Category Archives: Memoir

A year ago today

Three women gathered outside the door. One, almost 6 feet tall and broad, stood with two smaller women. One was petite with curly hair, and the other was thin with a drawn and angular face. I had seen them before. They were discussing a patient’s lunch and the fact that she hadn’t eaten. But it was not about the patient’s health.

“She didn’t eat it?” asked one.

“It’s still on the table,” said another. I was listening. I recognized the voice of the tall one.

“She ordered from outside,” said another.

They were “stage whispering.” My roommate had intestinal problems, and I had asked to have my lunch moved to another area. They had taken the tray too far away for me to retrieve it. Then, they became like “the disappeared.”

“She ordered from outside.”

Strange that I’m reflecting on those days this morning. I think it’s because I’m feeling luxuriously at ease within the sanctity of my bedroom. Maybe it’s because I’m indulging in nourishing, health giving food—green drinks, fresh fruit, foods I can enjoy now that I’m home. Perhaps it’s because I’m watching the snow melt and enjoying the morning sun at the top of the trees.

Recently, I did some minor research on skilled nursing facilities, also known as SNFs (sniffs). I was horrified to find a hideous historical link to workhouses for paupers. But, for me, it explained a strange fog of meanness that seemed to drift throughout some of these places. I’d heard stories of patients becoming ill after nursing assistants put bad medications into their food.  My attitude was like, “sleep with one eye open.”

Mean-spiritedness is a trickle-down reaction. It trickles down from families, communities, politics and religion. Remember that trickle-down theory of economics? I thought you might.

These women hated their jobs. Most were immigrants receiving the lowest wages for the funkiest work:  emptying bed pans, making beds, giving showers, and wiping up vomit or worse. I understood, but after waiting 3o minutes, I ordered pizza from a community restaurant and had it delivered to my stinky room.

Something occurs to me. The mean-spiritedness I experienced with the nursing assistants is the same and equal to the mean-spiritedness of religious extremists — of all faiths. Only the environments have changed.

Religious extremists fight – even crazily to the death — for control of our personal lives. Is it because these extremists’ lives are so rabidly out-of-control? Is it because they feel powerless in the face of their own human nature — just as the nursing assistants feel powerless in the face of their jobs?

Is it because they fear something within themselves that they advance racist fears, the persecution of homosexuals, and a hatred of women? Is it because their own human urgings are out of control?

I’m just asking.A year ago

When people can’t control their own lives, they try to control the lives of others.  When people aren’t happy, they try to make others even less happy.

We’ve heard that “if they knew better, they’d do better.” Hmm.

I’m watching the snow melt and enjoying the morning sun at the top of the trees. I’m so happy to be home.

F-Word

Photo by Melinda Zipin Copyright 2014

Photo by Melinda Zipin Copyright 2014

While you’re thinking about a word that can’t be used on television, I’m diving into an eloquent chocolate cake with butter cream frosting — and wondering how to Forgive myself for using food the way I do.

Forgiveness. The other F word.

About 12 years ago, my half-sister and I had a fight. I wanted more help supporting my mother who had some health issues. Asking a sibling to help with an elderly family member can stir up a lot of, well, shit. I was driving, on weekends, from upstate New York to Washington DC. She was in North Carolina. I had the expectation that since we had long distances to drive, we’d share responsibilities. Wrong.

After three minutes of her yelling about her finances and other limitations, I became frustrated and, yes, I dropped the F bomb — the one you can’t use on television. She has not communicated with me since. Has she forgiven me? I don’t know.

I‘ve found forgiveness to be vaporous in nature. All of the scriptural directives, scholarly studies, church sermons, and secular workshops that are intended to guide us, the unenlightened, don’t erase the pain that harsh words can create. Still and all, isn’t forgiving for the forgiver and not the forgiven? Forgiving lowers the blood pressure and opens the heart. I remember summers on the farm with my half-sister. All of my farm memories are blissful. So how is it that sometimes I feel like I’m walking blind along a beautiful beach and can’t see a thing? I will never know my half-sister’s pain, but I can forgive her behavior.

Where do I begin? With self.

I begin my self forgiveness with food because it is my most prominent vice. I forgive myself for indulging in chocolate or almond croissants, large bowls of egg salad, and ice cream laced with caramel. No,I cannot do it alone. After my CIDP diagnosis, support appeared from all around. Support made forgiving myself easy and is a part of the miracle of my not being obese. What did the song say? “Pick yourself up. Dust yourself off. Start all over again.”

Many years ago I had a dream. You know how dreams are sometimes. They’re so real that you wake up surprised. Why am I not what I experienced on the other plane? In this case, I was grateful that it was a dream. I was cold and shivering, standing in snow and ice and banging on a door. I pushed, it wouldn’t open. I pounded, no one came. I woke up completely unnerved, knowing— without doubt — that the door was a metaphor for my heart, and that if I wanted to be warm, I would have to open that door. Forgiveness is one of the keys.

But back to the beginning. I’m grateful for my relationship with food that leads me to the path of self forgiveness. Self forgiveness opens that door in my dreams and allows me to come into the warmth. If I don’t forgive myself, I won’t forgive others. If I don’t forgive others, I cannot be forgiven.

Forgiveness through food makes it easy. At sometime, probably in the near future, I’ll hear myself saying, “I’ll take fries with that.”

And that will give me a moment to forgive myself and create a moment to pay it forward.

Short and Sweet

It’s November. I’m going make this short and sweet. I’ve been home since October 10, and I am giving a grand hallelujah for leaving behind me eight months of rehab for CIDP. I’m still receiving physical and occupational therapy at home, but the important words here are: at home. Therefore, as I get settled and comfortable in my new space, I’m going to be brief.

Gone, for the time being anyway, is the cacophony of doctors, nurses, nursing assistants, medications, and the politics of teaching people to treat people like people. Today is golden.

A couple of weeks ago M came over for dinner.

“I’m not washing paper plates!” she laughed.

I wanted to use paper plates. But I also wanted to rinse them off before tossing them away. I know; weird. M pointed out —um — that the purpose of paper plates is to avoid washing dishes, therefore we would use real plates and wash those instead.  I’ll tell you that this was guaranteed the best laugh I’ve had in eight months.

Strangely enough, in the past week I’ve received two e-mails where the word “luminous” was used. There’s a lot to reflect and a lot to enjoy. As little things come together — plants, a closet full of my own clothes, my stereo, books; the bedroom so beautifully arranged by friends who moved me here without my presence, luminosity reigns. Health is luminous. Equality is luminous. Beginning the work of eliminating the veil of belief systems built on the rocks of myths, stereotypes, and lies is filled with the power of luminosity. CIDP — oddly — retains elements of the luminous. Luminosity is now.

Once again, I’m inspired by the late Erma Bombeck. I heard that she had something she wanted to say to God if she faced him in heaven and he asked her what she had brought for him. The story goes that she said she would tell him she had nothing to give. She had used every gift He had given her, and there was nothing in her pockets to return. I dare to say she did this through luminous living; through being at home in her own skin.

Hallelujah. Home.

On: Listening to Words From My Ancestors

“She was so proud of you. That’s what she told me. ‘Sala wrote this play. I’m so proud of her.’  Yes she was. She was very proud.”

Hearing these words was startling. So much so that for the next several nights I woke with a zillion questions. Among them:

Would I have made different choices had I known how she felt? Would those words have encouraged me to work harder, be more focused? Would I have had more faith in myself and continued to write plays?

The first question could have been about how long it took for me to get these words. But it wasn’t. It’s been almost three decades since my Grandmother Hattie’s death. It’s been probably longer since I talked with my cousin in New York. But does it really matter when I received the words? My grandparents — all four of them — would say, “God is on time, all the time.”

Still, when my cousin shared my grandmother’s words about my creative work, I was surprised. My grandparents were solid, God-fearing, Southern folk. It never occurred to me to share my work in the theater with them. And when I heard that this was her response to the first piece I had written and staged, I rejoiced. So what if it was decades later.

“I didn’t always agree with what your father did as a boy and young man,” my Grandfather Julius said about daddy. “But when you see what a child has grown up to be, you feel proud.”

It feels like it’s always been this way in my family. Pride in another’s accomplishments exists but is not always expressed.

Sigh.

I wish I could have heard her words back then. But if I had, would my rocky imperfections have resulted in the dollop of wisdom I see in myself today? “God is on time, all the time,” say my ancestors.

I try to remember this when I have challenging days. Well, this and the fact that words have color, power, and vision.

“He was very proud of you,” a friend told me after my father’s funeral. “He just couldn’t tell you himself.”

More encouragement.

These folks’ words bring  light to me. Brilliantly healing and erasing an overshadowing need for approval and periods of self-doubt. I sit here snacking on tortilla chips and thinking about meals to come. It’s one of the things I do when the nerves in my hands are ultra sensitive. And I’m hearing my own voice inside saying, “better late than never.”

I am not rueful. I still have words to write.

When I started blogging I had a concept about words. With a reluctant nod to Merriam-Webster, I would choose a single word and match it with a color. It was a brilliant idea, but too much work. Anyone who has tried to express her truth in writing knows that the craft is anchored in the practical. I am faced with the reality of the limitations in matching a galaxy of words to a small palette of colors.

And again, there is the reality of CIDP. Anchored down by my commitment to stay as positive as possible, I stay away from words that dwell on negative emotions. Words have color, power, and vision.

Perhaps this has never felt more true than when I hear words that come from folks whose physical light has gone out.

God is on time, all the time.

On: Strength

Strength

It was never intended for these pages to trickle into a diary.  You know—”today I did this, yesterday I did that.”  But it’s Spring.  I’ve been through autumn and winter, and I realize that for six months I’ve been living a life I never saw coming.  So, I find myself using these pages to write about a world that I would rather ignore because it helps me keep some semblance of sanity.  The words I’ve written have felt, a little too often, dark even when the words themselves are bright.

But I wanna track back to the beginning, to the color, vision, and power of language. So in a hopscotch fashion, I have leaped around to land on: Strength.

Endurance, vigor, physical power, potency.  How to define the ability to withstand and overcome the curve balls of life?  I am not the only one with diary-producing issues.  At least three people I know have lost parents; another had a serious operation; and yet, another has been trying to heal in the wake of separation from a 35-year-old marriage.

What, I ask my God, do you want us to learn?  Could it be how to maintain equanimity under pressure? Perhaps it’s a subtle directive to keep our hearts open in spite of the ignoramuses we encounter (see?). Perhaps it’s as simple as a desire and need to find love within our courage.

I asked a minister if his faith was ever tested.

“Yes.  Every day.”

“What do you do?”

No, I’m not a skeptic.  I just want to hear what I know is the answer.

“Pray without ceasing.”

That’s all I wanted to hear.

I’ve been depending on the view from my window to help fill me up.  In the morning, I watch the clouds gather. They are snuggled together like sheep, or like cotton balls with soft, tangerine colored edges.  Some days they are scary in their weighted grayness.  And some days, the sky has no clouds at all.  I admit it: those are great days.

In the wee morning hours, say one ‘o clock, before clouds take visible form in the black-but-really-deep-blue sky, I watch the Moon through the same windows where the clouds will soon be. The Moon, in her guardianship of millenia of human genius and ignorance, is a tremendous comfort.

I willingly relinquish control to the sky, to the stars, to the deep blue infinity. In doing so, I somehow feel stronger.  The time I spend trying to control what I cannot control is like fighting an undertow.

We cannot control the death of parents, and even though we try our best, we cannot control the destiny of our bodies.  In spite of all the efforts we put into commitment, sometimes our partners will not be committed.

And so, I am taught to admit that great strength lies in surrender.  There’s something zen about that, but I don’t really know what it is.

Yet.

On… The sweetness of a name

This blog is quivery and yellow–  like pineapple Jell-O.  It shimmies and shakes as I struggle through what has become an extraordinary array of challenges.

From carpal tunnel to feet that require the use of a cane or walker, I have been traveling the road to patience and health. It hasn’t been easy, but I have the support of friends and a basically happy outlook. I am also inclined to whine a bit.

With that said, I recognize the need to keep jabbering away. Silence is not acceptable for a blog. This week in particular was an ecstatic one for me as my choice for the American presidency won the race. I am thrilled that President Obama won his second term. And now, we can get to work, the real work, of equal opportunity for all.

Now for this week’s word: names.

I, for one, am intimately connected with the experience of names, having spent years accepting or rejecting several of my own. I was my father’s firstborn, and as such, my birth name reflected his joy and prayers. My birth name meant “gracious gift of God,” and both the name and its meaning lifted me up in good and trying times. I never abandoned the name — not really. Its meaning allowed me to, at least inside my head, recognize myself as a beloved daughter of God, a belief that has revealed itself to me in good times and been hidden away in times of stress or fear.

Given that, in so many cultures, the child’s name describes a dominant personality trait, and with cousins that had nicknames like Cunning or Bossy, I figured I lucked out.

Still, over the years, I have tried on new names like a judge at a dessert tasting contest. How I started the journey is unclear, but there was this point in my development where I felt that my name was restrictive, a sentence to an impenetrable goody-two-shoes life. By the time I moved into a small apartment (and I mean small!) in San Francisco in 1969, I had decided to try out the name of Susan.

Right.

“Susan” was the name of business and surety and normalcy. But anyone who knows me will tell you that I am not a Susan, and that shirt would not fit. So, I abandoned Susan when I returned to the East Coast, started working in theater, and eventually met a troop of African-American actors where we all took African names. The name Sala came out of that experience. My father said “you will always be what I named you.” This was significant because there were times when I felt he did not like me. But his statement said that, to him, I would always be a gracious gift of God.

What was I looking for? What identity did I feel was missing? In India, I asked a meditation master to give me a new name. She told me to keep my own name. This began the inner work of trying to know who I am beyond the labels I use to describe myself: a woman, African-American, creative. I was the pound cake waiting to be drenched in the liquid lemony frosting of my own nature. After several years, I received a name from the meditation master. And, in the end, I discovered that all the names I lived with had essentially the same meaning. And the river of God ran through every single one of them.

Sala meant gentle or peace. Gloria Jean, my birth name, meant gracious gift of God, and the blessing I received from my teacher was the name of Gopi, which meant that I was to be a lover of God in all his forms. I had been bathed in the lemony frosting of my nature for my whole life, but couldn’t taste its sweetness.

Finally, I am enjoying the taste of my own nature. There’s more to come.  Yum.

On Pie

There were a couple of comments about the sweet potato pie. The exact recipe? By now, I have forgotten. What I remember is the creamy, comforting richness.

Disclaimer: you try this at your own risk.

Mom would cook the sweet potatoes, add a pinch of salt, then mash them until not a lump could be found. She added the other ingredients one at a time. When I was a child, we did not have electric mixers. We used those hand held rotary beaters to create those stiff peaks from egg whites and cream.We developed strong arms from using those beaters.

So, we’d beat the whole eggs. Was it two or three? We’d add them to the potatoes; then, we’d add about a stick of butter. Mind you, there were a lot of sweet potatoes. Mix ’til smooth. Now comes the cream. I call it cream because that was when real milk came with cream settled on the top. Shake the bottle (yes, milk came in bottles). It was better than half and half.

Whatever happened to milk bottles?  True, they were heavy; but you could see the cream gathered on top of the milk like a thick icing. And there was no concern about the landfill. Bottles went back to the dairy and were sterilized and refilled.

The milk/cream was added and then the brown sugar and — corn syrup? To tell you the truth, I can’t remember. But, I’ll tell you this: it was sweet.

By now, our mouths were drooling over the pudding like consistency. Cinnamon. Nutmeg. Vanilla. Am I missing something?

We children were such pigs. We’d stick our fingers in the bowls and get chased away.  “Get your dirty hands out of here!” It didn’t matter what kind of pie. Peach. Blueberry. Apple. Pear. Hovering like humming birds and annoying as ants, we’d taste and get chased away.

Now when it comes to the crust, you’re on your own. That’s because when I was growing up, we used lard. For me, that’s not an option anymore. So once you have made your crust — and it will probably  be two or three — fill the pie plates with yummy stuff.

And that’s it. A chilly autumn evening or bright summer afternoon becomes more than alive…

All times are better with pie. On days like today, as we anticipate hurricane Sandy, and I begin to understand the importance of patience in the healing process,  pie is a gift and a sweet comfort.  Baking pie takes patience; savoring pie takes time.

On touch — and other sense matters

Is it hot? Is it cold? Is it sharp? Is it dull? These are the simple questions.

I was not fully conscious of how finely sensitive my finger tips are — until my sense of touch was compromised by carpal tunnel. And although surgery for CTS is common, I’ve been a holdout. That’s changed. I’m going to have surgery. Because in the process of holding out, I learned what it means to have everything I touch feel like a bowl of sand.

The texture of bread dough? Sand. The round, firm skin of a grape? Sand. The silky smooth flesh of salmon? Sand.  As I comb and brush my hair — that’s right — sand. Paper?  I won’t say it again.

There is the sad fact that I have lost bragging rights to my asbestos hands. I could pick up a veggie burger from a pan and it would not burn my fingers. This is not the case right now, and I don’t like the experience. Touch is an iridescent spoke on the wheel of my world. Touch is why I love to cook. Touch is why I love to hug and cuddle. Touch makes me happy.

A friend of mine charged me with being “touchy-feely.” I embrace that label with love. When I think of my childhood, I go back to the place where I was not raised. I go back to the summers I spent with grandparents in South Carolina. It was there where I connected with the silk of corn, the taste of well water, and the sunny warmth of fresh-cut watermelon on my tongue. It was there where I experienced soundless nights and pink cloud mornings. If I could live to be a thousand years old, I would forever embrace the sense experiences I received from my grandparents’ lands.

When I remember touch in the city, it is not a soft memory — except in the context of food. With food, touch drives memory: squeezing an orange, fluting a pie crust, slicing a melon, or rubbing a roast. When I think of touch in the city, I think of standing in summer rain to cool off from the heat of a small apartment that seven people called home. When I think of touch in the city, it comes with art—the thin press of violin strings, the satiny fit of a leotard.

And when I think of sand, in its own nature, I think of the sea. There is no sea in my kitchen; no sea in my hair.

Yesterday, for the sake of feeling the smoothness of dough, I made a pizza. I like the touch of food:  (haven’t you noticed?) kneading dough, slicing carrots, tearing lettuce, dicing onions or potatoes. But yesterday, I had a spiritual bonding with my food processor as it made the dough, and when I poured it out onto parchment to give it a brief knead…it felt like sand.

I know that this is temporary. But it’s given me pause to reflect on the importance of touch and how much I love the purity of the senses.

I guess there is truth in the saying after all. “In everything is a gift.”

On saying grace and cooking

I admit it. I shamelessly admit that I’m a person for whom being in my kitchen is an anchor to the heart. I don’t care how scrappy a kitchen it might be, how modest; if I can cook for myself, I am in paradise.

Today, I went to the Farmer’s Market. I bought perfectly green zucchinis, shitake mushrooms, and leeks. Then I went to the natural foods store and bought sweet potatoes, garlic and ginger. I bought cucumbers and peaches. The cucumbers were local and not smeared with wax or petroleum or whatever they put on the big agriculture produce. Ahhh. What am I going to do with all these the peaches? What with work and rehearsal and acupuncture and physical therapy and…I don’t have time for a pie.

I’m thinking…maybe a cucumber and peach salad. What spices?  Maybe a pinch of salt and black pepper. Cumin?  I’ll let you know how it turns out.

It’s 92 degrees and humid, but I turned on the air conditioner and the oven anyway. I chopped the sweet potatoes, tossed them in spices and olive oil, and baked them. I turned on the television for my favorite cooking shows (hint: do NOT come between me and my cooking shows). I pitted cherries, sliced a lemon and put them aside. Raw cherries make my throat itch, so I put them on the stove to cook and added sugar and a little water. When they were soft, I tossed the cherries with the sliced lemon. When they were cool, I covered them with vanilla ice cream.

Dear Lord (I always seem to be saying this), I have been too busy. I’ve forgotten what it’s like to be still and give thanks for the skill of cooking. I’ve let too many moments go by without offering a prayer for the food I eat. I have forgotten how easy it is to forget — to make time to be close to home.

I sliced zucchini and shiitake mushrooms; I minced ginger and garlic. I added chopped leeks and leftover greens. Throwin’ a little water into the pot, I let the vegetables steam. And while they are steaming, I remember “saying grace.”

“God is great and God is good; and we thank God for our food. By His hands we all are fed; give us Lord our daily bread.”

That was the prayer we said as children until we were old enough to sit quietly through the grown-up prayers. That’s how we began our meals, every meal, everyday, 365 days a year, every year of my life that I lived in my parents’ home.

The stillness in that moment before meals is a potent memory.

As a child, I didn’t particularly like using the time to say grace. Depending on the person praying, it could be three to ten minutes before the food hit our tongues. I’d watch as the steam floating up from the stewed tomatoes became lighter. But the invisible Grace did not care about the tomatoes.

Despite my childish anxiety about food, the act of saying grace had great power.  Power was in the humility dripping from the voices of those giving thanks. Power was in the protection released into the air; a grace.

It has been said that taking the time to pray, to express gratitude, acknowledge each other, or just to sit in silence before eating helps the digestion. I didn’t know that as a child. My thoughts were on the seductive smell of sausages and pancakes. Or the golden river of butter running through the crevices and valleys of fluffy mashed potatoes and homemade buttermilk biscuits.

But I also knew, even as my mind willed the prayers to cease, that there was magic in the air. Those times round the table are the times I remember as the best part of being home; times that I will always hold close to the heart.

My potatoes are done, the shitake-zuchinni vegetables are steamed.  I’ve poured olive oil and Bragg’s aminos over them. I plate it all up with some “vegan” chicken salad and, sigh, I shamelessly indulge in the pleasure of cooking and saying grace.

On herbs, tenacity, and carpal tunnel

To use an old colloquialism, “I come by it honest.”  Tenacity, that is. Much to my own amazement, I never give up. This has advantages and definite disadvantages.

I could never have guessed how physically challenging blogging would be. It’s a test of will and, literally, physical strength. Too many things pull at my time: work, a band, family affairs, and a book (look, it sounds good to say it, all right?).

Sometimes, I have these doubts. But words and stories are like the vitamins and herbs that I take every day. It’s part of the fabric of who I am. I am tenacious, and those who’ve known me for years know I will not give up either herbs or words.

The past six weeks have been particularly exhausting. I met a new acquaintance. Her name is Carpal Tunnel, and I don’t like her very much. I’d rather fight with a boyfriend, have a stove that over bakes my bread, or a puppy that doesn’t make it outside on time. Physical discomfort is not something that I handle very well. But I am tenacious. I continue to work and I continue to sing. I continue to have faith.

An amazing, saving grace, like acupuncture or physical therapy, is voice activated software. This fantastic invention is my latest enjoyment. I get to tell my computer what to do and, pretty much, it does it. Oh, if only people were so accommodating…

About this carpal tunnel… I always imagine that doctors, after my visits, tell their staff “Do not accept any new patients who use complementary medicine.”

Doctors, after all, do what doctors do best. They try to make things better, and in the process may prescribe and suggest things that I see as extreme –  things that involve cutting and sewing up.  Forgive my cynicism.

I’m not a knee-jerk “throw the doctor under the bus” kind of person. Allopathic physicians are useful, and in cases of extreme pain and discomfort—like when I had my first sinusitis episode and I thought my face was exploding—I’ll fall to my knees and beg for drugs — which I did. Antibiotics did the trick, and my face didn’t explode. And sad to say, in the past year, I’ve also started blood pressure medication. Sometimes, compromise of my stubborn principles is best. But generally speaking, pharmaceuticals are my last resort.  I think it’s something about the way I was raised. I know what works for me and I stick to it. I am tenacious. I come by it honest. Like a dog on a bone, I will hang on to what I want. And what I want is to heal in ways that are natural and emotionally supporting.

A few winters ago, I started getting nosebleeds. This was a new thing for me. The dry winter weather combined with the dry heat in my apartment, and it really dried the heck out of my sinuses. Then, it was endless. I got nosebleeds during the spring allergy season. Then I seemed to get nosebleeds because my nose just wanted to frickin’ bleed. I have been using herbs, natural medicines and holistic body therapies for a long, long, long time. I don’t watch infomercials about natural medicine because I think most of those people are quacks. I’ve been fortunate to have been a patient of a couple of world-renowned natural healing practitioners. And so, I have just a little bit of an idea of how to get information. I did my research and decided to use a certain supplement that has been recommended for allergies and sinuses. It worked. The nosebleeds stopped, and I continue to take at least one tablet a day, and I have not had a nosebleed for over a month (please don’t ask for advice…it’s illegal).

I don’t recommend self-medication to most people, and truthfully the use of herbs without guidance and research can be more dangerous than an over-the-counter prescription. But having researched and used herbs and natural medicines as my first response for over 30 years, I’ve learned a thing or two.

Now, I want to use herbs and complementary medicine to send this carpal tunnel packing.

When I was a child, there were many times that my mom used herbs as a first response. She was raised on a farm without all the bells and whistles of modern medicine, and her parents used herbs with regularity. Our colds were treated with lemon, sage, and honey tea. And, on occasion — I guess ‘cause we didn’t look like little alcoholics lolling about in bed craving the taste — she would add a spoonful of whiskey to the hot beverage. It was all very safe, and no one would ever overdose on lemon, sage, and honey.

Over the years my family, like many others from the country, opted for modern medicine and the old ways were, if not forgotten, left by the wayside. But we benefited from her knowledge, and I have saved myself hundreds, no, probably thousands of dollars using herbs, acupuncture, vitamin therapies, body work therapies, juicing, and so many modalities that have become a regular part of my health regime. Now, I am beginning, with my voice activated software, a new phase. But I am tenacious. Many of my friends have said so.

And with tenacity, I’ll keep you posted!