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Subscribe to this list via RSS Blog posts tagged in health
An Integrated Model of Wellness for Difficult Times

“What drains your spirit drains your body. What fuels your spirit fuels your body.” 
― Caroline MyssAnatomy of the Spirit


As a chaplain working in a healthcare setting, I am intimately familiar with the current efforts to include the emotional and spiritual aspects of health into a more traditional allopathic medical model. In many respects, we are seeing great progress as integrative and functional medical models are starting to incorporate more holistic and alternative treatments like reiki and acupuncture in treatment plans for patients. But what does it mean to have an integrated model of health? And why is that so important in times of distress, especially now around the holidays and as a result of current political events?

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Posted by on in SageWoman Blogs
Real Food Gives You Willpower

I quit sugar four weeks ago today, and I am amazed at how much energy, motivation, focus, and contentment I have gained as a result.  I’ve also dropped about 20 pounds and went from a size 28 to a size 24 in these four weeks, and I haven’t even made regular exercise part of my regimen yet (that’s in my plans for the next four weeks.)

When I say I quit sugar, I mean I stopped eating refined carbohydrates: candy; junk food; fast food; foods made with white flour, white rice, skinless potatoes; processed “food;” and artificial and refined sweeteners.

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Francesca De Grandis
    Francesca De Grandis says #
    Ashley, I support your journey. Since 1980, I’ve basically been sugar free. I’ve also refrained from honey, maple syrup, corn syru
  • Ashley Rae
    Ashley Rae says #
    Thanks Francesca! I quit all those things too. I look forward to reading your blog post.
  • Francesca De Grandis
    Francesca De Grandis says #
    Rock on! Let me know what you think about the blog. I am hoping it will support your eating power, ... ooh, I like that, must u
  • Ashley Rae
    Ashley Rae says #
    I love your affirmation. I left a comment there too. Link your new blog post here when you are done writing it - I'd love to rea
  • Francesca De Grandis
    Francesca De Grandis says #
    You are too kind, tu! I read your blog on your own site about qutting sugar. It is such an accomplishment.

Posted by on in SageWoman Blogs

I met herbalist Lindsay Wilson when she presented “Restoring Digestive Health,” a day-long workshop at the Organic Growers School’s Harvest Conference near Asheville, NC.

(Photo of Lindsay Wilson courtesy of Luisa Porter, Catfish Alley Magazine)

Her name was already familiar to me. Since publishing The Woman's Belly Book, I continue to delve into the body center's role in every dimension of our well-being. When I was looking into the connection between soil depletion and our ability to replenish the gut bacteria so important to our physical and mental health, I found Lindsay's helpful blog post titled Eat Dirt.

Along with a gastroenterologist and a naturopath, Lindsay figures in Give thanks for beneficial gut bacteria and feed them well, my recently published article in Asheville's weekly newspaper, the Mountain Xpress. "Our gut is a garden," she says, and you can read her suggestions for cultivating that garden here and here.

Now settled in Mississippi, Lindsay lived north of Asheville for several years. I was curious about her connection to Western North Carolina and asked her: What influence has your time in this region made upon the ways you understand and address digestive health?

Her answer details a deepening relationship with the natural world:

I moved to Spring Creek, just outside of Hot Springs, in the Winter of 2009-10. I became the Retreat Manager at a 30-year-old silent, contemplate retreat center called Southern Dharma. While working there, I continued to deepen my interest and awareness around digestive health.

As the retreat manager, I took all of the basic enrollment information from retreat participants. One of the questions asked about food sensitivities or intolerances they had. I was really surprised by all of the various digestive issues people had and that further solidified my interest in digestive health.

After my time there, I worked on a farm near Max Patch for a year or so. I grew a good bit of my food and foraged for greens, berries, and mushrooms as well. Even though I had always had a garden, working with the soil and the land on this scale was eye-opening. I began to have quite a few insights into the nature of our digestive complaints and our disconnection with the basics of life. I began to see that soil work...was indeed...soul work.

Living in the mountains was simply mesmerizing. I charted and took note of what was in season and how that particular food or herb was relevant to health of the body at that time of year. I named certain seasonal phenomena and observed nature because there was no distractions and only time. For example, I started to call the fruiting season the "berry wave," which was a steadily ripening flow of berries from mulberries in the early season to autumn olives in the very end of the season.

Basically, with the stark beauty of the Pisgah Forest, I began to see the impeccable timing of it all. Jessica Prentice's book Full Moon Feast was in my possession and I read it for the third time while living there. Her book was about certain indigenous and traditional cultures that had named the thirteen cycles of the moon.

These names were also connected with seasonal phenomena of a particular bioregion, something I began to call Seasonal Intelligence. I even taught two on-line courses on this, using the framework of Traditional Chinese Medicine and their five seasons and related organ systems. The participants and I met on the phone each season so that I could present a basic framework of how to use food and herbs in a seasonal context.

Living in the mountains was a real boon to my understanding of natural cycles and my place in it all.  I am forever grateful for the experience!

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  • Byron Ballard
    Byron Ballard says #
    She's a terrific teacher. I met her last year at SEWWC.

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Finding Atalanta

I’ve never been drawn to stories of fleet footed maidens like Atalanta, or athletic goddesses like Artemis. Even at the occasional peaks of my fitness, I lean more toward a rigorous yoga practice than intense cardio, and I’ve always said that I hate running. I remember being forced to run the mile in gym class growing up, and cursing every sweaty step as I fell farther and farther behind my classmates. When I played tennis in high school, we ran briefly every day as part of the warm-up, but the only time I remember having to run a two-mile circuit around town was one Friday when we’d pissed the coach off somehow, and running was our punishment. I’ve had friends who’ve run, and I’ve always cringed at the thought of voluntarily racing around, but I tried to be supportive even though I didn’t share their idea of “fun”.


But then, two years ago, I sustained what would become a chronic wrist injury, which limits my ability to do weight bearing yoga poses like downward facing dog and plank, and which made me kiss my rigorous vinyasa practice goodbye for the time being. And then, almost a year later, when I realized that I needed to replace my fast-paced moving meditation with SOMETHING (for both my physical health and my sanity), I spontaneously decided to start running. I made a playlist of my favorite music, laced up my walking shoes, and started jogging in the living room, using the Wii Fit to “train”.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
The Snake Goddess Reborn, Part 2

I am lucky enough to live in Kifissia, a lovely green suburb of Athens, Greece. Not far from my home there's a quiet place with meadows and olive groves. I love taking meditative walks there. Just a couple of days ago, as I was walking, I came across a snakeskin. I felt chills down my spine as I remembered the powerful symbolism of transformation associated with a creature that can literally shed its skin.

This made me think that the forces of change are always with us. They're part of nature as much as they're part of our inner landscape and our social environment. Living in Greece has given me ample opportunity to experience the winds of change time and again these past few years.

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Pagan News Beagle: Earthy Thursday, July 23

It's Earthy Thursday once more, our weekly news post about nature and science. This week we bring you stories about those magnificent, high-reaching biological structures we commonly know as "trees." Can you email a tree? How about build a church out of living trees? And are trees good for your health? All this and more for the Pagan News Beagle!

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs

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In my previous post I talked about how I was contacted by the director of pastoral services at Duke University Hospital.  Once a month, the chapel invites speakers from various faith traditions to talk to doctors, nurses, social workers, and other hospital staff.  The director had contacted me almost a year ago, asking me to give a short presentation focusing on a Pagan perspective on health, healing, life, and death. 

 

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