The Story of Tinderine, the Sockeye Salmon Sheela

I have been thinking about Wellness Tips for a while. I want it to be a useful resource, but I found it did not have the reach and therefore the impact that I had hoped when I started. Along with school, that is the reason I stopped writing. No sense spending hours of time writing when not enough people read it and act on it to make a difference. When I started, my hope for Wellness Tips was to change the world! Ha ha!

I feel that especially now, we are in a critical place. That the earth is in a critical place. The plants and creatures of the planet are in a critical place. And we need to act as one, and do something about it.

When something is not working, it is time to make a change and see if a different approach will work better. Below is a story about the plight of the salmon. I am in the process of writing a book – a fantasy trilogy that will be about many of the issues that face our world. This parable uses some of the characters of that book and may be included as part of the larger story. We will see if it makes the cut – ha ha ha. That will be decided much later.

The book is about a world called oracle that is very similar to our world, except that it is populated with elves, fairies, necromancers, guardians and talking creatures, instead of humans. In the parables I will periodically write for Wellness Tips, these characters will seem human-like. In the book you will understand how they are not human, and how they are. The term “Teşrin-I and Kânûn-I” means “year”.

I hope you enjoy the story.

The Story of Tinderine, a Sockeye Salmon Sheela

I am thinking I want Salmon Sheela for dinner. I have not had that in while, and I think Judy will have fun helping me come up with a good recipe. Harvey, my Cat Shola will love the leftovers too.

I am about ready to go to the sheeler market, when I sense my Elf Father, Tuuchweetzay, at my side. He seems concerned about something, and I think he wants to talk to me.

“Paran, I want to tell you a story before you go. Do you have time?”

“Of course! There is no hurry. What is it?”

“As you know, we elves live a very, very long time. Always when the leaves turned orange, yellow and red from the time I learned to walk and for my entire life, I remember going to the river with my family to catch some Salmon Sheela for dinner. There were so many in the river I could have walked across their backs to the other side. They would be fighting their way upstream to spawn, and there were so many of them! It was a most amazing sight. I will never forget how we would be able to just pick a Sheela up with our bare hands, take it home and have it for dinner. There were more than enough salmon for us, and the Shola mammals and Shayla birds that depended on the Salmon Sheela for survival.”

“When you go to the river now when the leaves turn colours, do you see so many Salmon Sheela that you would be able to walk on their backs to the other side of the river?” he asks me.

“No, not at all. I have noticed some, but not that many,” I say.

“I want to tell you the story of Tinderine, a Salmon Sheela friend of mine. I met him four Teşrin-I and Kânûn-ı ago when I was camping up the river in the mountains where the stream is born. The snow was melting, and the plantae were starting to grow. He was a tiny little smolt at the time, and he had hundreds of brothers and sisters that all hatched from the same batch of eggs that his mother laid the previous time the leaves were coloured.”

“I will tell you his story just like he told it to me, when I met him again just recently.”

“Hi Tuuchweetzay, do you remember me? Tinderine? As you know, I am a Sockeye Salmon Sheela. The last time we met was four Teşrin-I and Kânûn-I ago, when I was a smolt. A lot has happened to me since then, and it is important that you tell my story to as many heads as you can.”

“When we met, my brothers and sisters are rejoicing at being alive in the waters of this river, but soon our Instincts tell us it is time for us to go, and that we need to swim all the way to the pelagia. Luckily the water of a stream flows downhill, so the swimming is easy, and we are all having fun trying to jump over stones and avoid smashing into them when the currents are strong.”

“A few consciousness weeks later, the river we are swimming in is becoming very wide and much more slow moving, and in the river we begin to see these big mesh bags that have huge Salmon Sheela in them. I feel sorry for them as they cannot escape.”

“I can tell they are not the same type of Salmon Sheela that I am, because the smolts that escape the mesh are so much bigger than we are, and as such, they can swim faster to get to the plantae algae and other food before we can. We are getting hungry and losing energy because of it. I later find out they are Atlantis Salmon Sheela Smolts that are double-helixally modified to grow super big.”

“The water around those mesh bags feels bad. It is murky and smells like death because there is too much algae. That combined with too many Sheela trapped in an enclosed sickness mesh in a part of the river where water can’t flow fast enough to wash away their feces, makes for sick Sheela that are very vulnerable to infestation.”

“My siblings and I have not even grown scales yet, and we are beginning to feel sick. We feel swollen, and it is impacting our ability to swim. The Atlantis smolts tell us they have a disease called ‘Pelagia Newting’, and we might have caught it too.”

“Some of my brothers and sisters who did not get enough food because the bigger Atlantis Smolts beat them to it, are really having a hard time as they have less energy from lack of food, and are not able to swim well because of the disease. I lose many of my siblings going past those sickness meshes. My poor brothers and sisters …”

“We know we are getting closer to the pelagia because the water is getting saltier. We pass a mesh water bag where those poor Atlantis Salmon Sheela trapped inside look like they are flopping themselves, clearly in terrible discomfort. It looks like they are trying to shake something off of their bodies. Then I see why they were acting so weirdly. They have these Pelagic Worm Shoila on their scales all over their bodies that are biting into them, burying themselves into their flesh and eating them. The thought of that happening to me makes me squirm in terror, and I flee, swimming as fast as I can. My heart goes out to those poor Sheela that cannot escape their tormentors.”

“Despite trying to flee, I feel one of the Pelagic Worm Shoila suction itself onto me. I see my siblings are also under attack. I scrape my skin on a rock trying to dislodge the worm, but it has already started to bury itself inside me.”

“The closer we get to the pelagia, the saltier the water gets, and the more Pelagic Worms there are with each successive mesh waterbag we pass containing Atlantis Sheela. Relatively speaking, these worms are huge on our skin compared to on the Atlantis Salmon Sheela, and I realize after watching my siblings that it takes only three worms to kill us smolts. Many more of my siblings are not going to make it to the pelagia.”

“Several consciousness days later, those of us that are left arrive at the pelagia. I know I got lucky with only one worm attack, but my insides feel bad. I don’t think there is anything I can do about the Pelagic Worm Shoila inside me.”

“There are groups of Sholla Blackfish Whales waiting for us. They are black and white, have teeth and big pink tongues. We are terrified as they keep trying to surround us to eat us. Because they are so much bigger than us and can swim so much faster, my remaining brothers, sisters and I all split up and go our separate ways so that they will have a harder time entrapping us. Many of my siblings I never see again.”

“I am alone in the pelagia now, trying to survive. I stay deep in the water to avoid being attacked from above by the Shayla Eagles, Falcons and Herons, and I am lucky to escape the predator Sheela.”

“It seems to me that the water is getting warmer as the consciousness weeks go by, and I am feeling more and more tired because of it. One day I happen to swim north in the direction of the highhalf sun, and I notice the water is cooler. I feel better, it is easier to find food and my biology does not slow down. Because my energy improves, I decide to stay up here for a while, even though my Instinct tells me that is not where I should normally live.”

“One consciousness day I am looking for food to eat with a bunch of friends, when I notice what looks like a mesh bag beginning to surround us. I instantly remember the Atlantis Sheela stuck in the sickness mesh in the river, and my Instinct fires up intensely, and my heart begins to race. I do not want to end up like the Atlantis! Which direction should I swim to get away? I can even feel the mesh moving the water towards me, and my terror rises. I had heard stories from other Sheela that often circles of mesh swoop underneath the pelagic Sheela, then lift the Sheela up out of the water into the air never to come back. The thought of my scales and eyes drying out in the air like that is horrifying, let alone what happens after. Huge numbers of Sheela that were in the water one consciousness minute, are gone forever the next consciousness minute. The pelagia always feels empty after the circle meshes come. It is as if the meshes are trying to empty out the pelagia, and I find it so, so sad.”

“I swim as fast as I can towards where the mesh is not. It is like the mesh is encircling and closing in on me. I know I am in trouble, and it is possible I will not see another consciousness day. My fear makes me swim faster than I ever have, trying to stay ahead of that mesh. Then I hear a swoosh, and by some stroke of luck, the mesh lifts behind me, and I am okay. But my friends are not! I hear them scream in fear and panic as they are lifted away. Their screams still haunt me to this day, my Instinct turns over and I feel sick every time I remember that moment.”

“That is not the only day I encountered mesh circles, but that is the closest call for me. I lose many friends to the mesh circles during my time in the pelagia. I miss them…”

“Then there is another kind of invisible mesh that is usually right where the best food is. You can swim partially through it without noticing, and then you find yourself stuck. You try to swim backwards, the mesh goes into the gills, and you are be trapped. I am told that it doesn’t hurt, which surprises me. I would have thought it would be awful. Then, like the mesh circles, this mesh is lifted up, taking the Sheela out of the water and into the air, not to ever come back. Because these invisible meshes are usually by the good food, I choose to eat less healthy food and stay safe.”

“During the fourth Teşrin-I and Kânûn-I, when the pelagia water gets hot in the summer, my hormones tell me it is time to go back to my hatch river to meet with other Sockeye Sheela and fertilize the eggs of the female Sockeye Sheela.”

“After many consciousness weeks of swimming, I get to the river funnel. There I notice lots of circle meshes and also hooks with food in the water. I know the hooks are traps, but the circle meshes are tricky to avoid. There are lots of us Sockeye Sheela there, trying to get by the meshes and hooks, and into the river itself. I think the meshes must have caught most of us because by the time I get to the river there are not very many of us left.”

“The river funnel has many shallow parts which I know to avoid, because I do not want Shayla Eagle talons poking holes in my back. I saw many of my Sheela mates stabbed and carried out of the water by the Shayla Eagles, their tails still waving like they were swimming in the air. Seeing that left a big impression of fear and deep sadness on my heart. Their consciousness days are over.”

“I join the other Sockeye Salmon Sheela that avoided the meshes and the Shayla to swim upstream against the current. The river water is very warm which saps my energy. I find it very hard to jump the rock obstacles in my path, especially as the water current is pushing me back towards the pelagia. In places the water is also uncomfortably shallow yet fast moving. I do not feel safe, and I have to work hard just to stay still against the strong current. The Shayla Seagulls are everywhere stabbing us in the back with their beaks. They take bits of flesh out of my back. I guess everyhead likes to eat us. I try and find the deep parts of the river, but in some places I can’t escape. Swimming is becoming even more difficult because I am so injured.”

“The river funnel narrows into the deep, slow-moving river itself. I am nervous about the sickness meshes that killed so many of my brothers and sisters on our way to the pelagia. A little while later the water becomes murky, begins to smell from the algae. The holes in my back burn, from where the Shayla Gulls stabbed me. We are approaching the Atlantis meshes again, which to my surprise, are empty of Sheela. I have been dreading this part of the journey, but maybe if the Atlantis Sheela are not there, we will be safe from the Shoila Pelagic Worms.”

“It does not take long for that idea to be proven wrong. Soon some of my Sockeye Sheela friends and siblings are flipping themselves around in the water trying to rid their bodies of the Shoila Worms that have suctioned onto them. I can see the Worms aiming for our wounds. It is as if the Shayla have started the job, and the Shoila Pelagic Worms are going to finish it and kill us.”

“I realize the Worms are attacking me too. My whole body is riddled with them and I can feel them wriggling into the deepest holes left by the Shayla and deepening them. I feel like I am being eaten from the inside out. There are so many on the surface of my scales that I look for a rock to rub against to hopefully scrape them off. I am in a total panic. We are all desperate for relief, and like when we were swimming to the pelagia, we can’t decide whether it is better to swim fast to get out of the area, or to rub them off first. We find ourselves darting forward, finding a rock to rub, then darting forward again as fast as we can manage, considering how injured and low on energy we are in this hot summer water.”

“We leave this Atlantis worm-infested mesh area only to come to another, a short distance further. In the river but still close to the pelagia there seem to be many more clumps of Sheela meshes than I remember four Teşrin-I and Kânûn-I ago. We are frantic from feeling unable to escape the Pelagic Worms near these meshes. Thankfully, as we make our way upriver, there are fewer Worm Shoila, probably because they don’t like fresh water. However, all said and done, the worms on this part of the voyage takes their toll on us. So many of my Sockeye Salmon travel-mates don’t make it. I am so, so sad.”

“Suddenly I feel extreme pain in the side of my belly. What is that? What is happening to me now? I feel myself being lifted up – I flap my tail and try to roll over onto my back to escape. The pain of moving my injured areas makes it hard, but I know I better if I want to live. As I roll over, I am looking into the face of a Grizzly Bear Shola. Her teeth look huge, and I don’t want to be her lunch. Not after all I have been through. I need to spawn. I flap and roll again, and I roll off her paw and splash back into the water, hitting a rock hard on the way. Thankfully her claws only scraped my scales and did not stab me to the point of no escape, but now I have a gash in my side in addition to holes in my back, a digestive system that has been eaten by Worms, and broken ribs from hitting the rock. I can’t tell you how much pain I am in. Swimming is next to impossible, but I have a bit further to go upstream before I can spawn.”

“The few of us that are left, struggle up the stream fighting against the current as best we can, considering our injuries. Suddenly it is as if the stream just ends. It seems the side of the mountain has slid into the stream, resulting in a huge wall of rock and dirt blocking our way. I try jumping to see if we can get to the other side of the blockage, but it is too far. What are we going to do now? We can’t spawn here because the water is too deep. I am crushed. After all we have been through, we won’t be able to spawn. It seems that this four Teşrin-I and Kânûn-ı Salmon Sheela run in this river is done forever.”

“All of us are right up against the wall of rock, wondering what to do now, when I see you, Tuuchweetzay. I remember you from when I was a smolt. I am so glad to see you. A friendly face. You tell me you are going to carry me and my Sockeye Sheela friends to the other side of the slide so we can continue upstream, and you tell us to not be afraid. You and some of your elfyn friends scoop us up in hand meshes, put us in buckets of cool water, put the buckets onto the back of a truck, and drive us upstream past the slide. Then you very gently set us free in the stream again. You tell me you will meet me at the spawning grounds in a few days, and that you will make sure the slide is cleared before the plantae grow in the spring, so the smolts can make it to the pelagia. I cannot believe your kindness. To say I am grateful is an understatement.”

“A few consciousness hours later of painful struggle against the current, the few of us that are left finally make it to where we are born. I think it is a miracle. It is so good to see some of my brothers and sisters again. We all look terribly beat up, with chunks of flesh missing, scales missing, some have fins half torn off, yet here we are. It is time to spawn.”

“The females move the pebbles around at the bottom of the stream to create a bit of a dip, and lay their eggs. I notice lots of bubbles coming up as the stones and pebbles are moved, and the water feels fresher – like it is aerated. After the eggs are laid, it is my turn to inseminate them.”

“And here we are, Tuuchweetzay. The end of my story, and the end of my life. I have spawned, so I can die now. I don’t know how many more Teşrin-I and Kânûn-I we, the Salmon Sheela will survive. I made it back here to my hatching grounds to spawn against all odds. Those of us that are here are the only ones left for this year. Our numbers would not be so critically low if it were only the Sheela, Shayla, and Shola predators that come after us. That is to be expected. We are okay with that. We all have to eat.”

“The mesh and hooks at the river funnel don’t help, but the biggest problem is Pelagic Newting disease that kill so many of the smolts going down to the pelagia, and four Teşrin-I and Kânûn-I later on the way back upriver to spawn, the Shoila Pelagic Worms that kill many of those of us that are left. It is a disaster, and we will go extinct within a few years if nothing changes. If on the other fin, things do change, we can hope that a larger percentage of the smolts that hatch when the snow melts and the plantae grow, will make it back here successfully to spawn, and our numbers will grow again.”

Tuuchweetzay looks at me and says, “That is the end of Tinderine’s personal story. He did his bit. He was one of the lucky ones that despite all odds, managed to make it back to spawn. But there is much more to the big story of the Salmon Sheela. I want to tell you about how the lack of Salmon Sheela has impacted the Sholla Blackfish.”

“You remember how Tinderine said that when they first got to the pelagia, a group of Sholla Blackfish tried to surround them to eat them? Well, the Salmon Sheela, particularly Chinook Salmon Sheela, are a key part of the Blackfish diet. Salmon Sheela have nutrition in them that is not found in other species of Sheela in as large amounts. So, if the Blackfish cannot find enough Salmon Sheela to eat, they have trouble reproducing, often losing their calves late in their pregnancy or just after their birth, which is especially hard on them.”

“So, unfortunately, the Sholla Blackfish are not maintaining their numbers either. Calves are celebrated and looked after by the entire pod, but they are often sickly and don’t make it despite the pod’s best efforts. The Blackfish are now also threatened with extinction, largely because of the huge decline in Chinook Salmon Sheela,” says Tuuchweetzay.

“I find it extremely sad. The Sholla Blackfish have always been iconic in the pelagia. Seeing their dorsal fins when they spout always fills my heart. And if one is lucky enough to see one breach – wow. I am thrilled. Like the Salmon Sheela, they used to be a common sight. Now they are rare, and my heart cries for them.”

“There are Shola like bears that also rely on the Salmon Sheela. When I was moving Tinderine and his Salmon Sheela buddies past the slide, I noticed a bunch of bears at the water’s edge below the slide, trying to catch the few Sockeye that were there. They looked so emaciated. Their skin was hanging off their bones. I have not seen bears looking that thin before, and I wonder if they will survive their winter hibernation as they will have no bodyfat to live on and may just die in their sleep.”

“I watched them for a while. They would plunge their heads into the water to catch a Sheela in their jaws, but they seemed to keep missing them. It was as if they were not able to see them well. I have never seen Shola bears miss Sheela that are swimming between their legs.”

“I think their vision must have been impaired due to a lack of omega 3s in their diet. Sockeye Sheela are their best source, so when they do not eat enough of them, I suppose it is not surprising that their vision would be compromised.”

Tuuchweetzay continues. “And we can’t forget the carnivore Shayla, like bald eagles. They are an iconic Shayla in Salmon Sheela territory. After the snow melts when their chicks hatch, Salmon Sheela are one of their favourite foods to give the babies. One used to see Bald Eagle Shayla swoop down and catch a Salmon Sheela in their talons, and fly off to their huge nests very frequently. Not so much anymore. Not like when I was a young elf when there were lots of salmon. Salmon have lots of flesh compared to other types of food, like Squirrel and Mice Shola or Smelt and Herring Sheela. So, for the energy effort, salmon provides more food and can give lots of nestovers, feeding them for days. The lack of Salmon Sheela means huge amounts of energy expenditure finding enough Shola or smaller Sheela to feed the chicks and themselves. The Bald Eagle Shayla have been increasing in numbers since we elves and fairies removed lead from buckshot that the Eagle Shayla were eating thinking it was food, but the lack of Salmon Sheela may decrease their population again.”

I ask, disappointed, “Are you saying we should not be eating Salmon Sheela at all?”

“We can still eat Salmon Sheela, but we need to be very careful. We need to choose with our treasureboxes by supporting the elves and fairies that sheel with their protection in mind. The only type of Salmon Sheela that is sustainable now is Pink Salmon Sheela. So only buy Pink Salmon Sheela. Avoid Sockeye, Chinook, Coho, Chum and Steelhead Salmon/Trout. We need to give them at least eight Teşrin-I and Kânûn-I to recover their numbers before we sheel them again,” says Tuuchweetzay.

“I would worry about not getting enough omega 3s if I chose not to eat them in order to help them recover,” I say.

“Yes, that is a concern although there are other good sources of omega 3. Krill Shella, for example. But they are now being oversheeled to make supplements, so I don’t really think they are a good idea either. Mackerel and Anchovy Sheela would be great options. They are not oversheeled. Flax Plantae can work for some heads if they have the enzymes to convert it into a useable form in their bodies. If after 12 consciousness weeks the skin does not improve, most likely plantae sources won’t work. Sheela or Shella sources of omega 3 generally work better,” explains Tuuchweetzay.

“Is there anything else you wanted to tell me? May I head down to the market and buy some Pink Salmon Sheela for dinner now?” I ask.

“No, that is all. I will see you later,” he says.

I head down to the Sheel Market and since the sheeler is not busy, I decide to ask him how he sheels.

“I use the seine meshes in the middle of the pelagia. I think it is unfair to the Salmon Sheela to lie in wait for them at the river funnel. They don’t stand a chance. And to sheel at a river where the Salmon Sheela returns are predicted to be low is unconscionable in my opinion. We try to be fair to the Salmon,” he says to me.

“If you are sheeling for salmon in the middle of the pelagia, how do you know which runs the Sheela will be returning to?” I ask. “Is it not true that the Sheela you catch in the pelagia might be returning to endangered rivers? How do you know?”

“Sometimes smolts are tagged as they leave the rivers, and we can tell that way. Most of the time we don’t know. I agree, that is a problem. But I need to sheel to feed my family. I am doing the best I can – I can’t afford to stop sheeling. What would you suggest I do?” asks the sheeler.

“My understanding is Pink Salmon Sheela are doing okay. Maybe you can only sheel Pink?”

“I suppose we can change our location to catch Pink only … but that will severely limit our catch and the treasureboxes I will earn from selling the Sheela. My family will struggle. I don’t think that is a perfect solution. We need more than just Pink Salmon Sheela.”

I remember a story Tuuchweetzay had told me a long time ago about Oolichan Sheela, which were also a staple for his family, growing up. “Maybe you can sheel the other kinds of Salmon Sheela after they spawn, way up where the rivers are born? The Oolichan Sheela are sheeled that way – after they spawn. You can probably just go and pick up the Salmon Sheela out of the rivers. Don’t Salmon Sheela turn a different colour after they have spawned?”

“Yes, they do. But they are so beat up and very unappetizing at that point. No head would want to eat them. And the Salmon Sheela don’t eat once they are in the river so they use up all their fat, including their omega 3s, so they would be less healthy also. So for those reasons I am not sure I would make us enough treasureboxes to make a good living,” replies the sheeler. “Besides that, I live by the pelagia. I can’t really move to the mountains for part of each year.”

“Okay, so that idea doesn’t work. What about this one. Don’t sheel the Sockeye Salmon Sheela at all, take a small number of Chinook Sheela, a small number of Coho Sheela, a small number of Chum Sheela, a small number of Salmon/Trout Sheela and a larger number of Pink Sheela. Bias towards the Pink. Say take 10% Chinook, 15% Coho, 15% Chum, 15% Steelhead Salmon/Trout Sheela blend and 50% Pink? Would that work? The Chinook are in real trouble also and the Blackfish in particular, really need them to thrive,” I suggest.

“That is a more realistic solution, except that it would involve us having to go to different locations to sheel for the different species of Salmon Sheela which will raise our expenses. We would have to raise our treasurebox prices. I don’t know if the elves and fairies would be willing to pay more. And for such a solution to work it would only be fair if all sheelers sheeled that way, not only the ethical ones. The industry should put a law in place regarding those percentages, and no sheeler should be permitted to sheel at the river funnels,” replies the sheeler.

“The way I see it, if the industry does not shift now, you won’t have any Sockeye or Chinook at all to sheel in a few Teşrin-I and Kânûn-I. Isn’t it better to change how you do things now, and still be able to sheel them in the future? If things stay the same, they will go extinct. What will your family do then? You will only have the Pink to sheel, and then they will be oversheeled, and well … to me, this is important. I want to be able to eat Sockeye and Chinook well into the future.”

“Yes, so do I. Absolutely. Look. I will talk to the Salmon Sheeling Directors. Your species-percentage idea is an interesting one. Enjoy your Pink Salmon Sheela dinner,” says the sheeler, as he turns to help a a fairy with his purchase.

I walk home thinking about the problem, and the hugeness of it. How the frick does one change an entire sheeling industry, as well as the shopping habits of the majority of elves and fairies in a short enough timeframe to save the Salmon Sheela?

Definitely the quickest way to change an industry is to choose carefully how one spends one’s treasureboxes, and only buy sustainable food and products. Business listens to treasureboxes more than anything else. If they can’t make enough treasureboxes one way, they will change so they can make treasureboxes another way, or else the business dies.

Besides choosing carefully how I spend my treasureboxes, the only other thing I can think of that might improve the plight of the Salmon Sheela and the other important issues on oracle, is to spread the word. Heads need to know and understand the problem so they will care about it.

I will do my best to tell Tinderine’s story to as many heads as I can. I will write his story down and share it on my televisual, and hope they will share his story too. The more heads that share his story, the more chance heads will change, and the more hope there is for the Salmon Sheela. I really really hope we can do this in time and save them. It would be tragic to lose the Salmon Sheela forever.

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Marlene A. Wagner, John D. Reynolds. Salmon increase forest bird abundance and diversity. DOI PLOS ONE. February 6, 2019.

Lindsay, Bethany, Salmon or Trout: What the heck is a Steelhead anyway?, Dec. 23, 2017.

Garver KA, et al. Piscine reovirus, but not jaundice syndrome, was transmissible to Chinook Salmon, Oncorhynchus tshawytscha (Walbaum), Sockeye Salmon, Oncorhynchus nerka (Walbaum), and Atlantic Salmon, Salmo salar L. Journal of Fish Diseases 39:117–128. 2016a.

GD,Marty et al., Piscine reovirus in wild and farmed salmonids in British Columbia, Canada: 1974–2013. Journal of Fish Diseases 38(8):713–728. 2015.

Miller, K.M., et al., Survey of infectious agents detected in juvenile Chinook and sockeye salmon from British Columbia and Washington. NPAFCDoc. 1718.16pp. Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Pacific Biological Station, Cooperative Resource Management Institute, and St. Andrews Biological Station. 2017.

Miller KM, et al.,Infectious disease, shifting climates, and opportunistic predators: cumulative factors potentially impacting wild salmon declines. Evolutionary Applications 7(7):812–855, 2014.

Morton A, et al., The effect of exposure to farmed salmon on piscine orthoreovirus infection and fitness in wild Pacific salmon in British Columbia, Canada. PLoS ONE 12(12): e0188793,(2017)

Polinski MP, et al.,De novo assembly of Sockeye salmon kidney transcriptomes reveal a limited early response to piscine reovirus with or without infectious hematopoietic necrosis virus superinfection. BMC Genomics, 17:848 2016.

Purcell MK, et al., Molecular testing of adult Pacific salmon and trout (Oncorhynchus spp.) for several RNA viruses demonstrates widespread distribution of piscine orthoreovirus in Alaska and Washington. Journal of Fish Diseases 00:1-9, 2017.

Takano T, et al. Full-Genome Sequencing and Confirmation of the Causative Agent of Erythrocytic Inclusion Body Syndrome in Coho Salmon Identifies a New Type of Piscine Orthoreovirus. PLoS ONE 11(10): e0165424., 2016.

Copyright Vreni Gurd 2020

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Improving tap water for better thyroid function


I don’t know about you, but I recently realized that I have not been paying close enough attention to the water I consume. I did drink from my carbon-filtered water, but the water I put into the kettle to boil for tea, in the coffee machine, into ice trays, or in the pot for rice or soup, I usually took straight from the tap.

So I decided to be religious about my water for the last while to see if I would notice a difference. And I did. Within 2 weeks my skin improved.

My whole life I have had these tiny dry-skin pimply-like bumps on the back of my upper arms and also on my thighs. I would call it my chicken skin. I went through phases where I would attempt to figure out what the problem was. I made sure my omega 3 levels were good, I dry brushed, I creamed, I drank more water … Nothing seemed to work. But since I became crazy vigilant about all water that enters my body there has been a noticeable difference, and I am now hopeful that my skin and maybe my health, will continue to improve.

Even though my water filter claims to reduce chlorine, I was not convinced it eliminated it completely, so figured I would let the chlorine gas escape before putting it through the filter. So, I put hot tap water in my 2 cup (500ml) measuring cup and let the water sit uncovered for half-an-hour before putting it through the filter. If you are using cold water instead of hot, it will probably take an hour (double the time) to do the job.

If your community uses chloramine instead of chlorine, that same 2 cups or 500ml of hot water will take 2.5 to 3 hours to de-gas.

Lately I have been using only the treated water to make anything that I am consuming. I did not decide to do this with the intention of improving my skin, but it is the happy result.

My intent was to help my thyroid. Chlorine, fluorine, bromine (another water disinfectant) and iodine are chemically-related compounds called halogens, and in the body they all compete for the iodine receptors. Our bodies need iodine, so when a different halogen occupies the iodine receptors, our thyroid is deprived of the iodine it needs to function properly.

In my neck of the woods, the water is not fluoridated, but if yours is and you want to remove the fluoride, you will need to look for a water filter that will do that.

If you have a thyroid issue it is possible that making sure the water you consume is free of chlorine and fluoride may at least move you in the healthier direction. Do make sure you are also eating foods that contain iodine.

I refuse to use common table-salt and instead use the Paludier Sea Salt which has not been iodized. So I make sure I eat at least 1 nori sheet (8″x7.5″ or 20.5cm x 19cm) per day. Wakame would be another great seaweed choice to get your daily iodine.

Well, that’s it for today. I have another school deadline coming up (thesis protocol), so I may be silent for a couple of months. Thank you for your patience with respect to my inconsistency in writing. I do appreciate it.

Let me know what you think of this and other topics. We are in this health-thing together!


Related tips:
Mercury, a strong nerve poison
Fluoridated water, boon or bane?
Choosing a water filtration system
Thyroid function and dysfunction

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If everyone were vegan, what would the world look like?


People choose to be vegan for many reasons, such has to avoid supporting cruelty to animals, for personal health, and for the health of the planet.

I know that the decision to avoid eating animal foods is not taken lightly. Many people struggle with the ethics of taking the life of another living sentient being, and have concluded that becoming vegan fits best with their integrity.

I too am completely against cruelty to animals. What is done to animals in big-agriculture factory-farms is despicable and I want nothing to do with it. Animals have just as much right to a good life as we humans do, in my opinion.

Furthermore with the climate crisis now at the forefront of consciousness, avoiding beef and dairy is commonly suggested as a way to reduce methane release into the atmosphere. Meat substitute products like Beyond Meat are becoming extremely popular.

So the question is, should we all become vegan? If everyone became vegan, what do you think our world would look like? Let’s think it through.

  1. First of all, since they would no longer be needed, cows, goats, sheep and chickens would probably go extinct, except for the odd example of each species kept in zoos.
  2. Harvesting annual crops actually has a very high kill rate of small animals, so is it really a valid to suggest that a eating plants-only diet is more humane?

    As Andrew French suggests in the above link, “If the primary goal of veganism is to reduce suffering, then many of us are vegan, and a diet composed of primarily grass-fed beef and dairy, as well as free-range chicken eggs and perennial plant products, is the most vegan diet that I can think of. A diet based on grass that is never tilled, with no worm disturbed, no gopher sliced in half, allows nature to grow and flourish without our annual agricultural blades, machines, and chemicals.”

  3. Most likely there would be more deforestation in order to have enough land to grow crops to feed the world. This would further accelerate climate change, as trees are the lungs of the planet.
  4. There would be more monocrops and consequently less biodiversity, also not good for the health of the planet. If the crops are conventionally grown, that would mean even more chemical run-off into streams impacting fish and wildlife.
  5. So much land devoted to farming would further impact migration routes of wild animals, reducing their habitat, and potentially causing those species to decline.
  6. After 2-5 years of vegan-only eating, many people, particularly those whose ancestry is from places that are cold and snowy for several months of the year, will notice a decline in their health. In general, humans are omnivores and need to get some nutrients from animal foods, although those with tropical ancestry may manage to stay healthy longer without animal foods.
  7. As a result of deforestation and even more planting of annual crops, desertification would further increase, which is already a huge world problem. I will get into why, below.

Somehow I have a feeling that the above list is not what vegans want at all.

Desertification, a process where fertile land slowly dries out and becomes desert, is a growing problem that is made worse with hotter climates, deforestation, and poor farming practices.

Please watch this wonderfully hopeful TED Talk about how to reverse desertification and store enough carbon to put a dent in the climate crisis!

Isn’t the Ted Talk wonderful? According to Allan Savory, the best way to prevent desertification is to introduce grazing animals to the land. The cows, bison, sheep, goats etc. trample the grasses down stopping moisture from evaporating, fertilize the land which helps the vegetation grow, while at the same time sequestering carbon. The key to preventing desertification is to keep the animals moving so they are not grazing on the same exact bit of land day after day.

The way I see it, for our health and the health of the planet I choose to follow the middle path. Not veganism, but also not continuing with the status quo that doesn’t think about the impact of factory farms. What we eat is a political statement that has huge impacts for the world we live in and want to live in.

Absolutely refuse to eat animal foods from big agriculture factory-farms to stop the animal cruelty. We have a lot of power by choosing where to spend our dollars. If enough people stop supporting cruel farming methods, big agriculture would be forced to change.

Instead, to protect our health and the health of the planet, when I choose to eat beef and dairy, I am picky enough to choose from a farm that I know pastures their animals, and lets them lead a good life. Cows being cows, grazing outside, with the farmers moving them from pasture to pasture like nature intended, in order to retain moisture, keep the grass growing and sequester carbon.

Pastured animals and the carbon they sequester offsets the methane they produce, and the resulting reversal of desertification of the land helps cool the planet.

And pastured animals provide far more nutrition than factory-farmed animals. Twelve times the omega 3, 6 times the CLA, double the beta carotene, 5 times the vitamin E and A, and no antibiotics or hormones as they are not needed, and virtually no e-coli risk.

Every one of us will have to face that one bad day when we die, and it is important that while we are here that we live. And that we allow our animal friends to fully enjoy their life on this planet too before their one bad day.

Life eats life – should we fault the lion for eating the deer? Many plants eat insects too. Is that immoral? And why is it bad to eat animals and not bad to eat plants? Plants are living creatures also.

Yes, choosing how to eat in the most ethical way possible is complicated. There is so much information to sift through, and it can be hard to consider the hard truths and not make an emotional decision. I told you the decision I arrived at, but really your choice is yours alone to make. My goal here is to provide you with information that maybe you had not thought about before, so that your decision can be an informed one.

(I think it is also worth mentioning that artificial meat products are extremely processed”. Beyond Meat is made with peas, which is better than soy, but no matter how you look at it, it is still processed.)

If you want to share this article, scroll to the very bottom and click the “share” icon to post on Facebook. If you want to subscribe or search for other posts by title or by topic, go to

Related tips:
On vegetarianism
Conventional vs. Organic vs Pasture-fed meats, poultry, eggs and dairy
Industrial agriculture – what’s the real cost of cheap food?
The problem with organic food
Improving nutrition by avoiding the grocery store
In defense of real meat

Savory, Allan How to Green the World’s Deserts and Reverse Climate Change TED TALK

French, Andrew Grass Fed Beef is the Most Vegan Item in the Supermarket Medium, May 12, 2018.

Purdy, Chase Plant-based meats sound healthy, but they’re still processed foods Quartz, July 1, 2019.

Eissen, Jill Have Your Meat and Eat It Too! Part 1 – 3 CBC Ideas Podcast, aired Aug 18, 25, Sept. 1, 2010.

Pollan, Michael The Omnivore’s Dilemma The Penguin Press, New York, 2006

Kenner, Robert Food Inc. Magnolia Home Entertainment, 2009.

Price, Weston A. Nutrition and Physical Degeneration Price Pottenger Foundation, La Mesa CA, 1939.

Taubes, Gary Good Calories, Bad Calories: Fats, Carbs, and the Controversial Science of Diet and Health (Vintage) Alfred A Knopf, New York, 2007.

Euromed It’s a Jungle Out There! How Plants Communicate to Get Their Needs Met

Chek, Paul Vegetarianism, inside out


Copyright 2019 Vreni Gurd

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Transfer your weight properly to maintain balance

This may seem obvious but many don’t do this – keep your weight over your base of support to ensure good balance as you move.

First of all, I owe you another apology. It has been a long time since I sent you a tip. There was a death in my family and I wasn’t in a state to write.

There is something I have noticed in my practice related to balance that I thought I would share, since once you become aware of it, it is probably not hard to fix.

What I have noticed is that often people move before they are stable. What I mean by that is they don’t have their weight solidly over the forward foot before picking up the back foot.

For example, the front foot is placed on the step, and then instead of leaning forward to centre the weight over that foot, they push off with the back toes launching the body forward, and hope they will “stick the landing” on the foot on the step. Most of the movement is off balance.

The way to stay safe from falls is to have your weight centred over a base of support at all times. If you are getting into a chair, keep your weight over your feet until your butt touches the chair. When you are getting up from a chair, get your shoulders forward over the arches of your feet before sinking into your feet to stand up. Think forward, not up.

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First step to resolving balance problems

Balance issues are common and have a variety of causes. In today’s post I want to offer a piece of the solution that can make a big difference, even though there may be other causes that are also playing a role.

Stretches to improve balance

What are some of the common causes of balance issues?

  • inner ear problems
  • vision problems
  • low blood pressure
  • diabetes
  • migraines
  • hip, knee, ankle, foot pain
  • some medications
  • leg muscles are too tight

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What controls your health more – your genes or your emotions?

So, is it nature or nurture that has the biggest impact on our health? This question has been around for a very long time, and I had always thought it was a combination of both.

At some point in my schooling I was taught that the genes are in the nucleus of the cell, and the nucleus runs the cell, sort of like the brain runs the body. Remove the brain, kill the person. Remove the nucleus, kill the cell? Nope!

According to biologist Bruce Lipton, if one removes the nucleus containing all the genetic material from the cell, the cell continues to function perfectly as if nothing has happened. The cell does not need the genes to function – clearly the genes are not operating the cell at all!

This interesting fact leads to 2 questions: a) if the genes do not run the cell, what is the purpose of the genes? b) What part of the cell is the control- centre for cell operations if it is not the nucleus?

The answer to the first question is that the genes provide the blueprint for the body. The architectural design. The “how to build” manual, so the proteins can refer to it to make the spare parts of the body that need to be replaced.

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Light and charged water provide our bodies with energy

It is common knowledge that are body is 75+ percent water, and yet we don’t really know what the purpose of all that water is, except for being the solvent for all the solutes (proteins, fatty acids, hormones, neurotransmitters, nutrients, minerals etc.)

Research by Gerald Pollack from the University of Washington in Seattle is now suggesting that water is far more complex than we have ever believed, and may be providing our bodies with another energy system – another driving force that moves fluids through our bodies.

I think this topic is fascinating, and has implications for a big change in our understanding of our basic physiology, as well as provides opportunities for technical applications in daily life.

Watch Gerald Pollack explain his science here. For those that prefer to read, I will summarize below.

When you are out in a boat, have you sometimes you noticed droplets of water sitting on top of the surface of the lake? How does that happen? Why don’t those drops immediately merge with the lake? Have you ever tried floating a coin or paperclip on the surface of some water? Possible, and somewhat amazing, no?

“Oh, that is just surface tension”, one would say. Right? Well, actually we now know there is more to it than that. We all know that water has 3 phases – solid (ice), liquid, and gas (steam). According to Pollack, there is a 4th phase of water – a gel phase between the liquid and the solid, and this is the phase of water that explains a lot of phenomena that has been largely a mystery.

When water contacts a water-loving surface (hydrophilic), the water molecules split, with the negative ions lining up next to the hydrophilic material, and the positive ions being pushed further away from the material. The negative ions rearrange themselves in such a way as to create a gel-like honeycomb lattice changing their molecular structure from H2O to H3O2.

The interesting thing about this negatively charged water is that it pushes everything else out into the positive water. The negatively charged lattice excludes everything including particles, contaminants, bacteria, even salt. Pollack calls this negatively-charged water, exclusion zone water, or EZ water for short.

Because the water is now divided into a negative zone and a positive zone, we essentially have a battery. If you put an electrode into each zone of the water, you can run an electrical device.

But what charges the water? Light. Pollack found that the more light was shining on the water, the more EZ water layers were created. He found that infrared light was particularly effective at increasing the layers of the negative-ion lattice.

This concept may explain how some biological processes in our bodies work. For example, red blood cells are commonly thicker than the capillaries (smallest blood vessels) that they have to go through. Is the pumping action of our heart really strong enough to squish these cells through the narrow tubes? Seems unlikely. So how is this possible?.

Pollack found that when he put a hydrophilic straw in the water and shone light onto the water, there was a constant non-ending flow of water and the particles it carried, through the tube. The charged water in our vessels may provide the energy to propel the red blood cells through the capillaries.

According to Pollack, the water inside the cells are negatively charged due to the many proteins they contain having hydrophilic walls, which creates EZ water, forcing the positively charged water outside the cells (extracellular fluid).

Mitochondrial cells are known as the powerhouses of the muscles as they provide energy for muscle contraction. Their structure contains many membranes, which would create a significant amount of EZ water, possibly increasing the energy production within the cells.

When we consider any biological process that involves a molecule sitting in water, we perhaps should now look at it with the understanding of all of the components involved: the molecule, the negatively charged EZ water, the positively charged water, and the effect of light. As Pollack says, perhaps we now need to reconsider many biological processes with this new understanding.

The take-away is that we are solar beings. Like plants, we are able to convert light into energy, and we also use this energy system to run some of the biochemical processes of the body.

It does make sense to me that if we can improve the body’s ability to use this energy system, we might feel much better. So, what might we do?

Certainly if we are dehydrated, EZ water would be depleted, and generally we don’t feel as good as we could. So drink up! There is anecdotal evidence that infrared light / saunas greatly increase people’s energy levels. Juicing raw greens like wheat grass is thought to be very healthy. Is it that we are consuming the plant’s EZ water that is also contributing to the health benefits?

At the very least, I think I will shine a light on my Britta pitcher – can’t hurt, might help …

Enjoy your Sunday!

Related tips
How much water should we drink?
Water, our critical solvent
Remineralize your water

Pollack, Gerald H. The Fourth Phase of Water: Beyond Solid, Liquid, and Vapor Ebner & Sons, Seattle, 2013

Pollack, Gerald H. Cells, Gels and the Engines of Life: A New Unifying Approach to Cell Function Ebner & Sons, Seattle, 2001.

Copyright 2017 Vreni Gurd

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Glyphosate (Round Up herbicide) in your Cheerios

Maybe you have used Round Up on your lawn, as it is a very common herbicide sold at Home Depot and other stores for home use. I imagine it is very effective.

Round-Up, otherwise known as glyphosate, is the most common herbicide used in North America, invented by and put onto the market by Monsanto. What they did is a truly brilliant for their bottom line.

Why, you ask? Monsanto is famous (or infamous depending on your point of view) for marketing genetically modified seed, particularly GMO Round-Up Ready canola, soy and corn. How they modified the seed was to make it resistant to their brand of herbicide, Round-Up or glyphosate.

So, they market their GMO seed, and also sell Round Up Ready herbicide, which kills everything but the plants that contain the modified genes.

Monsanto makes money on their GMO seed, and they make money on their herbicide. A perfect marriage. Personally, I don’t have a problem with businesses making money on their inventions – I admire innovation and find it amazing how much our world has changed even in the last 10 years.

But here is the thing. Glyphosate has been recently classified as a probable carcinogen by the World Health Organization’s cancer branch, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC).

It is being sprayed on corn, canola, soy, cotton, sugar beet and alfalfa GM crops in greater and greater quantities, because as the years go by, the weeds that it is supposed to kill are becoming more and more resistant to the herbicide, and it takes more and more Round Up to do the job.

Round Up is also regularly sprayed on other crops such as wheat and oats just before harvest, a process called desiccation. By killing the crop first it allows the grains to dry down faster after harvest.

Consequently, glyphosate residue is everywhere in the food supply, as most of us eat wheat, soy, oats and canola every day in processed foods, such as breakfast cereals, cookies, cookies, and products containing canola or soybean oil. It is also found in animals that have been fed GM Round-Up ready grains.

Unintended consequences of spraying Round-Up Ready herbicide, include wind carrying the spray to other crops, run-off into water-ways harming stream life and birds, and although glyphosate is not really a pesticide, it does seem to impact the spatial-tracking ability of bees, making it harder for them to find their way back to their hives. Our bees are struggling enough without this added problem!

It is said that the poison is in the dosage, and the amounts of glyphosate in the foods is small. But we now know that often lower doses of a toxin disrupt endocrine function more than higher doses.

According to the University of California San Francisco, 93% of the population has glyphosate in their urine, and children have larger amounts than adults. With a steady daily drip of glyphosate entering our systems, it can’t be surprising that it may play a role in throwing off our hormones.

I have only scratched the surface of the issues around glyphosate and Round-Up herbicide. Research is pointing to the inert ingredients in the herbicide causing human cell death, and glyphosate may be implicated in the much larger rates of gluten and other food allergy in children, to highlight a couple of others that you may wish to research.

So, what can we do? Although probably almost impossible to eliminate glyphosate exposure altogether, there is a lot we can do to dramatically decrease the amounts we are exposed to. Choosing organic would make the biggest difference, as by definition organic crops are not sprayed with toxic herbicides like Round Up.

Read packaging labels carefully, and avoid conventional foods that contain canola, soy, corn, wheat and oats. And obviously, don’t spray the stuff in your own yard!

Related Tips:
Food, our raw material
Our toxic body burden

Balbuena MS Effects of sublethal doses of glyphosate on honeybee navigation. J Exp Biol. 2015 Sep;218(Pt 17):2799-805. doi: 10.1242/jeb.117291.

Benbrook CM Trends in glyphosate herbicide use in the United States and globally. Environ Sci Eur. 2016;28(1):3.

Chou C. Quaker Oats on list of tainted oatmeals in FDA inspection The China Post May 27, 2016.

Alarming Levels of Glyphosate Contamination Found in Popular American Foods Nov. 2016.

Ecowatch Glyphosate Found in Urine of 93 Percent of Americans Tested May 29, 2016.

Gammon, Crystal Weed-Whacking Herbicide Proves Deadly to Human Cells Scientific American Online June 23, 2009.

International Agency for Research on CancerIARC Monographs Volume 112: evaluation of five organophosphate insecticides and herbicides World Health Organization, March 20, 2015

Alarming Levels of Glyphosate Contamination Found in Popular American Foods Nov. 2016.

Ecowatch Glyphosate Found in Urine of 93 Percent of Americans Tested May 29, 2016.

Gammon, Crystal Weed-Whacking Herbicide Proves Deadly to Human Cells Scientific American Online June 23, 2009.

Samsel A, Seneff S Glyphosate, pathways to modern diseases III: Manganese, neurological diseases, and associated pathologies Surg Neurol Int. 2015; 6: 45.

Copyright Vreni Gurd 2017

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Happy 2017 and floating downstream …

As I was lying relaxing in the comfort of my bed this morning, I had a realization. A realization that seemed simple enough, yet somehow profound, and one that I was surprised I had not previously fully understood.

And as the beginning of a new year is often associated with New Year’s Resolutions, I thought I would share it with you, as maybe you will find it helpful too.

I realized that whenever we are experiencing a negative feeling, we are actually coming from a place of lack. Usually we feel a negative feeling because we perceive a lack of something – money, health, thinness, time, a relationship, worthiness, confidence, security – whatever that lack is. We want something to be different than it is.

Because we are viewing our situation from the position of lack, we are pushing against and thinking more about what we don’t want – lack of money, sickness, being overweight, loneliness, overwhelm, self-doubt etc. – which is exactly what makes us feel bad.

And if we make a habit of pushing against what we don’t want, we are directing our energy in the wrong direction. Solutions to problems do not come from dwelling on the problem and agonizing about how awful the problem is.

Nobody enjoys feeling bad, so what if we were to turn our thoughts to what makes us feel good? Whenever we catch ourselves in that feeling of lack, immediately focus our thoughts to what we are grateful for instead, until the feelings of gratitude, blessing, and happiness bubble up.

Inspiration that solves problems tends to happen when we are in a happy place. And life is generally better when we are feeling happy.

So, if you are one to make New Year’s Resolutions, think about the feelings you are associating with your goals. Feelings of sacrifice? Does sacrifice feel good? No. Probably won’t work. Discipline is an external thing you are imposing on yourself, and the negative feeling will likely eventually slow progress. No point fighting upstream.

Can you find a way to look at your Resolutions from a downstream perspective? What can you do that is fun, that will take you in the direction of your resolution? For example, if you want to improve your physical fitness, maybe spending time outside going for a walk and chatting with a friend each day would be a great way to start. Or get and love a dog, who will need daily walking.

May your 2017 be filled with peace, joy and happiness, and may your life flow softly and gently downstream in the direction you want to go.

Related Tips:
Carefully tend the garden of your mind
An attitude of gratitude

Copyright Vreni Gurd 2017

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Reducing our stress with our thoughts and feelings

Control your thoughts, feel better, and that lowers your stress!

I imagine I am not the only one that agrees with Stuart Mclean when in one of his Vinyl Cafe stories he describes life as a speeding train.

A train that starts at the town of New Years, whips through Valentine’s Day, pauses briefly at Spring Break, takes forever through Income-Tax Season and Final Exam Jitters, speeds far too quickly through Summer Vacation to get to Back-To-School Shopping, winds through Halloween and Thanksgiving to rush like the bullet train through Holiday Preparations, and Parties to arrive at Christmas, Hanukkah or Ramadan (or whatever celebratory town I missed …)

And just when one thinks the trip is finally over and one is about the step off the train, one discovers the train has been yanked all the way back to New Years and the crazy trip starts all over again. And then combine the train ride with the ebb and flow of health, relationships and money, and we find ourselves stuck in a huge swirling stress-bucket. And stress has very negative consequences for our health.

Maybe it is not possible to slow the train down, but what can we do to stop the stress of the daily grind from impacting us and find more daily peace? This past year I have been experimenting with a different approach, and I think it is helping.

Firstly, I have been trying to stop the negative self-talk. It is amazing how I am my own worst enemy! I am sure you have heard it said that if someone else talked to you as harshly as you talk to yourself, you would fire them as your friend. Yet somehow it is okay to bully ourselves? This one is tough – I catch myself being mean to me fairly often still, but when I notice, I am now gentle with myself. I tell myself that it doesn’t have to be done this instant, that I am learning and I will get better, that there is only so much time in a day …

Secondly, when I am experiencing negative feelings like depression, anger, or frustration, I try to talk myself into a more positive-feeling place. My goal is to not allow myself to stay in the negative feeling for very long, as I don’t want those feelings to turn into a mood, or into a personality! Sometimes I can accomplish this in a few minutes, usually by distracting myself and thinking about another topic that makes me happy.

Other times this can be very difficult, as usually there is a story attached to those feelings. Since it is often next to impossible to detach an entrenched story from a feeling, the easiest option is to diffuse the story enough to get to feel better. Maybe not to joy and happiness, but it might be possible to talk oneself from depression to anger. Or from overwhelm to disappointment.

Any relief from the negative feeling even if it is to another feeling that is less negative, is moving downstream towards a happier place.

I am not talking about “positive thinking”, as the thought must ring true, or at least feel better. Saying “I am rich”, when you actually feel poor will make you feel worse, not better. Yet acknowledging that there are many opportunities out there and you just haven’t found the right fit yet, may be a more downstream thought.

One of my wisest friends, Mary Ann Gillies, told me that the best approach is to allow oneself to feel the feelings while ignoring the story. If parents made a concerted effort to avoid attaching a story to an incident with their children, their children would grow up with less self-doubt, less fear, more self-confidence, more optimism, and more self-empowerment.

As she puts it, “Think of kids who fall down and bump their knee. It hurts, they cry and if the parent acknowledges the hurt but doesn’t add a story to it by saying “You always fall down, you klutz.”, or “You poor baby – you need to move more carefully so you don’t get hurt”, the kid gets up, stops crying and in short time has forgotten all about the bump and the fear or anger or whatever feeling it generated in addition to the physical pain.”

The bottom line is that our thoughts and our feelings are inextricably linked, and since our feelings determine which neurotransmitters, hormones or peptides are created, our feelings largely determine our health status.

Our mind is the only place we are truly free. No matter what is going on in our lives, it is possible to imagine anything we want with our mind. We can let our minds drift to worst case scenario thoughts, doubt thoughts, generally negative thoughts, or we can actively shift our thoughts to solutions, to fun, to our dreams, thereby infusing ourselves with good feelings, which will improve our happiness and our health.

Please do keep the comments coming on my blog. If you want to share this article, scroll to the very bottom and click the “share” icon to post on Facebook, Twitter etc. If you want to subscribe or search for other posts by title or by topic, go to

Related Tips:
Carefully tend the garden of your mind
An attitude of gratitude
Mind and body, psyche and soma

Gillies, Mary Ann, personal communication, December 2016.

Hicks, Jerry & Esther The Law of Attraction Hay House, 2006.

Copyright Vreni Gurd 2016

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