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Lucky's ACL Tear - A Case for Conservative Management (Part 1)
by Leigh in

Things were a lot different in our home a year ago.  I had just graduated from my knee roller walker to partial weight bearing after breaking my ankle in December of 2009.  At the end of January (2011), Lucky suffered from a torn ACL in her left rear leg.  After a two-week period of pain management, inflammation reduction, and extremely restricted activity, Lucky was on her way to her first consultation with Dr. Kara Keesling, a veterinarian specialist in animal physical therapy and rehabilitation.  My husband was doing his best to cope with the daily requirements of life and work with both of his girls having severely limited mobility.  But first, some background about how we got to this place.

Lucky’s injury was a result of chasing a squirrel.  Squirrel chasing requires a lot of quick turns, stops and starts.  The squirrel zigged, Lucky zagged, and there went the knee ligament.  We didn’t see the exact moment that it happened as she had chased said squirrel from our front yard to the neighbor’s back yard (our neighborhood is pretty relaxed about Lucky roaming a bit).  She came back limping and within hours could not bear weight on the rear leg.  At first we thought it was a strain of some type but as the evening progressed it got worse.  Her morning walk was a struggle and a call to the vet was made.

Our vet confirmed an ACL tear.  An anatomical model of the dog knee (stifle) gave us a visual of how the dog knee works.  The stifle connects the femur (thigh bone) and tibia (leg bone) with a patella (kneecap) in front and fabella (a small bean-shaped bone) behind. Cartilage (the medial meniscus and lateral meniscus) cushions the bones and acts as a shock absorber when your pet runs and plays.  Two key ligaments hold everything in place.  The anterior or cranial cruciate ligament maintains knee stability and keeps the tibia from slipping out of place.

TPLO (Tibia Plateau Leveling Osteotomy) surgery was recommended.  Briefly, TPLO surgery involves cutting and leveling the tibia bone and screwing a plate into place so the bone will heal in its new location.  The surgery changes the slope of the tibia so the cruciate ligament is no longer needed to prevent the femur and tibia from rubbing against each other.  We were advised that if left untreated, complications included lameness, deterioration of the meniscus, bone spurs, and arthritis.  Our immediate concern was if our 12-year old dog was really a good candidate for surgery.  I had always heard about increased surgical complications in older dogs as well as additional risk of anesthesia.  Lucky had a bad experience coming out of anesthesia about two years prior to this incident.  Our vet indicated that while there were always unforeseen circumstances, Lucky’s overall good health made her a suitable surgical candidate.  

We were quoted $3,000 for the TPLO surgery and were advised that in many cases (no specific percentage given, the brief research I have done shows 35 - 50%) after a dog has TPLO on one knee, he will need the same surgery on the other knee within a 12-18 month period.  No particular reason was offered, it simply seemed to be a fact that we might need to prepare ourselves for.   Because the injury had just happened, Lucky was in too much pain and there was too much inflammation for a surgeon to thoroughly determine the exact procedure.  Anti-inflammatories, confinement, and pain meds were prescribed for a 10-day period.  After that, we were supposed to bring Lucky back for a more thorough evaluation and to confirm findings by the surgeon in preparation for the TPLO. 

We left the vet with many mixed feelings.  On one hand, I was relieved - there was a solution of some kind.  On the other hand, I was anxious and fearful - the TPLO was an invasive and somewhat complicated procedure and there were no guarantees it was totally effective.  We got Lucky home and created a “play pen” in the family room by moving furniture into place.  A sign went up on the door for people not to ring the bell (visitors with the best intentions as well as UPS drivers dropping off goodies always ring the bell, sending Lucky on a sprint to see who is here).  We put the trailer on the bike so we could roll her out to what we thought was the most desirable place to potty.  I used a towel sling to assist her in walking down the hall to go to bed each night.

And I got on the Internet with a mission to research options.  As any pet guardian knows, making decisions for your beloved companion’s care is a bit overwhelming.  I felt a great sense of responsibility to do right by Lucky.  I wanted to ensure her the best quality of life for her remaining years.  Here we were having to make a decision for a living, loving creature that could not tell us what she wanted.  

I found several good sites with plentiful information on dog knee injuries.  ACL tears are some of the most common orthopedic conditions vets see in dogs.  Besides factual information, there are several sites devoted to people sharing their experiences with various treatment options.  I read everything I could about alternative treatments and surgeries.  I quickly learned that surgical options other than TPLO were available.  A good friend of mine had a 13-year old mixed breed dog of similar size and breed make up as Lucky who had suffered an ACL injury eighteen months prior to Lucky’s injury.  She opted for non-surgical treatment and her dog was active, happy and doing well.  Our neighbor’s Lab had suffered a stroke a few years back, and they had done rehabilitative work with Dr. Kara and were very pleased with the results.  Armed with more knowledge, references and resources, we decided that TPLO was not the best option for Lucky. 

So that is how we arrived at Dr. Kara’s office that February afternoon.  Nearly two weeks of strict confinement and medications had helped to reduce Lucky's pain and inflammation allowing Dr. Kara the opportunity to do a complete and thorough evaluation.  Lucky was able to relax enough that Kara could palpitate the injured knee and feel the instability and irregular movement of the tibia in relation to the femur through the “drawer test”.  She thoroughly evaluated all of Lucky’s limbs, major joints, range of motion, overall body musculature, weight, and gait.  Lucky had some positive things going for her — she had no other orthopedic or arthritic conditions, a good level of overall fitness, and was not overweight (48 lbs at the time).  On the negative side, it appeared that she had a full tear.  

We agreed to a 6-8 week trial of conservative management (CM) which would include medications, supplements, weight management, (Lucky was not overweight, but we didn’t want the lack of activity to cause her to put on pounds), rest, icing, laser therapy, hydro therapy, range of motion and specific exercises to be incorporated as her treatment progressed.  Being that I wanted to fully understand what might happen, Dr. Kara and I discussed surgical options should CM not be effective.  Kara evaluated Lucky as she would her own dog and she indicated if surgery were needed, she would opt for a less invasive procedure over the TPLO.  She assured me that if it came to a surgical solution, qualified, capable and surgeons willing to do the best procedure for Lucky would be available.  After that first visit, I felt like we had a plan of action that best represented Lucky’s interests.  

Stay tuned for the next post where I share specifics about Lucky’s treatment as well as her results.
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Project Girl's Top Tips for Interior Painting
by Leigh in

Out of the ashes of my burned out corporate self, Project Girl emerged in the summer of 2011.  Her burning desire was to transform our living space and manifestations included landscaping, organic gardening and interior painting.  Seeing a space go from bland to beautiful was the final goal, but the process of doing and learning was a journey in and of itself.  With no pressing deadline, these tasks were labors of love versus the usual back breaking weekend home renovations that leave one permanently attached to the Tylenol bottle.  

After living in the house for five years, interior painting of all the main living spaces was a priority.  Freshly painted white walls are space expanding, neutral and airy.  Dull and dirty white walls are depressing reminders of the fact that your space needs refreshing.  I couldn't take it any more and Project Girl took over.  A one hour color consultation was all that was needed to get things started.  The walls, ceiling, and all of the trim in the living, dining, kitchen, family room and hallways were headed for a new life.

Interior painting is a relatively straightforward project:  Prep, apply 1st coat, let dry, apply 2nd coat, let dry, clean up and enjoy.  However, there are a few tricks that make this go even more smoothly.  Here are Project Girl's Top Tips for Interior Painting:

1.  Know what you can and cannot do:  If 16 foot ceilings are in the mix, hire a pro to do the hardest and most demanding physical jobs.  It will take the pro a maximum of two days to get this kind of a job done and then that blank canvas of the walls will be all yours to transform.  We covered a lot of square feet in our interior painting project and the few hundred dollars invested in the pros doing the ceiling beat the cost of me possibly killing myself as I fell off a ladder.  I can assure you I would have ended up in physical therapy from the extended strain on my neck, shoulders and arms if I had tried to roll that much paint overhead.  If for some reason I had survived the task, my enthusiasm and energy would have been greatly diminished and I would not have been able to tackle the walls.

2.  Use a merino wool roller:  A friend who paints houses for a living turned me on to this trick.  Merino wool rollers hold more paint, roll smoother, and are easier to clean up.  It makes applying paint to textured walls go faster.  I would say that rinsing out the Merino wool roller takes about 40% less time than trying to thoroughly rinse a polyester roller. One roller endured purple, two tones of a warm grey and a bright green without a hitch. In fact, that roller is still usable.  Skip the $5.00 for 5 offer on polyester rollers and invest the $20 in one good merino roller.  

Merino Roller after all wall painting completed.  Ready for the next project!

3.  Use good paint.  In the past, I have painted with Sherwin Williams, Benjamin Moore, and Behr paints.  They all gave good coverage and seemed to do the job.  This time around, I used Glidden Professional Paint.  I am not sure if it was an improvement in my skills or the paint, but my painting clothes have very little paint on them and I did not have a lot of drips, runs or splatters.  I don't know the technicalities of paint formulations, but it seemed the Glidden Professional had a good "body" to it and it didn't go anywhere it wasn't supposed to.

Transition between Grey/Green in bay window area achieved with Frog Tape.

4.  Ditch the blue tape for FROG TAPE.  Project Girl loves, loves, loves FROG TAPE!!!  Frog Tape stops paint from bleeding and running.  It has some kind of coating so as soon as latex paint comes in contact with it, a seal is created.  It is awesome on textured walls. The instructions indicate you need to remove it after painting.  I used it on the baseboards when I did the trim and left it on for the entire duration of two coats.  There were a few places that the tape stuck to the surface upon initial removal, but with a little bit of finessing and a small tweezers, I was able to grab ahold of those tiny pieces and remove them safely without damaging any of the painted surfaces.

5.  Use a good trim brush.  Trim brushes may be a matter of personal preference.  A 2" angled brush provides good surface coverage and let's you stay in control.  Picking the right brush for the right job probably involves some discussion with your paint store staff - firmness of bristles, type of bristles, length of handle, etc are all relevant criteria.  Project Girl's preference for painting baseboards, window sills and door frames (e.g. "trim") is the Master Choice brand followed by Wooster Pro.  (Wooster Pro is frequently mentioned in a professional painter's blog.)  Purdy was OK, but the Performance Select brush really was not up to par.  

Paint station with some of Project Girl's favorite tools.

Our interiors are now completed and look gorgeous.  Our living space is fresh, warm, cozy, and with complimentary colors that flow from room to room. Project Girl has finished the task and a satisfied smile lights her face.

Let us know what other tips and tricks you have discovered for interior painting or any other DIY projects you have tackled!

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Women's Soccer Rocks!
by Leigh in

Escaping the heat of a mid July afternoon I watched the Women's Soccer World Cup Finals this past Sunday.  Team USA and team Japan faced off on the pitch and the hope of each nation was linked to the outcome of a ninety minute match-up.  Team USA had transcended a general lack of enthusiasm by US sports fans concerning soccer and women's sports.  Snatching victory over Brazil, Team USA represented what America stands for; good old fashioned hard work, heart and determination.  Team Japan became a symbol of inspiraton and hope for their fellow countrymen still recovering from the effects of the earthquake and tsunami.  A win by Japan would finally give cause for a smile.

Besides the hope of nations, each of these women walked out on the field with their own dreams of victory.  This was Wambach's third World Cup appearance; Aye Sameshima's (nicknamed Same) had to find a new team to play for after the Fukushima disaster.  The stakes were truly high for these competitors.

The results are in the history books and by now, everyone is moving on to a new story.  I still find myself thinking about the awesomeness of the game that was played. Admittedly, I am a "bandwagon" fan and professional women's soccer has not been on my radar screen since the 1996 Atlanta Olympics when the women's team won gold.  The level of play in Sunday's game was remarkable; even more stellar was the grace with which the game was played.

In a time where individuals and organizations simply cannot seem to get along and get the job done, I think we can all take a cue from Women's Soccer.  Teamwork, fair play, and decency were evidenced by both sides from start to finish.  Everyone won together and everyone lost together.  Players, coaches, nutritionists, and physical therapists all had a role to play and no one seemed to be short changing or sniping about the qualifications of another.  Both teams put in their fair share of hard work and dedicated themselves to a goal.  After 120 minutes of dogged competition, one team exited the field with the FIFA World Cup trophy in hand.

In my estimation, even though the USA didn't win the trophy, they are still victorious.  They showed us what it is like to work together, to value one another, and to strive for a goal. They reminded us how to be civil and conduct ourselves with grace and composure, even in the face of losing when we wanted victory so badly.  They touched the imagination of a beleaguered American public caught in the muck of a Washington standoff.  Teetering on the edge of financial fallout and caught up in partisan politics our leaders can take a cue from the class act of the USA Women's Soccer team.  And for those of us who  find anyone who doesn't agree with us or "get it" to be stupid and worthless - just remember, we all win together and we all lose together.  History shows us that civilizations die and the Ice Age cometh.

Awesome cross, you set me up for the goal kick!
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A Midsummer Garden Dream
by Leigh in ,

It's midsummer and this year our vegetable garden is plentiful.  I started to pick arugula and chard the third week of June.  Here are some pictures of the garden in June as well as the first pick of the season:

Garden Picture - June 23

Chard and Arugula picked on June 23

Sunday's harvest included basil, snow peas, arugula and chard.  These summer greens are thriving and enriching neighborhood dinner tables.   

Each year the garden expands and this year the planted area measures 24' x 4'.  I am trying my hand at growing some new things including snow peas, basil and parsley (planted from seed vs. starts), two varieties of beets, arugula, eggplant, brussel sprouts, and heirloom tomatoes.  Young seedlings persevered early June hail storms and adult plants have escaped detection of the deer that are munching in the yard next door.  The aphids are staying put in the elm trees they inhabit a half block away.    I expect that the beans will be ready to harvest this week.  If the July heat continues we might even have tomatoes by the end of the month!  Brussel sprouts mature later in the year and my research indicates that each plant produces about 80 - 100 sprouts.  With eight plants that will be a yield of 640 - 800 sprouts!  Here is a picture of the garden today:

Wow!  Look at how the garden has grown in the last three weeks!  
I never thought I would enjoy gardening.  When we were kids growing up my parents planted a huge garden to save money.  The yard was about 3/4 of an acre and I am guessing the garden measured the entire width of the back yard x 12' deep.  Besides what we grew, Dad brought home bushels of peaches, apples, cucumbers and other vegetables from the farmer's market.  Every weekend was devoted to pickling, canning and freezing. Standing at the kitchen sink peeling the skins off tomatoes that had been dipped in boiling water, I vowed as a teenager that I would never have ANYTHING to do with growing vegetables in the future.  That certainly did not pan out - the pictures above prove that attitudes and values change with adulthood!

As you read this, maybe you are asking, "How did that happen?"  Quite simply, I found that I care where my food comes from.  A few years ago, I started with tomato plants in pots. The next year, a small plot in the yard.  The food tasted great and it was a hoot to pick dinner from the yard - in my own small way I was taking a stand against everything that Food Inc. represented.  I shared the extras with neighbors and got to know folks a bit better.  At the end of last year, I decided to add another 32 square feet for more variety.  I am having fun with this year's experiment and added new crops.  I intend to hold off on canning and freezing as long as possible... I will keep you updated on that one with later posts as well as sharing how I am using what we harvest.  (Fettuccine with arugula pesto is a current favorite.)

I hope you are having a good growing season!
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Get Your Green On!
by Leigh in

Spring is here and it's not too late to get your green on!  As I prepare to plant my garden,  I find myself taking stock of the things I can do to be more green.  Here are a few ideas to green your daily routine:

Green your Laundry Routine
  1. Air dry your laundry and reduce your energy consumption.  An outdoor clothesline may not be possible for apartment dwellers or residents of a planned community with HOA (HomeOwners Association) bylaws.  Clothes drying racks, an indoor clothesline, or utilizing a drapery rod in a south or west facing window are great alternatives.  Check out the lingerie drying rack from The Container Store - with 12 plastic clips your undies and socks are easily hung from a shower curtain rod to air dry.  Close your bathroom door to capture the warmth when your furnace turns on to speed drying.  $ Added Bonus - your clothes will last longer.  
  2. Use environmentally friendly laundry detergent.  These "green" detergents are phosphate free and biodegradable.
  3. Lower the temperature and wash in cold water.  With the technological advances in machines and laundry detergents, cold water will get the job done.  If you are still hanging onto the idea that only hot water "sanitizes" your laundry, bump the dial up to the warm setting.  
  4. Wash only full loads.  The same amount of energy is used each and every time you turn on the washing machine.  If for some reason you absolutely can't fill a load, make sure you adjust your water level to the appropriate load size.

Green your Mailbox
  1. Go paperless for your bank statements and regularly occurring bills -- cable, electric, trash removal, etc.  Not only will you be greening your mailbox, you will be reducing your energy consumption as you no longer have that big bag of shredding to do.
  2. Eliminate catalogs, coupons and other junk mail.  Go to  www.dmachoice.com  and take your name off any and all mailing lists.  If you have bought merchandise from a specific retailer, you may have to call that retailer and ask to be removed from their mailing list.  The site does provide contact phone numbers for major retailers - set aside all the catalogs you get in a week and take thirty minutes one day and make all the calls.  $$ Added Bonus - money saved because your impulse buying triggers won't be activated by the false promises of catalog visual merchandising.

Green your Kitchen and Cleaning Routine
  1. Minimize the use of cleaning fluids and chemicals.  If having that lemon fresh pine scent is the only thing that convinces you your housekeeping is complete, make sure you are using environmentally friendly cleaning supplies.  Not sure which green cleaners work best?  Seventh Generation, ECOS - Earth Friendly Products, Mrs. Meyer's Clean Day, and Method are a few of the brands regularly cited in lists of environmentally friendly cleaning products.  The Green Guide at National Geographic has a video demonstrating the use of everyday pantry items like baking soda, white distilled vinegar, and lemon juice for your cleaning tasks.  Start small and make changes as your existing products run out.
  2. Green your cookware.  If you are like me, you probably replace your non-stick skillets about every five years.  It seems non-stick skillets (Teflon) all have a maximum heat point.  The coatings flake off from over heating or overuse.  Aluminum, stainless, copper and cast iron cookware are options to non-stick cookware, however, metal leaching is a possibility.  Well made ceramic cookware has been cited as a green alternative.  Check out Xtrema by Ceramcor or Mercola Healthy Chef Cookware.  To read user reviews, go to  Chowhound.com  and search for Xtrema and follow the discussion forum.  
  3. Green your utensils.  Plastic utensils are often made from petroleum derived plastics.  As the plastic gets scratched, heated and used, it can leach into your foods.  Bamboo utensils are a better option as they are manufactured from sustainable materials and are easy to clean.
  4. Use less paper and plastic.  Paper towels, a convenience that one can become addicted to, are huge generators of landfill waste.  Google the topic and you will find articles stating that nearly 3,000 tons of paper towel waste are added to landfills daily.  Try microfiber towels and cleaning cloths - not only will you be reducing your landfill footprint, but you will be saving money.  Microfiber cloths are super absorbent, dry quickly, and according to some fans, can be used for chemical free cleaning (the tiny fibers produce light and safe abrasion taking the place of chemical cleaning products).  I am currently trying out the SKOY clothes which are an eco friendly alternative to paper towels.  One SKOY cloth prevents fifteen rolls of paper towel going to a landfill.  Food storage is a big culprit to plastic usage - consider glass containers as an alternative.

    Making these changes to your everyday routines are easy ways to get your green on.  Going green becomes a matter of awareness; once you make a few changes and find out that it is easy and painless, you will start to think about greening other areas of your life.  Greening your landscape (using less water, growing vegetables), greening your personal care routine (seeking out non-petroleum based soaps and shampoos) and putting your electronics on a juice diet (eliminating phantom power consumption by using a power strip) will come naturally as you green your thinking and doing.  Heck, you might even find yourself opting for pedal powered transportation one day of the week!

    Have a green product you love or a tip to cut down on use of plastic?  Know of a good resource for green home renovation?  Join the conversation and share how you are getting your green on!

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      Back Pain? Chronic Stress? Bad Posture? Try Rolfing!
      by Leigh in

      Millions of people today suffer from chronic stress, back pain, acute injuries, and impaired mobility.  Knowledge based workers sit hunched over their computer keyboards, shoulders inching ever closer to their earlobes with each additional new project request.  Anxiety about finances or relationships further contributes to the state of duress we are living in.  Our bodies compensate for all of these conditions and our muscles become shorter and our skeletal systems become misaligned.

      There are many ways to cope with pain and stress.  Pop a few ibuprofen or get a massage for immediate relief.  Take a yoga, pilates, or qigong class to a develop core strength and flexibility.

      Looking for a longer term, structural solution?  Does the idea of a complete overhaul of the body's alignment and connective tissue sound appealing?  If you answered yes, then Rolfing might be the thing for you.   Besides the release of chronic tension and pain, many people who have experienced Rolfing report increased energy, improved athletic performance, and ease of movement.  Rolfing results in many people feeling taller, stronger, and more youthful.

      What exactly is Rolfing?  Rolfing is named after its founder, Dr. Ida Rolf, who studied and explored a variety of alternative methods of healing and pain relief including homeopathy, osteopathy, chiropractic, and yoga.  Fundamental to all of these areas of study is the idea that the body functions best when it is in proper alignment.   Dr. Rolf believed that structural imbalances placed demands on the body's soft connective tissue (muscles, tendons, ligaments and fascia) for which the body compensates for.  Over time, these adaptive compensations result in conditions such as chronic pain, injury, loss of mobility and fatigue.  Dr. Rolf's study resulted in a system of soft tissue manipulation which aims to resculpt the body's soft tissue.  Today, this soft tissue manipulation is known as Rolfing.

      The heart of Rolfing is the Ten Series -- essentially ten 1 to 1 1/2 hour sessions that focus on releasing the tension and restructuring the connective tissue in specific areas of the body.  The final goal is to restructure and optimize the entire body.  Each session builds on the previous session and as the soft tissue is released and the body is realigned, more efficient patterns of movement result. Rolfing has long lasting impacts and the last three sessions focus on integrating new movement patterns of the body.  As one certified Rolfer stated, "The goal is to move efficiently and with fluidity -  as we went through our certification training we were reminded of the ease of movement displayed by great dancers such as Fred Astaire.  Fred Astaire dancing is the vision I have in my mind's eye for every patient I work with."

      Many people associate Rolfing as being painful.  More than likely, this is a holdover from how Rolfing was portrayed in the 1970's movie "Semi-Tough" which featured Burt Reynolds and Kris Kristofferson. At times, the manipulation and release of the deep soft tissue may be uncomfortable, but well trained and certified Rolfers have developed many techniques to access the deeper layers of fascia without discomfort.  The entire Rolfing session is interactive and the patient is encouraged to communicate about what they are feeling so adjustments can be made.

      How prevalent is Rolfing today?  That's a question that is difficult to find clear and exact statistics on.  Rolfing has been gaining momentum as a result of major media coverage and endorsements.  Dr. Andrew Weil has blogged about Rolfing and the cardiac surgeon Dr. Mehmet Oz endorsed Rolfing during a 2007 airing of the Oprah Winfrey Show.  Newsweek featured an article in November of 2010.  It is estimated that nearly 1.5M Americans have tried Rolfing.  

      So, what are my thoughts on Rolfing?  As a result of my ankle fracture and physical therapy, I began to question my skeletal alignment, posture and ways that my body may have been compensating for various weaknesses.  I knew that I needed to incorporate bodywork such as yoga and pilates into my fitness routine.  As I got started with yoga and pilates DVD's at home, I questioned if my movements and position were correct.  Both these practices are intensely focused with an emphasis on the core.  I was concerned that I may be overtraining and/or undertraining specific areas which were "out of whack".  After some research, I found a certified Rolfer (Certified through the Rolf Institute of Structural Integration) who practices compassionate (read that as not painful) Rolfing.  I went in for the forty-five minute free consultation and decided to "get Rolfed".

      I have had two sessions, and I am amazed by the results.  In the first session, the Rolfer did some work on my ribs and diaphragm - I have always been a shallow breather and I hold a lot of stress in my mid section and shoulders (which affects my pelvis, legs and posture).  She quickly identified that as a child I had grown up in a household where my parents smoked (obviously, that was before we knew the dangers of smoking).  As she continued to release the first few layers of soft tissue surrounding my mid section, I felt my breath fully expand into my upper chest and upper back.  I was taking a full, deep inhalation and feeling it throughout my body!  I don't think I had ever done that before as my body had been in an adaptive inhalation pattern since childhood.  Three weeks after that first session, I can still feel the difference today.  In the second session, attention was directed from my hip to foot.  I had been experiencing some pain in my left knee.  I am happy to report that knee pain is gone and I feel more balanced from my hips to my feet on both the right and left side.  (I had broken my right ankle, and as a result, my body developed some compensatory patterns which affected both legs and feet in a negative way.)

      Like anything else, Rolfing is not for everyone.  Do your research and should you try Rolfing, make sure you are working with a certified and well qualified Rolfer.  Check their credentials, get referrals, and verify that their practice is in good standing with regulatory agencies such as your local better business bureau.

      I will keep you posted on my rolfing experience as I progress through the Ten Series.  If you have tried Rolfing, or know someone that has, please post your comments!
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      Enough Already! How to Battle the Monster for More
      by Leigh in

      Do you feel like you are running up a hill and no matter how far you get, you will never make it to the top?  Have you ever felt like no matter how much you did, it wasn't enough? Is there a Monster for More, with an insatiable appetite for more stuff, money, power, beauty or strength lurking in the shadows?

      Many of us today are running so fast to keep up that we have lost track of just what we are trying to keep up with.  Stream of consciousness messages about having more or being more dominate our economic, political and social landscapes.  Our jobs demand us to put in extra hours to achieve more sales or more profitability.  Our kids seem to need more to prepare them for the world of tomorrow.  Getting, having and being more is choking the life out of us.  And most likely our planet.

      "ENOUGH already," you scream in frustration and despair at the end of the day.  How do I battle this Monster for More that meets me around every corner?

      I grappled with this question for the last couple of months.  I succumb to the "more trap" as easily as the next person.  Our neighbors went to an RV show and suddenly I found myself looking at slick RV brochures.  Retailers target my e-mail with messages telling me to spend $50 now and get a $10 savings.  Even the best intentions, adding yoga to my fitness repertoire, demand spending on a yoga mat and appropriate attire.  Of course all of these wants and needs require funding, and that translates to stellar performance at work (maybe I am a type A personality).  Keeping the Blackberry within arm's length at all times starts to make sense.

      Did any of this make me happy?  I believe we all know, somewhere deep in our intuitive and spiritual selves, more is usually not the answer (assuming basic needs for food, shelter, etc. have been met).  The proverbial hampster on the wheel becomes reality and getting off seems impossible.  Here are a few resources and ideas to manage the Monster for More:

      • Get some good information that hits home for you.  "Twelve by Twelve:  A One Room Cabin Off the Grid and Beyond the American Dream" by William Powers tackles the question of what is enough.  Living a smaller, simpler life in harmony with nature is encouraged.  Powers provides examples of societies and people living with enough - enough food, shelter, clothing, and medical care.  These are people who are contributing to their communities and are enjoying happy and supportive relationships.  Amazingly, 60% of the worlds' population lives with what they consider enough.  20% live with more than enough and 20% with not enough.  Other books suggested the ideas of nurturing creativity, taking a mini retirement, and considering that everything we strive for (want) requires an exchange of life energy. 

      • Think twice about going out.  If you have to go out for something, make sure you have somewhere to be at a non-negotiable time.  That sounds crazy, but for most of us, our urban environment is filled with impulse activated spending opportunities.  Going to the bank and picking up the dry cleaning we grab a latte along the way.  The $5.00 Bed, Bath and Beyond coupon expires today and wouldn't those placemats be just-oh-so-perfect for the brunch you are hosting this weekend?  If you HAVE to be somewhere, you stay focused on what you really NEED to do.  If you don't go out,  your not so urgent errands collect on a list.  When you finally go out, your own natural desire to knock out that list and not spend hours on end chasing from place to place creates its own non-negotiable time limit.  

      • Walk or bike instead of drive.  You will be amazed at how your perspective changes about what you need when you have limited carrying capacity.  Side benefits include getting exercise and saving on gasoline.

      • Wait a day to buy anything that is outside of the basic essentials (e.g. food, gasoline, health care).

      • Consider the opportunity cost.  The most valuable things in life are your health, the people you love, and time.  Are you giving up these things to pursue more of something else?  Taking on an extra assignment at work, to get promoted, to earn more money may require more time away from home and your family.  More money might seem important, but consider the stress of missing your kid's ball game and having your partner feeling like you are an uninvolved parent.  That example may be oversimplified, but you get the point.  Know your priorities and develop a sense of mindfulness about the choices you are making.  

      None of us is perfect, and I don't expect that many of us want to or can live like Mother Teresa.  I know that I will always fight the battle between being content with what I have (or am) and thinking I need more (or to be better).  I know in the moments I have chosen to be content with what I have (or am), I have felt deep satisfaction.  I feel a sense of peace that recognizing enough(ness) offsets the other times when wanting more has won out.

      Do you have a technique you use to battle the Monster for More?  Post a comment and share with others your ideas on this subject!

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