Monday, February 18, 2008

hmm, 30 years ago

I’d like to think I’m wise beyond my years, but I doubt it. I think the years have just passed me by…

Some 30 – 40 years ago, my grandparents shared their thoughts about acceptance or resignation that their impact on society was to forever be limited to that which they had immediate control, even though they knew better about many things. When would my grandparents ever get to sit down and share his wisdom with those men making the decisions that affect everyone? They knew it was past their time to impact society, so they shared with me in hopes that I might be able to help at some future time.

Today, I look at my society as it is framed for me to consume in the daily newspaper, the findings are, well, the same as they’ve been, and I thought about that…

As I read the newspaper and realized that nothing in the last, how many years… well, my cognizant lifetime anyway, has changed for the better, unless you’re into games. But then that’s games, so does that really count when you’re talking about the global human condition? I don’t know.


The promises our society made to youth, when I was that youth, were for a grander world, a cleaner world, a world where people would be fed, clothed, housed and free to create a better place. Disease would be a thing of the past, healthcare was a human right.

Our lives would have a harmonious feeling as we as a species improved ourselves: physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. Our lives would be determined by what our choices produced.

The best and the brightest would be used to their greatest potential. The world was to be a paradise by the turn of the 21st century!

Humans would make amends for our offenses during the dirty retched past with a clean present and a bright future.

The possibilities were endless, only by how you limited yourself and your imagination. Imagine a better town, a better city, a better state, a better country, a better world.

Promises Broken

As I read the articles in the paper today about proposed “new” technology to harness the wind, solar and ocean power. I recall the same promises and discoveries about hmm, 30 years ago.

As I read about the rise in other prices because of OPEC's choke-hold on the US economy, I recall the same situation about hmm, 30 years ago.

As I read about Russian’s opposition to free smaller states and the trouble between ethnic Albanian and Serbs, I recall a similar state of affairs with the USSR about hmm, 30 years ago.

As I read about bombers in the Mid-East, I recall the same circumstances about hmm, 30 years ago.

As I read about the politicians who have already revised their campaign promises, I recall an election where politicians adjusted their positions about hmm, 30 years ago.

As I read about the economic situation including more job lay-offs, subsistence jobs being downscaled to substandard wages for the benefit of the company, foreclosure rates up, people displaced, food banks stretched, elderly in need of medication, I recall a stories of a time called the Great Depression, and minus the added hardship of the Dust Bowl during that same period, it seems that we (regular people) have hit a Greater Depression economically than in the 1930s, even if the talking heads are silent or inaccurate on that point.

Economically, for the average American family, things are tighter and more stressful financially than it has been during my life time. The Haves & Have-mores have even started to notice that return on their dollar isn’t what once was.

Since I haven’t been tapped to move up the food-chain to a place where my thoughts matter, I guess I’ll just wait to see what the folks at the top can figure out…

The answers are so simple. If it weren’t so sad, I’d laugh at the irony. I find myself saying things I heard the old people say, hmm, 30 years ago.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

The Shortest Month

What can we do with February?

It seems to be a very commercial month. It is a month of Hallmark cards, See's candy and cut flowers. Choosing to be more scientific, one could address the reasons why this month is so short. This gets into astronomy, rotations of the earth around the sun and the evolution of our calendar. That's good but it just doesn't seem enough somehow. In an effort to cover more subject material within one theme, Black History month was the answer.

Once you get past all the politic and social undercurrents that must be, at least, acknowledged in that the shortest month of the year, February, was the month chosen for the celebration of the contributions given our country by our citizens of African descent. The material available for study is endless.

Way back when, whenever I was in school the two African Americans we studied were Harriet Tubman and Martin Luther King Jr. Honestly, we didn't study their lives, their accomplishments, or their contributions. They were mentioned among other issues discussed. The Civil War and President Lincoln were accompanied by a side line about the Underground Railroad and Harriet Tubman. The Sixties and Presidents Kennedy & Johnson were covered as Martin Luther King Jr. became a footnote. Needless to say, my knowledge of the lives, triumphs and defeats by an entire segment of our population was lacking.

I have to make sure that my children receive a better education and understanding of the society in which we live so that their opinions of people, places and things are not based in ignorance. Our society is a mixed race society with people from all areas of the world. They bring with them traditions and beliefs from their homeland as they assimilate into the wider American culture to varying degrees. The amount of time in which a family has lived in the United States also has an impact on their children's beliefs and behaviors.

A newly arrived immigrant reacts differently to a situation than one whose family has been in this country for centuries. The community social codes impacts the way in which children learn to interact as they grow into adulthood. Intermarriage and the children of those marriages are sometimes treated differently than those who are of one cultural or racial background. This diversity should be celebrated instead of scorned. Children of diverse backgrounds have the opportunity to learn first hand from all their heritages.

"But I'm not Black, why should I study African American History?"

Good question. An article in Interrace magazine entitled, "Roots in Many Gardens" discusses with Shirlee Taylor Halzip, her mixed race background and the passing of family members as "white."

She states, "95% of white people have African heritage, 85% of black people have European heritage, and 80% of black people have Native American heritage. If we were taught that early on, we would grow up with a different attitude about physical differences."

So even if you aren't black, your friends or neighbors may be, even if they don't look like it.

Where can one begin to study Black culture and history?

There are many books at the library about the following Black Americans: Sojourner Truth, Malcom X, W.E.B. DuBois, A. Philip Randolph, Toni Morrison, Harriet Jacobs, Onnie Lee Logan, George Washington Carver, and don't forget Harriet Tubman and Martin Luther King Jr.

The social/political/spiritual movements of the Black community are worthy of study as well: the Harlem Renaissance, the Black Muslim Movement, the Civil Rights Movement, and much of our modern music; jazz and the blues are based in Black spiritual music.

There isn't a subject that one could study that there hasn't been some contribution by African Americans. But why doesn't the general population know or acknowledge this?

That is a question to ponder, as we who chose to view the world through realities eyes and strive to teach our children a greater understanding of the society in which they live by doing what we do best; providing them with the information, knowledge about all peoples, in greater depth and understanding than they could get anywhere else.

After all this, I'll get back to the construction paper hearts, cherubs and maybe a piece candy.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Herbal Moving

There are few things in life as stressful as moving from one place to another, whether you are moving across town or across the country; whether you are looking forward to the move or wishing you could stay where you are. Moving is a change. Change creates stress. Often, stress creates illness. There are a several ways to make the move smoother and to combat the inevitable stress that accompanies change.

The following tactics have been developed over time. In the past twenty years, I've moved eleven times, always to a better place, whether I thought so at the time or not. Either way, moving was traumatic to my system.

The first few moves I rushed didn't take care of myself and became ill. The several weeks of illness gave me the time I needed to recover from the move rather than taking the time, a few minutes here and there throughout the day to avoid getting sick.

The next few moves, I began to learn the relationship between the trauma of moving and the debilitating illness I had afterward and I slowed down, got organized and asked for help.

Five of the last seven moves have been across the county which included a spouse, pregnancies, kids, and dogs. We all survived and remained healthy throughout the entire process.

The move when I was eight and a half months pregnant is memorable because I was also preparing for finals at the university, and chasing a very active 18 month old. But I wasn't as stressed as previous moves. What had changed is that I had learned about the moving process and had taken advantage of some very old herb wisdom that I would like to share with anyone who would care to know.

The following is the result of my experience. I would like to say that if you have any health concern, consult with your health practitioner. If you are pregnant consult with your midwife before taking any herbal preparation, the life within you is extremely sensitive to everything you put into your body.

Preparation for the move. Planning for your move can save countless aggravations. Make a list of all the things you need to do. Everything should be on the list, from mailing change of address cards to calling the utilities.

Include in your plans, time to take an extra bath or spend time with a supportive friend.

Before you pack, look through your herb cupboard; make sure that you have plenty of everything you use regularly, plus an additional one month supply. The additional herbs will carry you through until you have found a new herb supplier in your new neighborhood.

Packing is also a good time to throw things away, give unneeded items to a local thrift store or friends. The fewer extra things that are moved the fewer hassles you'll have with the move.

If you don't already have these herbs in your pantry, make a special trip to your herb store and make sure that you have them to get you through the move.

Chamomile has a calming influence. In those moments when you feel up-tight sit down and have a cup of chamomile tea.

Pennyroyal helps the nervous system maintain a balance; it also has a sedative effect. *Do not use this if you are pregnant.*

Echinacea helps promote white blood cells and helps the immune system.

Valerian is known to relieve nervous tension.

Peppermint is a stimulant. It is a good to drink in the morning, for that jump start on the day.

Making your morning tea, mix 2 parts Peppermint with 1 part of Echinacea to start your day. Place 1 teaspoon of the tea mixture in a tea strainer to 1 cup of boiling water, infuse. A simple way to infuse your tea is to pour boiling water over the strainer into a cup then place the saucer over the top of the cup for several minutes.

Keep this anti-stress tea handy for stressful moments, mix equal parts Peppermint, Echinacea and Valerian. Infuse 1 teaspoon of tea with a strainer to 1 cup of boiling water.

Relaxing in the evening is essential. Try this evening tea. Mix 2
parts Chamomile with 1 part Echinacea. Infuse 1 teaspoon of herbal tea to 1 cup of boiling water.

Keeping things as simple as possible throughout your move, you may want to mix several batches of the different teas and place them in empty heat sealable tea bags, or prepare an entire teapot or thermos full of the herbal mixture you enjoy or need the most, so it will be ready for you any time.

Proper diet and hydration gives you the nutrients your body needs to get through this transition. Drink plenty of water and keep snacks, like dried fruit and nuts, available. Mealtime is a good time to sit, relax and plan the next portion of the moving process. It is more important in the long run to eat a meal than unpack a box. The box isn't going anywhere. It will be there when you return. Taking the time you need to refuel will give you the energy you need to complete your task.

Whenever people offer help, accept it. If nobody offers, ask for the help you need. Even if you do all the actual packing, having someone to talk while you pack can be advantageous to your overall attitude. If you have children, involve them as much as possible. Kids love to help. Keep things in perspective. A broken dish can be replaced. Saying good-bye to friends doesn't mean forever.

When the old passes, it gives room in your life for new and wonderful people, places or things to replace them, if you are the adventure.

Lust, John. The Herb Book. New York: Bantam Books, 1974.
Mabey, Richard. The New Age Herbalist. New York: Collier Books, 1980.