Category Archives: Complementary Therapies

Nutrition, Body Care, Emotional, Mental, Social, Spiritual, Guides

FREE presentations Feb. 24 in Davidson, NC

FREE presentations

Thriving Beyond a Dark Night of the Soul
and
Power up Your Spiritual Vibration with Energized Food

Saturday, Feb. 24
The Nook, 400 North Harbor Place, Suite C
Davidson, NC 28036; 704.896.3111

Join me at 10:30-11:30 am for

Thriving Beyond a Dark Night of the Soul
Your Take-aways
+ Understand what a “dark night of the soul” is
+ Learn how to use it to transform your life
+ Gain 14 healing solutions you can begin using immediately

and from 1-2 pm for

Power up Your Spiritual Vibration with Energized Food
Your Take-aways
+ Discover the spiritual qualities of certain foods.
+ Learn how to find out your nutritional status
+ Consider simple ways to reduce inflammation

Healthy, Decadent Hot Chocolate

Motecuhzoma’s servants “brought him in cups of pure gold a drink made from the cocoa-plant, which they said he took before visiting his wives… I saw them bring in a good fifty large jugs…, all frothed up, of which he would drink a little. They always served it with great reverence.”

Bernal Díaz, Spanish soldier invading the Aztecs

 

The Aztecs gave us cacao, and I am so grateful. There’s nothing quite like a frothy cup of chocolate. Especially as we enter the longest nights of the year in the northern hemisphere. A cup of pure gold made from cocoa can bring light into the depressing darkness.

After I cleaned up my diet in 2005, I tried some commercial hot chocolate once when I could not access my usual chocolate stash. (Confession: Hi, my name is Heidi and I am a chocoholic). To me, it tasted very little of chocolate and mostly of corn syrup.

I never drank it again.

Over the years I have tried various ways of creating a healthy hot chocolate drink. I thought using almond or hazelnut milk would be the cat’s meow. Unfortunately, those “milks” tasted almost nothing like the nuts. I later learned that one company only used four to six almonds for a carton of “almond” milk. The drink largely was made up of fillers. No wonder there was almost no nut flavor to the milk.

I switched to coconut milk until my sister helped me discover that one of the ingredients was titanium dioxide. Who needs that? It’s also an ingredient in sunscreen.

I think I have finally found something that is both healthy and tastes fabulous. A guilt-free chocolate drink. Now that really is the cat’s meow.

My concoction is influenced by my childhood experiences in Germany, when the hazelnut-cocoa spread called Nutella was a special treat. I can now make a raw, vegan warm chocolate drink that is reminiscent of it. I usually have a cup every day and drink it slowly, with reverence.

It makes a nice holiday treat.

Thank you, Motecuhzoma.

Thriver Soup Ingredient:

Raw, vegan “hot” chocolate

You can modify the recipe, depending on your preferences. Here’s what I do.

Warm up some water. The water temperature needs to be warm enough to dissolve your ingredients yet not so hot that it cooks them. That means a temperature under about 110°.

Pour the water into a mug of raw organic cacao powder, raw organic coconut butter, raw honey, nut flavoring, and a tiny pinch of salt. Mix and enjoy.

Here are the general proportions I use:

  • 2 tablespoons coconut butter
  • 1 tablespoon cacao powder
  • 1 tablespoon raw honey
  • 2 or 3 drops hazelnut or almond flavoring
  • Tiny pinch of salt

Adjust to match your preferences. I use coconut butter because it retains the fiber from the fruit. If you do not want to keep everything raw, skip the honey because all its good qualities disappear when it is heated. Substitute something else like xylitol or stevia. If you do not have access to coconut butter, try coconut milk—after reading the label. Or make your own nut milk.

Drink up!

Source:

Descriptions of cacao being served in the palace of the Aztec emperor, http://www.mexicolore.co.uk/maya/chocolate/early-history-of-chocolate

Books: More Than a Treasured Wealth

Books are the treasured wealth of the world and the fit inheritance of generations and nations.
Henry David Thoreau, Walden

It was a book lover’s dream. Only small wrapped tomes we had brought lay around the beautifully decorated tree.
About 15 children’s book writers and illustrators circled up. Before we picked out our packages, we were asked to give brief descriptions of what we currently were reading. How fun to hear people talk about the details of the writing skills of the authors—books they did, or did not, enjoy, and why.
Then we took turns selecting gifts. If we wanted to, on our individual turns, we could steal what someone else had already opened. In turn, someone could steal what we held in our laps.
Writers kept stealing a book about writing prompts and another about how to write for the screen. The most unique gift was an old book with the center cut out and a gift card and chocolate bar placed inside.
Interestingly, no one stole that gift, though the owner had squealed with delight when she opened it.
Clearly we were all bibliophiles.
My package contained a double delight, which I managed to bring home—How to Get Happily Published and Lemony Snicket Lump of Coal.
I’m grateful there are still booklovers among us—people who love the look and feel of a book, people who love to turn pages, people who know what makes for good writing.
Books helped save my life after I was diagnosed with highly aggressive end-stage cancer—especially Waking the Warrior Goddess by Christine Horner, M.D. They pointed to important studies that gave evidence for integrative practices I used to help my body return to health. They helped me understand what so-called solutions to avoid. And they helped me heal my life with insights and understanding.
The books I read during my journey back toward health are referenced in the back of Thriver Soup. For me, books are not only my treasured wealth, they also are life savers.

Thriver Soup Ingredient:
For a list of resources beyond Thriver Soup, see references used in the book on pp. 358-375.

Source:
Henry David Thoreau (July 12, 1817–May 6, 1862), American essayist and poet.

Binding up Broken Bones

Oh, come, Divine Physician, and bind up every broken bone.
Charles H. Spurgeon, C. H. Spurgeon’s Pulpit Prayers

Several of my friends invoked the Divine physician to bind up my broken bones recently through laying-on-of-hands healing techniques. I sustained three fractures in my left hand after falling off a galloping horse in mid-November. I am grateful to energy workers Brecka Burton, Mim Grace, Patricia Garry, Julie Loewenstine, and Laura Dailey.
On Monday the doctor seemed quite impressed with how well my hand was healing. With the type and location of the fractures, he often sees fingers balloon to enormous sizes. Mine never did. Also, the bruising had hardly been noticeable.
Along with the energy healing, I attribute this excellent progression to the following:
– An anti-inflammatory diet so I did not already have a lot of chronic inflammation to make it worse.
– Icing my hand faithfully the first three days after the injury, before I knew I had broken bones.
– Using arnica homeopathic ointment on my hand until I found out the bones were broken. Then I switched to comfrey cream.
– Taking arnica homeopathic pellets.
– Doing exercises several times a day once I was allowed to bend my fingers again.
Part of what inspired me was when my dad, Dr. Charles D. Bright, broke his wrist falling on ice decades earlier. He faithfully followed his recovery routine. He regained more use of his wrist than anyone else the doctor had seen in his practice.
As a writer, I depend on my fingers a great deal. I am grateful for his example and for the healing balm and guidance I received.
This week, a friend told me about a woman we both know who has cancer yet who is not taking care of herself. Her cancer is getting worse. This doesn’t mean if she took better care of herself, the cancer progression would be different. However, I believe self-care is important when our bodies need extra support. Asking for assistance from friends also is a good idea. They usually want to help anyway.
Getting help and doing all we can doesn’t necessarily mean we will get better, yet why not give our bodies every chance we can? It can only assist the Divine physician with binding us up in healing ways.

Thriver Soup Ingredient:
Before taking comfrey for broken bones, read about its uses and precautions here: http://www.umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/herb/comfrey

Source:
Charles H. Spurgeon (1834–1892) was an English Particular Baptist preacher. C. H. Spurgeon’s Pulpit Prayers, http://www.spurgeongems.org/chs_prayers.htm

Wrestling a 24-pound Turkey

“Ask and it will be given to you…”

Matthew 7:7, Christian Bible

I have come to believe when we put forth effort in certain directions (though not always), and ask for assistance, the Divine tends to step in and support us. It’s sort of a “God (sometimes) helps those who help themselves” perception.

I’m in my mid-50s and had never, before this year, cooked a whole turkey on my own. Recently my friend Cynthia Wells sold me her freezer so I knew I would have space this Thanksgiving to store leftovers.

I drove to Red Sun Farm in Loveland, Ohio. There, I could see white heirloom turkeys roaming a field of sunshine, and I signed up for a whole gobbler.

Shortly after making my deposit, I got a postcard from La-Z-Boy offering me a free carving set because I had purchased a replacement chair from them. I wasn’t expecting much, but my beautiful new large knife and fork have ceramic handles. I was all set to slice meat with my new poker and sabre.

Or so I thought.

Right before Thanksgiving I drove to the farm to pick up my poultry.
Kind of.
The bird weighed more than 24 pounds. 
Mind you, I had two broken fingers from falling off a galloping horse a few weeks earlier. (With two fingers taped together, I am in training to “Live long and prosper.”) And I’m also not supposed to carry heavy loads because of all my abdominal surgeries, including for uterine sarcoma.

I barely managed to pick up the box anyway and lug it to my Prius trunk.

Thanksgiving morning, I got out the roasting bag and read that it was only for meat up to 24 pounds. My turkey was bigger than that. Still, I managed to clean up and wrestle that weighty gobbler into its bag. And close the tie.

Once in the bag, I had a new problem. My pan was not big enough for a 24+-pound fowl. What to do?

I asked in prayer: Any ideas? You got me this far, please keep it coming.

Ten minutes later the answer popped into my brain. Use aluminum foil to form a basin.

I made the foil fowl bowl and managed to plop my big-bird-in-a-bag onto it. Into the oven it went. Whew.

After it finished baking, my son and I agreed it was too heavy to pull out, so we cut open the bag and left it in the oven. My nice new carving set made slicing so easy.

I felt so supported making this turkey. My freezer now contains bags of organic, free-range meat and multiple jars of deeply nourishing turkey bone broth.

The broth is perfect for making my hearty “thriver soup” with local organic Napa cabbage and onions from Earth-shares CSA in Loveland, fresh local potatoes from Harvest Market in Milford, and Shiloh Farms organic lentils I am sprouting (available through Jungle Jim’s in Eastgate), all in the Cincinnati, Ohio, area.

Thriver Soup Ingredient:

It would have been easy for me to assume the idea to put the turkey in an aluminum foil bowl was my idea. I think, however, because so many details had lined up before this request, I was being supported by an idea from the Divine. I gave thanks.

If you ask for information, pay attention to your thoughts. An idea might suddenly arise. It probably will be easy to miss, or dismiss, but if you are paying attention, you might recognize it as a gift and give thanks.

How to Manage Your Emotions

Enlightenment, peace, and joy will not be granted by someone else. The well is within us, and if we dig deeply in the present moment, the water will spring forth.

Thich Nhat Hanh, Peace is Every Step

 

Digging deeply into the present moment can be enraging, terrifying, or sorrow-filled. That’s why many of us are experts at avoiding our feelings, at living in our heads, at focusing on thinking and doing rather than being.

When we are stimulated into raw emotions such as rage, terror, or grief, we experience uncomfortable physical sensations in our bodies—a red face, butterflies in the stomach, an ache in the heart. This happens because our brains are programmed to respond to threatening stimuli by dumping chemicals into our bloodstreams, according to Jill Bolte Taylor, PhD, author of My Stroke of Insight.

“It takes less than 90 seconds for one of these programs to be triggered, surge through our body, and then be completely flushed out of our blood stream,” she said.

Hearing this on her CD, I got my own jolt. She was giving a physiological explanation for what my psychotherapist had taught me, a practice called the map the emotions. Practicing the map provided me with enormous assistance for successfully navigating the traumas I’ve endured since 2009—end-stage sarcoma, then divorce, then the loss of my 19-year-old.

And suddenly the experience of grief rising, cresting, and crashing like ocean waves made sense.

During those 90-second surges, I had practiced staying with the physical sensations in my body without thinking about them, analyzing them, judging them, or making stories about them. I did not have a choice about what happened those first 90 seconds inside my body. I did have a choice how I would respond. I could observe and accept the sensations, staying in my body and in the physiological experience; or I could ignore the sensations and get stuck in emotional pain.

After the 90 seconds were over, I had another choice. Was I going to turn my attention to the source of that stimulation, allow my negative story-teller to re-weave a web of drama, get emotionally triggered again, and continue the pain?

Or was I going to live in the present moment, turn my attention away from the trigger, and choose to let the experience go?

Sometimes I allowed myself to be triggered repeatedly for more than an hour. Yet I stayed with the practice of experiencing the physical sensations with each surge of emotion. Finally I would want some peace and I chose to stop setting off my brain’s limbic system with my thoughts.

It takes practice, like any other skill. Allow time to develop these new thinking and behavior patterns. If you choose this practice, be gentle with yourself as you learn this new way of engaging your thoughts and emotions.

By practicing the map of emotions, I made a conscious choice. I became response-able. Taylor said, “If you re-channel those energies into being aware of what is going on in the present moment, you will be able to make a breakthrough and discover joy and peace right in the present moment, inside of yourself and all around you.”

You will be digging deeply in the present moment, and the water of life will spring forth.

Thriver Soup Ingredient:

If you feel a sudden surge of emotion, focus on the physical sensations it creates. Notice how it moves around or possibly gets intense. Notice it lift after 90 seconds. Do all of this without engaging your mind. See if it brings you a sense of peace or relief, and watch your thoughts to see if they want to re-engage with the initial trigger.

Sources:

Thich Nhat Hanh, Peace is Every Step: The Path of Mindfulness in Everyday Life (New York: Bantam, March 1, 1992), pp. 41, 42.

Jill Bolte Taylor, My Stroke of Insight: A Brain Scientist’s Personal Journey (Viking, New York: 2008), pp. 146, 148, 152.

Photo: http://www.publicdomainpictures.net/view-image.php?image=5127&picture=breaking-wave

Heidi Bright awarded Champion in Cancer Care

Amy Ostigny nominated Heidi Bright for the Champion in Cancer Care award.

Heidi Bright, MDiv, Milford, Ohio, has been named 2017 Champion in Cancer Care by Cancer Support Community in Cincinnati.

The CSC gala on Saturday, Oct. 14, honored inspirational individuals working in cancer care.

Bright, in radical remission from highly aggressive end-stage sarcoma for six years, embodies the words Champion in Cancer Care—she champions genuine hope and hundreds of healing solutions for cancer patients, according to her nominator, Amy Ostigny, Executive Managing Director of eWomenNetwork Cincinnati.

As a national speaker and traditionally published author of Thriver Soup: A Feast for Living Consciously During the Cancer Journey, Bright emphasizes healing one’s life to open space for the body’s natural healing abilities to arise, said Ostigny.

“Her compassion shines through when speaking and writing because she knows the devastation of being told there are no more medical options and to get one’s affairs in order,” said Ostigny.

All proceeds from CSC’s signature fundraising event are channeled into free programs and services for anyone impacted by cancer. http://www.cancersupportcincinnati.org/Default.aspx

How to Quiet the Peanut Gallery

Be not thoughtless, watch your thoughts! Draw yourself out of the evil way, like an elephant sunk in mud.

The Dhammapada, v.327

Watch your thoughts! warns the Buddha. Negative self-talk and storytelling arise from an area in the left hemisphere of our brains that takes up about as much space as a peanut. Jill Bolte Taylor, author of My Stroke of Insight, calls it the “peanut gallery.”

Do you have a peanut gallery in your mind that runs negative thinking loops over and over again, like a broken record? Do you obsess over an event in the past or an upcoming situation, like a cancer treatment you have to endure? Do you whine and complain about the same things, like cancer treatment side-effects?

Perhaps you can steer your brain cells in a more pleasant direction.

Taylor says, “I have learned that I can own my power and stop thinking about events that have occurred in the past by consciously realigning myself with the present.”

Nothing is more empowering than realizing you don’t have to think thoughts that bring pain, she adds. “It is freeing to know that I have the conscious power to stop thinking those thoughts when I am satiated.”

How do you stop the negative thinking? Use that peanut in your brain to entice the elephant of negative thinking up out of the mud so you can wash the dirt of negativity away.

First notice that it’s going on. Try to simply observe, not judge, any looping thoughts. Watch your mind as an external witness so you can notice your habitual patterns.

Next, when you notice the negativity, try switching your attention to your body. Feel the four corners of your feet. Focus on your in-and-out breathing. This will slow down the self-talk and help you reconnect your mind with your body, returning yourself to wholeness and the present moment.

Then initiate some conscious self-talk. Some of my friends encourage me to say, “Cancel, cancel, cancel” when I express negative thinking. I also find it helpful to recite a ritual prayer or affirmation. Another method is to talk directly to the negative thinker inside our brains, saying, “Stop. I don’t need that anymore.” Or maybe imagine that clean elephant wagging its trunk in front of the peanut gallery, threatening it to shut up—or else.

Thriver Soup Ingredient:

Watching your thoughts takes vigilance, because the peanut gallery is persistent. It can chatter incessantly, especially when you are tired. You have to be more persistent with redirecting your attention. Have your own plan in place to first notice, then deal with the negativity so you can return to the present moment where there is more peace.

Sources:

Sacred Books of the East, Vol. 10: The Dhammapada and Sutta Nipata, by Max Müller and Max Fausböll, [1881], at http://www.sacred-texts.com/bud/sbe10/sbe1025.htm 10/8/2017

Jill Bolte Taylor, My Stroke of Insight: A Brain Scientist’s Personal Journey (Viking, New York: 2008), 147, 148, 152.