Everyone Gets Their Own Private Space

My “office” is the third bedroom in our house. Past the boxes of books that I have yet to unpack (we’ve lived here almost four years), down the hall, last door on the left. It’s the only room with a closet, so all of our clothes are hanging in their, pretty much intermingled. Bryan’s dresser is in there, as is the exercise machine (useful for piling clothes on). A bunch of office stuff and a large pile of my clean clothes which have no place to be put. It’s not a nice space to be in, which explains part of why I don’t spend a lot of time in there. But I want to change that.

Then, part of me tried to argue that I was being selfish. But what’s wrong with that? Everyone needs their own space: no matter how communally-oriented, each long-term resident at Doshinji had a private space to be in, however small. “A room of one’s own” is what Virginia Wolf called it.

We each need and deserve a place to call our own, a place that makes us feel good, a place that helps us get things done by being a place to be alone in.

I hereby give myself permission to create that for myself, here in this home.

My Inner Brat Blues

I’ve decided to name my inner brat Kate, after the biggest brat I know. Then again, that may not be such a good idea.

I think I will name my inner brat Number 6, after the chick in Battlestar Galactica. You know, the seductive yet evil voice that whispers in your ear and gets you to doing things that you’d really rather not be doing and probably wouldn’t if you hadn’t gotten in way over your head so quickly and now have no idea of what to do to deal with it. A bit dramatic perhaps, but an apt description nonetheless. Gaius had it going on till Cylons destroyed his universe. He’s earned the right to lose it. I was just born with genetic predisposition to mood disorders and everyday life often feels like a fight for my life.

So, am I judging myself? Gaius Baltar has the right to lose it in his universe, fictional though it may be, and I, in the real world, have yet to earn that right? Cuz that would be kind of fucked up.

Welcome to the shikantaza of mood disorders. I’ve been reading A Mood Apart and thinking about mood disorders and Zen practice. See, the problem is that mood disorders, such as melancholia/depression and mania/hypomania alter the brain and produce disorganization of the thinking faculty. I think that’s part of why I have such a difficult time with life–I’m constantly fighting myself in some weird way.

And yet, I sense the presence of my inner brat, whispering seductive stories about why I should be indulged. It’s a very seductive story. I could buy into it easily. I don’t know what to do with it, so I guess I’ll just watch.

She’s really good at what she does.

Note bene: Tricia Helfer, who plays Number Six in Battlestar Galactica, is a Canadian from Alberta. Go Tricia! Hey, wait a minute! Tricia Helfer and Grace Park are both Canadian. And they play the two Cylons on the show. Hmmm. It would explain a lot about Stephen Harper. Though he’s getting kind of porky to be a Cylon.

The Joys of Yeast

Nope, this is not a post about brewing beer—I’d be happier if it was. It’s about the bugaboo that affects all women, sooner or later, the yeast infection. Candidiasis if you prefer the medical term. However you describe it, it is always a pain in the… well, you know what.

Note for the guys: You should know about this health issue that affects the women you love.

My first impulse is the run to the doctor and ask for a prescription for Diflucan. One pill and your yeast is gone, hooray! But I’m concerned about how many different medications that I’m asking my body to process: anti-depressants, anti-psychotics, and NSAIDs. Plus all the supplements I take to help support my body. My poor liver has a lot to process and I really don’t want to throw in a powerful anti-fungal to the mix.

So hooray for Wikipedia and their inclusion of the following on home remedies for candidiasis:

Home remedies for candidiasis include the consumption or direct application of yogurt, which contains lactobacillus (probiotics, “friendly” bacteria that kill yeast), acidophilus tablets or salves, and even lightly crushed cloves of garlic, which yield allicin, an antifungal. Boric acid has also been used to treat yeast infections when gelcaps are filled with boric acid powder and two are inserted at bedtime for three to four nights. Another remedy is to douche with a weak mix of sodium bicarbonate (bi-carb soda) in water (1 teaspoon to 1 cup). Bi-carb soda is alkaline and changes the vagina’s acidity temporarily to a higher alkaline environment in which candida cannot survive.

I knew about the yogurt (much less messy if you use a children’s medicine syringe), but the baking soda was a new idea to me. Here’s hoping I can create a candida-hostile environment naturally.

“Naturally” includes changes to my diet. Now, here’s the controversial part: “systemic candidiasis” is a diagnosis that is not fully accepted by the medical establishment and one with which I have experience. Unfortunately.

About 8-9 years ago, I was diagnosed with “systemic candidiasis” by a doctor in Markham, Ontario. Oddly enough, most everyone who crossed her threshold was given the same diagnosis. Apparently, systemic candidiasis is amazingly prevalent among women who happened to live northeast of Toronto.

I tried to be a good little patient. I ate the completely restrictive (no carbs, no corn, no sugar) diet exclusively. I drank concoctions of some oily substance that was anti-fungal, psyllium powder, and bentonite liquid clay. I replenished my body with acidophilus supplements. I did this for about 2 months.

I had gone to this doctor for relief of severe depression and anxiety symptoms. How enticing that my emotional imbalance could be blamed on a simple overgrowth of yeast releasing toxins into my body. I bought it.

For about eight weeks. Then I had a breakdown, got suicidal, and took a trip to the ER so I could get into the mental health treatment program. I got anti-depressants, anti-anxiety agents, and therapy. After only a couple of weeks on this new regime, I was feeling infinitely better.

So, I’m somewhat loathe to jump whole-heartedly onto the systemic candidiasis scam, er, bandwagon. It’s possible and I believe that some people do have systemic yeast issues. But not nearly as many as some alternative health practitioners would like us to believe.

YMMV, as always.

In any case, I have found that changing my diet without being insane about it actually does help when I have a vaginal yeast infection. Which brings us back to High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS). The anti-candida diet recommends avoiding sugar in any form as well as certain fruits and vegetables, including corn. It’s pretty amazing how many foods contain either corn or a by-product of corn. Kind of scary actually, when you consider that corn is one of the most genetically-modified crops. I don’t think any of the major manufacturer’s are using organic corn to make their HFCS—that wouldn’t be good for the bottom line.

I’ve requested “The Omnivore’s Dilemma” from the public library. The book sounds very interesting. I heard the author speaking on CBC—he discussed the “corn economy” and discusses how food companies are using HFCS as a means of increasing profits: it’s cheap and it leaves it’s consumers craving more. Hey! That sounds a lot like tobacco! Coincidence? I think not!

Nothing like a little murder to start your day

Especially when the being you have to kill is a cute little bunny. Said bunny was gravely injured by our cats and brought into our bedroom as a gift to us (I presume). The poor thing was going to die a slow and painful death unless I took action. Being a good Buddhist (I try to be anyway), I knew I had to help bunny on his/her way to reincarnation and end his/her suffering. I thought breaking its neck with my shovel would be the fastest and least painful end for little bunny. It took longer and needed more blows than I thought it would. I chanted the Emmei Jukku Kannon Gyo for it. And cried. Then I buried the poor creature.

The cats, guilty and yet simply acting according to their nature, will spend the rest of the day inside. Not as punishment for catching a little bunny, but to teach them not to bring their toys into the house. Cats catch bunnies. If they didn’t, we’d be overrun by bunnies.

Nature red in tooth and claw indeed. May we all have a higher rebirth on the occasion of our passing.

Monasticism and Patriarchy

I never really thought about how much patriarchal history has influenced the form and function of monasticism. Like, if being a monk was the best way to “get enlightened”, why did they keep getting their dharma asses kicked by an old lady selling tea and cakes?

There has been a lot of time, energy, and money poured into creating a Buddhist monastic system in many countries. What if that same time, energy, and money were applied to studying how to practice like a little old lady selling tea and cakes. What would that research tell us? How do we train ourselves in the “old lady tea seller” tradition?

It’s not that monasticism is bad per se, it’s not. It’s certainly helped me in my practice in countless ways. I just wonder what it would look like if the little old lady tea sellers designed the training matrix.