Interview

Episode 007: Craig Labadie Shownotes

Episode 7 of the Keeping Things Alive Podcast features Craig Labadie, an acupuncturist and co-owner of Buffalo Alternative Therapies. Craig and Laura talk about his background, what acupuncture is, how community acupuncture works, and finding affordable healthcare outside of the U.S. healthcare system.

Here are the shownotes, with links to more information on what is discussed during the Keeping Things Alive Podcast’s interview with Craig Labadie:

Interview

Episode 005: Rebecca Strong Shownotes

The first six episodes of Season 1 of the Keeping Things Alive podcast showcase my interviews with six leaders of the 2015 Rise Up for Climate Justice movement in Buffalo, New York. This movement started a few months after Pope Francis published his Encyclical, On Care for Our Common Home, and a few months before the 2015 Paris Climate Conference. I was fortunate enough to participate in many of the events, and I was so impressed with the diversity and energy of the activists that came together during this time.

My fifth interview is with Rebecca Sophia Strong, a contemplative psychotherapist, social artist, yoga teacher, and was the consultant for the Sierra Club Niagara Chapter’s 2015 Rise Up for Climate Justice campaign. In this interview, we talk about her life path, why the Story of the Universe is so powerful, and the many thought-leaders who have influenced her way of being in this world.

Here are the shownotes, with links to more information about what we talk about during my interview with Rebecca Sophia Strong:

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Meet Climate Activist David Kowalski

The first website I created is called FedGreen, where I used to publish a weekly report on important environmental updates from the Federal Register. It was a worthwhile project, but ultimately, I wanted to do something more creative with my free time, which is why I switched over to creating this website and my Keeping Things Alive Podcast.

Before I decided to do a podcast, however, I started interviewing environmental activists in Buffalo, New York. My first interview-turned-article was with David Kowalski, a retired scientist who now spends his time working on his website Re-ENERGIZE Buffalo and giving educational lectures about climate change throughout Western New York.

In an effort to simplify my life, I’m going to be closing down FedGreen in the near future, so I wanted to move the article I wrote about David to this website instead. Here it goes, enjoy!


For my first Buffalo interview, I spoke with David Kowalski, PhD, a retired research scientist. He’s currently an environmental advocate and serves on the planning committee of the Climate Justice Coalition. David is a member of the Buffalo-Niagara Sierra Club’s Executive Committee, where he is involved in communications and social media. He enthusiastically told me that he “loves Millennials” (he has three millennial-age sons) and has embraced technology as an effective way to connect with other environmentalists around the country. Outside of Sierra Club, David runs the blog Re-ENERGIZE Buffalo, where he posts information about environmental events happening around Western New York and articles about environmental issues. His blog formerly focused on the harmful effects of hydraulic fracturing, but is now devoted to climate change action. David also volunteers his time by giving talks to interested groups and organizations about fracking and climate change.

Continue reading “Meet Climate Activist David Kowalski”

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Accessory Navicular Surgery

Life has shifted for me once again, and this time I find myself living and sleeping in the “my-parents’-dining-room-turned-my-bedroom” while I recover from my first of four foot surgeries (two on each foot). I’ll get the cheesy puns out of the way now: I have a long road ahead of me, which I must travel one step at a time.

I think it’s worth explaining what type of surgery I had (removal of my accessory navicular with the Kidner procedure), because it’s possible that someone else is staring down this type of procedure and would like to hear from someone else who has gone through it.

So I’m 32, I’ve been rolling my ankles every couple of months since I was about 16, I’ve always hated to run, and I’ve always had a strong preference for supportive, non-heeled shoes. I would tell myself that I roll my ankles because I have bad balance and am clumsier than most other people. I would tell myself that I hate to run because I’m not a well-rounded athlete (swimming is my sport!). And I would tell myself that I prefer ugly, orthopedic shoes because I’m kind to my body and not willing to suffer physically to look a certain way.

But there was another factor at play that I was completely unaware of this entire time – I have (had) an extra bone in my foot! This extra bone, called an accessory navicular, was going about its unstable business completely under my radar, until I sprained my foot at that exact location last July and it never healed. I iced it, rested it, ignored it, went through six weeks of physical therapy, and ignored it some more, but the pain never went away, and so I decided to go see a foot specialist and take additional steps to stablize my feet.

The first surgery happened four days ago, and all is going well so far. I’m in a super heavy bandage/splint for the first week, and then I get a cast for the three weeks after that. I took prescription pain meds the first couple of days (which are a blur), but now I’m just taking Motrin.

The most painful and unexpected thing that happened to me is that my throat got really irritated and sore from the tube that they put down my throat during the procedure. I could not eat anything remotely spicy or acidic for the first two days (including bananas and yogurt), and it took a full four days for my throat to really get back to normal.

I’ve never gone through a “real” surgery before (wisdom teeth only) and it feels strange and scary to be so vulnerable and wounded (I can’t run away, my go-to defense!). I’m so grateful for my family and friends, who are keeping me company and taking care of me. If I did not have them in my life, I would have to pay someone to help me because there is no way I could do this by myself.

Staring down the barrel of these surgeries is really hard, but I can’t help appreciating the timing of it all. I have a job where I work remotely, I want to put more time into this website and my podcast, I am not in school, and my parents are available to help me. I catch myself saying “why didn’t you investigate your unstable ankles when you were in high school/college/law school/two years ago?” But the truth is, it would not have been a good time. I’m right where I’m supposed to be.

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New Podcast Interviews About Healthcare

Today I posted two new interviews for the Keeping Things Alive podcast, and both of them have to do with healthcare options outside of the U.S. healthcare system.  I am fortunate to have health insurance through my job, but I also use acupuncture and herbal medicine to maintain my health and bolster my wellbeing.  When healthcare is expensive and unreliable, I find it empowering to have affordable and effective options to turn to in my community.


My first new episode is with Craig Labadie, acupuncturist and co-owner of Buffalo Alternative Therapies. I have been going to a community acupuncture clinic since around 2013, and regular treatments have helped me eliminate my mold allergy symptoms. I’ve also found acupuncture to be the best stress relief tool that I have ever found.

During the interview, I mention that I attempted to paint what I see during acupuncture treatments. Here is the painting I am referring to in case you are curious:

acupunture hummingbird


My second new episode is with Sarah Sorci, community herbalist and owner of Sweet Flag Herbs.  Sarah is a good friend of mine and I have learned so much from her about how to use edible and medicinal plants that grow in Western New York to support my health and wellbeing.

At around the 47:00 mark of the episode, we discuss various edible and medicinal plants that Sarah found that day in my backyard in Buffalo, New York.  Here are pictures of the plants that she is talking about:

Self-heal or Heal-all.  Here is the baby self-heal plant that Sarah found, without its flowers yet:

 

Plantain

 

Ground ivy

 

Violet

 

Yarrow

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April Reflections

I didn’t write any new posts this month, although I did update my “Keeping Things Alive Podcast” post a number of times because I finally shared the first six episodes that I have been dreaming up and putting together for a long time now.  It’s amazing to me that I thought of the phrase “keeping things alive” and knew it was the website for me all the way back in Fall 2013.  So much has happened in my life since then, and yet “keeping things alive” continues to be the best way to describe my greatest passion and what I want to do with my life’s work.

Being able to share the Keeping Things Alive Podcast with the world (that has an Internet connection) is exciting and scary.  I’m proud of the interviews and hope that they inspire others to take personal responsibility for making their corner of the world a better place.  Although the interviews showcase incredibly different backgrounds and perspectives, everyone wants to move in the same direction — towards a healthier and better future for all.  I want people to keep listening to the podcast, but even if they don’t, the entire project has been worth it because I learned how to create a podcast, how to be a better interviewer, how to correct a few odd speech habits, and most important, I deepened relationships with people who are doing work that I care about.

I’ve been in a boot and on crutches this entire month because I found out I have an extra bone in my foot (an “accessory navicular” — sounds so fashionable), which has prevented an old ankle sprain from healing.  Being immobile has been incredibly challenging because I walk for exercise and sanity, I live alone with my dog in a second floor apartment, and I’ve discovered that it’s really difficult for me to ask for help.  This month of immobility has been a lesson in asking for help.  I’m grateful that I read Amanda Palmer’s book, The Art of Asking, a few months ago because it helped me value the connection that comes from asking and receiving help from others.  I’m still struggling with asking my neighbor to walk my dog, my friend to buy me groceries, and my mom to do my laundry, but it’s getting easier and my relationships are stronger and better for it.

April is my favorite month because it’s Earth Day, my birthday, and the start of real spring weather (Buffalonians coming out of hibernation is real!).  April 2017 was particularly full of “environmental energy” because of the Trump Administration’s dangerous disregard for our global reality and the resulting protest marches.  The March for Science happened on Earth Day, while the Peoples’ Climate March happened yesterday.  I had been planning on going to the Climate March for months, but my ankle kept me from making the bus trip to DC.  Missing this march was definitely disappointing, but probably for the best.  After all, I completed so much more website and podcast work than I would have otherwise.

I have a suspicion that my ankle injury is a blessing in disguise.

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Worlds Collide

When I read a book, listen to a podcast, watch a documentary, converse with someone, or learn in some other way, I internalize the information that resonates with me and leave the rest.  This lifelong-learning method keeps me coming back to two modern-day writers/creators that continue to expand my mind in their own special ways: Mr. Money Mustache (Pete Adeney) and Tim Ferriss.

Neither of them are perfect and I roll my eyes when they take their philosophies to extremes that don’t work for me, but each has a unique and important perspective on how to live an intentional, good life that provides freedom to create and (hopefully) help others.  I owe my current lifestyle (working remotely and using my spare time to recharge and pursue what I care about) to many of their ideas and creations.

Mr. Money Mustache, through his incredible 400+ article blog, has drastically reduced my financial stress by motivating me to spend less and save more. Because of his work, I ride my bike, cook nearly all my meals, and invest in activities that actually make me happy (spending time with people who inspire me, cooking, walking, reading, and writing).  It’s amazing how all of the activities that bring me the most joy are not that expensive. Here is a recorded talk that distills his philosophy into a little less than 30 minutes.

Tim Ferriss, through his books (on working, health, cooking/learning, and life design tools) and podcast, has inspired me to get my work and required life tasks done efficiently, question the status quo, and use my life in the best way possible (whatever that means to me). He has interviewed some amazing human beings on his podcast, and I love the way he asks interview questions and dissects the small details of their approaches to living a good, meaningful life.

So imagine my surprise and (admittedly) fan-girl-freak-out when I found out that Tim Ferriss interviewed Mr. Money Mustache for his podcast! It’s excellent and worth listening to. Here are a few of my takeaways:

  • You can skate around the city of Ottawa in winter.
  • Optimization of anything, including finances, is fun and beautiful.
  • Never spend more than $10,000 on a car, and then don’t drive it as much as possible so it lasts longer.
  • Walking is a powerful action and way to get somewhere.
  • The U.S. is “the furnace of the world” because you can start something without anyone noticing until it’s big. MMM loves the grid of U.S. cities and islands – there is so much range and variety of geography.
  • MMM is a true environmentalist, in the best sense of the word. He rules out his spending based on knowing the consumption/science/ecology consequences.
  • Everyone should build a house or shelter in their lifetime.
  • Optimize for happiness, not money.
  • Success is a balanced thing – it depends on how kind you are to the people closest to you.
  • MMM is very passionate about energy issues (as every environmentalist should be in current times), and believes we are at a tipping point where fossil fuels are becoming infeasible. I completely agree.
  • Do the things you want to be good at as often as you can (MMM repeats “use it or lose it” to himself multiple times per day).
  • “Just walk. You’ve paid a high evolutionary price for this ability and let’s not squander it.”
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Plant Love: Snake Plant

Although as I child I vowed to my mother that I would never own a single plant because I did not enjoy taking care of hers, I now have approximately 15 house plants in my one-bedroom apartment, plus a small outdoor vegetable and herb garden. My perspective on plants changed when I got my own place because I realized that not only are they beautiful, but they are functional. My aloe plant is great for my skin, my thyme plant tastes great, and all of my plants improve the indoor air quality.

Today I am going to showcase my first and in many ways favorite indoor house plant: the snake plant (also known as mother-in-law’s tongue).

Snake Plant
One of my snake plants…

Anytime someone asks me about my plants and is interested in getting one for themselves, I recommend a snake plant to start. Snake plants are great because they are easy – they don’t like a lot of water or direct sunlight. It seems like the more I neglect them, the more they thrive. The only time I had trouble with a snake plant was when I gave one too much water and the leaves got soggy and fell over. I had a snake plant in my cubicle at a former job where there was only fluorescent light and absolutely no natural light – the beast just kept growing and growing, and it still lives in that maze of cubicles with a friend today.

If you’re interested in getting a snake plant, I’ve purchased them at Home Depot, Ikea, and the indoor plant section of a local nursery.

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Reframing the News

I’ve written here before about my interest in a “low information diet,” which is a strategy to stay focused on what you actually have control over. Although this is a good idea sometimes, I now know that I took it too far. Years leading up to the 2016 election, I had no commitment to understanding the news, and instead got information from Facebook, comedy news shows, documentaries, and a few random websites that align with my interests. I believe that tuning out quality journalism was a big mistake on my part, and I’ve committed to spend some time each day paying attention to what is going on in the world around me and beyond.

Two days after the election results, I deactivated my Facebook account. I’ll be back on soon to stay digitally connected with family and friends, but I’m done using it to read articles and catch the latest news story. I’m horrified at the fake news stories that proliferated through social networks during the election cycle, and how my personal echo chamber was completely different from those who supported other candidates and see the world differently from me. This article and this article sum up my concerns nicely.

So in recognition of this error and my commitment to do better from here on out, I’ve started paying for digital access to the New York Times, the Buffalo News, and I’m about to sign up for a subscription to The Economist. No newspaper is perfect and every journalist comes with their personal biases, but I want to pay for and read journalism that has standards and seeks to uncover what is (closer to being) real.

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Gratitude

Yesterday I made a “plan for my weekend,” which included re-writing a legal article to post today. But I just got back from a walk with my dog, Sunny, and I realized that I’d much rather take a few paragraphs to recognize that I am so grateful for having one of the best weeks in recent memory. I was recognized for doing good work at my job, I had a number of great conversations with new and old friends, I got to see the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra play backup to a Beatles cover band with my family (their rendition of St. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band was awesome), I ate well, and I started brainstorming a new creative project with one of my favorite environmental “colleagues.” It’s kind of blowing my mind that all of these wonderful experiences happened over the course of five days.

I’m also grateful for being in the midst of my favorite season in Western New York. Last fall I was distracted with my personal life and driving pretty much everywhere, but this year I am much more present and living in an a city apartment where I walk all the time. The leaves are gorgeous!