Sunday, January 30, 2011

The Wise Woman Way

This post really goes hand in hand with the last one on woman's cloth. A few years ago - probably around 4 - I started to occasionally have my periods at shorter intervals. I was introduced to Susun Weed's book, "The Wise Woman Way, Healing Wise". I borrowed the book from a friend, skimmed through it and read the pertinent parts. I started to make nettle infusions and to drink them on a regular basis. My menstruation irregularities disappeared. Now an infusion, as some of you may know and some of you may not, is not tea. Using 1/2 cup of dried nettle per litre or quart, you pour boiling water over the dried nettle and immediately put a lid on the jar or glass container you are using and let it sit for 4 hours. Then you strain and drink.

Then, last summer, the irregularities returned. I was still drinking my nettle infusion so it couldn't help any more than it already was. I ordered my own copies of the Healing Wise book and also her book "The New Menopausal Years the Wise Woman Way". This time I read both books cover to cover. And I loved them. She really speaks to me. I had had these kinds of thoughts and feelings and reading her work was very validating. She knows an amazing amount about plants. She believes that good health ought to be able to be achieved by eating the plants that grow around us. She believes that supplements and vitamins have their place but they are more like drugs and for special circumstances. I highly recommend the books. I have given copies to many people.

But more importantly, I have used what she recommends and it really works. After reading the menopause one, I started making an oatstraw infusion in addition to the nettle one. This helped tremendously with the emotional aspects. I was feeling alot of anxiety and my pms was rather extreme. Oatstraw had an immediate effect (it also tastes good). But my periods were still only 2 weeks apart. Considering that I bleed for a week, it meant that I was often having 2 periods a month.... So next I tried Yarrow. Yarrow is far to bitter to make as an infusion (although I tried that first before I carefully read the yarrow section). I made it a tea with lemon balm and lavender and that helped with the flavour - it made it bearable. But yarrow also has side effects. It makes you sweat more profusely and can even make hot flashes more likely. It definitely had those effects on me. I did have a couple of mild hot flashes as a result. So next I tried sarsparilla root. For root infusions, you steep for at least 8 hours. Sarsparilla root is delicious - it is the flavour of root beer, after all. Very easy to drink. But you are not supposed to drink too much of it. I had 1 - 1.5 cups a day for a week.

Susun Weed eschews the new term of 'perimenopause'. She points out how according to this new way of looking at things, menopause is only one day. The one day that your period ceases. So in this spirit, I have entered menopause. I am at the beginning stages.

Using these infusions, gradually my emotions have evened out and the pms is now minimal and even more gradually my menstruation has returned to its usual 3 week cycle (3 weeks off and 1 week on). All without the interference of dangerous drugs.

In season I pick and dry my own nettle. This year I also dried red clover blossoms and red raspberry leaves. The rest I buy from Anna's Vitamins Plus (250-260-1147). I can buy them there in bulk in 1 lb bags. 1 lb of oatstraw or nettle fills up a gallon jar and lasts me more than a month. She is happy to ship, as well.

So right now I am drinking a lot of infusions. Every day I drink nettle and most days I drink oatstraw as well. Once a month I drink sarsparilla for a week and I throw in raspberry leaf and red clover, too and an occasional pot of yarrow tea. So every day I am drinking 3 cups of infusions. The hormonal shifts of menopause are as demanding on the endocrine system as adolescence and your glands need a lot of nourishment. These infusions are high in so many nutrients that I take no other supplements.

So if you have a very heavy period, try nettle. It is high in iron and calcium (and vitamin D and lots of other things). You will be surprised how it helps with your bleeding and makes it easier to use a diva cup and cotton pads.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Woman's Cloth

Because it is not Mother's cloth, Fatima. In fact, mothers go through a nice period of NOT having to use such things. But I digress... It all started for me more than 3 years ago. I have always been interested in living and eating healthily. And as I became aware of what was happening to this world of ours, I became very interested in living with a smaller footprint on the world. For many years I have been unhappy with the choice in so-called feminine products. The disposable-ness of them, the bleached white-ness of them - to think of putting some of the worst chemicals next to the most tender part of my body just never seemed right. I had long ago given up using tampons for the same bleached-white reason and because they stopped feeling good to me. I noticed that I felt more bloated when I used them.

Now, if someone who is not my sister is reading this, I should give a bit of background information here. I have a period like my mother. I bleed for a full 7 days and I bleed very heavily for 3 of those at least. When I say heavily, I mean very heavily - like half the blood of my entire body leaving through my vagina..... I know several of my sisters are like this,too. So obviously, to return to the 'old' way of just using rags would not be practical. For me, it would have meant living in the bathroom for most of my period or walking around with blood running down my legs.

So just over 3 years ago, I bought a Diva Cup. I had been hearing about them for awhile. I purchased one for just over $40 but they have gone down in price since then. Learning how to use it was rather comical, I must admit. Following the instructions that came with it didn't work. Folding it up like it is in that link only resulted in it suction cupping to the inside wall of my vagina and it was excruciating. And of course, I started trying this on a day of heavy flow. I felt like I worked in a slaughter house, with blood running down my arm.... yuck. But in the end, I figured it out. I just squeeze it slightly in half and slip it in, position it and turn it the required 3 times so that it makes a seal. I got better and better at it as time went on.

Then it was only a matter of time until I purchased some cotton, reusuable pads. Lunapads. So much more comfortable than paper pads, let me tell you! However, rather expensive and I was loathe to buy more than the starter pack because, really, I could make some of my own. I mean, I had seen all the cool ones that Soulemama had made. But I didn't for another year or so. Mom eventually make me a whole bunch more when she came with me to New Denver. And now I have a huge stash that I never use all of when I am 'on the rag', so to speak. On the light days of my period, the diva cup is enough. But on the heavier days, there is a bit of leakage and for this, the cloth pads are wonderful. I used a thrifted flannel sheet, as well as some I had saved or Rhiannon's which were like new because she almost never slept in her own bed.... and a thrifted towel for the inside part when I made my own. When one of the pads is dirty, I just pop it into an ice cream bucket that sits on top of my dryer (which is a stacked one, so it is way up high, out of everyone's sight). The bucket has water and oxyclean in it. When my period is over, I rinse out the water and throw them in the wash. They come out perfectly clean with no stains.

Of course you save money using this method for obvious reasons. But what continues to appeal to me is that not only is it so much gentler on the environment but it is also so much better for me. Like many others that I have heard of who also use the diva cup, they like their periods so much better and somehow, your period seems to change a little. But that just might be becoming so much more aware of its fluctuations. On my super, super heavy day I usually must empty my diva cup every half hour.

And emptying it is not that hard. I have been in almost every conceivable situation now. At home, I take it out, empty it into the toilet and wash it in the sink with soap and warm water. In public washrooms, I can just empty it into the toilet, give it a wipe with some toilet paper and reinsert it. Or you can even revert to the old ways of disposable products for an outing. But I never have. I love the diva cup. It is comfortable, and easy to use. I forget I have it in. I have been swimming with it in many times, exercised with it in, gone everywhere with it.

And there you have it, the complete tale of my 'woman's cloth'.... Are you a sister and would like to try some of these? I have mom's serger, I 'd be glad to make some liners for you but you will have to buy the bottom part from Lunapads (probably sold at your local health food store).

Friday, January 07, 2011

And Now for New Years

What exactly we were doing for New Years didn't exactly take shape until just days and moments before. At first we were going to be at home, doing our usual, eating snacks, hanging out, watching movies and playing games. Just the 3 of us because Andrew went to Kamloops for New Years. But in the end, Redfish opened for a fundraising all-ages event.

I must say that Rhiannon was not keen to go. In fact, that is putting it mildly. She wanted to do what we had always done (at least what we had always done in her recent memory). She fought against going right down to the moment of leaving for the gig when I wouldn't let her wear her choice of footwear (inappropriate). I told her that we had to stay for Daddy's set and then we could leave if she wanted to. She was adamant that this is what she would want to do. I tried to suggest that she be open to having a good time - that it might even be fun - that a lot of kids would like to be in her position. She was completely unconvinced, my little Virgo.

And she managed to pout all the way through the 45 minutes that Redfish played. But I only hung around for a little while and then I went to dance. At the end of the set, she was still adamantly NOT having fun.

But then, something happened. A very sweet little girl who was actually in my very first dance class had noticed the unhappy Rhiannon. And she wanted to help her to be happy. She approached Rhiannon and asked her to help her (her mom was one of the organizers of the event). There was a circus performance after Redfish was over and I went to get Rhiannon but she was no longer stationed in her pouting spot (facing away from the stage, I might add). Finally I spotted her in the front row, raptly watching the circus performance. She was even smiling.

And that was it. We stayed almost until the very end. Rhiannon didn't want to leave. She hung out with the other kids and ran around, filling pretzel dishes and laughing. Doesn't she look radiant? A much better way to bring in the New Year.

And I got Dean to dance with me. He had had sufficient libation that he would entertain such a request. I got him to dance with me a lot. There was a funky band from Nelson called Wassabi Collective (worth looking up) that were the headliners and were great to dance to. We danced in the New Year - is there a better way to see it in for someone who loves dancing as much as I do?

But an aside about dancing. I have been to alot of dances in my life and danced with a lot of people. These days I mostly dance with other women and it is more of a singular thing - finding my own groove to the music. But when it comes to dancing with a partner, there is one I prefer above all others. Do you know who it is? It is my brother, Doug. He was my first dancing partner. We learned how to jive together when I was 10 and he was 9. I love dancing with him. Sometimes when I am at dances and the music is grooving, I miss him very sharply. I have some Powder Blues songs in Erin's reception playlist to facilitate just such fun.

Monday, January 03, 2011

Okay, so the Christmas Post

Things go along more or less the same for so long when you have kids and then everything changes. This has been happening around here as Eryn and Kaetlyn set out on their own and establish their own homes. I knew this year was going to be quite different. Eryn and Tyler have his family to spend time with and Eryn was working on Christmas Day at the radio station. Kaetlyn decided to do her own thing for Christmas which didn't include us. She's 19 - what can I say?

So it meant that Christmas morning it would just be the four of us - Rhiannon, Andrew, Dean and I. It would be oh-so-much quieter and oh-so-much smaller and just oh-so-different. I must admit that coming up to it, I felt a little trepidatious and nostalgic for earlier times. But of course, in the end it was perfect. But let me start at the beginning.

Dean's last day of work was the 22nd so our holidays started on the 23rd. It was nice, we got to spread things out instead of cramming them all into Christmas Eve. He took Andrew and Rhiannon sledding in the morning. Then after lunch, we headed to the Towne theatre to see Harry Potter. It was a surprise for Rhiannon but she figured it out just before we left when Dean mentioned popcorn.

Then Christmas Eve I woke up around 4am as I had done the previous two mornings - my mind full of all the things to finish. I got up worked until 9am. By then I was tired... really tired.... so tired I didn't feel like doing anything. So I wrote up lists for Dean, Drew and Rhiannon, woke them up and put ear plugs in and went back to sleep myself. I slept for a solid 2 and a half hours. When I got up they had each completed their lists. It was amazing!

We went to get some hay for the sheep and Rhiannon and I managed to make to the Christmas Eve service at the Alliance Church. It has been a few years since I have done that. I just felt the need this year. I just love to sing the Christmas hymns and carols in the middle of a singing congregation. You can sing at the top of your lungs. I love it. At home Andrew and Dean finished dinner preparations.

Rhiannon and I got home just before Eryn and Tyler got here. We made enchiladas together - they were really good. We used the Mesa sauce from the Rebar Cookbook but just made simple enchiladas with refried beans, salsa and cheese. After we ate, we each opened a present. I opened my gift from Tyler which was some fleece pj pants. Eryn and Tyler left for Tyler's parents place and the four of us watched A Christmas Carol - Dean's contribution to our Christmas Eve traditions. Rhiannon and Drew went to bed (rather early) and I started (yes, I said started...) on Dean's gifts. Drew had bought some flannel for me to sew him some pj pants for him to put in his stocking and I got some flannel to make him another pair. I sewed both of those on Christmas Eve while listening to Christmas music on my ipod. Have you heard the Annie Lennox Christmas CD? I LOVE it.

After I finished my mad sewing, I stuffed the two meagre stockings, arranged the Santa gifts under the tree and went to bed. Dean who had been coming down with a cold was already asleep.

Amazingly, I was the first one awake on Christmas morning at 8am. I put Andrew and Rhiannon's stocking on their beds. Before too long, Andrew brought Dean and I our stockings. Thoughtful boy! He knew that Eryn and Kaetlyn would not be contributing to them this year and he just took care of it all himself. He got me several bags of loose tea - my favourites from Simply Delicious (rooiboos bourbon and rooiboos chai, blueberry rooiboos and good Japanese green tea). With only the four of us, opening gifts did not take that long. We waited for Eryn to get here to open the ones from her and Tyler.

I got spoiled by Laura. She gave me some things from Lush, some earrings that she and Katie made, some prints of her gorgeous photos and that gorgeous book she made herself that she talked about on her blog. So beautiful and special, it is hard to think of actually writing in it... We opened them together on Skype which was fun.

Eventually Eryn and Tyler got here. We opened more gifts. We worked on dinner preparations together. People were a bit crabby from all the sugar but mostly it flowed along. Rhiannon especially was over tired and sugared out. But dinner was nice. Eryn and Tyler left shortly after we finished eating. Everyone was so stuffed that hardly any of Eryn's decadent desserts were eaten.

So that was Christmas. It was fun. It was busy. And I missed Kaetlyn. We dropped off her gifts on her doorstep a couple of days before Christmas. It was different but it was okay. Things are changing. Either I need to get some grandchildren, or I am going to have to go visit sibs who have younger children. I don't think I am ready for an adult Christmas....