Simple Romance

7b3cb-z75704385I have often been thankful that my husband and I were poor for our first years together. While other couples went to the movies and stared without speaking at a screen, we spent our time together really getting to know one another.
We discovered our mutual love of cooking and entertaining because we couldn’t afford to eat out. Lack of  a cable television package led to playing cards, board games or talking with good friends.
We became so accustomed to living this way that as we became more able to afford creature comforts, we found that we just didn’t need them. I think that the intimacy living simply brings to a relationship is wonderful.   When you cast off consumerism and don’t have so many things to occupy your time, you will find yourself really connecting with your partner.

I think we’ve slipped in this department, a bit, over the last few years.   We’ve just been too busy to take care of ourselves or each other.  I thought this would be a nice time to remind myself how important it is to connect  on a regular basis and bring some of that back into our relationship.

Celebrating Your Life Together

  • Prepare a special meal and get out the crystal and china.  Add some  soft music and candlelight and it is almost always preferable to going out.   Honestly,  I think every meal should be served to soft music in candle light but that is just due to having read a great deal as to the role presentation and environment have on your digestive system.
  • Read to one another love poetry, a favorite book, erotica whatever does it for you.
  • Decorate your sidewalk with loving, welcoming or suggestive sentiments..
  • How about a scavenger hunt for things that will be used one when you come to the end of the hunt. Each person can contribute two or three things to the list that way both partner’s needs are being met. For example, I might include a book of love poems, hairbrush, massage oil and some candles.
  • Play a game of checkers or chess with a twist. Put little “tags” on the bottom of the game pieces. You and your partner can take them off and “redeem” them later.  They can be as risque as you are comfortable with.   I like this idea better than some of those silly games I’ve seen in stores.
  • Cut red or pink paper into small hearts. On each one, write something that you love about your partner. Hide them in pockets, dresser drawers, etc., where they’ll be discovered one at a time.
  • Take a shower or bath together – wash each others hair. ( I obviously wrote this one when I had a much bigger tub.)
  • Give a long, luxurious full body massage with candle light and soft music.
  • While your partner is in the shower warm their towel, so it is toasty warm when they get out.
  • Go for a long walk and watch the sunset.
  • Write your partner a love note or a poem and put it in their lunch or e-mail it to them during the day.
  • Make breakfast in bed.

Gifts from the Heart

  • Cut out little hearts out of red paper and write on each on a memory of a time/event/special occasion/funny occurrence your mate and you have shared put them all in a glass jar and give as a gift.
  • While it seems like something little ones do for their parents,  you could create a book of vouchers that your partner can use throughout the year.  You could put special things like their favorite dinner or playing their favorite board game.   You might also throw things like “a night out with your friends” in there  or more intimate things.   Again, it is nice to be able personalize the book to your particular relationship.
  • I am saving all the corks from bottles of wine we have shared on special occasions to make a trivet for the kitchen.
  • Record a yourself reading a poem or favorite story and give it to your mate to listen to during their lunch hour or drive home.
  • If you look your local used bookstore (Uptown Bills and the Haunted Bookshop are good bets here in Iowa City) you can usually find a book of poetry for under not very much money.  Couple this with a plate of strawberries and melted chocolate or whipped cream, then curl up and bed and feed them to each other as you take turns reading.

Every Day

  • Say I love you!
  • Touch, hug, hold hands even if it is when you are falling asleep.
  • Spend at least 15 minutes focusing all of your energy on each other.
  • Converse with them them about something they are interested in,  practicing active listening.

(I thought I had this set to auto-publish on the 13th.  That is what I get for thinking. It is sort of re-write of a piece I had published on another blog. )




Herbs for Stress

I’ve had a few questions since my last two posts as to where I am going with all this. I’ve been catching up on friend’s blogs since I’ve been done working on my classes and I’ve been reading a series of entries on my friend Kristine’s blog with great interest. She is documenting her observations and reflections about a blog article written by Gail Faith Edwards on the Tenfold Path to Becoming a Community Herbalist. I have also been giving a great deal of thought to where I am on this path and Gail’s advice about cultivating hope and listening to your “clients” speaks to me, deeply.

In listening to my family,  I have sensed that our underlying problem is that we are a household of beings who are just burnt out.   In  listening to my clients and friends, I sense  that many people are suffering.  As a society, we are are stressed and burnt out.  We have lost our connection to one-another and to our greater purpose as families and communities.

Many people think that since I am into herbs my posts should talk about adaptogens – herbs which somehow enhance our ability to process stress, but that is only half the story. While I suppose I could do the expected thing and recommend nettles for adrenal fatigue and withania as an adaptogen,  that would be a disservice to my clients.   Just as there is no little white pill that will cure this situation, there is no miracle herb which can do a bit of good to someone who isn’t willing to make lifestyle changes. Besides, recommending herbs is a subjective art; best done on a case-by-case basis to meet each clients unique needs.

My intuition tells me that these problems stemming from stress in our lives are the first issues which need to be addressed before one can move on to address other lifestyle concerns. Some herbalists might choose to first address issues of diet or exercise, but to me this seems counter-intuitive. What is the use of good food or nourishing infusions if the digestive system is not functioning properly due to an overactive sympathetic nervous system?

Granted, the argument could be made that the crap that most people funnel into their bodies, is a source of stress but I would also make the argument that I have seen people allow their concern about adhering to the “perfect” diet to become a significant source of additional stress.

Furthermore, I’ve seen two cases in which a food sensitivity was misdiagnosed as a source of a digestive ailment. The more likely explanation was that the ailments were the result of highly stressful situations. When the situations were resolved, the food sensitivities, magically disappeared.

It think it is safe to say that if a client is routinely experiencing symptoms of stress such as anxiety, insomnia, panic attacks or depression,  that their body is in a state in which the sympathetic nervous system has been overactive for some time.

It is also important to keep in mind that the stress responses mentioned before are not an issue of a system that is not working properly but rather that of one which is working properly by responding appropriately to external and mental stimuli.

One cannot fix what is not broken. It isn’t the being that is broken, rather it is conditions that the being is living under which are in need of repair.  As a clinician we must help our clients brainstorm ways to address the  stressors causing these reactions, before we move on to address other concerns.