I get up at 4:30 am every day. Why? Because I am teaching amazing Chinese children online and there is a 13 hour difference. So when it is 6:00 am here, it is 6 pm there. I get up, make my bed, clean the litter box and put food down for my two indoor cats, and my visiting cat. Then, I go to the store for my morning coffee. I know that that is an expense, and it is probably a left over habit from NYC days, but, it is one of my few pleasures and it is an excuse to get out of the house.
I take my coffee and call the cats: PussPuss, Tiger, Pompom and Kitty. They know what time it is! They are creatures of habit. They all show up. I pet them all, greet them good morning and give each a snip of catnip. OMG! They love it! They lick it up, roll around in it and lie upside down in catnip heaven.
I love doing this. While I drink my coffee, watch these cats and look up at the morning sky, I am at peace. The world seems to be in order.
I remember sitting in the tub at home, surrounded by my own filth and thinking, how can taking a bath be right? I decided that showers would be better.
Until I went to Japan. My dream is to have a Japanese bath again before I pass over. Let me explain. The bathroom is separate from the toilet. It is in its own tiled room, that has a faucet to wash off before stepping into the tub. You fill this tub up once a week and heat it before getting in, clean of course. So, you don't waste or dirty up the water. You learn to submerge yourself in water hot enough to cook a lobster. Get in...and relax! You don't need anything else to relax after one of these soaks. Your whole body gives up tension. You go to bed relaxed and sleep, really sleep.
I will never take a dirty bath ever again. Showers are not my favorite thing, but...Long showers waste water, dry out your skin and are not the best way to get clean. They certainly do not relax you like a Japanese bath. I hope one day to build one in my own home, or to find one I can enjoy on a regular basis without going back to Japan.
Shoes. Just shoes. I always had maybe two pair of shoes a year, and they were for indoor and outdoor. I can't remember any slippers. To this day, I don't have slippers, but I do have flip flops for outside.
I love being bare foot, walking in the house that way and walking on the grass to the post office. I don't like shoes. But, I've come to appreciate them. The outdoor platform shoes that I had in Japan were very comfortable. Barefoot inside, and special slippers for the toilet. So, shoes for different rooms which had different functions. You can almost always tell an oriental house because outside shoes pile up and stay outside.
This shoe behavior establishes a routine that allows for maintaining a clean house.
To this day, I remove my outside shoes leaving them at the door and then walk barefoot. I maintain a lot of space. Also an inherited habit. I'll get more into that, space, in another blog.
I was living in Japan in 1972. I was in a small farming village outside of Tokyo. I had a nice little apartment not far from our after school office. It was a delight to pick up fresh flowers every Friday for myself and my landlady. It was such a safe neighborhood that I never had to lock my door. Coming from New Brunswick, NJ, this was quite an improvement. My neighborhood in NJ near the college, was very unsafe, with robberies a constant.
One day, there was a commotion outside my door. It was early in the morning and I had no idea what was going on. I opened the door and just below the stairs, the landlady and the garbage man were having a lively discussion, and from what I could tell, about me. I didn't know Japanese, but it became clear what the upset was all about. I hadn't separated my garbage. Coming from the States, at that time, we didn't do recycling or separating our garbage.
So, I was shown how to separate my garbage, and had to apologize to the garbage man for having disturbed his routine. What a lesson! To this day, I can visualize the whole thing. I can't imagine this ever happening here in the States. We now have recycling and separation of types of garbage. We still don't have this kind of respect for people's job, or for people who may be considered of a lower status. The Japanese are unique in the world: the way they look at life and the solutions they find for life's situations.
Chemicals and pharmaceuticals are great! They are so effective and efficient. They are also convenient. But...
I have recently relied more on pure essential oils, and herbs. Let me be specific.
1. Mickey and Mallory, my two cats caught fleas from Mishu, the indoor outdoor cat. Then, they got worms from biting themselves. Horrible. I've given them the expensive wormer before. I didn't have enough money to invest in this. Thankfully, I turned to the internet and began a search. I found an herbal mix that is ever so much cheaper with promises that it will get rid of the worms and also repair the harm the chemical wormer had done. At first I thought it didn't work. It has, however, and now they are worm free. I don't know how their insides are, but they seem to be ok.
2. I've had some unwelcome visitors from my neighbor: cockroaches. I don't eat or cook meat so roaches don't really like my apartment, but they still come in. I found a nice mixture: in a spray bottle, mix half white vinegar with half water and peppermint pure essential oil. I spray this on the kitchen counter tops and it repels the roaches. It doesn't kill them, rather repels them. Because it is natural, and not a strong poison, I have to apply it often. The roaches really don't like it and fewer and fewer of them visit.
3. Working on the computer for hours seems to have affected my eyes, along with the fact that my eyes have gotten old along with the rest of me. So, I have dry eyes. Recently, I have learned about blue lenses to deflect affects of the computer. I will get them. In the meanwhile, I have been suffering from dry eyes and cataracts. The eye doctor recommended eye drops. I also found eye drops that help cataracts that worked so well the doctors found my cataracts to be small enough that laser surgery would not be covered by insurance. This was annoying. I found a protocol with exercises and herbs. I am a bit lazy and have only periodically done the exercises. I have been using the herbs. Making your own formula may be inconvenient, but the rewards are there. The formula has been more effective and provides more relief than the eye drops.
4. Lastly, I want to mention Dr Cabeca, a woman's doctor. Many women suffer vaginal dryness, I was one. I say was because Dr Cabeca has developed a cream which rejuvenates the tissues and restores the vaginal function. I developed this condition after radiation for my uterine cancer. I had been using a cream, yet, my condition worsened. The only alternative that was offered was a laser treatment that was available with a few doctors here in the States. I can't say that her cream is organic, but it is promoted as natural. It has indeed helped me. I am so grateful.
I have many other natural and organic items that I use, like soap, an acupuncture mat, organic food and so on. I really don't want to go into them all here. I only want to offer the suggestion that there are alternatives to chemical products. And they are available and can be found with a little research. This requires some effort. That effort is worth it. The easy solution chemicals offer are good to an extent. They do create a habit though of being satisfied superficially and avoiding making efforts for our own benefit.
I can't call myself an addict. I don't know what that means. I do know that I have chosen dangerous and unproductive behaviors to cope with stressful situations, like smoking cigarettes.
When I was a teenager, I used to go with my best friend to be her cover, her excuse, while she met with her forbidden boyfriend. We would go to the movies where she'd meet him. Part of the ritual was to smoke in the ladies room. I can still see the smoke filled room where all the girls were smoking just to be cool. I actually started there, but mostly I would take a few cigarettes from my boyfriend when we were together.
I tried all kinds of cigarettes from different countries when I was commuting to the university. The train station had quite a variety. Cigarettes from France, Galloises, were my favorites. They did help pass the time waiting for the train. They also were a stimulant that helped to keep you awake pulling an all-nighter for an exam.
Actually, the government and even doctors recommended the benefits of cigarette smoking for combat soldiers. I think cigarettes were supplied to the men, just to keep them going. All that until it was revealed how damaging smoking actually is. I can understand that if you were in imminent danger of dying, a little pleasure from a cigarette is not so bad in the balance.
So, unfortunately, I developed the habit of having a cigarette to stimulate me, pleasure me and generally fill the time. The unfortunate part is that cigarettes are addicting. Even if the main reason for smoking is no longer valid, you can get hooked. I didn't understand what that meant until I asked for clarification from an acupuncturist. I learned that smoking is as addictive as heroine, and quitting it is just as troublesome.
Throughout the years, I have quit then started again, then quit once more. Most recently, I found myself in its clutches yet again. I tried everything. Lozenges. Fasting. Chinese seeds. Chinese ear magnets. Nothing helped. I was caught. I'd last half a day and then I had to run to the store for my fix.
I decided to invest in treatment. I was ashamed; I hadn't told my partner I had been smoking, though I am sure he knew. In any case, I was determined. My acupuncturist is a wonderful medical doctor, nutritionist and acupuncturist. She put me on a whole program, not just acupuncture. I had herbs, aromatherapy, exercises, and daily treatments for two weeks.
It's been over a month. It takes that long for starting a new behavior as well as quitting a bad one. I have gained a little weight, but...so what? Better fat than poisoning myself. I am not fat, just a few pounds heavier. My skin looks good. The horrible bags under my eyes have almost entirely disappeared. My pocket book looks great!
People so often justify this habit by saying that we all have to die anyway. Yes, we do, like it or not. That is not so much the point. We have to live well, not knowingly make our life miserable, even if the habit seems to be a pleasure. It isn't. After a while, the taste is ... well, terrible. I am, happy to say, I am now a non-smoker. I am rediscovering ways to deal better with my stress, to fill my time more productively and to celebrate life!
When Dad got his GI loan, we moved out of that 'squalor' of an apartment to our own newly constructed two story family home. The reward. I remember helping my father cultivate the back-yard, preparing the land and seeding grass. He must have done the front. We had lovely Kentucky grass that came up.
On one southern corner, I had a patch of tomatoes for a while, and on the northern corner I had some watermelon, which is another story.
I was somehow in charge of the garden, weeding and such. I did have some amazing irises one year.
Most of all, I wondered about this lawn. How ideas manifest! We were now the middle class, with my Dad as a professional for the American Government. That house, that lawn confirmed it. How Amercian! How Protestant Work Ethic! The evidence and support of the rewards and righteousness of hard work.
The American Dream. And Chinese dream, too: even own a square of American land.
This was not really what came to my mind. The garden of my Italian neighbors was so appealing. The first time I ever tasted a slimy grape was in their garden. They did make their own wine in the cellar; they used these grapes and dandelion flowers for home made wine. They had rows of vegetables. chicken coops and cherry trees.
The grandma was ....well...amazing. She rolled this heavy roller around the 'farm' to pat down the soil. I couldn't move this thing if I tried. But, once a year or so, she prepared the soil.
Their yard was so productive.
No one got divorced in the sixties. You made your bed and you had to lay in it...forever, or so it seemed. That was the day of the sleezey private eye who had to prove infidelity. I think that was one of the few acceptable grounds for divorce. Wife beating didn't count. Alcoholism and drug addiction didn't count. Nothing seemed to count except infidelity.
Everything had a consequence back then. Or so it seemed. Of course, there was arsenic, then, too. If you couldn't act openly, there were always other ways.
Catholics married for life. If you divorced, you couldn't be in the church. If you were an observant Jew, you could get a civil divorce, but you had to get a religious divorce, too. That meant going to a high rabbi and spitting in the shoe thing. That was the most shaming. The civil divorce was just a fight and an unfair, ugly one at that. At least for my family. Not only was divorce not done in general, it certainly wasn't done in the Jewish community.
You became unwelcome. It was like having a disease. Leprosy, maybe.
Now, what is it? One in every three marriages ends in divorce. Getting married is relatively easy. Having a no fault divorce is easy, too. If there are no kids and no property, just a civil separation will do.
This is not the case in Israel. In Israel, it is not so easy to marry. You have to provide proof that you are Jewish. Included in that is what group you come from. A Cohen cannot marry an Israelite. Maybe they are not as strict about this anymore. But a Jew cannot legally marry a non-Jew. If you want to be legally married, then you have to go to Greece. I think your marriage would then be recognized. In any case, getting married in Israel is not an easy thing to do. Getting divorced...that has to be even more complicated.
In Muslim countries, there are temporary marriages. I watched some program on that, and it is a legal fooling around arrangement. There are some financial benefits involved. It is not a forever match. Then again, there is legal polygamy, like the Mormons. We are actually supporting these multiple wives. The Brits are, too.
So, the consequences of any act are not so permanent any more. Acts are not so dire anymore. It's all rather confusing. All this redefinition of everything.
I have nothing against my doctor, clinic, or insurance. However, I feel like I am taking my chase there whenever I have to complete my 3 month check up. It is efficient and successful and routine. One week I give up some blood and some urine. The next week I see the doctor. Before I go into the room, I am weighed, then in the room my blood pressure is taken. Finally, the doc comes in and reads and interprets my data. I only take two prescriptions. For months now, all my data is satisfactory.
And when I have a chance, I go to see the acupuncturist. For me, she is my real doctor. She is an MD, a nutritionist, and an acupuncturist. My latest visit has been amazing. You see, I am an addict. I love cigarettes and have been hiding this horrible habit out of shame. I decided to finish with it.
Under treatment, I can see that I am able to reclaim my life. She doesn't just do acupuncture for the cessation of smoking, but she offers helpful suggestions, herbs, and other detoxing treatments. I have tried to get away from this addiction and not been successful. I see that I really needed a coach, someone who actually is invested in this process, someone I felt a connection to and could trust.
She is a tiny woman from Colombia. Her English is impeccable. She exudes confidence and serenity in her very walk. She truly inspires me.
Mother was going through something. Somehow I couldn't stand being at home. So, I ran away.
I never heard of kids running away from home. I just jumped out the door and headed north. No thinking at all. No plan. No money. No clothes.
I ran, then walked till I tired. It was getting dark. The sky was turning pink. I finally realized that I had no where to go. I turned back.
When I got home, I got the beating of my life. Not like television where the adults were/are portrayed as excited, lovingly welcoming the child. My Dad bounced me off the four walls of my room.
This started my journey.
Writing and art are my passions!