Blog: Hummingbird’s Message of Hope

Wangari Maathai won the Nobel Peace prize in 2004 for her many efforts to improve the conditions in her country, Kenya. In 1977, she began the Green Belt Movement, which helped women plant trees to provide wood for cooking, fodder for livestock, material for fencing, protect watersheds and stabilize the soil improving agriculture. Wangari helped and encouraged the plantings of millions of trees. She is one of many exceptional women featured in the movie Dirt, one I highly recommend.

In the short movie above she tells the story of a Hummingbird in the midst of a raging fire, one that is inspiring and rich with the flavor of Africa that goes something like this:

A fire broke out in the forest, raging and burning.  The animals rushed to the river’s edge and watched as their forest burned, not feeling they could do anything about this devastation. A Hummingbird could not stand this and decided to do something. It went to the water’s edge and picked up a drop of water and rushed to the fire and dropped it on the fire to help put it out. She went back and forth and back and forth, much to the surprise of the others. The elephants and others questioned her: how could this possibly help? How could she make a difference? The Hummingbird replied: I am doing the best I can”.

We must not forget the passion it takes to make changes and determination. A hummingbird flew into my day and reminded me that taking action within one’s capabilities makes a difference.
Each of us has our dreams. We are facing the COVID -19 pandemic that makes us feel powerless to contain or control it. Perhaps our tiny bird friend, the Hummingbird can renew our sense of purpose here. She’ll be back here in the NE soon as spring moves through her season of life.

What does Hummingbird mean to you? How does this story inspire you?

I hope you will share your stories about Hummingbird. Enjoy. Judith

 

 

 

Podcast: Holistic Nature of Us: Meet Rev. Br. Mark D’Alessio, Franciscan, Chaplain

Description: This podcast takes a different focus as we deal with COVID – 19 that has hit our planet and our country these past few weeks. We deal with uncertainty, statistics, and isolation as we struggle to handle the implications for our society and the world. Brother Mark’s message is timely. Through the stories of St Francis of Assisi and St Clare, he engages us in a timeless message that our world is Holistic. We are a part of this world, one species interrelated to all species.  I hope you hear St Francis’ message: go do what you came here to do. The time is now.

About My Guest: The Rev. Br. Mark Gregory D’Alessio is a Franciscan friar in the new religious society of the Companions of Francis and Clare. He’s also an interspiritual Christian priest, spiritual director, chaplain, retreat leader, author, and past President and Executive Director of the Psychotherapy & Spirituality Institute, which draws together the inspiration of the church with the wisdom of psychological care.
A graduate of the Guild for Spiritual Guidance, he is now a faculty member and community leader. He’s also a faculty member at All Faiths Seminary International for the training of interfaith ministers.  A long-time seeker and practitioner of spiritual wisdom, he’s initiated into multiple spiritual lineages, both East (Buddhist) and West (Christian); does his best to affirm the Christian Wisdom tradition within a wider inter-spiritual framework; and, looks to God’s science and spiritual heroes (such as Thích Nhat Hanh and Francis and Clare of Assisi) as sources of inspiration and hope.  He’s committed, as a Franciscan,  to serving those who are sidelined and at risk.
Currently, Br. Mark lives on Long Island and serves as a crisis counselor and program coordinator at a shelter for men and women who are homeless and as a chaplain at a residential treatment center and school for children with learning and emotional disabilities. Moving to Long Island, he founded the Franciscan Circle, a progressive, interfaith gathering of clergy and lay people who seek to journey in mind and heart with the witness and wisdom of the Saints of Assisi, Francis, and Clare. The Circle is dedicated to developing leaders for thoughtful social action and spiritual care.
The Long Island Coalition for the Homeless awarded Br. Mark with their “Unsung Hero” Award last year.

Transcript: Brother Mark D’Alessio

 

Blog: All ABout Worms

 

 

As a child, I didn’t like crawly critters like worms. It took me a while to get comfortable picking one up. Whether in garden beds, composers, sighting a worm hopefully means the soil is being aerated, decomposition is going on and in general, there’s a sigh of “it’s a good thing.” Kids are fascinated too. Worms are easy to hold and handle and make for a successful hands-on show and tell. Gardeners like to look for worms too. It took me a while to get used to them. But as a gardener, I now know how invaluable they are to maintaining healthy soil.

Vermiculture is the official name for using red wiggler worms to decompose waste materials. Other types of worms help out too. What I found particularly helpful is that you can keep red wigglers in the house for table scraps. Their decomposed poop, known as worm castings, are especially good to add back into the soil.

“Because the earthworms grind and uniformly mix minerals in simple forms, plants need only minimal effort to obtain them. (Wikipedia)

Nightcrawlers and red wigglers are frequently mentioned in vermiculture. But, we now have an “invasive” species of worm. What’s the difference?
My podcast guest this week, Gail Reynolds, gave us an introduction to worms as composters and how we can use them in our homes to decompose vegetable matter. Pretty interesting right? She tells us how to have them in our home which works well in the winter. Worm castings can be made and added to our garden beds even in winter.

A nightcrawler/dew worm eats soil. A Red Wiggler, Eisenia fetida, eats decomposing matter like rotten fruit, vegetables, manure. They are reddish in color.

Jumping worms, however, Amynthas spp., are a different story. They devour forest floors rapidly and then flood the floor with nutrients. Our forests use matter that decomposes more slowly so we don’t know the long term implications yet. And the decomposing matter is larger, more grainy like coffee grounds which alters soil composition, especially for understory plants. The photo below, from Wisconsin’s Department of Natural Resources site, gives a good visual of the damage they can cause. these worms have a white ring around them and slither like snakes and can move quite quickly.

Jumping worms effect on woods
What can you do?  Know your worms. If you should find any jumping worms inform your state’s agricultural department. Wisconsin has a ban on them. Sadly we are seeing them in our forests here in the NE. Spring is here. It will be good to get outdoors. As you garden be vigilant.  Many invasive species are harming our landscapes.Together, one yard at a time, we can make a difference. Enjoy. Judith

Podcast: Holistic Nature of Us: Meet Gail Reynolds

Description: Composting is always a great topic for gardeners. Gail Reynolds, the coordinator for the University of Connecticut’s Composting Program, returns to share her tips and insights on what creates good composting practices. She discusses the difference between natural worms versus Asian worms and why they are good or bad for composting lawn and kitchen debris. Join us for an educational discussion on composting.

About My Guest: College and Master of Forest Science degree from Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies. In addition, she holds five information security certifications. Gail is a long-time natural resource and Yale alumni volunteer, including Chair of the Haddam Conservation Commission, Officer of the Haddam Land Trust, member of the Lower Connecticut Land Trust Exchange, Haddam Plan of Conservation and Development committee member, Salmon River committee member, Connecticut Botanical Society board member, Executive Board member of the Yale Science and Engineering Association, Yale student mentor, and Yale alumni interviewer of prospective undergraduate students. She is currently the coordinator for UConn Master Composter Program

Transcript:  Gail Reynolds 

Blog: The Art and Science of Sound Vibration Healing

” If you want to find the secrets of the universe, think in terms of energy, frequency and vibration.” Nikola Tesla

 

I taught holistic health studies at a state university for several years. I found it puzzling to realize how little most folks knew about complementary and alternative modalities (CAM). We had fun exploring the different types of healing modalities that were not routinely taught in medical schools though today that is changing.

I intended to inspire them to look beyond the western medical model, based on pharmaceuticals and surgery. And when we concluded I reminded them that color and sound vibration were the medicines of the future.

My podcast guest this week, Ed Cleveland, an advanced Gong practitioner, Holographic Sound Teacher with advanced training in 5 Elements Healing from a Bonpo perspective, is a remarkable sound healing practitioner. I scheduled a visit with Ed to experience first hand the range of instruments, singing bowls, gongs and more that he mentioned.

He reminded me of my holistic classes. Students could choose to research sound as a healing modality and they often did. I hoped their research opened doors within them that sound vibration, for example, was not new and held gifts for healing.

Pythagoras prescribed music as medicine and believed that musical intervals are clear experiences of sacred geometry. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) conducted a study that showed music/sound was effective for both patients and caregivers helping to soothe, relieve stress. Music and sound have an impact on addiction recovery, chronic pain and releasing stress and anxiety.

Sound healing includes many instruments – crystal bowls, singing bowls, gongs, drums, flutes and more. My experience with sound healing proved to be soothing, relaxing and the variety of sounds that can be created from a large gong is nothing short of amazing.

Look for a sound practitioner with a Bonpo background. Ed used sounds that correlated to the five elements: wood, fire, earth, metal and water. I felt the wings of a bird, heard the tides coming in and out, aware of the drumbeat of the earth. All in all, it was awesome.

Sound vibration healing is making its way into our awareness and our choices. The ancient ones knew this. Shamans from long times past to the present used drumbeats in specific patterns to enter more trance states. Each culture whether using drums and flutes, didgeridoos, harps or metal bowls, chanting grasped the value of sound healing. I hope you will consider visiting a sound healing practitioner in your area. I would love to hear how sound affects you and in what ways? Thanks. Your comments are always appreciated. Enjoy. Judith

Podcast: Holistic Nature of Us: Meet Ed Cleveland, Sound Vibration and Healing

Description: My guest this week, Ed Cleveland, is an expert in the use of gongs, Singing Bowls, and other instruments. He offers private and group sessions that include harmonic sounds with energy work. Join us for an engaging discussion through the science and art of sound as a healing modality. 

About My Guest: Ed Cleveland is the founder and owner of The Ed Cleveland Reiki &Sound Therapy Training Center
located in Hartford, CT. He is an advanced Gong Practitioner, Neuroacoustic Sound Practitioner, Master Reiki Teacher & Holographic Sound Teacher, Medicinal Aromatherapist, as well as a national award-winning Martial Arts Teacher. Ed brings forth three decades of personal education and experience in his private practice and teachings.

Transcript: Ed Cleveland 

Blog: Alternative Therapy: Muscle Testing

 

Muscle testing or Applied Kinesiology (AK) has been around for at least 50+ years. A practitioner uses muscle strength testing to determine what ails you.

I first heard about this practice through a naturopathic physician. Naturopathic physicians or ND’s are licensed here in Ct and several other states. They are recognized as valid medical physicians and are licensed to practice medicine. Where they differ is in their scope of study. They take the same anatomy, chemistry, physiology classes that MD’s do. However, homeopathy, natural medicines and more are part of their curriculum including counselling (which from personal experience typically makes them good listeners).

When my younger son was 3 and 1/2 years old I brought him to a chiropractor who then had me work with a nutritionist. We did blood testing as she suspected food allergies. He tested + for over 20 foods. Somehow that didn’t seem right to me and I sought Naturopathic Doctor who used muscle testing and foods to determine which ones could be causing problems. Seven foods tested positive, two of which we rarely ate. I decided to remove the remaining foods: milk, soy, sugar, citrus.

Hopeful, I went home and tossed white sugar out the door and learned to cook with pure apple juice sweetener, rice syrup, barley syrup and organic flours. It was a process but after a year, including bringing in his snacks to school and parties, he was much improved.

Within 72 hours of stopping milk, soy, sugar and citrus he was like a new person.  He was a typical allergy child: restless sleeper, cranky, reddish circles under his eyes, frequent colds. Three days later, he slept soundly and had a better mood. Eventually, his stamina and foundational health improved. If I had not experienced muscle testing firsthand I might still be sceptical. It worked for him and for me too.

Dr Weil offers a look at AK, muscle strength testing: “Kinesiology, also known as biomechanics, is the study of body movement. Applied kinesiology (AK) which is also know as muscle strength testing, is a method of diagnosis and treatment based on the belief that various muscles are linked to particular organs and glands, and that specific muscle weakness can signal distant internal problems such as nerve damage, reduced blood supply, chemical imbalances or other organ or gland problems. Practitioners contend that by correcting this muscle weakness, you can help heal a problem in the associated internal organ”

Folks like my podcast guest, Lana Nelson and her husband, Dr Nelson, have personally experienced success with patients and clients with health issues using AK. Many Naturopathic physicians use AK in their practices. Since AK began in the chiropractic field, many chiropractors are trained in AK and use it to determine which areas on the spine to adjust to achieve positive health effects.

Have you used AK? If so I would love to hear about your health responses. Thanks. Judith

 

 

Podcast: Holistic Nature of Us: Meet Lana Nelson, Author The Food Codes

Description: Lana Nelson, the author of The Food Codes, Intuitive Eating for Every Body, shatters the stereotype of a food intuitive. Lana began her life’s work into healthy eating over three decades ago, long before it was fashionable. As a Certified Emotion and Body Code consultant, Lana has developed one of the easiest techniques on the planet to help anyone discover what foods are “best for you!”
Join us for an engaging discussion. Lana shares her story, how the subconscious mind works and why using our intuitive capabilities gets positive results. Happy eating.

About My guest: Lana is also a Licensed Massage Therapist as well as a Reiki Master Teacher who counsels in nutritional, herbal, and homeopathic therapies. Her focus is on individuals, couples and families who struggle with food, health, and emotional problems.

Transcript: #76 Lana Nelson

 

Blog: Wetlands are Ecosystem Treasures

 

Blog: Wetlands:
When I moved into my first home many years ago, I wanted to get involved in the town. Someone, I don’t remember who mentioned that the town had an environmental committee. Intrigued, I wondered what the town envisioned for itself environmentally.  I had an interest in recycling, practical ecological applications to preserve water, land and air.

It was no coincidence that around the same time, I subscribed to a magazine titled: Garbage. (Need I say more?) This magazine sought to discuss the latest trends in gathering garbage, storing trash, and how to dispose of the leftovers that could contain toxic materials.

One article, in particular, caught my attention and I remember the broad outlines of the story today which as you will see is pertinent to today’s discussion on wetlands.

A town in California needed a new water treatment plan maybe a sewage treatment plant. The estimate for a new facility was around $52 million dollars, costly for any town at that time., mid-1980’s. So, other options were investigated.

For significantly less money, between $2-5 million, folks realized that the landscape of the town and the surrounding area contained miles of marshland. They could develop a waterway system that kept the wetlands intact and at the same time collect purified water at the end of the line. Somehow, folks back then had the vision to realize that at least seven miles of marshland can filter and recharge water. My podcast guest this week, Gail Reynolds, reminded me of this story as I thought about the different types of wetlands and the ecosystem services they provide.

Basically, wetlands catch water from the surrounding areas, usually runoff from lawns and agricultural land uses. They capture nitrogen, phosphorus, pesticides to name a few. These components deposit into the sediment at the bottom of the wetland. Then plants can absorb these elements and convert them into plant matter. When this happens in the summertime, wetlands prevent contamination downstream.

“Wetlands are superb at purifying polluted water, replenishing aquifers and harbouring wildlife. But they are almost always terrible places to build houses. Only about 5 percent of the land area in the continental United States is composed of wetlands. But these transitional zones—neither completely dry nor entirely liquid—are enormously valuable, especially when it comes to controlling floods. Wetlands act like natural sponges on the landscape, absorbing and then gradually releasing storm waters and lessening flood damage.” John Mossbarger, La Jolla CA, in Scientific American also adds this: “Wetlands serve as primary habitat for thousands of wildlife species—from ducks to beavers to insects—and form an important ecosystem link between land and water. They also play a key role in maintaining water quality, as they filter out agricultural nutrients and absorb sediments so that municipal water supplies don’t have to. On and near shorelines, wetlands provide a natural buffer against storm surges and rising floodwaters, helping to disperse and absorb excess water before it can damage life and property.”

It’s estimated we have destroyed about 85% of our wetlands in this country. Wetlands: habitat for plants, animals, insects, offer water filtration and purification services, perfectly set up to manage flood areas. They provide invaluable ecosystem services and are precious.

The good news is that we are taking some measures to preserve what we have and what’s left.
What can you do? If you have wet areas on the property, learn how to manage them that preserves them. And, I just learned that there is World Wetland Day. This year its Feb 2nd. They have a great interactive website and educational materials available for you to use to promote awareness in your community. 

When out on hikes or walking in your neighbourhoods, keep an eye out for marshy areas. Keep in mind how limited they are today and how precious their ecosystems are in today’s landscapes.

Enjoy. Judith

Podcast: Holistic Nature of Us: Meet Gail Reynolds, Plant Science Expert

Description: Gail is a plant scientist who loves bogs. Bogs are often austere landscapes, acidic, filled with peat moss and other mosses, not usually treed. She takes us through a not so well known landscape filled with levels of plant life and why they are invaluable. Join us for a fascinating journey into bogs where Gail highlights some plants that could be used in the wet areas on your property. At the very least, Gail opens our eyes to the variety of species that are found here, ones we can look for on future hikes.

About My Guest: Gail Kalison Reynolds, Middlesex County UConn Master Gardener coordinator, retired from 
a long career as an Information Security professional. She holds a B.S. in biology from Yale College and a Master of Forest Science degree from Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies. In addition, she holds five information security certifications. Gail is a long-time natural resource and Yale alumni volunteer, including Chair of the Haddam Conservation Commission, Officer of the Haddam Land Trust, member of the Lower Connecticut Land Trust Exchange, Haddam Plan of Conservation and Development committee member, Salmon Rivercommittee member, Connecticut Botanical Society board member, Executive Board member of the Yale Science and Engineering Association, Yale student mentor, and Yale alumni interviewer of prospective undergraduate students.
Gail is currently the State Coordinator for the UConn Master Gardener Compost Program.

Transcript: #75-Gail-Reynolds.pdf

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