Ballard Naturopathic Blog | All posts tagged 'positive'

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Band of Brothers (and Sisters)

September 29, 2013

I'm a big fan of Kid President. This kid stands for positive change, "being awesome" and "more dance parties". His partnership with local actor Rainn Wilson, of "The Office" and Soul Pancake is a bright light in an often-cynical and sad world I think the message that they are sharing is important. I LOVE dance parties! I want to be awesome!

Last month, I did an awesome thing. Via Twitter, I thanked Anthony Shears, a local recording artist living in L.A., for a beautiful song he had written about domestic violence. He did an awesome thing- he replied. Our dialogue, such as it was, transferred from Twitter to Facebook, to phone & email. We dreamed about what we could do to REALLY make a positive change in the lives of children touched by domestic violence or in difficult home situations. Anthony spent a lot of his childhood at the Ballard Boys & Girls Club. He tells me there were some days where most of his meals came from there. The folks at the Ballard Boys & Girls Club helped keep Anthony, his brother and their friends off the streets by providing them a safe place where they could build healthy relationships and stay out of trouble. Mentors at the Club gave the boys opportunites to play sports and support to succeed in school. Anthony went on to attend Dartmouth and work in L.A. with some legendary recording artists; Norris is an Olympic athlete. They want to give back.

My own work with children spans 20 years, in various areas such as medicine, social work, teaching, and volunteering. I believe that if we support children who need it the most, we benefit ourselves through building a strong community. Another generation will be raised up with the values that we treasure. Values like integrity, honesty, a strong work ethic, creativity, and a sense of community are supported at Boys & Girls Clubs. 

Working with Anthony, Norris, and a team of amazing volunteers, we are designing the first annual "Field of Our Dreams Celebrity Softball Tournament" to benefit the Ballard & Wallingford Boys & Girls Clubs. Money raised will help to re-surface the softball field and provide scholarship funds to the 70% of children that rely on assistance to be a part of the Clubs. Scheduled for May 4 at B.F. Day Playfield, the softball game will have local celebrities and athletes and live performances. This event can't happen without volunteers- let us know if you'd like to help!

Our first step: The upcoming Ballard Boys & Girls Club Auction to begin the fundraising for the field, held October 25th at 5:30 with both silent and live auctions. More information can be found here, as well as tickets ($45, including free childcare and a salmon dinner)

Dance moves

May 24, 2013


Music, for one reason or another, has always been an integral part of my daily life. I meet people who can have music in the background at dinner or a barbecue, but how can you focus on anything without reveling in the songs, the lyrics and melodies changing you into whoever you were, wherever you heard that song for the first time?

Odd, this, but every few months or so, I'll just cling to some music, one particular artist or one song covered by many, as I use it to process whatever is happening in my life. Last spring, I was drawn to Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah". Life was not good. Love was not good. Love ended in brokenness.  Suffice to say, I survived and that song (although on repeat for a few, wallowing months) stopped being so personal. I was bright and shiny and life was beautiful again. Showtunes, old school R&B, anything that was sunshine and hope and the rush from dancing at home on my lunch break or after work, became preferred again.

What I've been feeling lately is spring and summer and hip-shaking solo dance parties. I've been moving through the world, walking for miles on my lunch break. The only trouble is trying to keep from dancing in the streets to the beats in my ears.  Right now, I'm grooving to "Fugees Radio" on Pandora, which I've filled with my own personal blend of 80's & 90's rap & hip-hop (memories from middle school through college) and today's new discoveries. For a few songs, I'm no longer staring 40 (well, ok, 36) in its exhausted eyes, I'm back in middle school, before the self consciousness, before any aches and pains, when we all danced in tight circles in the gym, trying to pick up new moves.

Which brings me to Macklemore & Ryan Lewis's "The Heist", only the second album I've purchased on my iPhone (the other being Johnny Cash's "Unchained", if you must get all the details of my "diverse" music tastes). There's that resonance again. I will warn you that there's cursing, so it's not something to spring on your kids without listening first. But, as an adult, I would definitely recommend you give it a listen. Listen to the words...

"My, Oh, My" makes me tear up at the loss of Dave Niehaus a few years back, remembering how I couldn't get my mom to get out of the car and come in for dinner until the M's game she'd been listening to all the way home from work was over. "Can't Hold Us" had me freak out,  dancing with a classmate in my improv class, "Thrift Shop" has its own dance routine worked out at home (with or without my vacuum cleaner),  "Victory Lap" and "Ten Thousand Hours", about the journeyman process to getting good at what you are passionate about rings true for me every day I step in my clinic, especially those times when I wonder what the heck I'm doing and when I should know enough to give up and let it crumble versus buckling down and riding out the rough spots. "Same Love" is thrilling to me now that marriage equality is a reality in our state, in so many other states and countries. How principled, how upright to stand up for this belief in equality in a genre that routinely diminishes and demonizes those who love people of the same gender, especially before it was the law to allow everyone the freedom to marry. I am so happy that all my friends, gay or straight, can choose to live the way they want to live with the partners that they love. 

But, oh, the heartbreak on "Starting Over", his follow up to "Otherside" makes me cry every time. I want to punch a hole in something when I think about addiction and the people I love that struggle with it. I hate that these are the stories that pretty much everyone has, that there's a saboteur in so many brains.. that this disease called addiction waits patiently for so many people to have a moment of weakness. The closing line is exactly what I want to hear: "If I can be an example of getting sober, then I can be an example of starting over..."

Macklemore's willingness to share his own struggles, his openness about what he's gone through and about his beliefs, and his positive attitude as reflected in his work are all inspiring to me. I became a doctor to make a difference in someone's life, to provide caring and healing for the people in my community who need it, to help build a stronger Seattle, a stronger and better world. He's made such a name for himself as an independent artist- that, too, I admire. The hard work and heartbreak, the two steps forward, one step back process of getting recognition, especially without the backing of a large corporation. If I could say anything to him, it would be "Well done. Keep making a positive change. Share your message with as many people as possible. You are a force for good. You matter and you have a chance to change so much. Keep moving. " I realize as I write this, these are the words we should say to everyone.

So, I guess this post is just a mash note to Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, but it's also for everyone I see making a choice every day to make a positive difference in the world, to reach out and connect with people around them, to stand up for the changes they want to see happen. Yeah, "The Heist" hits me. It's beautiful. You should listen to it. And you should dance.


Bountiful Gratitude

March 2, 2010

This weekend, I was excited to learn of, and attend, the Seattle Food and Wine Experience at Seattle Center. Over 100 wineries and  21 restaurants were on hand to share their creations. For the food-obsessed, like me, it was like going to fantasy baseball camp. Except, you know, no sports.

In most matters food-related, I've found myself incredibly pleased and humbled to find that Seattle is truly a first-class city and Sunday's event was no exception. I was just thrilled to be able to try dishes from restaurants I've always been intimidated by, and better yet, to speak with the chefs whose job it is to create the art that brings me such joy. I've been told by a few people that my passion for food should make me a restaurant critic, not a doctor, but how could I? I'd be hard-pressed to find a food I don't like, a recipe without some redeeming value, or a chef who doesn't enjoy what he or she does or is unable to translate that joy into a tangible creation.

Now, today is the birthday of one of my dear friends, someone who always has a positive attitude, who always seems to be just leaving for, or getting back from, some party or event and is continually updating his status on Facebook to remind us of what wonderful things he's done that he is grateful for.

I'm going to interrupt myself for a minute here. I understand that sometimes the "Pollyanna" act gets a little tiring for those around me. My closest friends know that my gratitude and the positive outlook haven't always been in evidence. I'm not irrationally idealistic. I do have a grasp on reality and am not a big fan of "manifestation" as it has evolved from some layperson's application of quantum physics to the latest feel-good craze of the self-helpers. And yes, I have mini-freakouts over things that I can't change and that my closest friends endure with grace. The subjects of these "freakouts"? Some are a product of not meeting social expectations of a woman "my age", others are too personal to go into here. I'm sure everyone has them and it's not just my own personal brand of crazy. Mostly.

That said, I've been wondering lately why I'm so happy with my life, why things seem to be going the right way (mostly, with switchbacks, dead ends, and occasional misdirection impeding the direct forward progress at times), and where this all leaves me as a pragmatic atheistic idealist. What have I done to myself that makes me wake up every morning with the first thought generally being "Today, I'm grateful for..."?Which can be a real bitch when you wake up wanting to be grumpy.

I've come to the conclusion that, for myself, I got really TIRED of feeling sorry for myself. It got boring (and probably did so a long time ago for those people with whom I shared my self-pity). I've been through a number of different classes looking for THE way to be successful, THE way to be positive and THE way to get what I wanted out of my life. I traveled all over the world, mostly by myself, to varying cultures where people had so much less than me but so much more to offer in terms of new experiences, wonderful shared meals and also, sadly, opportunites for me to see how much better off I was than some and how grateful I "should" be for the gifts in my life of family, friends, health, and having my basic human needs met. I mean, getting TIRED of something because how many times can you hear your mind tell itself the same sob story over and over again. An exercise I did in one of my classes: to write down something that had happened to you, something you were feeling sorry about, and reading it over and over again to a nonjudgmental partner until you couldn't bear to read it anymore. Mine took three recitations. Others took one, or fifteen recitations before they were done.

I have friends who see the reasons to be sad and angry, perceive slights and insults at every turn, and turn their disappointment inward toward themselves in self-destructive and painful behaviors. I wish that there were a way to share what I've learned about myself with them, but I don't know how and I don't want them to see it as another person putting them down, or confirming what they feel about themselves. But I will say that, even if I can't open their eyes to how wonderful they are, how much they have to be grateful for (which truly includes the talents and gifts that they themselves have and how much they mean to the people close to them), I'm still glad that I can continue to be grateful for them in my life. Maybe at some point, they'll realize that I'm pretty damn smart and if I see something great, maybe something great is there.

So, today, I think about how grateful I am that there are places like Perche No, Campagne, Andaluca, the Palace Kitchen, Pearl, and other amazing places where artists can share their creations with me. I'm grateful for friends who understand what I mean when I talk about food as art and as one of my preferred methods of communication. And, at the risk of sounding proud, I'm grateful that I'm a hard worker and dedicated to what I do so I am able to visit them when I can. I'm grateful for the ability to taste.