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Healthy Body, Healthy Family, Healthy Home, Healthy Mind, Healthy Spirit

Good-bye’s, I Love You’s and everything else in your heart…..

One of my very dear friends passed away a few days ago.  He had been battling cancer for a while, and I had the opportunity to see him when he was sent to the hospital near my work a month and a half ago.  We live 5 hours away from each other, and our lives went in different directions many years ago, when he got married and I moved away.  But we still kept in touch via Facebook and over coffee dates when I was in town.

The week before he passed away, he had been on my mind a lot.  So I sent him a message just to say I was thinking of him.  A few days later I got a garbled message back from him, telling me, he was in hospice care and he would write later.  I immediately wrote back letting him know I was praying for him and how much his friendship had meant to me all these years. But he didn’t write back.  Thankfully Facebook tells you when someone has seen your message.

I also got to say the same things to him in the hospital that day I paid him a visit.  It had been at least a year or maybe even longer since I had see him.  But at that visit we reminisce about old times, movies nights, driving around northern Maine listening to Jimmy Buffett for hours, taking the class to get our motorcycle license, the time I helped him move and clean out his apartment…. I should have gotten the “Friend of the Year” award for the gallons of change I had to carry!  I got to tell him how grateful I was for the time he stayed with me after a break up with a crazy ex-boyfriend, whom I had to get a restraining order on.  And how if not for his generosity, I would not have been able to attend a semester of college, which I’m sure had I left then, I would not have completed my degree.  He always had my back when I worked as a Humane Agent.  Whenever I had concerned about some place or someone I received complaint on, he was always there to look them up and let me know if I should go with law enforcement.  And he always checked in to make sure I got home safely.  I have a lifetime of precious memories of this amazing man, that I am so grateful for. 

Although my heart is burdened with such great sadness from the loss of my sweet friend, I feel amazingly blessed to have had someone like him always having my back, protect me, and be an unconditional friend.  The world was a better place because he lived.  I am a better person, because he was my friend.

I am so very grateful that I had the chance to say good-bye and tell him what was in my heart.  I have suffered the loss of MANY important people in my life.  Most of them suddenly. And death of a loved one is so hard to navigate, especially when its sudden or unexpected.  I was reflecting today on the losses I have suffered, and two that I have the most “peace” with, is his and the passing of my mother’s mother.  

In both of these losses, I have experienced a sense of closure.  With his, I got to tell him how I felt and what he meant to me.  The same with my Gram.  I was there with my family surrounding her with love until her last breath.  And I was there to bare witness when her soul left her body.  The weekend before she went into the hospital, with what we thought was the flu.  I was suppose to cut and perm her hair as I did every other month.  I promised her when she was home I would do her hair.  But she didn’t go home.  I kept my promise though.

One of the most humbling, sacred, spiritual and magical experience I have ever had, was doing my grandmother’s hair for the funeral.  To be completely honest, I was TERRIFIED of doing it.  Our society makes death a very scary and dark thing.  But once I got over the fear of walking into the funeral home and with the kind support of the funeral director, it was a beautiful experience.  One that had such an profound effect on my life and the way I view death.  

What I have learned about death, is that it’s not something to keep behind closed doors.  It’s not something to be feared. It’s inevitable. Death is something thing to be discussed and by doing so, it will feel less awkward and frightening. It’s hard not knowing what to say, worrying about saying the wrong thing or upsetting someone.  Be gentle with yourself, be open to have the conversation, and say what’s in your heart.  

Death is SAD and HEART WRENCHING.  Losing a loved one, is hard, REALLY hard.  Don’t suffer with the regret of not having the chance to tell those you love how important they are too you, and how much you love them. No one is promised tomorrow.  

 

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Healthy Body, Healthy Family, Healthy Home, Healthy Mind, Healthy Pets, Healthy Spirit, Uncategorized

What Self-Care Really Looks Like

The one thing I love about Facebook (and probably the only thing), is the memory feature.  I do enjoy being reminded of what I was doing on the same day years before.  Today I didn’t need reminding.  

Seven years ago today, I said “good-bye” to the Animal Welfare Program which had become my identity, and my passion, or I should say obsession.

There is a fine line between passion and obsession.  Passion fulfills, energizes and gives you joy.  Obsession is ego driven, drains your energy and leaves you feeling depleted.

After leaving my position as a Humane Agent, I stayed in the animal welfare field by taking a job as a kennel manger at one of the largest shelter in Maine.  I LOVED working with a team and being connected with those that had the same mission I did.  But I hadn’t dealt with the trauma I had suffered from the years of conducting animal cruelty investigations.  At the shelter I had experienced a whole other level of trauma, and most of it ended up crated in my living room, kitchen, and bedrooms night after night.  

I pushed through 2 more years in the animal welfare field, a year at the shelter, then another year at IDEXX Laboratories,  until it became too unbearable and I really feared for my well being. 

I HAD to learn the art of Self-Care.  

During my time working in Animal Welfare, if someone told me that I needed to practice self-care, I would have told them to “go pound sand.” I did not have the time or the finances to get a mani/pedi, nor would that be practical in my line of work.  My hands were bitten, scratched, bleached and smeared with the joys of parasitic poop every day.  (so maybe a manicure would have been helpful).

The bottom line is, self-care is NOT getting manicures and massages. That can be part of you self-care practice, if that is something you ENJOY! Self-care is much deeper than that.    

Self-care are the practices and activities you do to take care of your physical, emotional, and mental well being.  Practicing self-care reduces stress and anxiety. If you can’t afford a massage or manicure, or are repulsed by the idea of being touched by a stranger, it will only add to your stress.  You have to find what feels right for you. And for most of us, we NEED to put it on our calendars!!!

For me, the most important practice I incorporated was being still. Call it mediation or what have you, just sitting in silence and checking in to see how I was feeling, was extremely helpful. For years, when I wasn’t working 50-60 hours a week, I would find things to keep me busy, especially when I felt anxious.  Instead of checking in with myself to find out what I was anxious about and addressing it in a healthy manner, I ignored it with “busy” work.  

The foundation to self-care is boundary setting.  This include setting boundaries on how we interact with others, but more importantly how we interact and treat our self.  How can you set boundaries when you don’t even know how you feel or what you want? So being still, checking in with yourself, and allowing time to process your experiences and feelings, really helps you identify where you need to create boundaries.  

For me it looked like this:

  • I got a good therapist, which really helped me stay accountable to my bullshit. So no excuses, created plans, and worked through the emotions and feelings of all that I witnessed. My first experience in therapy in was a disaster.  I basically ended up spending most of our sessions teaching the therapist how to train her dog.  My next time around, I did my research and asked a lot of questions.  It’s really important to feel safe with the person you are working with.  
  • For every negative thought I had about myself, I needed to find 3 things about myself that were positive. When your job requires you to always be responding to disasters, it’s really hard to feel accomplished and/or successful because you know there’s another disaster waiting for your attention.  There were a lot of times those disasters couldn’t be saved.  This left a dark emptiness in my heart most of the time and feeling like a failure. 
  • I create the space for more alone time, to check in with myself and process what I was feeling.  Most of the time I was just reacting to the world around me without thought or intention.  My alone times included a long drives, walks, hot baths or anything that didn’t require me to be taking care of someone or something.  
  • I didn’t say “Yes” right away, and said “No” if that was immediately how I felt.  I am a people pleasers, and I genuinely like to help people, but I have a tendency to say “Yes,” without looking at my schedule.  Leaving me overwhelmed, exhausted and angry, trying to accomplish all that I had committed too.
  • Healthy nutrient dense foods and lots of water.  In struggling with my weight my whole life, I reached a point that  realized I order to have a healthy body, I needed to support a healthy body. Starving myself, binging and purging, eating food in wrappers – laced with gmos and chemicals, and going to drive-thru was not self-care.  This required getting rid of processed foods, sugar, gluten and eating organic foods. Eating foods rich in vitamins and minerals also helps with relieving anxiety and depression.  
  • Movement everyday, even if it was simple stretches.  Movement was the key to pushing the trauma I experienced, out of my body.  There were days I couldn’t get out of bed and face the world, but I would lay in bed practicing yoga poses.  Now I find dancing is most healing for me. 
  • Journaling.  I can sometimes spend hours writing.  But when I first got started I would just write everything that came to mind.  Even if it didn’t make sense or sounded silly.  A lot of the time I would just grab a piece of paper, write down the a list of things I didn’t get done, or perhaps a “To Do List” that I knew wasn’t humanly possible to complete in the day, then light it on fire.  There was something powerful in not only releasing those thoughts from my mind, but then burning them up.  Plus, no one would ever see it! 
  • Getting good quality sleep!  During my time as a cruelty investigator, I slept maybe 3 hours a night if I was lucky.  Lack of sleep can quickly lead to mental health issues, especially anxiety and depression. Sleep should be a priority in your self-care plan.  
  • Practicing creativity.  For me, this could be dancing, writing, painting, sewing, drawing, baking, whatever sparks my interest. It felt healing just to create something.  
  • Spending time with people I LOVE.  Working in Animal Welfare, I saw the scum bags of humanity most days.  I forgot that most people are really good, kind, compassion, caring folks.  If you work in a field where you are always encountering challenging people, it is so important to surround yourself with good people. Even if they don’t “get” your work. This is were I failed.  I was so consumed by my own misery that I felt like I couldn’t relate to anyone, or they wouldn’t understand what I did or how much my heart hurt.  The truth is, unless you live in a rainbow bubble your whole life, EVERYONE experiences trauma at some point in their lives.  Though the experience of our trauma is individualized, the feelings of anger, loss, mistrust, violation, sadness, despair, and so on, are intensely felt.  And it’s not a contest of who’s trauma is worse or more important.  We are ALL hurting, and it’s extremely healing to share our story with others that are safe, kind and compassionate. 

Self-care is NOT a luxury.  IT IS A BASIC HUMAN RIGHT! By not practicing self-care, you rob others of experiencing the best version of you. 

I am still sorting through some of the trauma I experienced while working in Animal Welfare. There were also some REALLY AMAZING memories as well.  I am thankful for the experiences because it taught me what self-Care really looks like, and now I am better equipped to show up in the world as my best self. I’m so grateful for that.

Be well my friends, 
~Jen~ 

Healthy Body, Healthy Recipes, Uncategorized

Avocado Egg Salad

I got 4 chickens a few weeks ago.  I knew I would enjoy having them, but I seriously have become a CRAZY CHICKEN LADY.  Yes, I’ve even looked at sweaters for my chickens online!!  They are the first thing I think about when I wake up, and the last thing I think about when I go to bed.  I LOVE my chickens!!

My girls have been good to me, producing 3-4 eggs per day.  So needless to say, we’ve been eating a lot of eggs and been giving some away.  The other day I did a trade with a friend.  She has some beautiful collard greens she traded me for some eggs.  I knew I wanted to use them to make a wrap of some kinds, so I decided to put a spin on egg salad and it came out delicious!

Avocado Egg Salad

4 Hard boiled eggs mashed
1 Avocado mashed
1 Tablespoon of Avocado Oil or Olive Oil
4-5 Sprigs of fresh Dill
2-3 chopped scallions
Salt and Pepper to taste

Mix all the ingredients in a bowl. Simple as that!  You could eat this on it’s own, in bread, on crackers or like I did, wrapped in greens and added some tomato.

An easy nutrient dense meal, which was great when I needed a quick lunch.  It has been so hot here, I haven’t have much of an appetite.  This has been the prefect meal to enjoy on those hot days.  Especially when you don’t really feel like chopping up veggies for a salad or using the oven.  

Do you have a favorite egg recipe?  Feel free to it share below.

In love and magic
~Jen~

 

 

Healthy Body, Healthy Family, Healthy Home, Healthy Mind, Healthy Spirit, Uncategorized

Seven Years after Weight Loss Surgery: The number on the scale doesn’t equate to health

One month before weight loss surgery.

Seven years ago today, I took an extreme measure to what I thought would regain control of my health.  What I thought would be the cure to my increasing weight and what I thought would bring me to a place of self-love.  That was NOT the case.  Up until 5 years ago, I had always equated my weight to my health.  And up until seven years ago, I was considered morbidly obese. = UNHEALTHY

Seven year ago I had gastric bypass surgery.  I entered this world of weight loss surgery (WLS) on April 26, 2011 after attending an informational meeting explaining how the surgery was done, what tests and other specialist I would need to see and in about a year’s time, I would be having surgery.  From the time I was sixteen, until I was 34 I had used every diet plan, work out program, hours at the gym, ran 2-5 miles a day, tried every weight loss supplement and drugs on the market to try to control my weight. I was also hiding a very serious eating disorder.

I met with surgeon the week following the informational meeting and was scheduled to see the dietitian, do a sleep study, have an endoscope, and meet with a psychologist.

At this point in my life,  I was vegan and for several periods of time, I was a raw vegan.  I which meant I only ate plant foods in their raw form.  I thought by eating a vegan diet, I was being healthy.  But most vegan diets consist of eating processed food, lots of grains and lots of fruit, which is a whole lot of sugar! I was really missing some essential nutrients by following this diet for several years.

Since I had no comorbidities, what was usually a year long wait for surgery, turned into less than 4 months.  It was at this time I began my dive into learning about holistic health to treat the other problems I was having.  Not only was my weight an issue, but I was battling anxiety, depression, insomnia, along with a host of other symptoms. I began researching ways to help with the laundry list of aliments I had.  I believe at that time they were related to my weight, and by losing weight they would go away.  I now know that my weight was just another symptom, and these problems were cause by the enormous amount of stress from my job, as well as the lack of nutrients in my high sugar vegan diet (mostly smoothies and juices).

At the time I had WLS, I was working as an animal cruelty investigator.  I was on the road for about 10-15 hours a day, many times knocking on doors of violent criminals with no way to protect myself, eating in my truck, not sleeping, suffering from panic attacks, binge eating and purging. I was a mess!

The first few months after WLS was a real struggle.  Nothing prepares you for the physical or the emotional challenges you face.  From the moment woke up, I knew this was the wrong choice for me.  I knew my weight wasn’t a health condition, it was a symptom of something much deeper going on in my body.  But the surgery was done and there was no turning back.  I just needed to figure out how to heal my body and get my health back.  I knew this surgery was not going to be the answer to heal myself.

Almost 1 year after WLS at 145 lbs

The first year after WLS I lost weight, A LOT of weight.  I lost over 100 lbs.  My highest recorded weight I was 290 lbs, which is when I went for my first appointment with the WLS surgeon .  I know the year prior to that I was over 300 lbs.  It’s shocking to me to think about, and even more terrifying to share.  After the surgery I was down to 145 lbs, which for my large 5’7″ frame, was really too thin.  I was sick all the time and had no energy due to the lack of nutrients my body was able to absorb. I was a mess physically and emotionally. I felt guilty and ashamed of having the surgery.  Feeling as though I was a failure because  I couldn’t get my life and health under control.  As the years went on, and I became a health coach, I felt like a fraud.

I followed the “rules” that the dietitian had given me for the first year, but after studying and researching, I quit the low fat, high protein, low carb diet.  The biggest improvement I saw was after incorporating lots of good quality fat into my diet. My skin, nails and hair improved.  I had more energy, my mood swings diminished, and overall I felt better. This help with vitamins absorption.  Having a compromised digestive system that struggles to absorb nutrients, then taking fat out the diet, really makes it a challenge to absorb fat soluble vitamins. I began implementing an ancestral diet, asking myself what would my grandparents or great grandparent eat?

My diet became simple: locally source grass-fed meats, organic produce, raw dairy, non GMOs and Gluten Free foods. I learned how to fuel my body and because of that, I was able to heal my gut and maintain a healthy weight for the past 7 years.  I have had my challenges with weight gain after surgery, but when I practice self-care, which the first practice is good nutrient dense food, my weight is not an issue.  Will I ever be posing in the next Sports Illustrated? Haha, NOPE!  But I am happy with my weight and comfortable in my own skin.  That for me is true wellness.

3/08/08 to 11/14/08 Weigh-ins from my doctor while I was on phentermine.

There very few studies providing data on the long term weight loss success of WLS patients.  All the studies I have read, report that more research is needed.  I can tell you of my personal experience, along with working with others that have had WLS. WLS is not the answer.  Most of the people I know, including myself that have had WLS, after 2 or more years, regain some of the weight.  Many of them regain it all and then some.  For myself, I no longer have any kind of restriction as I once did for the amount of food I can consume.  Believe me, I can eat a whole Otto’s Gluten Free Pulled Pork and Mango pizza all by myself.  What has been the key to my success is putting my health first, by feeding my body with nutrient dense food, checking with myself, spending time in nature, with loved ones and moving my body in ways that I enjoy, advocating for myself and knowing my limits, and the biggest thing of all setting boundaries. That includes with others, myself, the hours I work do, what I put on my to-do list, and so on. Boundaries keep us healthy.

Meeting Steve Brown of Trixter, 2010. One year before WLS
Meeting Trixter again, 2012. One year after WLS

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As anyone that has undergone any kind of weight loss surgery knows, it’s NOT the easy way out.  It’s not a decision I regret, but a decision that if I had to do over again, I would make different choices.  I would have first found a functional medicine doctor to get to the root cause of my weight gain and inability to loose weight, to treat my adrenal fatigue and hormonal imbalance, my sleep issues, and anxiety, which were ALL related.  I would have run a complete thyroid panel, tested for parasites, viruses and gut infections.  I would have nourished my body with nutrient dense foods, stopped working out like a maniac, and incorporated gentle movement.  I would give my body time to rest and recover from the constant flow of adrenaline and process the trauma I was witnessing on a daily basis from my job. I would be gentle with myself… All the things I practice now because of what I have learned  from this journey, so for that I am grateful.

In Wellness and Magic
~Jen~
Today, August 3, 2018. Seven years after WLS. It has left me with physical and emotional scars. But it has made me stronger and made me take responsibility for my health and wellness.
Healthy Body, Healthy Mind, Healthy Spirit, Uncategorized

Triggered

I left my career in animal welfare almost 5 years ago.  Since then, I have done  A LOT of work to heal not only my body, but my heart and soul, which suffered the most trauma.  It’s only been last few years, mores specifically the last 6 months, that I have done some real healing around my trauma.

The other night I was having a conversation with a friend’s husband, and he told me where he had grown up.  On my drive home, I was thinking about that conversation, and then remember the town he was from.  I.GOT.TRIGGERED.

My very first large animal hoarding cases had taken place in this town.  I suddenly began to spiral into a panic attack, my mind racing thinking of all the things that may have been missed, the animals we couldn’t save, wondering if that person has accumulated more animals, and on, and on.

Rather than fight the panic attack, I sat with it and allowed the unpleasantness to settle into my body. Letting the sadness, pain, guilt and shame to rise up and be, then it released. This is much like the process I did in the journal entry I wrote below, after being triggered by seeing a video online. I had shared the journal entry back when I wrote it.  I have found writing to be so healing on this journey. The process of tuning in and acknowledging what is going on in my body, identifying it, writing it down, gives the pain a physical presences outside of my myself.  Writing allows it to escape from body.

*Warning this is a journal entry I captured from being triggered into an anxiety attack by a Facebook post. I just began writing as I felt the anxiety coming on and thought it would be healing if I shared.  This was a raw emotional moment of an old wound that I had been pushing away for a very long time, which was in desperate need of healing. I have included the post that trigger me in a link below.  I wouldn’t normally share an article like this because I don’t feel that I need to flood people with tragic photos and stories, especially from the animal welfare field, because most of my friends are still in that field and they are bombarded by this everyday.  But I feel this is a healing opportunity for me and the video does have a happy ending. But please be advised in my entry I do share some details of a case that might be triggering to someone who has experienced trauma. 

~August 30, 2016.  I don’t know if it’s because that Mercury is in retrograde, if I’m  taking on other’s energy, or if I’m just out of alignment, but my anxiety has been through the roof over the past several days. I’ve been taking time to help manage it, and doing a lot of self care. But today an article came up on my Facebook feed that opened the flood gates.  I know there are many unresolved issues I have around my past work in animal welfare, and this post of Facebook really triggered that today.  The post, was of someone finding a puppy in a plastic bag, tossed out like trash on the side of a road.

After leaving my job as a Humane Agent, I suffered from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. One of my biggest trigger to anxiety besides the phone ringing, was seeing trash bags on the side of the road.   One of my cases involved the beating, sodomizing and killing of 3 dogs, that were then dumped on the side of the road.  It has only been the past 3 years that I have been able to drive by a trash bag on the side of the road without stopping to open it.  I didn’t want anyone to know how effected I was by this, so when I was driving with someone, I would note where the bag was and go back to check later. Today, I don’t have to stop or go back to check, but I am aware of the physiological effects it has on my body.  My muscle tense up, my breathing shallows, and many times I hold my breath as I pass a trash bag on the road.  My mind races, wondering if there is an animal in the bag.

As I write this now I can feel the tightness in my muscles, and my breath becoming shallow, tears welling up in my eyes.  But this is a chance for me to heal.  So that is why I am writing this.  I WANT to heal this. So I will sit with these feeling, as uncomfortable as it is.  I will let the tears flow.

This feeling is so uncomfortable, and I want to get up and find something to do to busy my mind and push this down.  But I sit.  Feeling the empty pit in my stomach growing. My heart breaking opening as  I remember collecting those dogs off the side of the road. Their bodies badly beaten. Opening the bags to reveal the white and liver colored Britney spaniel, it’s body bloody and bruised.  I remember being very disconnected with my emotions.   Looking at their lifeless bodies and being so focused on collecting every piece of evidence I could, so I could find out who did this.  I did not cry, I remained stoic, professional, and completed my job. I shut of my emotions to carry on the work I was doing. Most of the time the only emotion I felt was anger. And I’m sure that most people that work in animal welfare would say the same.

My chest feels so tight. My teeth clench and my mouth becomes dry.  My palms start to sweat and my fingers are cold.   The tear are really starting to flow.  I cry now for the lives of those dogs.  I cry for the pain and suffering they endured.  I cry for myself, that I had to witness such monstrous torture.  I cry because a job like this is needed. I cry for the person(s) that did this, because of how tortured their soul would have to be to do this to an innocent creature. And then I feel the anger palpating in my neck, and my hand and teeth clenching, my breath is short, and my skin tingles, especially on my face and around my mouth. Perhaps a physical manifestation of not voicing my anger and hurt.  My mind starts racing through all the possibilities of how something like this could happen? Who could have done such horrible things? Then I start second guessing my management of this case.  Did I collect the evidence correctly?  Was there something I miss, or got left in the woods? Did I ask the right questions? Talk to enough people?  I am sobbing uncontrollably.

I sit with this pain and discomfort for what seem like an eternity, but it has maybe been 30 minutes. I begin to feel my body soften and then release of anger and guilt.   I am beginning to feel the tension release in my muscles and my lungs can expand to take a full breath.

I go back to April of 2006, to the girl who wanted to save the world.  I stand next to her as we look at the tailgate of her truck on the side of the road.  Starring at the muddy trash bag encasing the beaten body of an innocent dog.  I tell her, “I am sorry.”  I am sorry for not protecting you by setting boundaries.  I am sorry for not providing you the coping mechanisms needed to do this gurgling work every day.   I am sorry I did not take care of your physical, emotional, mental and spiritual needs.  I honor, recognize, and love your heart and spirit.  I honor the work you did, the sacrifices you made to help save the lives of animals, and to help change the lives of people. Thank you. Thank you, for all that you did.

I also give a moment of gratitude to the Sheriff Detective that took me seriously and assisted me with getting evidence to the crime lab, and the police officer from one of the surrounding towns that tried to get finger prints.  I give thanks to the supportive colleagues and supervisor I had at that time.  They were the only ones who truly understood the struggles of my daily duties.  They struggled along with me.  In those days it was so hard to relate to the outside world. My days were full of abuse and neglect.  Everyday, no matter how hard I tried, I felt overwhelmed by my case load, like I was a failure, inadequate and incompetent.  I continue to sit with these feelings and allow them to flow through my body.  It does not feel good.  It hurts, it’s uncomfortable, it’s dark, it’s empty, but I’m healing.

I hold space and honor the memory of these dogs that where so violently tortured.  I surround their memory in compassion, and send it into the light of the universe be consumed by eternal love.  I forgive myself for not being able to find out who did this. And I forgive the person who did this to these beautiful creatures.  I pray that your soul has healed since this happened, and that you have received the help you needed.  I hope that you have found a way to heal those dark and dangerous spaces in you mind.  I send you light, love and peace.

~I am freed.

Driver Shocked To Discover Why Trash Bag In Road Was Moving

Uncategorized

Good-bye my Sweet Daisy May

It’s been almost 5 months since I had to say good-bye to my beloved best friend Daisy.  My heart has been too broken to write about it. I’m still deep in the grieving process, but I wanted to honor my sweet girl’s memory.

Daisy May… next to my kids, was the greatest love of my life. I honor our friendship, love and the deep devotion she had for me. Daisy walked me through the grieving process so many times, and even walked me through her own transition from this earthly plane. I truly believe that her slow decline in health was her way of preparing me for this heart aching loss.  Had it been quick and abrupt, I couldn’t have handled the trauma.  She had always been my greatest protector, friend and guide!

We spent lot of our last days with our old girl just laying around the meditation room or out in the hammock. She spent most of her time sleeping, and Elliot was never far from her side. Elliot and I slept down stairs, since Daisy couldn’t climb the stairs any more. It’s was nice sleeping in the meditation room with the big picture windows and the door open. Being able to feel the breeze, smell the trees, hear the stream, and see the stars and moon. We were completely supported by Mother Nature. As hard as it was to watch her decline, it was an honor to assist her in her transition to the spirit world. To hold space as she rested her weak body, to walk next to her while she enjoys the breeze and sunshine and just being in the moment. My life will be so empty with out her physical presence, but our souls with be forever connected.

Daisy was by my side for the past 14 years of my life. She truly was a gift from heaven, and even though I rescued her and her siblings from a horrible place, I really believe she rescued me. I am so blessed to have had this girl grace my life with her companionship, devotion and deepest love. I will LOVE you FOREVER Daisy…

    

Healthy Family, Healthy Home, Healthy Pets, Healthy Spirit, Uncategorized

Supporting Your Aging Dog: Diet and Supplements, Part 3

*Disclaimer* This information is in no way intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your veterinarian with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment and before undertaking a new health care regimen, and never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. 

**UPDATE- some reason this post was deleted from my blog, so I am reposting.  Sadly since the first post of this blog, Daisy has crossed the Rainbow Bridge**

Diet: As your dog ages, his/her diet needs will change. He/She may become less active, weight gain is always a concern with older dogs.  Extra weight can cause tremendous issues on old bones and joints.  Making my sure my dog’s diet is clean and nutrient dense is extremely important to me.  It also helps me manage her allergies.  I have been making her food for the past 7 or 8 years, with great success.  Be sure to speak to your vet before making any changes to your dog’s diet.

  • Bone broth.  This has been the key to encourage my girl to eat some days. And so easy to do. I usually give Daisy about a cup of warm bone broth every morning with her breakfast.
  • Steamed veggies.  A great source of vitamins and minerals.  Steaming them is best for older dogs, because it aids in easy digestion.
  • Organ meats. Be sure they are from grass-feed, antibiotic free animals.  Organ meats are the most nutrient dense part of any animal.  Again with older dogs, it’s best to boil the organs before they eat them, unless your dog has been on a RAW diet all along.
  • Wild Game: A great addition to a dog’s diet at any age.  Most wild game, depending where it is hunted/fished  will be the cleanest source of proteins and healthy fats you can feed your dog (and yourself).  Again, the organ meats from wild game is a great additions.
  • Collagen and Gelatin. I use Collagen every day in my coffee, “healthy” lattes or smoothies.  I also using it in Daisy’s dog food.  Collagen and gelatin helps maintain healthy joints, tissue, skin and can aid in skin allergies.  Collagen can be given at any stage of a dog’s life, and the sooner it’s given, the better.  My favorite brand is Vital Proteins Collagen Peptides and Vital Proteins Gelatin
  • Grain free foods. Dogs were not designed to consume grains. Just like humans, grains can cause inflammation in a dog’s body. This can be especially harmful in an aging dog that may have arthritis. Many times grains can cause itchy skin and yeasty ears.  This is the case for my girl.  For most of her life, I have either made her food or choose a grain-free dog food.
  • Turmeric Paste aka Golden Paste: Turmeric is a powerful antioxidant, an effective anti-inflammatory, can help prevent and even treat cancer and protects the liver from toxins, along with many other benefits. Here’s a link to the recipe I use Turmeric Golden Paste for Dogs

Herbs: Herbs are a great way to assist in supporting your aging friend.  A group of herb known as Adaptogens, which are a diverse group of plants that contain substances that help the body adapt to various life stress.  Some examples of adaptogens are Ashwagandha, Rhodiola, Schizandra, Siberian Ginseng, a variety of mushrooms, and many others. Again be sure to do your research before giving you pet any herbal supplements.  I would strongly suggest working with a Holistic Veterinarian or a veterinarian that is trained in Traditional Chinese Medicine.

Cannabis Oil: I was never a strong believer in the healing power of cannabis oil, until I has suffered extreme flank pain.  I thought it was kidney stones, I had x-rays, MRI, blood test, chiropractic adjustments, nothing helped.  I did not want to take pain killers or antibiotics, because the source of the pain was unknown.  So I tried cannabis oils.  My pain went from a 10 plus, to a 2 within the matter of 15 minutes.  Since this worked so well for me, I thought it would help Daisy and began researching it. I have used it in small doses when her pain is really bad.  Since her mobility has declined dramatically over the past several weeks, I’ve been using it on a regular basis, with great success.  Be sure to be working with your veterinarian before giving your dog cannabis oil. This is a great article explaining the use of cannabis oil on dogs Cannabis Oil for Dogs: Everything You Need to Know .  And this article list places to purchase cannabis oil, along with another great explanation of how it works Cannabis For Your Dog: How it Can Help.

Epsom Salt Baths: I added Epsom Salt baths to this part of the series, because magnesium is a mineral that is missing from not only our pet’s diet, but ours as well.  A great way to get magnesium into the body is through Epsom Salt.  Epsom Salt baths are just as beneficial for your dog, as it is for you.  When Epson Salt is added to water, it breaks down to magnesium and sulfate, which is absorb into the body via the skin. Epsom Salt Baths aid in arthritis pain, swelling, sore muscle and helps cleanse and soften the fur.

Some dogs, won’t be so excited for this one. However my girl doesn’t mind taking baths.  Be sure the water is warm and the tub full enough so that the water covers most of your dog.  Allow your dog to soak 10-15 minutes.

For Small Dogs under 10 lbs: 1/4-1/2 cup of Epsom salt
For Dogs 10 lbs-40 lb: 1/2 cup-1 cup of Epsom Salt
For dog over 40 lbs: 1-2 cups of Epsom Salt

Rescue Remedy: Is a liquid of flower essences that can be given to your dog, via a dropper into the mouth, in your dog’s water, applied to their gums or even rubbed on their paws.  The most common brand is Bach’s Original Flower Remedies.  Bach’s brand contains the essences of 5 different beneficial flowers.  It assists with their emotional support and is helpful for dogs that are hypersensitive, fearful and have a hard time adjusting to new situations.  I’m not sure how helpful this has been for Daisy? I haven’t seen a dramatic change in her behavior during stressful situations, but each animal is different.  You might find this very helpful for your pet.  I know when I was the kennel manager at a Humane Society, we used in every dogs water. I found with some dogs it was super helpful, while others it had no effect on them.  For more information: Rescue Remedy for Pets

Check out my other post in this series. Supporting Your Aging Dog: Body Work Modalities and Supporting Your Aging Dog: Using Essential Oils

 

Healthy Family, Healthy Home, Healthy Pets, Healthy Spirit

Supporting Your Aging Dog: With Essential Oils, Part 2

*Disclaimer* This information is in no way intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your veterinarian with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment and before undertaking a new health care regimen, and never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. 

 

Essential Oils (ESOs) are used everyday in our home.  I have been using ESOs for well over 15 year, and use them on my girl regularly.  Be sure you do your research before using oils, and talk to your vet or an aromatherapist about using oils on your pets. When using ESOs, be sure to dilute them in a carrier oil such as fractionated coconut or olive oil, or diffuse them with an ESO diffuser. I don’t ever recommend having animals ingest ESOs, although you will find a lot of Wellness Advocates with ESOs businesses that advise otherwise.  Make sure your information source or the person your getting advice from is well trained, preferably an aromatherapist.

Animals metabolize ESOs differently than humans, therefore some ESOs that are safe for humans to use, may not be safe for your pets.  And always take extra precautions if using ESOs on cats.

The other thing to be aware of is being sure when using ESOs is that you are using a therapeutic grade, that does not any contain synthetics, additives, or artificial ingredients of any kind.  Organic is always best, so the oils are not from plants exposed to pesticides and/or herbicides or grown in soils containing toxins.

I like to diffuse the following blend next to my dog’s crate. It’s not only beneficial for dogs, but for their humans as well.

Daisy’s Dream Blend

20 Drops of Frankincense: Healthy Cognition, Reduces Sadness
20 Drops of Lavender: Reduces Stress, fear and sadness
10 Drops of Ylang Ylang: Reduces Anxiety
10 Drops of Bergamont: Reduces Sadness and Stress, Calming
5 Drops of Vetiver: Supports Cognition and is calming

This blend should give you approximately 3-4 mls, which you can add 1-3 drops to a diffuser.  You can also as 3-4 drops to a 4 oz glass spray bottle of distilled water and spray on blankets and throughout the environment.

One of my favorite sites that has great resources for ESO use for pets is The Dog Oiler.

Many times I will just put a drop or 2 of Lavender oil in my hands, and give Daisy a good massage.

Check out the other blogs post in this series:

Supporting Your Aging Dog: Body Work Modalities

Supporting Your Aging Dog: Diet and Supplements

In Love, Light and Magic
~Jen and Daisy~

 

Healthy Body, Healthy Family, Healthy Home, Healthy Pets, Uncategorized

Supporting Your Aging Dog: Body Work Modalities, Part 1

My Daisy has been by my side for the past 12 1/2 years.  She is truly a gift from heaven. Even though I rescued her, her mother, and her siblings from a horrible place, I was the one rescued that day. We’ve been on many adventures together, several moves, boyfriends, the loss of our beloved Great Dane, a pregnancy and so many other milestones.

This past year has really been hard on my old girl and I know her time on this earthly plan is limited; as it is for all of us.  I am so blessed to have this girl grace my life with her companionship, devotion and deepest love. This past few month has been extremely hard watching my best friend struggling through the day.  I know her time to enter the spirit world is drawing close, but until she takes her final breath, I will support her any way that I can. I have created this blog series to provide the details of how I am supporting my sweet aging girl.

*Disclaimer* This information is in no way intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your veterinarian with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment and before undertaking a new health care regimen, and never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. 

Supporting Your Aging Dog with Body Work Modalities

Body work is a form of alternative medicine using manipulative or energy work.  There are many forms of body works and most are used on both humans and animals.

This blog outlines some of the most common forms of Body Work used to support aging dogs and what I have been activity doing to assist my own girl.

Acupuncture: Acupuncture is the use of thin needles inserted into the skin to stimulate specific points on the body where there are areas of high concentration of small blood vessel and nerves.  The needles stimulate the nervous system and causing transmission of signals through the nerves, spinal cord and into the brain with the result of changing the neural output to the body.

Benefits of  Acupuncture helps restore normal blood flow, which in turn caries oxygen, nutrients, hormones and neurotransmitter throughout the body.  In dogs, acupuncture is extremely helpful in treating arthritis, hips dysplasia, intervertebal disk disease, weakness, paralysis, seizures, kidney failure, inflammatory bowel disease and skin problems.  It can also be used to aid in the treatment of behavior disorders, urinary disorders, upper respiratory infections.  It’s also a wonder adjunct to cancer treatment.

Acupuncture Laser Therapy: Laser Therapy is another great options, especially for dogs that might not be able to lay still with needles for an extended period of time.  Laser therapy uses light to stimulate healing at the cellular level by increasing blood circulation and decreasing nerve sensitivity and pain.  The laser is applied to the acupuncture points. Some of the benefits of Laser therapy are it aids in healing wounds, decreases inflammations, and reduces pain.

Chiropractic Care: Chiropractic care addresses various physiological and biomechanical aspects including structural, spinal, musculoskeletal, neurological, and vascular. Spinal adjustments are used to correct these misalignment and restore proper function to the nervous system, helping the body to heal naturally.

Some signs that chiropractic treatment may be beneficial for your dog are back or neck pain, joint stiffness, poor performance and an altered gait. Benefits of Chiropractic care are aids in correcting alignment, addresses joint degeneration, pain reduction, and improves neurological function.

Hydrotherapy:  Hydrotherapy is great way to exercise your aging dog. The buoyancy and resistance of the water make it a safe and effect method of exercise and rehabilitation.  The use of an underwater treadmill or swimming can be extremely beneficial to your dog.  The warmth of the water if using an underwater treadmill helps to increase the flexibility and mobility of muscles, tendons, ligaments that surround the joints as well as enhance circulation.

Some of the benefits of Hydrotherapy are  provides comfortable movement, muscle strengthening, increased Cardiovascular stamina, Neuromuscular Re-Education and weight loss.

Exercise: As Daisy has aged, we can no longer go on our 5 mile hikes.  Walking down to the mailbox, can sometimes make her lame for the rest of the day.  Exercise is important for old dogs, gentle and appropriate daily exercise helps keep an older dogs joints, ligaments and muscles strong and supple, improve blood flow, reduce pain and/or inflammation, boosts mood and improves overall quality of life.  Swimming is a great exercise for older dogs, it’s low impact exercise and can be used for both cardiovascular benefits as well as muscular development/maintenance.

I am not currently using hydrotherapy for Daisy, but during the summer months, we do swim.

Massage: Massage utilizes soft tissue manipulation to achieve different goals such as relaxation, stimulation, and relief of muscle problems. Massage increases circulation bringing oxygen and nutrients to the tissues. Benefits of massage are increased circulation & oxygenation to the cells of the body, decreases pain, soreness & stiffness, restores muscle tone, improves muscle function, increases flexibility & range of motion and relaxation and stress reduction.

I usually spend 10-15 minutes a day doing a massage and Reiki session, which I have found to be very helpful for Daisy’s mobility and reducing her anxiety.

Reiki: I was introduced to using Reiki on animals when I was a kennel manager several years ago.  The humane society had several practitioners that would come in to work on the animals on a regular basis.  I saw first hand how it calmed down stressed dogs, lifted spirits, and just added to the dog’s overall well being.  In 20015, I became a certified Reiki Master.  I practice Reiki on my girl regularly.

Reiki is an energy healing modality that aids in the reduction of stress and promotes relaxation and healing. The technique was developed in Japan and is administered by the laying on of hands. The word Reiki is made of two Japanese words – Rei which means “God’s Wisdom or the Higher Power” and Ki which is “life force energy”. It is based on the idea that all living things have a special energy flowing through them called life energy.

My girl really enjoys Reiki sessions.  I’m not so sure if it’s for the healing properties, or more for the touch.  But either way it’s a great way to connect with you dog and really tune into their body.

A dog at any age can benefit from any combination of these modalities and so can YOU!!! Creating a wellness practice for you and your pets can have powerful benefits to on your overall health and well-being.

 

In Love, Light and Magic
~Jen and Daisy~

Healthy Family, Healthy Home, Healthy Pets, Healthy Recipes

Turmeric Golden Paste for Dogs

Daisy 2009

My little Golden Healer Daisy, will be 13 this year.  Over the past year she has been really slowing down.  In her prime, she loved to do agility, nose work training, hiking, swimming, running, pretty much anything as long as she is with me. (It’s amazing to be adored so much.) With age, has come some serious arthritis.  I do a lot of supportive modalities to help ease her pain and keep her comfortable.  One of the things I do to help support her aging body is give her Golden Paste.

Golden Paste is a concoction of turmeric, water, fresh ground pepper and coconut oil.  Turmeric (Curcuma longa) is a perennial plants that grows 5 to 6 feet high in the tropical regions of South Asia.  It has been used in Ayurvedic and Chinese medicine as an anti-inflammatory, treat digestive and liver problems, skin diseases, and wound treatment, for well over 4,000 years.  It’s well known for it’s powerful antioxidants, effective anti-inflammatory properties, study have shown it is helpful in preventing and even treating cancer, aids in protecting the liver from toxins, and so much more.

When turmeric is ingested on it’s own it has poor bio-availability in the body, which is believed to be a result of being rapidly metabolized in the liver and intestinal wall.  Studies have shown that combining turmeric with black pepper increases the bio-availability of turmeric by 2,000% in humans and 154% in rats, according to the October 1992 issue of the journal Clinical Pharmacokinetics. 

How To Make Turmeric Golden Paste For Dogs

Australian veterinarian Dr Doug English has seen great results with a turmeric recipe he developed called Golden Paste.  His website provides a lot of supportive documentation on the benefits of turmeric. Here is his recipe:   Dr. Doug English

Ingredients:

1/2 Cup of Organic Turmeric
1-1 1/2 Cup of Filtered Water
1 1/2 Teaspoon of Fresh Ground Black Pepper
1/4 Cup of Organic Cold Pressed Coconut Oil

Directions:

1. Add turmeric and water in a pan (Start with a cup of water, add more if needed)
2. Stir on medium/low heat for 7-10 minutes, or until paste consistency (if too watery add more turmeric)
3. Add pepper and coconut oil, stir well
4. Allow the mixture to cool, then store in an air tight jar in the fridge for up to 2 weeks

*If the mixture doesn’t mix well, you can put it in the blender for 1-2 minutes and it will incorporate the mixture.

Giving  Golden Paste To Your Dog

You can add the Golden Paste directly to your dog’s meals by mixing it with some water, raw goats milk or kefir. Some may even lick it off a spoon. Most dogs don’t mind the taste at all, however my girl does!  Mixing it with goats milk or bone broth, has been helpful to get her to eat it.

Start with about ¼ to ½ tsp, depending on the size of your dog. You can increase the amount from there, up to about a Tbsp for larger dogs.

If you don’t want to go through the trouble of making the Golden Paste, Primal Pet Foods carries a Golden Raw Goats Milk that offers the benefits of the turmeric, and probotics from the goats milk, along with good health fats.

In Love and Magic,

~Jen and Daisy~

*Disclaimer* This information is in no way intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your veterinarian with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment and before undertaking a new health care regimen, and never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website.