Tuesday, 25 February 2014

Mental Health Monday errr... Tuesday - Hi there its me


      Write now I'm sitting in a lecture, listening to a man talk about people from a long, long time ago and how you can age those skeletons. Apparently the Egyptians were pretty damn hungry considering in the lecture slideshow there was a picture of Egyptian carvings which showed the ribs of the skeletons. That makes me sad, it also makes me wonder how many ancient Egyptians were killed for mental health disorders because unlike hunger they couldn't be physically seen. Either way I'm starting to get a headache and I'm counting down the minutes until this lecture is over. 

      Why am I writing about this on a delayed Mental Health Monday post? Because I made it to this lecture and even though I'm only half paying attention now as I write this. I took notes for the first hour. Considering that I haven't made it to half of my anthropology classes for this particular lecture since the beginning of January when this term started, I'm pretty damn proud that I came and made notes.

     Because when you have depression, sometimes class doesn't happen, sometimes anxiety attacks happen and burrowing under blankets while hiding from the world happens instead. So yeah, I'm not entirely paying attention to the last twenty minutes of this lecture but so what. I'm here I've listened to the majority of this lecture and I took notes, so good for me.

   If you're reading this and judging me right now, whatever, go for it, I'm not writing this for you. I'm writing this for anyone else out there who might be suffering from a mental illness like depression to let you know that if you got out of bed and brushed your teeth today you are amazing. Its the little things that count, and my message to you is:

 YOU        ARE       AWESOME      BECAUSE     YOU     ARE     YOU !




Saturday, 22 February 2014

The Weekly Herb- The Rose

      I just can't believe its Saturday already. This past week was my reading week and as such I had no classes and lots of extra time to sleep and sleep I certainly did... in the past few days breakfast has been delayed from 9am to about 11am and I am almost always to be found lounging about in my bed. But now both classes, waking up early and the daily drudge so to speak are only a weekend away...le sigh... Anyways, it is Saturday and so as I munch on my rather stale Countrystyle muffin which I bought twenty minutes ago and my far tastier German Chocolate Cake Keurig Coffee, it is time to write my weekly herb post. 

    I recently bought a rose scented candle (of the $0.99) variety, at Micheals (an arts and crafts store that I love wandering through). Considering its price, the candle is itself not of the greatest quality and the rose scent isn't natural, but I still enjoyed the hint of spring its rosey scent reminds me of, even if the rose is artificial. Which is why I've decided to write about Roses in this week's post, even if a rose isn't strictly an herb.



A Little Bit of History


      Perhaps the most ancient herb I have written of so far, the rose is known to have existed at least 35 million years ago as noted by fossil evidence. It is believed that roses were first grown in gardens around five to six thousand years ago in Asia, this ultimately cemented its prized place in humanities gardens. Like Ancient Asia, the rose garden quickly flourished in Roman grounds. In addition to gaining a place in Roman gardens, the Romans also quickly associated the rose with love by using it both as a perfume, and wedding confetti. Around the same time in Greek society, the rose became associated with love through an association with the Greek goddess Aphrodite who according to Greek mythology, named the rose, even though the rose was created by the Goddess of flowers Chloris. In India, the goddess Lakshmi was even created out of roses to in order to create a bride for the Hindu god Vishnu.


 


        During the fifteenth century the history of the rose took a step away from its symbolism as love and instead become symbolic of the fight for kingship in Britain between the Lancaster family represented by the red rose and the York family represented by the white rose. The rose became so significant to the feud for the throne that this part of English history is now referred to as the 'war of the roses'.


Medical Properties:


       The American National Centre for Biotechnology Information has recently concluded that rose essential contains antioxidant, antibacterial and antimicrobial properties. In addition, aromatherapists also cite the rose as an anti-depressant as well as containing properties which are beneficial for both the skin and menstrual problems.

Magical Properties


Love: Dates to Roman wedding's, Hindu and Greek Mythology
Protection: Presumably originates from love
Healing: Due to its association with anti-depressants, and as an antioxidants
Psychic Powers: Presumably due to its association with anti-depressants 
Planet: Venus
Element: Water


Sources:



Monday, 17 February 2014

Mental Health Monday- 'Acceptance is the Key to be Truly Free'

     


     While indie music usually comprises my listening material, I do listen to pop music even if I find that most of the lyrics are absolute garbage, like Ke$ha & Pitbull's Timber. But sometimes even pop culture and pop music produces a gem, such as Katy Perry's most recent hit Unconditionally.

       In the dictionary, unconditional is defined as being that which is not limited by conditions. The concept of the "unconditional" is something almost entirely foreign in today's society. Even marriage, something tradition has deigned means "till death do us part" has been influenced by conditions. Rather than trusting in a couple's love for each other, society encourages couples to sign pre-nuptial agreements and place conditions on their divorce before they are even wed.

      Considering that the unconditional is practically foreign in today's society it is no surprise that everyday people evaluate each other's normalcy on a variety of social conditions... clothing, makeup (woman or man because heaven forbid a man express himself by wearing makeup), dialect, education, and of course, mental health. In many way mental health vetoes many of the other conditions mentioned in relegating a person to the abnormal, even if they conform in every other way to society because if they have a bad day, week, month, year etc. due to a mental disorder then they are decidedly not normal and perhaps even crazy. In my opinion it is not those who experience mental health disorders that are abnormal but those who judge them.


     According to the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA), 20% of all Canadians will experience a mental health disorder during their lifetime. To put that in perspective, that means approximately 7 MILLION CANADIANS WILL EXPERIENCE MENTAL HEALTH DISORDERS, that is about 90% of the population of Quebec. Could you imagine if an entire province was deemed abnormal and incapable just because they didn't meet a certain set of standards of conditions imposed by society? Canada's economy would crash.




    Considering Canada's economy hasn't crashed, that means that the majority of those 7 million people living with mental health disorders are capable enough to hold steady jobs, and contribute positively to Canadian society, whatever society thinks of them.

    Its long past time to abolish the stereotypes surrounding mental illness and as Katy Perry sings in her recent hit, "walk through the storm" side by side with the surprisingly normal people suffering from mental illness.



Sources:

CMHA

Saturday, 15 February 2014

The Weekly Herb - Cinnamon



       Thank the Universe for Saturdays, and Reading Week! After a rather long midday nap and a lot of doing nothing except eating homemade Pillsbury cinnamon buns with my boyfriend this morning I decided to actually get around to doing something even if it is my hobby :p. And so with no further ado, I present this Week's Herb, cinnamon!

Photo Credit: History.com

A Little Bit of History:


        Humans have been using cinnamon for a very, very, very long time, around 2000 B.C. it was used by the ancient Egyptians as part of their embalming process. Then, around 65 A.D. it is believed that the Roman Emperor Nero burnt enormous quantities of cinnamon along with his wife's funeral pyre in recompense for the role he played in her death. During the middle ages. Arab merchants wove elaborate stories about the origins of cinnamon to enable them to maintain the high prices they sold cinnamon for:
Photo Credit: Sacred Earth

" One such story, related by the 5th-century B.C. Greek historian Herodotus, said that enormous birds carried the cinnamon sticks to their nests perched high atop mountains that were insurmountable by any human. According to the story, people would leave large pieces of ox meat below these nests for the birds to collect. When the birds brought the meat into the nest, its weight would cause the nests to fall to the ground, allowing the cinnamon sticks stored within to be collected. " -History.com

      In 1518 when European traders discovered cinnamon in Ceylon, now known as Sri Lanka, cinnamon trade fell into the hands of the Dutch for approximately another 150 years. However, by 1800 the exclusivity of cinnamon had been lost as it began to be cultivated in other locations around the word and its place of novelty had been replaced by a delicacy known as chocolate.

Medical Properties:


       According to U.S. National Library of Medicine, cinnamon is used to treat a wide array of ailments such as, nausea & gassiness, the common cold and diabetes. However the U.S. National Library of Medicine also clearly stated that more research needed to be done to determine the definite extent to which cinnamon is helpful in curing such ailments.

                                                                       Magical Properties:

-Love
-Lust
-Passion
-Success
-Healing
-Protection
-Spirituality

Element: Fire
Planet: Sun

Sources:

Tuesday, 11 February 2014

Random Thoughts on Depression, Procrastination and Today


       Right now I'm sitting in bed, scrolling aimlessly through the web while my english texts stare at me from the corner of the room reminding me that I'm supposed to be studying for my english midterm tomorrow morning. But then I click on another youtube video, scroll through another blog and my english home work melts a little further into the background, not gone but a little farther away, a little less and more important in the same breath.

    When I look out the window everything is covered in snow, the sky is grey and the only thing that inspires me to do anything with my life while facing this way is the heat creeping into my toes from the heater below the window which I'm resting my feet on. I don't plan on letting myself get really depressed today but sometimes these things can be hard to prevent, which is in part why I'm writing this post at this very moment. Blogging keeps my mind busy and even if I'm not doing what I should be doing a.k.a. my english homework at least I'm not letting myself sink into a really bad mental place.

      I think in part this weather is really getting to me, maybe if there was some sunshine then I'd have even just a little bit more inspiration to review my english and get things done. I really can't wait for spring. I don't think I've got much more to say right now so I'm going to go and maybe make myself an Irish Cream Tea and get that English studying started before the rest of the day slips through my fingers.

Monday, 10 February 2014

Mental Health Monday - A Quick Look at Today's Stereotypes



       As you can probably tell, this blog post is going to be about mental health. In recent years mental health issues have entered the spotlight as more and more people have decided to step out of the proverbial closet and acknowledge that they are suffering from mental health issues. Along with this recent influx in people acknowledging their mental health issues there has also as of late, been an insurgence of campaigns to create awareness about mental health and in so doing, put a stop to the stigma that is still attached to mental health problems today.

     Despite these initiatives people who experience mental health issues are often still stereotyped as individuals who are making a lot of fuss out of nothing, are making a mountain out of molehill or who are just generally incapable. When I eventually sought out help for my own mental health issues, and was diagnosed with depression someone told me I was "Just getting over a hump". When I first heard those words, I felt something inside me shrink even though the person meant it as encouragement. It made me feel like the way I was feeling was stupid and that I was making a lot out of nothing. Another possible problem, aside from making the person feel more shitty than they already do is that saying something like this could cause the person to go into deeper denial about their mental health problems, preventing them from seeking help.

     In today's modern world, where science has documented the existence of many mental health issues and has also found reasonably effective solutions to these issues, there should be no need for a person to hide their mental health problems on any grounds. To give you an idea of the science behind mental health issues I've included a picture in this post that my boyfriend sent me, portraying several responses to mental health issues as well as a comparison of a "normal" brain to a person suffering from the respective problem.

     As shown in the picture, mental health problems such as, ADHD (Attention Deficit Disorder), OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder), PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) and Depression are scientifically proven medical problems. No person deserves to be ridiculed for a mental health issue that they are experiencing, especially considering the medical research that is accessible everywhere today with the internet.

      It is because of these stereotypes, which still prevail that I've decided to make mental health issues a regular feature on my blog every monday in "Mental Health Monday". In my "Mental Health Monday" features you can look forward to posts on various types of disorders, current campaigns bringing mental health awareness, musings on my own mental health issues and much more...


Be sure to let me know if there's any mental health question in particular that you'd like to see discussed on my blog and I will do my best to find information on it!

If you're experiencing unaddressed mental health issues at this moment, know that it is okay to seek help for yourself! I've included some quick links below to some key phone numbers if you need to speak to someone immediately:

Mental Health Links:


Canada

Ontario's Mental Health Hotline: 1-866-531-2600
Kid's Help phone:  1-800-668-6868
Canadian Mental Health Association 
EMental Health Canada

United States

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255)
National Hopeline: 1-800-SUICIDE (1-800-784-2433)

Click here For More Mental Health Information and Crisis Hotlines both inside and outside Canada and the United States
     

Sunday, 9 February 2014

Mr. Darcy - Meeting my Guinea Pig


       I have been allergic to most creatures for as long as I can remember, and at the same time I have had pets for as long as I can remember. Growing up there was always budgies chirping, puppies barking and guinea pigs squealing- the fish were mostly silent. So even though I am allergic to feathers and fur a pet-lover nonetheless defines a key component of who I am. So while scratching my head trying to figure out what to share with you guys this wintery day I decided to introduce you to one of my fur babies, Mr. Darcy.




      Mr. Darcy found me when I was in Grade 11, in 2011. I was scrolling aimlessly through kijiji at my kitchen table when I came across and advertisement for a baby guinea pig. From the moment I saw that add I knew I was absolutely doomed. I got my mom and showed her the add and low and behold by that evening I had a baby guinea pig barely the size of my palm cupped in my hands. 

      Though Mr. Darcy didn't come from the humane society he was most certainly a rescue. The people whom I bought him from lived in a poorer neighbourhood and had bought two female guinea pigs at the pet store only to realize later that one of them was pregnant. The lady who handed them to me told my mother and I she couldn't afford to feed them all and thus Mr. Darcy was rescued and adopted.



Carrot Face


     When I got him he was barely a month old so I hand fed him until he grew strong and was able to devour the lettuce and guinea pig food without my help. Eating has been his primary occupation ever since. Today it takes two hands to hold all of his love, and he's certainly a far cry from the little piggy that barely fit in my palm. Enough talking here are some pictures of the little darling from when he was growing up three years ago....

Pig on the Roof!


Omnomnomnom


    


NZ7VRT98E5CG

Saturday, 8 February 2014

The Weekly Herb - Feverfew



Feverfew


A little bit of history


     Though it is today known as feverfew this relative of the daisy was known to the Ancient Greeks as parthenium, and is believed to have received this name after being used to treat a person who had fallen from the Parthenon in 5th century BC. Ancient Greek physicians originally used feverfew as a treatment "to reduce inflammation and treat menstrual cramps"*. In Medieval Europe it was believed feverfew could offer protection from the plague and was planted around European homes for its protective qualities.


Medical Properties:


     Like the Ancient Greeks, today's physicians also turn to feverfew to solve a variety of problems such as inflammation. Scientists originally though that parthenolide, a substance found within feverfew was the certain factor which gave feverfew its medical properties however it is unknown today which part or substance within the plant contains the most beneficial medical property. Currently physicians are studying the connection between feverfew and the treatment of migraine pain as well as its possible use for treatment of arthritis. 

Magical Properties


Protection: Arose from the belief in Medieval Europe that it could protect inhabitants from the plague
Protection While Traveling: Little information on where the traveling aspect in specific originates but is likely related to its general protection qualities
Health:Originates from its long medicinal use

Planet: Venus
Elements: Water, Earth










Sources:




Friday, 7 February 2014

The Book Thief - Thoughts on the Book

      With its recent presentation on the big screen The Book Thief has become increasingly popular over the past month and after having just finished reading the book yesterday I can't say that this is a bad thing. But to get things started here's a bit of background on the book...

The Book Thief

Markus Zusak
Published by Knopf in 2005

Back of the Book:

       It is 1939. Nazi Germany. The country is holding its breath. Death has never been busier, and will become busier still.

       Liesel Meminger is a foster girl living outside of Munich, who scratches out a meager existence for herself by stealing when she encounters something she can't resist-books. With the help of her accordion-playing foster father, she learns to read and shares her stolen books with her neighbors during bombing raids as well as with the Jewish man hidden in her basement. 

My Thoughts

       The only word which I can gather to describe this book is, superb. From being to end, the plot, the attention to detail, the characterization, the historical nature and the emotional depth of the book were simply superb. I personally loved how the narrator was the grim reaper or death, I found the morbid anecdotes and dry commentary, on what I guess could ironically be called life as death, enhanced the dimensions of the story. By this I mean that rather than seeing and understanding the story solely through the eyes of Liesel and the immediate knowledge of the other characters, death helps to contextualize the story by weaving it into the greater horrors which Nazi Germany spread across the globe in the Second World War. Another point I found especially refreshing was that the story was placed in Germany, and told from the perspectives of mainly German characters who weren't born Jews. 

        Given the horrors that the Nazis committed in the Second World War during the Shoah or Holocaust, it is both reasonable and compassionate that most of the fictional literary pieces are told from the perspectives of the victims to ensure that their side of the story is not only heard but never forgotten. I think however that the Shoah needs to be examined from all perspectives, not all Germans were monsters or willingly joined the Nazi party, yet the horrors of the Holocaust still occurred. Without understanding what the ordinary German citizen experienced it is impossible to fully comprehend or prevent such terror from occurring again. 

      It is upon this basis that I found it refreshing to read a novel which took place during the Holocaust from the perspective of a German girl, her family and her friends. Though the story was fictional, it was nice to be reminded that though Nazism enveloped Germany in obsession, there were those who resisted the movement. It is important to be reminded that not all Germans were Nazi supporters and monsters because by making such a grand generalization it is too easy to right off the Holocaust as something that could never happen again. However by acknowledging that during the Second World War Germans were humans just like us, we are brought into the continual if subconscious vigilance needed to remind us that if we blindly follow the philosophies of leaders the Shoah could most certainly happen again, as Death astutely observed in The Book Thief, it was after all, Hitler's use of ideology and words that won him the control of Germany's mind. 

Thursday, 6 February 2014

Winter Weather

Even as the cold drags on and I dream of being in a warmer place preferable somewhere with sand... and a beach... where there aren't ice chunks floating in the water, I can't help but appreciate the beauty of the snow on the trees.








Saturday, 1 February 2014

The Weekly Herb - Thyme

       Its Friday night so I could like many other stereotypical university students head out to a bar or a club or something for what I'm sure many people believe is the best way to have a good time. But then again clubs are rather gross in my opinion too many sweaty drunk people spilling their drinks searching for someone to satisfy their alcohol-enhanced lusty appetites. Thank the earth I am not one of those people who has such a narrow perception of a good time.




      Now that I've had that mini rant about clubs and other such unappetizing things, I'll get to the point of what I'm going to talk about in today's post herbs, herbs, more herbs, and well witchcraft. For a few months now I've been on a spiritual quest to figure out what I believe and over the course of my spiritual travels I've discovered that I experience my spirituality through witchcraft. No, I am not a Wiccan nor do I follow their rituals or belief system, I respect their beliefs but have found they simply don't match my own. I'll get more into my witch spiritual pathway in future but for today I'm going to focus on one of the main ways I experience my connection with nature and the universe, through herbs.

     Before you get excited I'm not talking about getting stoned, I've never done pot and I never plan to, it simply doesn't interest me. The herbs I'm talking about and that interest me are quite literally the garden variety, like sage, basil, pepper and thyme. To increase my own understanding and knowledge of these such herbs and to share my findings with others who are interested in the more spiritual properties of herbs, I've decided to feature and discuss an herb on my blog each week i.e. the Weekly Herb.

     This week I'm going to delve into the herbal history of thyme, mainly because as I am typing this I have no clue about what magical properties thyme is considered to hold.

     A day later.........

Thyme


A little bit of history



   In the Roman era thyme was the favourite herb of emperors as it was believed to protect those who ate it from poison.. The Ancient Egyptians on the other hand reserved thyme as an embalming fluid for those who had already deceased, as they believed that it would guide the spirit on its travels in the afterlife. In the Middle Ages thymes was considered to represent courage and bravery, as such it was held that receiving an sprig of thyme from a fellow soldier held great honour. Soldiers in the Middle Ages also often wore a sprig of thymes when going into battle. Like the Romans and the Ancient Egyptians, the Victorians also held their own beliefs about the properties of thyme. In the forests of Victorian England patches of wild thyme were believed quite staunchly to be the places where faeries has spent the night dancing.

Medical Properties


     The Roman's weren't too far off in evaluating thyme as a medicinal herb, today the active ingredient of thyme called thymol is a strong antiseptic used in mouthwash, hand sanitizer and acne medication.

Magical properties


-Bravery: originates from the Middle Ages
-Courage: "
-Protection: originates from Roman beliefs about poison, and from the 1300's when people used thyme to ward of the Black death
-To invite faeries: originates from the Victorian belief that wild thyme grew where faeries had dance the night before
-Purification and Healing: derived from its medicinal properties
-Psychic Powers: I've come across this property on numerous sites about herbalism but I am unsure about where its association with thyme originated.
-Sleeping: "

Associations


Planets: Venus and Mercury
Element: Water


Sources:

History.com
The Smart Witch

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