Still Progressing – Healing Mother’s Spirit! Quarterly Newsletter: San Juan

We just returned from a very relaxing trip to San Juan, Puerto Rico and other locations.  We arrived in San Juan on Saturday, 17 December (2016).  We had a difficult time making it there as there was a winter storm that day, thus we were delayed for approximately three hours.  This is the reason that going to the port city the day before turned out to be the best decision.  We arrived and spent the evening in La Concha Hotel, which is a middle price hotel, and there are parties there nightly.  The next day, we were off to the port, but as the ship was not prepared to leave until 8:00 P.M. that evening, we deposited our belongings on board, and then wandered around San Juan getting very drinkable water for the eight days we were going to be out on the ocean.

Saint Thomas was the first port we arrived in the next day.  For the most part, all ports tend to look alike, so we can dispense with all of the oohs and ahhs, associated with each port.  The shopping on the island is some of the best from our understanding.  You can buy jewels like no where on earth.  The makers of Tanzanite and diamonds have a particular affinity for the location.  It was where we began to collect the charms for my wife’s bracelet (Diamonds International), which tells everyone where you have toured over the years.  We went to “Fat Turtle” Restaurant in Saint Thomas to have lunch.  You have to get to the correct pier, but the food was decent, and of course, we had rum in the form of Pina Colada (which was the drink of this trip).  Unfortunately, I deleted my pictures, so Saint Thomas was a bust in terms of visual candy.

We arrived in Saint Maarten the next day, and you have to take a water taxi to the other side of the harbor to get into the positives there.  The most important stop was to the “Guavaberry Emporium”.  Guavaberry is the name of the fruit that is combined with the rum there and it is a very sweet taste.  At this location, I got rather tipsy, which does not take much for me because I am prone to being a tea-totaler.  They have eight different liquors, from Orange to Mango from Lime to Passion Fruit, but they usually sell you a Pina Colada ($7.00), and it does have alcohol in the drink.  They also make two types of rum, a five year and an eight year old.  And for those who want a little something extra, they make a ‘mash-up’ drink with rum and Guavaberry in it.  While in the emporium, we discovered that there was a place to eat, Negril’s Cafe’ and we stopped by ‘Taloula Mango’s’ and the ‘Blue Bitch Bar’.  The Blue-Bitch sells tee-shirts, which I think you may want to purchase.

Saint Kitt’s was nice.  We hoped aboard a water taxi which took us to another island, Nevis.  Guess who was born here:  Alexander Hamilton.  His home is now a museum, but they do not have anything that you can take with you, only some brief information for children.  The island looks run down, but it is my understanding that it is wealthier than the larger island of Saint Kitts.  We returned to have lunch at the Pink Papaya Cafe’, where the food was rather decent as food goes.  It rained while we were there, so service was interrupted, but it was a decent day over all.

Antigua was our next island, though I am somewhat regretting that we did not get to Barbuda as well.  You are right in the city.  We noted that there were restaurants, but decided not to eat in any of them.  We stopped by “Hemingway’s”, but essentially determined that most of the food was quick to eat, so opted for dinner on the ship that evening and had a desirable meal in “Izumi’s” Japanese restaurant on the ship.  I did manage to get some Wadadli Beer which is very good.  The next day we were in Saint Lucia’s and were introduced to ‘Chef Robby’s Restaurant’. There they have a dish called ‘Bwigo’, which is known to be ‘Whelks’.  Also on this island, they make a beer called “Piton”, named after the two mountains in the center of the island.

We ended our travel on the island of Barbados.  We have visited Barbados before, so getting around on this island was rather quick.  We made a stop at the Mount Gay Rum factory to pick up a text, but nearly missed it because of the holiday season and their crazy schedule.  I did however get the book and had a couple of shots of rum to boot.  We also met up with our girlfriend and unfortunately missed our male buddy.  Found the Agapey chocolate factory’s new location on the main drag, (you must go there if you like dark chocolate), and spent the balance of the afternoon in the port area chatting with some gentlemen about the overall feel of the trip.

We stayed in San Juan the week after sailing the seas.  We stayed in a smaller hotel that was along the same area as the first hotel, Ashford Avenue.  It had health food stores and restaurants, so it was rather agreeable.  Riding into Old San Juan was about twenty minutes so we had the best of all things considered.  The weather in San Juan was always 80 plus degrees and though it rained just about everyday, it would be as a passing shower/rain, and return to the normal temperature without as much as a sweat.  After becoming oriented to the land, we breezed in and out of Old San Juan like we were pros.  There is a local tour bus that is good for twenty-four hours and picked us up on Ashford.

We spent one day at the Bacardi factory.  One has to take a ferry and a taxi to the location, but it was well worth the journey.  We learned to make three drinks, Mojitos, Cuba Libre’s, and Daquiris (a town in Puerto Rico) while we were there, and one has to pay extra cash to learn this, as opposed to the ordinary tour.  There is a place where you can have lunch, and again, Pina Colada’s were on the menu.  Bacardi also makes a rum that is especially made on the premises.  It is more special than the ‘Limitada’ that you can buy in stores around the country.  This liquor is so special that they allow you to bottle it yourself, and it can only be purchased while at the factory.  I have a bottle of that special rum.

Kindly note that the rum which is drank by many on the island is ‘Barrilito’.  It is made in a small shop, and is rather good as well.  Barrilito is the oldest distiller in Puerto Rico.  Its name means “rum from the barrel”, as the originator, Pedro F. Fernandez, used to share it from the barrel with his friends.  It is such a rich flavor, that it is on par with brandy, and many drink it from a brandy snifter.  The three star brand is the really rich variety, but for mixed drinks, there is the two star.  Still good, but not as good as the three star.  I also have a bottle of this rum as well.

Puerto Rico has an art museum, which was within walking distance of our hotel.  At the time, it featured art from three primary artists from the region, and can be viewed in the book, ‘Catalogo Pinturra Puertorriquena’, which of course, is written in Spanish only.  But one of the big finds for me is that the island was initially populated by the ‘Taino Indians’, a very docile group of Natives that were made extinct by the Spanish who took over the island before allowing the United States ownership.  Much of their art and artifacts are still on the islands and the people speak of them as well.

Overall, Puerto Rico is a very nice island to visit.  The weather, alone, is easy to enjoy.  The flight there is about four hours (two from Miami), and is a relaxing flight.  I would give it a thumbs-up, and a great get-away.  By the way, “‘Yo-ho-ho’ and a bottle of rum!!”.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Still Progressing – Healing Mother’s Spirit! Quarterly Newsletter: It Has Been Awhile!

So where were we?

About a year ago, I stepped away from Health and Wellness to explore some of my former skills in the world of taxation. I worked daily, and due to the commute, was bone tired when I got home and used the weekend to recuperate and return to work on Monday. It was not as bad as I thought it would be, but the drudgery of the travel was beginning to weigh on me. I planned to continue working some of my recently passed jobs, but it would take some time to gather the energy to perform those duties. After being released from the tax burden, and the deed was done, I looked into those old haunts, however they were not as viable as I had hoped they would be. So out here on my own, I have decided continue in a somewhat different direction.

I began by working in the world of seminars. Again, I had done this before, but was viewing it with a new perspective. I started working with an area I was most comfortable with and began doing Nutrition workshops. The workshops last approximately eight weeks, and the script is rather familiar. I work with those addicted to substances and had recently returned to the world of ‘nine-to-five’. For whatever reason, I am finding that the initial groups are very receptive to what I am providing. The groups are rather engaged and ask many questions, as well as provide feedback on the concepts I am espousing. As a result, the workshops offer brand new lessons for me, as I reset my footing in this world.

Now before as I presented these workshops, I was interested in securing add-on business from the workshops I provided. But the audience is far from being able to provide that cash incentive; they are, in fact, abusers of the system and its contraband. The fact that in most cases, the audiences are engaged, and really want to do better from a dietary view, is now quite enough. I can develop and grow my business through other means, and keep the purity of these presentations for the members: They are there to learn. But why does the learning feel so different to me?

I think about developing business beyond the confines of who I am presenting to, but a brand new audience will have to be developed for that to occur. I enjoy presenting to the individuals because of their curiosity and fresh perspective. I say ‘fresh’, but it is all in being open to their offerings. I am much more relaxed, as I am focused on providing the essentials of the workshop, and nothing more. And when I exit stage left (or right), I am wholly wrapped in whether I did a good job or not, and that at least one person is able to walk away with something that can change their Life in a positive manner.

So, for now, this is all that I have to share at this time. I wanted to let you all know that I am still around, and plan on presenting information in a totally unselfish manner, as I did before my hiatus. I see other opportunities, and I will get inspired from the experiences and the walks of Life I am consuming at this time. Meanwhile, I hope that it is not too long in the future that the Quarterly Newsletter of Healing Mother’s Spirit! will continue to be offered as ‘quarterly’ messages, as planned. And that it will not “…have been awhile…” for the next communique.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Still Progressing – Healing Mother’s Spirit! Quarterly Newsletter: Ten Days

I recently ended a Ten-Day Fast drinking strictly juices. It was inspired by watching the film, “Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead” by Joe Cross, an Australian national.  Essentially, he did a sixty (60) day juice fast, and chronicled the entire event on film. And he traversed the country side after spending time in New York (30 days).  His point was to ‘reboot’ his system, and gain an appreciation of eating healthier food.  My journey was not as long, but I was able to pick up some lessons from this type of juicing event.

For starters, I did not work a ‘lead up’ to the big event. Normally, you start preparing your body for the fast by lightening the level of food that you are going to consume at the height of the fast.  For example, if I want to drink water as the bulk of my fast for seven days, I would slowly work up to the fast by one week of no red meat, then no chicken, then no fish, then cooked vegetables, raw vegetables, juices, then water.  Each iteration would be for seven days, so that the body has cleared much of the gunk before-hand.  However, this had no lead up; Saturday I ate whatever, and Sunday I was drinking juice.

On the first day, it was fairly easy.  I mixed the drink that I would have for six of the ten days, which included:  1 Bunch of Kale, 4 stalks of Celery. Two Granny Smith Apples, ½ Lemon, 1-Inch of Fresh Ginger, and 1 Cucumber. For the juicer, I bought a Breville Juicer, like the one used in the film by Joe Cross.  The Breville produces juice rather quickly, and the clean-up is equally as fast.  Because it is a high-speed processor, it produces a bunch of ‘foam’ with the juice, but the catch-container is designed to lose the massive amounts of foam when used.  During the course of the week, I switched up the juice to make Cabbage, Carrot, Parsnip, Apple – Gala and Granny Smiths.  Delicious!!

Day two and three went by rather quickly as well, but it was around day four that it began to be a struggle.  I kept getting visions of food in my way, and thinking of what was in the refrigerator that could be eaten.  The commercials on television were interesting, but they could be suppressed with a thought. It was somewhere in the midst (day seven) that I got hooked on the Long John Silvers Shrimp Boat.  It just looked so good, and though I am not a major consumer of ‘fast food’, this just captured my attention.  However, there are no Long John Silver restaurants in the Philadelphia area.  Bummer!!!

But I digress.  What I noticed about drinking strictly juice for these ten days is that my blood pressure was bottoming out. I could readily get a blood pressure reading of 113/70 bp, and this was beginning to be the ‘norm’ for a blood pressure screening.  Though I was happy about the results, I understood that it was impossible to keep such readings because, eventually, I would have to go back to eating ‘food’.  (And, I broke the fast with a slice of cake, and a Seafood Sampler from Long John Silvers!!)

So what have I learned from this fortnight of experience?  That you can manage your blood pressure by eating the right foods.  It is possible to go for ten or even sixty days drinking just juice, and that you have to drink fresh juice rather that pasteurized juice.  That junk foods are terrible for the body, and have a ridiculous effect on blood pressure (140/90 bp) and more.  If nothing else, this short term experiment with Joe Cross’ Reboot System is great for everyone to try, and it does have amazing Health benefits for you.  And because I am relatively young, I can incorporate this as a permanent part of my system.  I would warn you: DO NOT return to junk food consumption after completing Ten Days.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Still Progressing – Healing Mother’s Spirit! Quarterly Newsletter: Sometimes…

…it seems that you cannot just wake up in the morning and bowl through the day like there is no tomorrow.  It seems as though there is an undue weight on your limbs, that slows down your movement so that nothing appears to get done.  For all intensive purposes, you are walking in slow motion and no matter what you do, it seems like a waste of time for you just cannot reach the finish line.

…it seems that you have handled the ‘good fight’ and that all else will be ‘okay’.  But as soon as you have achieved the right mix of constituent parts, there is something that draws a different heart, so that the world seems irreparable.  You have the best of the best, but it is nothing like what it appears to be.

…it seems that you are sinking behind the wall of integrity, and there is nothing that you can do to salvage the mess.  Your thoughts and actions have behaved in a horrible manner, but you cannot make the the world fair.  You have to push it along, and hope for the better part to appear and hold on to it.

It has been that kind of year, thus far.  Every activity has been looked at with greater scrutiny.  Even the events on my calendar are looking a little drab, though they are the most important activities to happen in quite some time.

So, I am traveling to Montreal, again.  But this time, I am going solo.  My wife and I are getting away, and it should be a super fun trip.  I return and host the ‘Jazzin’ at the Y in July’ event, featuring music, dance, and a relaxing Sunday afternoon.  A way to feature the accomplishments of the YMCA, and invite more people to check out what is happening I the YMCA.

In July, I get to take in the ‘Caribana Festival’ (never mind that it has been thwarted, so the real people are not making the money anymore, but that is the way life is).  Showing floats and costumes that make you want to slap your mamma, this will be a good celebration.  And while there, I get to do some Reflexology Training, and can come back and offer classes to those that do not get to go to Toronto.

I return to ‘PHoHWEUR: Warm Up To Jazz’, featuring Wellness and Music throughout the course of the weekend.  It will be the first event of this type, but is only a beginning, so I am really looking forward to offering a ‘breakout of the dull-drum’ weekend for those that like Wellness.

In September, I go to the New Hope 360 Exposition, that offers a look at new and old products (though the West Coast is better), and return to offer what I have learned, and how to take advantage of what is there.  There are plenty of Wellness products, and a boatload of benefits for those that come to class.

So though this is a rather mundane way of looking at the world, I find it an excellent way to get a lot of fun for a little bit of money.  It requires at lot of stamina, and offers a good way to interact with the world, allowing me to take advantage of the slow down times.  So no matter what you are doing, place a few trips on your schedule, and enjoy the show!!!

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Still Progressing – Healing Mother’s Spirit! Quarterly Newsletter: Road Warrior

 It was me Mum, Miss Helen, who first told me of the practice called “…living out of a suitcase…”, to which I thought, “Why would anyone want to live out of a suitcase, rather than a house?”  Of course, it eventually became clear to me that this was an expression about someone who did a fair bit of traveling, and had their clothes in their suit case.  (Interestingly enough, the smell of ‘complicated college-graduate thinking’ was on display when I took one of those department store boxes, separated it two halves in an attempt to make a suitcase, but would have fared much better had I just left the two parts together as they were, wrapped them with that string that accompanied the box in the first place, and used the metal-wood hook that came with it as a carrying handle, and pretended to be ‘living out of a suitcase’.)  Ah, but youth is so often wasted on the young!!!  The thrust of this quarterly notation is that of One person’s footsteps (literally) in cultivating the Spirit of travel, and thus a “Road Warrior”.

Early on, there was no need for me to live out of a suitcase.  But ‘road warrior’ I was, along with my two brothers.  Though there was a car in the family, it was very rare that we got to ride in it, and Miss Helen was not bound to movement by reliance on a motor vehicle.  (Let me note now that this portion of narrative can be considered a Philadelphia story, as the landmarks will be Philadelphia through and through.)  Our mode of transportation was at the end of bodies: the hips, thighs, legs, and tarsals.  We walked!!!  As a young person, we were firmly established in North Central Philadelphia, on 20th and Dauphin Streets.  We would walk to Broad Street and Lehigh Avenue to watch the trains pass under the bridge on a daily basis.  I know at this time, I was not yet five years old. I know this because it was at six years old that we moved to 27th and Somerset Streets (more on that later).  Walking to see the trains was a form of aerobic workout, and a way to get some fresh air.

But these were warm-ups to our real journeys?  The true road accomplishment was the walk to my Aunt’s house above Germantown and Chelten (Germantown and Duval, to be exact), in the Germantown section of the city.  It was not even a thought at that time to decide to walk there, spend the day with my Aunt and cousins.  Our available vehicle for transportation was ‘the feets’.  With the miracle of Google Maps, I now know that that walk is approximately five miles long.  And if I was doing that at four/five years old, I was crossing some pavement.  The joy is that we would walk to my Aunts’s place, play all day with my cousins, running, jumping, and being active little boys, and then we would make the five mile trek back home, because often, there was no car available for the evening retrieval (that was not always the case, but it was regularly the case).  Thus, road warriors were born.

At age six we moved to a new home at 27th and Somerset Street.  Again, the challenge of a walk was imminent.  The walk to my Aunt’s was horseplay now, because we were further north and closer, but we then moved in a different direction.  Though shorter, we were now older, and the thought of walking to the circus was not an adorable thought.  See, Miss Helen was not about to spend money on us getting lazy and taking PTC (Philadelphia Transit Company), the local bus system.  And again, I know now that that walk is a little over three miles; not an enviable task – to walk to the circus, traipse around Light House Field all day long, only inevitably to have to walk back home at the end of the event.  But for several years, that was how we enjoyed the annual coming of the Barnum and Bailey Greatest Show on Earth.  I do recall one year as we were headed to the circus, Miss Helen pulled up, and put us on the trolley that still runs along Erie Avenue today.  But alas, we still had to walk home at the end of that day.

And then there was Harding Junior High School.  I was in one of the most advanced junior high schools in the city.  There was no library, but an Instructional Material Center (“IMC”).  Though there were books, like any library, I also had access to overhead projectors, film strip projectors, movie projectors, mimeograph machines, and other technological media unavailable to students in other schools around the city:  Nerd Heaven!!!  Though there were ruffians on the bus, I sat quietly behind the bus driver going to and coming from school everyday, but stayed after school for extra-curricular activities.  (I was, and may still be accused of being, a loner, but that was what school was for me.  Even in elementary school, I preferred being in school rather than staying home sick.  Learning and academic pursuit was my schtick.)  So one day, in this isolated social state, I lost my bus token to get home!!!!!!  Mind you, this was in the days of no cellular telephones, and well after the office staff had gone home, so I was unable to secure a loaner token for the bus ride.  Just me and my lower phalanges and miles (approximately six of them) of pavement between me, dinner, and a good night’s sleep before school the next day.  I cried!!!  But I began the journey homeward.  And I walked and walked and walked.  And after three miles, I encountered a familiar place:  the grounds of P.T.’s show.  I did not know it then, but I was halfway home.  I knew I still had a long hump ahead of me, but I also knew it was doable.  I was pumped up, and home I walked!!  Thereafter, I took full advantage of the student transfers available in the bus system that allowed me unlimited access to the city; this on the heels of the token mishap.  Following that after-school stroll, I rode the city sorting out the connections of the various bus lines.  During my slow promenade, I had noted the buses, signs, and landmarks that passed me.

Also during my early junior high school tenure, I was in a Boy Scout Troop, where if we were not camping, we were hiking.  And if we were camping, we were still hiking.  (Eventually I added a bicycle, but I always walked, which extended into an interest in traveling, as map-making was an important Boy Scout skill to develop.)  But I also learned new forms of transportation:  chartered buses, trains, and planes.  (Cars came later, so they eventually became part of the mix.)  For example, the week after the PATCO line opened to Lindenwold, New Jersey, my troop leader and I were on it, just to know how it worked, and to know where it led.  Before leaving the Scouts, I flew to Billings, Montana for the International Boy Scout Jamboree in Yellowstone Park in Idaho, and watched the ‘moon landing’ on a hill facing the moon in the summer sky of a 1000 day, after seeing a tornado dismantle a farm from across a field while heading to the jamboree.  What a road trip!!!

So as an extension of a recent newsletter post concerning getting ready for a trip, this is a brief glimpse at some of the roads I have walked, and me embracing the fact that being on the road traveling is a process.  It requires stamina.  It requires dedication.  It requires not just knowing the destination, but appreciating the ground work leading to that endpoint.   Enjoying that a flight is a different experience than a train ride, and that a bicycle ride is not a cruise in a limousine.  The mode of transportation can enhance the trip – which may be why one form of transportation costs more than another.  And why driving may be convenient, but then also why it may not be as convenient as One may think.  Knowing the east versus the west, north versus the south.  Appreciating that what works in one part of the country, does not work in another.  Understanding that all countries have their own mojo, and that adaptability is so crucial for your full enjoyment of the time you spend away from home.  Look at the maps.  Explore the cuisine.  Acknowledge the people.  Find out what makes the this place slightly different from that place; and by default, what makes them similar.  Walk around, literally and figuratively.  Kick the proverbial tires when possible.  And relish the experience.  Because the road/travel feeds you in a different kind of psycho-social-emotional way.  And know that walking is Healthy!!!

In the book known as the I Ching, Hexagram 56 is named “Sojourner”, and addresses the Wanderer or the Traveler.  When on the road, One must recognize that everything is in flux.  Though One does not want/need to lose One’s Self, One also does not want/need to offend those with whom One interacts.  It is a time of delicacy, excitement, and of potential danger.  It is how One carries OneSelf that will garner the best of the experience in a safe and productive fashion.  It is an invaluable tool to develop this Wanderer’s Spirit (So it seems travel is also Spiritual!!).   Mine journey(s) started those days gone by when I was in tow with Miss Helen, traveling to and fro in the City of Brotherly Love.  In those jaunts through the city, imbibing the sites, sounds, scents, and people, that formed the perspective foundation for future, now current, excursions.  Unbeknownst to me, Miss Helen, in her duties as Mother and protector, was developing my ability to live out of the archetypal suitcase, and evolve to my dynamic representation of the versatile Traveler.  But it is not a monopoly of Spirit or events that are at work here.  Walking in someone else’s shoes does not necessarily get you the needed view.  It is in the nature of even your every experience that provides the raw materials that serve as the basis for you too to walk as a “Road Warrior”.


Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Still Progressing – Healing Mother’s Spirit! Quarterly Newsletter – Memorial!!!

In September (2011), I began my trek into the physical world of Reflexology.  It was a Wellness modality that I knew about, but had not fully explored.  There were several offers to secure this training, but it was always in direct conflict with either my bank account or my schedule, and thus it was elusive until this most recent opportunity.  Having begun classes in Iridology, Bio-Mechanical Therapy (Light Touch Treatment), and receiving certification as a Metabolic Typing Analyst, this was a modality that was portable, inexpensive, had an ancient history, and based on modern research, had proven its effectiveness internationally. In fact, I have since learned that ‘reflexive’ Wellness modalities have even been used by the United States military.  To great effect.   My biggest reason for wanting to add this Wellness modality was that it would be an adjunct tool for providing expedient, inexpensive Nutrition and Life-Style information to clients.  With a tool of this nature (not unlike the other modalities mentioned above), I could balance the data received from the client with objective information garnered from the application of Reflexology to their feet (or hands).

My initial certification was earned through the ‘Academy of Cultural Arts and Life Sciences’; the proprietor is El Ha Ghan.  After the instructional materials were given, it was required that I complete fifty (50) actual treatments to secure my certification.  I continue to connect with him for questions, information, and products that further enhance my ability to provide this valuable Wellness service to my clients.   (I am now pursing a national certification through the Lourdes Institute of Wholistic Studies.)

It was in October (2011) that I connected with Imhotep Natu Heri Ali and began our active friendship and apprenticeship/exchange relationship around Reflexology and Nutrition.  He taught me Reflexology nuance and more; I spoke with him about Nutrition and Life-Style as pertains to Health.  You see, Natu had colon cancer, and had been battling with it for approximately three (3) years when we began this Sensei/Student interaction.  Natu was predominantly Self-taught in the Healing Art of touch (Reflexology).  He was amazingly focused when absorbing information, and I learned in a short period of time, that he was not only intensely astute, but was extremely detailed about every aspect of the art; he read and practiced until it was like breathing for him; effortless.   The non-myth story that surrounded him was that he finally went to a school to get certified by the ‘existing’ standards, but was so advanced that the instructors at the school were at a loss in teaching him much, thus hired him to teach Reflexology and Massage, to them and their students.

Weekly, he and I would get together and exchange.   I would work on him and he would guide me in touch and intuition – sensitivity, pace, tone, “on, in, and through”, rather than rote Reflexology movements.  Whenever we spoke on the telephone, there would be a lesson and a test about assignments and my understanding.  And of course, there was on-going encouragement and patience.

Unfortunately, Natu made transition on 2 July of (2012).   On Tuesday, 26 June, Natu and I had our last conversation; by telephone.   He was very weak and wanted to speak more, but his light was flickering and he was in no wise able to plan to connect face-to-face.   After about fifteen minutes in discussion, he still teaching, his last words to me, encouraging as always, were:   “Keep studying, Brother!!   I will see you when you get back.”.  You see, on Saturday, 30 June (2012), I went to Montreal, Quebec, Canada for the International Festival de Jazz de Montreal.  When I returned, Natu was still a friend and Sensei, but  now also, an ancestor.

In November of (2012), I was dedicated to extending my education in Reflexology, as had been directed by Natu, and was searching for a school to attend.  As I had recently begun to travel to the District of Columbia on a regular basis, I began vetting schools in the area.  I was not thrilled by either the prices or the responses from the schools, so on a chance exploration, sought out the American Reflexology Certification Board website, looked for a Reflexologist in the area who may have been able to guide me in my selection.  I picked the first name on the list and called the number listed.  There was no answer, so I hung up the telephone.  As I was sitting there, re-evaluating this method of finding a school, the telephone rang and it was Maebelle Mills-Algee, the person to whom I had just placed the call.  I explained to her the impetus of my call, which began our regular meetings and communications surrounding Reflexology.  Maebelle was a vibrant and youthful octogenarian!!

I was in the area, on average, once a month.  We would have lunch or dinner, and talk about the the Art and Science of Reflexology, and she provided guidance as to different approaches, names in the industry, techniques, etcetera.   We laughed and joked and supported each other around improving our skills, and often demonstrated methodologies on each other to further illuminate the content of our discussions.  We became indelible friends and co-educators.  Big Maebelle, as I called her, worked exclusively on cancer patients, and provided me with the nuance associated with working on clients afflicted with that imbalance.   It is a light-touch affair, because for many, the pain is too intense to take a deep tissue Reflexology session.   As a result, it is imperative that the Practitioner stay focused on what they are doing, because with this type client, intention is a critical factor in the treatment of those who are in this population.

The reason that intent is such a critical element of Reflexology is because the palette upon which One works is relatively small.  The entire body is reflected upon the canvas of the foot or hand or ear.   Many parts of the body overlap, so if your intention is to work on the gallbladder, it is valuable to know that anatomically, the gallbladder is underneath the liver, and therefore, you must focus on that physical placement to effect the most significant impact on that specific organ.   Big Maebelle’s conversations about this mental focus re-enforced, in a subtlety and significant way, what Natu emphasized in the concept that One’s focus must be “on, in, and through” the body, and more specifically, the area of the body that is currently being reflexed.   It allows One yet another level of assistance to the client in reaching their ultimate balance and harmony, as this Art and Science is applied to their person.

In July of (2013), my wife and I visited the nation’s capitol for the annual birthday celebration.  While there, we had dinner with Big Maebelle, and she finally met, “Mrs. Kevin !!” (as she called her).   I stepped away from the table for a moment and upon my return, they were in a conversation about cancer survivorship.   In all of our discussions, Big Maebelle never mentioned to me that she was a breast cancer survivor.  In September, the dormant thief returned, and in October, I had the opportunity to surprise her in the hospital.  (I know it was a surprise, because I am certain, and she confirmed it, that had she an inkling of a visit, she would have refused; vanity and all :)!!)   After stating the obvious, her warm and dynamic Spirit bubbled through, and we talked about Reflexology.  I reminded her of things she could Self-impose to better her condition.   Like always, it was a good visitation – upbeat and jovial; and instructional for both of us!!

Again, unfortunately, Big Maebelle made her transition on 13 November (2013).  Yet another one of my mentors had come into my Life and retreated after leaving an indelible mark upon my psyche; one that informs my continued practice in the Healing Art of Reflexology, and contributes magnanimously to my character.   So, as this calendar year ends, I have the great fortune to be able to reflect on the past, that deliberately guides my future in the administration of Health and Wellness.   A history that directs me to continue developing my appreciation of this dynamic Healing Art, as well as re-enforces the reasons I chose it as another functional tool for my foundation practice of Nutrition and Life-Style counseling and education for clients and students.  Therefore, to the two mentors, now ancestors, Imhotep Natu Heri Ali and Maebelle Mills-Algee, who have contributed to my budding development in a way that has accelerated my understanding and manipulation of this phenomenal Healing Art and Science, I dedicate this humble Memorial!!!

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Still Progressing – Healing Mother’s Spirit! Quaterly Newsletter – Planning to Travel

Absence – My last Newsletter was published in December (2012), with two notices sent thereafter, the last being sent in February of (2013).  Negligence???  Naahhh!!  Busy?  Busier than a one-legged man in an ant stomping contest…!!!  Let me bring you up to speed.

In January (2013), I started school with the intention of extending my certification in Reflexology to a national level.  The course material was quite intense, with Anatomy and Physiology, and Pathology examinations occurring almost weekly, there was little time to do more than remember how the ‘…thigh bone connected to the leg bone…’, and what made the whole thing dysfunctional.  Intense, but enjoyable (in a nerdish-sort-of-way).  School finally ended in July, and provided a moment for my brain to catch up to all of the new information that had been crammed into it.

The summer was no less free, as I facilitated ‘The Summer Reading Project’ at the West Branch YMCA in Philadelphia.  During the summer, we read the text, Integrative Nutrition, and each week, I illuminated the contents of the text.  It was the foundation text for my certification as a Holistic Health Counselor, and though that course is done, I would suggest the text as a great overall guideline to One’s Health and Wellness goals.  Throughout the facilitation I highlighted and contrasted text content for the seminar attendees.

Normally, during the summer, I sponsor a trip to the Montreal Jazz Festival, and had also planned to end the summer with a Wellness Weekend (The PHoHWEUR Event), but my focus on school forced the gas out of the PHoHWEUR Event, and there was little enthusiasm from the public for the jazz festival, so it was a summer in the States this year.  That, in essence, is the newsletter absence encapsulation.

Planning to Travel – But the focus of this newsletter is ‘planning to travel’, because over the years, I have heard a comment that seems odd to me, but is rather universal when presenting travel opportunities to many.  The phrase is: ‘I don’t know what I will be doing at that time next year.’

Even writing it on paper makes me pause in amazement, and it continues to baffle me.  I have not sorted out if it is a way to put me off, or if the individual is hedging their bets for a better opportunity, or if they really believe that comment themselves, so they just say it blindly.  It is still a mystery to me. “Why???”, you may ask, but I do have an answer.

Well, if someone is getting married, they usually plan at least a year out for the event, announce it, and request that everyone that they tell, puts that event on the calendar – a year out – to make certain that nothing else will get in the way of their attendance to the nuptials (not to mention that they guarantee themselves the gift from the invitee).  Yes, one could say it is family, and that they have to go, or that it is their best friend, so they are obligated, or, ‘I don’t believe XYZ is tying the knot, so I have to be there to see it for myself’ – whatever.  The point is that the invitation happens long before the event, and it looms on One’s calendar until the event actually takes place and the calendar moves on.  Same with a family reunion, it is planned at least a year, sometimes two years out, and there it sits on the Julian, waiting.

Alright, if it is not a wedding/family reunion, it is not personal.  But there are such things as conferences that are scheduled, and in many cases, it is in the distant future.  So the days are marked off to remind One of the commitment to appear; a place to stay, money to spend, and additional activities are sought and secured to make the trip enjoyable – or if possible, extra care is invested to make the obligation a mini-vacation in a new destination.  Again, planning begins today in anticipation of events that are going to occur later.  Essentially, if you do not plan, in most cases, you will not go.  And, “I’m waiting to see…”, in my historical observations has meant the same thing:  ‘You ain’t goin’!!’.

So, here are a few tips to help One plan for any trip, so as to be thoroughly enhanced by the experience:

1. Do plan well in advance!!  In today’s (and even yesterday’s) economy, money does not grow on trees, and many do not have the ability to dredge up large sums of money in a short period of time.  By planning well in advance, One can budget and take the sting out of the cash outlay.  Establish a personal payment plan that is realistic and do-able, so that the trip becomes more affordable and seamless.

2. Check your payment deadlines, if applicable.  With cruises, for example, the final payment needs to be completed about seventy-five (75) days from the day of the sailing.  Do not forfeit your money, or worse, you miss the trip because you did not pay the balance in timely manner.

3. Travel insurance is well worth the investment!!  Life is complicated, and yes, there are times when at the last minute, something goes awry and you may be unable to take your trip.  When possible, purchase travel insurance, or make certain that your monies can be returned to you if you, in the eleventh hour, you cannot make the trip.  There may be some hotel, cruise, or flight fees that are non-refundable, but you do not want to lose the whole of your investment to the wind because of Life’s events.  Buy the insurance, it is well worth the investment; it is not a cost.

4. In planning your budget for the trip, include fun money.  There is nothing worse than going away broke!!  You are in this fancy hotel, staring out of the windows because you cannot afford to go out of the building.  Daily, you are amassing doughnuts, bagels, and jelly packets at the free Continental breakfast, so that you will have something to eat at night.  Fun vacation, eh?  Plan to have some spending money in your budgeting.

5. Learn something about the place you are going to visit.  A little of the history, the culture, customs, sights, language, the currency exchange rate (when applicable).  These are some of the things that will make your experience more positively indelible.  (You can always take a tour once arriving to your vacation destination.  Who knows their place better than them?)  Two examples.  Las Vegas, Nevada is known as ‘Sin City’, and there are plenty of activities there to suggest that that is an appropriate name.  But there are also plenty of family activities as well, sans the sin.  Shows and dining experiences there were great.  Alternatively, Montreal, Quebec, Canada is a French province, so that the predominant language is French Canadian.  I find it worth the while to enter business establishments and greet the customer service staff with ‘Bonjour’ (Good Day) or ‘Bon sour’ (Good Evening) before rattling off in English.  It, to me, shows a level of respect for their culture, and seems to make my experience there more enjoyable.  (And I am not fluent in French by any stretch of the imagination.)

6. Get a passport!!  A passport costs about one hundred twenty dollars ($120.00).  This does not include the cost for the passport photos or the stamps to send the application to the State Department.  It may seem like a lot of money, but a passport is good for ten (10) years, which is about ten dollars ($10.00) a year to travel around the world, if you so choose.  It takes about six (6) weeks to get the completed passport back, so the sooner you start the process, the sooner you can be on your way.  Also, should there be any complications with your application, you have time to get it resolved before your trip.  (If you never plan to fly, you can get a passport card for about forty dollars ($40.00) that allows you to travel using ground transportation, like cars, buses, and trains, between Mexico and Canada).  A passport is a pretty basic travel necessity!!

7. If there are medical shots that you have to take, you want to know that about the place to which you are traveling, in advance.  To date, I have not traveled to such locations, and it would probably be a deal breaker for me.  (Being very concerned about my best possible Health and Wellness, I would really have to weigh the need to expose mySelf to vaccinations or environmental hazards that could be detrimental to me or my family.)  Everyone has to make these decisions for themSelves, but they are a significant consideration.  You want to include this information during your planning phase.

8. Do you have children?  Are there travel destinations that are child friendly?  As an adult, will I have an enjoyable time as well, or will I come home starved for some ‘adult me time’ when I return from my ‘vacation’?  Good questions to factor into your family trip planning.

There are so many other things that could crop up when traveling, but what I listed above are rather basic first steps.  If all of this research and preparation are more than you want to do, it may be important to find a Travel Agent who will sort all of this information out for you.  You want to feel comfortable with the person and feel that they have your best travel experience at the top of their list.  There are travel agencies that One may see on the corners of big cities that are readily accessible.  More and more, there are home agents, that work through an agency, and have access to the same deals as the storefront operations.  With the advent of the Internet, many people use mass booking sites, like Travelocity, Orbitz, Trivago, Priceline, and more.  The choices are endless.

But the bottom line is that with whatever tool you use to set up your travel experiences, it is highly unlikely that it will happen overnight.  Sure, there are many people that actually wait until the last minute to use sites like those listed above for last minute deals, but that may not be the most relaxed way to get your travel on.  More often than not, the sooner you get your reservation completed, the less money you have to pay.  And you avoid strain (or undue stress) often associated with last minute planning.  Two other unwanted, but important factors, may occur and get overlooked with last minute planning to your financial or experiential detriment:  1. You may not actually have the travel experience you imagined, because you had to settle for ‘what was left’, and 2. The last minute deal was not a deal at all, and ‘you got ganked’.  These are not the things you want to remember about your travel experience, so as much as possible, take the time to make certain that they are absent from your after-travel-conversations.

So the next time you are faced with a travel opportunity that really sounds like something you want to do, or something that you have been longing to do, but have yet to make it happen, pause.  Gauge the offer in terms of the amount of time you have to plan the experience.  Remember that offers happen all the time, but for your best vacation(s) ever, it is imperative that you establish the ability, and meticulously engage the activity of “planning to travel”.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Still Progressing – Healing Mother’s Spirit! Quarterly Newsletter ‘Tis the Season…

…for stress, depression, and pain.

A little drastic as an opening statement, but it is important to recognize that it is not ‘Holly, Jolly’ for many at this high time season.  So let us explore this reality a little further.

I teach a weekly seminar at the West Branch YMCA in Philadelphia, and two weeks ago, the seminar was entitled “Ahkenaton, the Sun, Health and Wellness”; the follow-up seminar to that was, “Seasonal Affective Disorder”.  In the Ahkenaton seminar, we reviewed the many benefits of the sun, and noted that photosynthesis for plants is what is the popular notion, but that Humans also have a type of photosynthetic process by drinking in the natural sunlight from the sun.  This photosynthetic process also occurs at a lesser level when Humans consume green foods (which is a code-name for chlorophyll – which also protects the body from radiation), and the greener the food, the more heightened, or intense, is this secondary photosynthetic process.  The sun helps the Human body eliminate toxins (including uric acid) through the skin, thereby helping the entire organism to approach a more alkaline environment, which in a optimum state, the body likes.  The seminar even included some ancient Kemetic (Egyptian) history by recognizing that the Ninth Pharoah of the Eighteenth Dynasty, Amenhotep IV, changed his name to Ahkenaton, and disavowed the traditional religion of many gods headed by Amun, in favor of a monotheistic one honoring , the Aten or the Sun-disk, as the new, and only religion.  Ahkenaton means, ‘the living spirit of Aten’ or ‘he who is in service of Aten’, and so there were no priests above him as the direct descendant of Aten.

The following week we explored the phenomenon of Seasonal Affective Disorder, or “S.A.D.”, which is defined as a ‘mood disorder’ that affects individuals at specific times of the year, with lack of sunlight tending to be one of the triggering factors.  Though minimal sunlight is often a triggering factor, S.A.D. is not confined to the winter months when there is considerably less sunlight available.  Known as ‘Winter Blues’, some individuals suffer from its opposite cousin, ‘Summer Blues’, when there is usually quite a bit more sunshine around.  S.A.D., more broadly, occurs to an individual at the same seasonal time, and in the same season over at least a two year period.  And it should be noted that though S.A.D. is defined as a mood disorder, it has the propensity to move to full-blown depression, with symptoms that approximate a type of depression or funk, such as lack of energy, anxiety, irritability, lack of sex drive, and general feelings of detachment from people, events, and activities.  In extreme cases, it can lead to suicidal ideation and/or actual suicide.

Thus, with that backdrop, let us add another potential instigator into the fray:  stress!!  Such a well known word in today’s world, but it seems that it may be somewhat misunderstood, though, what it is often blamed for is quite inescapable.  When your heart beats, that is stress.  When you breathe, that is stress.  When you stand up to get a glass of water during the commercial of that football game or soap opera, that is stress.  When you reach for a pen on your desk to write a “Thank You!!” note to grandma for the recently opened birthday present, that is stress.

But immediately following these stresses, there is no stress; relaxation ensues.  Because your heart needs to be at rest for there to be the following stress that forces the vital fluid through your arteries that will eventually reach every part of your body with oxygenated blood.  The exhalation that uses the muscles to condense the lungs to force air out of them after there was relaxation to allow the lung to fill with that precious gas that helps to oxygenate the blood that will be pumped by the heart, is actually a type of stress.  The exertion of force on the muscles of the thigh, and the intricate, and very delicate balancing act that you performed to first stand, then coordinator your short, but meaningful trek to the refrigerator or faucet during the commercial break for that glass of water is the result of numerous types of stress.  The articulation of the fine-motor skills required to hold and move a pen over a piece of paper to scrawl symbols on a page that can be interpreted by another in the person of grandma requires a certain type of stress.  All of these are stresses, but we probably would not consider them in the same category as the “stress” that kills.  But they are, in fact, stress to the Human body.

So, “If these necessary activities are actually stress, what is the “stress” that I should be avoiding and that has such a bad rap?”, you may wonder.  I would have you rephrase the idea of stress and call it “strain”.  Yes, strain, which can be recognized as the undue continuation of stress beyond what is Humanly bearable for the mechanical body, the psyche, the emotions, and the Spirit.  And you know that ‘strain (stress) kills’, is a popular cliché, because it does (or can).

During this time of the year, many are attempting to cope with strain for various reasons.  ‘Economy or finance’ is a strain that comes to mind.  The economy has been brutal globally, not just here in the United States, and since we are living in an era of a global economy, it is not hard to imagine that if Italy or Greece or Spain are struggling economically, that that will have an impact on the financial interests in the United States; they may not be able to buy our exports.  In this season of commercial gifts and smiles for all, when many cannot afford to buy gifts because the finances say that it is beyond the reaches of paying the rent or mortgage, or heat, or electricity, the stress goes on ad infinitum, and converts to strain.  Strain is very difficult for the Human body to bear, forcing the body to compensate in unnatural ways to maintain the appearance of normal (though the real issue is remaining as ‘natural’ as possible).  Soon the strain, and its resultant, but often barely perceptible contortions, give way to an emotional response that we may call ‘depression’.  Mild at first, but there is a dynamic interplay between the emotional and the psychological, because you think/feel that you should be able to buy that gift, if you are so inclined.  And as the season of giving wears on, and you find that eventually you are unable to get that gift, stress reaches strain, and you are no longer having a good time.

But what if your situation is not about money.  Maybe many of those persons that you truly hold dear are no longer available to you, through either geographical location, or expiration.  It is possible that you no longer see the holiday season as joyous, despite all the markers and indicators and commercials that are telling you different.  Maybe neither is the case, but you just cannot reach that special person because they have withdrawn, either deliberately or through no fault of their own; an absence that could have profound effects on you during the Holy Day season.

Or it could be just the opposite.  Your family puts the capital “D” in Drama, and during the holiday season, there is bound to be an unforgettable event that you would just rather not experience again over the seasonal dinner table.  You try to find ways to escape the pending catastrophe, but there are no reasonable exit routes that you can present with a straight face.  And as the days shrink toward the inevitability of the unavoidable, your stress level tips over into strain.  The unending shopping has worn out wallet or pocketbook, and you are exhausted from fighting the other frantic gift-givers in the recent bought for ‘Cabbage Patch Dolls’.  Thus, hurdling forward towards certain doom is your only path.

As you become more and more tired, your immune system has taken a beating trying to keep you on the square.  You have stayed awake many more hours than you would like, doing things that may not be enjoyable anymore, and you just cannot seem to fight off the cold that you feel coming on.  You are taking some type of ‘Quil’, but that has not helped the situation, and the intermittent alcohol nips have helped you to maintain sticky filminess in your brain that you cannot seem to shake.  And then, of course, there is the feast that you have been dreading while inching towards it, and consider all of the gifts you received that will have to be taken back tomorrow.  So the query looms as to how you plan on managing that maneuver because you are physically wretched from the grueling lead-up.


‘Tis the season…?

Sounds delightful; and it still can be if we realize that everyone does not have a stellar experience during this time of the year.  Many are lonely and/or alone.  Money, last I checked, does not grow on trees, and the expectation of gifting can be a strain on those that cannot fulfill the giving experience.  Racing around the city, or the state, or the country may be an issue for some, and though they physically appear, they may be psycho-emotionally absent for any number of reasons.

The point is that this time of the year is not a happy time for all.  The season dictates that a heightened regard for our fellow wo/man takes precedent.  We can be more mindful of those that are in our personal circle that may warrant support on different levels.  We also need to be honest with ourSelves to make certain that we are not over-extending our abilities, our bodies, minds, and/or Spirits.  The nature of the season is supposed to be celebratory, and if possible, we should embrace its core and share that as much as possible.  And a good place to start is with One’s Self.  Try not to over-extend yourSelf.  This does not erase the bills that are steady, or the personalities of your family members, co-workers, or friends.  It does not make the fantasy world a reality.  But, as I wrote last year at this time, my Mother, Miss Helen, genuinely embraced the season’s Aura, and reveled in it.  Last year, just before this season, I lost my ‘first Baby Brother’.  And with all of the other family members that I have lost, and knowing that there are many who have concerns that grate against the nature of this season, I encourage readers of this newsletter to hold onto the positives, without ignoring the negatives.  Approach the season in a balanced, whole, and humbly appreciative manner;  and know, “’Tis the season”!!!

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Still Progressing – Healing Mother’s Spirit! Quarterly Newsletter – Compared to What?

I am naturally built on a small frame.  When I went out for high school football, the coach said I would not be able to suit-up waterlogged, as I was never going to make the weight requirement at just over 110 pounds.  (Though I did not think so at the time, my weight and the coach, did me a favor.)  At five feet, eight inches in height today, I do believe that my “ideal” weight is supposed to be between one hundred forty-five and one hundred fifty-nine pounds.  I am currently near the upper limits of that range, but my clothes tell me that this is too high a number.  Friends and family tell me that “…you really look good…”, but I am skeptical, as I do not”…feel like mySelf…”.

But despite that, I am nowhere near the high mark of my weight.  In the summer of (1981), I secured a position as a counselor at the William Penn Summer Camp in the Pocono Mountains north of Philadelphia.  I was responsible for ten-year old boys during three and a half iterations of two week camp cycles.  As the lead camp counselor, one of my duties was to go to, and make certain that the boys ate their meals (three-squares) while in camp, so I ate as well.  I can tell you that at that time, for me, three meals squeezed into an eight hour period was, in a word, “burdensome”.  At the end of my camp tenure, I was bordering on one hundred ninety pounds.  It felt as though I was carrying around another person.  It was difficult to breathe, and I felt both mentally and physically clouded.  It was difficult to break out of that occlusion, until I ran into some old friends from college, who thought that my normally “skinny” frame, now looked plump and rolly-polly like the ‘Pillsbury Doughboy’.  Needless to say, the ‘Doughboy’ reference was the last straw and the immediate motivation for me to reverse the weight-gain trend.  (As a further aside, I have not visited that amount of weight again.)

During a recent discussion with my brother, he noticed that I had developed a paunch, which he found interesting and commented about it.  I admitted that it was true as it was visible through my clothing.  In the last year, I have gained about fifteen pounds, and for me, fifteen pounds is a ton.  Though I have owned the weight, complained about it, I would also note that this current weight increase could very well have been triple the amount, making it that much more difficult to reverse.  (I attribute the reason that I am “manageably” larger is that I do not own an automobile, so do an amazing amount of walking.  I have recently re-added a pedometer into my daily routine, and average about five miles a day.)  But having been put on blast about the weight gain by those close to me, I needed to sort through the reasons for the new-found girth, as well as the reasons that it is not worse than it is at this time.

The calendar year of (2011) was much more emotionally difficult than I had initally considered.  In living, you deal with the “…slings and arrows of outrageous fortune” and go on, for “…if it doesn’t kill you, it only makes you stronger…”, and in this case, fatter.  What??  Fat!?!?  Oftentimes, individuals take comfort in weight when the world has thrown them unexpected curves, and though it may be gradual, I am convinced that I have been imperceptively overwhelmed by the events of (2010-2011), and the delayed response to the year manifested in less than optimum management of my physical body.

On February (2011) at 5:00 P.M., my homey from “Da’ Bronx” made his physical transition; he died.  During the course of (2010), I had been in and out of his home state after he had had a liver transplant; he had developed an infection that attacked his liver in (2009).  As a former co-worker, we had maintained a professional and personal relationship.  There were years when we were incommunicado, but we always found a way to re-connect.  In the years of our intermittent conversations, I developed an actual interest and passion for current political events, for growing up, I could care less about the shenanigans proliferated by politicians.  I took the requisite high school history classes, but was always fuzzy about liberalism, conservatism, republicanism, federalism, and all those ‘boring’ distinctions.  I held the naïve understanding that Republicans were bad and Democrats were good.  (It was all made even more confusing when, as an adult, my grandfather told me that he was a card-carrying Republican, and after his demise, I received communication from the Republican Party, with a picture George W. and Laura Bush, a letter recognizing me as a member in good standing in the Republican Party, and a membership card.)  Conversations with “Da’ Bronx” connection helped to flesh out these ideas, but at 5:00 P.M. on 11 February (2011), these chats ended permanently with his Life exit.

But interestingly enough, I did not know that his Life was extinguished until a week later, as I was not alerted to this event by his immediate family; I discovered it by driving up to his home, finding the “Black Funeral Wreath” on the door, with a notice that the family was in mourning.  The reason that I was in his former neighborhood was because on 11 February (2011), at 10:00 P.M. (note the time difference), my mother-in-law passed, and I was preparing for the funeral service.  Clearly, the week leading up to the service was one that was quite emotional for my wife.  Thus a little over one month into the New Year, my emotional compass was well off the radar.  The pre-planned emotional compensation was that in March we escaped to Carnival in Trinidad.  (And if you go to my blog at, you know that the newsletter published in April (2011) was dedicated to Val Monroe Berry, as he was supposed to go on that trip.)

It was while attending another funeral in March of (2011) that I began to suspect that there was something strange going on with my brother, only to discover later that he had blood cancer.  His first visit to the hospital in May (2011) to prepare him for a bone marrow transplant was postponed when they discovered that his right lung had collapsed as a result of years of smoking.  He was sent home, and re-admitted in August to receive the transplant.  It was in September (2011), while I was making regular visits to support my brother’s recovery, that “one of the neighbor’s offspring” burglarized my home, stealing my flat screen television, several hundred dollars, and causing additional emotional (and financial) stress.  Unfortunately, my brother ended his last days hooked-up to machines of all types, staring into space with a limited ability to talk, and muscle deterioration to the point that he could not even write about what was happening with/to him.  Needless to say, as “my first baby brother”, this was quite an emotional blow to me.  With this background information, the emotional foundations for potential contributors to my fifteen pound weight-gain are laid bare, which forces me to appreciate (and hopefully tempers your understanding) that even Health-oriented people are not immune to the dynamics of Living.

As noted earlier, I was complaining about the weight that I have gained, exhibiting a protruding belly.  When I stated that the accummulated weight was too much, I was asked the question, “…Compared to what…?”.  In college, I was a mere twenty pounds lighter.  During those years, comments like, “If you turn sideways, you will disappear into thin air”, were common.  (My favorite description of a thin person, which was never actually used to describe me is, “…does not have enough *ss to make a decent sandwich…!!!”.)  The person with whom I was conversing (Sidebar:  conversate/ing has been added to the lexicon, circa (1970-75)) has gained about one hundred and fifty pounds since college age.  Needless to say, this person has doubled their size.  They are literally carrying a second person on the frame that was designed for one.  I guess the question is, “Does this sound familiar/personal?”.

So this all begs the question for application.  How do I normally maintain a Healthy weight within the range of my physical capabilities?  What is the process that I implemented to severely limit the standard weight growth so familiar in this country?”.  (Note that the United States is one of, if not, the fattest nation among industrialized nations, and is also a top contender for obesity, high blood sugar (diabetes), heart disease of all types, and dangerously high levels of cholesterol.)

After giving it some consideration, this is what I determined keeps me competitively smaller (in addition to the walking that I mentioned above):

I established, and then maintain, a mind-set of warnings that keep me in tow.  For example, my funds are limited; it not easy for me to purchase a new wardrobe to accommodate changing weights.  When my pants begin to squeeze, I know that I have gotten out of line.  It is not like I did not know before the tightening, but the uncomfortable feeling is a definite alert that a change has occurred, and a reversal of that change is necessary.  As I mentioned, when I am paying attention, I know before this very demonstrable physical belly press; I may get winded sooner, note that I am less mentally sharp, I am a bit more sluggish in general, but because of the dynamics of day-to-day living, I may overlook these subtle warnings, until hit with the, “Oh!!”.  By establishing this ‘maintenance-type’ mind-set, I am wary when the body begins to get outside of my set parameters.  To me, this is a critical step, because it provides a considerable guidepost and tangible limit.

Secondly, it is important to respect the established parameters. Setting goals only to obliterate and ignore them at a later time is counter-productive and futile.  Ignoring the goals causes additional complications, like feelings of guilt which ultimately can lead to feeling worse than if there were no goals set at all.  (And note that the emotional impacts that I have mentioned were beyond my control, so why contribute to Life’s roller-coaster?)  The idea that it takes a lot of will power to stay on track, is possibly overrated.  It is more a matter of surrounding OneSelf with functional tools, concepts, situations, and individuals that will imperceptibly ensure your success.  For example, if you have a weakness for ice cream, it may be simpler to leave the ice cream in the store, rather than buy it, bring it home, and then fight with the refrigerator downstairs or in the next room.  In my seminars, I have noted that I enjoy potato chips; I occasionally have a bag of chips, but I do not buy them to take home.  And I also know that there are two things about potato chips that I especially like:  1.) the crunch, (texture) and, 2.) the salt, (flavor).  The actual taste of the potato chip itself is negligible.  So my alternative snack may be lightly salted almonds.  I get both of my interests addressed, I have a snack that is a bit better for me as almonds are a very balanced nut, full of fiber, and Nutrients, and I get to stay on track.

Thirdly, I allow myself to breathe!!  I enjoy my Life and what I do so that I am not condemning my activities and experiences.  If I identify that potato chip as “bad”, and then I eat it, what message am I sending to myself?  The relationship of emotions and thoughts are going into my palette and impacting my body.  Instead, I enjoy my chips on rare occasions, and move forward.  However, I often derail the chips for a more beneficial substitute, and stay less burdened about the whole affair.  By way of example, I just attended a product show for retailers and practitioners.  Many of the foodstuffs available for sampling were “chippy” in nature; dried crisps.  Though I explored quite a few products, I realized when it was over, that I had not eaten any of the various chips that were readily available to me.  My primary interest was in staying hydrated, and since these foods are drying, I abstained.  I was not fighting, but just felt more drawn to fluids, and thus refused items that were of this texture.

This gets close to the fourth concept in the process: understand the reasons you are consuming what you are consuming.  Are you eating because you are bored? Are you eating for entertainment?  Are you in a social situation that is built around food and drink?  Are you emotionally attached to someone who reminds you of the situation in which you are involved, or the things you are consuming?  Or are you eating because you are hungry?  Are your focused on your food, or are you watching television or working on the computer while you eat?  Have you just had an unruly experience, like an argument or some event beyond your control that has you upset?  These are questions you may want to consider as they will directly impact your physical digestion, as well as the consumption choices you finally make.

So all of this to answer the questions, “How do I keep it together?  What do I do?”.

I honor the parameters and the system that I have put in place for mySelf!!!  It may be helpful for anyone, and the tools are easily adaptable.  Add, tweak, realign them in whatever way works best for you.  But know that it is a system of checks and balances, and does not need to be over-thought.  Minimize the traps for yourSelf and enjoy your Life!  Relax!!!  In my mind, the seams are ripping and my clothes are about to explode.  I feel like I have gained a second body to drag around through every day.  But when I listen to others, and I step out of my world, I am reminded by others that my ‘fifteen pound ‘dilemma is one that is readily manageable with an adherence to the system I have established, and I have to smile and embrace the notion that, it is not my aspired ideal, but “Compared to What?!?!”.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Still Progressing – Healing Mother’s Spirit! Quarterly Newsletter – Live

This past week brought me the annual enjoyment of the Clifford Brown Jazz Festival in Wilmington, Delaware.  Clifford Brown is the legendarily tragic trumpet player whom many had dubbed as the next extension of the jazz trumpet after Miles Davis.  “Brownie”, as he was called, was born in Wilmington, and has been honored there for the past twenty-four (24) years, in concert, near the anniversary of his death (26 June (1956) – a little more than a year after I made my debut on the planet).  The festival is about a week long, it is free to the public, and features some of the most phenomenal jazz artists from around the world.  This year was the first time in recent years that the weather really cooperated with the artists and the festival, and was not rained out; the talent pool was incredible.  (I will deduce that if you can read this that you also have access to the Internet, so I will not bore you with the particulars of the artists that I consumed so try the following link to get more data about the presenters there –  And it is not like I could not go on and on about the talent, and not like I did not thoroughly enjoy the experience on the several days that I was able to attend, but the thrust of this chatter is the value of Life-Style, and the importance of consuming live, artistic performance, in all its various forms.

Yes, Life-Style does not just restrict itself to meaning ‘changing and maintaining what you eat’, getting to the gymnasium, or how you interact with other human beings (character).  It also encompasses the value to the individual Soul and Spirit that the Muses impart as well (and the meanings do not stop here either).  On Saturday evening, while listening to a phenomenal pianist and band, it struck me as to how valuable this dimension of Life is to our overall Well-being and Health.  Even more critical was the fact that the pianist does not readily speak English, but communicated through the musical notes that made up the several compositions that she and the band played.  That the depth of emotional and the piercing ideas that were expressed via the “eighty-eights” were greedily feasted upon by the audience, and there was in fact no language barrier.  When she communicated joy, there was joy; when she communicated excitement, there was excitement.  The audience was on the same page as the artists at every juncture.

Thus it was this interaction that had me step back and re-visit the value of this medium and its importance to the whole.  Despite the availability of personal listening devices in all shapes and sizes, and that even “live” performances can be captured and repeated over and over to the listener, there is something not caged on the CD, album, MP3, or radio presentation that occurs when you are sitting in the audience, “Organic!!”.  You miss the jokes that happen in the music when nothing is said but a wink, or there is a shift in the dynamic of the tempo or pitch of the sound.  Like a voyeur, you peek in from these removed mediums, but the totality of the experience is obscured from your vision, audially, visually, and Spirit-ually.  And yet you enjoy this partial tasting of the sustenance.  Like having hamburger, rather than ground sirloin.  Like having button mushrooms, rather than Shitakes or Portobellos.  Like…, well…, you know what I mean.

The value of this “live” experience was further impressed upon me, because on two of the days, I was in attendance with one of my brothers.  We have rarely gone to a live jazz show together – and that is only true if you do not count Mandrill which plays every damn thing.  But just being with him while this metamorphose was going-down was worth the price of admission – or to put it another way, the experience was priceless since the price of admission was actually “free”.  We relaxed, laughed, talked about music, and Life, as the sounds pushed us here and there over our collective Lives and experiences, and we had the luxury of the Muses to weave us yet a new experience, wrapped in the old to add yet more complexity and richness in our Lives as we move forward.

But enough about what got me to the show.  If you have read any of my past dissertations, music is not ever far from the fount of where I speak, and drink.  (And with regard to drink, let me note that Clifford Brown was reared in an era when musicians partook of drugs and alcohol as a major part of their Life-Style [when was that you say?], but he did not foul the Muse by ingesting these items as the “raison d’être” fueling his music.  He was basically ‘pure’!!)  I speak of live entertainment as it is the beginning of the summer season, thus you have the opportunity to frolic in the nature of the planet – grass, flowers, sunshine and all.  And in many cases, you can find Live music to further that experience.  Some free-$, some not so free-$. Some in concert halls, some on beaches, or in tree-lined amphitheatres.  Some in local proximity, and some with a whisk away to another exotic environment that offers an even more distinct experience with the Muses, that can eventually provide an even more indelible revelation about you to you.  And if music is not your Muse, poetry, or theatre, or dance, or even visual art (as visual art often implies that a Human being was involved), or nature may be the ticket, but something that is alive, and offers the excellent possibility that you can quantify the quality of your Life through a dynamic, but unspoken Human interaction through art.  With the passion of Life and Art, I encourage/implore you:  Do it now/soon!! Do it often!!!  And, above all else, all other considerations:  DO IT LIVE!!!!!!!

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment