We have crossed over the Spring Equinox. Why is this important? Well, despite best intentions, I find the expiration date for new year’s resolutions is about late January. By early February, we all succumb to the reality that it is very cold, very dark and very wet. We now have a lot more light in the sky, particularly in the evening. Even with the chill of these past days, this morning the wind’s edge is softer, warmer. The robins are, post day-light savings, back to calling before I get on a 6:20am bus. Daffodils are up. Song birds are going bonkers. Every bud is bursting. This is a fantastic time to re-fresh vitality in the body-mind.
Inspired by the template of my trusted colleague Bruce Milliman, ND, when things feel out of kilter, I bring real attention to balance the four elements below, in this order. I would add meditation, pretty unwavering for me. So consider if that might be a part of the equation for you too. After two weeks of caring attention to these, I feel re-calibrated and balanced. Furthermore, I can generally sustain my efforts and intention moving forward.

  • Sleep
  • Hydration
  • Food
  • Movement

Pause and check in for a moment. How in balance do you feel on these fronts today? 

Are you managing at least 6 hours of sleep regularly? Optimally, adults will have 7-8 hours of restful sleep each night. I’ve added a new article about optimizing sleep to my website nestled in the Nutritional section. Why there? Just like food and hydration, sleep is a form of nourishment,
imperative for our cells, tissue repair, our brain’s capacity to lay down memory and make clear decisions. Here are a few interesting resources:
Freakanomics 2 part Radio Podcast on Sleep
Harvard Website  interactive feature exacmining western history of sleep.
Huffington Post review of sleep deprivation’s impacts.  

How about hydration throughout the day? I don’t believe the urban myth we’re all eternally on the cusp of severe dehydration. I do find that when I drink regular fluids throughout the day, I find my appetite is better regulated. My mind is clearer. My skin, eyes, tissues and joints are softer and more lubricated. My digestion is regulated.
If you have a hard time remembering to drink, try placing a lovely vessel for water or other fluids close at hand to where you work or move throughout the day. If you find you have a headache or are feeling hungry, consider a glass of water first. If you struggle with plain old water, try putting a single herbal tea bag in the bottom, a handful of cranberries or a few slices of other veg or fruit to infuse a little flavor.

Healthful Eating? My patients are educating me all the time on the most recent fads and apps on
this topic. And there are some really great tools out there. My approach is outlined pretty clearly in Food as Medicine basic principles and the additional  handouts and articles on the Nutritional Info section here. Tailoring balance with food is so individual. AND, I’ve found over the years that every chronic condition responds to dietary change. Please reach out foradditional support on the topic.  And because sinus congestion can be so influenced by food, I’ll tuck in a link for an old posting here on  Seasonal Allergies. It outlines helpful tips from a humble cup of nettle tea to regular netti pot use. Some of the most
simple things can bring huge relief!

 

And Movement? We were designed to move; all joints and tissues, all directions, all the time. And movement is the best anti-depressant, mood regulating medicine in my book. Priority #1? Choose something you
enjoy, something fun
. Why? Because if we enjoy moving our bodies, we’re likely to do it regularly. Enjoy walking? Find a buddy. estle it in at lunch time. Try a lovely walk in a different place one night a week. Dance! Tai Ji! Biking! Skateboarding (for some ;). I’m a runner and a BIG hiking fan as many of you know. Here are a few images from a recent hike along Boulder River, a gentle meander with waterfalls. There’s such a range of ways to get into our sacred, beautiful mountains from gentle meanders to steep, calf shredding inclines.

The Hike Finder Map feature of the Washington Trails Association is a great resource for finding something that’s close to you with details of scenery, spirit and elevation. While some of these are still buried in snow, some of my favorite hikes are listed here:  Heather Lake. Lake Margaret. Lake Serene (sadly closed until mid-summer.Kendal Katwalk. Ingall’s Lake. Esmerelda Basin. Cascade Pass. Mason Lake. Mount Dickerman. Many of the hikes up Icicle Creek Canyon. Spray Park (Mt Rainier) You’ll note a lake theme. I’m a big fan of alpine plunges, even when some might consider outside temps rather frigid. One man attending the Art Opening March 1st commented, “I just want to go on all the hikes you went on to all these places!” As I wrote about in the comments about the show, being outside is a part of what breathes space into my heart and supports me to be in this life, this city, this world.

“I am struck by your paintings at Miro. I saw the waterfall and marveled at it and wondered who had done it,
then I saw your card…
I am drawn to the way you represent water. You capture so many of its moods and forms.”
email received regarding the show

Mountains & Waters Watercolor Show

up through April 31st
Miro Tea
5405 Ballard Ave NW (link to map)

The Opening March 1st was a beautiful, albeit slightly overwhelming, human tsunami of celebration and support. The show will be up through the end of April. I will be at Miro the evening of Saturday April 14th for the Ballard Art Walk. Please feel welcome to swing by and say hello. As I mentioned previously, I’ve updated the website Gallery with new paintings. Local Ballard company Art & Soul Studio has produced excellent prints of three paintings for sale as well as  originals still available. The show will be up through the end of April. The interactive wall (photo at the bottom of the page) is filled with drawings and quotes in response to

  • These things breathe space into my heart…
  • These mountains and waters inspire…
  • I aspire to be peace in the world by….
  • These things breathe space into my mind…
  • Breathing Mountains and Waters looks like…

Please go by to play and contribute.  Patronize Miro. Enjoy the Mountains and Waters. Miro is located at the primary intersection of the Sunday Ballard Farmer’s Market (10am-3pm) so take that into consideration (to avoid or enjoy).

Last Meditation Retreat this Spring
now Sunday May 20th

A regular retreat attendee brought to my attention the May retreat was originally scheduled for Mother’s Day. So I’ve elected to change that up and rescheduled to Sunday May 20th, 9:30am-4:30pm. As we head into this robust and rambunctious time of year, consider if you can give yourself a nourishing day of stillness.

  • Instructions and support appropriate to participants
  • Alternating sitting and walking meditation (Sitting 25 min, walking 10 min)
  • Simple, gentle movement bringing ease to the body.
  • A short talk to support and direct intention and effort
  • Lunch (BYO sack lunch) shared in silence
  • Late afternoon tea and treats provided

I offer the weekly Monday Meditation at no cost. I request donations for retreats. I do not set a fixed price so they are accessible to all. Historically, individual donations have ranged from $20-165. Registration is required so please contact me if you’d like to attend by email or call 206.920.9929.
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I will conclude with a humble admission. Days before the Art Opening, I was flooded with melancholy gazing at the paintings, wondering what’s the point?  Mountains? Waters? How does this influence the catastrophic disparities in our city and country and world: power, money, health, opportunity, food security, physical safety. Several people dear to me, a few decades my senior, offered solace and implored, “We NEED beauty!” The show is hung. The Mountains are out. Hopefully, they will breathe space into others’ hearts. And between that space and these words inviting balance, you will find support to care for and minister to our own body-mind. May that vitality ripple outward into this world so desperately in need of peace. Blessings to you in this time of vibrant life and light.
Amy

“Peace is not an idea. Peace is not a political movement, not a theory or a dogma. Peace is a way of life: living mindfully in the present moment…It is not a question of politics, but of actions. It is not a matter of improving a political system or even taking care of homeless people alone. These are valuable but will not alone end war and suffering. We must simply stop the endless wars that rage within…Imagine, if everyone stopped the war in themselves – there would be no seeds from which war could grow. “
Claude AnShin Thomas

Header photo my own. Health related images fished from the web. Boulder River photos dear colleague & friend Xander Kahn. Watercolors my own.