Another Acupuncturist Endorses Bernie

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Politics are personal.  They have been immensely personal to me since I was 29.  That was when, in the last year of acupuncture school, I found out I had a neurological autoimmune condition called myasthenia gravis and a tumor in my chest.  I had a high-deductible Blue Shield plan at that time, since I really only went to the doctor once a year for a check-up and used herbs, food, and dance as my medicine.  The surgery to remove the tumor cost me, in addition to my monthly premiums, copays, and lab or radiology fees, over $6000.  Then, since the tumor was Stage II cancer, I needed 5 weeks of radiation, which also cost me over $6000 since that was in a different calendar year.  And of course, I couldn’t work during this time, both recovering from chest surgery where they sawed through my sternum, and getting radiation in another city is like a full-time job.  I lived rent-free that year, bouncing from my mom’s apartment, staying with my boyfriend, and finding house-sitting gigs.  Since my overhead was relatively low, I could focus on studying for my board exam to become an acupuncturist.  After going through all that, I felt like nothing could scare me, and certainly not the 5-hour acupuncture exam that felt like going through intense airport security into a massive room of jittery test-takers.  I passed and started working that fall as an acupuncturist and herbalist.

As an acupuncturist who has taken insurance over the years, I can honestly say that with each passing year, it becomes more of a headache to bill and get reimbursed.  This year, a middle-man organization called American Specialty Health came through Blue Shield.  This organization makes billing such a hassle and reimbursement so poor, I can no longer treat most Blue Shield patients.  I have a Blue Shield plan myself through Covered California and there are hardly any more acupuncture providers that will take my plan.  I basically stopped taking my own plan!  Talk about dissonance!!!!  Acupuncture isn’t covered by Medicare and Medi-Cal reimburses so little, around here, only the acupuncture school takes it.  The clients of the methadone clinic where my partner works mainly have Medi-Cal and instead of having ear acupuncture on-site, they go to the acupuncture school, and are mainly treated by students.  Ear acupuncture is proven to help with detoxification and there is a protocol of 5 points in the ear that was designed in a hospital in New York to curb cravings and diminish stress.  So much more benefit could be gained by making acupuncture available at more clinics and recovery centers, and have licensed professionals leading the ear acupuncture groups.  Unfortunately and so obviously, the system is in a broken holding pattern.  And people are still dying all the time, whether from lack of access to care, institutional racism, misogyny, suicide, or any combination of those forces.  Care should be based on need, not some intermediary privately-owned company and their profits.  Medicare for All would save billions of dollars a year, money that could be spent on the care itself.

Over the years, the recurring theme of stress for me has been my health.  And it isn’t simply the fatigue, pain, and managing symptoms, medications, appointments, herbs, supplements, and anti-inflammatory foods.  The root of the stress is wondering if my health issues will bankrupt me one day.  As for student loans, I basically just pay the minimum amount each month, based on my income, and try to put those tens of thousands of dollars of debt out of my mind.  What is worrisome is all the uncertainty that comes with increasing premiums with less coverage on top of having to add state disability insurance as a self-employed person, which is over $500 quarterly.  It is so fortunate that I had state disability insurance a few years back, when a flare-up of the myasthenia gravis came back after almost 10 years.  My muscles were so weak, I couldn’t pull my hair back in a ponytail, I couldn’t put my dishes away in the cupboard, my neck muscles strained to keep my head up while driving, and my eye muscles couldn’t prevent blurry vision, making it hard to drive at all for a time.  I was off work for a few months, and then gradually started back part-time.  What helped the most was rest and intravenous immunoglobulin (IVIG) infusions to tell my antibodies they didn’t need to go bonkers and gum up the synapses between my nerves and muscles.  I did these infusions 5 days in a row for 3 months, and at the end of the 5 days, had blinding and debilitating headaches, a sort of meningitis as a side-effect of the medication.  I still do infusions every 7 weeks, just 1 day at home, and my nurse is the absolute best.  The first infusions were in a hospital, so that bill was disproportionately high and that was the third time I had to go on a monthly payment plan to pay the bill off over a few years.  Luckily, these home infusions, are only $45 each.  I imagine they can keep their overhead low by not needing a facility, just an incredible nurse and the medication delivered to my door.

All this to say, having health issue is damn expensive and takes a lot of my mental energy, mental energy that I could be using for work, activism, self-care, and enjoying life.  It gets especially taxing when I need authorization from Blue Shield before treatments recommended by my neurologist are covered.  Or the concern and not knowing if a brain MRI, and ultrasound, or another CT scan will be covered this time since the fine print of my plan changes from year to year.  I just don’t believe this stress should be added onto the chronic illness.  I fully acknowledge that I am one of the more privileged ones,  I come from a white family that has financial resources and I know I will always have a place to live, somewhere.  I have been given access to the best schools in California due to redlining and racist realty practices.

So when Kendrick Sampson spoke at a very recent rally in San Antonio and asked us to think of the most vulnerable people in our lives, and know that we are all working together to uplift one another in community, I knew that I was all in with Bernie.  I think about my nephew and niece.  I want a better world for them.  I don’t want them experiencing wildfires multiple times a year.  I don’t want them being scared at school after lock-downs and active shooter drills.  I don’t want them saddled with student debt the way me and my peers are.  I don’t want anyone to worry and struggle like I have when faced with health issues.  I don’t want anyone else to die from lack of medical attention.  And I want our elders to have the support they need.  I don’t want my mom to worry about housing as she ages.  And I want my beloved city of Oakland to be able to house all of our residents.  Living in one of the wealthiest regions of the entire world, the disconnect and discrepancy of wealth is so heart-wrenching.  I know that the system is working the way the 1% have planned and schemed for centuries, since way before Nixon.  AND, we all deserve better.

 

Another movement doing incredible organizing on the ground is the Poor People’s Campaign.  They are continuing the work of Reverend Martin Luther King Jr.

To get an idea of where I am gathering loads of inspiration and updates, check out both Vote Save America (from Pod Save America), The Daily podcast and Fair Fight with Stacey Abrams.  I also highly highly recommend this Rumble Episode with Michael Moore.  What are some of your favorite resources?  And what are some of the issues closest to your heart?  Feel free to share your experiences in the comments section.

We got this!!!!  Not Me. Us.

liberation

 

As Autumn Turns to Winter

🍃 Support During this Season 🍃

Fall is associated with the metal element, the organs of the lungs + large intestine, along with the skin, pores, nose, grief,  justice, boundaries + relationships.  Fall is a time when we prepare to move into the water element of the wintertime, which is connected with fear, wisdom, the kidneys + bladder.

The alchemist is the archetype of Fall.  They observe, study, discern, look for order, and “What is Right?”  Autumn is a time when the energy of an ax or sword clearing out what is no longer needed is especially strong.

Self-Massage:  

LU1 is a point on the pecs called “letting go” and letting go is a theme for the metal element.  One can be constipated if not letting go. Try massaging LI4 in the web of the thumb and forefinger and also your abdomen when you are on the toilet to get things moving.  If you are congested in the nose, press up into the sinuses at LI20 and ST3, right below the cheekbones.  I can show you these points at your next session.

Foods: 

*Fermented foods like kefir, kombucha, yogurt, sauerkraut, and miso help the gut flora.  L-Glutamine powder or bone broth can help heal the gut.

*Pears are shaped like lungs and are white like the color of the fall.  Poach some pears in hot water with chai spices and vanilla beans!

*Dark, leafy greens, cruciferous veggies, garlic, leeks, onions, shiitakes, ginger, turmeric, carrots, and green tea. 

*Focus on organic, grass-fed animal products.

*Get more omega-3s by eating fish, such as sardines, salmon, mackerel, or flaxseeds + evening primrose oil.

*Dandelion root tea or bitter greens like arugula, mustard, or dandelion greens can help resolve skin issues, which can crop up in Fall.

*Decrease your intake of vegetable oils, sugar, refined carbs, alcohol, and caffeine.


Herbs + Supplements:

These can help boost your immune system and increase your resistance to colds and flus:

*Medicinal mushrooms like Reishi, Turkey Tail, Shiitake, Maitake, or Cordyceps

*Adaptogens like American Ginseng, Astragalus, or Eleuthero (Siberian Ginseng)

*Vitamins C + D + Zinc

*Elderberry (Sambuca) Syrup

*Yu Ping Feng San

*Airborne

What to do when you feel the first signs of a cold coming on:

  1. Ginger and green onion tea   

  2. Eucalyptus and Tea Tree steam over the stove   

  3. Gua sha scraping on the back of the neck with a spoon or stone

  4. Promote a sweat, bundle up and sleep it off    

  5. Get acupuncture/cupping to moves phlegm

  6. Herbal remedies like gan mao ling, yin qiao san or herbal cough syrup with elderberry, wild cherry, osha root or loquat leaf

Because the mind is free
Listening to the rain
Dripping from the eaves,
The drops become
One with me.
~Eihei Dōgen

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Change is in the Air!

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I am in the process of moving to the Santa Cruz Mountains, in a cabin surrounded by redwood trees, near a babbling brook.  I have been living in the East Bay almost all of my life and looking forward to this change of surroundings and pace.

I will still be coming up to my Opal Street office two weeks a month, all day Tuesday and Thursday, and will continue to be in San Leandro for those 2 Mondays a month in the afternoon as well.  Talk to me directly and we can work something out, either on my schedule or with a trusted colleague.

Here are some referrals of fabulous acupuncturists who can also see you:

Ozben Felek in El Cerrito, online booking and she takes Kaiser referrals: https://felekacupuncture.com/

For any Kaiser questions, call Amy Lee at 510.504.3721.

Linda Kim at 510.290.1014 at the Opal Street Center, cash only.

David Heron at 510.982.1875 in the Oakland Hills, takes some insurance.

On a completely different note……As a holistic practitioner, I am always looking at the root cause of suffering and upset.  When looking at our country, the root cause of our divisions, violence, and unrest is slavery, and how it was intertwined with capitalism.  Please take a moment to watch this video and read this article, written by Nikole Hannah-Jones.  It is the most comprehensive summary of our country’s past that is still deeply affecting our present.  Learn more about The 1619 Project here.  And if you want to take a listen to This American Life and The Problem We All Live With, click here.

Thank you for taking the time.

Be well, contribute, unearth the truth, and build bridges.

~ Erin

Be always coming home……..

 

“Please bring strange things.
Please come bringing new things.
Let very old things come into your hands.
Let what you do not know come into your eyes.
Let desert sand harden your feet.
Let the arch of your feet be the mountains.
Let the paths of your fingertips be your maps
And the ways you go be the lines of your palms.
Let there be deep snow in your inbreathing
And your outbreath be the shining of ice.
May your mouth contain the shapes of strange words.
May you smell food cooking you have not eaten.
May the spring of a foreign river be your navel.
May your soul be at home where there are no houses.
Walk carefully, well-loved one,
Walk mindfully, well-loved one,
Walk fearlessly, well-loved one.
Return with us, return to us,
Be always coming home.”

~Ursula K. Leguin

 

VOTE EARLY & VOTE YOUR HEART OUT! <3 <3 <3

From the Talmud:

NOW

Get out there and vote for democracy next Tuesday, our rights depend on it.

If you are voting by mail, the ballot must be received on Election Day. You can drop it off at a polling place, as long as the polls are open. Polls are open 7:00 a.m. – 8:00 p.m.

And if you are in Oakland, vote for Cat Brooks as first choice, Pamela Price for second, and leave Libby out of it, not even as a third choice, she has let Oakland down time and time again. Don’t let her “I saved our community members from ICE and Trump” fool you.  She let ICE work with OPD in August of 2017. to deport a Guatemalan man.  Consider donating your money or time in these last few days before the election to Cat Brooks!

Also, Vote YES ON 10!!!!!!!   As someone recently displaced from their home, it is important to repeal Costa Hawkins, a loophole for landlords and developers to raise rents and evict tenants.

And here are a few voter guides:

Oakland Voter

Another radical Oakland Voter

State Props

League of Women Voters

Oakland Rising

With love and solidarity,  Erin

Happy Fall and First Rain!

SUMMER WELLNESS SERIES: MOVING INTO FALL

From Kirsten at Angelica and Peony, thanks for a lovely collaboration and to all of you readers for joining us this summer:

 

This article is the final in a special Summer Wellness Series I’ve collaborated on with my colleague Erin Wood L.Ac. Read all the installments here or follow on Instagram #tcmsummerwellness

 

 

With the Fall Equinox this week in the Northern hemisphere, we are deep in the transition moment from Late Summer in Fall. The days are perceptibly shorter, there may be a nip in the air in the morning, and even in the Bay area where there are still hot days to be had, the sidewalks are beginning to have piles of leaves, and our energy is turning inward and slowing down.

It’s an oft-noted irony that the time when the Earth is encouraging us to slow down and go inward is the time in our external calendar when things are getting busiest – back to school, the ramp up to the holiday season, and for us in the United States this year, an extra layer of work and anxiety around the mid-term elections and all that is at stake.

Your body might express this experience of cross-purposes with trouble sleeping, digestive upset, and as the Fall moves on, skin complaints, allergies, colds and sinus trouble. Seasonal self-care through the Summer (see the #tcmsummerwellness series!) can help buffer some of these, and here are a few self-supporting practices to consider incorporating this month;

  • sleep more. The days are shorter, and our energy is waning. In pre-industrial times (ie most of human history), we went to sleep and woke with the sun. Even 15 minutes earlier can make a difference. Chronic sleep deprivation is one of the most serious health issues facing modern people.
  • eat cooked foods. Save your raw salads and melon for next summer – save your body some energy by transitioning to cooked foods – if a salad is a must-have for a lunch on the go, try making one with cooked veggies – blanched greens, roast zucchini and peppers topped with chickpeas under a dijon vinaigrette, topped with a few toasted seeds or almonds for crunch. Very chic and easy to transport in a mason jar!
  • Give your lungs extra TLC. The Fall is the season of the Lung – they are especially vulnerable to allergens and viruses at this time of year. Improve the quality of the air indoors with an air purifier, air purifying plants and give your pillows a wash to eliminate allergens. Ask your acupuncturist about allergy treatments (best started before you are sneezing!) and buy or make some natural cold remedies to keep on hand so you can take them at the first signs of illness. Try Fire cider, Ginger-Scallion tea and this go-to list from Erin on natural remedies and herbal formulas for cold. My fave essential oils to keep on hand at this time of year, especially for steam inhalation: Rosemary verbenone, balsam fir and sweet thyme (linalool).
  • Going deeper: I wrote this essay on resting in sync with the earth a few falls ago. What does it mean when we don’t get enough rest? What are the personal and global consequences of our exhaustion and burnout?

May your Fall be filled with love and health, and time for darkness, rest and contemplation! For help with specific health challenges, including scheduling treatments or finding a practitioner in your area, contact Erin and me!

Herbs for the Late Summer + Earth

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Welcome to the late summer!!!  This season is the transition from summer to fall, the time of the spleen organ.  The spleen prefers a dry, warm environment. Cold and damp climates and certain cold or raw foods can hinder its function and gunk it up.  We can balance this dampness and support the spleen by sprinkling these additional herbs and spices into our food and drink:

  • Cardamom

  • Sichuan peppers

  • Ground white pepper

  • Tangerine peel, and other citrus like the Buddha’s hand

  • Licorice root, sometimes fried in honey

  • Dried ginger root

  • Green or Jasmine Tea

  • Raspberry Leaf Tea

  • Nettle Leaf Tea

  • Turmeric, like Kirsten’s Golden Milk recipe

  • Garlic

  • Parsley

The category of herbs that most support the spleen is the Tonify the Qi group, which means to boost the available energy and vitality.  Two of these Tonify Qi herbs are also adaptogens: Ginseng and Astragalus. An adaptogen is a natural substance considered to help the body adapt to stress and to have a normalizing effect overall.  I prefer American Ginseng over Korean Ginseng, it is actually slightly cooling, thirst-quenching, helps with diabetes and doesn’t raise blood pressure. Astragalus is a sweet and warm herb that goes to the lung and spleen channels to boost the immune system.  Red Chinese dates also Tonify the Qi, they are easy to digest. Dates are delicious in well-cooked rice with carrots and some ginseng slices, a super energy booster!

For a bit of self-acupressure, there is a point just below the knee, on the outside of the leg called Stomach 36 that helps increase white blood cells and supports the spleen.  Stomach 36 counteracts indigestion, diarrhea, muscle weakness, parasites, gurgling in the stomach, and soothes sore knees. You can massage it anytime or tap on it in an afternoon slump to get some endurance.  See a video here!

There is evidence that various deficiencies of zinc, selenium, iron, copper, folic acid, and vitamins A, B6, C, and E can alter immune responses in animals, so it is always a good idea to eat a variety of foods and consider a mineral supplement.  The Zinc Tally test and supplement can be helpful to find out if you are getting enough zinc, as well as a way to add more.  You can order some here or ask me about doing a test in my clinic.

Along with zinc, here are a few more helpful supplements:

~Fiber, also known as roughage, bulk, or dietary fiber can help our health.  Soluble fiber is found in plants such as nuts, beans, apples, carrots, psyllium, and blueberries and switches immune cells from pro-inflammatory to anti-inflammatory, which helps us to heal faster from infection.

~Resveratrol, found in red grapes, can help immune function.  

~Probiotics or fermented foods like kefir, raw sauerkraut, and miso can help balance the gut flora and keep the immune system ready to respond to new infections.

~Fish oil is rich in DHA, an essential fatty acid, and has been found to enhance B cell activity, which could be promising for those with compromised immune systems.

~Vitamin D, especially in liquid form, can help immunity and mood.  Research suggests that vitamin D activates T cells that can identify and attack cancer cells.  Vitamin D has also been shown to reduce respiratory infections.

I am a fan of keeping things simple, so stick with these basics if you get overwhelmed or don’t want to add herbs or supplements:

  • eat plenty of fruits & vegetables, all the colors of the rainbow!

  • exercise, gentle movement, deep breathing

  • quit smoking, acupuncture can help!

  • drink alcohol only in moderation

  • get enough sleep, at least 8 hours

  • avoid infection through regular hand washing

  • reduce stress, find ways to decompress & get out of fight-flight-freeze

As we talk about the bigger picture in regards to health, it is important to remember that part of life is suffering.  It is normal to not be well or what might be considered 100%. As health care practitioners, we are not trying to prevent any illness or death.  Sometimes we need to be under the weather to build our immune systems or slow down. We are trying to find tools, foods, herbs, and habits that support us to feel less pain and more energy.  We are human and life is fragile and fleeting. The ebbs and flows, the yin and yang aspects, are normal. It is helpful to remember that in a capitalist society, we are rewarded for being productive and able to work as much as possible.  That just isn’t realistic or compassionate. I heard on NPR this morning one of the main causes of food poisoning when eating out is caused by norovirus, brought in by a staff member, passing it onto the customer. Imagine a world where we were encouraged to stay home if we aren’t well, and even paid.  Less infections would be passed, less stress would be caused, and possibly workers would recover faster as well……also, try not to eat pre-packaged salads from fast-food chains……

Related to the idea of not being well all the time, or even most of the time, here is some food for thought by Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha, a brilliant disabled writer and cultural worker:

https://www.self.com/story/dont-call-it-clean-eating

And some lovely lyrics to top it off from Alanis Morrisette, a song called “That I Would be Good”:

That I would be good even if I did nothing
That I would be good even if I got the thumbs down
That I would be good if I got and stayed sick
That I would be good even if I gained ten pounds
That I would be fine even if I went bankrupt
That I would be good if I lost my hair and my youth
That I would be great if I was no longer queen

Let’s support one another in a more compassionate world.

Xoxo, Erin

Healing + Tasty Recipes for Late Summer

 

LateSummerRecipes

 

From Kirsten at Angelica and Peony:

This article is sixth in a special Summer Wellness Series I’m collaborating on with my colleague Erin Wood L.Ac. Next week: herbs, tonics and supplements for Late Summer. 

Late Summer is a season that might be unfamiliar to you. In traditional Chinese medicine we use the five element system of natural cosmology to understand the rhythms of our bodies and the earth. Even if we didn’t grow up thinking of Late Summer as a specific season, we probably know what it means – harvest, end of summer, the transition between the unbounded expansion of Summer and the contraction and endings of Fall.

Read about Late Summer and its element, Earth, in Erin’s article from last week.

Seasonal foods are one of the best ways to be in harmony with the natural world, and help us surf the energies of climate, day length, temperature and so on that might impact our health.

Since my practice and patients are in the Bay Area, I’ll talk about specifics with regards to our climate – Late Summer is a clearly delineated season for us here! However the Earth element affects all of us, wherever we live.

By eating to support our Earth element in late summer, we can ease ourselves into fall and protect ourselves from the coming cold and flu season. In Traditional Chinese Medicine we’re taught ‘phlegm is created in the Spleen (Earth) and stored in the Lung (Metal). Supporting our Spleen by eating easy to digest, anti-inflammatory and immune boosting foods is a great way to buffer our Lungs from fall allergies and cold and flu.

The Flavor of the Season: Sweet.

Sweetness is the flavor associated with Late Summer, and is a dominant flavor in much of the produce now in season. Sweetness softens and relaxes us, and naturally sweet foods are deeply nourishing to our systems and our spirits. Too much sugar with our sweetness can overload the system, and leave us craving more sweet without feeling satisfied. Sweetness helps us the transition from the long days of summer into fall.

The Color of the Season: Gold.

Yellow, gold and orange are the colors associated with the Earth element, and are found in many of the foods in farmers’ markets right now: squash, plums, peaches, pears, sweet potatoes, corn. In biomedicine terms, orange produce is rich is carotenoids (like beta-carotene) and B vitamins that are especially beneficial for the immune system, skin and eye health.

The Cuisine of the Season: Light and Warm

The Spleen is said to like warmth and hate dampness. Dumping cold, wet foods like ice cream, cold drinks and raw veggies is a good way to dampen our digestive hearth and find ourselves with kickback like bloating, belching, distention and gas, upset stomach and diarrhea. Well-cooked, high nutrient foods are like dry, fragrant wood that burns easily and doesn’t leave stinky ash.

In short, as the days shorten and table is covered with the sweet, golden fruits of the harvest, we shift our diet to eat what’s in season, simmered soup of butternut squash, roasted peaches, corn and bean salad. Here’s a few of my fave recipes for this season in-between.

Pumpkin Pancakes

This recipe from Practical Paleo is ready in a flash and the cakes are both super satisfying (pumpkin and egg) without being too heavy for warm late summer days. I like to eat them with freshly sliced peaches or a quick simmered compote. If you’ve been eating something cold for breakfast like cereal, yogurt or smoothies, give these pancakes a try.

Roast butternut squash and red onion with tahini and za’atar

This sheet pan roast vegetable dish from Yotam Ottolenghi stands up as a centerpiece, side or salad. Beta-carotene is fat soluble and significantly more available to the body when eaten with fat, like the tahini and pinenuts in this recipe. Try it with a roast chicken for a Sunday dinner knockout.

Peach Crumble with Almond Flour Topping

Fresh peaches become incredibly sweet when baked or grilled. This simple recipe uses a spoonful of maple syrup and buttery almond topping to fancy up roast peaches into something truly fantastic.

Golden Milk

Golden milk is a traditional healing beverage from South Asia and Ayurvedic medicine. Its golden color and sweet flavor put it squarely in the Earth element, but its sweetness and richness are tempered by the addition of spicy black pepper and cardamom.

Enjoy! xo

Late Summer Energetics

Late Summer (1)

 

Late Summer is the season of the earth element.  Now is the time when the heat of summer transitions into the cool consolidation of the autumn.  It is a good idea to boost our immune systems before the fall completely sets in. Earth is associated with the color yellow, which makes me think of our golden hills in California during this time.  The fire of the summer generates ash, that is of the earth. We are seeing this perhaps too literally right now with the wildfires turning our hills and homes to ash.

The earth element is the center, just as our digestion is central to our health.  Earth presides over the spleen and stomach organs, which help us to transform and transport our food and nutrients.  The spleen and the stomach are the origin of our energy and blood. Having a condition like celiac disease can lead to absorption issues and anemia.  The spleen opens into the mouth, so chew carefully, all year round. Eat cooked food if you have any issues digesting raw food. Steamed veggies or soups are already partially broken down, making it easier to absorb nutrients.  Also, avoid too much sweet, dairy, or rich sauces. The spleen organs dislikes dampness, and dampness can be oily, greasy foods like an alfredo sauce or even ice cream. By supporting the spleen, we support the heart, which houses our spirit.  This connection reminds us of how 95% of our serotonin, which affects our mood, is found in our bowels. Check out this article for more: GutSecondBrain.

Disharmonies of the earth element and this season include digestive issues and fluid movement problems such as poor appetite, loose stools, gas, bloating, and swollen legs.  The spleen controls the muscles, so if you feel tired while you are digesting after meals, you might need a spleen boost. Bleeding issues, like early periods or hemorrhoids, can be due to spleen weakness since the spleen keeps the blood in the vessels.  The spleen raises the energy up in our bodies, so be watchful for any prolapse of organs or sunken spirits. We will discuss recipes and herbs that support your earth element in the coming posts, so stay tuned.

The Earth element is the peacemaker.  Earth is about home, community, comfort, family and bringing folks together.  People who identify as being close to the earth element can be very practical, nurturing, and rooted.  Loyalty and responsibility are additional characteristics, which can have a flip-side of people-pleasing, being overprotective, and selfish.  People-pleasing or any codependent tendencies have a manipulative side to them if one is trying to get others to need them. When we help others and are of service, what is our motivation?  Is there ego involved? Is there a savior complex playing a role? We need to check our intentions when it comes to needing to be needed, looking for something in return, keeping tabs, and eventually building resentments, which doesn’t build bridges.

The Earth element tends toward worry, overthinking, ruminations and obsessive thoughts.  That is like when a song is stuck in your head or you are replaying a situation over and over again, even though nothing can truly be done about it now.  

During this  late summertime, we might be asking “What is my role?”  It is about belonging. A podcast that blew my mind is called On Being by Krista Tippett.  One episode about belonging features the brilliant Brené Brown:

https://onbeing.org/programs/brene-brown-strong-back-soft-front-wild-heart-feb2018/

Brené brings up the paradox that exists in speaking our truth and conforming to what you think the group might be wanting or expecting.  We are wired for connection, although we sometimes might increase our loneliness by trying too hard to fit in or conform. What a bind that can be.  We sometimes risk being alone in being true to ourselves, which can also bring a sense of peace and well-being. It reminds me of the difference between risky behavior, which might mean over-riding our own needs to not rock to boat and taking a true risk of being vulnerable and expressing our needs.  It is all a delicate balance.

In another interview, John A. Powell, Professor of Law at UC Berkeley, discusses belonging in such a heartfelt and revolutionary way.  He begins by saying: “Being human is about being in the right kind of relationships. I think being human is a process. It’s not something that we just are born with. We actually learn to celebrate our connection, learn to celebrate our love. If you suffer, it does not imply love. But if you love, it does imply suffering. To suffer with, though, compassion, not to suffer against. And if we can hold that space big enough, we also have joy and fun even as we suffer. And suffering will no longer divide us. And to me, that’s sort of the human journey.”  Hear more in the full interview:

https://onbeing.org/programs/john-a-powell-opening-to-the-question-of-belonging-may2018/

Please share any thoughts, feedback, resources, inspirations during this golden, almost harvest time of year.  What is your role in fostering a more vibrant and authentic you and in turn, a more grounded and centered community?  

~Erin