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Wanted: Organic Gardening Stories & Tips March 2, 2011

Filed under: Environmental Wellness,Nutritional Wellness — aprasek @ 6:52 pm

I’ve advocated for backyard organic gardening countless times on this blog. It’s actually a pretty easy thing to get on a soapbox about when you live in an apartment. My “backyard” gardening has consisted of window sill herbs and indoor pepper plants. But now, this spring will mark the first time the hubs and I have had a garden to call our very own. And I’m not gonna lie, I’m scared.

I’m scared that I’ll plant things in the wrong place, too close together, or upside down (is that possible?). I’m scared that I’ll under-water and then over-water to compensate. I’m afraid some bug infestation will leave me with the question of whether to use pesticides to save my crops or let them die. I’ve had daydreams that parallel Little Shop of Horrors…

On other days I’m confident that I can create an Eden-like garden. Perhaps I’ll invent and nurture a hybrid tropical plant that survives the harsh winters in Minnesota. I’m calling this new plant a Squanana (cross between a squash and a banana).

Anyway, it’s pretty apparent that I have no idea what I’m doing. So, I would love to hear your organic gardening stories. What do you like to plant? How do you keep your plants healthy? What are some of the problems you have faced? Any tips to share?

Many thanks and happy planting!


Unreasonable Marketplace: What Business is All About January 20, 2011

Filed under: Take Action! — aprasek @ 6:47 pm

A friend of mine just told me about the Unreasonable Marketplace, a contest (well, kind of) that selects fellows for the Unreasonable Institute. The 6-week summer institute takes entrepreneurs and provides them with a launching pad for their businesses and tools to enable continued success. These ventures are primarily about making our world a better place. Now that’s what business is all about.

And though one person (or entrepreneur) can certainly make a big difference, it takes a village to really create the impact that our world needs. Join a village by donating to your favorite business venture here and/or spread the news via email, FB, Twitter, etc.

I chose to support Day One Response, Inc. because they are doing some outstanding work to improve access to clean water (a luxury often taken advantage of in the U.S.). I’m also a little biased… the founder is a fellow Cal Poly grad (go Mustangs!) and a friend of mine is working her tail off for the organization (and loving it).


If you are supporting other great ventures on the Marketplace, please tell us about them here.


“Deadly Spin”

Filed under: Health Care Reform,Medical Ethics?,Take Action! — aprasek @ 12:32 am

Just got home from a fantastic lecture by Wendell Potter. He even signed my copy of his book, “Deadly Spin.”

Mr. Potter is the whistleblower that brought more attention to the shady practices of health insurance companies (BTW, I keep having the Counting Crows song “Mr. Potter’s Lullaby” run through my head…). You probably heard about (or watched) Mr. Potter’s testimony before the Senate Commerce, Science and Technology Committee in June of 2009, but this guy has a lot more to say… and a lot of it is in his new book. This is information that we should all know– especially those who are insured. Seriously, we should know what we’re paying for right?

Check out his website and get a copy of the book. Comment back here as you read through. This should get interesting….


“The Deadly Corruption of Clinical Trials” January 8, 2011

Filed under: Pharma — aprasek @ 12:53 am

Carl Elliott’s article, “The Deadly Corruption of Clinical Trials” is a must read. Seriously. Here’s a teaser:

In 2003, Mary’s 26-year-old son, Dan, was enrolled against her wishes in a psychiatric drug study at the University of Minnesota, where I teach medical ethics. Less than six months later, Dan was dead. I’d learned about his death from a deeply unsettling newspaper series by St. Paul Pioneer Press reporters Jeremy Olson and Paul Tosto that suggested he was coerced into a pharmaceutical-industry study from which the university stood to profit, but which provided him with inadequate care. Over the next few months, I talked to several university colleagues and administrators, trying to learn what had happened. Many of them dismissed the story as slanted and incomplete. Yet the more I examined the medical and court records, the more I became convinced that the problem was worse than the Pioneer Press had reported. The danger lies not just in the particular circumstances that led to Dan’s death, but in a system of clinical research that has been thoroughly co-opted by market forces, so that many studies have become little more than covert instruments for promoting drugs. The study in which Dan died starkly illustrates the hazards of market-driven research and the inadequacy of our current oversight system to detect them. 

It’s pretty amazing to think that Elliott had the courage to call out his employer like this (he teaches at the U of MN). And I suppose a shred of kudos to the U of MN for not firing Elliott…


Healing Spaces: Inside & Out January 5, 2011

Filed under: Not going to use — aprasek @ 8:28 pm

I’m a big believer that our external environment is a reflection of– or at the very least, influences– our internal environment.  That means that our body, mind and spirit are all connected to the clutter, knick-knacks, dust and disorganization. Or at least at my house:

Thankfully, this is not how my home usually looks. Hubs and I just moved into the upper level of a duplex and decided that painting the entire space would be easy. We were wrong. Ironically, amidst my effort of simplifying my life (and space), I’ve successfully created more chaos… but learned many lessons in the process: 

1. Don’t move during a Minnesota winter. Though the impromptu rain storm while hiking through knee-high snow with our living room couch was probably humurous for the neighbors…

2. Hire movers. I know, lift with your legs, not your back. But moving around obstacles doesn’t always allow for efficient and safe moevements. So, I’ll be leaving any future awkward heavy lifting to professionals (with all sorts of trucks, tools, dollys and back braces).

3. Hire painters. Painting is not as fun as it seems and it took me one full hour to get the paint out of my hair.  

Of course, this is just some short term household chaos. Patience and hard work will soon offer us a nurturing space that we can call home. And in reality, we’re really blessed to just have a roof over our heads and a space to call our own.

I’ll be updating here as we create our space. Hubs and I themed our colors from the five elements that are described in many of the ancient wisdoms (Earth, Water, Fire, Air/Wind, and Space/Heaven/Beyond). I’m also hoping to follow as many feng shui principles as possible and find a corner to create a meditation space– we’ll see how it all pans out 🙂

If you have pics/stories of a healing space that you’ve created in your house, please share!


Reflecting on 2010 January 3, 2011

Filed under: Miscellaneous — aprasek @ 12:23 pm

Happy new year everyone!

I’m not big on new year’s resolutions. They’re often unrealistic and at the same time self-deprecating. Further, self-care, introspection and transformation is an everyday commitment– not simply a Jan 1 activity. Nonetheless, I do like to reflect on the past year and this time around I’m tempted to set a goal (not a resolution!) for 2011. This last year has been especially challenging for me– good challenges, but also ones that I have allowed to overwhelm me and sideline more important priorities. Too many times, my self-care (and sanity) were put aside to finish projects, pick up shifts, volunteer for work activities, and of course, amidst all the craziness that I created, equal time was spent overanalyzing my stress and feeling sorry for myself. What a mess…

So, my goal for 2011 is to do less. Yup, do less. But more than that, I want to be more aware of doing less. What’s happening when I do less? What do I notice? What do I see? How do I feel? Present moment awareness while doing less will likely provide far more nourishment for my body, mind and soul than an overly full calendar.  

I’ve started this goal by taking two less classes for this semester and working 5 fewer hours per week. Money will be even tighter, so the hubs and I moved to a smaller (and cheaper!) apartment, but a space that is far more ‘homey’. I’m looking forward to more time and energy to dive into the things I love or have always wanted to do: writing (finally back to blogging!), cooking, gardening and more yoga.

How about you? What were some of the lessons 2010 offered you? What are you going to create for 2011?


Wishing you much love & blessings in 2011!!


Help Support This Healing Initiative October 4, 2010


Stories of suicide, addiction and depression are frequent in mainstream media. Unfortunately, these stories rarely discuss anything beyond the suicide method or a claim that the person is now in “treatment.” This tiptoeing around tough topics and shallow coverage (which is often judgmental) only perpetuates the stigmas. It’s time we broke free from this cycle.

This film (see the trailer below) is part of a dynamic healing initiative that seeks to open the discussion about depression and suicide and explore opportunities for true healing. I ask that you help me create this necessary initiative.

Your financial support will help to finish production of the film (e.g. editing), create the website and social media initiatives and outline a curriculum that can be integrated into college health courses and medical schools.

There are two ways to donate:  1) Use the handy tool above and pay securely through PayPal. Just select the amount you would like to donate and then click “Give.”  or  2) If you would prefer to send a check, please email me and I will give you all the info that you need.

As an important contributor to the completion of this project, you will receive:

  • $5 – $25: Online recognition on “Contributors” page (listed in order of donation amount). Selected name on the “In Honor Of” board (optional– this is an online page honoring those who have passed from suicide- listed in alphabetical order)*.
  • $30 – $200: All of above + DVD of the film*
  • $250 – $750: All of above + Thank you credit in film (your name appears in this credit).
  • $1,000 – $2,000:  All of above + “In Honor of” credit at begining of film (credit honoring an individual of your choosing who has passed from suicide)

* Please note that I will be contacting you for all necessary info (confirm your name– and if you want it placed on the “Contributors” page, your address to send DVD, name for “In Honor Of,” etc.) via your email used for PayPal. After 3 unsuccessful attempts at contacting you, I will just place your name on the relevant page/credit.

I am also in search of two Executive Producers for the film. Please email me if you are interested and/or have questions about this opportunity (aimee@wellnessgossip.com).

Other ways to help: Pass this page to your contacts, Tweet this page, Post to Facebook, Click the “Add to site” link on the donation tool above to embed on your own blog or website… Other ideas?? Email me and let’s discuss 🙂

And yes, please keep sending in your titles for the film. Whoever provides the selected title will receive a credit in the film!

I will be updating you all as we progress. The goal is to pitch the film in mid-February 2011 and hit the festivals in early summer 2011. Online initiatives will likely begin in May 2011.

I cannot express to you how much your support means to me– even if happy thoughts and emails are all you can offer at this time. Truly, the amazing emails that I have received have kept me motivated to bring this initiative to completion. And we’re almost there!!!

Much love and gratitude,