What Actually Helps

For Acid Reflux

At some point in my pregnancy, I got a burning throat. This felt like acid under the skin that defied gravity and would occasionally find its way up and out of my mouth, once by the bucket full. Even the skin on the top of my chest began to display tiny red marks of irritation. Energetic signs of the anger within, said a yogi friend.

One night in desperation I ate a fork full of sauerkraut, normally something I reserve for eating with hot dogs. This seemed to quell the pain and yet I couldn’t get myself to eat in on the regular. After a few weeks I searched the Internet again and found that Apple Cider Vinegar seemed to do the trick for some. And so I gave it a try, two teaspoons with water on an empty stomach, which worked until the taste started getting to me a little bit too.

I got some pills from the acupuncturist that do seem to help but the only truly useful trick is reducing my carb intake to almost zero. Plus no other trigger foods, like balsamic vinegar or anything that’s been BBQed. So no toast with eggs in the morning, no sandwiches at lunch and no Doritos on the airplane, probably the hardest challenge of them all.

For Fatigue

A morning of swimming does me more good at the end of the day than any other exercise right now. Yoga is frustrating because it’s so hard to stretch around the belly and dancing leaves me out of breath and feeling like a whale. Running is altogether out, although I admire those ladies who keep up their laps around the Silver Lake Reservoir.

After an hour in the pool everything gets soft. My skin seems to smooth out and my stomach, usually like the outside of a soccer ball, gets smooshy, so much so that I can almost trace the outside of the baby’s body through my skin. The soft flesh caves and smaller parts stand out. Maybe a leg. Maybe an arm. Thin small things that are almost too delicate to want to touch.

The big payoff comes at 4pm when I am neither cranky not tired but light hearted and hungry. All the energy stays with me until 6-7 when I start preparing for bed and by 8, I’m ready to read and drift off to a full night’s sleep. The dreams these nights are off the charts and I wake up with them fresh in my mind in the morning.

For Anxiety

On nights when I don’t swim I have to drink some of this calm stuff, which tastes disgusting but really puts me out. I start doing the awake with eyes closed thing until I have to drag myself to bed and I’m pulled under by the weight of sleep. Otherwise I’m up late and then up early thinking about any old thing that will bother me and keep me agitated enough to fend off both responsibilities and rest in equal measure.

Acupuncture too, does the trick, if only to teach my body and the whole system how to shut down and let the parasympathetic part take over. It’s a similar kind of tugging, like drinking the calm, where there’s an undertow and I can’t help but leave my body behind because it’s too heavy to concern myself with anymore. Then I seem to float out of it for a bit, sometime seeing and hearing resolutions to problems I’ve been turning over somewhere deep in the back of mind.

And mediation, guided and simply staying still, helps me to remember that a state of calm is always available to me when I take the time to turn inwards. Sometimes I think of my chest as an open set of doors that I close, not to close off, but to get into a deeper more interior space. A yoga class with a strong teacher who can give me ways feel strong without getting too tired will work wonders as well.

Election

The Reluctant Healer is a book about one man’s journey toward his spiritual self. In it he discovers that his many identities travel in orb like circles around his main identity, the content of which can change at any time. Though he has a few different options: healer, father, performer, husband, and writer, the identity of writer was the one that was most central to his life at the moment he was writing the book. This made me think that being a mom doesn’t have to push out the other parts of me for good. In fact, the writer in me, the yogi in me, the person who likes to perform – all of these selves can be just waiting in the wings.

As a woman I feel like age is my prime identifier, which is why I don’t relate to Hilary or Bernie so terribly much. It’s one thing for Bernie to have been at a march in the 70’s and quite another for him to understand what it means to have dissenting ideas in today’s world. And Hilary does, as some people have indicated, seem to be out of touch. The missing piece in her recent campaign flub was the need to rely on established voices which the younger generation doesn’t do and politicians always do. Even Bernie does, since being a white male over 50 himself gives him all the credibility he needs.

It is so much better, if you are not a part of the establishment, to look for the parts of you that don’t fit and let them push against everything you thought was true about yourself to begin with. And really everyone should think of themselves as not established. It would be better for Hilary, it would be better for Bernie and it’s better for me and you. The ability to shift that inner most core from whatever self you assumed was true is the only real reason to keep living. If you know what’s inside already, than the journey is already complete.