Saturday, September 20, 2008

Acupuncture for Fertility

My fall newsletter isn't up on the website yet, but this post does link to the pdf of the workshop series.

Here is a little information on how Chinese Medicine can assist with the fertility process.

Acupuncture and herbs can assist in whatever fertility journey a couple chooses, whether assisted only through holistic methods or assisted through both holistic and hormone therapy. Understanding the basic physiology and

the signs of fertility and monitoring those signs daily can further assist a couple on their journey. Many times lifestyles need to be altered even just temporarily, and other lifestyle or dietary additions are beneficially implemented. And, as with any journey, this one requires time and patience.

Acupuncture is noted to relieve stress. Our regular lives of home and work and all that is in between can cause stress, add the many lifestyle changes needed to monitor and regulate fertility cycles, and the weight of the outcome of the process and the time and patience needed, your body is definitely in fight or flight mode. Shallow breathing, increased respiration, altered blood circulation, heightened external awareness, poor sleep. All these responses are activated by the stress hormones released from the hypothalamus. The hypothalamus also releases some of the initial inhibiting and releasing hormones responsible for fertility. When our bodies are focused externally in fight or flight mode, the internal focus of pelvic blood flow, oxygenation, and just general homeostasis is compromised. The hypothalamus is less able to assist in the fertility cycles.

Acupuncture is able to regulate menstrual cycles allowing for a better prediction of ovulation. Acupuncture increases pelvic blood flow increasing the endometrial lining which is the earth for the embryo implantation and its nourishment. Acupuncture can increase sperm count, integrity and sperm motility.

Acupuncture can assist the hormone therapy fertility process as well. Side effects of the hormones received can be reduced, hormones are regulated, ovulation, egg quality and the number of follicles can be improved, immune system can be strengthened, decreased chance of miscarriage and increased chance of live births.

A practitioner will implement a treatment plan including frequency of acupuncture treatments based on menstrual cycle, Western medical imbalance or hormone therapy schedule; monitoring techniques, dietary, supplemental , and stress reduction suggestions specific for you.

While pregnant, a woman can experience relief with acupuncture from morning sickness, from water retention, low energy, assistance with gestational diabetes or poor glucose clearance. Acupuncture can assist in altering breech positioning and can assist in labor induction. Post partum, acupuncture can assist in regulating lactation and assisting with postpartum depression and physical recovery.

If you would like more information or would like to attend the fertility workshops, just call or email me.

My Home

I might be procrastinating, no, I AM procrastinating, I'm working from home today. But, working from home gives me ample time to contemplate my new digs. I wasn't so sure what I thought of living in a tiny place and a garden unit though it is located exactly where I wanted to be.

There are and will continue to be surprises. I found out a couple weeks ago I pay for the gas for the entire building's clothes dryer. Mmhmm. Surprise! I am waiting to hear if I also pay for the hot water for the washing machine. I have a feeling there will be a surprise with the heating too. I have 2 radiators but I also have these dial-able wall-mounted mini space heaters. If heat comes only from the mini units, I'm going to be cold this winter. If heat comes from the radiators, I'll be moderately comfortable (no radiator in the bedroom) but I will have to move my artwork…it's attached to the radiators.

Technically the management would prefer I call my apartment 1F which I am sure is beneficial to the property value or tax assessment or something I know nothing about, as well as allowing them to charge more for a 1F unit than a Garden unit. And, I pay more for a tiny space where I want to live than the massive previous apartment. That doesn't seem quite right.

As long as I rent, I will always be the older stodgy tenant compared to the "kids" who live in the other units. I am past my partying years and I certainly don't smoke on the porch stoop. I am awakened 3 times between 2 and 5 am every morning to occasionally the washer and dryer humming, the loud stumbling of the bar-closing youngsters or the rank odor of cigarette smoke wafting into my apartment from the porch. I would like to meet these people who need to do their laundry at 3 am?

I didn't consider that I live on the same level as insects. Yep. Surprise again! I've done battle with ants and the ranks are dwindling! And the spiders have retreated as well. My latest tactic was the best. Let the ants roam the kitchen so they find there is nothing of interest and never send follow-up troops again. I think it worked.

I am also at potential flood level. During a couple torrential downpours last month, while watching trees uproot and gutters overflow on to the sidewalk, I wondered if one could apply for renters insurance online at midnight. And, since I live in the basement did I need to really go into the official basement behind my apartment during the tornado sirens.

My cat and I are still trying to adapt our playtime to a smaller area. It's been very unsatisfying. She used to kick her ball full force a good 15 feet and I could kick it in return. Now, full force kicking causes a series of ricochets or, thanks to a sloped floor, me retrieving toys under furniture.

On the plus side

Being in the location I wanted, I am a block from my favorite inexpensive restaurants and affordable neighborly wine store, and much closer to Lula Café for brunch and Monday night Farm dinners if I ever don't work on weekends and Monday nights. I have a park a block away, many massive old churches, and a school playground across the street. I like hearing the kids play basketball, the church bells on Sunday, and having a patch of grass to sit in.

It is definitely amusing to watch my cat stealthily and silently leap from couch to window sill to peer at the local squirrels that taunt her. And, we have a token black squirrel just like up north! People may have heard of my past experience with squirrels – one racing through my previous apartment tossing my bag of cayenne (my squirrel deterrent added to the bird feeder), one waiting at my back door occasionally looking for the economy size bag bird seed, or of the one squirrel that angrily tsk'd at me and followed me along the power line everyday as I walked down my alley to the L. Could have been the same squirrel, but, regardless, I have history with them so I watch my sidewalk level windows with caution.

I can (for the most part) see every room of my apartment from any room. I am now aware of my recurring color theme of turquoise and orange. Who knew? Not me.

My living room "art" is once again complete with a road bike hanging on the closet door. Seven weeks have passed since my racy road bike was stolen. A friend lent me her classic Raleigh Technium 420 to quicken my 45 minute/3.5 mile walk commute to 15 minutes and it completes my art collection when I'm not riding it.

My kitchen is the biggest room in the apartment. I feel the creative cooking coming on for this Fall, not this assembly of raw fruit, veggies and nuts or heating up of gluten-free waffles I am currently doing this Summer. And, I think the room will be ant-less when the cool weather hits. Though I haven't been keeping much food in that room, my kitchen supplies do need ample space. My collection of work texts and paper files need the next largest space…and that space does NOT exist in this apartment. Please do NOT open my hall closet when you visit.

A tiny apartment has allowed me to downsize belongings and get back to what is really important. After 8 years in a massive apartment, I really spread out and collected "things". I unloaded about 3 dumpsters full of belongings and donated several bags more. The ONE man that moved my boxes and furniture didn't understand how a single woman could own so much stuff. What could one unmarried woman own? A few cups, some plates, a fork… Yes, he was surprised. I admit I still had more boxes than one woman should have, but come on over and see that there doesn't seem to be much here.

A small apartment can be cleaned up in a jiffy unlike the previous place. I used to spend a few hours mopping, and now I can sweep and mop the entire apartment in what feels like minutes which makes me want to clean frequently.

A small apartment is easier to appropriately de-clutter (none of this hiding it in a room or an unseen corner like in the old apartment) which is really key for the feng shui I've done. Less rooms, less stagnant energy, less feng shui accessories and props, less feng shui to conduct.

I now see that less IS more. I am great at ranting about the negative, but all those things are minor. In this tiny apartment in the neighborhood I wanted to be, I see more. I know more certainly what I want and what I don't want. I see more of me. I see my patterns, my abilities, my strengths.

Friday, September 19, 2008

A day to remember

Look what I found! An old blog post never posted. Reading it over, it was a good thing I forgot to post it. I was truly down during that couple months and I had no qualms grumbling about it in writing. The only thing that I will share (besides the recipes), in retrospect it is the funny crème de la crème eyebrow raising, wanna-jump-off-a-bridge experience of my late spring, is this:

My day off turned me into emergency dental crisis assistant. I drove a friend to her oral surgeon in the far west suburbs. I took care of all the paperwork, payment and scheduling. After all these good little deeds, the middle aged dental assistant told me, "Your daughter is ready to leave". Excuse me? I have been mistaken as my 30-year old friend's mother!

My jaw dropped and my friend's jaw would have dropped had she been able to move hers. Granted, I am old enough to be someone's mother, maybe a teenage-someone's mother if I really wanted to be a young mom. After a long pause and both my friend and me changing hues between white, pink and red, I stated "I am not anyone's mother."

But, everything that got me down then is in the past. And these were some of the drinks (no, not wine) that obviously got me through it.

Blueberry Honey Chai

1 container Knudsen's Blueberry Juice

Same amount of water

5 Scoops of Metropolis Chai (chunky combination of aromatic spices and black tea)

Lemon Honey (from my Italy vacation)

Heat the water. Steep chai in heated water. Mix in a little honey, let cool and pour equal amounts of tea and blueberry nectar into containers and refrigerate.

Rose LemonLimeade

Tried and true -
helped me rise above and re-center my energy and focus

Juice of 4 lemons and 4 limes

2 quarts of hot water

A handful of rosebuds (can get in the bulk spice/herb section at natural food store)

Agave nectar to sweeten

Combine all ingredients into containers. I just keep the rose petals in the drink – looks great in the bottle.

Hibiscus pomegranate orange made the cloudy days just a little brighter.

A handful of dried hibiscus flowers (I order from ranchgordo)

1 quart of hot water

1.5 liters of pomegranate juice (POM is rich and tasty; but I have neighborhood Middle Eastern groceries to support)

Juice of 4 large juice oranges

Steep hibiscus in hot water, can remove flowers or retain. Cool. Combine equal portions hibiscus tisane, orange and pomegranate juices.

Jasmine Rose Nutmeg Green Tea

I am loving nutmeg right now and both jasmine and rose gently nudge the body's qi to keep on movin'

For one nightly cup:

1 tsp jasmine green tea

2 rosebuds

A scraping of nutmeg (or a pinch of powder)

Steep in a mug of hot water and enjoy

Monday, September 15, 2008

Crunchy Snack

Light jacket or warm sweater weather (whichever is your preference) is momentarily upon Chicago. We've got warm sun, grey cloud masses and a light cool breeze. Sounds great for those of us who love Autumn; I still hope we squeeze another week or two of summer out of September.

I picked up my winter comforter from the cleaners this afternoon, walked home through Bucktown on sidewalks of felled and drowned brown leaves while on the phone making Thanksgiving travel plans with the parents.
(If you were wondering I'm traveling to them this year.)

I came home and instantly pulled out
some pecans and Cathleen's "Everyday Jasmine Tea". Maybe it was the cool weather or the Thanksgiving talk, but creativity hit. As the tea water heated, I put my hand into the spice cabbie and came out with cinnamon, nutmeg and clove. I am out of allspice. Time for a trip to Fox and Obel because I am a sucker for their packaging and spice tins.

I grabbed the agave nectar and one medium egg from the fridge and the olive oil from its spot. I am making some spiced mixed nuts.

Of course when inspiration hits, no ingredient measurements occur. I beat together 1 egg white, one long and one short squirt of agave nectar, and a teaspoon or so of vanilla. In the bowl, I dumped raw pecans, almonds and pepitos. Maybe that combination came to 1 1/2 cups. Olive oil was drizzled on the nuts as well as a dash of salt. I made sure all the nuts were very lightly coated with oil. I tossed on a good teaspoon or 2 of nutmeg, a dash of clove, and at least a tablespoon of poured out and there was no salvaging it so it was a heavy tablespoonful. I stirred the oiled nuts and spices together, poured on the agave nectar egg mixture, and stirred it all again.

I lined a square pan with parchment paper and poured the spiced nuts into the pan and evenly layered the mixture, and placed it into a 250 degree oven. I checked it once after a long time (sorry, i was researching online and have no idea how much time passed) and turned the chunks of nuts over. I removed them after another 30 minutes and let cool. Some pieces were a little soft when I removed them from the oven, but after 15 minutes they were crunchy like the rest.

At the moment, I have another batch in the oven which does not include an egg white. Agave nectar is a liquid and doesn't harden so I don't know how well these will turn out (this batch was in the oven for an hour and a half and cooled for a half hour and is still ooey-gooey. Incredibly tasty, but stick-to-your-fingers messy). The egg white adds the crispness to the coating, so I don't know if I will have a vegan version for my friends this Friday.

Even though April is National Pecan month, pecans are perfect for Fall. With all the holiday season and rich comfort foods coming into the kitchen, pecans are touted as cholesterol lowering and blood sugar lowering nuts. According to some sources pecans helps lower cholesterol, assist with weight loss and keep sugar levels low. The nut contains heart healthy unsaturated fat which lower cholesterol; mono and poly unsaturated fats lower appetite and keep you satiated. I have nothing really to support pecans keeping blood sugar in check, but pecans contain zinc which is beneficial to blood sugar levels and the nut is practically zero on the glycemic scale so it will not raise blood sugar levels. Add a little cinnamon to your pecans, like in a handful of spiced mixed nuts, and you have two ingredients beneficial to blood sugar levels.