Saturday, 23 November 2013


Just lately I've been trying very hard to make better choices for my health. It’s a funny thing that with all the choices we have with food, all the great places we have to exercise, all the time we have that we could use to benefit our health through meditation or reflection or by spending unflustered time with loved ones, all the knowledge we have of the components of a healthy lifestyle…yet many of us choose to live in a way that doesn't promote good health. We rely on pain relief medications to get through many of our days and feel bloated or overweight or generally off colour. The dashboard for my body (apart from the pressure of my pants around my middle) is eczema. It very quickly lets me know when I’m out of line. 

Once upon a time, I had eczema so badly that I had both hands bandaged a lot of the time. I had weeping blistery eruptions and unbelievable itching and the bandages helped to remind me not to scratch. Not sure that worked too well but I tried anyway. To my great good fortune, when I moved to Southern Tasmania back in the late 1980s, a new friend told me about a local woman who was a naturopath and herbalist and that I should pay her a visit. She looked into my eyes and told me many things she could see but the upshot of the analysis was that my body was in an acidic state and the eczema was a response to that. She sold me a bottle of herbal mixture to give me a boost and instructed me to eat less animal proteins and to introduce a big dark green salad into my daily eating habits.

We had quite a nice productive veggie garden at the time so I was able to wander each morning and gather fresh young silver-beet, onion tops, beetroot leaves, spinach and petals from calendula and borage flowers to add colour.  I would slice the greens super fine after washing them well, and chopped and grated other vegetables into the mix; tomatoes, cucumber, capsicum, carrots and anything else I had to hand. I added a good sprinkle of sunflower, pumpkin or sesame seeds as she had also suggested and a simple dressing of olive oil and vinegar. Well, the results were quite amazing and soon my skin had cleared up completely. Over the years I’ve had outbreaks now and then, and the interesting thing was that I could guarantee that it would pop up on one knuckle anytime we went to my mum-in-laws house for dinner. She always served roasted lamb, which obviously was not a good thing for me.

I’ve been vegetarian on and off since I was thirteen and still remember with great fondness the day our family had gone in a fundraiser car rally though Dad’s work.  At the culminating barbecue Mum gently maneuvered the soy bean sausages she had so lovingly made for me onto the wire grill only to watch in dismay as most of them disintegrated and fell into the fire below! She must have loved me a lot to go to all that trouble. I remember having a few singed bits and pieces that were salvaged but they were a bit disappointing for a girl who was used to proper snags…but this was a great moral cause for me…it was not about my health so I carried on bravely, no doubt feeling quite puritanical for my efforts. Now I can buy sausages, burgers, bits, roasts, all sorts of things made from soy beans – even cheese! I choose to be vegetarian most of the time now. I eat fish occasionally and eggs from friends’ hens that I know are well cared for. I’ve spent times in boxes called ‘VEGETARIAN’ and ‘VEGAN’ and ‘PESCATARIAN’ but now if anyone asks I’ll say I’m a flexitarian. Long ago I got tired of explaining why I eat the way I do or what I eat and what I choose not to. We have the great privilege to be able to reinvent ourselves though the course of our lifetimes, and there is no need to adhere to a particular way of being if you find something that is healthier and better for you. It’s all about finding what works best for you.

Back to the eczema issue. I've had an irritating re-occurrence that has hung about for the past six months or so. I know what to do to fix it, but I've been lucky enough to have the lovely David cooking for me as he is much keener on the kitchen that I am. He is the product of an English/Italian background and plies me with wonderful cheesy, creamy, buttery pasta based delights and a salad for him is based on stuff out of tins. No criticism. We are all different and that works for him. It doesn't work so well for me….sadly…it is all so delicious! So I’ve taken myself back into the kitchen and I’m doing less grain foods and no animal dairy foods. I’m doing more green smoothies (aka pond sludge) and big green delicious salads that take ages to eat but I know they’re doing me good.  The eczema is slowly caving in and returning to where it came from and I am feeling calmer and more in control of my destiny! I’ve started walking again too…at last!

A friend called in the other day for a cuppa and while he was here I was talking about munching away happily on chocolate even though I know it’s not helping me right now. He made a statement that rammed itself into my brain; SICK PEOPLE CAN’T MAKE GOOD CHOICES FOR THEMSELVES. Wow! Isn't that so true. All the time my health is below par I’m hankering for chocolate, biscuits, ice-cream, pies, sugary drinks…(which reminds me that I did write recently that I’d stop sugar again due to headaches…but I didn't do so well and now I get it…sick people can’t make good choices…). So I have that statement firmly in my head and I know I’ve been unwell for ages and making poor choices for my health. I can make better choices. I will make better choices. I am making better choices. I've been enjoying my walks so much! I miss them when I’m not going, but I just couldn't seem to get moving. Now I’m moving and feeling good. Which leads me to today’s story; the Cowfish.

I was walking on the beach last night, on my way home and thinking to myself wouldn't it be cool to find something really interesting for the beach combing collection. Do you have one of those? All of us that live near the sea seem to acquire a collection of odd bits and pieces that we find along the shore. It’s always changing…always bringing new surprises with every tide. Well, I was wandering along with that thought in my head and spotted a rather interesting looking roundish, sandy coloured rock that was not a rock. Venturing closer to investigate, I found it was a very dead fascinating little creature with a horny, rough but beautifully patterned exoskeleton…in good condition but a little smelly. Just what I was hoping for; something unusual and interesting.  Carrying it gently but firmly by the tail, I headed up the hill towards home. En route I considered what my story would be for David, if he found it disgusting or odd that I should carry a dead fish home.

Well, I’m a Leo…and they are cats….and cats carry all sorts of things home to show their families…and that is my story. I couldn't help it because I’m a Leo.  Luckily he needed no convincing that this was indeed a treasure and I used his Iphone to Google Images and confirm that it was a Cowfish as I suspected. In fact, it appears to be a Shaw’s Cowfish, but feel welcome to enlighten me if you know differently. That’s me for today; choosing to live better because I can. I’m lucky; I have a choice. 

Why would any of us choose to remain unwell when we can choose to be well? Let’s leave that little question for another day.

This is a picture of a living Shaw's Cowfish (C) Duncan Giblin taken in Norfolk Bay, Southeastern Tasmania. I hope he won't mind me sharing it with you here.

Poor little Cowfish suspended by linen thread to allow the forces of nature to reduce it to its hard shell.

I had placed it near where some bull ants had been seen in the garden...with a heavy clay pot over the top of it...hoping the ants would clean it up for me. This is a method commonly used to clean seashells that smell unfriendly. Please make sure the creatures are deceased before using this method - bad smell is usually a good indicator.

You can see some of the delicate and beautiful patterning on the side here. Amazing creature.

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