Category Archives: Family
Last Wednesday our good friend, Casey surprised us with a pair of tickets to the pre-broadway engagement of The Velocity of Autumn, starring Academy Award winner, Estelle Parsons and two-time Tony Award winner, Stephen Spinella. Written by Eric Coble and directed by the all-amazing Molly Smith of Arena Stage, this play of two on-stage characters takes you into the aging and glowingly lonesome life of Alexandra and her gay son, Christopher.
The entire play takes place in Alexandra’s Brooklyn brownstone living room, filled with arsenal of molotov cocktails and a woman with her husband’s Zippo lighter who’s on the edge of blowing up the entire block in a painfully desperate attempt to stay in her home. Her estranged son, Christopher lives in New Mexico and returns to New York City, reluctantly becomes the family negotiator between his exhausted and seemingly volatile mother and his siblings. This beautiful play is a compelling story of what seems like a long-lost mother-son relationship, whom both have more in common than they realize. The audience are provided with the opportunity to witness the living room ping-pong match of extremely funny dialogue as well as deeply touching moments, as these mother and son characters re-discover their bond and love through unconventional ways.
The splendor of any good play, is being able to relate, sympathize, and empathize. In the ever-increasing velocity of a me world, do we pause in our life to think about the ins and outs of our relationships with our family members, especially those who are aging? When we seem to grow distant from family members (and long-time friends for that matter) through differences in our lives, beliefs, and understandings – do we embrace and nurture the bonds we once had to begin with, or do reconcile such distance, being that too much time has passed in placing little or any effort into trying to rebuild what once was?
I’ve often asked myself those same questions about the relationship between me and my 81 year-old grandmother. Though we weren’t entirely close when I was younger, there was still a profound bond between the both of us. As I grew up, we both became distant to a degree, and after father passed away – we re-connected our relationship and have continued to nurture it since then. Perhaps we needed each other the most as she began to grieve the loss of her first-born son and I began to grieve the loss of my father. In many ways we are alike, and in many more ways we are very different in “where we’ve been” and what we believe. Yet though the beauty and mystery of the family bond, we depend on each other in many special ways. I interpret that this is very similar for Alexandra and Christopher – though years of separation have passed, they have reached a point in their lives where they need and depend on each other.
The Velocity of Autumn is playing through October 20, 2013 at Arena Stage at the Mead Center for American Theater’s Kreeger Auditorium. If you’re a DC local, I highly recommend that you enjoy this great theatre production!
I can’t believe that tomorrow begins the month of October. The countdown to Halloween is officially here! For me, Halloween is such a fun season to use creativity and imagination with everything from costumes to food, decorations, and more. When most stores are overstocked with the same old, boring, commercial “Made in China” Halloween decor…using one’s creativity is essential.
Fortunately I have a fiancé who loves Halloween just as much as I do, maybe even a little more. Last week he came up with the brilliant idea of reusing some mason jars with some of our existing arsenal of craft supplies to make these adorably cute mason jar jack-o’-lanterns! So I wanted to share this with all of my readers so you can join in on the fun too! It really doesn’t get more easy to make and most of the supplies you probably already have.
- Mason jar
- Elmer’s glue
- Orange tissue paper
- Black construction paper
- Green ribbon
- Tealight candle
- Cut strips of orange tissue paper and lightly glue them vertically to the outside of your mason jar.
- With a pencil, draw eyes, a nose, and mouth on the black construction paper and cut them out. Great jack-o’-lantern face patterns are available for free downloaded on the internet if you need some added inspiration.
- Glue the face cutouts to the outside of the mason jar.
- Wrap the green ribbon around the mouth of the mason jar and tie a bow for extra cuteness. You could also add some crafty extras like fake vine, leaves, etc. if you like.
- Slightly fill the bottom of the mason jar with rice and put a lit tealight down in the center.
Voila! Now you have yourself a cute, little mason jar jack-o’-lantern!
Who loves piggies? I do! Who doesn’t love piggies? Not that I hold one animal greater (or more cute) than another, but pigs played an instrumental part in my conversion to a vegan lifestyle. Pigs are often times mistaken as being dirty, mud loving animals – but they’re so much more than the common myths and misconceptions. They’re incredibly smart, remarkably clean, and more like you and I than we realize! Once you fall in love with pigs, there’s no turning back. So I wanted to dedicate an entire special post solely to pigs: because they truly deserve it! Here’s the Top Ten Fascinating Facts About Pigs written by the folks at PETA. Oink! Oink!
- Pigs snuggle close to one another and prefer to sleep nose to nose. They dream, much as humans do. In their natural surroundings, pigs spend hours playing, sunbathing, and exploring. People who run animal sanctuaries for farmed animals often report that pigs, like humans, enjoy listening to music, playing with soccer balls, and getting massages.
- Pigs communicate constantly with one another; more than 20 vocalizations have been identified that pigs use in different situations, from wooing mates to saying, “I’m hungry!”
- Newborn piglets learn to run to their mothers’ voices and to recognize their own names. Mother pigs sing to their young while nursing.
- According to Professor Donald Broom of the Cambridge University Veterinary School, “[Pigs] have the cognitive ability to be quite sophisticated. Even more so than dogs and certainly [more so than human] 3-year-olds.”
- Pigs appear to have a good sense of direction and have found their way home over great distances. Adult pigs can run at speeds of up to 11 miles an hour.
- Professor Stanley Curtis of Penn State University has found that pigs can play joystick-controlled video games and are “capable of abstract representation.” Dr. Curtis believes that “there is much more going on in terms of thinking and observing by these pigs than we would ever have guessed.”
- Pigs do not “eat like pigs” or “pig out.” They prefer to eat slowly and savor their food.
- Suzanne Held, who studies the cognitive abilities of farmed animals at the University of Bristol’s Centre of Behavioural Biology, says that pigs are “really good at remembering where food is located, because in their natural environment food is patchily distributed and it pays to revisit profitable food patches.”
- Pigs are clean animals. If given sufficient space, they will be careful not to soil the area where they sleep or eat. Pigs don’t “sweat like pigs”; they are actually unable to sweat. They like to bathe in water or mud to keep cool, and they actually prefer water to mud. One woman developed a shower for her pigs, and they learned to turn it on and off by themselves.
- In his book The Whole Hog, biologist and Johannesburg Zoo director Lyall Watson writes, “I know of no other animals [who] are more consistently curious, more willing to explore new experiences, more ready to meet the world with open mouthed enthusiasm. Pigs, I have discovered, are incurable optimists and get a big kick out of just being.”
Last week Gracie (our labrador retriever mix) and I got an invitation from WTTG FOX 5’s Annie Yu to join her live on the set of the FOX 5’s Morning News for a special “Pet Project” segment with animal communicator and psychic, Diane Roadcap. Gracie is an avid lover of everything water related…except baths! She loves swimming and playing in the ocean, rivers, and creeks…but will do whatever it takes to avoid a bath. Paul and I have always wondered why this is the case, so we gladly accepted the invitation in hopes that Diane could give us some insight as to Gracie’s thoughts and feelings. Amanda Marie Bowen and her 2-year old deaf Great Dane, Luna were also invited on the show. Of course some are probably skeptical about a pet psychic or any psychic for that matter…but I believe Diane had an amazing connection with Gracie, and I bet the same could be said by Amanda (the other segment guest) who brought Luna to have a reading as well.
Diane Roadcap’s website says, “As a child, Diane recognized that she had a deep spiritual connection with animals. Playing with a variety of animals in the wooded areas around her home outside of Washington, DC, she discovered that she could connect with them at a soul level. This connection was confirmed at age five when her dog Blackie telepathically warned her that a poisonous snake was dangerously close to biting her. She heeded his warning and slowly backed away before it could attack her. She continued to receive communications from animals and discovered that she could easily read their needs and wants, humor and insights, aches and ailments.”
While we were still in the green room, Diane already began reading our pets as well as Amanda and her family. She knew that Gracie had a smaller, older K9 companion at home which would describe our 11-year-old Miniature Schnauzer, Tabatha. She also mentioned another light-colored labrador which had passed away…of course I knew this was Heidi, a beautiful labrador who passed away when I was around 3-years old. “She wants you to know she’s standing next to you”, Diane exclaimed. I could have fallen out of my chair! She went very into depth reading Amanda, her family, Luna, and their pets at home which I won’t go into detail, as it’s not my place to tell about that very special moment.
Do you believe in psychics? As far back as I can remember, I have had ongoing contact and communication with human spirits who have passed away…family and strangers alike. To my knowledge, there’s nobody in my family who has this “gift.” Though the information given to me is often vague, it is something I’ve gotten used to and experience daily. So it makes perfect sense to me that people have an ability and “gift” to fully communicate with pets, both passed and living. But at the end of the day, we will believe what we know as truth and dismiss that which we don’t. For me, I believe!
Besides learning that Gracie doesn’t like to be in a confined areas…she’s a very happy dog. “She wouldn’t change a thing. She loves people…the more people she’s around, the more she loves life”, Diane affirmed.
Below is a video from the segment. Check it out!
As a massage therapist, I’ve used a variety of essential oils over the years with my clients as well as for myself. Essential oils, also called “essences”, are botanical extracts of various plant materials, and do not only originate from flowers, but from herbs, trees and various other plant material. Essential oils are used in a variety of ways, including the more common aromatherapy method (where the oil is absorbed through the skin) or vaporization (where the essential oil molecules enter the bloodstream via the lungs). However, essential oils are also used medicinally by treating a problematic are (topically) or even taken internally. I use essential oils in all of my massage oil mixtures, formulating the perfect combination for each individual client.
Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia) has a fresh, sweet, floral, herbaceous aroma that is soothing and refreshing. It is by far my favorite essential oil to use. Because it is the most versatile of all essential oils, no home should be without it. Lavender is an adaptogen, and can help the body when adapting to stress or imbalances. It is a great aid for relaxing and winding down before bedtime, yet has balancing properties that can also boost stamina and energy. Therapeutic-grade lavender is highly regarded for skin and beauty. It may also be used to soothe and cleanse common cuts, bruises, and skin irritations. The French scientist René Gattefossé was among the first to discover these properties when he was severely burned in a laboratory explosion. Lavender may also be used to enhance the flavor of foods.
Here’s 15 ways to use lavender essential oil to make your life more calm, balanced, and healthy!
- Aching Muscles
If you’ve spent a back-breaking afternoon in the garden, jump into a lavender bath to soothe aches & pains away. Apply Epsom salts & a few drops of lavender oil to the bath and soak away the tension.
Lavender is one of the most valuable oils for the treatment of acne, according to aromatherapists. “It inhibits the bacteria that cause the skin infection, helps to rebalance the over-secretion of sebum, which the bacteria thrive on, and reduce scarring”. Add a few drops of lavender oil to a plain cream sold by chemists and use as a moisturizer or cleanser.
- Bugs & Bacteria
French laboratory studies in the early 20th century showed that lavender is a powerful antibacterial in dilutions of 5 per cent or less it is lethal to bacteria that cause typhoid, TB & diphtheria. Combined with Lemon Balm, for its clinically tested anti-viral properties.
- Burns (minor)
After you have cooled the area by immersing it in running cold water for 5 minutes, gently stroke on neat lavender oil. Pain relief is almost immediate, and burn usually heals without scarring.
- Cuts & Wounds
Apply lavender oil to sooth pain, prevent bacterial infection and aid scar-free healing. Apply neat.
Warm a bottle of lavender oil in hot water for a minute or two, then gently massage a few drops into the skin around the ears and throat. For babies & small children, add 2-3 drops of the warmed oil to a little olive oil and massage in the same way.
Stroke infused lavender oil (a few drops of lavender oil & carrier oil) into dry, itchy skin – small children will find this especially comforting or add a few drops of lavender oil to calamine lotion, just remember to shake before use.
Add 5 drops of lavender oil to a hot foot bath and relax while your feet soak in it. The soles of the feet are particularly porous, so lavender reaches your bloodstream very quickly, exerting its stimulating and soothing effects on various systems of your body.
For babies or small children, sponge them down very gently with tepid water to which you have added a drop of lavender oil. Take care not to let them get chilled. This works for adults too.
- Giddy Spells, Faintness or Palpitations
Make your own smelling salts – sea salt , lavender oil, peppermint oil & basil oil.
Spray lavender mist (lavender oil and distilled water) around your head. It is highly refreshing and soothing. Alternatively, make a compress of a piece of cause or muslin soaked in icy cold water then sprinkled with a few drops of lavender oil and apply to the forehead, or massage a few drops into the forehead, temples and nape of the neck.
In a number of small studies, elderly psychiatric patients have been shown to sleep better and be more alert during the day when their sleep medication is replaced with lavender oil either dropped on their pillows, or placed in a diffuser on the ward. To help to induce sleep, put 3 or 4 drops of lavender oil on your pillow. For babies, add 1 drop of lavender oil & geranium oil in carrier oil and massage into a babies back or a few drops in their bedtime bath.
- Long-Haul Travel
Combine lavender, rosemary, frankincense & sage oils and rub into into your hand luggage. Also, be sure to roll it over your pulse points to help you keep a clear head during those endless hours in the air.
- Menstrual & Tummy Cramps
Massage a few drops of lavender oil into your lower abdomen or apply a hot compress onto the area, which a little lavender oil has been sprinkled.
- Moths & Mosquitoes
These annoying little insects all hate the smell of lavender. To prevent bites, splash yourself with lavender mist (lavender oil and distilled water) before you go out at sunset or to bed, put 3-4 drops of oil on your pillow or soak cotton ball in the oil and leave it on a saucer in front of the window. Lavender oil is also a terrific remedy for insect bites, soothing itching & inflammation: dab it on to them neat as soon as possible. To keep moths off your clothes, hand lavender bags on you coat hangers or keep them among your sweaters and refresh them with a drop or two of lavender oil from time to time.
This infestation by a tiny mite burrowing into your skin causes intense itching. Rub the whole body with neat lavender oil, then following every day until better with a mixture of lavender oil and alcohol. Change and wash bedding and clothes and sprinkle lavender oil on the mattress.
Combine a mix of lavender oil with, analgesic, antiviral & scar preventing essential oils neat or on compresses on the agonizing lesions of shingles. It usually produces a cure within 5-8 days.
Lavender is one of several essential oils that aromatherapists recommend for inhalations to relieve sinusitis, add two drops of lavender & thyme oil to a bowl of near-steaming water and inhale slowly and deeply, with a towel over your head & bowl.
- Stress & Anxiety
Keep a small spray bottle of lavender mist (lavender oil and distilled water) – handy to spray on your face during the day, or apply lavender oil neat to your temples.
Spray lavender mist (lavender oil and distilled water) directly onto the skin or Add 8 drops of lavender oil and 4 drops of peppermint oil to a teaspoon of jojoba oil. Pour it into a cool-to-lukewarm bath and soak for 10 minutes.
For most of us, a trip to the beach can best be described as relaxing and therapeutic. According to Trip Advisor’s 2013 Top 25 Destinations in the World, 14 locations are seaside and 20 locations are seaside or along a major waterway. There is no denying that we are balanced by water, whether that be an ocean, bay, river, or lake. But for many of us, when we think of the greatest relaxing vacation, we think of a tropical beach oasis. Destinations like Maui, Bora Bora, St. Lucia, Belize, and the Fiji Islands are just some of those popular names that come to mind when you think of aqua blue waters, reef life, warm sands, and tropical air.
Have you noticed an increase of saltwater marine aquariums in public locations? Perhaps you’ve seen them at a clinic, restaurant, hotel, spa, or maybe even a classroom? Aquarium Therapy is not new concept, but it is constantly studied and growing with high popularity!
Most people who watch a tank with fish will feel a calming effect, therefore reducing stress. At Purdue University, researchers discovered that displaying tanks with brightly colored fish helped to curtail disruptive behaviors and improve eating habits of people with Alzheimer’s Disease. It helps to boost physical and mental health. It was shown to help create bonding and a positive attitude. Studies have shown that seniors who were given the opportunity to view aquariums with fish had significant blood pressure reduction as well as cholesterol. Children, when visiting a doctor’s office, were found to be much calmer, especially children who suffered from hyperactivity disorders. Dental patients watching a fish tank required less pain medication. It also helps in reducing insomnia and persons coping with obesity. How awesome is this?
My fiancé and I have two saltwater marine aquariums filled with various fish, invertebrates, and corals. Contrary to popular belief, we find saltwater aquariums to be be more easy to maintain than freshwater…and not to mention more stunning, beautiful, and therapeutic. What I find so awesome about a saltwater marine aquarium (particularly a reef tank) is how organic the system is. When properly maintained; your aquarium becomes its own ecosystem. This is maintained through bacterias, diversity of species, live rock, live sand, etc. No unnatural chemicals are needed!
Another added benefit to aquariums are their incorporation into feng shui design. It is believed that moving water brings prosperity and good luck to a home or office. Aquariums are great feng shui enhancements because they are at the same time soothing and energizing. The sound and motion of gurgling water activates chi and adds humidity to a dry room, helping to balance chi. Moving water gets things going when the chi has been stagnant for a while (think of ice melting in the spring). Use moving water cures anywhere you want to enhance water or wood energy.
As amazing as this all is, any aquarium still requires learned knowledge, experience, time, money, and patience. After all, your marine life are all pets and should be treated with the proper respect and care that every pet has the right to. It is also very important to purchase and trade your marine life with reputable dealers and passionate and ethically driven marine enthusiasts. Marine life should never be harvested from the oceans!