to go about changing things” rather than feeling stuck and scared. I know that it is not that simple but surely it’s a better place to start.

Granted, not everyone is dealing with such difficult issues but we all have things that hold us back and keep us from moving along in a self directed and productive way. I’m going to try it the next time I’m alone in the house at night !

What are you afraid / aware of ???

Being open to possibilities ….

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I was talking to my daughter this morning about the prospect of change and what it could mean for her. Maybe something new to study, perhaps a job in a different area, maybe some time for things other than university. It’s full of possibility and a bit exciting when you think about what could be.

I have had the great good fortune of being able to do what I love for quite a while now. It wasn’t always the case and of course we must adapt to what’s necessary sometimes, but don’t you think it’s worth considering what could be for you if you chose something different ? I have spent the last 20 years or so being with my children and it’s been a roller coaster ride of wonder that I would never swap for all the tea in China. Truth be told, it’s been the making of me and I will always be enormously grateful that they came to me.

The trio of lovelies are getting bigger now and the ways they need me are different. I have space to consider the sort of work that makes me feel fulfilled and allows me to offer my skills to their best advantage. I think I have found it. Yipee !

Apart from seeing clients in my NaturoCath mode I am now also working one day a week at a women’s and girl’s health centre in an area which is sadly rife with domestic violence, poverty, drug and alcohol issues. It also has a wealth of cultures and huge refugee population so I am on a steep learning curve in terms of cultural sensitivity. I am learning just how little I know !

I was a little worried about whether I would be able to help these women given that I have so little experience with these issues. I was worried that I would feel overwhelmed by the sadness and difficulties of their lives. I needn’t have worried. Sure, there are sad stories and women whose lives are beyond anything I can imagine surviving but there are also incredible stories of hope, resilience and great feats of mother love.

It brings to mind my daughters Amnesty International t-shirt which shows a rickety boat full of desperate people and says “How far would you go for your family?”. Now that I have met some of these women who have travelled far from their homes fleeing war and oppression I have a new respect. They are scrambling together a life, a community and a hope that they can now live peacefully and perhaps be able to provide something more for their children. What shines out from them, and what astounds me, is that they are incredibly grateful for this chance at a new life and their positivity in downright humbling.

So, I guess I am saying that it’s worth taking a chance. Try something new. You just never know where it may lead you. Be as brave as you can. And wish me luck…. this week I am going to the local girls high school to talk about sexually transmitted infections. I never thought I’d be doing that when I was studying to be a naturopath. Oh well, here goes…..

The benefits of change and renewal …

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It has been raining here for a week or so and I don’t mean a dainty sprinkle. It’s been bucketing down on and off and we even had a mighty thunder storm which dumped a bunch of hail on us essentially wrecking the garden.

I was feeling pretty bummed at the sight of my shredded vegetable gardens, especially the basil which was thriving and getting to the point where it was begging to be made into some seriously good pesto.

Due to the rain and my general feeling of despondency I hadn’t been into the garden for a week or so which is unheard of for me. It’s usually my happy place where I hang out to regain a little peace and feel the benefits of putting my hands in the earth.

Things are changing today ! I have decided to rally. I have ripped out all the battered plants (except for the basil which I am hoping will make a miraculous recovery ), dug in some cow poo and planted some seedlings – pak choy, red cabbage, lettuces, broccoli and parsley. I am hoping the rain settles long enough for them to dig in and thrive.

It has been a big week at my house with lots of change. Kids going to uni, work offers, trashed gardens and life in general. Sometimes it can feel a little overwhelming and change can feel unsettling. I am going to try to take a lesson from the garden – sometimes things can look a little trashed, they can seem messy and unproductive but when you step back and take a look it’s an opportunity to start again – to try something different or to do something old in a new way.

I have been watching my children embracing change and being really brave about so many things. Leaving school, going to new universities where you know no-one, facing demons, doing things that really scare them, persevering with difficult things…. they are amazing people.

So my aim for this week is to embrace the change and to be more like them. I know that it can take a while to get used to new ways but I am going to try to look at things in a positive way – to see the changes as possibilities rather than losses. Wish me luck ……

Walking the talk… kickstarting my health plan…

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It’s all very well for me to sprout on about all the things we should be doing for optimal health but it’s another thing to walk the talk.

At my house we have a great plant based diet, I go to the gym a few times a week and I try to look after my mental health by keeping an eye on the things I am grateful for and by valuing the people and relationships in my life.

However, it is easy to get stuck in a bit of a rut so I have decided to kick things along a bit and watch the benefits roll in.

Today I started off with a trip to the gym and then to the fruit shop. I bought enough fruit to make anyones palate sing and we are relying on the veges from our garden for this weeks goodness. I’m looking forward to some nutritionally dense smoothies and juices which are especially good in this hot, hot weather when you don’t really feel like eating. It’s going to be 45 degrees here tomorrow so staying hydrated is a priority.

My trip to the gym has become a bit routine so I have downloaded an app which promises to get me off the couch and running 5ks. Even though I feel reasonably fit it’s going to be good to do something different which pushes me along.

Home and starving… I have decided to make a daily smoothie of fruit, soy milk, water, ice, chia seed and Metagenics Thermo Phase Detox powder. This powder is like manna from heaven – full of lots of liver supporting ingredients, vitamins and minerals. It can also be used as a meal replacement if you are in a rush. Add to it all those super good for you fruits like blueberries, mango, berries and bananas for their antioxidant and vitamin punch.
I’m also including a daily dose of pineapple and papaya to ensure that my digestive enzymes are at a level needed to make the most of all this great food.

So why not join me in kickstarting your way to better health and get rid of some of those lurking toxic nasties at the same time. We invest so much time and money on how we look on the outside – for the price of a haircut you can be feeling great and looking good inside and out.

Here we are at the start of another new year….

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So here we are again at the start of another brand spanking, freshly brewed, hot off the press new year. I hope that 2012 was kind to you and that you are looking forward to some  wonderful times in the year ahead.

It’s around this time of year that the ‘R’ word starts getting bandied about ….. RESOLUTION.
I’m not a big fan of anything gimmicky like fad diets or new year resolutions. Things can start off with good intentions but often fall by the wayside leaving you feeling like a failure with lack of commitment. I’m more of a long term vision kind of girl and I think it’s the little decisions you make every day, not so much the grand statements once a year, that make the real difference.

I think it’s often better to reflect on what’s important to you, what you would like to change or what you want to improve. The start of a new year can remind us to think about how we want to spend our time and who we want to spend it with. Planning ahead gives us focus and hones our intention. It’s the start of a framework for greater achievement or maybe a slowing of the pace. Whatever your hopes for the new year I hope they include making some good long term choices for your happiness and wellbeing.

During this holiday time I think it’s valuable to not only look ahead but also to be thankful and aware of what we have already – for me it’s health, family, food and water, a lovely homely home, friends to be with and work which feels purposeful and in alignment with my beliefs.

We don’t always know what is coming our way and even the best laid plans can be subject to forces beyond our control but being grateful is surely a good path to follow no matter where life is taking you.

My wish for you, and all of us, is for good health, clean food and water, shelter that protects you and feels like a haven, friends and family to love, something to feel passionate about and a thriving vege patch.

Thank you for being part of this community of like minded souls.

Taking the stigma out of asking for help …

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Why do we find it so difficult to ask for help ? Why is this such a stumbling block for so many of us ? It’s ironic that the people who find it hard to ask for help are often the type of people who care deeply about the welfare of others. Other people seem to have been raised on a diet of “pulling yourself up by your bootstraps ” or being praised since they were small children for every act of independence. It is obviously a good thing to encourage children to do things for themselves but we need to balance that with the notion that there is no shame in asking for help when it’s beyond their ability.

It seems that we are becoming more and more focused on valuing the virtues of self reliance and autonomy. In good times these are great things but there may come a time when another kind of strength is more valuable. It takes courage, insight and a depth of self knowledge to know when it is time to accept the care of another.

If you knew someone was distressed, in trouble or in need of help wouldn’t you want to step up and help ? How many times have you said to someone in a difficult situation “why didn’t you come to me?” . It is important to try to remember that in allowing someone to help you provide them with a gift too. You give them the opportunity to show empathy and compassion, to express their humanity in a productive and helpful way. You allow them to share the burden and give them permission to ask for help when they need it. Allowing someone to be a trusted dependable friend and support is an honour worth bestowing. True friends or honestly caring professionals are honoured to help lighten your load.

Lena Horne said “It’s not the load that breaks you down; it’s the way you carry it.” Letting someone help you carry the load for a while is no sign of weakness.

I often say to my clients who are dealing with tough times that the tears, exhaustion and sadness are not weakness or a sign of failure – they are simply signs that you have been brave, strong and trying hard for way too long. Struggling alone leaves you with no other choice than to grow less able to cope, taking the step to ask for some support is not only brave but smart.

If you, or someone you know could do with some help call me today on 02 45677104 or email info@naturocath.com.au