Thoughts on the world, homeopathy, mindfulness and food...
A collection of blog posts - feel free to respond with your thoughts and comments - I love to have feedback - thank you!
Here in the UK, The Telegraph, rapidly becoming NOT my favourite paper, has been at it again. The distortions of this type are impressive I suppose. The, what I can only assume to be, intentional omissions to entirely twist the tale, were, well, huge.
To give a little insight. They reported on a story shared on the 4Homeopathy Facebook page, which was as follows:
Cuban COVID-19 Prevention Study Gets Spectacular Results Using Homeopathic Remedy in 1 Million People
Cuban officials have been using a homeopathic remedy for the prevention of COVID. At first almost 46,000 health workers received the remedy yet only 62 of those persons developed COVID. Then 953,416 families received the remedy.
“The HP [Homeoprophylaxis] campaign started on 1 April, and a total of 45,914 individuals from the included health facilities received PrevengHo®-Vir until 30 April (97.8% of this universe), with only 62 persons positive to COVID-19.”
“The medication was distributed to 953,416 families in 43 municipalities when Cuba accumulated 1537 patients positive to COVID-19.” Then…4 patients from Plaza de la Revolucion municipality in Havana tested positive to COVID-19 after its completion (0,002% of the population from these 3 municipalities)”.
and turned it into:
Homeopaths have 'crossed the line' peddling 'dangerous' vaccine myths
Advice that duck extract is as effective as a Covid vaccine is putting lives at risk, says the head of NHS England
ByJustin Stoneman24 January 2021 • 12:01am
(It's behind a paywall so I've shared it here)
Professor Stephen Powis, the NHS medical director, said the findings were the "latest in a long line of disturbing and potentially dangerous online myths"
The head of NHS England warned homeopaths had "crossed the line" after a Sunday Telegraph investigation revealed some were peddling myths that taking duck extract was as effective as the coronavirus vaccines.
Sir Simon Stephens warned people taking their advice from homeopaths were putting themselves at greater risk, and warned they would slow down the nation's vaccine efforts.
His calls were echoed by Professor Stephen Powis, the NHS medical director, who said the findings were the "latest in a long line of disturbing and potentially dangerous online myths".
On Saturday Facebook began removing the posts by 4Homeopathy, a banner organisation representing 11 leading homeopathic organisations and charities. Their Facebook page has 164,000 followers.
A post dated January 5 stated that a diluted duck heart and liver extract, had been distributed to "953,416 families".
The content headlined the Covid-19 prevention study had received "spectacular" results using the remedy in one million people.
The purported success of the product provoked excitement from users, with some asking where they could get the treatment, while others backed up the high efficacy of the product.
"My homeopath says it takes less than two days to be rid of Covid!," wrote one. Another publicly stated: "I've been using this for my family for months."
A separate post from the Facebook account promoted the "Covid Homeopathic Data Collection Project", linking users to a webpage containing a table of "remedies" for Covid-19.
It says the project's aim is to show homeopathy as a "viable modality in the treatment of Covid-19" and describes the coronavirus as a "unique opportunity to use the current crisis for strengthening the foundations of homeopathy."
Sir Simon told the Sunday Telegraph: "It's one thing for homeopaths to peddle useless but harmless potions, but they cross a dangerous line when making ridiculous assertions about protecting people from Covid infection.
"Anyone who took those seriously would be putting themselves at higher risk of coming to harm from Covid infection."
Prof Powis added: "Spouting claims on social media about Covid cures that are not backed by scientific evidence and accurate public health advice is the latest in a long line of disturbing and potentially dangerous online myths. We urge everyone to ignore misleading claims and get vital protection against Covid when they are invited for their vaccine.”
Professor Karol Sikora, a former director at the WHO, described the content as "deeply disturbing". "If homeopaths view the pandemic as an 'opportunity' or if they are suggesting that unverified homeopathic products can save patients' lives then they are confused."
4Homeopathy is described by the Society of Homeopaths as a banner outfit for 11 combined homeopathic groups to "campaign and lobby" on behalf of their users.
The Faculty of Homeopaths is among the group. The 4Homeopathy Facebook account is manned by UK-registered charity Homeopathy Action Trust. They did not respond to this newspaper's requests for comment.
Helen Earner, operations director at the Charity Commission, said the findings were being examined as "a matter of urgency". She added: “Any claims that a charity may be providing misinformation during this time of national emergency is a matter of serious concern to the Commission."
She added that a regulatory compliance case had been opened into the matter and that the commission will be liaising with other agencies as part of the investigation.
The Sunday Telegraph investigation located the duck extract product being sold to UK users online via eBay. The MHRA, the Government's medical regulator that approves coronavirus vaccines and treatments, said it "cannot be legally sold or supplied within the UK."
The World Health Organisation approached Facebook to take down the posts, the Telegraph understands. Andy Pattison, Manager of Digital Channels at WHO, said: "When health-related misinformation travels further, faster and sometimes deeper than the truth, there are real life consequences that cause real harm."
Facebook said they remove Covid-19 misinformation that could "lead to imminent physical harm, including false information about approved vaccines".
"We have removed violating posts on the page brought to our attention by The Sunday Telegraph and are continuing to investigate," a Facebook spokesperson said.
You may notice, if you paid careful attention to detail, that there is no mention of Cuba in The Telegraph post. There is no mention of vaccination in the 4Homeopathy post. Cuba has opted to use something called homeoprophylaxis, which they have used successfully in the past. Particularly interestingly in 2007-2008 where there was an impending leptospirosis epidemic, and with an awareness there was not enough time to produce a vaccine for the people at risk, a homeopathic remedy was made and distributed to the public. With great success..
Homeoprophylaxis involves taking a remedy/combination of remedies to ideally help boost the immune system and cope better with the circulating whatever. In 2007/2008 that was the leptospirosis bacteria. It is my opinion that homeoprophylaxis is not an alternative to vaccination, it's a different thing. Again, absolutely no suggestion in the original post, that there was any desire for anyone to not go down the vaccine route. Also, perhaps alarmingly too, there was also absolutely no suggestion that the homeopathic medicine used was as successful/more successful/less successful than the vaccine. Which would be because a - who knows without an extensive trial and b - IT WASN"T EVEN MENTIONED. So to create a whole headline based on this?
The 2007/2008 study is here if you'd like to find out more. I think it's fascinating.
I also think it's fascinating that in Cuba they're using a combination of remedies - ONE of which is Anas berb, the one that The Telegraph takes and runs with. There is absolutely no mention of a combination of homeopathic medicines, which was what was reported to be happening in Cuba in the original post.
What is being used is in fact a combination that consists of:
Anas berberiae 200
Baptisia tinctora 200
Eupetorium perf 200
Arsenicum Album 200
NOT just one remedy, and no one is making claims of better than, worse than anything, except that in CUBA, it appears to be helping the population there.
My good friend and colleague Gill wrote a blog on the recent use of homeopathy in Cuba, which is here if you'd like to read more on the topic: https://magicpillsmovie.com/cuba-the-country-that-dares-to-be-wise/. I think what they're doing is utterly intriguing and I'll be eagerly awaiting to see more results. I'll also be expecting the results to be suppressed - as those were from the leptospirosis study and not to be shouted from the Mainstream Media rooftops. Sadly I'm learning that's the name of the game with homeopathy.
Once again, the UK press has shown itself to be incapable of reporting on a hopeful, positive story from around the world, instead driving terror and doom, which it has done for most of our pandemic days. Similarly to my daughter's experience with BBC's Newsround, where they took what she told them and told her to speak into their cameras with the absolute opposite opinion (which was then aired to all the other kids who watch Newsround and take it as truth), they have twisted and changed this story beyond belief. She now understands, at age 14, that the news is not the truth. Whilst I'm sorry she had to learn it that way, I'm grateful that she knows it. In this case, the author of the cobbled together Telegraph article certainly appears to have missed out on any kind of fact checking department.
I've loved hosting the sessions this week for friends. It's part of my homework to laugh daily with friends or family and so in these more secluded times I created a couple of zoom calls to connect and laugh on.
I've spoken to several people about Laughter Yoga who've thought it was yoga-yoga and this it is most certainly not. It's laughter exercises, combined with some breathing exercises inspired by yogic breathing. Hence Laughter Yoga.
I'm currently doing the Basic Laughter course (more info here if you'd like to do it too) taught by Dr Madan Kataria the 25 years ago founder of the Laughter Yoga movement. My plan is to continue training and eventually become a Laughter Yoga teacher, but for now, my current plan? To share laughter exercises that I've been learning with friends and family.
I think it's very possible there's not enough laughter in the world. Not least living through our current times, there is so much stress out there. So much anxiety. So much worry being streamed into our homes constantly, discussed on the streets, broadcasted out there. So perhaps not many reasons to laugh.
But what if laughter helped raise your immunity? What if it helped your body to heal? What if it helped turn an anxious mind set into a positive, joyful one? Does it do all these things? Studies would say so yes. The positive impact of laughter on our lives is being researched and found to be, well, positive.
What if it connected people? Amused people without needing to be anything funny out there at all? I think there are many reasons why it could be a good thing. And so after having had two lovely sessions last week, I'm putting on another two for the week ahead. They'll be about 20 minutes long, with an optional chat afterwards, and are on Tuesday 26th at 7pm, and Friday 29th at 2pm.
If you want to read more about the idea please have a look at my last blog on the topic. Important to check out the reasons why not to do Laughter Yoga (no, it's not one of those 5 reasons why you shouldn't do it but actually you should lists) and so you can make sure you're good to go.
I'd love it if you'd like to laugh with me.
Time: Jan 26, 2021 07:00 PM London
Join Zoom Meeting
Meeting ID: 756 5662 9575
Topic: Laughter Club
Time: Jan 29, 2021 02:00 PM London
Join Zoom Meeting
Meeting ID: 720 6035 4368
I've had a few people offer to help with my homework - that is to laugh with me. So I thought the easiest way might be to put a few words together here.
Becoming a Laughter Yoga teacher has been on my to do list for a while. I do think we don't laugh enough in general. Today I learnt again that children laugh 3-400 times a day. And adults - on average 10-15 times. How did it get so serious? When did we stop playing - and laughing?
This week on Wednesday and Friday, I'm going to host two zoom calls to practice the exercises I'm learning. They'll be on Wednesday 20th January at 1.30pm and Friday 22nd January at 2pm. The course has requested that we video ourselves/friends/family laughing and send it in as homework, so if you're happy to be on video to the group, then do say - if you'd rather not that's fine too and I'll video another time at home. My feeling is the world needs laughter at the moment so I'm happy to adapt.
6 people have said they'd like to be involved and I think that's likely enough for now... though if you've said you want to come along and the timing doesn't work - do let me know when might work for you and I'll try and sort something next week to suit.
I do want to share the list of conditions that the training group I'm working with have recommended people not to undertake Laughter Yoga if they're experiencing - or at least to seek medical advice first. If you've any of these please don't join me!
I want to be clear here that I'm not a Laughter Yoga teacher, I'm doing a beginners course and offering this to friends and family, not as an expert. I plan to add more training as time allows and hope to share it lots more over time.
Wednesday meeting 1.30pm - 1.50pm
Join Zoom Meeting
Meeting ID: 731 7569 0967
Join Zoom Meeting
Meeting ID: 755 7254 9860
Have a watch of this TEDMED Live talk with Dr Madan Kataria - the founder of Laughter Yoga, who explains about Laughter Yoga. I'm happy to be being taught by Dr Kataria on the course currently.
Taken from my Laughter Yoga workbook:
People with following conditions must take medical opinion before doing Laughter Yoga exercises:
Hernia: Hernia is very common in elderly people and in those who have chronic cough and prostate enlargement. If you notice any swelling in the groin area while laughing or experience any pain, you must consult your doctor before doing laughter exercises regularly. Hernia normally needs surgical correction.
Incontinence in women: This is most common in women. If there is involuntary passing of urine while laughing or coughing you must consult your doctor. This may be due to sagging of the uterus or weak ligaments.
Bleeding hemorrhoids: Those suffering from bleeding from any part of the body must be very careful while doing laughter exercises.
Heart problem with chest pain: If you experience any chest pain while doing any exercise you must consult your doctor.
Pregnancy: Women with history of miscarriage and those in the last two months of pregnancy must take precaution and see the doctor before doing Laughter Yoga.
Major surgeries: One must wait for at least three months after any surgery before resuming any strenuous exercises.
Epilepsy: Those with a history of epileptic seizures must be careful as change in any emotional state can trigger an epileptic attack. Take expert opinion.
Cold & flu: In case of severe attack of cold & flu, wait for some time as the virus might spread to other members.
Severe backache: If someone has prolapsed inter- vertebral disc (slipped disc), one should not do laughter and other exercises, unless advised by their physician. Any forward and backward bending can aggravate the symptoms of slip disc.
Hopefully see you there! And if not now then soon :)
With love and laughter,
It's hard to believe it's been a month. And yet, it has. I re-started the couch to 5k and have been (ice allowing) out there 3 times a week and loving the endorphin side effects. Those I've been waking up have, perhaps, been loving it slightly not quite as much. The school run fortunately halted for the holidays, so that cut down on the happy mama wake up calls for some. I predict that January will see a return of 'oh mum, it's been a run morning hasn't it?' groans from a sleepy teenager. I love that the difference is so apparent and definitely feel the mood boosting effects myself.
The book recommendation I was given after sharing parts of my story with Mary (of course not her real name, the name came to me from a Dido song, though also apt for a muse in December), The Dark Side of the Light Chasers - was a great recommendation and I've been working through it. More to continue with that into January.
I start my Laughter Yoga course in January which I'm very much looking forward to and will continue to run (all being well finishing the 5K plan by the end of the month). Paddle boarding has been a joy, albeit pretty cold and will continue into the warmer times. There was ice on the board last time we were out. I am grateful for all the cold weather/water gear, whilst being so ready for warm days and bikini time.
The chapter and verse is here if you want a read. Month 1 down. 12 to go.
I'm really excited to be writing, to have discovered something exciting I want to work with. I'm having a year of discovery and have nearly completed month 1 of my 13 month adventure. My last year of discovery was about doing things for me, back in 2012 and I blogged about it here.
2021, with the same numbers, albeit in a different order, is my year of strength and for my development of Boo - the Bad Ass Monk. My inner bad ass monk needs harnessing and now is as good as any time. Dealing with a very local challenge has been the catalyst and I'm really grateful for it.
Approaching the end of month 1, I've started doing some valuable shadow work and have been enjoying working with the Couch to 5K app. I also realised if I wrote about it it would be valuable for myself as a process and in my head it's a book. The beginning is here (it'w 12 pages long so feel free to grab a brew if you want to read and explore it). If you do decide to dive in and have a read, I'd love to hear what you think about it. I'm finishing December's musings and will share that once the month is over. Just a week of 2020 to go now.
You're welcome to join in with the idea if you like - either solo or as part of a group. Let me know if you'd like to be a part of a group and I'll happily set something up. Or take the idea of a year of discovery and play - however suits.
I've been musing. Ha for a change. Sometimes I feel like Carrie off Sex and the City. Not, I'm sure you'll already be aware at least if you know me at all, for my dress sense, shoe collection or love of NYC. Nope, I'm a country girl at heart, loving my winter boots*, and have a collection of clothes from charity shops, my sister and many of my own-own date back 20 years or so.
*I have the Heavenly Feet green DM like ones from last season with fleece inside, which sadly broke and happily my partner has just fixed for me in the absence of cobblers stores being open currently and a sense of pity for my cold feet.
But back to my musings. The number of times Carrie starts with 'I wondered...' amuses me, as that's something I do too. Often, out loud, in my head all the time. Wondering is good though, right? I think so, and as it's my blog, that'll do for me. Curiosity. I wonder if I can do this, try that. It's an approach I'm really fond of. What if it's all a big experiment? What if we treated it as that. To experience. There must be a link between the two. I've never thought about it before, and an initial Duck Duck Go search (yes, still trying to load Ecosia onto the Mac, but happily have it installed on the iPhone so smugly search on there at least), gives me lists of experiences I could have.. but a search on the Online Etymology Dictionary gives the results I've shared at the end of the blog. For those who aren't word geeks, just read on.
I guess the musings, when undistracted by multiple tangents, are around letting things go as the title suggests. Since reading Allen Carr's Easy Way to Stop Smoking, where he pointed out that 'giving up' is a joyless phrase of restriction and not having, but stopping is a whole different thing, I've resonated with that. I may be paraphrasing, it was nearly 20 years ago I read it (it worked). Instead of 'I'm giving up drinking', what if 'I'm experimenting with not drinking', 'I'm playing at not buying new clothes' or 'I'm trying out veganism...'. Not to suggest these things are light and frivolous and not worthy of more serious diving into, but what if the results were the same, just the feeling changed. What if the feeling was fun instead of restriction?
When I 'gave up' alcohol, buying new clothes, make up, and our latest - shampoo and soap - it's always been a 'I wonder what this will be like', a 'let's try this and see'. And that has served me. It could be because I have a somewhat playful attitude, I'm not sure, but I do think that has helped me. I'm also sure that it can be learnt. One of my feelings is that we don't play enough, we take so many things so seriously, but that's likely another tangent, another story, another blog.
I love not drinking - I was feeling bad so often the day after a glass of something, that I realised it had to go. Others can tolerate it better but I don't want to work with health and not feel good, as healthy as I can at least. I want to walk the walk. And, 3 years in this year, I'm really glad I took those steps.
Giving up shampoo and soap has been a really interesting journey. I'm pretty sure I smell less than I did before, whilst using the shower gels, the scented soaps (even, sorry, the lovely essential oil ones). Mentioning this recently on another post, comments of people noticing odour when they feel nervous has made me think, and if I'm going into a situation where I feel nervous, sometimes I'll put a natural deodorant on. Not antiperspirant for me which is another story - and perhaps a black top or something that the body's natural sweating response might not be seen in.
Something odd I've noticed, is that before I'd wear a top for a day and it'd need a wash. Now it's generally 2 or 3 days before it needs a wash, and sometimes that's even just because I think it should have a wash now. So it's also saving on plastic, packaging and washing - saving water, and laundry products.
What inspired us, and what I still need to read, is the book '10% Human'. It's been on my to read shelf forever, or at least since the lovely Mani from the School of Homeopathy in Stroud recommended it. My partner read it this Spring and we started discussing the skin micro biome more. How we deplete it constantly, and unnecessarily. How our skin could be healthier without all the products. So we thought let's give it a go. Being in lockdown meant work was all over the internet - zoom appointments, Skype appointments etc - so no clients to complain, or even notice my terrible smell. So we showered with just water. And waited. And waited. And still...
Don't get me wrong - sometimes we eat something more pungent - onions or garlic are likely to be detoxed and appear more smelly in the pits... but on the whole, there really is no smell. Which totally intrigues me - how did I buy into all that marketing. A product for this, one for that. A shelf full of things to make you presentable to the world. With, of course, their carbon, plastic and whatever else footprint, aside from the impact on my bank balance. Clever, clever people.
It's been more than 6 months now and I'm happily not looking back. Bearing in mind that we'd shaved our heads for charity in January, and again due to a lack of hairdressers in March... I started the no poo experiment - and found that is working great too. I love to stand under the shower and fully soak my hair daily - but no more shampoo needed. And it looks fine. It would be wrong not to share that when I tried the no poo with long hair it took forever and really I never actually got there. Despite persevering for months I still remember the look on my poor friend Gill's face as she tried to curl my limp locks for a conference dinner. Not easy and I ended up giving up not long afterwards. Going from zero to no poo has been way easier. Not that I'm suggesting everyone shave their locks but just sharing my journey :).
Anyway, if I've a take home to share - try, play with ideas, see what happens, challenge yourself, try it for a month or two and see, which may turn into a year, or 10 and change your life...
Experience: late 14c., "observation as the source of knowledge; actual observation; an event which has affected one," from Old French esperience "experiment, proof, experience" (13c.), from Latin experientia "a trial, proof, experiment; knowledge gained by repeated trials," from experientem (nominative experiens) "experienced, enterprising, active, industrious," present participle of experiri "to try, test," from ex "out of" (see ex-) + peritus "experienced, tested," from PIE *per-yo-, suffixed form of root *per- (3) "to try, risk." Meaning "state of having done something and gotten handy at it" is from late 15c.
Experiment: mid-14c., "action of observing or testing; an observation, test, or trial;" also "piece of evidence or empirical proof; feat of magic or sorcery," from Old French esperment "practical knowledge, cunning; enchantment, magic spell; trial, proof, example; lesson, sign, indication," from Latin experimentum "a trial, test, proof, experiment," noun of action from experiri "to try, test," from ex "out of" (see ex-) + peritus "experienced, tested," from PIE *per-yo-, suffixed form of root *per- (3) "to try, risk."
I've just finished it. And I found myself nodding through it, contemplating how I do this, I'd nearly done that (particularly with the tree planting, many years ago for my DoE Gold Award, but that's another story), there was also lots more. Lots to make me think, lots I'd wondered about and wanted to know. Lots I'd briefly pondered and was curious about. And more.
There was warmth, there was inspiration, there was a feeling of gratitude there's others out there thinking this way, living like this. Practicing without preaching. I really like that line. Encouraging experimentation. Some things you might not like, or stick with. That's OK. At least you tried it, flung yourself in and experienced life.
The Joyful Environmentalist by Isabel Losada
I finished the book yesterday morning. It made me smile, laugh, cry - and think. All signs that for me, it was a great choice. It's stuck with me and I've carried it in my heart. It has the research I would have done around a stove - but Isabel did it for me (thank you!). It has the interview with my food producer that I'm really glad to read. We've been buying from Riverford for years, but have I ever interviewed, or even conversed with the guy, Guy, who set it up? Have I heck, been busy enjoying their food, working, parenting and all the rest. Having seen an interview with another energy company years ago made me decide I really didn't like his attitude towards something, and I didn't buy energy from them, choosing instead for Good Energy until my recent move (where power is already set up by my partner - we may discuss this again after he's read the book...). Did I like Guy's approach to farming and to life? Yup, and I feel more informed about where my fruit and veg comes from. Or at least some of it, the rest comes from local eco store and organic grocery Steep and Filter. I do try and buy the most amusing veg from there, that which would likely never make it into the big supermarkets. Not because I'm a great person buying wonky veg you understand, just because I am amused by simple things, like phallic vegetables. Oh dear. There may be no hope.
Anyway, I bought the book for my partner and tried to keep it for a Christmas present. I miserably (or perhaps joyfully) failed at that, just as much as I fail at being a grown up in a veg store. I was feeling a bit down one day, he tried to find something to cheer me up and I realised that giving him a present would make me happy. So off I ran to get the book and gave it to him. It did make me happy. So if you need a lift, I recommend giving this book to someone you love. It also made me happy as meant I could come out of hiding and admit I was 'checking' his Christmas present and reading it first... and could read it in the open. Win-win!
I love the gentle conversations, the experiences reported on with humour, humility and love for humanity. Many years ago my friend Debbie gave me a copy - or lent it to me I think, anyway, of Isabel's The Battersea Park Road to Enlightenment. I loved it. I've thought of it many a-time and should probably revisit it, maybe even with my own copy. There's something for my Christmas list. Which so far consists of a fountain pen as I recently lost the one I won (at a handwriting competition when I was 12 in case my lovely 2nd adopted mum Clare is reading this). I've been getting by with biros for a while, but the book (see - it made me think here again) has jogged me back into reality and the lack of need for these constant sticks of plastic to sit around in landfill for, like, forever. I love writing with a fountain pen, and as I write lots, sometimes 6 hours a day, to have a joyful utensil to do so with will be, well, even more joyful.
Something else I've realised along the way is how grateful I am that so many people in my life would appreciate it, which is something I realised on inviting friends from Facebook into the group Isabel set up. It's called The Joyful Environmentalist if you want to head on over and join it. I kept hitting limits of not being able to invite more people, and I think I've 50 to go now, but it made me realise there are so many awesome people in my life who give a monkey's about our wonderful home. If you're reading this, it's likely you're one of them and I thank you.
So back to the book... Want to live in harmony with the land? There's a chapter on the Lammas Village in South Wales doing just that. Want to discover more about a fabulous energy supplier? It's covered. What I love most is the joyful way it's presented. I've long thought that doom and gloom aren't the way to go. We need to fall in love with our home. To nourish and care for it. To become the caretakers I think we're meant to be. A higher (though I'm not altogether convinced, clever people than me would tell me so) consciousness surely doesn't mean we should abuse something more?! To fall in love with this way of life, instead of panic, worry and sink into depression. I'm on board with this approach.
To try. To fail. To discover. To make a mess. To learn. To experiment. To play. Playfully, joyfully experimenting. I like.
Several years ago, partly out of necessity, partly out of curiosity and love for a sustainable way of living, I challenged myself to not buy new clothes. Seeking out the blog to check on the date... wow - it's 10 years ago!! Since then I've pretty much stuck to it. I've had a couple of presents of clothes that have been new in that time but barely bought anything new for me. To be honest, I've not needed to, charity shops have so much and eBay is fabulous - especially if you've a night out or black tie do to dress up for. I've had some real bargains from Monsoon, Coast and the like. If you want to read the blog post I wrote at a year in, in 2011 - it's here.
In Cyprus, November 2010, with our pre-loved dresses - I put black ribbon around the top of mine as a trim, added a black belt and ribbon for a halter neck. Isla's was from a friend. We got many clothes that way in her pre-teen times. Now is harder - if anyone knows of an environmentally conscious company that appeals to somewhat self conscious teens that would be AWESOME.
I find there's a joy to be had from customising clothes, from sewing buttons on a bag or cardigan, from adapting something to fit you. I've jumpers that I knitted during my year of discovery (more on that here) that I still wear, cosily, happily, and this year I've a top that I crocheted. And a blanket, and 2 mini blankets (or knee warmers we call them...) All (well, not the top) from yarn I'd had lying around for ages. Moving house was good for me to have a sort through what I had, what I 'needed' and what I could give away. And what I could use, so set to with a hook I did and loved it. My daughter started to crochet this year and found it helped reduce anxiety and she really enjoyed it too, creating a cute bikini top for summer.
But I've gone on a tangent... basically if you're looking for a good read, a thoughtful, inspiring and joyful read, read The Joyful Environmentalist. I'd love to know what you think.
On the conventional 'preventative angel' of 'flu, vitamin D and do you want to join me in a health revolution?
Within 5 minutes this morning I've seen 2 adverts - one from the book of face, and one on the Independent's website from AstraZeneca talking about the flu shot. One aimed at adults and one aimed at children. And it got me thinking. The flu programme intrigues me. I understand it's not pleasant to experience. I've had it once in 42 years. I also understand it's not massively common, many people I've spoken to have had it with similar frequency. And I understand if it's at end of life times, or in vulnerable people it can be worse than not pleasant. That said, I also understand that the special cure promised every year, that preventative angel, can be (this understanding from the government's own website1), remarkably ineffective. I also understand from work in clinic that there can be horrendous side effects - several times described to me as the 'worst flu ever in my life' - once by an 80+ year old northern woman who was not a stranger to pain, and no weakling either.
So I get there's 2 sides to this equation, as ever. What I see also though is the fact viruses have lived amongst us forever, they're part of human life, not necessarily to be eradicated. Wiping out Syria doesn't make any sense to me, neither does not accepting refugees from a country you've just bombed, or funded the bombing of. Wiping out viruses seems just as impossible, just as crazy an aim on many levels. Surely they'll keep coming back. There has been mainstream discussion of anti-viral medications not working if we continue this quest, just as we've helped encourage the growth of anti-biotic resistant bacteria, currently a huge medical challenge 2.
So what if we looked at the other side for a moment, about being good hosts, about not succumbing to viral take over (I do hate being told what to do, even by a virus!), but about not bombing a neighbourhood and then not expecting some comeback. What if we looked after ourselves better? It's interesting that some countries of fast food and those with strong similarity to the Standard American Diet (SAD) have been pretty badly hit by the current circulating virus. It's also interesting to see the cases where there have been nutritional deficiencies have struggled more with CV-19.
This got me thinking about how, whilst a possibly 15% effective preventative angel (see study linked above) is being broadcast, is the also pretty damn effective Vitamin D being shouted about3? It's a rhetorical question to be honest, and I see it mentioned in the mainstream media on occasion but sponsored ads on the book of face? No way. Is anything being advertised, except for the shot? I've not seen it.
Talking about Vitamin D, Dr Michael Holick, a vitamin D expert from the US, recently published a study which found good vitamin D levels can reduce the risk of catching Covid-19 by 54% 4. And on the good old fashioned flu, Time reports: 'People with higher vitamin D levels also saw a small reduction in risk: about 10%, which is about equal to the protective effect of the injectable flu vaccine, the researchers say. No significant benefits were associated with high doses of vitamin D spaced out over larger periods of time.' 5
Is it also OK to think of baddies and goodies here? So many places I'm learning there is no good and bad, perhaps it's similar here too? What if there was a wake up call now to look after ourselves better, to eat more fruit and veg, to get outside, to exercise more? To live more in tune with ourselves, with nature.
One of the gifts lockdown brought for me was our daily walks. Whilst I was still working throughout, we seemed to find time for some seriously decent walks and didn't drive at all to our favourite walking spots. Now, back in the rush of things, it's a different story. How many people it's the same for I wonder? We are carving out some good outdoor time though and that's here to stay, throughout winter. We are eating a platter of lovely organic veg - big thanks to Steep & Filter in Skipton and Riverford. We are getting some brilliantly humorous vegetables from Michael and Dally at Steep and Filter - laughter I'm sure is a great health boost too.
Another lockdown gift for me was Zach Bush, MD. American medic and passionate health warrior, Zach has some brilliant insights into our health and also into the health of our planet. This sentence from Zach stood out for me: 'The microbiome, and the remarkable communication pathway of the virome, must be understood as our salvation rather than our enemy. If we shift direction quickly, we can become co-creative partners with this nature to prevent our own extinction and to bring forth the richest biodiversity and vitality that this planet has ever seen.' If you're intrigued too, have a watch of his lecture on the virome.
So maybe there's options, maybe there's other things we should be talking about. Just maybe we should be talking about good health instead of fighting sickness. I understand that's not what our current healthcare model is based on, and whilst I also understand there's a time and a place for that, long term, chronic good health is something we should all be aiming for.
I'm excited that it is an emerging conversation, and one that is becoming far more mainstream. One that medics are shouting about - the aforementioned Dr Zach Bush, Dr Rangan Chatterjee6 being far more well known now in the UK, Dr Rupy Aujla7 being brilliant and out there here too. So it's not just hippies in sandals eating lentils, but it is still not being actively promoted by those who could do. And this, in itself makes me ponder.
I'd still love to see a great health revolution, a rebellion against the norm, the SAD way the British diet is going in. We have an increase of juice bars, of whole food places, of great role models but has that hit the advertising world yet? Should great health promotions be on the news, instead of misery and doom and gloom. I think perhaps yes. We can do something and we can do it well. Let's get on it.
Reflecting back, 8 years on from my year of adventure, I'm surprised to think how much of that year remains with me in one way or another and how much that year of time for me, fun with others really changed how I live.
To find I ended a relationship on 11/11/11 felt significant, and it's only really later that looking at the numerology - with a 1, the single digit, solo adventures made absolute sense. Or at least a whole adventure, just for me - albeit with different people joining me along the way.
By then I was the single mama of a brilliant 4 year old, and a recently re-homed bearded dragon. I'd been working at setting up my business pretty much all her life so far (she was 6 months when I qualified as a professional homeopath). Determined not to rely on much childcare, and to be able to be there during her early years, as my mum was for me meant I'd worked jobs that fitted around being a mum - where I could either take her with me, work evenings when she was in bed, or work whilst she was at grandparents or with her dad. I was working damned hard and for not very much (it was all worth it!). From somewhere the realisation hit that I wanted something for me, something fun for no reason and I wanted to try lots of things. It had to be things I could do near home - I was already going away to study at times so couldn't use up time away - I've never been great at over-relying on help, albeit been lucky enough to have it there.
So it was, my year of adventure was born. In my usual way of wanting more, I did a 13 month year, starting with December 2011 when I learnt to knit. The 'adventures', as you might have sensed, being I started with knitting weren't crazy, for some they'd have been not even on the adventure scale. But for me, they were things I could do from home at times, around being a mum of a 4 year old, around work. They were achievable stretches outside of my life as it was before. Some more outdoorsy than others, but all things that I'd either never done or I hadn't done for years or done well. I guess they could have been huge, cross the channel on a tea tray kind of adventures, but at the time that was still so far removed from what felt possible, these were good for me. And calling them adventures felt more fun, it made me smile. Anything that makes you smile (within reason of course) I think is to be enjoyed, especially if it helps a change in perspective.
A friend had a knitting shop and kindly taught me the basics - though, to my mum's chagrin, when I credited Jane having taught me to knit - she had in fact taught me twice in the past. Third time lucky!! And I guess it goes to show to not stop if you can't do it the first time. Looking back, it led onto me doing some work for Jane whose shop it was, which supplemented my income, and we had a lovely friendship that evolved over my knitting times. I knitted scarves for presents, hats, a couple of dresses - not all in my month, though knitting, as with several of the other things that followed, stuck with me, and remains part of my life. Funnily I'm writing this wearing the first jumper I knitted which I still love today.
Month 2 and I'd seen references to mindfulness though where I'd seen the actual course I did, I don't recall. I think just a google search and there it was. I worked with the Be Mindful Online people and did their month long course, finding it beneficial, enjoyable - and - you never guess what? Leading on to me doing some training to incorporate mindfulness in my work with homeopathy. The two go well together and I remain grateful and appreciative of the steps I made back then, nearly 9 years ago.
I don't want you to think every month was life changing, and I also started this adventure with a 'it doesn't matter what the outcome is' attitude which I think is important to state. We do so many things with intent, purpose and they have to be worthwhile, earn money or lead somewhere, and my whole intent back then was to enjoy, to have fun, to explore, and, importantly, be a beginner at things. To do things with no outcome attached brings a liberation and I also believe, an ability to be creative. We spend time as experts in our field now, and to fail, to fall, I think are important skills to remember - albeit perhaps more importantly to get back up, by ourselves or with help.
So onto month 3 which was pole dancing. That's always the one that makes people smile when I talk about my year of adventure, and it is one that lasted the month and that was it. I went along with a friend, we laughed a lot, I discovered I'm really bad at doing the sexy hair flicks (I had already discovered that to be fair on a burlesque lesson at a hen do, but it was reinforced again here). I loved trying to fling myself around a pole... not so much upside down, and not so much with an instructor who appeared to be in love with texting her whoever and scrolling on Facebook whilst she was teaching. But the experience, the fun, the getting out of the house and away from work. All really positive.
Next I learnt to crochet and I am currently back, reunited with my hooks and teaching my daughter now - albeit recognising where she does things better than me, unpicking and learning again from her. I love that when you think you're going to teach, you learn so much from students and learning in the process to teach. Certainly not a linear relationship. I've just finished a gorgeous top and a huge granny square blanket for our bed. Super warm and cosy for winter window open sleeping!
And so the year went on - I dove into Open Water Swimming (probably more a nervous, tentative and freaked out step into a murky lake than a dive, but way, way outside of my comfort zone. More about the comfort zone and my love of stretching it in a moment. I was exhausted after my first OWS session and amazed how cold it was, wearing my new wetsuit too. It was 16 degree C. Seriously. I've swum with no wetsuit in less. Happily. It's amazing how you adapt and change.
My friend and pole dancing companion had asked the year before if I'd do the Great North Swim with her and, on asking for the answer in my dream, I dreamt of myself on the shore watching her swim in as I held her girls' hands. My dream answers aren't always that immediate, or that clear but that was a good one! But now it was time to embrace the fear and crack on. I truly love confronting it, my inability or perceived inability as usually I can wing it when I get on with it. Usually when I crack on and make a start, something changes - and usually I'm so glad I did whatever it was. Then if or when I'm not I can usually find a way to laugh about it... In OWS I found an incredible community of people, a wonderful refreshing way to spend an evening and swam in some of the most beautiful places. It's an amazing way to recharge, to reconnect with nature, to be mindful and sit with what is important in life. Which, when it comes down to it, isn't all the stuff. Not for me at least.
I rediscovered cycling - and ended up doing my, so far first and only triathlon the following year. I still love to get on my bike when I can, and subsequently bought a road bike, then from a neighbour at a tantalisingly great price, got £1.6k worth of mountain bike for £150. Still happy about that one. So far the longest ride is a 36 mile or so trip around Lake Windermere (with a swim mid route), and I'd love to extend that next summer. My dad still beats me up every hill going despite being a wee bit older than me and is a great cycling companion.
From the swimming, because I'd joined a local triathlon group to enable me to swim in a local lake - and a love to read, I got into reading about swimming, then triathlons which led me onto running, which led me onto barefoot running. Do you see how this discovery thing went for me? I had no idea at the start of it how it would pan out, all the things I'd do but one thing led to another as they so often do... Barefoot running was an absolute joy. I feel like I'm some kind of gazelle versus an elephant if I run in normal shoes. I love the feel of running through the air, being outside, rain or sun or clouds.
I also explored photography in more depth, attempted to do yoga (I feel like I'm always attempting to do yoga!), then found I was doing so many things, decided I'd try going veggie for a month. Whilst reading about that, I thought I'd explore veganism, so did a month of that... Subsequently went raw vegan for 6 months the following year which was another expanse of discovery. I resurrected my sewing machine that I'd got for my 18th birthday. I suppose getting that and treating myself to a Reiki course at 18 was bound to lead to lentils and sandals somewhere along the way. I made bunting, hearts to hang up, a skirt my mum had started decades ago (cute and short and very 70s!) and am back in love with sewing.
Memorably though, what I learnt about mostly was not a whole load of activities, though I did learn about a load of stuff... but about what it is to do something with nothing to lose, the liberation of not having an end goal, just about having an experience. I was talking to a client recently and suggested she did something just to play, just to have fun. Her reaction, 'was it possible to do something without a end goal?' made me think a lot about how target focussed we've become. I think that being without needing something at the end has got lost sometimes in our culture, and perhaps, possibly, we'd smile more if we took time to rediscover that.
I received kindness from strangers, made connections with wonderful people I'd never met before and am so grateful are in my life. I was kind to people I'd never met before. They were kind to me. I laughed whilst swimming, sang whilst cycling, was joyful, was inspired by so many people - and have been told since that I've inspired change in others that I never set out to do. Just being, just loving life, just exploring, just stretching the comfort zone led to amazing experiences, wonderful times - and lasting changes.
I still knit, sew, crochet, barefoot run, open water swim, cycle, eat a plant based diet - and now am exploring SUP - which is again outside of my comfort zone - and am loving that. And if anyone fancies teaching me pole dancing, without checking their Facebook account or suggesting that I do sexy hair flicks I'm up for that too...
Lastly to say I guess my final words on an adventure would be to be kind - especially to yourself and not to have expectations, just to explore, see what happens and be curious about life - you never know where it might lead. It might go nowhere, or it could be lasting, and entirely life changing. It's great fun along the way.
I've been fascinated, absolutely fascinated. And wishing I had so much more time on my hands. Unlike many around me, and thankfully in many ways, work has carried on pretty much as usual. Yes there's been challenges. Being prepared to move and not getting to do it due to lockdown restrictions has meant that the lovely study room (one of the few that's finished and ready to go) has sat unused by me. Instead I'm looking forward to the osteopath re-opening and correcting the damage I've done by sitting on my bed for hours at a time whilst consulting clients. But it's been great to continue to support clients, great to still be doing my job which I love.
In between work times, I've loved the learning, there is so much to follow, so much to learn. From the anatomy, physiology and physical impact of the virus, to the spiritual perspectives around it, to following the mainstream narrative (and yes, questioning A LOT). I've also been sad - hearing of people succumbing to this unknown virus has been very sad and I don't know many people that haven't been touched by it. We know of two people who've died recently and know of neighbours who've lost people in their circles.
One thing though has been the desperate race for a cure, for a treatment and it feels to me there is an elephant in the room...
It's vast. Nothing quite like ignoring something that has stood there, standing the test of time for over 200 years. That has been refined for over 200 years. That has helped in countless epidemics, both historically and recently.
Fortunately it's not everywhere, entirely worldwide that it's being ignored. Gill Graham, homeopath and writer (as well as amazing colleague and wonderful friend) discussed how homeopathy has been used in Cuba. Finally it's being used again in India, after being banned (for the purposes of helping people with COVID-19) and then re-allowed, and clinical trials are going ahead. But in the UK? There's nothing you can do.
It's not that I want to jump up and down and scream that homeopathy could help in people experiencing COVID-19, because we all know homeopathy doesn't get given for complaint labels, it is prescribed on symptoms. It's worth remembering though that for generations homeopathy has helped with coughs, colds, flus and of course much more. This is similar to altitude sickness in terms of effects on patients - according to one NYC medic, and others following his initial news of this. We've remedies that have helped with that too.
So for me it's not a question of needing to say that homeopathy can help with this or not. But my real curiosity today comes from the panic, the fear, the constant narrative that there is nothing that can be done. Nothing. Stay at home. Wait. Stay. We will save you. Nothing you can do. The new and innovative (and incredibly creative) possible solutions that are being explored. Who, for example, came up with the idea that llama antibodies may help? I love it though - great leap. Especially with the altitude comment. What expense went into the plasma trials? And just how much money is being pumped into a rushed through solution for us, an experiment that even some medics are questioning.
If we were really curious, really interested to help, would we start exploring case notes of previous epidemics? There has been much comparison to the Spanish Flu (not actually derived from Spain - it's a longwinded story and I won't go into that here), which homeopathy had the privilege of being involved in treating. The success rates suggest to me it's an angle that could be worth exploring. Death rates of 30% in the conventional camps vs 1% with homeopathic interventions. Have a read here if it intrigues you. If that was the only time, then perhaps we move on and ignore it. Yet it's helped in leptospirosis in Cuba, and subsequently in other infectious diseases there. In Dengue in several countries. Studies carried out for evaluating the role of homoeopathic treatment of dengue fever have been encouraging, with evidence reported from Brazil, Pakistan and Cuba.
So are we to continue ignoring the elephant in the room - and if so why? I guess that's the million dollar question and the battles around, and suppression of homeopathy is nothing new. I don't want to take a victim stance here as frankly that's a little dull, but badly done and apparently 'well presented' reports - such as the UK's Science and Technology report have stories behind them. Here for the UK report which was damning towards homeopathy. Then there was the Australian Review, which spread around the world rapidly causing damage. More on that here. In case you don't want to read the whole post on the Australian Review, perhaps the fact that the first review (which mysteriously was scrapped and the process restarted) found that “Contrary to some claims, the review did not conclude that homeopathy was ineffective.”
To then hear that homeopathy is not effective for any condition, but then see how they arrived at those conclusions do make this whole debate confusing if nothing else. For those curious, this video may help.
It constantly makes me feel better that there are great people working on these questions. Scientific, enquiring minds that understand the concepts far better than me. I grope through the delicate studies with a rudimentary understanding - and allow myself to be curious, to steadily learn from them, whilst I aim to keep furthering how well I do my job. To hear that there is nothing can be done is mightily curious though.
Even if you're not a homeopathy user - in which case why - of course you should be ;) - then there is a question of why it's taken just so long to give any guidance around Vitamin D. Or Vitamin C - well known to help viral conditions.
I think I'll leave you with a post my lovely friend Gill shared, from Private Eye and their MD's column.
With love, Em
I'm a Homeopath working in the Skipton (North Yorkshire) area. I am also able to offer food intolerance testing using Kinesiology and advice around diet and lifestyle.
Em Colley MARH, Practitioner of Classical Homeopathy, BSc(Hons) Psychology and Neuroscience
Focussed Mindfulness Practitioner
Dip (SNHS) Kinesiology
Dip (SNHS) Holistic Nutrition
Certificate in Whole Food, Plant Based Nutrition