Relative Something

*this* John W. Hays’ take on things and experiences

Posts Tagged ‘health

The Thing

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The thing about depression is that it can be so amorphous. There are no clearly defined borders where it begins and ends. If one develops a runny nose, is it a cold or just a runny nose?

When I start feeling less than my best self, is it a bout of depression, or just the equivalent of a “runny nose?”

There is also a chicken and egg type question of which comes first. Do I feel low because depression is coming on, or is depression coming on because I feel low?

On top of those basic questions, there is the added complication of framing the situation as productive, or not. Is doing very little more than passing time a waste, or a valuable break from the rat race?

So many questions with no simple answer. What I know right now is, I have been noticeably under achieving this weekend. I have chosen to frame it in the positive. I have allowed myself a respite from doing significant chores and I won’t be moping that it was a negative.

In fact, this morning I am feeling significantly accomplished for the brilliant use of the available unscripted hours this weekend.

Now that’s my thing.

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Written by johnwhays

November 26, 2017 at 9:59 am

Mostly Healthy

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Other than choosing to regurgitate the entire undigested contents of her stomach on our bed the other day, Pequenita is leading our animals in staying healthy.

The good news about the others is that all are showing promising signs of improvement.

Delilah had a quick relapse to yelping in pain after her promising signs of normalcy a week or two ago. Happily, that regression was short-lived and she has re-emerged with more of her old vim and vigor once again. We remain cautious about encouraging too much rambunctiousness, lest she experience another similar setback.

She has a second visit to the doggie chiropractor scheduled for next week. We are trying to constrain her activity a reasonable amount until then.

Cayenne’s swollen eye has settled down nicely, but shows signs of still being irritated. Cyndie washed it out again yesterday. Since all the horses were due for a fall visit from the veterinarian, we will have a chance for her eye to be seen this morning when the Doc comes to give all of them some attention.

I’m doing my best to keep up with everybody else’s progress and enjoying increased mobility and reduced pain with every passing day. ‘Nita does her best to keep my legs stretched out and warm for me. I think my tight hamstrings do me no favors at avoiding problems with my lumbar discs.

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I have been grossly negligent about stretching and exercising for best back health, but as soon as the trouble showed up last week, I became a planking maniac again. The problem with that was that the muscles of my torso became incredibly stiff and didn’t want to take on the load my ailing back wished they would.

Stretching like a yoga master became the third option.

 

Written by johnwhays

November 10, 2017 at 7:00 am

Power Treat

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With thanks to my sister, Judy, I have discovered a new homemade energy treat that offers a sweetness, but is not particularly high in sugar. One reason it is a low sugar snack for me is, my ability to be satisfied with a single serving.

I can get a batch to last more than a month, barely eating one per day.

What makes them so satisfying? I think it is the brilliant balance of ingredients, including crunchy peanut butter, honey, oatmeal, and as of last night, a few of my own enhancements.

With Cyndie’s guidance in the kitchen while making dinner, I concocted a souped-up version of the recipe Judy originally shared with us. Per Judy’s suggestion, we replaced raisins with craisins. Beyond that, I added some millet, chopped coconut, chopped almonds, chia seeds (because Cyndie found some in the cupboard), protein powder, and chopped pumpkin seeds. Finally, as much as I love crunchy peanut butter, I reduced the quantity and finished the amount with the addition of almond butter.

If there is a “super crunch” version of almond butter, I haven’t discovered it yet. I would dearly love to try that.

Cyndie did the honors of buttering her palms and forming the bite-sized balls for me. I’m not that interested in getting my hands covered with ingredients. She shaped these a tiny bit bigger than a previous batch she made from the original recipe. Even when small, my method of enjoying them involves nibbling to get many more bites than one per serving.

At this size, we calculate a single ball is about 3-4 grams of sugar. The average cookie often comes in around 7 grams.

I’m still aiming to stay below 50 grams per day in my average 2000 calorie/day diet. By trying to stay close to 10 grams per meal, I have almost 20 grams of space available each day to keep from being a total party-pooper when treats are served.

Having a choice available with only 4 grams of sugar gives me a quick and easy option and helps me land well below my goal on days when these are the only treat I end up eating.

Of course, this would never have satisfied my old palette, when my sugar addiction was allowed to direct my choices, uncontrolled. Having weaned myself off the high sugar diet, I am now able to get sweet satisfaction from much lower amounts.

It is a great reward to have arrived at a healthy pattern of eating and find out it no longer feels like a place of deprivation. It is perfectly pleasurable and sustainable, as long as I acknowledge and remain vigilant about paying appropriate attention to my history of addiction to the sweet reward my brain celebrates every time I give my body sugar.

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Written by johnwhays

October 31, 2017 at 6:00 am

How’s Everybody?

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Basically, we are all good, but there are some health concerns that continue to linger for some of the Wintervale crew. Time has not healed all wounds.

After the most recent hoof trimming, Cayenne’s showing a tiny bit of improvement. What we cling to there is that she is, at the very least, not worse. She still shows a fair amount of hesitation on her movements, but she doesn’t appear to be in extreme pain.

It’s possible she may have developed a habit of anticipating pain, and she still limps because that is what she has grown used to doing. It sometimes looks like she steps gingerly to protect herself, not because it hurts too much to walk normal.

Now, Delilah, on the other hand, is behaving quite the opposite. She keeps trying to act like she is fine, but continues to have moments of extreme pain. On Tuesday, we resorted to ordering x-rays of her spine and a more thorough blood analysis.

The results of her blood work are not in yet, but the x-ray showed a minor compression between discs 3 and 4. We were told there also appeared to be some abnormal marks or possible lesions on those vertebrae, which the vet is hoping the blood analysis will inform.

We have returned to restricting her movements to a bare minimum. Regardless, she continues to maintain a pretty happy attitude between moments of looking like she’d prefer to do nothing more than lay down and convalesce.

It’s been a long summer of rehabilitation for Cyndie’s shoulder, but it’s not over yet. She continues to have regular physical therapy appointments to improve range of motion. The good news after her most recent follow-up with the surgeon was that he deemed it unnecessary to put her under and break the scar tissue by force. The bad news was the alternative being extended PT with painful aggressive measures to do the same thing.

The therapist used the infamous “cupping therapy” to stretch the scarred tissue across the grain. Makes sense to us, despite a broad belief that cupping is pseudo-science and any benefits are from a placebo effect. Cyndie is growing tired of the pain from her exercises and the ongoing need to push her limits of stretching and rotation.

At the same time, she continues to find ways to function in her daily activities with only minor limitations.

The rest of us are enjoying a grace period of good health. The chickens will be seeing snow for the first time in their lives. Pequenita is happy to be an indoor cat. We brought the horses in out of the windy wet precipitation last night, but we’ll give them a short shift outside for some fresh air before letting them back into their stalls again tonight.

I avoided hitting any deer on my commutes this week. Yesterday morning, I was lucky to not be a part of a 10-car chain reaction crash,  –nor get caught in the significant backup of traffic behind it– when a vehicle hit a deer on I94, right at the bridge between Wisconsin and Minnesota. I had already passed that spot and was well on my way to work by then.

Everyday I don’t hit a deer in October and November is a successful day.

That’s my update on how everybody is doing today. We are thankful for all our good fortune.

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Written by johnwhays

October 27, 2017 at 6:00 am

My Choice

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The other day I picked up a pitchfork and worked up a sweat stirring compost. It was late afternoon and I was already tired from a full day of chores, so my energy was waning. My arms sent a notice of complaint to my brain.

“Tired. Don’t feel like working anymore.”

It occurred to me that, despite a prevailing mindset to use machines to do all our exhausting tasks, I prefer the precise control I can achieve with hand tools. I’m not as fast as a machine, and I tire easily, but I get more satisfaction.

In my head, I imagined someone interrupting my effort to suggest I use the bucket on the tractor, because I was huffing and puffing, straining at the effort, and breaking a good sweat.

I actually like the exercise, despite my body complaining that it is tired.

How hard is it to convince yourself to get up early and go to the gym for a healthy workout? The body would rather remain at rest, for sure. But to be physically fit, we have to push ourselves out of that resting comfort zone.

Next, I imagined myself at the gym, huffing and puffing at the effort to work my arms, lifting weight. Would someone suggest that there is a machine to do that for me, so I don’t have to work so hard?

I choose my pitchfork.

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Written by johnwhays

September 13, 2017 at 6:00 am

A Nutshell

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Have I already shared this? I don’t recall. In a nutshell, here is a synopsis of the Wintervale Ranch story, composed for our “About” page on the Wintervale website.

Wintervale Ranch is a one of a kind retreat center started by Cyndie and John Hays upon their relocation from the suburbs of Minneapolis/St. Paul, MN in 2012. Inspired by their travels and life experiences, they began to explore the wonder of equine wisdom. Cyndie enrolled in an Epona apprenticeship program from which blossomed their life-changing move to a gorgeous paradise property in the rolling countryside of west-central Wisconsin.

With a wise herd of four Arabian horses and the beautiful setting not far from the Twin Cities metro area, Wintervale Ranch has become a destination for a variety of opportunities in personal and professional development, as well as rejuvenating health and wellness retreats. On twenty acres with forested trails, open pastures, an 11-circuit Chartes labyrinth, rolling hills with wild berries, perennials, flowers and towering trees, the setting provides an ideal atmosphere for quiet reflection, and opportunities for personal discovery and professional growth.

Wintervale Ranch is a perfect setting for individuals, teams, and small groups to explore possibilities beyond the usual limited focus of daily demands, while connecting with the wonderful wisdom of horses in a natural outdoor nurturing environment.

We invite you to inquire and begin your exploration of discovery. Find what dwells in your possibilities.

In the relatively short time that we have been striving to develop the vision we have for this place, it has become clear to us that our most rewarding outcomes result from the wonderful expressions of our guests, both their words and in the looks on their faces, as they take in the powerful ambiance of the overall setting. That type of reaction becomes magnified even more when the people spend time exploring the lessons and interacting with our horses during Cyndie’s workshops.

It is a thrill to witness learners discovering what dwells in their possibilities.

People visiting Wintervale bring this place to life, and at the same time, Wintervale reveals a broader depth of life to visiting people.

That’s it, in a nutshell!

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Natural Medicine

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During my drive to work earlier this week, I heard this inspiring story on public radio about an increasing trend for Forest Bathing, a practice that started in Japan back in the early 1990s.

It’s what we do almost every day at our place. Each time we walk Delilah along the perimeter trail through our woods we are breathing healthy phytoncides emitted by the plants and trees. This reduces stress levels and boosts our immune systems.

Wandering along the trail among the trees while listening to all the bird-calls and the sounds of rustling leaves is inspiring enough on its own, but add in some of nature’s medicinal forest air filling your lungs and you enjoy quite the bonus!

Forest bathing is a perfect complement for the workshops Cyndie leads with the horses and labyrinth. It has always been part of the experience here, but we never described it with as much clarity as the variety of published articles on the subject are now offering.

I believe that giving the experience some specific definition of what is happening serves to enhance the results. Thank you MPR!

In my mind, nature has always seemed the best when it comes to medicine.

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Written by johnwhays

July 19, 2017 at 6:00 am