We survive this Ride together!

Aly's Brothers portrait

Aly’s Painting, “Brother’s Portrait”

We Survive this Ride together

I am a single mother, teacher, therapist, actress, but above all Human Being. Who is a survivor of a child suicide attempt…..

The trigger of this experience is reptilian.  I use these choice of words because I would like to refer to the part of the brain that is charge of the instinct of survival.

This is a life changing event.

In response, I have developed this passion to “Retrain the Brain:.

Release…Let go….Forgive….Forget…these are some of the words that we frequently hear …as part of this journey. We are on alert for that call which may or may not come.

Mental Illness, depression, bi-Polar, Schizophrenia… Yes, they are all conditions and labels. but I believe are also influenced by the human condition….

When we are kind loving, generous. life is easy and graceful.  Yes, someone may come along to play the demon: to criticize, “rock the boat” therefore triggering that downward spiral of deep rooted pain.  Be it fear of abandonment, rejection, acceptance..  it is fear…in its essence.

I pray for the day where the New way of encompassing heaven on earth is the norm.  Where we all live in our hearts…unconditionally love each other, and choose to nurture life in the world rather than destroy it.

We are in the darkness before this dawn.

It takes every fibre of my being to call on courage, strength, and will to be a warrior of Love.

Embracing the mantra “Let Love Live Me”

10 years later …I reach within for encouraging words, meditational feelings of peace, the will to exercise, create good food… but above all, I reach outside myself for a “Cuddle” , “human touch”…. My daughter has taught me that.

We survive this ride together……

In Reflection:  In a Life Changing event it is very often a challenge to find the gem in the experience.  It has become a fabric of my being and very often acceptance is the key.

Audio Recording…

 

Permanent link to this article: https://karenbarker.ca/we-survivor-this-ride-together/

Acid/Alkaline Diet, Easy steps on “How to start”

Mosaics, Ravenna, Italy

Mosaics, Ravenna, Italy

Effective manual therapy needs healthy tissue for lasting results.  

Acid/Alkaline Diet and where to Start.

There is a certain amount of anxiety and concern when one is about to embark on changing some habits around eating.  The act and art of eating is primal.  It may bring up emotional issues. We have attachments to foods and flavors.

I share this knowledge from the various naturopathic doctors, research, and my own personal health challenges in my office daily with clients.  I am continually being asked to write it down.

My intention is to be clear and make this process easy and graceful.

I caution you to be gentle with yourself and with compassion integrate these changes with the intention for better health and no pain.

Be honest!  As soon a I feel I am depriving myself I will be triggered to fight the choice I am making.  Punishment is not the objective.  If a change is too difficult take it slower.

Simply changing the water we drink to less than 100 ppm, alone is a Great Start.  We have to go buy the water or arrange to have it delivered.  We need to find a home for it in our kitchen…buy a dispenser so it is easily accessible.  Most aqua companies will deliver weekly or monthly and provide you with a dispenser for the counter top.  Of course, drinking the water at room temperature is best for the body.  It will make a great cup of coffee!.

Concept: Too much acid in the body causes inflammation….pain….

We want to support the alkalinity in the body.  The acidity will reduce affecting overall health so the body can heal.  It will spend less energy putting out the fires of inflammation and can focus on the good stuff.  The change in food groups will support the alkalinity in the body.  When the body has rebalanced, the acid/alkaline relationship…then we can integrate the other foods back into our eating.  Our body will be balanced so the effect eating an acidic tomato will be reduced or nil.

It is temporary!!

Jumping In

On the theme of water:Half of lemon in a glass of water first off in the morning and at night.  Yes… lemon is sour on our taste buds but in the stomach it provides an alkaline ash for digestion of the foods we will consume. That is what we want.

To keep this easy…general Acid forming foods, I will name them the “No” Foods

Night Shade Vegetables: tomatoes potatoes peppers eggplant…in the digestive process create too much acid. Therefore we want to avoid contributing to the acid content….The objective is to reduce acid forming foods to get back the body’s alkalinity therefore improving organ function and reducing pain….be it headache, joint or muscle pain.

Red Meat, Dairy Products, Wheat/Grains

It is Temporary

“Yes” Foods

Veggies…  Yams instead of Potatoes….Its a Fad and so available.

Fruit…. before noon

Protein… chicken breast, fish, eggs, Nuts and seeds.  Almonds soaked overnight releases the germination acid that is harmful…Pates can be made from almonds.  A handful of squishy almonds always make a great snack.  Almond milk helps deficient blood.  Nut and seed butters as snack

Cucumber slices instead of crackers , celery stalks as well

Beans…Chick peas, kidney, black beans are all protein and fibre.  Spreads like humous, pates,

Veggie Chili or Hearty soups substitute the tomatoes though.

Indian food is great resource.  The Masala and Palek dishes, avoid the white bread and rice.

Spices…  raw ginger, garlic, cumin, curries, cinnamon,, are flavourful additions that help with cravings.

Coconut oil calms inflammation and is digestible in the stomach. Ground chia, flax seeds for essential fatty acids and keeping bowels moving.  Releasing toxicity is another key.  Epson Salt bathes. Infrared sauna. all help the journey and they are relaxing.

Coffee/ Wine in moderation…..In Italy, a coffee after a meal is a great digestive aid so is the red wine. Beer, hard alcohol is not advised.

Fermented Foods support the good bugs in the gut.  Sauerkraut, pickles, salsas, chutneys, Miso soup paste, I find the fermented foods fill and satisfy me.  Reflect on what does that for you.

It is a journey of self discovery when I consciously start choosing the food I eat as medicine. It is a relationship.

Permanent link to this article: https://karenbarker.ca/acidalkaline-diet-easy-steps-on-how-to-start/

InHale Rome….Exhale Venice!!

 

The Coliseum, Rome Italy

The Coliseum, Rome Italy

Inhale Rome… Exhale Venice!!
Is the concept of “lost” an illusion?

Insights of travelling: It heightens my senses.

Conscious exercise of:
noting directions when having my daily walk about…
Food I eat…
where is my passport?
credit card?
money?…

remembering my code for the room safe
Surprised at the numerous moments of complacency, as I engage in my daily life in a familiar environment.

The concept of lost…is it an illusion?

I inhale....

Yes, I reflectively giggle and am amused at how my first day in Rome unfolded.

Lost twice in one day on arrival and I freaked out, fell Into a brief emotional ” I hate Rome, I wanna go home”.

As I lay on a bed in my hotel room…I was breathing into the frenzy. I managed to detach myself from feeling emotionally crazed to see a bigger picture of the days unfolding.

From the train station,  I was dropped off at…what I thought to be my new home for the next three days.  It wasn’t after waiting for 30 minutes. Unable to reach anyone at the face of a locked Oak door…I felt empty….

Downstairs was a telemarketing company… the women who choose to help me opened their hearts when they realized my situation. I pleaded with them, “I am lost are you going to help me… what do I do?”
One woman courageously stepped in…she embraced this as her mission… being a phone telemarketing company using the computers to “google” the right address …was off bounds to me. I was on my Iphone roaming Ouch, on emergency airtime.

Cha ching!!! The thought came and went quickly… I am worth it.
An Italian call to a taxi and I was off in the right direction with already a Rome story behind me.

Arriving at the proper location, I apologized for holding the staff up at the hotel, who were patiently waiting for me. I took full responsibility for my mistake. It was humbling…

In the late evening, I had a wonderful dinner. Full…I thought a lengthy walk would be perfect.

I had company of a traveller from Sweden. We walked until I ended up at the coliseum. Happily to have company…I was swept up in the conversation…having not takin’ full notes in the dark how I got here …we parted and I bravely went into the quiet dark streets of midnight.
One hour later nothing looked familiar. I started to panic. I got the “NO” feeling. I stopped and talked to a few groups of travelers that spoke German and Polish. Unsuccessful in getting directions.

Trying to Breathe into this dilemma, I approached a collective of “white” taxi drivers.  the renowned safe taxi’s of Roma.  I kept repeating “the steps.” Where I presumed I lived…gesturing the stairs, with my hands, and on the verge of holding back my tears. This was truly a dramatic moment.  If my theatre career didn’t help me here I was truly F***.  Woohoo!! They rallied and found a driver who could speak some English.

I was going home. The drive felt like forever…it reflected to me I was no where near my bed.
Feeling into my purse, I was made aware I had no cash…only credit card from dinner, no iPhone and no passport.  We arrived outside…I darted upstairs to open my room safe with the right code and gladly gave the driver 20 euros.

I exhale…

I was safe, at home and ready to sleep. First, I text my daughter to let her know “I hated Rome and couldn’t get out fast enough.” I would give myself the night to sleep this off and decide in the morning. What I will do?

Dawn came….I entered meditation I was shown the bigger picture. I was in my bed…warm, safe, intact. I closed my eyes…breathed and noticed being lost is an illusion…I am right here.

Another of my learning curves in this chapter of my life, is a desire to live with my heart open to allow myself to be taken care of.

I Inhale…

I was “taken care of”, by the telemarketing girls, dinner companion, taxi drivers, staff at the hotel, and other travelers.
In 3 Skype debriefs, with close friends, I truly experienced “a Compassionate Rome.”

I admit, My first impression was jaded with thousands of people, smoking, unending noise, attitude and chaos. I was warned of pick pockets , which planted a seed of fear. I knew I had to be responsible/aware but with compassion and an open heart rather than with the edge of protecting myself.

The next day I took the city tour, saw all what I needed to see from an outdoor seat, as my legs were crying uncle. I acquired a great set of earphones…which I had considered purchasing for those Skype calls.

In conclusion, the rest of my stay in Rome was fantastic. I slept for 15 hours ready to embrace the magic of Venice. I sat in a church devoted to the Ascension of Mary.  Tears welled up Inside me as I felt the intensity of my life, a journey of adversities that had truly been my growth as well as the celebrated times of success and love.

I happily exhale!!

Garibaldi in Venice, Italy

Garibaldi in Venice, Italy

 

 

Permanent link to this article: https://karenbarker.ca/inhale-rome-exhale-venice/

All the World’s a Stage

 

IMG_4584

Duomo, Milan, Italy 2014
An amazing platform of Life.

I have been involved in theatre/film professionally since 1978.  The many gems it has revealed to me has been immeasurable.  I want to share a few with you with regards to health and wellness. It is about re-connecting with our creativity and our innate desire to play.

The biggest blessing in my life was to have my daughter Aly.  It was a commitment I made to re-discover the element of play. Surrendering as I watch those beautiful inspiring Disney animations over and over again.  They release the stress-ors of the day as I enter the world of make belief with Peter Pan and the Lion King. “Patch Adams” with Robin Williams is a movie about Dr. Patch Adams who used his humour with his patients.

Eckhart Tolle wrote “The Power of Now”. Being present is such a vital part of play and theatre.  Many of our minds race get occupied with problem solving or worry that it takes us away from being in the moment.

Freeing our physical body from its immobility or limitation’s letting the laughter and oxygen find those places that have been closed down.  Giving ourselves permission to sing and tell stories from the depths of our creative souls or singing in the shower daily will lift the soul above the mundane we all may live in.  It is also safe as no one is bound to hear us.

The Alexander technique is a gentle way for chronic pain people to release the tissues combining breath and movement.  Kristin Linklater wrote, “Freeing the Natural Voice”. It combines movement with the breath and sound making everyone believe in the strength of their voice be it for singing, lecturing or talking.  It is one of our instruments of communication.

Perspective is another vital tool.  In improvisation and scene study we can choose alternative endings and through lines that we can then take into our lives.  Seeing the positive in all things and people is the greatest exercise.  Try walking down the street and making eye contact with everyone you meet.  How do you feel?  Possibly awkward at first, but then very rewarding.  Since our eyes are our communicators it is a great and simple exercise.

Three to Do’s

Get the self-critic to go on a holiday, stop the self-judgement for there is no room for it as it only causes contraction and low self worth.  Give yourself permission to tell yourself three fabulous things about yourself each night before you fall asleep.  My daughter and I do that, and guaranteed we sleep the better for it.

As the children suggested in the article on “Kids, get Stress too”, published Oct. 2, 2003, get it out of your body.  Play and laugh whenever you can, allow the expression of all emotions aids in the release of stress.  If negative, aim it at a pillow or the great outdoors. If it is positive share it by letting someone know.  “You’re great, I’m happy, that’s beautiful.”

Karen works as a massage therapist integrating advanced cranial and visceral osteopathic techniques in her work.  What has inspired her recently is a three part course called “Voice Tooning, Release the Voices within” with Chinook Animation in Calgary. They are one of the leading studios for dubbing in this country.

 In Reflection:  Empower yourself to choose play and joy in this somewhat stress-filled world we live in. And yes, like the lion in the “Wizard of Oz”, it does take courage.

 

 

Permanent link to this article: https://karenbarker.ca/all-the-worlds-a-stage/

Being Presence

 

 

Sunny Radiance of India

Sunny Radiance of India

Many people have words that describe the state of mindfulness, being present, taking time to slow down, but I seem to have discovered a precise description for myself that encompasses simplicity of a state of being.  “Being Presence” the expansive embrace of mindlessness….coining the phrase Live you Divinity, Just do it!” is a contradictory in terms that requires reflection… or should it be….”Live your Divinity, Just be it!

 

My time in Goa so far has been one of intense intimate and honest reflection.  In truth, experiencing another level of “Spiritual Stretching“.  It encompasses my intention to be open in a state of receiving from others in ways I have never done before.  The key word is softening in my heart, to a place of the feminine where I am open to be taken care of. Sounds lovely, but not easy from my life experience of being a single mother…..self employed and the story goes on…..intense re programming.  With no permanent home to go back to….non attachment is demanded of me on so many levels….experiencing freedom in ways I never thought could be defined, physically, emotionally mentally and now spiritually..  Trusting in a power bigger than myself to guide me, believing in my heart.  Choosing to be devoted to the honest voice within myself.  Those voices you hear….listen….it is easier than the struggle of disbelief.

With constant power outages, I find time to write…One of the many things, I think, us as Canadians, take for granted.  We are looking for high speed….In India…you are lucky to get a connection.  Another voice, release and let go…It is India…the lesson serves me in other ways reminding me to slow down, have acceptance of what is and compassion with myself ….If there are struggles… I reflect on what I am truly responsible for…very often I am taking on something that isn’t mine….I consciously release it  and witness what happens….does a new reality present itself?….do other individuals step in? Play with the the intention to release the responsibilities you have for a few days and see what happens….you can always step in again.

This is my exploration in India….it has brought great peace to me and I look forward to sharing it with others. Reaching another depth of my journey as a spiritual being in this physical reality.  Have great compassion with yourself and others….play the game of life with joy….and free yourself on all levels ……I am FREE.

In reflection:  Do I create the space to take the time and acknowledge the wisdom of mother nature when it is right in front of me?  Receive in your heart, her beauty and it will fuel your spirit….

Inspired by my conversations with Michael Wenger, President of the Hoffman Institute, Italy.  

 

 

 

Permanent link to this article: https://karenbarker.ca/being-presence/

New Years Toast, 2014

New Years Message

New Years Message

New Years Toast from Goa, India : To the life changing events that have shaped my new direction, to the compassionate brave hearts that have believed in me and the generous souls that have held me up in the challenging times. I LOVE YOU ALL !!!

In my hearts you will always live.
…..From Aashyana Lakhanpal , Goa , India

I shared a gentle story with Don Petersen, a talented tattoo artist who has worked with me to create some profound body murals adorning my hip replacement scars, that I will share with you.  “Transformations, Scars graced by Art” is a passion project of mine…you can see it on my website.

 

With the large number of people from all over India that flock to the Goa beaches for New Years celebrations I was the only woman I saw with body art. I felt unsure about taking my sarong off…. maybe it was a cultural thing and was only being cautious…at my first walk on the ocean I kept my sarong on but by the afternoon when I returned to the ocean I decided to embrace myself and move forward with the concept of acceptance.

 

Swimming in the warm sea I noticed an a large older woman in this purple bikini who had trouble walking along the beach…noticeably hip issues….As I walked out of the ocean she stopped dead in her tracks in awe of the beauty of my artwork.  She asked me where I had got it done….I shared with her my story how they adorned my hip replacement scars.  She was from Italia….the connection was made and it was perfect.

 

Sun kissed on Day One the magic continues to unfold.

Permanent link to this article: https://karenbarker.ca/new-years-toast-2014/

Off to India….A Feel Good Flood Story

"Tara" Line Drawing

“Tara” line drawing
Transformations, “Scars graced by Art”

A Feel Good Flood Story

 

Yes…. I was one of the infamous occupants of the homes featured on the news of the Canmore Flood, June 20, 2013.

 

This is an amazing unfolding of one of life’s embraceable opportunities from a life changing event.

Six weeks before the flood, I booked an appointment for a traveller coming from India.  July 8th, approximately two and a half weeks after the flood I returned to work.  It was my normalcy, my ground wire.   I had the pleasure of working with Ajai from India.  He heard of my plight and made me an offer to come and stay as his guest in his home on the ocean in Goa, India.

I must admit I was infinitely excited but had to pinch myself at the reality of my life.  He was scheduled to return for a follow up appointment in a few days. I promised I would ask him to clarify his offer.  I had to make sure I heard him right, as I was processing so much from the uprooting of the Flood.  I wanted to make sure I heard right.

Yes, I did hear right.  I proceeded to go onto YouTube to view the presentation of his villa and the research started.  I ran into several yoga teachers in the BowValley who had heard of his Yoga retreat centre.  One Ayrevedic doctor had taken a group to his centre for a few weeks with resounding success.  The woman who booked the treatment for Ajai was a great friend of his.  She had journeyed there yearly for the last 25 years.  That was inspirational.

 

I said “Yes” to his offer and the magic started to unfold.

 

With deep gratitude…To Ajai… Rosalie…. The ticket was bought…Tourist Visa effortlessly received…dates planned…immunizations done…

My mother passed at the beginning of the year with severe Parkinson’s.  I was happy she was not here to see my daughter and I live through this “flood event”, as I refer to it.  I could feel her with me every step of the way and she was taking care of us from her place of grace.  In the last few months, my father chose to get remarried.  In celebration it added to my liberation.  I stayed with him a few nights a week as he grieved.  As a single mom, my daughter who was with me for 19 years chose to live at her boyfriends’ parents…I was alone for the first time….

She decided she didn’t want any of the items I had thoughtfully put away for her over the years. We, as parents take on the responsibility of providing for our young as they choose to depart the nest.  Buying an apartment or condo for them and furnishing it.  Interesting belief system.  My parents said goodbye to me at the train and that is all I got at that time.  The flood threw us out of our home.  She was staying at her friends when the event happened so she was angry with no closure. The items, as I referred to, were stuff: dining room table, chairs, blender, plates etc.  Bathroom and bedroom furnishings. With the burden of stuff….where do we store it all?.  She decided to pay it forward and give it all away.  I followed her lead. Keeping my mattress and a few items that fit in a 5×10 locker. We were now living apart.

With no home to return to, if her living arrangements did not work out, we processed through what was her and my responsibility.  I found that I was replacing her in my life with the prospects of a room mate and returning to the flood home.  In the 11th hour, awakening from a restful sleep, I gazed at the early morning sky full of stars. The energy of love and support filled my heart.  I knew I needed to embrace fully the freedom the universe has created for me.  That day, I texted my potential roomy, rental management company and said I had to embrace this freedom. It was a hard choice as tensions filled my stomach but I knew this felt right.  I try to be conscious in my decision making of what and who I am responsible for…I am still retraining myself out of old habits.  In essence I ask the question, Is this my truth?  Does this honor me?

My 8th temporary home is beautiful.  It is a win-win for the owner and myself as she has needed a house sitter in her travels to Spain, Croatia and California. She invited me to stay in the basement bedroom until I leave for Goa.  I have the flexibility to stay another 2 months upon my return.  This gave me a great peace of mind.

I have met with some generous friends who have guided me and shared their Mother India experiences: cautioning me about the water, keeping my mouth closed as I showered.  What worked for them treating or preventing Malaria.

With an open heart……I embrace this leg of my life’s journey with freedom and joy….creating only with love.  I acknowledge and say “Goodbye” to that old friend Fear that got me up in the morning with responsibilities of parenthood.

I love you all who have kissed my adventures of life with your presence.

FYI…The website is: www.aashayanalakhanpal.com

Namaste.

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Permanent link to this article: https://karenbarker.ca/off-to-india-a-feel-good-flood-story/

Divine Soup and Wine Series #13

                                                “Augmented” Authentic Beet Soup

Borscht

Borscht

 

In many conversations with Ukrainian women authentic beet soup is just made with all the components of the beets and sea salt.  I did up a batch and decided to add a few Red Jalapeno Peppers that I roasted on the barbecue last week.  I added some white onion.  The flavor and heat was overwhelming so I proceeded to add a can of coconut milk to cut the heat and it made it palatable for me.

My brother and daughter whom loves heat… received a jar of the soup sans the coconut milk.

Today, I will add to the experience… barbecue roasted Zucchini…I guess this makes it a whole new creation.  I love cooking and how with our own specific tastes we can creatively augment a basic recipe into something we love making it special.

In Reflection: Please… with what you explore in your kitchen…give yourself permission to break free from the recipe and discover within yourself what makes your heart sing.

 

Beet Leaf Pesto

 I have taken weeks to find some healthy looking beet leaves and at the Farmers Market in Canmore I had success.   With enthusiasm, I bought the beets knowing that a pesto was ahead.

Beet Leaf Pesto in Bells

Beet Leaf Pesto in Bells

Chop Beet leaves, “Trick, if they are slightly wilted” Cut off the bottom stems and place it in a glass of spring water…they will revive themselves for cutting…

Add garlic crushed and diced,

Sesame oil and Olive oil, extra virgin

Chopped up sunflower seeds or walnuts

Grated Parmesan cheese

Sea salt

 

Mix it up and feel free to add it with whatever graces your palate.  I stuffed colorful peppers and cooked it on the barbecue.  Vegan and Yummy!!

I paired these delights with a “Rose” from Le Provence, France….Delicate and light for the Fall sun. It magically marries the flavors…

 

Permanent link to this article: https://karenbarker.ca/divine-soup-and-wine-series-13/

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