Archive | August 2014

Chamomile and Ginger: Two Herbs You Need to Consume More Of

Originally posted May 15th, 2012, this is a short introduction to chamomile and ginger, two herbs that are very powerful for healing and for coping with allergies in particular.


Chamomile and Ginger: Two Herbs You Need to Consume More Of

We all have herbs and spices in our cupboards. Whether it’s to season a favorite dish or to brew as our favorite tea, herbs and spices make our lives better.

Two of the most common herbs in our pantries are also the most useful-particularly for digestive problems: ginger and chamomile.

Ginger. Used extensively in Asian cuisine and Chinese medicine, ginger is a natural anti-histamine, particularly for food allergies-without the side effects of other antihistamines. Especially good for stomach issues like nausea, ginger is also one of your best lines of defense against colds and flues. Best yet, ginger does not put you to sleep like many OTC anti-histamines.

Two of the best ways to take ginger are 1) slice fresh ginger root thinly and float in a clear soda like sprite or ginger-ale and 2) eat candied ginger. Candied ginger is widely available in Asian grocery stores and Asian herbal stores or you can make it at home. A good recipe is at also has a good candied ginger at

Chamomile. Most of us have enjoyed a cup of chamomile tea to help us fall asleep. But chamomile is much more than just a sleep aid. It helps with a wide range of digestive issues like indigestion, stomach cramps, nausea, and diarrhea. I’ve found chamomile to be helpful in relieving the extreme pain I experience from food allergies. It won’t stop the anaphylaxis, but it absolutely mitigates much of the discomfort while you wait for the allergen to pass out of your system, making it a powerful partner for ginger in helping with food allergies. A noted sleep aid, chamomile is one of your best and most natural remedies for insomnia. Read these and more uses at

Want a great tea? Try mixing chamomile with green tea or with English (culinary) lavender for a double dose of health. With single cup infusers (my favorite infuser is the Smart Tea Maker from Enjoying Tea mix 1 tsp loose green tea with 1 tsp loose chamomile and 1 tsp English lavender, add hot water, and brew for 4 ½ to 5 minutes. The lavender will add to chamomile’s headache relief so be sure to add it if you suffer from migraines for natural relief.


Aisin-gioro Pu Yi Is Dead

1922 at the age of 16. Emperor in name only.

One hundred years ago, I lived in the Forbidden City.  From 7th February 1906 to 17th October 1967, my spirit was known by the name Aisin-gioro Pu Yi, the Xuan Tong Emperor.  I was the last emperor of the Qing dynasty, a life that was used against me early in this life, as if being reborn as Laurel A. Rockefeller was merely a continuation of who and what I was before.

Can it be any wonder that in “The Ghosts of the Past” many of my characters have exactly the same problem, continuing in each new incarnation as if they still lived as each previous self?


I remember one of the earliest rituals done to me as a little girl, memories burned into my mind because they were so hurtful.  In a circle of candles a small Manchu-style crown was placed.  The dagger used to cut my throat just below the left ear was covered in Chinese characters in a message conveying some sort of evil purpose.  In the ritual, my former life was evoked many times.  I was still responsible for my mistakes, they said, mistakes born out of a very different time and situation.  On my head they placed guilt, claiming that I was responsible for the millions slaughtered in my name as the Emperor of Manchukuo — a paper emperor.

I was a coward, unwilling or unable to stand up for myself, to counter the relentless humiliations and bullying.  On one hand, people flattered me with “wan sui,” the traditional salute calling for an emperor to reign ten thousand years.  They bowed and called me by honorific titles.  But at the same time, they bullied me and demeaned me, constantly playing mind games and controlling me.

My spirit never broke, but I found myself very lost.


Evoking the past made me start this life feeling just as lost as I was in the 1940s.  That was by design, of course, to make me think that God hated me for “letting” the Japanese commit their crimes.  As if I could really be responsible for the concentration camps across Manchuria.  As if my hand slaughtered the countless civilians in 1937 in Nanjing.  Guilt, sorrow, despair.  How can a three year old be yoked with such as these?

As emperor of Manchukuo

On top of this, my church called me “evil sorceress” for saying no when my body was sexually violated.  What their logic was, I cannot understand.  No three year old is a sexual wanton!


Still through these dark times, I remember feeling as if someone watched over me in a truly kind and loving way.  In my dreams, I saw him in the guise of a medieval knight like in the stories of King Arthur, my own appearance like a fine English princess locked up in a tower like in the storybooks.

In my dreams, my “prince charming” told me all was not lost, that I was me, not Pu Yi.  He said he did not know where I was, but he would find me and rescue me from my despair.  He said he loved me.  He said he has always loved me across every life, every incarnation.  Fear not!  Believe in tomorrow!  Believe in love and true love’s kiss.  For he would never stop searching for me until he found me — even unto the ends of the world.


I only heard him in my dreams.  I only knew him on the deepest levels of my mind.  But he never left me.  I still feel him in my dreams.  Only this time I know he lives in England.  This time I have a clue who he is.


With my feelings of loss and isolation over the completion of Boudicca, I chose to watch the movie, The Last Emperor, the story of the life I lived as Henry Pu Yi.  One might call that emotional torture — not the thing you really want to watch when you are already feeling lonely and sad.  But I am rather pleased with how I handled it.  Before I would get lost in those memories.  Tonight I finished the movie (half last night; half tonight) mostly feeling just the weight of all that bullying.

I have been told that I am too humble, that I do not credit myself enough for my abilities and my accomplishments.  What really struck me about the movie was just how relentlessly I was bullied and controlled.I was never granted the freedom of normal men; everyone used me for something.

In some ways, it feels like not much has changed.  And yet it has.  Pu Yi is dead.  Laurel is alive.

How can I ever soar on the wings of success as long as I feel chained into the ground by that yoke put upon me as a little girl.


But here is news and this I hereby affirm:  Pu Yi is dead.  When he died, all responsibility for his actions died with him.  Whatever cowardice characterized his life, I have a new start as Laurel.  His life is his.  My life is mine.  I am Laurel.  I am Laurel.

As Laurel, I get to decide my own future.  I refuse to live Pu Yi’s life anymore.

I live mine.

Love will come to me.  Success is mine already.  My writing is beautiful.  I am beautiful.  Rest in peace, Pu Yi.  Your life is over.  Laurel’s has just begun.

Why Wearing Your Correct Size Makes You Look and Feel Better in Your Clothes

May 14th, 2012

Why Wearing Your Correct Size Makes You Look and Feel Better in Your Clothes

Finding the Right Style Starts With Wearing the Right Size

Have you ever tried on something you really liked on a celebrity or just browsing through the store only to discover that what looks great on THAT person looks absolutely dismal on you? There are probably many reasons for that. The colors are wrong for your skin tone. The proportions in the item clash with yours. You have the wrong under garments on.

But probably one of the biggest reasons we are not satisfied has much more to do with sizing–ours relative to the model’s and the size we are putting on our bodies when we try it on. Wearing the correct size is vitally important for us. Not only because the correct size looks better on us and makes other items worn with it look better, but because of the psychological and physical issues involved with getting our sizes wrong.

Some clothes–like bras–often don’t fit properly because we simply do not know how to measure ourselves and do not know how to properly evaluate when it fits and when it does not. In the April 2012 issue of “Lucky” magazine we receive some real help with bras in their article “Find the Perfect Bra,” which gives detailed measuring instructions, explanations of the different styles of bras, and even some product suggestions. My caveat: the product suggestions are all for high-end brands and retailers like Calvin Klein and Victoria’s Secret. You won’t find a single suggestion under $50–more than a lot of us want to pay for an everyday bra–particularly when there are equally good choices at discount department stores.

But our sizing errors go beyond simply navigating measurements poorly. Often we try to wear the size we feel we OUGHT to wear instead of accepting our bodies as they are and embracing the size we are. We end up caving to airbrushed media images or pressures from romantic partners whose concept of attractive is often based on skewed media images of “healthy” and “attractive.”

When we wear something we know is too small in particular, we create discomfort with our bodies and generate negative body image. Too-small clothes hurt to wear, making us uncomfortable with our bodies and our lives. This in turn makes unhealthy food choices more tempting. I am surprised how powerful this effect is. Recently, I caved to pressure and bought a skirt too small for me. In my entire life I NEVER felt intense cravings for junk food–until I put that skirt on and started wearing it. Pushing into my stomach and abdomen triggers food urges I never had, destroying my natural inclination to eat fruits and vegetables. I don’t like chocolate–but now I’m CRAVING chocolate–which I don’t when my clothes fit right!

This problem of social pressure to be a different size than we really are underlies habits we know are destroying our health. So perhaps we would do better to embrace our right size instead of hurting ourselves trying to conform to an artificial concept of beauty. We eat healthier and exercise more when we are happy with who we are and the bodies we have. Health matters over numbers!

Silk Basics: Mommes and Fabric Types

Originally posted March 1st, 2012


Silk is a fashion mainstay-particularly for formal wear. Spun from un-wound moth cocoons that dine on mulberry leaves (aka silk worms) and woven into a broad range of fabric types, silk is the original luxury fabric. Silk fibers are extremely strong, yet fine in thickness, enabling it to be both extremely wind and puncture resistant, making it the perfect base for armor and the perfect winter coat material (historically Chinese and other East Asian societies wore coats, not cloaks, for winter protection).

Silk is versatile! Yet for all its history and impact on both Asian and European history and cultures, few people understand its weights and fabric types well enough to make truly informed choices at both fabric stores and clothing stores.

Silk weight is measured in a unit called “mommes” (abbreviated mm in textile contexts) which is how many pounds a silk bolt 45 inches wide by 100 yards weigh. The smaller the number, the lighter weight the fabric. The lightest weight silk I’ve located is a 3mm silk gauze. By contrast, many silk noils (aka raw silks) will weigh between 30mm and 35mm, depending on where you buy it. That makes the silk noil 10 times heavier than the very light and sheer silk gauze. Your average crepe de chine is in the middle, ranging from 12mm to 16mm. Doupion (i) is typically around 19mm (see for actual fabrics at these weights).

Weight alone will not determine how hot or cold your silk will be to neither wear nor what sort of garments it should be used for- though it is critical to that equation. Weave is the other major consideration needed to make that determination. Weave is about how the fibers are put together-how densely and in what arrangement the threads are interlocked. Weave transcends fibers. Gauze, an open woven fabric, may be made of silk, cotton, linen, or any number of artificial fibers and/or blends. Gauze is, by its nature, at least somewhat sheer-as an open weave, the strands are not very close together. Gauze is highly sought after for veils, sheer blouses or shifts (in historic clothing), and so forth. On the other end of the spectrum are velvets (woven with a deep pile), organzas, silk noils, doupion(i), and brocades (silk brocades are typically silk-rayon blends). Weave is easily seen with the eye-if it looks densely or tightly woven, it’s probably a tight weave.

Combined, momme value and weave will provide you will a good sense of how any given silk fabric can and should be used. From crisp weaves like doupion to softer, more clingy fabrics like habotai (aka China silk) and chiffon, the combinations of weight and weave are almost endless. With a little thought and experimentation, however, you can find a silk that cool for summer, warm for winter, and everything in between.

A Need to Understand

“Creative genius happens when your intellect informs, not strangles, your heart,” I tweeted today in a moment of insight, remembering the diagram that The Secret’s Bob Proctor uses to illustrate the relationship between the conscious mind, the subconscious mind, and the body.


Our intellect does amazing things.  But it is our feeling subconscious where we control our destiny, where the Law of Attraction operates.  Often our intellect and the education we give it seem at war with our feeling and intuitive selves.  But true control of our lives and happiness comes from putting these in harmony.


Across my life, my intellect and my heart have agreed on one thing:  I need to understand.  Not just academically, but to understand the events of my life and the impressions I get from my senses.  “Why?” is at the core of my soul’s response to all the violence, abuse, and pain that characterizes my past.


At almost 43 (December), I have finally moved beyond “why me?” and the self pity of that question.  But I still need to understand, to solve the puzzle, to make rational sense of everything around me.  It is one of my strengths as a scientist and social scientist.  But it can be very self destructive when applied too often to my own life, putting mind and heart in conflict.


On my dream board I have a great Abraham Hicks quote, “Hold the vision and trust that the Universe will acclimate to your vision.  Hold the vision and trust the process.”


You can see where my intellect messes me up, right?


My subconscious will feel something — an impression of something in the Vortex of Creation.  Instead of just running with it, my intellect goes back and says “how do you know you are not being deceived or just believing what you want to believe?”


This is especially true when it comes to one very personal part of my life.  You see across my entire life, in my sleep, I have felt the warm and comforting presence of another mind/soul.  Some might call that “god” but this mind was and is more like a kindred soul — my soul mate perhaps — who has shared my life with me like a best friend might — except from a great physical distance — England it seems like now.


A conventional best friend you speak to with normal sensory channels — your voice, body language, perhaps emails.  But this is a person with whom there’s a very intimate sort of subconscious sharing — like Unimatrix Zero in Star Trek.  Sometimes it feels as if I can detect his mental presence near me when I am awake.

That is the part that frightens my intellect.


Across my life, I’ve been labelled mentally ill — for saying no to sex, for disagreeing with my family’s values and religion, for just thinking for myself.  So anything that smells like it could be misinterpreted by someone — like spiritual or supernatural phenomena — frightens me.

I want everything in my life to be rational and logical.  Except my life isn’t.

Prevailing paradigms across the psychology profession towards which I was trained in university deny the existence of mind/spirit beyond that which can be biochemically quantified.  I bucked that approach in university by focusing on what might be thought of as “traditional” philosophical psychology — seeing humans as more than just a bunch of neurons, as beings that transcend and exist beyond the confines of our brains.

This is rational for someone who has suffered numerous mortal wounds.   Science after all tells us to trust our own senses first.

So what do you do when your own senses experience something that others say is impossible?  When your very existence defies everything that everyone else says is real?


I refuse to deny the mortal wounds I suffered; there is evidence across my body in the form of scars and some remaining mental scars that these events actually occurred. But in accepting these, I keep finding myself pushed between what part of me says is real and my intellect says might not be real.  And I’m at war with myself.


I need to understand!  I need to make sense of all these things, these big questions.  And quite frankly, I am terrified what it really means if I accept everything my senses tell me.


What if I have already met in my life this person that I feel I have known my entire life when I go to sleep?  What if that feeling of warmth and affection I will feel sometimes across the day is actually real?  What if there is a soul out there who knows me and loves me just as I am.


May I confess the sheer terror I feel at that thought?


Ever since the car accident, I have yearned to let down my guard, to feel safe and loved by someone.  I have yearned for human touch that is nurturing, gentle, and genuinely affectionate.  I have yearned for someone to kiss me out of truly honorable intentions, to accept and adore the real person I am — not a warm body, not a tool to be used, not some fantasy to satisfy ego — but ME.


Do I dare believe in true love’s kiss?  Do I dare believe that I am loved?  Do I dare let down my guard and let someone in?

I am terrified both ways.

Reblog: 9 Things Successful People Won’t Do

Some great advice for becoming more successful!  Here is Mr. Bradbury’s article in full:



My last post, How Successful People Stay Calm, really struck a nerve (it’s already approaching 1.5 million reads here on LinkedIn). The trick is that managing your emotions is as much about what you won’t do as it is about what you will do.

TalentSmart has tested more than a million people and found that the upper echelons of top performance are filled with people who are high in emotional intelligence (90% of top performers, to be exact). So, I went back to the data to uncover the kinds of things that emotionally intelligent people are careful to avoid in order to keep themselves calm, content, and in control. They consciously avoid these behaviors because they are tempting and easy to fall into if one isn’t careful.

While the list that follows isn’t exhaustive, it presents nine key things that you can avoid in order to increase your emotional intelligence and performance.

They Won’t Let Anyone Limit Their Joy

When your sense of pleasure and satisfaction are derived from comparing yourself to others, you are no longer the master of your own happiness. When emotionally intelligent people feel good about something that they’ve done, they won’t let anyone’s opinions or accomplishments take that away from them.

While it’s impossible to turn off your reactions to what others think of you, you don’t have to compare yourself to others, and you can always take people’s opinions with a grain of salt. That way, no matter what other people are thinking or doing, your self-worth comes from within. Regardless of what people think of you at any particular moment, one thing is certain—you’re never as good or bad as they say you are.

They Won’t Forget

Emotionally intelligent people are quick to forgive, but that doesn’t mean that they forget. Forgiveness requires letting go of what’s happened so that you can move on. It doesn’t mean you’ll give a wrongdoer another chance. Emotionally intelligent people are unwilling to be bogged down unnecessarily by others’ mistakes, so they let them go quickly and are assertive in protecting themselves from future harm.

They Won’t Die in the Fight

Emotionally intelligent people know how important it is to live to fight another day. In conflict, unchecked emotion makes you dig your heels in and fight the kind of battle that can leave you severely damaged. When you read and respond to your emotions, you’re able to choose your battles wisely and only stand your ground when the time is right.

They Won’t Prioritize Perfection

Emotionally intelligent people won’t set perfection as their target because they know it doesn’t exist. Human beings, by our very nature, are fallible. When perfection is your goal, you’re always left with a nagging sense of failure, and you end up spending your time lamenting what you failed to accomplish and what you should have done differently instead of enjoying what you were able to achieve.

They Won’t Live in the Past

Failure can erode your self-confidence and make it hard to believe you’ll achieve a better outcome in the future. Most of the time, failure results from taking risks and trying to achieve something that isn’t easy. Emotionally intelligent people know that success lies in their ability to rise in the face of failure, and they can’t do this when they’re living in the past. Anything worth achieving is going to require you to take some risks, and you can’t allow failure to stop you from believing in your ability to succeed. When you live in the past, that is exactly what happens, and your past becomes your present, preventing you from moving forward.

They Won’t Dwell on Problems

Where you focus your attention determines your emotional state. When you fixate on the problems that you’re facing, you create and prolong negative emotions and stress, which hinders performance. When you focus on actions to better yourself and your circumstances, you create a sense of personal efficacy that produces positive emotions and improves performance. Emotionally intelligent people won’t dwell on problems because they know they’re most effective when they focus on solutions.

They Won’t Hang Around Negative People

Complainers are bad news because they wallow in their problems and fail to focus on solutions. They want people to join their pity party so that they can feel better about themselves. People often feel pressure to listen to complainers because they don’t want to be seen as callous or rude, but there’s a fine line between lending a sympathetic ear and getting sucked into their negative emotional spiral. You can avoid getting drawn in only by setting limits and distancing yourself when necessary. Think of it this way: if a person were smoking, would you sit there all afternoon inhaling the second-hand smoke? You’d distance yourself, and you should do the same with complainers. A great way to set limits is to ask complainers how they intend to fix a problem. The complainer will then either quiet down or redirect the conversation in a productive direction.

They Won’t Hold Grudges

The negative emotions that come with holding onto a grudge are actually a stress response. Just thinking about the event involved sends your body into fight-or-flight mode. When a threat is imminent, this reaction is essential to your survival, but when a threat is ancient history, holding onto that stress wreaks havoc on your body and can have devastating health consequences over time. In fact, researchers at Emory University have shown that holding onto stress contributes to high blood pressure and heart disease. Holding onto a grudge means you’re holding onto stress, and emotionally intelligent people know to avoid this at all costs. Learning to let go of a grudge will not only make you feel better now but can also improve your health.

They Won’t Say Yes Unless They Really Want To

Research conducted at the University of California in San Francisco shows that the more difficulty that you have saying no, the more likely you are to experience stress, burnout, and even depression. Saying no is indeed a major challenge for most people. “No” is a powerful word that you should not be afraid to wield. When it’s time to say no, emotionally intelligent people avoid phrases like “I don’t think I can” or “I’m not certain.” Saying no to a new commitment honors your existing commitments and gives you the opportunity to successfully fulfill them.



Frugal Parrot Food: How to Buy Bird Seed for Less

Originally posted January 25, 2012

I love my bird. Like most dedicated aviculturists and pet owners, I care a great deal about helping my birds live long, healthy, and happy lives. A well-balanced diet for most companion birds consists of fresh fruits, vegetables, seeds, nuts, and commercially available pellets. Most people feed pre-mixed diets from pet stores. But as with many cat and dog foods, these pre-mixed diets tend to be filled with low-nutrition fillers that add to the price, but not the health of your bird.

So what is the answer and how can you save money on bird food? Make your own healthy, well-balanced food mix. In this article, I will cover my best tips/tricks for buying the seed and nut portion of your bird’s diet.

1) Whole, natural format seeds and grains cost less and work better than their more expensive, bagged, counter-parts.

Find these at your local feed mill for a savings of 50-90%. Often what you want will not be marked as for birds, so instead look for these seeds/nuts fed to companion birds at your area feed mill:

safflower seeds
white millet
spray millet (aka finger and/or foxtail millet)
cracked corn (select species)
sunflower seeds (bagged and sunflower heads)

Nuts (buy whole for larger species; chopped, sliced, and/or slivered for smaller species:
brazil nuts (larger species)

2) Shop the baking section of your area grocery store/fruit-nut store for nuts

Nuts are easily found at your local grocery store. Look for chopped and slivered choices for small to medium birds and whole versions for larger species. Large cockatoos and macaws should be fed nuts in the shell.
3) Utilize the “wild bird” sections of stores.

Foods fed to wild birds are often the same as those fed to companion birds. The wild bird section of discount department stores like Wal-Mart, K-Mart, and Target often sell bagged single seeds at the same or lower prices than pet stores. This does not mean you will automatically save money at these stores–but it helps to include discount department store wild bird sections when comparison shopping!
4) Buy from farms whenever possible.

Farms charge less than any other retailer for their products. As a rule, the more steps between the farm and you, the higher the price. Farmers markets, road-side stands, feed mills, and local markets help you buy direct. Farms offer everything from sunflower heads (my birds prefer sunflower heads over loose sunflower seeds) to nutritious spray millet and beyond. Many farmers have their own websites and eBay stores, so it pays to search these sources.

By using these four tips, you will save somewhere between 50% and 90% every time you buy seeds and nuts. That leaves you more money for pellets, fruits, and vegetables for a healthier bird and heavier wallet.

Bon appétit!