Taming the Bull – Lessons in Balancing Energy

“We see that harmony does not mean a balance -at -rest, but a vibrant, bi-polar energy force that urges on all other energy.” – Matthew Fox

Blessings and Balance, Balance and Blessings, For from Balance comes all Blessings.” – Grandmother Keewaydinoquay, Ojibway Medicine Woman.


I’m a Taurus, and we bulls can have a lot of energy. I certainly do.  Sometimes I feel like there are fireworks inside me ready to explode. I feel like running – usually I tone it down and take a long walk. Other times I have used up my energy and need a rest.

I think I have always had a vast amount of energy. I also have used it up to the point of fatigue. The challenge is learning to balance energy. You only have so much. The body produces energy all the time. We also use up energy. The good news is our bodies and minds were made to balance.

I once went to a therapist who noted the unbalanced and unhealthy way my energy would go up and down. He used an excellent analogy to explain the art of balance. He said to imagine that you have two clear cookie jars and in each of the jars are “gobnicks” of energy. You could picture the “gobnicks” as marbles for instance. Now imagine that one of the jars represents the gobnicks of energy you spend or use. There are days when that jar is full to the brim, and if it were popcorn on a burner, it would pop all over the place. Other days it is only half full, so there needs to be room for the conservation of energy. Other days, those days of low energy, fatigue – there are few or no gobnicks left.

What he pointed out is that when we use our gobnicks, we have to find a way to replace them. The other jar represents the gobnicks of energy that you pay back or restore. We restore our energy or pay back our gobnicks by relaxing, meditating, or taking a quiet walk in the woods. Some people gain energy when they do some invigorating exercise. A talk with a friend or reading a good book can help us gain perspective and energy. These activities restore energy and refuel the body and mind. Whatever it is that creates peace or happiness will restore energy. Activities that involve judgment, analysis, work that is not in line with one’s passion, running or racing against time with a sense of urgency will deplete energy. And there needs to be a balance. Energy in and energy out and energy in and energy out. Balance would be a cookie jar that is at least half-full always. At times life will take more gobnicks. At those times you may need more meditation or quiet time.

If you don’t replace gobnicks of energy with tools for physical, emotional and spiritual replenishment, you will likely suffer from “burnout.” If you stay burned out, you will likely slip into a depression. If you allow life to take you this far on empty, it will take more energy to get back to a healthy state of being.

The key is to listen to your body and watch how you are using your mind. Awareness of energy levels is essential.

It would seem that vacations would replace gobnicks, but instead often they take much of our energy. Sightseeing involves thinking. Packing and running to airports, figuring out flight times and hotel arrangements all take a great amount of energy. On your arrival, you hurry up to have a darn good time. No sooner are you unpacked, you run out and catch the sunshine at the beach or climb mountains or enjoy every minute.  You are still racing and running with a sense of urgency to get it all in. After all, when will you be back to experience this place? On returning home from vacation often our bodies and minds feel tired. In fact, often we are more tired than when we left, and the cookie jar comes back drained.

The most relaxing vacations are those where you stay at a beautiful bed and breakfast or a retreat facility and let time and energy guide your activities and schedule. On a retreat it is relaxing to build in prayer and quiet time; eat healthy foods and take long walks around the accommodations or in the woods. I usually go to bed early and wake up early.  I journal and enjoy where I am and every moment of my time.

If I am traveling with my husband, we usually stay in bed and breakfasts, travel at our leisure, keep our plans open and enjoy the time together.

We walk a lot. Our bodies love the exercise. We also eat more rich foods on vacation, especially at breakfast. We enjoy our host’s recipe specialties and the company of other guests. We usually do some shopping without a sense of having to buy. Sometimes we attend a lecture in the area where we learn something new or hear an author or speaker who we may never experience in our area. We also go to bed early and rise at our leisure. We avoid doing any business on our vacations and seldom watch television or listen to the radio. We sometimes read a daily newspaper, but if we miss a day, we don’t feel a need to catch up. We enjoy each other in all ways- physically, emotionally and even spiritually.

You know when you’ve overspent your energy. The throat gets sore; your ear may hurt, which is usually a swollen gland and the signs that the immune system is weak. You may catch a cold and have symptoms because the body could not fight it. You may feel more tired and sleep later. Despite it all we often keep going as much as we can.

I do try to take an afternoon nap and pace myself throughout the day. I should do more yoga and meditation, but I am more likely to take a walk or journal-it seems my make-up likes to be “doing something” rather than just sitting.

I have many tools for stress management and balance. For me, this is the key to not breaking down. In fact, what I usually have are “ nervous breakthroughs” instead of nervous breakdowns. Even since childhood, I have only let myself be down for a few days. Inside I would fight back at whatever was getting me down. There was always something to bring me through. I would think of everything positive or bake a cake or call a friend.

When I was a young adult in nursing school, and later when I started working at my first jobs, stress took a toll on my body. I was diagnosed with various psychosomatic illnesses, but then I was not aware of healing techniques to relax my body and mind.  It was not playtime anymore. I was studying or working and under much pressure to complete education and career goals. Exercise was the first tool I learned, but I also learned to overdo it. Later I found journaling, meditation, and yoga to be helpful tools. I also learned more about vitamins and herbs and holistic healing.

Recently someone said he thought I had more energy than most people did and that he bet I never got down or lost it. I explained that I did get down and just like everybody else I could use up my energy. However, I have learned to use my stress management tools before I burn out.

Being a Taurus, I often feel the bull in me – running with those horns out – going forward without looking to see who is in my way – and determined to go until something in my path stops me. I need to remind myself to restore those gobnicks.

That analogy I learned years ago is one of those pieces of advice that has always made sense. I have shared it with others, and it is so simple.



Do you have heartburn? Here’s some natural tips.

February is the month to celebrate our heart. We celebrate love on Valentine's Day and February is also Heart Health Month, but what about heart burn. They should have a national GERD month since so many people these days suffer from heart burn. GERD is Gastrosophageal Reflux Disease of which the most common condition is heartburn. Web MD has great info on this. It is called heartburn because the pain is usually around the heart, however heartburn is actually a gastrointestinal problem. It is important to make sure you have heartburn rather than a problem with the heart.

I have a friend who recently was hospitalized for three days after going to the ER thinking she was having a heart attack. She had many of the symptoms-chest pain, shooting back pain, trouble breathing, and the anxiety that goes along with it. They released her stating her heart was fine but she many be suffering from "heartburn." The Mayo Clinic site has a discussion on whether it is heart burn or a heart attack.

I have another friend who called me yesterday asking what I do for heartburn?

Within the last several months I have had the telltale symptoms. A burning sensation just below the heart and above the stomach, a funny taste in my mouth and a feeling of transient nausea, a slight cough, and then when it gets bad, the chest and back pain sometimes radiating to the neck. I have seen my doctor, and he did give me some tips besides taking my Pepcid AC.

If you think you have GERD be sure to see your doctor to rule out heart or other issues and to prevent or treat symptoms before the acid in your stomach that backs up in the esophagus causes a more chronic problem like scarring or narrowing of the esophagus. Your doctor may prescribe medication or want to do other tests to determine the extent of the disease.

What causes Heartburn? The symptoms are caused by the back up of acid from the stomach into the esophagus. The cause of Heartburn can be from the foods you eat or beverages. Also just eating too much and eating too late can cause heartburn symptoms especially at night. Alcohol, carbonated beverages and caffeine can be a cause. Other causes are pregnancy, wearing too tight of clothing, bending over after eating, and chronic constipation.

Something to consider is whether you are constipated. If you are not having regular and full bowel movements you could cause a back up of the whole GI tract causing heartburn.

Dehydration contributes to heartburn symptoms. Water is the best beverage.

Another cause is eating too fast or eating when you are under stress. Stress prevents food from digesting in a relaxed manner. Here are my four questions to ask whenever you are not feeling well:

What are you eating?

What are you drinking?

What are you doing?

What are you thinking? Thinking is soooooo important.

So here are some tips.

>Eliminate the foods you know cause problems.

>Avoid eating and drinking right before you go to bed or lay down.

>Elevate the head of your bed. You can put blocks under the legs of your bed. There are special wedge pillow but my doctor says those just make things worse.

>Practice relaxation techniques.

>Drink water throughout the day.

>Eat slowly and mindfully. Chew chew chew your food.

Andrew Wiel has some tips too.

Suffering From Heartburn? – Dr. Weil's Daily Tip.

Remember, don't assume it's heartburn. See your doctor for a full workup and his own tips on what to do.


Letting Go of Stress


Stress is the result of our reactions. Stress can be positive and stimulate us to be productive and live a full life. Stress can also be negative, and studies and experience tell us that 75 % of most illnesses have their root cause in stress. Prolonged stress depresses the immune system and exhausts our cells.

The Possible causes of stress are our inability to adapt to change, a diet that is high in sugar and junk food, relationship and communication issues, a workload that feels impossible to complete, workplace demands and environmental pollutants, illness and emotional and physical strain.

Some of therapeutic herbs for stress are astragalus, chamomile, gotu kola, horsetail, St. John’s wort, Siberian ginseng, Skullcap, Suma, and Valerian Root. The vitamins we need most when under stress are the B complex vitamins and Vitamin C. (Remember to consult your physician or primary health care provider before taking any herbs or supplements, and be sure to notify them if you are taking anything on a regular basis.)

Be sure to have a stress tool box with techniques that work with your personality. Some helpful ways to counteract stress are by practicing watching your breath and taking slow and deep breaths; exercise, massage, music, reading and warm baths.

For many people it is helpful to have a spiritual practice like daily prayer, meditation or regular attendance at religious services.

Larry Dossey, MD and author of several book including Healing Prayer says he really doesn’t feel stress. He loves his life and work, and has learned to practice meditation – he says “you have to sit down, shut up, and pay attention.”Listen to my interview with Larry Dossey On The Power of Premonitions on Blog Talk Radio Tuesday, February 2 at 4:00 Pm (EST).

What do you do about stress?

You Have to Stop Sooner Or Later


As I reflect on my life right now, I want to share an article I wrote that I am reminding myself to follow.

This year has been a very stressful, yet exciting year. We made a major move from a house of 31 years to a new home- very different, a connected "landominium", maintenance free living-quite a change. Between preparing the house for sale, decluttering,  keeping it immaculate for the weekly showings for months, working with the builder on the plans for our new home, and the major task of moving in general, my body has taken a toll. You really do have to be mindful of a stress and the affect of pushing until your exhausted. We are now settled and loving it, but I reacted to something while unpacking and developed a major allergic dermatitis reaction. Now on steroids and drugs, it is important that I take time to heal the cells of my stressed out body, by reconnecting my mind and spirit.

Today I put out the yoga mat while listening to meditative music and did a 40 minute yoga routine for detoxing. It felt very necessary and quite nice. My husband and I have resumed our Tai Chi practice in the evening, and hopefully this bout of illness will pass, having been a blatant reminder that YOU HAVE TO STOP SOONER OR LATER!

Anyway, here is the article:

For years people who have talked
about wellness referred to weight loss, fitness or smoking cessation programs.
Later we identified the role stress plays in our overall health and wellness so
we developed stress management programs.

Interesting that although the wellness industry has spent the
last 20 years designing programs and providing health promotion information to
the point that most consumers are very well educated, health is not improving
much – Not the kind of health that is defined by an overall sense of balance of
body, mind and spirit or physical, emotional or spiritual togetherness. In fact
many people are exercising and watching their weight. Unfortunately many people
have given up and continue to spiral upwards. There is no loss of material on
what constitutes a healthy diet or adequate fitness program. There are also
more self help books published than ever before to help us deal with our stress

Keeping all of this in mind, it is interesting that when I
work with people as a wellness coach, their vision often includes a regular
exercise program and healthy diet, but it always seems to include the word
balance and gaining more energy and enjoying life more. Yet that is the one
place it is hard to concentrate. To stop all of our activity, whether it is for
our work or just to keep the house managed is very difficult. We just keep
going until our body can’t go anymore and then we get sick. It is when we get
sick that we question how we have been going about getting all these things

More and more people have said to
me that they need to take time to meditate, yet less and less do. Why is that?
I know for myself I often feel that once this or that item on my to do list is
complete, I will be able to sit back and relax. Sitting seems such a waste of
time when there is so much to do. That is why we recommend that you schedule a
regular time for meditation regardless of what is going on in life or with
work. It has to be as built in as brushing your teeth. It has to be an everyday

But what if we are just not of the makeup to sit in a formal
meditation? That is not necessary, but what is necessary is to have some sort
of practice built into your life for reflection on more than your everyday
tasks. The fact is that one’s body and mind can’t keep on going without a
break. Eventually you will have to stop.

Regardless of what your life looks like right now, it is helpful build into your day a time( even if just 5 minutes)  for silence, prayer, yoga,reflective reading, listening to peaceful music, journaling, or if you can,
sitting in a position of meditation, following your breath long enough to feel
a difference in your body- a feeling of peace and quiet rather than rushing and
a sense of urgency. If you practice enough, it will become a memory in your
body that you will be able to tap into when life is speeding by. Like all of my
clients, it has to be a priority and goal for change. Let that be now and not

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