Diva Cup to the Rescue

 

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I am so happy I decided to try a menstrual cup.  For years, women had been telling me about them;  raving of their efficiency.  I just COULD NOT wrap my head around the removing, emptying and re-inserting part of it all.  But thank God, I got my head out of the way and delved in.

At first it was hard. I could not find the right position for the cup. I could not figure out the best squatting position for insertion. As expected, the logistics of dumping and cleaning, then re-inserting were difficult.  On top of that, after a few months of use, I was not digging the smell the cup held.  However,  I now love my cup and have an easier menstrual experience. So hear are some tips from a 2 year user of the Diva Cup.

  1. You can soak your cup in hydrogen peroxide overnight. I do this at the end of my cycle washing it in between.  I use an actual cup (of course designated for only this purpose) to immerse my diva cup in HP.  It works wonders.
  2. You do not have to push the cup deep inside of you. I fold mine in the center, then over again. Using the this fold, I then push down on the lower part of my vagina and insert. The cup usually pops open inside of me. I push it in slightly, toward my tailbone and whallla!  At that moment, if I place my finger at the opening of my vagina,  I can feel the tip. Once I get up and move around it finds its way :).
  3. I insert mine while sitting on the toilet.  I experimented with squatting,  however logistically this did not work.   Particularly when I just emptied and rinsed it (while still seated leaning toward the sink) and needed to re-insert while its wet.  I have become really creative when needing to change while on the go.  When I do, I have been lucky to find  private bathrooms with sinks.  I also have to do some special maneuvering since I squat over public toilets.
  4. RELAX. DO NOT TENSE UP.  For the first month I was so nervous.  The cup almost got stuck the last day of my cycle; I pushed til my eyes almost popped out of my sockets and it was not letting up.  After giving up, taking some deep breaths and relaxing, I was able to easy it out.  Another two months went by and I was unable to position the cup correctly (which I later learned was also a folding issue; more below).   I mentioned this to a client who also uses a cup and she said “Yeah, that happens when you are tense. You have to relax” (I learn so much from my lovely patients :)).  Letting go of the tension makes a huge difference.
  5. I find the folding of the cup to be important.  Folding it in a certain way allows for easy insertion and the ability for the cup to open on its own once in. I now do what is called a C fold or U fold, depending on which way u look at it (find pics online).  At first I tried just pushing it flat and inserting it from the side. I thought it was working (and was excited to be able to do a one handed fold & insertion).  However, my little happy bubble was burst and I found that the cup was not opening and thus not collecting :/.
  6. I  still wear a pad, just in case. Sometimes it does not go in correctly and I drip.   I’m getting to a place to be able to feel at insertion, that something is off. If it is, I just re-visit the bathroom and have another try.
  7. I chose size 2, since I am not a 40 year old virgin :). I am glad I did. My cup fills pretty quickly on my heavy day.

It was a bumpy road at first, but for the most part it is now smooth sailing.   Using the cup has helped me understand my body more and become more comfortable with myself.   It has also made my heavy day much more bearable.   I am less concerned with staining my underwear and I feel more at ease overall.  On my  less heavy days I am worry free to the point of having  very easy enjoyable cycles – yippee!!    I will say here, that Chinese herbal formulas have helped me have much better cycles reducing  my menstrual bloating, cramps, and irritability.   I am also constantly working on suppressing less, dealing with upset better and expressing more.  This can all effect the cycle.   I will blog about this another time.

I truly hope this helps other women on their menstrual cup journey.  Comments and questions are appreciated.

Winter Hater? How I am Becoming a Lover

During intake with new clients, I often ask “So what’s your favorite season?” Time and time again, winter falls to the bottom of the loved list and rises to the top of the hated list.

I used to be one of those people – dreading the cold, waiting impatiently for warmer weather. I went as far as disliking autumn, because it was a sign that winter’s deep cold was coming.

When I started acupuncture school, I learned of “unnecessary suffering” and how we create this with our minds. I realized how I created unnecessary suffering for myself in many ways, just with my thoughts. One was my relationship with a season — a season that just is. I began opening up to the idea of accepting winter. A few things helped me along this journey.

To start, I began looking through a different lens. I started asking people who admired winter, “why?”. They shared that they loved getting warm and cozy after coming in from the cold; looking at the beautiful white scenery after a snow;  wearing layers of clothing;  the deep silence of winter. I attempted to feel these experiences. When I looked through the admiration lens, the first thing I observed was the beauty of the land after a heavy snow. What a wonder! The white trees are such a delight. I am still working on layering  because nothing beats a skirt, tee and flip flops. 😃

Then there was the understanding of the seasons and their gifts. I realized that winter is an inward time. Nature goes inward and it may help me if I did the same. What if I tried to hibernate as best I can? Now, that is exactly what I do. I stay indoors more and I only go out for necessities. In autumn I prepare by ordering herbs & seaweeds for teas and soups, I stock up on dry goods, I prepare my book reading list by asking for recommendations. I can now fully admire the beauty of autumn colors as I prepare for winter. When temperatures drop, I pull my crock pot out and start slow cooking. Bone soup has become my winter medicine. I actually hibernate, relax more, meditate and plan for spring projects. I find by taping into winter’s gift, going inward and storing my energy, I am better prepared to burst forward in spring.

I also attribute my being more in tuned with the seasons to acupuncture. I am not just saying this because I’m an acupuncturist. One of the goals of acupuncture is to create balance. Highly disliking a season was a sign of imbalance for me. And you know what, I found that I resonated most with the winter season which corresponds to water, the kidneys and bladder, fear, courage, wisdom, depth, and preferring dark colors or clothing. As acupuncture has helped me become more balanced, I am seeing a shift in this element/season within myself. For example, I no longer only wear black, grey and brown; I actually flaunt pink, orange, green, and purple – colors I never enjoyed seeing on myself.

I am finding that appreciating winter is bringing me inner peace, more joy and more energy.

I hope that I inspire readers who dislike winter to find their path to enjoying it more. We can’t beat nature, may as well join in!

Warmly,

Kidada

How to practice Self-Care in the Winter

The seasons provide a great guide to live in harmony with nature. During winter, nature is in a true expression of yin. It is resting, quiet, and withdrawn. It has pulled its energy deep into the roots of the Earth and is preparing for spring. There isn’t much activity from birds or squirrels and if you listen, you will find a deep silence.

Just as nature has gone within, humans have a calling to do the same. This may be feel like depression while it may be the body and mind pointing to something else. Consider going with the flow of nature and tapping into its depth & stillness. Sitting in meditation is one of the best ways to tap into your inner wisdom and connect to the oneness of the universe.

Winter is the time to nourish & replenish yourself to prepare for the burst of spring energy. It is the time to eat whole grains like millet, quinoa & barley and time to cook stews & soups. Don’t forget to throw in some dried mushrooms (help build immune system with boosting action), seaweeds like nori, kelppulse (build blood, reduce negative effect of electromagnetic rays from cell phone & computer) or a bone (packed with nutrients). Adzuki, kidney & black beans are especially good for the Kidneys.

Sip on healthful teas like ginger (deeply warming & jumps start digestion) & rose hips (high in Vitamin C). Drinking plenty of room temperature or warmed water is especially good during the cold season. Again, because things are so still, cook your food slow. Cooking with a crock pot allows you the ease of low and simple cooking without worrying about time.

In Chinese medicine, the kidneys and bladder are associated with the winter season and govern water metabolism. The kidneys are “seen as the root and foundation of the body; they store jing (essence) and rule the sexual organs and their reproductive functions.”   They control the fire (yang energy) that warms the body, support healthy sexual functions and fertility. We are gifted a certain amount of this deep reserve of vital energy at birth.  The lifestyle we choose dictates how we use up or conserve our battery back.

twu2  A lifestyle of continuous stress, over work, excessive sex, staying up late, drug use, and eating poorly are a few ways that we can deplete ourselves. Many people override their battery by pushing past being tired, drinking stimulants like coffee and getting a so-called 2nd wind. Some helpful alternatives to help preserve vital energy are:

  • Have some water, take a break or even better, take a nap.
  • Practice Tai Chi Chuan, Qi Gong or gentle yoga. They are the most effective ways to conserve and cultivate this deep source of energy that will feed us during our lifetime. A short 15 minute session a day can go a long way.
  • Stay home more often for relaxation. Trade a night out for a comfortable night in. Read a good book, massage yourself and loved ones. Spend quality time with close friends and family. Read stories or play some board games with family, have an indoor movie night with friends.
  • Look within for answers. Contemplate, write in your journal, sit in meditation. Go to bed earlier and get as much rest as possible.
  • Keep warm by covering your head, lower back and neck.  Cold wind can easily enter the body causing pain, stiffness and, as we all know, an actual “cold”. If you have bodily pain that worsens in winter, staying warm inside and out may be all you need to be pain free.
  • And enjoy it all.
(Photo cred: Free People)

Light from Darkness

 

light-of-mind-copyLast night I attended a wonderful Solstice Meditation lead by Lev Natan. Lev shared excerpts of his premier book coming forth this spring. A vision of healing was created. I was reminded of the possibilities available to us individually and as a planet thru self-cultivation and love. With devastation, bombings, killings, and hatred ever-present in society lately, I can sometimes feel overwhelmed. I know others feel similar; many patients express anxiety, anger and hopelessness. What can we do to make a positive difference in the world, our communities and personal lives? How do we express, not repress, upset in beneficial ways? Sitting in meditation allows us to go deep into ourselves, acknowledge what is there, and let go of what is not serving. Being clear gives us the space to be the light and change we wish to see in the world from a grounded self.

The solstice is a special time when the powers of the universe are particularly readily available. The winter solstice is the darkest and longest night of the year for those living in the northern hemisphere. It is a time to sit with our bowl of self and receive gifts from the cosmos. The offering is depth and darkness. Many answers can come from this void. I think about it as returning to nothing, being in the womb of nature or connecting to my ancestors.

The window of this opportunity is open three days before the solstice, the day of and three days after. I encourage people to make good use of this time. Disconnect from your devices and to do list; if only for 30 minutes. Sit with yourself, listen and be present. Observe what comes up with no judgment. Repressed thoughts or emotions may surface. Shine light on them and have the courage to face them. Gently let go. Feel your energy brightening and strengthening. From the depths of darkness comes light. What comes up for you? How can you be a light in your world?

The winter solstice is also referred to as the first official day of winter. Energetically, winter is a yin time and is associated with the Kidney & Bladder officials. It marks a time to be less active and more reflective. It is an opportunity to nourish ourselves with slow cooked wholesome foods so we can be strong and ready for the burst of spring energy. Stay tuned for more posts  about the kidney/bladder officials, acupressure, bone broths and foods to help you self cultivate during the winter.

 

(Photo cred: Blazing Light)

Bone Soup Recipe – Winter’s Medicine

Bone soup is an ancient building food. I call it winter medicine because winter is a great time to build & store energy and nourish the Kidneys (the organ associated with winter). In Chinese Medicine, the Kidneys produce marrow, fill up the Brain, and rule the bones. Some cultures call bone soup ‘longevity soup’. This soup is helpful for those with long term illness and deficiency. It is excellent for pregnant woman/postpartum moms, cancer patients, our elderly, anyone with debilitating illness, and people with long term exhaustion. I also often recommend it to people who are constantly doing, going and have not been nourishing themselves with wholesome food and rest.

The following is a rough outline of a recipe. Use it as a guideline and remember that this is food & medicine. Be sure to add good intentions and wishes/prayers for wellness as you cook.

Bones: Marrow contains numerous essential minerals & nutrients including DHA (Docosahexaenoic Acid), the most complex form of Omega-3 essential to brain and eye health.  Find the best quality bones available; those from deer or other wild animals are excellent if you have a good source. You can also buy high quality (grass feed, non-hormones, organic, etc) animal marrow from natural butchers or at your local health food store. Chicken and fish bones may be used if you do not eat red meat. If bones are small, you can use 5-10, if larger 1-5.

Herbs & Mushrooms: Astragalus (taste good; builds blood & energy; benefits lungs & spleen), Angelica (aka Donq Quai; excellent blood tonic; helps balance hormones); Shitake, maitake, reishi and other exotic mushrooms (taste good, adds nutrients),  Schisandra berries (tastes strong, but good) may all be used. You can add  red cayenne pepper (I like a whole habanero pepper but that can be really hot) as well. Herbs may be purchased in bulk in many health food stores (fresh or dry will work), and you may also find some online at Smile Herb or Mountain Rose Herbs. A few pieces of the herbs will do. The mushrooms are tasty so use to your liking.

Seaweed: Kombu can be added to bean soups to help with digestion. “Sea vegetables are rich in minerals and trace elements, including calcium, magnesium, iron, potassium, iodine, manganese, chromium and more, at levels much greater than those found in land vegetables. They also add a host of nutrients. Recent research demonstrates the inhibition of tumor formation, reduction of cholesterol, and anti-viral properties of sea vegetables”. Maine Coast Sea Vegetables is a good organic source.
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RECIPE

  1. Place your herbs, bones and Kombu into a large pot or crock pot.
  2. Cover with water (3-5 cups depending on how thick you want your soup).
  3. Add 1-2 bay leaves, 3-4 chopped garlic cloves, 1 cup of beans (pre- soaked black, adzuki, or lentils).
  4. Simmer covered for 8-10 hours or in a crock pot. Add vegetables (celery, greens, carrots) toward the end of cooking.

Once cooked, if the marrow of the bone is accessible, push the marrow out of the center of the bone. You can then discard the bone. You can also pick out herbs that were barks or roots.

Hope you enjoy,

Kidada

(Photo cred: Craving Something Healthy

10 Jewels left by a Healer

Autumn is here and grief is in the air. In the past few days, hundreds have died in Haiti by the devastation of Hurricane Matthew and yes, black men continue to be murdered by a system that pledges to protect & serve. Closer to home, Michelle, an acquaintance and good friend to others, took her wings along with my teacher Bob Duggan. Saying goodbye to loved ones is always hard.  Remembering the reasons we loved them and the jewels they leave behind can help us experience the transition with some grace and ease.

Bob Duggan was one of my first teachers at Tai Sophia. He was honest, forthcoming, and challenging with love and care peppered in. He taught me and my colleagues how to walk in the world as better people, healers and Acupuncturist.  A fellow student of Bob’s wrote a beautiful tribute to him. An excerpt is below:

“In the spirit of a perspective and legacy that cannot be bound by the physical body, here are 10 things I learned directly from Bob that make my life, and the lives of those around me, better every day. Enjoy – and I invite you to continue his legacy by listening to his advice and sharing it with those you love.

1. Upset is optional: Choose not to live in the drama. We have a choice in how we relate to what’s happening and the perspective we take on it. The idea that we have a choice with how we respond to life’s circumstances brings freedom.

2. Allow yourself to be a beginner: It’s okay to make mistakes. In fact, that’s how we learn. At any stage of life, allowing oneself to be a beginner opens up a bigger world of possibility, progress, and change.

3. Is it a problem or an opportunity?: This question provides a simple shift in perspective that gives you power to grow and learn rather than suffer.

4. Your symptom is your teacher: What if the body is wise? When it’s out of balance it sends a signal, or symptom. When we learn to listen to our symptoms we can truly heal. Understanding why you have a headache, for example, can lead you to empowered self awareness and healing. Often taking a medication masks the symptom but doesn’t grow your soul.

5. Will this serve the future generations?: This question reminds us to think big and remember that we matter. When speaking or acting, ask yourself “would this word or act make my ancestors proud?” and “will my words or act serve the future generations?”

6. Where do you feel it in your body? When you have an upset, ask yourself “where do I feel this in my body?” and allow the feeling. This is a simple and effective way to foster the connection between your mind and body and listen to it’s wisdom.

7. Listen: To truly listen means to pay more attention to the speaker than the thoughts in your own head.

8. Acknowledge others and be acknowledged. If someone said something nice to Bob, he would say, “I am practicing taking in acknowledgement, would you say that again so i can really take it in?” This is a powerful and challenging practice that creates so much beauty in the world – try it!

9. Word as Needle: Bob taught that the right words can have the same power of any acupuncture needle, medicine, herb, or drug.

10. Be who you are: How dare you not share the gifts you have with the world?

Thank you, Bob – we are all brighter for your presence in our lives.

Lots of love,

Lance”