A Phoenix Burning

Things That Make You Go Hmmm

Acupuncture for Sinus Congestion? Who Knew?!

I have very little time to write as I am soon expecting my cousin and her family to show up for dinner. Roasted chicken, home baked Mac and cheese, corn on the cob and biscuits, in case you were wondering. ūüôā But I couldn’t take the chance of forgetting to share this, especially since I’ve been hearing round about the internets about how bad this allergy season already is for many of you, as it is for me.

About six weeks ago I caught an annoying cold that settled into my left ear and the left side if my head deep up in my sinuses. No runny nose, but pressure and congestion that just refused to go. I was very close to giving up about four weeks in and going for antibiotic, but right about then it eased and went away. Fast forward a couple of weeks, and here I am again, left ear crackling and left side of my head filled with pressure. Started to wonder if perhaps I am dealing with allergies rather than a cold.

Went to Acupuncture on Wednesday for the first time in two months for what I call a “tune up.” When my body is buzzing with tension due to stress, I hit my Needle Man up for a little balance. One or two treatments and I am idling back down where I’m supposed to be. He asked me how I’ve been sleeping and I said pretty good, though casually mentioning that the night before was rough due to sinus congestion. To my surprise he said, “I’ll work on that too.”

“Wait….you do sinuses???”


So in we went. He popped a few needles into my left leg and asked, “Feel anything in your ear?”


He popped in a few more needles, “How about now?”

“My ear is crackling.”

And with the satisfaction of one who knows he’s on track, said, “OK…let’s see what happens,” and left me to relax, looking like a voodoo doll.

Thirty minutes later, my left eye began to run tears like a waterfall, my ear popped clear, and post nasal drip made me start to cough like crazy…so much so that I had to alert him I had to leave so as not to disturb the other voodoo dolls in the room. He smiled knowingly and unpinned me, leaving me to spend the next hour at home blowing ten tons of crud out of my head. My ear and sinuses have been open and clear since. Abso-freakin-lutely AMAZING!!! I feel as though I’m on an antihistamine, except with none of the weird side affects.

That man and his Magic Needles are a miracle to behold. If you are suffering, I urge you to give Acupuncture a try. I am a skeptic turned believer.

For a Community Acupuncture Clinic near you, click here.

For more information on Acupuncture in general, click here.


Ghostly Sensations

So, this is a story late in coming.  I promised you this story about a year ago, and failed to deliver. Ah, well, better late than never they say!

Once upon a time, a long time ago about one year ago, there were two good friends who escaped the responsibilities of home and family to venture out into the world on a girly escape.  You will recall that we went to Newport, Rhode Island to eat, explore, and be merry.

We saw many beautiful things that weekend including quaint shops, great restaurants, beautiful mansions, and a festive St. Patrick’s Day parade.

We even saw some sure signs of spring there, having left our snowy home.

Somewhere near this point in our explorations, I recall being stopped dead by a strong, beautiful scent of flowers. ¬†I said to my friend, “Can you smell that?!”

“Smell what?”

“Those flowers!! ¬†Where is it coming from?”

“I can’t smell anything.”

“You can’t smell that?! It smells like…I don’t know…a cross between roses and…and….I don’t know. Maybe lilacs?? ¬†I don’t know. ¬†Stand right here.”

So my friend moved to where I was, and still couldn’t smell a thing. ¬†The scent was so lovely and strong, I couldn’t believe I was the only one who could smell it. ¬†Shrugging, we moved on. ¬†(This piece of the story becomes important later dear friends, but I mustn’t get ahead of myself.)

We continued exploring throughout the day, my favorite part being our tours of old Newport Mansions. ¬†During the Gilded Age, Newport was home to summer “cottages” of the rich and influential. ¬†Here, debutantes would host garden and house parties throughout the summer, with many of history’s elite in attendance. According to Wikipedia, “by the turn of the 20th century, many of the nation’s wealthiest families were summering in Newport, including the Vanderbilts and the Astors…¬†They came for a brief social season to grand, gilded mansions with elaborate receiving, dining, music and ballrooms, but with few bedrooms, since the guests were expected to have¬†cottages¬†of their own.” ¬†We were able to tour Marble House and The Elms that day, and I look forward to going back eventually to tour some of the others.

The last tour of the weekend was a “Ghost Tour” at Belcourt Castle. ¬†I will begin by telling you that my friend and I are true skeptics at heart. ¬†I consider myself an open minded skeptic, believing that there may be things about which we will never understand or explain, but that most of the unexplainable have earthly and scientifically based origins. ¬†We entered this tour not expecting to see anything “ghostly” and with all senses peeled for slight of hand and speakers in the walls piping out “ghostly sounds.” We certainly felt scammed as we sat in a slightly creepy and in need of repair entryway, waiting for the tour to begin. ¬†The man taking our ticket had an odd sort of manner, which we put down to an “act” to get us in the right frame of spooked mind to enter the tour. ¬†When the tour began, the owner of Belcourt, Mrs. Tinney, came out, dressed surprisingly modestly. ¬†(No black witchy gowns and green wigs like we were beginning to expect.) ¬†She greeted us warmly. (Not with the “Velcome to my cossle!” spoken like Count Dracula that we were expecting.) And the tour commenced. ¬†Truly it was a tour of what must have been a spectacular home once upon a time. ¬†It certainly had seen better days, unlike the other mansions we had toured earlier in the day. ¬†We assumed at the outset that the “Ghost Tour” was a schtick to get people to see a house that wouldn’t be on anyone’s list to see otherwise. ¬†But as the tour continued and Mrs. Tinney shared stories of the history of Belcourt Castle and of all the antique furnishings within, it truly was engrossing. ¬†My friend and I chuckled a bit over her stories of “ghostly happenings” in the house, and found it quite funny to watch a small group of 20-something young women jump at the sound of creaking doors, or bangs that surely came from outside.

We had finally reached the upstairs hallways, which Mrs. Tinney described as the most haunted area of the house. ¬†At this point one of the women raised her hand and in a shaking voice said, “M-M-Mrs. T-T-Tinney?!?!? Do the doors around here open by themselves?!?! Because I just saw that door open a crack!!” As we all turned around to see the door mentioned…a huge, beautiful, double wooden door, about two inches thick, the man standing behind me put up his hand and said, “Sorry…my fault! ¬†I leaned against it and it creaked open.” ¬†We all had a good laugh and any “spooky tension” Mrs. Tinney was going for evaporated. ¬†As she continued her story, however, something strange happened to me. ¬†What I can only describe as a crackling noise started in the base of the back of my head. ¬†At first I looked behind me thinking the noise came from behind me, but quickly realized that the uncomfortable sensation was from inside my head. ¬†Similar to a rice krispies crackling, similar to the sound of static electricity when you pull two pieced of fabric apart that are sticking together…it was a sensation and a sound at the same time, and uncomfortable and disconcerting enough that I grabbed the back of my head. ¬†My friend looked at me with concern. “Are you okay?”

“I don’t know.”

At this point I was most concerned with what was going on in my head.  It was around this time that I had begun to have a lot of strange Fibromyalgia symptoms and atypical migraines.  At first I thought something was wrong with my head.

“What’s going on?!” my friend whispered.

“I don’t know!” I whispered back. “I have something weird happening in my head!”

We moved on down the hallway, and I tried to explain to my friend what was happening to me. “I have a strange staticky crackling in the back of my head! On the inside!!”

As we entered the room at the end of the hall, the crackling began to diminish and after a moment, went away altogether, leaving me a bit concerned about myself. ¬†It was at this point in the tour, when Mrs. Tinney casually mentioned, “Ghosts have scents you know. ¬†People describe it as a cross between roses and lavendar. ¬†It’s a lovely scent.” ¬†I wish I could have seen the look on our faces. ¬†Our know-it-all skeptical grins dropped to looks of astonishment. ¬†We looked at each other in that “OH-MY-GOD-DID-YOU-JUST-HEAR-WHAT-SHE-SAID?!?!?!?!?!?!?” sort of way, and a bit of my skepticism was knocked out of my crackling brain.

But wait, the story continues. ¬†We then entered the very last room on the tour, the Ballroom. ¬†Click here to see a photo taken by Flickr user StJenna. ¬†Mrs. Tinney began telling us the history of “happenings” in this room, pointing out objects here and there and telling fascinating stories about them. ¬†She ended by showing us a pair of salt chairs. ¬†Apparently ages ago, salt chairs were only used by kings, and under the seats, salt was stored. ¬†It was very valuable and kings would give salt as gifts, according to our guide. ¬†She claimed that these chairs were the most haunted objects in the place and related a sensational story that someone was even physically thrown out of one of these chairs once, and that she and a group tour witnessed a ball of light shoot out of one of the chairs and fly across the room. ¬†She then asked for volunteers to come up and put an arm over the chair and slowly lower their arm toward the seats. ¬†Several people came forward to try it. ¬†(Not me…as I explained to Zan, I may be a skeptic, but I’m not stupid.) No one felt a thing…no great surprise there. ¬†A guest asked, “What do people usually feel when they do that?” She said, “People describe it as an electrical tingle of sorts.” It was at that very moment that I realized the two chairs were sitting in front of two large, beautiful, wooden double doors, two inches thick. ¬†The same double doors that I had stood on the other side of a few moments before, when I had my strange, static electricity crackle in my head.

Needless to say, I left that house feeling very queer indeed, with both of us slightly freaked out by the surprising turn of events that has me a little less skeptical than I was before. ¬†It has been a fun story to tell, and I have remained a skeptic, assuming there might be some scientific reason for my experience, having more to do with my sensitivity to electrical currents than to any metaphysical sensitivity. ¬†(Have I told you about getting electrically zapped by my PT’s electrode machine….twice?)

However, let’s fast forward a year to the present. ¬†I have enjoyed my year in blissful skepticism, chalking my experience up to a fun little ditty to tell. ¬†But about two weeks ago, I ordered dinner from a new restaurant (which is incredibly delicious by the way) in town, that has recently moved into our old, decaying village court house. ¬†The building, built in 1873, is exquisite with it’s old original moldings and marble floors. ¬†Even the old jail cells in the basement are intact. Quite a wonderful atmosphere to dine in, and the food is unmatched. ¬†I stood in the front hall of that beautiful building, waiting for my order to be ready, chatting with some of the locals who were out to dinner. ¬†All of a sudden, taking me by complete surprise, I felt that tingling crackle in the back of my head that I have only felt one other time in my 42 years on the planet…the same crackle that I felt at Belcourt Castle one year ago. ¬†As I did last time, I turned around quickly to find nothing but the door behind me, and grabbed the back of my head in discomfort. ¬†This time, the sensation left quite quickly. ¬†I relayed my tale to Zan laughingly when I returned home and joked how I might be gaining “sensitivity” in my old age. ¬†I was curious enough to do a little online research, which led me to no stories whatsoever about ghostly sightings at the old Courthouse.

Having completely forgotten about this experience, I open my Facebook this morning to a post from the restaurant with a photo of a woman and a dog standing in the front entryway of the restaurant. In front of the dog are two “orbs,” which I know as a photographer are likely from the play of light on the lens. ¬†However, the text in the post caught me by surprise:

“Remember the Donation Dog is visiting us from Guilding Eyes for the Blind. Come on in and throw some spare change in and support a great cause. Also if you notice this photo with the two round circles, looks like our furry friend has a couple “ghostly” friends near him. One of which we call “Walt”. They do say dogs and kids can see spirits from beyond??? You be the judge.”

Apparently, unbeknownst to me, I am not the first to have had a “strange” experience at the Courthouse. ¬†Could it be that I have tapped into some Sixth Sense that I never knew I had??? ¬†You be the judge. ¬†ūüėČ

My Needle Man Weighs In

Well, would you look at what came to my email inbox today! Thought it was interesting that this should come from my Needle Man the very day after I wrote about him. I share it with you here…


Doing Nothing

The Holstee Manifesto

It is easy to get wrapped up in everyday woes…the overwhelming laundry piles, the job stresses and workloads that don’t let up, the sibling arguments that grate on your last nerve, the house projects that clambor for attention you can’t find the time to give them, the health problems that force you to slow down, or even stop for awhile. Not to mention family obligations, and what we see as community obligations. ¬†We often let others define what we “should” be doing.

You “should” have a clean house.
You “should” go visit your grandmother.
You “should” go to work even though you can barely crawl out of bed and face another day.

You “should” cook dinner.

You “should” do that laundry even though everyone still has plenty to wear.

You “should” exercise.

You “should” do a blog post because you set a goal for yourself.

You “should” take photos because you know you enjoy it, even though you can’t strum up the energy for creativity.

You “should” go to Church.

You “should” run to the grocery store.

Our lives are so cluttered with things we are doing because we think we “should” and our bodies are revolting. ¬†When your Soul loses its way, your Mind takes over and decides to run the place. ¬†It works very hard to get your Soul’s attention, and it is not kind in its methods. ¬†It packs on the pounds, it makes you crave every food that is not good for you, it forces your body to an unhealthy place, it brings on depressive thoughts, all in an effort to grab your Soul’s attention.

My personal journey toward wellness (I am not quite there, but I am moving forward now with only a few steps backwards now and then) has taken me from frustration to awareness. ¬†It has forced me to dig deeper in order to heal. ¬†I have had to relinquish some control…control over my house, control over my family, control over my body.

My Needle Man says there is always something you can DO to heal yourself, and that sometimes the thing you need to DO is Nothing. ¬†Nothing in the true sense of the word. ¬†How many of us take time to do Nothing? ¬†Try it sometime. ¬†It is nearly impossible. ¬†Even if you sit still in a quiet room, your mind is racing. ¬†And what is it racing with? ¬†The “shoulds” and the “worries.” ¬†My biggest challenge when I began Acupuncture was being “quiet.” Sitting in a recliner, awake, eyes closed. ¬†At first I couldn’t even close my eyes. ¬†I would watch everyone around me in a state of relaxation and wonder about why they were there, or I would watch the lights dangling from the ceiling, swaying in the soft breeze and count the rhythm. ¬†I would read the quotes on the walls and try to decipher the Chinese characters on the wall hangings. ¬†When I finally was able to close my eyes, my Mind would race considering all the things I should be doing instead of sitting there for an hour. ¬†I would go down my list of worries and contemplate them and chew on them. ¬†I would spend time cursing my sciatic nerve and my back and my diagnosis of Fibromyalgia and think of all the reasons why that diagnosis could not be true.

Then I made a change. ¬†I wanted to shut out the cluttering thoughts so I began a routine of saying The Holy Rosary. ¬†It was repetitive and a distraction from other thoughts. ¬†Still not quiet, still not Nothing, but at least it was a respite from the Noise. ¬† But over time things began to shift. I began to notice stillness, and quiet. ¬†I don’t know when it happened, but it did. ¬†One day, I left my session realizing I had thought of nothing during my hour. ¬†I hadn’t fallen asleep, but I had gone to a place of silent meditation…Doing Nothing. ¬†And my body began to respond.

My Mind finally grabbed my Soul’s attention, and my Soul is back in charge of Me. ¬†I am becoming tuned in…when I am upset, the nerve speaks. ¬†When I am angry, the nerve speaks. ¬†When I am tired, the nerve speaks. ¬†And then I give in to the need to Do Nothing. ¬†I force the “shoulds” away, and take the time to be quiet, allowing healing to come in.

I’m working on spending time doing things I “want” to do, along with the things I “need” to do. ¬†“Shoulds” are out the window. ¬†And as I unclutter my life of the shoulds, I am noticing that many of those shoulds have realigned themselves as “wants.” ¬†I want to go visit my grandmother, I want to go to Church, I want to take photos and write blog posts. ¬†I still don’t “want” to do laundry, but even that has become a “need” rather than a “should.” ¬†It’s a dichotomy change, and it’s healthier.

All this is why this post by MM, and this post by Shrew, and this post by Tracy all speak to me so powerfully. ¬†We are all on our own personal journeys to wellness…different, yet the same.

And here I am, feeling good, feeling happy, makeupless, contactlensless, and totally content.

¬†“If you could clear all that space in your mind, you would have a doorway. And you know what the universe would do? Rush in.” – Richard Jenkins (Eat, Pray, Love)

I Deserve Underwear Too.

Gentlemen Readers…you may want to skip this one.¬† ūüėČ


So, I went shopping with the kids today to do the obligatory back to school underwear/cami/bra shopping so that my darlings are well-outfitted under as well as over.¬† And I’m home and taking labels off and thinking, “When is the last time I got new underwear?”¬† I couldn’t remember.¬† I remember throwing away a pair of holey undies last week because “God Forbid” I had to go to the hospital unexpectedly, I wouldn’t want to be embarrassed.¬† I remember snipping a chunk of mangled, knotted up elastic that was hanging down and tickling my leg and making me think I had a spider crawling in my pants.¬† I remember that some of my undies used to be pretty with lovely little prints on them¬† before the color was Cloroxed out of them.¬† But I don’t remember the last time I actually took the time to buy myself a new supply of underwear.¬† Wait…wait…..yes I do.¬† I bought those big ol’ ugly cotton preggo underwear back when I was pregnant for Little Girl.¬† Does that count?¬† Maybe I’m alone in this…unusual in the world of women, but somehow I doubt it.

So, when did I stop caring?¬† I deserve new underwear too, don’t I?¬† It’s not like I can’t afford them….I guess I just haven’t made it a priority in a very, very long time.

So, here’s a new challenge Ladies….and this one has nothing to do with photos.¬† (In fact, please do NOT send us photos of your purchases!¬† lol)¬† Go out this weekend and splurge on some new undergarments for yourselves.¬†¬†Buy pretty ones, silky ones, sexy ones.¬† I’m going to…I bet it will make us feel good all under.¬† Might even do our souls a little bit of¬†good.¬† A little bit of new and pretty that we need not share with anyone (*ahem* unless you want to of course.)¬† Consider it¬† a symbolic gesture—a reminder to care for yourselves as much as you care for others.¬† So enjoy your little personal excursion, and may the lace be with you.

The Perfect Gift…

Leave it to the Brits to come up with this innovative solution to an all too common embarrassing problem!

Bridge Over Troubled Waters…

I have always hated this bridge.

I have an irrational fear of going over this bridge.¬† When I was a little girl, I would crouch in the backseat, eyes closed, fingers dug as deep inside my ears as they could go so I couldn’t hear the “whirrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr” sound of the tires on the grates.¬† It isn’t a bridge we went over often when I was little, and it quite surprised me when I became an adult driver, and drove over it the first time.¬† The minute I drove onto it and I heard the “whirrrrrrrrr” of the tires,¬†the panic welled up inside me.¬† “This is that bridge!”¬† I realized.¬† For five years it stood in the middle of the route from our apartment to Zan’s parents’ house, so I had to conquer my fear and drive over it on many occasions.¬† Now, I traverse it only occasionally, but find I still must take a deep breath and pause a moment in prayer before allowing myself to proceed.¬†

Over the weekend, on my little Photo Ride with Mister (you know the one…I photographed the osprey (?) nest then…) I came across a very similar bridge which crossed the canal.¬† This one was even narrower, and steeply humped.¬† I didn’t feel the fear though.¬† I actually stopped in the middle of it and shot this photo of it’s twin a bit further upwater.¬†

This begs the question, “What is it about that bridge?”¬† I don’t have a problem with all bridges, so why does that one bring me back to my childhood, hunched terrified in the backseat?¬† I haven’t got a clue.¬† Just one of those things…is there¬†a psychologist in the house who could answer that question?¬† Feel free to post your psychiatric analysis in the comments.¬† (Fake analysis welcome.)¬† ūüôā