Category Archives: Family

St. Francis of Assisi, Pray for Us

“Francis ‘Neath the Bitter Tree”, icon by William Hart McNichols ©
Available for purchase at http://www.fatherbill.org

Today, October 4th  we celebrate the feast day of Saint Francis of Assisi (1881/1882 – 1226).  St. Francis was a Catholic friar, preacher, and mystic.  He founded the men’s Order of Friars Minor, the women’s Order of St. Clare, and the Third Order of Saint Francis for men and women.  He’s known as the patron saint of animals, birds, and the environment, and unofficially a patron saint of the poor.  He is unarguably one of the most known and beloved saints of the Church.

Like so many others, I was drawn to the saintly life of Francis from a very young age.  His tender love for all of creation and the poorest of the poor was something that stood out to me.  For my Sacrament of Confirmation, I choose the name Francis and I had even thought about becoming a Franciscan at one point in my life.   Still to this day, Francis is a saint I look to for guidance, understanding, and inspiration in living my Christian life.  He played a profound role in my conversion to a vegan lifestyle and even this blog.  Over my desk where I do most of my work, hangs an icon of my favorite saint, which I reflect upon during my some of my daily prayers.

On his feast day one of the most common practices in the Church is the blessing of animals.  This is a beautiful gesture, but this is also a more than appropriate day to selflessly give of ourselves to others, our community, etc…and not just today, but everyday.  In 1995-96 I was a runaway youth on the streets of San Francisco.  In the chaos and turmoil of my young life I would somehow manage to attend daily mass at St. Boniface Church on Golden Gate Avenue in San Francisco’s tenderloin district.  This parish was/is run by Franciscan Friars and is known for serving the poor and marginalized of the city.  On many occasions I saw some of the most magnificent acts of love and charity by these Franciscans.

One memory so vividly stands out..,after afternoon mass the Friars would distribute food to those in need, in fact on many occasions I my tummy was comforted by some of their humble offerings.  I remember sitting across the street in a park next to the church when I saw an elderly homeless man who was obviously very ill attempt to walk up the sidewalk to reach the area where food was being distributed.  An elderly Franciscan glanced over and saw him, stopped what he was going and came to assist him.   The man was filthy, barefoot, and filled with open sores on his feet and legs.  The Friar assisted him up to a bucket which was turned upside down and eased the man in having a seat.  The Friar went back towards the church and returned moments later with a large cup of water and food.  As the man began to eat, the friar got onto his knees and gently poured water over his feet, massaging the filth off, and used his robe to slowly dry his feet.   He then slowly bent down and kissed each one of his feet.   I couldn’t believe what I was seeing.  I quickly looked around to see if anybody else was seeing what was happening, but nobody was.  The Friar then spoke to him some (and I was across the street and couldn’t hear what they were saying), but then the Friar took of his sandals and lovingly placed them on the man’s feet.   He let the man finish eating for about 10 minutes before helping him up, and helping him continue walking up to the church…the friar barefoot, and the homeless man in sandals.  It was like something we read about out of the gospels.  I was moved beyond words, and as I write this almost 20-years later, tears are falling down my cheeks like droplets of rain.

In a world still filled with so much pain, hunger, fear, neglect, hateful bigotry, deception, and vanity – faith, hope, and love are the medicines we need to give to all, without hesitations or reservations.  How blessed are we to have St. Francis who gave the entirety of his life to imitate Christ.  May we all be so inspired by Jesus and all of the holy men and women, such as Saint Francis, who have given all, to be all.  May we be inspired to live our lives in being generous messengers of hope, stewards of faith, and instruments of love.

Most high, almighty, and good Lord,
Yours is the praise, the glory, honor, blessing all.
To you, Most High, alone of right they do belong,
And no mortal man is fit to mention you.

Be praised, my Lord, of all your creature world,
And first of all Sir Brother Sun,
Who brings the day, and light you give to us through him,
And beautiful is he, agleam with mighty splendor:
Of you, Most High, he gives us indication.

Be praised, my Lord, through Sisters Moon and Stars:
In the heavens you have formed them,
bright and fair and precious.

Be praised, my Lord, through Brother Wind,
Through Air, and cloudy, clear, and every kind of Weather,
By whom you give your creatures sustenance.

Be praised, my Lord, through Sister Water,
For greatly useful, lowly, precious, chaste is she.

Be praised, my Lord, through Brother Fire,
Through whom you brighten up the night,
And fair he is, and gay, and vigorous, and strong.

Be praised, O Lord, through our sister Mother Earth,
For she sustains and guides our life,
And yields us diverse fruits, with colored flowers, and grass.

Be praised, my Lord, through those who pardon give for love of you, And bear infirmity and tribulation:
Blessed they who suffer it in peace,
For of you, Most High, they shall be crowned.

Be praised, my Lord, through our Brother Death of Body,
From whom no one among the living can escape.
Woe to those who in mortal sins will die;
Blessed those whom he will find in your most holy graces,
For the second death will do no harm to them.

Praise and bless my Lord, and thank him too,
And serve him all, in great humility.

Canticle of the Creatures or the Canticle of Brother Sun.  A poem written in stages by St. Francis of Assisi from the period of the summer of 1225 until his death on October 4, 1226

 

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The Velocity of Autumn

VelocityLast 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!

Mason Jar Jack-O’-Lanterns

Make your jack-o'-lantern as silly or scary as you like!

Make your jack-o’-lantern as silly or scary as you like!

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
  • Pencil
  • Scissors
  • Rice
  • Tealight candle
  1. Cut strips of orange tissue paper and lightly glue them vertically to the outside of your mason jar.
  2. 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.
  3. Glue the face cutouts to the outside of the mason jar.
  4. 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.
  5. 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!

10 Fascinating Facts About Pigs

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!

 

 

  1. 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.
  2. 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!”
  3. Newborn piglets learn to run to their mothers’ voices and to recognize their own names. Mother pigs sing to their young while nursing.
  4. 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.”
  5. 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.
  6. 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.”
  7. Pigs do not “eat like pigs” or “pig out.” They prefer to eat slowly and savor their food.
  8. 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.”
  9. 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.
  10. 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.”

Lions, and Tigers, and Bears…and Elephants too

The life of a Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey baby elephant.

For many, the idea of a family trip to the circus may be described as fun, adventurous, and entertaining.   For many, a family trip to the circus is a tradition of sorts…something that one grew up doing and has carried on the tradition within their own family.   Fortunately for me, the closest thing I ever saw to a circus when I was growing up was the trapeze acrobats performing at the Las Vegas Circus Circus hotel.  My dad was not fond of the circus, and it wasn’t until I grew up that I finally realized why.  In 2006 a friend of mine had free tickets to Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus at the Anaheim Pond in Southern California.   Little did I know this would be my first and last circus that involved animals.   Amidst all the fancy costumes, high-tech lighting, and special effects…were the quite clearly depressed, neglected, and miserable animals being forced to perform for the massive and very loud audience.  We wound up leaving about 40 minutes before the circus ended, as we I just couldn’t sit there and watch what I was witnessing.

After years of abuse, Tyke escaped from a circus, killing her ‘trainer’ before running out the door to get outside, then she was shot to death by police. She was shot nearly 100 times and it took two hours for her to die on the street.

How is this still allowed in the 21st century?   Money.   Money has everything to do with it.  circuses such as Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus (the largest and most profitable show of its kind in history) have a bulk of cash to fight allegations and charges, manipulate the law, and buy their way out of trouble.   They also try to deceive their consumers with such programs as the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Center for Elephant Conservation in hopes that it will take the pressure and eyes off their ongoing abuse toward elephants and other animals used and exploited in their shows.   Fortunately, countless animal rights advocacy groups as well as local & federal law enforcement agencies are cracking down on this ongoing problem, but it will remain a problem until we ban circuses from using and exploiting animals in their revenue making productions.

Here are 15 Reasons to Boycott the Circus provided by Florida Voices for Animals:

1. Government inspection reports reveal ongoing mistreatment of animals in circuses.  Because of continued abuse of circus elephants, there is a pending lawsuit against Ringling Bros. and Barnum and Bailey Circus.

2. Many people claim that circuses are conservation programs for endangered species (such as the Asian elephant).  However no circus animal has ever been released to the wild and the conservation claim is merely a way to justify the exploitation of animals for profit.

3. Sweden, Austria, Costa Rica, India, Finland and Singapore have all banned or restricted the use of animals in entertainment. However, the US lags behind.

4. Elephants are trained to perform unnatural acts by the use of a “bullhook”, which is a 2-3 foot long club or stick with a sharp metal hook attached to the top.  It is repeatedly used to beat, hit and poke the animals, often leaving permanent scars.  There are numerous undercover videos and testimony from past circus employees corroborating this information.


5. Heavy, metal, and short chains are used to confine circus elephants.  The elephants are chained by one front leg and one back leg, preventing them from laying down.  The chaining of elephants also prevents them from interacting with other elephants, which is a natural behavior for elephants as they are very social creatures.

6. Ringling Brothers typically transport the elephants from city to city by train, chained by one front foot and one back foot and unable to lay down.  They are also kept in cramped conditions for over eight hours without stopping for water.  They are trained for 11 months and the one month they are not being trained, they are still confined in horrid conditions.

7. Elephant transportation vehicles lack climate control and are forced to stand for hours in their own waste.  The are compacted into small spaces for days on end.

8. In the wild, elephants live in large, sociable herds and walk up to 25 miles every day.  In addition to the physical abuse of circus elephants, they are also deprived of their freedom to roam and engage in their instinctual behavior, which includes socializing with other elephants.

 9. Although minimum legal protections are provided in the Animal Welfare Act, the law does not provide adequate protection for circus animals.  Often a veterinarian isn’t even on site and local vets are not knowledgeable about the unique medical needs of exotic animals.  Circuses are frequently cited by the USDA, the agency responsible for enforcing the Animal Welfare Act, for failure to keep veterinary records, for providing moldy or rancid food and no water, for storing chemicals near the animals’ food supply, and for stocking expired medications.

10. Every major circus that uses animals has been cited for violating the Animal Welfare Act.  These circuses are almost always given a slap on the wrist and forced to pay a minimal fine.

11. Enforcement of the Animal Welfare Act is very difficult because the USDA, the agency responsible for enforcement, only has 100 inspectors to monitor conditions at approximately 12,000 facilities.

12. Although poaching is a problem in Africa, there are wildlife conservation parks that are constantly patrolled to ensure the safety of animals.  Elephant poaching has decreased since the highly enforced ban on the possession and sale of ivory.  In recent years, the elephant population has significantly increased due to conservation efforts.

13. Although circuses claim that they are a form of educating the public about elephants, there is no education in watching the exploitation of elephants that are cruelly trained to perform unnatural acts.  Circuses teach children that it is acceptable to exploit animals.  No research has been shown that attending circuses increases public concern about the status of an endangered species.

14. Elephants in the circus, regardless of how much they are “trained”, are still wild animals capable of and have a history of lashing out, escaping, and thus posing a risk to public safety.

15. Elephants in the circus often carry diseases such as tuberculosis (aka “TB”) and can infect humans with this disease.  Note that there is no cure for this disease in either elephants or humans.

The fact is, animals do not naturally ride bicycles, stand on their heads, balance on balls, jump through rings of fire, or piggy-back each other.  To force them to perform these confusing and physically uncomfortable tricks, trainers use whips, tight collars, muzzles, electric prods, bullhooks, and other painful tools of the trade.

Please do NOT support any animal circus.  Animal abuse is not entertainment.   Together we can make a difference.   Please visit the following links below for a list if animal-free circuses as well as a petition to demanding action to help ailing elephants.

List of Animal-Free Circuses (PETA) 

Take Action to Help Ailing Elephants (PETA)

When Pets Speak to Psychics

Gracie & Luna get a psychic pet reading on FOX 5's Morning News on August 19, 2013.

Gracie & Luna get a psychic pet reading on FOX 5’s Morning News on August 19, 2013.

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!

Essentially Lavender

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 herb and essential oil

Essential lavender oil can be used in countless ways.

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!

  1. 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.
  2. Acne
    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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. Cuts & Wounds
    Apply lavender oil to sooth pain, prevent bacterial infection and aid scar-free healing.  Apply neat.
  6. Earache
    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.
  7. Eczema
    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.
  8. Fatigue
    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.
  9. Fevers
    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.
  10. Giddy Spells, Faintness or Palpitations
    Make your own smelling salts – sea salt , lavender oil, peppermint oil & basil oil.
  11. Headache
    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.
  12. Insomnia
    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.
  13. 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.
  14. 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.
  15. 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.
  16. Scabie
    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.
  17. Shingles
    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.
  18. Sinusitis
    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.
  19. 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.
  20. Sunburn
    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.

Aquarium Therapy

photo 1 (10)

Our four reef fish! Six Line Wrasse (top left), Azure Damselfish (top right), Yellow Watchman Goby (bottom left), and Ocellaris Clownfish (bottom right).

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?

Our 29 gallon Coralife BioCube nano reef aquarium with a healthy diversity of fish, corals, and invertebrates.

Our 29 gallon Coralife BioCube nano reef aquarium with a healthy diversity of fish, corals, and invertebrates.

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!

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