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During my short tenure in the military, I had a routine eye check-up.  After a very thorough exam, the eye specialist informed me that my eye pressure was higher than normal. She went on to explain that elevated eye pressure (anything above 21 mm Hg) is associated with ocular hypertension and if left untreated, it can lead to glaucoma and eventually vision loss.

The doctor insisted on additional tests. Later on, I came to understand that she conducted a perimetry test to get a map of my complete field of vision. This would help determine the prevalence of glaucoma. As she instructed, I looked straight ahead in the eye machine and told her when I saw squiggly lines moving in my peripheral vision. The test results didn’t indicate glaucoma or any other concern for that matter. So, I didn’t worry about this incident and went on with my life.

I was well into living the civilian life before I considered another eye exam. My routine exam, about six years after my original eye exam, resulted in the same results – elevated eye pressure. The doctor performed additional tests but nothing of major concern appeared. Still, I wondered what could be the cause. Although my eye care doctor didn’t seem concerned, I wanted to keep my eye on this matter (no pun intended) to ensure it didn’t evolve into something detrimental for my vision.

Admittedly, I skipped a couple of years between checking my eyesight again. Still, I expected my routine eye exam in 2005 to be consistent with my earlier exam results – elevated eye pressure with the potential for glaucoma. This time the results were different. To my surprise, the eye specialist didn’t mention anything about unusual eye pressure.

To make sure he examined me appropriately, I asked him to check again. I explained to him that in my past few eye exams I had high eye pressure. He sat and listened to me patiently and stated there was no evidence of this during the examination.

Looking back over this 20-year time span, I wondered what had caused this change in my vision. As I looked back, I believe the reduction in my elevated eye pressure had a lot to do with my drastic change in diet. Like many others, I made plans for bringing in the new millennium, the year 2000, in an unprecedented way – by cutting out my daily consumption of junk food including soda pop.

I replaced my daily pop with green tea. Initially, I purchased teas from the discount store, marveling at my ability to purchase 100 tea bags for $2.99 – what a deal! Eventually, I wanted to upgrade the taste quality using fresh and natural ingredients. So, I bought a tea ball and used loose green tea leaves from specialty stores and tea shops.

My continued tea research led me to experiment with making my own green teas using leaves from my fruit trees in my backyard. I explored various combinations of tree leaves like lemon, grapefruit, pomegranate, apple, avocado and grape vines to name a few. I mixed these with herbs like oregano, thyme, mint, and bay leaf depending on what was in season.

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When I started sharing my teas with others for feedback, some people were a little surprised that I make my own green tea. My original thought was if I can eat the fruits and vegetable then I should be able to use the leaves for tea. Not to brag but I get rave reviews on the deliciousness of my teas and better yet, I know about the freshness of the leaves because I know exactly where the ingredients come from.

So how did green tea improve my eyesight you asked? Researchers say the compounds responsible for many of the health benefits of green tea are capable of penetrating the tissues of the eyes. The high concentration of a disease- fighting antioxidants called catechins helps protect the delicate tissues of the eyes from glaucoma and other eye diseases.

I firmly believe that drinking green tea is the reason why my eye pressure decreased to normal levels (1 – 20 mm Hg) without medical intervention. Today, my only drinks are homemade green teas and filtered water. I drink 40 to 60 ounces of green tea a day.

Well, it’s 2017 and how is my eyesight? Very good I say, but don’t believe me, check my eye exams.

FootBath

I grew up in the West Indies. As a child, I only had one pair of shoes. When I walked around the house or in the backyard, I went barefoot to keep my shoes as new as possible for as long as possible. I remember how I hated to walk in the yard barefoot after it rained. The ground was muddy and it felt gross when it oozed between my toes. I jumped from rock to rock to avoid stepping in the thick backyard mud. I was successful most times but on those occasions when my feet didn’t land solidly and slipped, I knew what would happen next. Urgh!

Now that I’m an adult, I enjoy it when my feet squish around in the mud. I’ve come to understand the benefits of mud soaks. Detoxification, relaxing, grounding (receiving potent, healing, electrons from the ground), and an opportunity to meditate are just a few of the benefits of foot bathing in mud. I see it as a way for me to connect with Mother Earth, and it feels so good.

I treat myself to a muddy foot bath almost every weekend. In fact, I have foot impressions in my backyard to prove it! I just add water to the impressions and place my beach chair just right so that I can sit comfortably while wiggling my toes in the mud. This gives me a chance to relax from the busy week while meditating in the sun or completing one of my evil Sudoku puzzles.

Over the years, my foot baths have become more than an opportunity to relax and detox. Much more than I could have imagined. It’s become a time to be at one with nature and the world therein.

For example, on one warm afternoon, I was completing my Sudoku puzzle while foot bathing in the mud. All of a sudden, I felt a slight wind on my left big toe. I peeked over my puzzle and saw a fluttering bee. I watched it for a good 15 seconds before it flew away. It’s amazing what you can experience by being still in nature – the wind from bee wings!

On another day of foot bathing, a hummingbird came within two feet of my face. It hovered for about 10 seconds before flying away. How delightful to see!

I’ve also been up close and personal with lizards. One time, I saw a lizard standing about five feet away – bobbing its head up and down while staring at me.  It came closer and closer and then stopped, standing about 15 inches away. It remained there for 30 minutes, just staring at me before leaving. It felt good to know it didn’t consider me a threat and stayed around to experience the peacefulness of my aura (or so I’d like to think). Admittedly, I love my muddy foot baths for relaxation and detoxing as well as the magic they bring.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t say that there are also times when I get pooped on. I’ve experienced the sudden wetness of those yellow bird poop on my arms or shoulders – just like the ones we see on our cars.  I consider this a part of the wonders of nature as well.

These moments with Mother Nature are customized experiences for each muddy foot bath in my backyard, in my little part of the world, just for me.

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We’ve all done it. We’ve all resorted to digging through our trash bins to find something we’ve thrown away, only to realize that we acted prematurely in getting rid of something we later need. Fortunately for me, I didn’t have to dumpster dive too deep … I found this needed item in no time. A family member visiting from out of town, let’s call him Lonnie, bought this item. This item is something we usually eat for breakfast with cream cheese, grape jam, or nut butter.

For five days of his visit, Lonnie ate quinoa, lentils, grass fed beef, plain organic yogurt, organic fruits, and vegetables but he had a taste and desire for ‘something different’ to eat. So, he purchased this so called ‘food’ item and ate it for breakfast.

About 30 minutes after consuming it, he experienced heartburn and indigestion. He immediately assigned his stomach ailment to this ‘something different’ that he ate. Once his stomach settled from all the commotion, he immediately threw this item in the trash – the item I retrieved from the trash bin out of curiosity. I was curious as to what could have caused such a reaction so I read the ingredients label.

It took me awhile to read through the items on the ingredients list. This so-called ‘food item’ had over 35 ingredients listed! These included:  1. FD&C BLUE 1 LAKE, 2.FD&C 2 LAKE, 3. COTTONSEED and/or SOYBEAN, 4. PARTIALLY HYDROGENATED VEGETABLE OIL, 5. ENZYMES, 6. CITRIC ACID, 7. ASCORBIC ACID, 8. GUAR GUM, 9. MONO and DIGLYCERIDES, 10. SUNFLOWER OIL, 11. BLUEBERRIES, 12. COTTONSEED FIBER, 13. CALCIUM PROPIONATE and SORBIC ACID PRESERVATIVES, 14. CORN CEREAL, 15. MODIFIED CORN STARCH, 16. NATURAL AND ARTIFICIAL FLAVORS, 17. CORN SYRUP, 18. YEAST, 19. SALT, 20. 2% or less of WHEAT GLUTEN, 21. SUGAR, 22. WATER, 23. FOLIC ACID, 24.RIBOFLAVIN, 25. THIAMINE MONONITRATE, 26. REDUCE IRON, 27. NIACIN, 28. MALTED BARLEY FLOUR, 29. WHEAT FLOUR, 30. UNBLEACHED ENRICHED WHEAT FLOUR.

After reading the package, I thought, wow, this has got to be a world record!  I later realized that there are other food items that contain more ingredients than the ones listed here.  I returned the package and its contents to its proper place – the trash bin! Lonnie was right to throw it away.

It’s always good to make time to read the ingredients in the packaged food we buy. For me, if I can’t pronounce the ingredients and it doesn’t consist of whole foods, the product stays on the store’s shelf.

For over 11 years, I’ve been very cautious and concerned about the chemical makeup of the foods I eat and the things I put on my body. This vigilance started when I read what was in a very popular brand of lotion. It had over 31 ingredients in it – harmful ingredients, like gluten, that could be absorbed through my skin and invade my bloodstream faster than if I ate them. Ingredients that would have both short-term and long-term negative effects on my body, like sulfates and parabens, for example. Sulfates negatively affect cell membranes and parabens mimic estrogen and have been linked to cancer.

There’s a saying that goes ‘what’s in your wallet’, well I’ve coined new phrases – ‘what’s in your food?’ and ‘what’s on your skin?’ It behooves us to find out!

In thinking about one of Lonnie’s breakfast ingredients, I remember seeing the ingredient called FD&C RED 40 LAKE. My research shows this comes from coal tar. Hmm, we can eat coal tar without the need to light up the grill!

So, what breakfast food has all these ingredients? Guess. Here’s a clue! It is round!

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