Ballard Naturopathic Blog | support

Stone Turtle HealthNaturopathic Medicine and Massage Therapy for the Whole Family

6204B 8th Ave NW Seattle, WA 98107 Work (206) 355-4309

Stone Turtle Health Blog

Gratitude Posts

October 8, 2015

Gratitude and acknowledgement. I'm seeing an uptick in these types of posts on social media and it's not because I'm following more hippy-dippy accounts, either. As community members, people are reaching out to help one another and are getting recognized. Maybe the actual helping hasn't increased but having a forum to sing someone's praises certainly makes it seem that way. My feeds are filled with friends, neighbors, and family members showing gratitude for gestures, gifts and for simple pleasures in daily life. It's a trend I wholeheartedly support, not just because it's "nice" or "sweet" to acknowledge someone for their work, but also because it's good for US to do so. Connections with an extended support network have been shown to improve mental health and illness outcomes in study after stduy. Community makes us healthier and recognizing other people's contributions to our community makes the ties that bind that much tighter. 

Tomorrow, my son turns one year old. Last year, at this time, we went through a terrifying journey and I want to express my gratitude for everyone who wa a part of it. First, my family, who helps in many, many ways from stocking his closet and sending home toys, covering some of my childcare needs to allow me to keep the clinic running and just holding him for me so I can get a hot meal or a drama-free trip to the bathroom. My long-time and new friends who've shared laughs and tears as we went from the NICU to home and I tried to figure out how to juggle everything. My patients and office mates who have been so understanding of my mommy brain and have welcomed CJ into the clinic family with open arms and occasional smiles of commiseration aimed in my direction. The doctors who covered for me while I wrestled with the heavy fog of early motherhood, shuttling back and forth to the NICU for 70 days, not wanting to get out of bed until it was time to go and see him. My colleagues who helped me figure out how to balance (-ish) life with a baby and a clinic. Our community in general, via Faccebook, that has shown me how deeply the need to connect lives in each of us. Women I never knew drove me back and forth to the NICU to see CJ for the first few weeks. Families hand down clothes and toys and we, in turn, pass them on to new babies that come along. Ballard is NOT the big city, it's a small town full of folks who are maybe trying out this "neighbor" thing for the first time, or they want things to be like when they were a kid and they realize the importance of connection in reaching that goal. 

His sitters. Oh, bless the young women and their moms who have covered my ass so many times and whose families have absorbed him into their midst, so he can have a mini-vacation from me, complete with older brothers and sisters. The initial fear of handing over my son to someone who looked barely big enough to lift him has been far outstripped by their impressive growth as caregivers and young women. It's a privilege to be a part of their lives and to watch them gain competence and enthusiasm, and to see CJ bond and build relationships with them. 

Thank you, everyone, for making this the BEST year of my life.

Dream a Little Dream

January 11, 2013

My friend and inspiration, the comedian & musician Greg Behrendt (@gregbehrendt on Twitter) has always been someone I admired. I used to skip Chemistry class as an undergrad in order to watch his stand up specials on Comedy Central (don't worry, I passed and took 2 more years of Chem). Beyond his original voice and his incredibly spot-on sense of humor which I enjoyed a great deal, he seemed very relatable. very much a guy next door finding humor in everyday life. This was in the mid 90's and I had free cable and my own room for the first time in my life. Both were exhilarating!

Fast forward a few years: Greg goes to work on the set of "Sex and the City" and co-writes a book that a few people seem to enjoy called "He's Just Not That Into You", which gets made into a movie. He goes on Oprah, gets a talk show, and slowly stops doing what he loves. He fell off my radar for awhile, what with school and starting my first job, going back to school, and starting my career as a doctor.

Then, one day, I was listening to a local podcast, The Marty Riemer Show, that was broadcasting interviews from Bumbershoot. Marty & Jodi Brothers were talking to comedians. I'm a comedy nerd. I listened every day and heard Greg, Marc Maron, Jimmy Pardo, and others, all with their own podcasts. Greg was as charming as ever and talked about a little podcast project he was working on with his best friend, Dave Anthony, called Walking The Room. A warning: this podcast is both charming and vile. Definitely not safe for work and definitely full of gems that have actually made me fall down when listening to it on my lunchtime walks. Greg enjoys a short pant, a cardigan, and designing clothes. Somewhere in there, he began taking guitar lessons from a friend, Mike Eisenstein (formerly of Letters To Cleo, on Twitter as @USAMike). They formed a band.

Because of the podcast, I eventually got the opportunity to see Greg perform live and to meet him. As awesome as it was to do that, it was even cooler to find out that he was even more excited to meet me! We've hung out together at various podcast-related events and correspond on occasion. And he is the most encouraging person I know, bar none. As busy as he is, he always takes time to support his friends who are just starting out, or trying a new side-project. He's just good people.

So, this year, he had a bit of a mid-life crisis (which means he'll have to live to 100), had some emotional ups and downs. And he hasn't been shy about getting some help for this and talking about it. In fact, in speaking about it on his podcast, he's inspired a few of my friends around the world to seek therapy as well, which has been life- changing, even life-saving, for them. 

And what came of his therapy? This dream: to take his band, The Reigning Monarchs and, over the course of this year, create a second LP, promote the album, tour the U.S. and film it all for a documentary about "old men living their dreams". Funding is all that stands in the way. For awhile. 

The band started an IndieGoGo fundraising campaign and Greg put the word out to his fans and friends. The word spread. Their goal was $10,000 to record an album. Fans, friends, and family donated, tweeted about it, posted on Facebook and Google Plus. Everyone seemed invested in making someone else's dream come true. But, very specifically, the dream of a certain someone else who has supported them each individually with words of encouragement, enthusiasm, occasionally with connections to other folks who can help, and with an honest belief in them and their dreams, an honest concern for them and their lives.

Tonight, with 8 hours left in the fundraising, they have raised almost $26,000. They will use this money to create and produce the album, hire a publicist to promote it and book their tour, pay for tour travel expenses, and begin filming the documentary. And the day ain't over yet. 

 

Guest Blog: Exploring Best Practices for a Healthy Pregnancy by Katie Moore

June 14, 2012

Today, I'm excited to share this guest post from Katie Moore. She is an active blogger who discusses the topics of, motherhood, children, fitness, health and all other things "Mommy". She enjoys writing, blogging, and meeting new people! To connect with Katie contact her via her blog, Moore From Katie or her twitter, @moorekm26.

(When Katie Moore came to me with the idea to write a guest post on my blog, I was thrilled. This post is timely because of my recent decision to start a family. The preparation and planning that have gone into this decision mean that it will be some time before we're joined by a little one, but all signs seem to be reassuring me that the best time to start is coming soon. Without further ado, here's a wonderful post on improving your chances for a healthy pregnancy.- Dr. Katie)

 

Exploring Best Practices for a Healthy Pregnancy

 

Pregnancy is an exciting time full of planning and joy for many women, but others will feel the burdens of stress and worry. Hormone changes and the symptoms common to each trimester can add to the stress. Researchers have found that stress during pregnancy is a major contributing factor to complications, and this means that every mom will benefit from learning ways to reduce worry and conquer stress. 

For the best chance at a healthy pregnancy and delivery, it is worthwhile to learn a variety of coping techniques. Several resources are available for gaining an introduction to the techniques of stress management, including books and videos, pregnancy and birthing classes, and other expecting mothers. All these resources will be useful in exploring the following relaxation techniques

 

Before starting any new exercise or diet routine, it is important for a woman to sit down with her doctor and discuss her desired changes. A doctor’s knowledge will be invaluable during pregnancy, from planning what prenatal classes to take all the way to planning whether or not to utilize umbilical cord blood banking, a doctor is the best person for all of these questions.

Guided Meditation
One of the most useful skills for any new mom, meditation is a component of most alternative pain management courses, including Lamaze and the Bradley Method. Clinical research has proven numerous physiological benefits accrue through the practice. Some of these benefits will help in maintaining overall health, and others provide particular benefits during pregnancy and birth. 

Meditation is a skill, however, much like exercise. Practice will make it more effective, and a guide will be extremely beneficial at the beginning. The guide or teacher will help by taking the student along an internal journey that increases awareness of the body and aids in relaxation of the nervous system. Like other skills, it becomes easy to meditate alone after practicing with a teacher.

Exercise
It was once thought that exercise increased the risk of miscarriage and pregnancy complications, but research has proven this assumption to be false. In fact, responsible use of exercise can significantly reduce the risk of many complications and help in overcoming symptoms. A teacher can help by introducing exercises that can reduce the duration of labor and allow faster recovery from delivery.

Most low-impact, moderate-intensity forms of exercise will be appropriate throughout pregnancy, including walking, swimming and cycling. Weight training can be beneficial as well. 
One analysis of the literature showed that strength training reduces severity of maternal hypertension and post-partum depression while also reducing the risk of gestational diabetes. As great as exercise is, all expectant mothers should consult with a doctor and either a trainer or other fitness expert with experience in pregnancy exercise.

Diet
Though it is often overlooked, the modern diet is full of artificial ingredients, unhealthy fats and simple sugars that contribute to the body's stress load. Healthy food choices at the grocery store are generally more expensive, but eating healthy at home is actually cheaper than most people realize. A diet with a lot of 
variation is best, but there are some foods that should always be avoided. 

Enrolling in classes early is a great way to get a head start on a healthy pregnancy, and more learning is always better. If local resources are lacking, multimedia sources can help any mom get the knowledge she needs to get baby off to a good start.

 

 

 

 

Resolutions

January 5, 2012

Happy New Year! Every January, many people make New Year's resolutions but very few of them follow through. We've all purchased gym memberships, hoping to shed a few pounds, only to see them lapse after a few visits or dedicated ourselves to a new hobby, spending money on shiny new gear only to find that same gear in the back of the closet when we do our spring cleaning a few months from now. Why do we make resolutions in the first place and why don't they stick?

I believe that we make resolutions for a few reasons- 1) peer or family pressure, and 2) eternal optimism. With the former, external pressure to make changes might be an initial motivator but won't allow us to maintain those changes. It's a stick without a carrot. The latter is just the opposite, in my opinion, the undying hope that maybe this year will be different, that we have it within ourselves to be better people, that if we only try YET AGAIN to make changes, THIS is the time they'll be successful. Neither of these are bad reasons to make resolutions or life changes, but I don't believe that they are enough to make lasting changes. 

If you change for another person, no matter what the reason, you're not fully investing yourself in that change. It's not happening because you want the end result but because you know someone who does or who won't stay if you don't change. Better to consider their request as one factor in a list of pros and cons for making the change YOU want to make. List all the positive results AND all the negative consequences AS THEY WOULD HAPPEN TO YOU. If your spouse wants you to lose weight because they're worried about your health, list all the health benefits you would attain from losing weight and all the repercussions for staying at your current weight (including the possibility of adding more) and determine for yourself if the benefits outweigh the costs. Quitting smoking? Not just because your partner wants you to, but because you will reduce the risk of cardiovascular events, breathe more easily, and be able to live a longer, healthier life with more time for your family. 

Be realistic. I always tell my patients that if they have a drinking problem, I'm not going to tell them to quit cold-turkey, but I do want them to stop drinking before noon. Then, before 4. Then every other day. We sabotage ourselves by creating unrealistic goals and then being unable to stick to them because we don't change everything in our lives to make it more convenient for us to stick with the changes. Want to drink more water? Add an extra water bottle to your daily intake or make sure you drink a full glass of water before each meal. Want to exercise more? Start with stretching for 10 minutes every morning, a 20 minute walk on your lunch break or scrolling through the yoga video options on Netflix and adding some to your queue. By making realistic changes you are providing yourself with an opportunity for sustainable life changes that will lead you to your goals. Try working backwards when planning- where do you want to be in 12 months? What goals need to have been met in 6 months for you to be on track to meet that year-end goal? How about in 3 months? Next month? Next week? break it down to doing one or two simple steps every day that will allow you to reach your objective in a measured and attainable way.

Finally, create your own cheering squad. Tell a few friends and family members (those who you find supportive) what your goals are long-term and how you're meeting them this week. Make sure you tell SOMEONE; this will make you accountable in your mind and will make it less likely that you will quit. Offer unconditional support to them on their goals and provide them with a sounding board for their challenges. It is my hope that all my patients will make realistic, sustainable changes in their lives in 2012 and will find themselves at the end of the year healthier and happier than they began it. Happy New Year!

 

Legacies

November 29, 2011

I had the wonderful experience of going to a musician's memorial the other night. Dave Conant, a mentor to my partner and a friend to my partner's family, passed away ten years ago. His daughter, widow, and friends decided to hold a wild night of music and memories in his honor, providing a large part of Seattle's music scene an opportunity for remembrance and celebration of his life at Hale's Palladium, the venue for the local Moisture Festival. I only knew a very few people and was initially uncomfortable to be the odd man out, but quickly found myself enjoying the music and feelings of camaraderie I found there. It was a very touching tribute, telling me as much about his friends and family as it did about the man himself.

Last night, my partner and I got to talking about what he wanted to pass on to his son. I was thinking in terms of tangibles and he meant values and lessons. This led us to a discussion about parenting, me questioning the best ways to pass on lessons to kids at different stages of development, what values are important to pass on and how to get the message across. These kinds of discussions are ones I cherish the most with my partner; I learn more about him and come to respect him even more each time we talk about serious issues because of his thoughtful and thought-provoking musings. He had recently watched Pearl Jam's documentary "20" and came away with the idea that we, as parents, try to instill a set of "guard rails" to help our kids survive and thrive in society, but it's the kids who push against the guard rails at an early age that become breakout stars in their field.

I look around and see so many parents struggling for the fine line between being overly permissive and being resented by their kids by being too strict. I struggle with my own experiences with finding my niche in our combined family, developing a relationship with my partner's son is on my mind a lot. I love him to pieces, I want to be of support to him as he grows into a young man, I have the best intentions. Hell, I even have a degree in Human Development (with a focus on early child development) and a minor in Psychology and some of the time, it doesn't help a damn bit because I'm fumbling in the dark when it comes to our interactions. It's not my responsibility to raise him, to teach him my values. I understand that, but I also believe that as a human being I have a responsibility to be a good role model for any child in my life, be they family, friend, or patient. I feel honored that I have an opportunity to share experiences with some pretty special young people and I want to be a positive influence, something that helps them as they grow and learn to be good people.

Growing up, I thought my parents and grandparents knew everything there was to know about raising kids. I never questioned whether I was loved, I never was abused, I rarely even THOUGHT about disobeying them (though it's true that if there wasn't an explicit rule for a given situation, I might be found carving my initials in the bathroom door and blaming my sister for framing me). Now, I find myself missing my deceased grandfather because I feel he would be better able to get a handle on things in our house, he would know what to do to restore order. Or questioning my mother at dinner the other week, trying to find out what her secret was, how she got the three of us girls to do what she said almost every time just by lowering her voice and narrowing her eyes. How my father could tell us we were going to do chores and we just DID them. I never resented them and never questioned that they were doing the right thing, but I find myself envying them sometimes. How will I ever get a two-year old to put on clothes that are appropriate for the given weather? How will I keep a ten-year old from starving to death when he won't eat vegetables or food that doesn't come from a box? And, dear lord, what in the world can I do when my kids get old enough to date, to drive, to sneak out at night, to have SEX?!? What kinds of values can I instill in them that will keep them alive, happy, and successful in whatever way they define? How will I prepare them, share the best things that I've learned with them to help them in their lives?

Maybe it's too soon to be worrying about these things, without a child of my own yet, but I think it's good to have these discussions with myself, and with my family and friends, to continuously develop ways to live a life consistent with my values so that I can honestly say when I leave this world that the kids in my life knew who I was and what I stood for and that I made a positive difference in their lives.

New Year, New Dreams!

December 29, 2010

It's time to take a leap! The New Year is upon us and it's time for change, expanding into our dreams and reaching for success In that vein, I am curtailing my hours in Bellevue and expanding them here in Ballard. In addition to my normal full days on Tuesday and Thursday and my half-day on Saturday, I will be in the office on Fridays from 9am-1 pm.

Because of my desire to continue to serve the community that I live in, these expanded hours come at the same time as a new promotion that we are offering at Stone Turtle Health in the month of January. For every new patient visit in January, I am donating $10 to the Ballard Food Bank, a local non-profit that has been serving Ballard families since the mid-1970's. I am a strong believer in the healing power of food and support their mission wholeheartedly as they provide sustenance to local families in need. If you are a current patient, please pass on the word to your friends and family to increase our donations in the month of January.

February will see Stone Turtle Health celebrating its third anniversary in business, and our second anniversary in the Ballard Wellness Clinic. Look for more blog posts about reflections on an anniversary and February anniversary specials soon!

Wishing you and yours a Happy and Healthy New Year!

Dr. Katie Baker

Tis The Season

December 1, 2010

So many families celebrate holidays this winter, whether it's Thanksgiving, Ramadan, Hanukkah, Christmas, Beltaine, or New Year's Eve. There's a deeply entrenched need to celebrate the good fortune of the past year, express gratitude and love for our family and friends, and shout out into the darkness that there will be a day when the sun returns with life. And there are as many ways to celebrate as there are families and individuals. Many people have a large traditional family gathering; some forgo the hoopla as they use winter as a time to reflect on their past year and their coming one, whether through formal New Year's Resolutions or through their chosen religious or spiritual practices.

In our family, Christmas was celebrated at no fewer than 5 houses, due to divorce and extended family celebrations. As exciting and energizing as the constant whirlwind of holidays with lots of cousins, even more presents, and even MORE treats, it was also quite a hassle for our parents to spend the majority of the holiday driving to the next place. As a teenager, holidays held the promise of getting to see family members I had a special connection with but were also the cause of much sighing and eye-rolling, and not a few tears as I struggled with an awkward adolescence and never seemed to be able to buy the right thing, dress the right way, or say the proper words. As a young adult, in school for an eternity, I was never able to afford the gifts I wanted to give. Rarely did Christmas measure up to the memories of my childhood (when, of course, my parents did the shopping, everyone else did the cooking, scheduling, cleaning, and party preparations). Lately, holidays seem to be about running through the stores at the last minute to cross another item off of my gift list, fighting traffic, and trying to make sure I can spend time with family and still see enough patients to make the January rent.

I'm fortunate in so many ways. To have my beautiful family, my beautiful clinic, wonderful friends and mentors who support me throughout the ugly business of birthing a dream is such a gift. I now, like many people before me, have lost friends and family who meant so much to me. Not only do I miss them every day, but their loss gives me another reminder that what I have is so precious. The past few years have been rough, but at least I'm still around to celebrate. This year, I'm planning to immerse myself in family (hold the politics & religion, please), show each of my friends how much they mean to me, not with gifts necessarily but by striving to be fully present with them and letting how much I cherish them shine through, and take some time to assess the past year both professionally and personally so that next year can be even better. What do you do for the holidays? Do you enjoy it? If not, what would you rather be doing and why?

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.

Community Economy

September 28, 2009

With friends losing jobs left and right, my patients losing insurance benefits because of job cuts and skyrocketing premiums, and my own struggle to continue living my dream while working 2 (or more) jobs, I've been thinking a lot about our local economy. How to support it, how to survive in it, how to make sure there still is one.

I take advantage of sites like Freecycle.com, Craigslist (buying and selling nonessentials) and Dibspace to find deals or trades for services. My sister grows my vegetables, gives me eggs from her hens and makes me goat cheese in exchange for supplements for her family. My friends and I trade services, hold potlucks, and do volunteer work to gain access to fun activities, like sailing at the Center for Wooden Boats or catching the Ballard Jazz Festival. It's starting to feel like I'll never leave the college mentality (cheap!) behind. And maybe that's not such a bad thing. The wealth of experiences is so much greater- I'd rather catch a show backstage as a volunteer than pay $50 or more to sit in the audience.I'm picking up some awesome sailing and boat repair tips long before I can afford to buy my own sailboat and I can trade volunteer hours for hours on the water.

But let's face it, rent has to be paid in dollars. So do utilities, credit card payments, student loans, insurance, etc. I've been doing a lot of my economy-thinking about how I vote with my dollar. I currently belong to the Seattle City Light Green Up program, which charges an extra $12/month to purchase all your electricity from green sources. I shop at PCC, Trader Joe's, and Fred Meyer for what I can't get from family or make at home. Which isn't a lot, but, in the usual way of things all seems to be needed at the same time. These might be the first things to go and it saddens me to have to give up things I feel strongly about because the resources aren't there to support my values.

When I found out that my favorite DJs were let go from their positions at my favorite radio station, in favor of an out-of-towner, brought in by another out-of-towner who wanted to "shake things up", I didn't have to think about the right thing for me to do. Having spent a large chunk of my first year's marketing budget on advertising through the station, I emailed the new Program Director and notified him that I would be taking my business elsewhere in the future. I didn't just sign on to be a part of their neighborhood spotlight program because it made good sense monetarily. I did it because the DJs showed a consistently strong regard for the local community and its causes. They were forever promoting new charity events and sharing stories about their experiences here in our town.

I do my best to support small businesses in my community, like Sweet Lily Salon in Ballard and Belltown Insurance Group, either through offering them my own business or, when i can't do that, referring my friends to them as much as possible so that they can pay their rent, too. If you like the polished concrete floors in the office- those were courtest of PND Contractors NW, another local business. We got them for a partial trade. The website video was courtesy of Dave Mendel of DMP Media in Magnolia. Our print ads come from Shanna Wilson, a local graphic artist just starting out. Website design from Mindfly Web Studios of Bellingham. If you've driven by and seen our sign out front when we're in the office, that's thanks to City Light Signs, just down the street by Apex Automotive where they keep my car in top condition. Business lunches are usually taken at Perche No Pasta and Vino in Wallingdord, dinners at The Luau Polynesian Lounge in Tangletown.

When it comes to healthcare, there is a delicate balance between making sure that your community is taken care of and making sure your doors stay open. I've been fortunate enough to find a solid group of tenants in my office to help with the rent and this has contributed greatly to my ability to offer discounts to almost everyone who walks in my door. At the same time, I feel like I'm giving a leg up to new business owners who want to begin the process of helping others but don't have a large budget. Everyone in my office is committed to helping our community become healthier and stronger.

In closing, my favorite quote from what is an old, over-quoted chestnut of a movie: "Just remember this, Mr. Potter, that this rabble you're talking about... they do most of the working and paying and living and dying in this community. Well, is it too much to have them work and pay and live and die in a couple of decent rooms and a bath?"

Healthy Love

August 2, 2009

One of the factors that determines how well we cope with stress is the extent and connection of our support system. Family, friends, co-workers,mentors, and health professionals (spiritual, mental, and physical) all provide the assistance we need to deal with life's daily upsets as well as with major traumatic events and personal grief. The level to which we unburden ourselves on others can become unhealthy if taken to either extreme. While relying too much on the web of caring indivudlas who make up our community can leave us unpracticed in making our own decisions, feeling insecure, or out of control of our own lives, not taking the time to confide in another person puts us at greater risk for mental and physical health concerns, a sense of isolation, and limits our ability to truly develop sympathetic relationships with others. Finding a true balance will allow us to gain strength from those who hold our best interests at heart, who may be able to approach our own volatile emotional situations more dispassionately and provide us with much-needed objectivity. The best support comes from relationships that allow individuals the opportunity to make their own decisions but honestly reflect back the consequences of those decisions, for good or ill.

As a member of someone else' s support network, it can be challenging to provide love and support without judging, without overstepping boundaries in an attempt to help and without taking their problems on yourself or seeing them through the filters of your own subjective experiences. In many ways, though, having an opinion or a past experience that colors your interactions can be a positive thing, if you are able to frame your conversations in a way that best benefits the person seeking your advice and you don't get caught up in your own issues. Bringing a calm, nonjudgemental but differing viewpoint to the table can offer wonderful insights to the person struggling with the problem. In the end, everyone has to make their own decisions, in their own time. Just as you could not force someone to take care of themselves physically, you also can not force them to take care of their heart and soul, no matter how pure your intentions. The best you can do is to provide the support and unconditional love that will help them make the deicions that are right for them as you maintain a healthy distance that is right for you.

Seeking balance is never easy and there are many opportunities to fall out of equilibrium, many issues of our own that we deal with when watching a loved one. However, the perpetual exercise of returning to center ourselves strengthens our ability to take care of those around us when they need us most.