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 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.