Most acupuncturists/life coaches/yoga teachers/gurus/doctors/inspirationalists/secreters will tell you how to live a happy life, and how to manifest what you want. These folks are often excellent resources, and they mean well. Believe me, I’ve learned so much from so many of them. But I think it’s important to acknowledge that failing to be positive 100% of every day does not make you a bad person. One bad day (or month, or year, or decade) does not mean that you won’t meet your goals in life. A bad day is not indicative of your worth or lack of worth as a person. And maybe, just maybe, what you want in life isn’t the best thing for you.
Maybe the joy gleaned from directed, focused hard work is the best kind of joy outside of love. I’m not sure. I look to other people who are way smarter than me for guidance. But these topics are the ground beef (or tofu) in the life burrito. If we are lucky enough to have the time and space and resources to ponder these topics, they are worth considering.
Here’s an excerpt from New York Magazine advice column Ask Polly:
Very few people tell you anymore that those doubts in your head are part of the noise you hear when you’re alive, full stop. Very few people explain that success rarely happens quickly, and that even if it does, there are still lingering worries and bad days and hours and hours of tedious work involved. There aren’t many inspirational quotes about how discouragement will plague you as you work and that’s just how it feels to work at something difficult. There aren’t many memes reminding you that you won’t get everything you dream of — and that getting everything you dream of might not make you happy anyway, no matter what that constantly scrolling feed of highly curated “best lives” seems to imply.
“Golden Milk? Is this a thing? WTF?”
My best friend in San Francisco asked me that recently, and I had to admit that I’d never heard of it. But a quick google search led me to my favorite natural health blogs – Wellness Mama and Dr. Mercola and Betchy Crocker (whose photo I stole for this) – and they are all on the Golden Milk train for health, wellness, and hangovers. Read on!
If you are too lazy/busy to make this, you can always ask your doctor about taking this fabulous supplement instead.
From Wellness Mama:
Turmeric is a root that has been used for thousands of years by many cultures for its potent anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.
I love it for cooking in foods like curries and as an herbal remedy. Especially this time of year, turmeric is a staple at our home for avoiding illness and keeping our immune systems strong.
Turmeric is especially known for its benefits to digestion, immune function, liver health and even possible protection from cancer.
Curcumin (turmeric) may stop the action of a liver enzyme that activates environmental toxins into carcinogenic forms, and may be especially useful in deactivating the carcinogens in cigarette smoke and chewing tobacco. Turmeric in the diet increases the production of enzymes that digest fats and sugars, and stop cholesterol from forming gallstones. Turmeric prevents the release of histamine in the stomach, quelling nervous stomach and counteracting food allergies and it fights gum inflammation by halting the action of a gene that creates irritant chemicals. Without the irritation, bacteria cannot find a place to grow, and the absence of bacteria reduces both bad breath and gingivitis.
Turmeric Tea or Golden Milk is a great way to get the benefits of Turmeric daily. I love drinking this before bed as it aids relaxation and helps boost the immune system while sleeping.
The University of Maryland Medical Center reports that it is safe to cook with Turmeric while pregnant and nursing but that turmeric supplements should not be taken without a doctor’s advice. Since this tea contains Turmeric, consult with a doctor or midwife before consuming this if you are pregnant, nursing or have a medical condition.
Turmeric Tea Golden Milk Recipe
2 cups of milk or homemade coconut milk (or conventional coconut or almond or hazelnut milk)
1 teaspoon Turmeric
½ teaspoon Cinnamon
1 teaspoon raw honey or maple syrup or Stevia to taste
Pinch of black pepper (increases absorption)
Tiny piece of fresh, peeled ginger root or ¼ tsp ginger powder
Pinch of cayenne pepper (optional)
Blend all ingredients in a high speed blender until smooth.
Pour into a small sauce pan and heat for 3-5 minutes over medium heat until hot but not boiling.
Here’s a great article a patient shared with me recently. I think it does a fantastic job of describing the skepticism around and the “magic” of acupuncture. Also I want to meet her acupuncturist who also worked in film and television for years!
When I was younger, I frequently met people who evangelized for universal LSD consumption. A wider perspective, the acid-eaters tried to explain. A benevolent system. They always seemed half-dead to me, some part of them already partaking in the next world, turned away even as they stared into my face and tried to explain. I once watched one of them almost overdose on laughing gas, leering, muttering nastily at my head, his face blue as day. It was indecent, his romance with death. It should have been private. They all just seemed as if they’d willingly trade life for what might be nothing. They seemed infected by the same unexamined certainty as the religious and the insane, mistaking it for some greater ontological understanding.
And then one day I thought I should visit the acupuncturist on Hyperion Avenue. I’d driven past it every day for months. I don’t remember why it suddenly seemed like a good idea. I mean, I remember generally. I was troubled. Things were going wrong. I could produce no reason for it. I thought I might be carrying a backlog of sadness, that it had begun to corrode my life from the inside.
Because I have chronic inflammatory demyelinating polyneuropathy, an autoimmune disorder affecting the peripheral nerves, I’ve had so many venipunctures that the crooks of my elbows are pitted with scars. They look about the same as the scars of my friend who shot heroin for seven years. I’ve had four central lines in my subclavian vein, two on each side. One end tunneled under the skin and then fed into the vein; the other end flopped around on the surface. One of them stayed in for a year. I did six months of the flushing and dressing changes for the line myself. I’ve watched my blood go in and out, lost count of the gallons of other people’s plasma I’ve used, dirtied with autoantibodies, bled back out. I’ve given myself dozens of shots in my legs. All of which is to say that I wasn’t afraid of needles.
I was, however, afraid that I might lose my grip on reality and go delicately insane, right there on the table. My nightmares were already bad enough. I preferred to keep my inner terror invisible and unknown. I respected fear, didn’t need to transcend it, but mine was distributed oddly. There were certain things I was an ace at — I’m still a first-rate hospital patient — but it had been six years since I’d driven on a freeway. I was taking pills to get out of bed and more pills to get back in. Small, daily things were becoming impossible.
Probably the decision took place in some barely knowable part of my reasoning mind; once made, I found it easy to find the number of the place online and then drive there, park, go inside, take in the obligatory dribbling fountain and pamphlets about tinctures and powders. The acupuncturist was white, white-haired, beaming, intelligent. I went into a little room. The sheets were softer than any I’d ever felt. Eight hundred thread count? Nine hundred? Is that even a thing? It was like lying on the underside of a giant cat.
Pulses were taken; my tongue was observed. Apparently, my liver chi was trapped, which was getting the organ hot and burning up my heart energy. I didn’t care about the words. I just wanted to keep hoping this person would be able to help me. He had worked in the film industry for years and years, and started studying acupuncture when he was 40. Forty! You could start something at 40; I was 40 then. It was a revelation. I planted my face into the headrest.
Lying there, prone, holding in my flesh a number of those little pins you can’t quite feel, I caught the glimmer of an understanding that the slight concentration of energy in and around my body at that moment could just barely be distinguished from the rest of the universe. I began to understand that what I called my self was physically delimited not by my body but by a concentration of energy in and around it. I tried to determine how far out into the air it reached. Four inches? I couldn’t sense a boundary. It haloed me and faded into the surrounding space.
I began to understand that there was no such thing as death, if death meant the absolute end of something that once existed and no longer did. Imagine instead a gradual dissipation of the energy once concentrated in the general shape of the living entity. A person. A tree. A fruit on the tree. Pick the fruit and the energy stays in the center of it for some time. I’m already partaking in death along with everything else that ever lived and that lives now.
All of this flooded into my understanding in about 10 seconds. I was tingling. I was more permeable than I once thought. Bones and meat and blood, but now, also, the air. The energy all around. Once the needles were removed, I felt high for days.
Since then, I don’t think I’ve changed much. The vocabulary of the acid-eaters still makes me cringe, particularly when I hear myself using it. This is the burden of the cynic. If your cynicism disappears, even for a moment, you are dismissed by fellow cynics; worse, you court self-disdain.
Which is the real world, the world of doubt and disbelief or the world of unbelievable free-flowing magic? Or is it a steady oscillation between the two?
It has been more than a year, and I still feel better.
My friend Miriam (of WaterWorksLA – check it out!) recently took me to one of her favorite spots in New Orleans in her brick-red pickup named Idgie Threadgoode. Wow. It’s a fantastic, quiet spot to rest and regroup. We lit (or tried to light – we forgot matches!) some candles for a few friends and basked in the warm March air.
St. Roch, or St. Rocco, is a Catholic saint and confessor specially invoked against plagues and pestilence. He is also the patron saint of dogs and falsely accused people.
The Greater New Orleans website describes the origin of the cemetery and chapel:
At the height of the yellow fever epidemic of 1867, a German priest named Rev. Peter Leonard Thevis arrived in New Orleans. Faced with the severity of the yellow fever epidemic, he turned to God invoking the intercession of St. Roch, the patron of good health. He promised that if no one in his parish should die from the fever, he would erect a chapel in honor of the Saint. Amazingly, not one member of Holy Trinity died from yellow fever, either in the epidemic of 1867 or 1878.
In thanks, Rev. Thevis’s conviction was to build not only a chapel as a shrine to St. Roch, but also a mortuary chapel in a last resting place for members of his flock. The cemetery was called the Campo Santo (resting place of the dead). Rev. Thevis traveled to Europe to study the architecture and construction of many beautiful shrines and chapels before building the chapel. The chapel, completed in 1876, was considered a beautiful example of Gothic architecture.
People came to the shrine in large numbers to ask St. Roch for help in cases of affliction, disease and deformities. At one time, the celebration of All Saints Day attracted thousands of people to the Shrine seeking guidance and help for themselves and others in distress. A small room on the side of the chapel holds a number of offerings left by visitors to the chapel. The tradition was to leave accouterments of the illness or disability (including, in the past, eyeballs, crutches, and false limbs!) in gratitude for recovery.
Another New Orleans tradition related to St Roch that took place for many years is that on Good Friday young girls made a pilgrimage to St. Roch’s chapel because of a local legend, which promised a husband before the year was out to the maiden who said a prayer and left a small sum at each of nine churches. It was considered doubly lucky if St. Roch’s chapel was the end of the pilgrimage.
The neighborhood got its current name in 1867 with the dedication of the St. Roch shrine and cemetery. St. Roch Chapel and Cemetery are a very important part of the history of the St. Roch neighborhood. At the height of the yellow fever epidemic of 1867, a German priest named Rev. Peter Leonard Thevis arrived in New Orleans. Faced with the severity of the yellow fever epidemic, he turned to God invoking the intercession of St. Roch, the patron of good health.