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Wakeup Call

Do you have a life experience that you consider your wakeup call?
I do.
A few days into January 2014, I got the real flu, and rode out a week of
fever, split lips, aches, chills, a sore mouth and throat, and
the inability to concentrate on or do anything.
I hallucinated for a week.

I deeply understand how people die from influenza.
And I came out the other side of the flu with a new set of priorities.

I wanted to simplify my life.
I wanted manmade chemicals out of my body and home.
I wanted to stop worrying about taking “The Pill” at 10pm on the dot every night.
I wanted to plan out and cook cheap, healthy meals.
I wanted to pay off my student loans.

And these new desires evolved into new habits that radically changed my chemistry, my energy, and my life.

Getting the flu was my wakeup call.
What is yours?

Interview

Episode 35: Season 2 Wrap

It’s hard to believe that Season 2 has come to a close! Four months, 17 interview episodes, and 3 non-interview episodes later, it is time to take a break for reflection and setting intentions for Season 3.

Check out Episode 35, the Season 2 Wrap, for a summary of each Season 2 episode, intentions for Season 3, and a list of three books that are helpful guides along the “keeping things alive” path in current times.

Here is the list of episodes in Season 2, with links to them streaming on Soundcloud:

And here are links to the three books that Laura recommends at the end of Episode 35:

Interview

Episode 30: Katrinna Martin-Bordeaux

Episode 30 of of the Keeping Things Alive Podcast features Laura’s conversation with Katrinna Martin-Bordeaux.  Katrinna is a professional nurse and a deeply engaged citizen.  In 2013, she founded the Young Black Democrats, now called the Young Black Citizens of Western New York.  In this episode, Katrinna and Laura talk about the nursing profession, the importance of organized activism, and much more.

Here are the shownotes, with links to more information on what is discussed during Laura’s conversation with Katrinna:

Interview

Episode 029: Jody Chan – Organizing for the Leap

Episode 29 of the Keeping Things Alive Podcast features Laura’s conversation with Jody Chan, the Organizing Coordinator for The Leap, a Canadian organization that works to implement The Leap Manifesto. Jody and Laura talk about organizing, current Leap projects, self care in the activism space, and much more.

Here are the shownotes, with links to more information on what is discussed during Laura’s conversation with Jody:

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.