Saturday, October 31, 2009
Today is the 15th Anniversary of my survival . On October 31st, 1994 I was diagnosed with and had surgery for , a grapefruit sized tumor on my right Ovary. I knew as soon as I woke up from surgery that there was no way in hell I was going to do chemotherapy or radiation.
I was very fortunate at the time to be surrounded by folks in Sonoma Co who were herbalists and knew the healing power of plants. I was also very lucky to have not had a great deal of pain (unlike many of you out there who have gone through hell and back to survive). Two weeks after surgery, I was back hiking with kids and teaching about Redwood trees. To attempt to keep the "cancer cells that were found in the wash" from reproducing and spreading, I prepared and took tea that was a combination of Burdock root, Slippery elm bark, Sheep sorrel and turkish rhubarb. This formula (rumored to have been passed down by the Ojibway but similiar formulas existed in the cures of other midwestern Indian peoples) is commonly called The Essiac Formula. It was made famous in the u.s. and in Canada by a nurse, one Renee Caisse, who took on cancer patients in Canada that doctors had completely given up on, and healed them by golly!
I also had access to a clinic in Oakland called "The Charlotte Maxwell Clinic" http://www.charlottemaxwell.org/ that was/is an amazing oasis providing alternatives to western medicine for low income women with cancer. The environmental education program I worked for at the time did not provide me with insurance, so I qualified. So a few Saturdays a month , I would go there and receive free acupuncture, massage, reiki, chinese medicine, organic produce, flax seed oil etc. The CMC ( at that time ) was run by volunteer bodyworkers and herbalists .
I also stuck to things (for a while) like rice and miso and alot of seaweed soup. The previous summer I had been working on an Organic csa farm and eating straight from the ground, so I believe that this also helped by body to fight the reoccurance. My surgery was paid for by the county, because I could not.
The hardest part of the entire ordeal for me was that the (overkill) surgery induced the onset of menopause. I chose herbal medicines for that too, deciding never to go the route of estrogen replacement therapy. I don't know how to say what I want to say here in any other way than a short two word phrase (author unknown) who said "Heal thyself".
Regarding the current debate on all forms of media regarding government supported healing:
All I can say is : Healthcare Shmealthcare. Sadly, I do not have access to any of these forms of alternative bodywork at this time, and yes they are not accessible to alot of the population. It is long overdue for these forms of alternative healing to be recognized and I do not want to participate in any (so-called) healthcare system that does not provide them.
For now, I will continue to search out, harvest and prepare my own medicinals, practice self massage/acupressure and practice the little that I know about energy work with movement, taking walks, doing art, playing music and singing , laughing as much as possible.
Friday, October 30, 2009
Thursday, October 29, 2009
Wednesday, October 28, 2009
On my ride from Seattle to Santa Cruz
North Coast of California
Near Rockport, California
Yucca Plant in So Cal
My old favorite souvenir stand in Galveston, Texas
Most likely swept away in a hurricane
Backroad West Central Indiana
My favorite cave on North Pescadero Beach, Cali
An Old friend that I am trying to restore
(somewhere near Moab )
Same cave as above, looking out
Tuesday, October 27, 2009
Monday, October 26, 2009
When I was a little girl I was involved in (what was called back then) The Campfire Girls.
We had to pick an "Indian name" and I chose Minnehaha. One translation of the name is "Falling Waters".
In my 8 year old mind, I most likely chose it because I was a giggler and had gotten into trouble many times in school for laughing out loud in class.
This summer I remembered that name and started looking it up on the internet.
I am still not sure if such a character even existed but while doing this research, I worked on this collage. She is probably a combination of two women in American Indian folklore, Minnehaha and White Buffalo Woman.
Sunday, October 25, 2009
I am putting it on my blog today (Dover gives permission for 10 or less) because 'tis the season that bat images appear all over America as a method/attempt to scare, horrify or otherwise signify Halloween.
As an Environmental Educator-Naturalist, I spent many years trying to play down the various stereotypes regarding bats to children and adults that were hiking with me on trails in various programs. A folk musician/singer-songwriter , Steve Van Zandt that I knew in the Pescadero-LaHonda area ( who as part of "The Banana Slug String Band") wrote a song that we sang with kids whose refrain goes something like this:
"Bats eat bugs, they don't eat people, bats eat bugs they don't fly in yer hair, bats eat bugs, they eat insects for dinner, that's why they're flying up there".
As a naturalist in a program based in the Great Smoky Mountains back in 2000, I was fortunate to have witnessed a huge amount of them (200 hundred or more) flying out of the mouth of a cave in a remote location there. The NPS had been wise enough to bar up most of the entrances of the known cave entrances to protect these beings from you and I.
When I lived in Austin, Texas I would go watch the colony of Mexican free-tailed Bats living under the Congress Avenue bridge. Nowadays "Bat fans" everywhere come from far and wide to witness them. The population there is estimated to be in excess of 1.5 million...so they have grown since I left there in 1998.
Via education, folks are learning to dispel the old stereotypes and erect "Bat houses" in various places to attract them into our parks, farms, neighborhoods and communities. But still we need more education. About a month ago I witnessed an employee of the Meijer grocery chain in Grove City trying to hit a baby bat off of the wall. It was high on a very flat surface clinging to the brick face . I saw what he was doing and asked him why. He replied that it was "his job" to knock them down as he thought they might freak out a customer. I stayed around for a while (not preaching or condemning as I know that doesn't work) and tried to convince him to give it a little time to warm up as it was a chilly morning and the baby bat was obviously traumatized. Eventually I had to leave to go back to work but still wonder about the fate of that little bat.
In many traditions, including the beliefs and stories of some American Indian tribes, bats are sacred and should in no way ever be harmed. I believe this myself.
Next time you see a bat, Thank him or her for the valuable services they provide... pollination of fruits and vegetables, bat guano for an amazing fertilizer for plants and population control of mosquitos being only a few.