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.
I never use a comb. I haven't used one since I was about 11!
As a family, we lived in a new two level home that my Dad was able to afford with his GI loan. Bedrooms were on the second floor while the recreation room, and laundry were in the basement, while the kitchen, dining area and living room were on the first level.
My bedroom was close to the bathroom and next to my parents' room. My sister's smaller room was the first up the stairs and on the other side of my parents' room.
My Dad was always first in the bathroom during the week. He had the challenge of walking to the train, then riding the train to work. One day, he came bursting into my room scaring me to death. He was screaming that he couldn't find his comb. I don't know what was the final result of this explosion, if he found his comb or not.
I do know that after that incident, I have never used a comb. That is not the complete effect. I still get excited and upset if someone accuses me of something I didn't do. Now, as then, I simply don't respond. I am learning not to even get riled inside. That is a great achievement!
His name was Chi. Chi in Chinese means the energy of life. My understanding of this was incomplete. Once, on a test, a question asked: what has Chi? I didn't get the answer. I thought Chi was restricted to humans and animals. A rock was dead. Modern physics reveals that even a rock has Chi.
Everything is alive. And we are part of it.
I've lived all over the world, but the buggiest place has been Florida. Ants. Roaches. Blue-flies. All other sorts of creepy crawlies. I mostly use pure essential oils to repulse them. My latest for the roaches is white vinegar, water and peppermint. This doesn't kill the bugs, it just disgusts them and they go away; I have to apply it often, unlike poisonous alternatives. I have cats and don't want to spread poisons around.
When I moved into my current apartment, I didn't have a bed. The efficiency I rented had a fold up futon couch that the landlord let me use. It served me well for years, until one day, a bed bug crawled across my shoulder. It freaked me out and turned my life into a month long nightmare.
I had to throw out the bed and purchase Bed Bug Bully to spray everywhere. I'd get up in the middle of the night to inspect everything and spray, spray, spray. OMG! I didn't expect to ever be rid of these blood suckers. But finally, they were gone.
I had attended a community Chamber of Commerce meeting where a bed bud specialist gave us a lecture on the problem. Seems there is an epidemic of these pests and getting rid of them is quite the challenge. NYC, I'm told, has also experienced this invasion.
Once I thought only dirty places get these pests. Not so. I don't know where they come from, how they proliferate, and how they get into your house. I am only glad that since I have gotten rid of them, I haven't seen any. Aside from my essential oil applications, my furbabies manage to catch anything that moves. They earn their keep!