Vedder River Railway Bridge ~ Strolls & Artsy Trolls

The Vedder River South Rotary Trail has multiple side trails joining it to the Browne Creek Wetlands, the South Dyke Trail, and the Peach Creek Trail. This particular trail is eight kilometres. This morning I walked to the railway bridge and snapped a few photos along the way. It’s a pleasant walk dominated only by the songbirds and sound of the flowing water.

A meandering stroll
Railway bridge
Street Creek foot bridge
Checking out what is under the bridge…
The main graffiti troll
Spoof troll on the other side
So many faces!

The Goal To Walk 10,000 Steps A Day

The 10,000 steps a day became a popular marketing platform a few years ago when it was the rage to use pedometers. Now there are watches and a variety of wrist trackers that record all activity, resting pulse rate, increase in pulse rate with each activity, hours of sleep, calendar alerts, fitness goals, calories consumed, etc. You can download all of this information onto your computer or phone each day, in order to set up a sophisticated training program.

So the pedometers have been surpassed by more comprehensive fitness trackers. But the 10,000 steps a day should not be left in the dust, or in the drawer, with all the other dusty old-fashioned gadgets. They can still help you track your steps, and increase them incrementally as per your goals. According to most fitness recommendations, one should aim to increase the number of steps by 500 per week. There is so much to see!

There are benefits to setting goals and for most people, it is motivating to track those goals – whether it is for fitness, counting calories, or both. Some websites claim that for many people 10,000 steps a day is not realistic. But considering most people walk 2000-3000 steps a day anyway, it is not the least bit unrealistic to increase it to 5,000 and then over a period of time, to 10,000.

Depending on a person’s stride, 10,000 steps is four to five miles. A shorter walking stride measures out to 4.4 miles. A ten kilometre run or walk, is six miles, which most people can manage, especially if the terrain is flat. The objective is to not only do those 10K walks for fund raising events, but to make it a habit at least five days of the week.

The other factor is time. It takes time to walk five or six miles a day. If you are a brisk walker, you will need to spend about ninety minutes out walking, and for slower walkers, a couple of hours. Considering it is healthy to get at least two hours of fresh air each day, setting the 10,000 steps as a goal, includes a daily dose of sunshine and fresh air.

Recently I have been walking the Rotary and Vedder River trails in Chilliwack, after living and walking on Haida Gwaii, and then in Vancouver for many years. After living on West Broadway and walking the Broadway corridor in Vancouver for several years, it is a breath of fresh air to be walking the river and dyke trails, with the river on one side, mountain views, and lush farmland with horses, goats, cattle, ducks, herons, on a well kept trail network. It is a walkers dream paradise!

Until I got out of the city, I did not realize how many things you have to watch out for when walking in the city. Right turning cars will often approach the intersections without stopping, while simultaneously looking to the left. Many of them ignore the fact it is a green light for the pedestrians, so you have to pay attention and wait until you know if they are paying attention.

A similar situation occurs when vehicles stop or pull forward to get a better view of traffic, and block the crosswalk on a pedestrian green light. Often, your only choice is to walk behind the vehicle. However, left turning traffic may not see you coming out from behind a truck or SUV when they take that twenty second window when there is a break in the traffic, to make a left turn.

The worst and most hazardous in my opinion, though – are the cyclists on the sidewalks. It’s not so bad if they are considerate and go slow while illegally riding on the sidewalk. But many of them do the opposite. They barrel down the centre of the sidewalk expecting people to get out of their way. And worse yet, will cycle down the Broadway corridor like a bat out of hell, weaving between pedestrians, dogs, strollers, people with walkers – and you or I – who might just be side-stepping or veering away from something on the sidewalk at that moment.

Each time a cyclist narrowly misses running into you from behind, you cannot help but think how crazy and unsafe it is for an adult to ride a bike very fast, down the middle of a sidewalk. There have been countless pedestrian injuries as a result. For those cyclists who think it is safer, hitting a pedestrian, a plate glass window, a bus stop, a dog on a leash, or getting thrown into oncoming traffic – defies logic.

As a matter of fact, many city cyclists will go from the sidewalk to the road or the road to the sidewalk without warning. They will cycle on the pedestrian crosswalks even if they are crowded. At the Kits beach crossings, they often will not even stop when they are cycling on the road and there is a red light, once again, narrowly missing or intimidating pedestrians who are trying to cross the road on a walk light.

If you walk a fair bit in Vancouver, you will soon realize that some cyclists are considerate and obey rules, while many do not. Therefore, you have to keep a wary eye to anticipate what they might do next, since there is no rhyme or reason to the way they operate. Some of them have attitude, like everyone but them are lard asses, and burning fossil fuels. They got their lard asses, ass backwards somehow!

A far-out country trail network, happens to be ideal for cyclists, horse back riders and pedestrians. I would have expected way more cyclists to be riding the trails out here. But so far, not one of them has dominated the trails, or come up fast behind me without warning. Trail blazers of all types, are much more polite, even though, in this case – they have every right to be on the trails. Oddly enough, I guess it makes some “less wobbly” sense – and might tie into stories describing the differences between the city mouse and the country mouse.

The same goes for horses. I have not had to condition myself for being startled by a horse either. And when I see them coming – I don’t want to startle them either! It works both ways!

It just goes to show you – we can’t take those 10,000 steps for granted. Every worthwhile goal has its hurdles. I suppose when it is salmon season, there will be bears along the riverbanks too. I actually think they are safer than city cyclists on the sidewalk – since being in the country tends to make us both shy away from close encounters! After all, common sense dictates we must avoid hazards, if we are going to stick to the goal of reaching 10,000 steps a day!

The Quest For Mental Wellness ~ Is All About Balance

Recently I was chatting with a neighbour who was telling me about some of the changes her 93 year old mother was going through. She was still living independently, and spent most of the year in Vancouver, and the summers in the Okanagan. The big change was that she was selling one of her properties and starting to plan for assisted living.

A few years ago, this dynamic lady began to have problems with her balance, so she started using a walker. Her habit has been to get out there with her walker and walk the seawall three times a week. She also makes a point of getting up, dressed, and getting out every day to run errands. It is an inspiration to hear the testimonies of people who manage to stay balanced into their nineties!

Another neighbour who is in his eighties now, is finally ready to retire he said, but he still kept some of his tools, because he will always have work to do. In spite of getting injured in a fall, he made a full recovery, has an excellent memory, and is looking forward to the future. I joke with him about going swimming to stay in shape, and he laughs and says he is going to start swimming in the afterlife! Although he is fairly active, apparently swimming is not for him.

Physical balance and athleticism is something many of us take for granted when we are young, because we have good innate balance. However, many things can affect our balance. Aging, obesity, drugs, certain medical conditions, and alcohol are the top culprits that can have an adverse effect on our balance.

Every one of life’s struggles today is viewed as a mental illness. Those who are too fat or too thin – are considered to have a psychiatric disorder (eating disorder). Substance abuse – addictions to nicotine, alcohol and other drugs sickens 30% of the population. Grief is now considered a mental health disorder, along with all symptoms of depression. Insomnia, anxiety, and social withdrawal are also on the disease list.

Internet use, gambling, phobias, active children, and hundreds of other thoughts and behaviours are now added to the rap-sheet of mental health disorders. They even go so far as to say there are unknown and “hidden” mental health disorders that do not even have to be demonstrated in any way. Greed and pharmaceutical profit motive has caused the system to go off the rails. There is no balance when it comes to making people sick, who were not sick to begin with.

There are now a walloping 347 mental health disorders, when not that long ago, there was less than 50. The field is literally inventing and adding new diseases all the time. Since there is no real diagnostic criteria for these diseases, there is no curtailing this madness. It used to be that the practitioner had to list abnormal and disruptive behaviours, in order to make a diagnosis.

But now they simply pull a diagnosis out of their hat, which would not be so alarming if it was not immediately accompanied with coercing a person into taking toxic medications. It’s based on pure profit motive – and has nothing to do with compassion, therapy, healing, recovery or a treatment plan. They are blowing it, when it comes to the Hippocratic Oath – “first do no harm”. What a sick joke! Their very first inclination is to do harm, and they do so knowing it will become a crippling and debilitating downhill slide for the person. After all – making people sick and drug dependant is what keeps them coming back (and keeling over). How many lives have been destroyed by an ever increasing chemical soup, fatal adverse reactions, life altering, and often permanent movement disorders – and a myriad of other side effects! For what?

In fact, every human condition related to emotions, conflicts, victimization, aggression, selfishness, difference of opinion, setting boundaries, etc. are subjected to the disease (and motivation to medicate for profit) model. In actual fact, healthy boundaries are a central requirement in maintaining balance. So what does a person do when an aggressive and self-centred person will not accept a boundary? It is not the victim of such behaviours who is sick. Power imbalances, scapegoating and victim blaming is rampant, and very difficult to overcome.

How do we overcome this imbalance of turning every struggle into a disease? One of the methods to increase dopamine in our brains, as well as to reduce anxiety, is to create to do lists. This makes sense because those daily lists equate to actions and habits. Like physical well-being, mental wellness includes daily to do lists in order to keep balanced. It is relatively easy to get unbalanced, or develop bad habits that affect our health.

The value of a healthy whole food diet and daily exercise cannot be underestimated. Nutrition and exercise probably have the greatest influence on increasing dopamine and serotonin levels. Whole foods are loaded with micro nutrients and do not have the mood altering additives that are in many packaged foods. Exercise and whole foods help keep our weight in a normal range, and also keeps us fit, so we can manage whatever heavy lifting we are faced with in every day living. The discovery of the second brain in the gut reinforces the importance of keeping the gut bacteria healthy. I once read a quote that went something like this; “If you want to know if your brain is getting flabby – feel your legs”.

For some people maintaining balance is not too difficult, because a percentage of people came from loving supportive families. Many people have been cared for their entire lives, and have not had to struggle financially, or with childhood trauma. It doesn’t mean they will never get depressed or have to deal with grief – but if the system is balanced, it is easier to return to that balance and stability, as opposed to spiralling out of control. It is interesting to note that at least half the people with serious addictions describe having come from loving, supportive families. Clearly there is more to it than meets the eye.

On the flip side, experiencing trauma, poverty, grief, trials, and tribulations make us better equipped to deal with difficulties when they do occur. If we are able to get through them intact – we know we can deal with difficulties again. The experiences can increase our resilience. It is similar to those who stay in good physical shape, and then have an injury, big surgery, or gain weight in later life. Even our muscles have memory, and all that prior exercise benefits us throughout the process of recovery and/or weight loss.

The individual is the one most responsible for maintaining health and well-being. This is not to say illness or accidents are the fault of the individual, but the autonomy of the individual is paramount to any recovery. Although many people do need help from time to time – there is no one else who can make the adjustments that lead to a balanced lifestyle. For all changes and adaptations we must make throughout the course of our lives to remain healthy – the locus of control must come from within. This fact does not undermine the spiritual aspects of prayer and surrender. It means that personalities, decisions and choices are highly individual, and change starts from within.

For example, you can put a person on suicide watch, which may avert a crisis temporarily – but it will not alleviate the person’s suffering. People cannot be constantly watched or monitored anyway. Even those who face involuntary admissions, cannot be detained longer than 48-72 hours. You can force a person into drug and alcohol treatment, but in those cases, relapse is around 90% However, if you listen to those who overcome addiction and severe depression, they will attribute it to a spiritual awakening, combined with a conscious decision to change. Self control means exactly that. No one else can be responsible for another person’s self-control.

From my own perspective and experiences, I have concluded that all psychoactive substances can interfere with balance (in more ways than one). Years ago, while working in long term care, it was clear to me that those who were on the most psychoactive drugs, were also the most out of control, with loss of dignity and outrageous behaviours the daily norm for them.

But incoherent, antisocial, and aggressive behaviours – such as public defecation, physically attacking others, screaming uncontrollably, and repeatedly falling down, are not normal for anyone. I would often wonder, “How on earth did they get like this? How rapid was the decline? What were they like before?” In going through the charts, I learned one of the common denominators for most of the people in locked units, involved prior and often long term use of harmful substances – such as antidepressants, neuroleptics, benzodiazepines, opiates, barbiturates, sleeping pills, and/or alcohol. Often these drugs were started when the person was in their forties or fifties.

What is the difference between a 93 year old woman walking the seawall three times a week, and an 78 year old in long term care, who is completely out of control, even though he or she is chemically restrained with multiple psychoactive medications? Surely those medications are not helping them. In fact, the one most notable thing in long term care is that the most stable and cognitively intact, are also the ones who do not take psychotropic medications. However, few can escape them once admitted to a facility, because the pattern is to over medicate.

There is a very sad program on Youtube called “Seattle is Dying”. The program honestly and candidly places drugs as being the primary cause of the homeless epidemic. In fact, many of the behaviours and loss of balance seen in locked psychogeriatric units is now evident on the streets. The average age of the street populations is tragically between 30 and 40, a time when people are supposed to be in the prime of life. They are subjected to the same drugs, and in fact often behave the same way, as those who are in locked psychogeriatric units.

Who but journalists, advocates, and sincere (honest) health care professionals are going to help with this drug crisis, once the people completely lose cognitive function? This chaotic loss of human potential is affecting families, communities, businesses, health care, policing and politics.

When are they going to make greed the number one collective mental health disorder – a profit driven addiction with the greatest potential for harm, societal breakdown, and human suffering? Oxycontin is the opiate of choice, even on the streets. Where do they get it? From prescriptions. Almost all people addicted to opiates start with, and prefer prescription opiates. They turn to fentanyl laced heroin in later stages, when they can no longer obtain a prescription for, or afford the pills. Many young people in the large US cities who give interviews about their addictions – claim they could get hundreds of pills by offering cash to a doctor. Some of those doctors have been arrested, but who knows how many continue to trade cash for prescriptions?

The correlation is clear to me. Drugs cause a loss of balance physically and mentally. Drugs and alcohol also decrease motivation, with the only to do list entering a person’s mind, is how to get more drugs in order to chase the high, and after awhile, just to feel “normal”. Another eye-opener is when we look at the conditions on some of the First Nations reserves. Anytime we see squalor and chaos, we know people are being adversely affected by drugs and/or alcohol. 50% of First Nations people are on ten or more pharmaceutical drug classes. Who can sincerely say these drugs are helping them and their communities?

But what is normal? It is not normal to feel nothing. Nor is it normal to be sick and in pain all the time. Opiates start out being prescribed for pain. What is overlooked by doctors prescribing opiates, is the fact that many people suffer from emotional pain too, and will readily start self-medicating emotional pain, and will quickly become addicted. This brings on a whole new set of problems as it totally throws the entire system off balance.

There is no magic pill or answer when it comes to achieving balance or normalcy in life. In the mental health field, psychiatrists have more than double the rates of suicide and in the US, the stats are that 25% will sexually assault patients, and more than 75% will diagnose simply for profit motive. Even the field of psychiatry itself is calling it fraud, pseudoscience, and drug induced harm inflicted upon innocent people.

Regardless of what our struggles are in life, central to maintaining balance is self-control and motivation. We can move past difficult situations, since most in-depth healing is rooted in love and forgiveness. Our bodies and lives include our spiritual beliefs. Emotional and mental health healing and cleansing involves freeing ourselves, not only of toxic memories and relationships – but also of toxic drugs, and habits.

I watched a young woman give a talk on the inspirations she gained in being a hospice volunteer. She herself had a massive stroke as a child due to a congenital anomaly in her brain and then another life threatening stroke as a young adult. She went on to obtain a Master’s degree in the field of death and dying, and obviously had more than a theoretical basis for the development of her beliefs.

This amazing young woman described the tasks of dying. They are found in forgiveness – first to seek forgiveness for ourselves and also to forgive others. Love and the power of love is also one of the central tasks. The other is in letting go and saying goodbye. In so many ways, these same principles apply to living as well. Love and forgiveness is crucial to overcoming our demons of the past. And if we are to have hope in accomplishing that – we often have to let go of and say goodbye to certain habits and relationships as well.

Maintaining balance is about stability, self-control and motivations. If we can manage those – we have hope for the future regardless of what happens to us. We can achieve the intrinsic balance and self control by taking care of our physical and emotional balance, mostly through diet, exercise, motivation, meditation, fresh air, and music – and avoiding toxic substances. Following that – we will soon find that serving others in an honest and humble way – is the best way to get joy and purpose out of life.

The yoke of slavery, whether it is to a substance or life’s circumstances can be lifted and removed once and for all. The ensuing freedom is what enables us to serve without feeling trapped. Sickness does not need to be a life sentence. Yet human suffering is real – and those of us who overcome, can be compassionate and supportive when others are going through trials and tribulations. It is delusional to think all people who face trials are sick forever. If that were the case – not one of us would escape the disease and sickness trap.

As long as we remain functional, we all have the capacity to heal and overcome difficulties, at every stage of life. Not one person achieves balance, or anything for that matter, without some form of help and support. It has already been poignantly pointed out many times – there is a fine line, with more similarities than differences, involved in the tasks surrounding both living and dying.

To keep things in perspective – death, or a serious illness or accident with a complete loss of cognitive function – will immediately change a person’s reality. Whether we want to admit it or not – every single one of us is “hanging in the balance”.

Copyright Valerie J. Hayes and Quiet West Vintage (2019). Unauthorised use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author/owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Valerie J. Hayes and Quiet West Vintage with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

A Sobering Snapshot On Seniors & Prescription Drug Use

Over the years working as a Registered Nurse in British Columbia, I must have given out a million pills. Now they are administered in blister packs and do not have to be pre-poured, but during the years prior to blister packs, it could take hours to pour medications in a large facility. Since we had a responsibility to know what we were administering to people, I also learned a fair bit about the drugs, and listened to people describe side effects and adverse reactions.

In long term care, there was a great deal of coaxing required to get people to take their medications. Often they would spat them out, no matter what they were mixed with. It was about the only reaction that warranted a notation of Ref. (for refusal) on the medication sheet. Nurses were expected to give them – and patients were expected to take them. End of story.

Since we are all aging and either looking toward retirement, or else have parents or grandparents who are seniors, it is a topic worth learning something about. The other thing for middle aged people to be aware of, is how to approach those coveted retirement years without the need for a dozen classes of prescription drugs to hamper your lifestyle. An ounce of prevention during middle age is worth a pound of cure down the road!

First of all, why so many drugs for seniors? We are told it is because seniors are prone to chronic disease. This is due to lifestyle factors and cumulative stressors on all systems of the body. I tend to think more than half the problem is due to prescription drugs. They cause more problems than they cure. If they cured anything, the prescription rates would be trending downward, not upward.

To give a few Canadian 2016 stats on the prevalence of over-prescribing; 65.7% of seniors were prescribed five or more different drug classes per year. 26.5% were prescribed ten or more drug classes, and 8.4% took a walloping fifteen drug classes.

It leaves me scratching my head, because although I took those percentages from the Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI) – it actually adds up to more than 100% (100.6%), which must be due to rounding the numbers. How is it that no one escapes being prescribed drugs after a certain age? How is it that (according to the stats) no one is prescribed less than five drug classes after the age of 65? If the Canadian health care system does collapse under all this pressure, maybe it would be the best solution for seniors after all. But, how would Big Pharma let such a thing happen anyway?

No wonder seniors are using up 40% of the health care resources. But there is a much bigger picture to look at. As soon as one prescription drug is the norm, the very next step is to add another. Why? Because all drugs cause side effects, and in many cases side effects are interpreted as a new condition. So instead of removing the offending initial drug, new drugs are added.

In looking at the distribution of the excess medications people take, it is kind of disturbing too. Women are prescribed more drugs than men. Lower income seniors, and those who live in rural areas are also prescribed more medications than those in urban areas. People who have higher incomes are prescribed fewer drugs overall, but they too, take way more than required. Among First Nations populations, more than 50% are prescribed more than ten drug classes. All of these prescriptions increase with age, with the highest numbers doled out in long term care facilities.

The top drug class prescribed to seniors, is statins for high cholesterol. They are also one of the few drugs that are prescribed regardless of income or location. A staggering 50% of all seniors take statins. Next to statins are the proton pump inhibitors, to treat GERD (gastrointestinal reflux disease), and ulcers. Following that are the beta blockers and calcium channel blockers to treat hypertension. Then there are the thyroid hormones to treat hypothyroidism, and a variety of drugs to treat insulin resistance leading to high blood glucose levels. Opioids are prescribed on a regular basis to 20% of seniors as well. Add to the list of frequently prescribed drugs, are sleeping pills, benzodiazepines, and antibiotics.

What drugs are considered most hazardous, enough to make the list of drugs that should definitely NOT be prescribed to seniors? Psychotropic drugs such as benzodiazepines, antidepressants, and antipsychotics are on the list of hazardous substances, and are to be avoided (at all costs). They have been proven to cause falls, increased fractures, and cognitive impairment, as well as an increased risk of adverse drug reactions. It makes me wonder why more doctors are not getting sued. In spite of the known hazards, these drugs are still commonly prescribed. Who is educating the doctors I wonder?

Apparently several interventions have been implemented to educate doctors and patients (if they still have enough cognitive and decision making functions after being immersed in a chemical soup for a period of time). Obviously the time to start thinking about these things is before you start taking the drugs, not after. Once the body adapts to certain drugs, especially those that interfere with functions of dopamine and the central nervous system, it requires carefully monitored detox to remove them from the system. If there are ten different drug classes to deal with, the complexity of making changes later on, makes it more like a game of Russian roulette than anything else.

How on earth is it possible that 100% of seniors need prescription drugs? Does half the population need statins? I find that hard to believe. But even if a person does have high cholesterol or high blood pressure, can’t he or she make changes in diet and lifestyle before being medicated? Our minds are doctored.

Personally, I do not intend to take any prescription drugs at all. To me – it’s like dodging a bullet. Such an attitude and decision can only be monitored over a long period of time, so it’s too early to tell! But surely the general public should be educated too, for their own sakes, as well as for their loved ones who are seniors. When an adult child of a senior sees a prescription for psychotropic drugs such as antipsychotics, benzodiazepines and antidepressants – they should be warning the senior and someone should be calling the doctor to find out what the heck is going on.

The trouble with the interventions they have implemented to educate doctors and patients on the hazards of all these drugs, the interventions have had little effect on clinical outcomes such as mortality, hospitalizations, ER visits, adverse reactions or health status. Sick eh?

One of the menial things I used to ponder when administering so many toxic medications, was to mindlessly ask myself – “why are so many of them brightly coloured?” They come in every colour of the rainbow, which means they also have an extra dose of something equivalent to acrylic paint thrown in, for some unknown reason. I guess the reasoning is along the same lines as why they make candy and popsicles so colourful. They must brighten someone’s day!

After statins, the next most prescribed drug class is the proton pump inhibitors. It kind of sounds like something a mechanic would do to fix a car, but nope – these are to inhibit the acid in your gut. These drugs are prescribed for GERD and stomach ulcers. 30% of seniors are prescribed this class of drugs. However prolonged use, (more than eight weeks) leads to a high risk of Clostridium difficile infection, bone loss and fractures. But how does a person who needs such a medication suddenly stop taking it after eight weeks? After a period of time, the body relies on the drug to mask symptoms, and the symptoms return with a vengeance once the drug is stopped.

The inappropriate and excessive drugging of seniors has been of increasing concern to practitioners, researchers, and organizations throughout Canada. These organizations include the Canadian Deprescribing Network, the Canadian Foundation For Healthcare Improvement, The Institute For Safe Medication Practices, the Canadian Safety Institute, and Choosing Wisely Canada. What have all these combined organizations accomplished? All the organizations, abstracts, meetings, interventions, analysis, and professional babble on the topic has decreased the overall prescribing by about 2% – which can be taken with a grain of salt!

Clearly the autonomy of the patient, and decision making by the patient while still cognitively intact, must be the first line of defence when it comes to putting a myriad of toxic substances into our systems. Why are people taking so many drugs? Do they specifically ask for them? Or do doctors suggest or push them on people?

The problem is much more complex than we realize. We have been sold a pill of hogwash we are expected to swallow without questioning, along with an unsavoury bill of goods. We are being drugged and merchandised to death. We have been indoctrinated to trust doctors instead of our own better judgement. The other factor is fear. What if I don’t take the prescribed drug? The other motivator or objective is to get relief from unpleasant symptoms. But, we have to start to “listen” to our bodies. Those symptoms are telling us to change something, not to cover it up.

Any symptom we get is a signal for us to pause and evaluate what is going on with our bodies. Many symptoms can be relieved through exercise and diet. We can treat infections with things like oregano oil and garlic. Blood sugar and blood pressure levels can be reduced through diet and exercise. Raw ginger can reduce inflammation. Olives interfere with and reduce histamine reactions, and so on.

All people should be encouraged to do their own research and take responsibility for their own health as much as possible. It is very difficult to challenge the judgement of doctors – yet why shouldn’t we? After all, we are the ones who are supposed to ingest the toxic mix and live with the consequences. Every single drug has adverse effects on the system. Sometimes those adverse effects are not immediately apparent, such as bone loss and early cognitive impairment. Almost all cause dry mouth and changes in digestive enzymes, which in turn alters the biome of the bacteria in the gut. All of them must be detoxified by the liver and kidneys. So the cascading chain of events secondary to these drug classes is beyond comprehension.

Avoiding prescription drugs might be achieved by avoiding going to doctors. Such advice leaves many people aghast. What about your yearly physical? What about mammograms and other screening tests? What about your cholesterol and blood pressure? Learn about it. Research all of it before you turn the rest of your life over to someone who is prone to over prescribing medications.

Keep in mind that this list and description of drug usage does not include over the counter medications. How many people add NSAIDs (such as Ibuprofen) or other OTC meds like Tylenol, Gravol, cough medication, and antihistamines as part of habitual usage? They might be available without a prescription, but they too, pack quite a punch when it comes to drug interactions and toxicity. Add to the mix, an over zealous attempt to include multiple supplements as some kind of method to improve health, when in fact, supplements can be as toxic as the rest of the pills and tinctures we are inclined to self-medicate with.

One of the aspects of opiate usage is in how much they are relied upon in end of life situations. They are sometimes needed for pain. But from experience, I know that nurses are expected to keep dying patients sedated whether they have pain or not. Often this is because of family members wanting to see their loved ones comfortable, and sometimes it is because health care practitioners have not come to terms with death and dying themselves, and therefore are prone to over sedating patients.

I have come to believe that dying patients should not be automatically sedated with opiates, and personally it would not be my choice, unless I was in agony. Many people who are dying sleep a lot anyway. When they do have wakeful periods, if there is no pain, those wakeful periods can be valuable time spent with loved ones.

For those who believe death is a transition, where the soul leaves the body and goes to another location (like the Bosom of Abraham) – who really wants to be drugged unconscious when going through that final adventure, and take the chance of missing the brilliant and beckoning white light at the end of a love filled tunnel? I hope to be wide awake when I die! Some people want to die in their sleep, but I think sudden death (without being overly drugged) – probably wakes people up. Otherwise they would need to send a chariot for us. Swing low – sweet chariot!

Nothing can compete with the natural processes of the body. We have incredible capacity to handle both living and dying without drugs. We have become reliant on drugs, as opposed to trusting our intuition, healing naturally, maintaining our own autonomy – and finding ways to avoid being a statistic on ten or more classes of drugs, before we make our final exit.

Quite frankly – the pharmaceutical companies don’t give a shit what happens to any of us. We have to stop allowing ourselves to be manipulated and used as human market potential to improve profit margins. They are truly making a killing. It’s the new black (force)!

Disclaimer – The opinions in this article are my own and not intended to undermine required treatment or medications. The information provided is to encourage research and seek methods of reducing over prescribing for seniors. The Beers list provides a comprehensive list of high risk medications to help inform the public. The link is

Copyright Valerie J. Hayes and Quiet West Vintage (2019). Unauthorised use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author/owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Valerie J. Hayes and Quiet West Vintage with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Natural Ways To Increase Dopamine Levels & Avoid Dopamine Burnout

Dopamine is central to the function of our brains and nervous system. But what exactly is it? In the emerging field of neuroscience, dopamine is a neurotransmitter or messenger molecule involved in nerve cell communication. Discovered in the 1950’s, we now know it plays a critical role in central nervous system function such as movement, pleasure, attention, motivation and mood.

But what about our thoughts? It is estimated that we have 60-80,000 thoughts per day. That boils down to 2500-3300 thoughts per hour. What is most noteworthy is that 80% of our thoughts are negative (that’s for all people). Is there any way of figuring out if those 80,000 thoughts in a person’s day are wrong? Delusional? Not acceptable? Not true? We can tell if a person cannot string sentences together and might draw the conclusion that they have disordered thoughts. But – many people who have had damage to the brain, such as in strokes, have clarity of thought, but have difficulty with speech or finding the right words.

In other cases, a person might believe the devil is after him, or that his thoughts are being broadcasted, or he is being threatened by aliens. Delusional thoughts are not based in reality. If there is reality in the history of a particular belief system, it is not delusional – it is a legitimate concern for the person. Truly delusional thoughts are usually accompanied by abnormal behaviours and the inability to self care. People do not need to be labeled as mentally ill for having an emotional reaction to an external pressure, if that reaction is non-violent and the reasons can be articulated. Otherwise every single person would be considered to be mentally ill.

People who believe in God, think atheists are delusional or in denial – while atheists firmly believe that those who believe in God are delusional. Some people believe the Bible is literalistic, while others argue it is mostly metaphorical. Is there a diagnostic test to determine how many delusional thoughts crop up in one persons mind? Nope. Not one. The criteria used to be that there had to be documented evidence of serious impairment, but all that has changed in the past ten or fifteen years. Now it is anyone and everyone who can be targeted for chemical restraints.

If it is obvious or can be proven that a person has lost touch with reality, such as when they exhibit bizarre behaviours, have visual and auditory hallucinations, are severely impaired, distressed, or become a risk to themselves or others – then it makes perfect sense to diagnose and treat them. But in recent years, hundreds of fairly normal or justifiable behaviours and thoughts have been turned into illnesses. Active children are drugged with Ritalin. People who are not even noticeably mentally ill are being treated with potent neuroleptics. Life has its struggles – we should be allowed to do our level best to overcome them without interference or loss of autonomy.

In real medicine, every doctor and specialist relies on a detailed history and a battery of tests before making a diagnosis. Conclusions are drawn based on evidence of cellular pathology and abnormal test results, which can be tracked and measured. Even at that, getting a second opinion might bring about an entirely different diagnosis, simply based on the interpretation of results.

In a rational and evidence based reality, and according to all medical diagnostics, diseases cannot be identified based solely on brief interviews, especially when they involve subjective value judgements, power imbalances and coercion. There are way too many blind spots along with a lack of objective data. Perhaps this is the reason for a lack of cure in the field of psychiatry. In all other aspects of medicine, the objective is to cure the disease. Another very interesting thing to note about the field of psychiatry, is that they themselves have a much higher rate of suicide and mental health disorders than the general population does.

No one can track or measure a persons thoughts in order to make a diagnosis about thoughts. It is purely subjective, and can only be deemed pathological if the person is acting on thoughts in a way that threatens public safety or contributes to a disturbance of the peace. Given that I have a medical background, I am very skeptical of any opinion or diagnosis that has no diagnostic criteria whatsoever.

For example, those who worry about accidents that never happen, about children out for the night, or get obsessive about germs, or worry they have a cheating spouse, yet he is not having affair – are actually fairly common delusions. The same goes for those who refuse to believe a cheating spouse is having an affair, or that their fifteen year old is taking heroin – are also things that reflect an altered reality, because they are in denial of the truth.

The solution to dealing with life’s problems has to be around gaining insight and wisdom. We each have a unique life journey and challenges, therefore finding out how to be open to what is happening, without fretting over things that are not happening is important, yet tricky.

How many of us are freaking afraid of spiders, garter snakes and mice? Those are irrational fears, because non-poisonous little vermin cannot hurt us. We are bigger and smarter than they are, yet some of us will go straight up and screech the house down at the sight of one.

I know because they scare me too. I have tried to convince myself not to have such an adrenalin rush over them. If there are any snakes or mice around, the only workable solution I have come up with, is to wear shoes (not barefoot or sandals) and try to make a fair bit of noise, so they don’t run or slither under my feet – or come near me. I sat down one day after a close encounter with a mouse – and I asked myself, with pounding heart and my feet up on a chair. What is it about them?

I know mice and garter snakes are harmless, and they don’t want to encounter me either, so what is the problem? I theorized that the adrenalin reaction is mostly because I am afraid of stepping on one, especially in bare feet. It is the tactile and imagined feeling of having a snake or mouse under my foot that freaks me out. Come to think of it – I did step on a coiled up garter snake once in my bare feet. I shrieked loud enough to sound an alarm like there was an axe murder underway. To some people – it is laughable and ridiculous to be afraid of a harmless small animal. Is it a feature of mental illness? Why should it be? I have never met anyone who does not have some irrational fears, anxieties or worries. Honestly, although it may sound crazy – I think it is normal.

How about those who are comfortable financially and are actually quite wealthy? In many cases, they can build up nest eggs worth millions of dollars – but to talk to some of them, you would think they are in dire straights and have to worry about every nickel. For a high percentage of people who fret about money – they fear poverty, and in many cases grew up in poverty. Therefore they have associations with the loss of status and struggles it brings, are highly motivated to avoid it, and worry endlessly about it – even when they have plenty of money. For lots of them, they have enjoyed a steady growth in assets and income over a long period of time – therefore all those worries are actually delusional.

Farmers worry about drought or hail. They get their crops off year after year, but the fear of such a huge loss over which they have no control, can overwhelm them and cause them to become brooding and negative. We all battle imaginary problems, because we know untoward things can and do happen to people.

A growing number of people fear climate change, end of times, and global disasters. They are prepping themselves, and in some cases become obsessed with it to the point of making drastic changes in their lives. Everything begins to revolve around achieving total self-sufficiency. They spend almost all of their time planning for, and worrying about something that may not happen in their lifetime. Does this make sense to the average person? Yet, they have a right to thought, belief and opinion – so they plan their lives according to their beliefs.

Some people worry and fret about their physical health, and many have imaginary illnesses. Every bump is a cancerous tumour, and every bit of indigestion or false positives in lab or mammogram results signals a dire outcome. Most things we tend to worry about hardly ever happen. However once is enough to cause reactions and triggers from then on. We are not like gazelles grazing peacefully in a meadow, who suddenly get chased by a mountain lion. If they were like us, they would not be able to graze peacefully ever again, but they do – and we too, are best to deal with it more like they do.

Every individual has billions of thoughts, which may or may not be completely logical, or even rooted in reality (such as people who are cult indoctrinated, or even writers of fiction). What about all the near death experiences? Some of the descriptions sound like LSD trips, but who can say what happens but them? Who really knows, and who really cares what the range of beliefs or experiences are? The Orwellian notion of “thought police” is far-fetched, yet seems to be a part of the maladies and modalities assigned to ordinary people, in order to define ideas, worries, thoughts and beliefs – as sickness. At one time this included gays who wanted to “come out of the closet” and slaves who wanted to be free.

What exactly is a delusional thought? It is a thought or belief that the person with power or interviewer does not believe in himself (based on a value judgement, power and dominance, lack of information, or political belief)? Anything can be a delusional thought, depending on another persons value system alone. Beliefs by themselves should not be the basis for diagnostic criteria. All too often throughout history, people have been mistreated and discriminated against for thought, belief and opinion. It robs freedom and all reasonable discourse. It is also a slippery slope.

What about measuring mood? The dopamine receptors in the brain suck up the available dopamine and have an impact on mood. Since glucose feeds the brain, fluctuating blood sugars contribute to our mood as well. Hormones are also intricately connected with dopamine and mood. Perhaps more than any other concept about mental health – is that we feed our thoughts, which in turn affects our mood.

What is a mood disorder? Mood is a result of emotions. Emotions are the primary motivators of all human behaviour. A mood disorder happens when there is destabilization or unacceptable behaviours associated with mood. These include prolonged episodes of euphoria, depression, anger, or a flat and disinterested affect.

It is important to regulate emotions in order to remain stable. The purpose of emotions is to help with (but not dominate) decision making. For example, the purpose of anger is to make a grievance known. Therefore communication is central to utilizing emotion, but it must be done in a way that is honest, respectful and forgiving. In most cases, proper communication will alleviate the negative emotion by getting clarification through feedback.

Many emotionally induced situations result from miscommunication or misunderstanding. Oftentimes we are simply grumpy for a day or two, and it is not anyone’s fault. In this case, we are best to find ways to alleviate it through exercise, music, meditation, conversation with a friend – or simply being patient, and let it go by. How often do we feel dismal one day and then fine the next day? It is a good idea to ask ourselves, “what has changed in my life to make me feel this way”? Quite often it is simply a normal fluctuation associated with neurochemistry or even the weather. Like the weather, emotions and mood vary from day to day, so acceptance of this simple fact, is part of staying stable and productive regardless of how we feel.

We can keep in mind that certain personality factors can make people more mercurial. Artists and creative individuals tend to me more emotionally expressive. Gifted individuals experience more intense emotions as a trait of being gifted. Burn out can lead to a loss of motivation or a flat affect. Chronic stress or a chaotic environment, such as when we are moving, can affect our emotions and reactions temporarily. Major life changes such as divorce, grief, birth of a child, financial losses, and many other external factors can disrupt our emotions. Humans are very adaptable, but often we need time to adjust.

Regardless of what emotion we are feeling, we can know it is temporary, and the most important thing is to maintain self control. Things like communication, crying, or time alone – do not signal a loss of control. But things like self harm, violence, binging, door slamming, yelling, etc. do signal a loss of self-control. All people must keep emotions in check enough to avoid any sort of unlawful behaviours. We also must keep in mind that things like “the silent treatment” and withholding love through constant disapproval – are not unlawful reactions, but are emotionally damaging to our loved ones.

In addition to experiences, memories, negative and positive emotions, problem solving, and responses to stress (which is mostly fear based), we store information in our brains for future retrieval, in order to help us survive. We develop those survival skills and coping mechanisms based on what we have experienced in life. We cannot eliminate memories or experiences, but we can adapt to change, and then reroute the circuits to help eliminate stressful or fear based reactions when triggered. Triggers are usually activated due to associations, or the recognition of similar patterns, even though the circumstances may be different.

There is no reliable method of measuring dopamine. Symptoms of too much dopamine include euphoria, psychosis, aggression, insomnia, and increased sex drive. Symptoms of low dopamine include decreased motivation, sleep disturbances, depression, fatigue, forgetfulness and memory loss. Dopamine regulation is linked to norepinephrine and multiple other neurotransmitters and receptors in the body, therefore any disease process associated with the central nervous system and movement can have multiple causative factors.

The fact there are no ways to measure dopamine levels should tell us that unwarranted and unnatural chemical interference with dopamine is based on potentially faulty guesswork. Doctors are expected to make decisions about dopamine based on medical history, lifestyle, and symptoms. If the medical history is overlooked, as it often is in psychiatry, that means there is a high risk of misdiagnosis and mistreatment. There are multiple medical conditions that mimic symptoms of low dopamine. These include thyroid deficiencies, type 2 diabetes, MS, poor diet, hormonal imbalances, tumours, certain types of cancer, and addictive substances.

Anything that interferes with or artificially increases dopamine will eventually burn out the dopamine stream. For this reason, it is wise to avoid any substance, medication or activity that interferes with the bodies natural dopamine streams. But what if there are conditions such as anxiety, mood disorders, lack of motivation, or other mental health labels that indicate dopamine depletion or overstimulation?


Fortunately, there are natural ways to increase dopamine:

Meditation (not medication) has been proven to increase dopamine levels. Many people meditate while sitting in a sauna, through prayer and fasting, or just by setting aside a quiet time without interruption to focus on healing and well-being. I have found that sleep meditation videos will put me back to sleep if I wake up in the middle of the night. They have helped train my brain to get sufficient sleep

Write a daily to do list. Specific goals, both short term and long term help to increase motivation and decrease stress – both of which improve dopamine levels.

Increase the intake of foods that contain L-Tyrosine. These include avocados, fish, eggs, cheese, bananas and pumpkin seeds. There are many other foods with direct and indirect effects on building dopamine levels.

Exercise is probably at the top of the to do list for increasing dopamine. Not surprisingly, the best exercise to do is the one you enjoy the most. For some it is running, and for others it is cycling, swimming, or weight lifting. Since dopamine has an intrinsic link to movement – we are best to get up and get moving, which is of particular importance for those with sedentary desk jobs. The best dopamine enhancer is through interval training, which involves short bursts of energy, followed by a brief rest, and then another burst. This can be done through sprinting, water running or cycling. Another often overlooked aspect of movement is in stretching. Stretching not only helps muscle flexibility, but it also has components of meditation that can be incorporated into a daily routine. I suppose this is the reason yoga is such a popular form of exercise.

Intermittent fasting. There is a wide range of fasting methods, from prolonged to intermittent. I know for certain that fasting is an incredible healing method – because it can reset the immune system. For years I was plagued with allergies and a cascading histamine reaction, combined with colds throughout the entire winter months. Since the fast, I have not had a single cold and no longer have the histamine, allergic response. I have not been routinely doing intermittent fasting, but after this mornings research on dopamine, I plan to follow an intermittent fasting plan. Typically this is in a 16-8 hour ratio, meaning that you fast say from 8 pm until noon the following day, and then eat light and nutritious food for the remainder of the day – avoiding stimulants such as sugar and alcohol. This can be done one or two days a week with positive results. With regards to longer fasts, such as the one I did (21 days) I have learned that it takes 7-10 days to reset the immune system. The healing crisis depends on the amount of toxins in our blood stream and fat cells.

Take time off from all technology, including gaming, social media, Internet browsing – and basically any activity or addiction that artificially elevates dopamine. The reason for this is that by artificially elevating dopamine levels, we eventually burn them out.

Drink green tea.

Create something. Whatever creative expression or hobby you are attracted to, will increase dopamine – whether it is writing, drawing, painting, photography, music, gardening, or building with wood. When you hear terms around finding avenues to increase “creative juices” or getting in a state of “flow” – these are references to naturally improving dopamine streams. It makes sense, because all creative endeavours involve the brain, some amount of movement, motivation, and measurable results.

Social inclusion, good conversation, supportive families, and helping others will improve dopamine levels naturally. When joy is shared, it is joy doubled – and when sorrow is shared – it is sorrow halved. We all have the capacity to heal, as well as to help others to heal.

Getting enough sleep cannot be underestimated when it comes to mental health, clarity, motivation and the immune system. Some people do seem to need less sleep – but in reality all people need 7-9 hours of sleep each night to rest and restore the body to maintain optimal health. It is best to avoid artificial sleep aids because there is more happening at a subconscious level when we sleep, than can ever really be understood.

Cold showers or ice cold baths are also on the Scandinavian list of things to do to increase dopamine levels. I suppose the best time to start this plan would be in the hot summer months. A dip in an icy cold river or lake would do the trick even better! Who can bring themselves to getting into an ice cold bath in the middle of winter? It’s definitely not on the instant gratification list!

Instant Gratitude For Such a Beautiful City

Enjoy fresh air and the beauty of nature every single day. A good aim is to get at least two hours of fresh air daily. Children thrive in fresh air. Many of our favourite memories involve playing outside or seeing some magnificent aspect of nature, such as wildlife, sunsets, and snowy mountain peaks.

Kits Beach This Spring

Humour is one of life’s best releases and functions beautifully as a natural and spontaneous mood elevator. Nothing else can compete with wit and laughter. Wit involves the flashing comparison between two things, and lets us quickly see that we take life’s challenges far too seriously. Satire switches a negative thought into a humorous one. Funny people make us laugh. One funny person is far better than ten psychiatrists talking in a tin bucket. Comical banter among friends is delightful – because humour sheds far more truth and light on the human condition than a 974 page manual can.

This brings us to the things to avoid, in order to prevent a depletion of dopamine in our systems. Ironically, anything that leads to instant gratification messes with dopamine levels. “First it giveth and then it taketh away” – as the Proverb goes. The things to avoid:

Too much of anything for prolonged periods will stimulate and then exhaust dopamine levels. These activities include gambling, alcohol, all drugs, social media, Internet browsing to excess, gaming, watching television, etc. It is good advice to apply some of the principles of fasting to Internet, television, phone usage – or any other activity with mood elevating or “escapism” components. Even exercise, if done to excess – can be addictive and counter productive.

Avoid or restrict fast foods to once or twice a month, as opposed to habitual use. There is a fat/sugar balance in processed and fast foods known as the “bliss factor”. This addictive blend of sugar and fat can create an unnatural dopamine stream that will lead to a depletion and subsequent lows, destabilization of blood sugar, and other unpleasant side effects. Be wary of additives, especially MSG and artificial sweeteners.

Whatever we do as individuals to escape what is happening around and within us – will eventually deplete dopamine. This is an inventory only we as individuals can assess and learn to moderate.

Stress cannot be avoided completely. But the stress hormones released by the adrenal glands play an important role in mood, anxiety and mood disorders. Therefore it is important to recognize what the stressors are and create a “to-do list” to alleviate and prevent stressors from creating a spiralling downward effect on our well-being.

Challenging negative thoughts. I have learned that many negative thoughts have origins and associations with painful memories. We often get mired down in negative thoughts that are triggered by a memory association, and then mushroom into a big deal without the evidence or rationale to support our reactions.

Since dopamine was first discovered in the fifties – there has been more than a hundred thousand research articles written about it. Although some of those articles are quite controversial and narrow, we can help ourselves by increasing practical knowledge around the subject.

Knowledge is power because it is the precursor to sifting and then applying those basic principles to our own lives. We can make changes to our own dopamine levels without the need for toxic medications that have numerous side effects, damage the brain, alter neurochemistry in unknown ways, interact with food and anything else we ingest – and have few if any proven benefits.

We do have the capacity to monitor and change our own thoughts and habits. There is no scientific evidence whatsoever to prove that drugs can change ingrained thought patterns. Similar to our physical bodies, we can exercise our thoughts to help eliminate unfounded negativity by recognizing triggers and changing our reactions to them.

We now know that opiates (and many other prescription drugs) will interfere with, and quickly bind to dopamine receptors in the brain. But overall, the complexity of the drugs that interfere with dopamine and neurochemistry is poorly understood pseudoscience lacking in knowledge about the overall global impact on all bodily functions. Our bodies and brains involve complex systems that interact with one another at a molecular level.

There is nothing holistic about chemical interferences with dopamine. Dopamine is not just about improved mood – it is central to all movements, to include coordination, balance and the communication between billions of neurons and nerves. We do not want to mess with dopamine – if we really know what is good for us. Our bodies are smarter than poorly understood, rudimentary and narrow minded science. We are not meant to be guinea pigs. Doctors are not meant to be gods, guided by Big Pharma and profit motive either.

Pharmaceuticals are rapidly becoming the number one cause of death in all age groups. There is not enough empirical evidence due to pharmaceutical lobbying to even measure the depth and breadth of other damages caused by them. As just some examples, these drug induced hazards include falls, accidents, uncharacteristic violent outbursts, drug induced suicides, drug induced movement disorders and life threatening agranulocytosis. There are interactions with other drugs, interactions with food, interactions with alcohol, individual genetic markers, destabilizing and sickening withdrawal and detox symptoms, irreversible damages to the nervous system, damages to liver and kidney function, permanent brain damage, increased risk of cardiac arrest and stroke – and many other iatrogenic medical hazards that are secondary to the injudicious use of psychoactive medications.

There are huge profit motives surrounding the over prescribing of potent mood altering and psychoactive drugs and pain killers. We only need to do one hour of research, or less – to convince us that countless people are falling victim to addictions and harm stemming from the pharmaceutical profit motive. We can avoid those pitfalls by making some specific and positive changes to lifestyle and patterns of thought. We have a fundamental right to say no to them.

Self discipline is the basis for self control. In the absence of creating any harm through overt behaviours (such as violence), no one has the right to “thought reform” another human being. Freedom of thought, belief and opinion is a fundamental human right, which is clearly stated in the Canadian Charter of Rights – as well as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.


 Whereas Canada is founded upon principles that recognize the supremacy of God and the rule of law:

Guarantee of Rights and Freedoms

1. The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms guarantees the rights and freedoms set out in it subject only to such reasonable limits prescribed by law as can be demonstrably justified in a free and democratic society.

2. Everyone has the following fundamental freedoms:

  • (a) freedom of conscience and religion;
  • (b) freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression, including freedom of the press and other media of communication;
  • (c) freedom of peaceful assembly; and
  • (d) freedom of association.

We are wise to acknowledge negative or irrational thinking for our own well-being and mental health – but in the absence of creating any real danger to anyone, thoughts cannot be diagnosed or monitored by anyone other than the individual. See if there is anyone, regardless of their education or inclinations toward pharmaceutical pseudoscience – who can challenge that thought!

It takes a thought provoking resistance to avoid being coerced into taking prescription drugs as a damaging pseudo cure for life’s difficulties. We do have the capacity to overcome emotional, physical and psychological toxicity – whether it has been inflicted upon us or self-induced. Like the lyrics in the Guy Clark song “To Live Is To Fly” –

“We all got holes to fill
Them holes are all that’s real
Some fall on you like a storm
Sometimes you dig your own”

Disclaimer – The opinions in this article are my own and not intended to undermine required treatment or medications. The information provided is to encourage research and seek methods of reducing over prescribing for seniors. The Beers list provides a comprehensive list of high risk medications to help inform the public. The link

Copyright Valerie J. Hayes and Quiet West Vintage (2019). Unauthorised use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author/owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Valerie J. Hayes and Quiet West Vintage with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

How Much Is Our Mental Health Part Of Our Physical Ecosystem?

Recent findings indicate that we actually have another brain in our gut. The second brain contains a massive network of an estimated hundred million neurons. The neurotransmitters in the gut, are immersed in and influenced by the same neurotransmitters as the brain. This knowledge can introduce an entirely different conceptual framework around mental health issues and treatment.

In fact the entire digestive track is lined with a network of neurons that communicate with the bacteria in the gut. Instead of receiving information from the brain, they carry information to the brain, hence the common expression, “I just had a gut feeling”.

As far as all the hype around leaky gut syndrome, I tend to think the syndrome can be debunked. To me, it doesn’t make sense our guts would be designed to leak. I believe we can get a build up of toxins in our blood stream that can wreak havoc with our health. But those toxins can enter the bloodstream from root canals, simmering infections, inflammatory reactions, open lesions on the skin, ingested orally, and inhaled through the respiratory tract. Probably more than anything, it happens from an overloaded, fatty or dysfunctional liver.

Our liver, lungs, skin, kidneys and immune system defend us against invaders by getting rid of toxins. The most difficult situations arise when there is a combination of pathogens, allergens, stressors, lack of exercise, and a poor diet. After a certain point, the immune system no longer functions the way it is supposed to. The auto immune disorders send signals for things to go haywire. This chain of events runs rampant, confusing the system by not recognizing friend from foe. It is an internalized form of self-betrayal that we seemingly have no control over.

Addiction is reinforced due to the mood elevating elements of the substance. It short circuits the other more holistic ways of fun and happiness, and quickly becomes a vicious cycle. Our brains constantly crave dopamine, serotonin, food, drugs, alcohol, sex, money – and literally anything that will elevate the mood.

As a new approach to dealing with depression, addiction, and other mental health issues – this knowledge about the second brain and biome of the gut should be at the heart of all treatment. What is the point of going to expensive counselling sessions unless you commit to a completely holistic mind and body treatment plan?

My own suggestion for those with an altered immune response, addiction, depression, mast cells, anxiety, and high cortisol levels – is to do a water only fast, followed by a change in diet. This could be a cheap cure for many ailments, including systemic cancer cells. The autonomy is preserved at the end of it all.

Over a period of time, although I always had allergies and the wrath of histamine, it worsened into a mast cell anaphylaxis. The onset was always in the middle of the night for some reason, so the first time it happened, was a near death experience.

I knew the initial onset was an itching burning sensation in my hands. The first time, I made the mistake of trying to ignore it and went back to sleep for another few minutes. I woke up suddenly, with a feeling like my hands were on fire. The intolerable burning sensation rapidly changed as more symptoms piled on. My hands were swelling so fast, it felt like the skin in the webbing between my fingers was splitting open. Before I knew it, there was no sensation at all in my hands. Within a minute, my tongue and airway swelled at the same rate as my hands were swelling. When I stood up and tried to walk, I had no blood pressure, and could only make it about three or four feet, before collapsing on the floor.

To stay conscious, I had to get into a sitting position, put my head lower than my heart, and focus every bit of energy on taking each breath. For the few seconds I was flat on the floor, it was an out of body experience, looking down on myself. I knew I had to get up and manage my own airway, or I would convulse and die right there. From that experience, I realize why so many people in a crisis, will struggle to try and sit up.

I also know much better what the experience of sudden death is like. It was an awful experience, but the gift I got out of it, was that it took away my fear of death. The revelation in those few minutes was more than I had processed in my whole life. It was like I was given textbooks of knowledge and understanding in a split second. It gave me a much clearer perception of how our our soul inhabits our bodies. I did not travel to a beckoning bright light anywhere – but I knew I could have!

When it happened again, I had prepared myself. I got up right away, and looked at the palms of my hands. I could see the rash and hives starting to crawl up my arms. I immediately took Benadryl 100 mg. orally and then used the highest strength undiluted oregano oil you can buy, and put a full dropper full down my throat. The airway was most activated and prone to swell, so I added another dropper full under my tongue. I sat down and watched the rash travel about another two inches and stop midway up my arms. It had to have been the oregano oil that stopped it, because the sublingual route, especially in a liquid form, is more rapid acting than ingesting Benadryl pills orally.

Even though I had found a method to stop the anaphylaxis from progressing, I knew I had to do something to get rid of the mast cells. The first time it happened, I attributed it to having developed a sensitivity to blueberries, the last thing I ate before going to bed. I tend to think I reacted to some kind of contaminants on the blueberries as opposed to the berries themselves, but I have yet to test the theory. When the onset of the anaphylaxis happened again and again, I knew there was much more going on, and that it had been insidiously developing over many years.

I started researching as much as I could find out about mast cells, and made the decision to do a water only fast. It gives the liver a chance to put all of its efforts and focus into detoxification, by getting rid of the villainous cells in the blood stream. Apparently the immune system can be totally reset with seven to ten days of fasting. Those alarmist autoimmune cells have to be removed from the lymphatic system as well.

My self treatment plan made sense. During fasting, once the glycogen stores are used up, the body goes into a state of ketoacidosis. As a mechanism of survival, the healthy cells are conserved and the damaged cells are destroyed. The digestive system is given a complete rest in the process. The fat cells in your body, including the ones around the liver, get released, and burned as fuel first.

There is a healing crisis on all levels during a prolonged fast. It is more intense when there has been a long-term build up of toxins in the body. I do think it has to be water only, so the glycogen stores are completely depleted for a duration of time. It is not for the faint hearted, and most people do it under medical supervision. In my case, I ended up stopping the fast after three weeks.

The main thing to keep in mind for the duration of the fast, is to maintain a well monitored intake and output fluid balance. You do not want to get dehydrated, which is probably the greatest risk. But over hydration also must be avoided, as you can throw the electrolytes completely off balance by drinking copious amounts of water. A long fast is a personal journey – something a person prepares for psychologically, researches, and then must decide if it is for them, and how they will go about it.

Based on my own experience, the fast cured the anaphylaxis completely. The onset of the repeat anaphylaxis was eight months before the fast and happening every couple of weeks. Following the twenty-one day water only fast I have not experienced even a hint of anaphylaxis. Even for the duration of the fast, there was no sign of allergic reactions, so I knew the causative factors were not in the air or water.

After the fast, I eliminated added sugar, and all processed and refined food. In the months following, for the first time in my life, the histamine settled down. To my surprise, I have discovered olives work better than any over the counter antihistamine I have ever taken. But one word of advice, get your olives fresh at an olive bar!

In my opinion, all mental health, physical, and addiction treatment should have a strong focus on diet, exercise and nutrition. We simply cannot change the communication between the neurotransmitters between our gut and brain otherwise.

Our mental health is part of our entire physical ecosystem. I really did wonder why I had the allergic episodes in the middle of the night, and knew it must have some association with the sub-conscious mind.

We can overcome many of our struggles and demons even though they are complex and multi-faceted. We just have to learn how to redesign and reroute those neurotransmitters. We can truthfully add a few more genial and palsy-walsy cells and microbes into the dark recesses of our minds – just from the micronutrients in food!

Copyright Valerie J. Hayes and Quiet West Vintage (2018). Unauthorised use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author/owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Valerie J. Hayes and Quiet West Vintage with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

A Poem Called ~ Night Nurse Nuance

Night Nurse Nuance

Dark earth spins –

Dawn rolls in,

Ever so slow —

Her haggard face,

Knows pallor & grey…

Within a quiet daze –

Droops her weary head,

& For a time she stays.

Responsibility weighs –

Work consumes her,

Yet time she takes,

When morning breaks…

To brighten up

Her weary face.

Her light comes on,

Work gets done.

Then ~ With poles reversed,

As sunlight bursts –

Gather up those…

Dead dog tired –

Weary bones

Unplug the phones

…& Go to bed.

Valerie J. Hayes

Copyright Valerie J. Hayes and Quiet West Vintage (2018). Unauthorised use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author/owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Valerie J. Hayes and Quiet West Vintage with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Charting Coastal Ideas ~ About The Inside Passage Legendary Map

The Inside Passage Map is a soulful and romantic map integrating cartography, poetry, visual art, historical research, inspiration, nature and different cultures of people.

A unique portrayal of the west coast has been created. The goal was to create a beautiful collector’s map with a diverse range of information and ideas.

At the heart of the map is the desire to bring recognition and appreciation for the power and harmony within lyric poetry – by bringing it to you alive – as art.

Points of Interest

The Border – Intricate and full of detail, the design alternates between panoramic west coast scenery and flowers, with sea life weaved in between. The decorative cameos, which are centered in the border, contain ghosted flowers and verse. This tiny poem is referred to as the “rhyming riddle”. If you follow the rhyme of each line within each cameo, you will be able to figure out the correct order of the verse. It was originally written as a twelve-line poem. It captures the overall theme and design of the map.

The Legend Box – The legend box gives the title and the main poem, which together, create a parallel between both the outer and inner conditions that we face in our lives. The third line of the poem refers to tragedy and death (swallows sleep). Wind O’less means windowless and refers to the inner person. Inside of ourselves – unseen by other people, the waves of emotion, the cycles of despair, and contractions of grief are compared to the waves of the ocean in force and rhythm. The Inside Passage poem was born of this understanding. It is a sequel to grief-written poems called Lunar Tunes and Window Pain.

The Quiet-West Crest – The bottom center of the legend box is a crest designed to visually express the profile and goals of Quiet West Publishing. Firstly it contains a scrolled map to represent the historical BC coastal collector’s map concept. An open book contains reductions of actual stained glass windows with images of ladies wearing brimmed hats. Above the book a paintbrush and pen are crossed, combining the literary and visual arts. The rising sun represents the hope we have for each tomorrow.

Cartouches – The eagle, sighted frequently along the west coast is shown flying down to her nest and represents responsibilities to future generations. The bear, shown to the left of the legend box, is near Tatshenshini – Alsek Park. This region, which is home to countless species of wildlife, is one of the most important protected wilderness parks in the world. To the left of the compass rose, there is a scene depicting trade between the European and Haida people. The costumes, along with the illustration of the Haida settlement in the background are historically and culturally representative. The Nuu-chal-nuth people are featured in the whaling expedition scene. This dramatic cartouche was placed in close proximity to Quatsino Sound, the historical whaling harbor on northern Vancouver Island. The face in the wind represents the stormy and treacherous conditions on western Vancouver Island and the Olympic Peninsula. Cherubs hover over the globe to show the location of the Inside Passage and to represent a stylistic feature commonly used on seventeenth century maps.

The Compass Rose – The interesting and elaborate compass rose design was created by placing a borrowed seventeenth century brooch on a hand-made European lace doily. The brooch was brought to Canada by Scandinavian war bride Elinor Thun. She wrote the description as follows: “This particular brooch is more than eight hundred years old, and came from a western fjord in Norway at Siem, near Bergen from the maternal side of my family. It is known in Norwegian as “solje or kappe-brosje”. Brooches of these types were used by men and women to hold their capes in place. Jewelry of the day was worn as an expression of wealth, and would sometimes be given as gifts from one king to another. The Vikings were great travellers and the designs show an eastern flair which would eventually weave itself into the culture of the Norse-lands.” Elinor Thun Ueland 1994.

Cartography – The map was created by using an extensive amount of historical reference material, by translating poems into images – and by merging art with technology. Land contours and shoreline details were carefully blended to create emphasis and depth. Mossy greens, white mountain peaks, rich earth tones, hand lettered names, and locations of notable shipwrecks bring harmony and intrigue into the map.

Whether your interests are philosophical or artistic, this map demonstrates originality and lasting value. It is a truly great work – to honor one of the most beautiful places in the world.

Please note: Maps to be made available on Amazon. In the meantime contact to purchase. The price is $60.00 for the map and shipping in North America. Size is 24″ x 36″.

Copyright Valerie J. Hayes and Quiet West Vintage (2018). Unauthorised use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author/owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Valerie J. Hayes and Quiet West Vintage with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

The Art Of Delivery ~ Mapping A Voyage From Birth Into The Wild Blue Yonder…

Although I worked as a Registered Nurse for many years, I was always trying to get out of it because it was not my forte in the first place. I was just sixteen when I graduated from high school. There were aspects of working as an RN that I did enjoy. But it was the old-fashioned hierarchy, the baggage associated with how I got into it, the system itself, and the career limitations I found to be demotivating, stifling and restrictive. I felt trapped in a cage.

The direct patient care and advocacy was the most rewarding part. Up until the early nineties, it was not a well-paid profession. The only reason for the decades of low pay, is the fact it is a female dominated profession. The work itself can be taxing – mentally, physically and emotionally. The stressors are compounded for single mothers who work as nurses because of the long hours, shift work, fatigue, and difficulty with child care.

For about ten years I worked in a very busy labor and delivery unit. In addition to caring for women throughout their labor and delivery, we had to clean the rooms after each delivery, rinse all the linen, soak, wash, and autoclave all the instruments and repack the delivery bundles. The janitors would not wash the floors unless they had been cleaned by the nurses first. We had to move furniture all over the ward non-stop, in order to make room for the next patients. It was a constant game of musical beds – without the music. They have made improvements to the labor and delivery units over time, but aspects of it were still quite archaic back then.

We could not ignore the task of charting every fifteen minute heart rate and blood pressure checks, as well as getting a mound of paperwork done after each delivery. The legal documentation was the only thing that mattered if anything went awry. You could not afford to get your priorities mixed up when it was busy, or it could be catastrophic. For example – people have a tendency to bleed (especially red heads – believe it or not), and sometimes they bleed profusely. In maternity – they can bleed out in a matter of minutes.

There is no room for error when it comes to the need for early detection of fetal distress and postpartum bleeds (and premature labour). Due to the unpredictable and often precipitate nature of labour and delivery, I estimate having delivered around two hundred babies over the years. In some cases, unknown to the general public – the delivery room can be as hair raising as anything you can imagine. It is difficult to overcome the fear of having to handle, let alone resuscitate – a two pound baby.

Following the years in labor and delivery, I did stints in community mental health, long term care (to include psycho-geriatrics), emergency, some medical-surgical, and often as a hospital-wide float. From newborn to ninety – there are some poignant realizations stemming from the nursing experiences. Being witness to so many people coming into this world, as well as caring for those who are leaving it, has a lasting impact. The astounding thing to me – is how unique each individual is, in every conceivable way.

Not one of us has exactly the same experiences – from how we come into this world, to how we make our final exit. Getting hung up at the “spines” as they call it in the labor room – is when the baby’s head cannot get past the small bony prominences in the pelvis. Something as simple as the presentation of the head can lead to a cord around the neck, a cord prolapse, a failure to progress in labor, an emergency cesarean section, and in some cases, injury to the brain.

We have no guarantees in life – from conception, until the time is ripe for the forces of nature to plunge us into that first uncharted trip through the bony pelvis. That’s just to get us here, for our personalized and idiosyncratic journey. Along the way choices can be limited, or completely taken away from us. In reality – it’s all somewhat of a crap shoot.

Who can say what kinds of things will happen to any of us? But throughout slogging out the twelve hour night shifts and trying to think of a different way to make a living, I tried giving birth to many ideas as well. From the time I was a student nurse, I shopped in thrift stores, and found it way more interesting than any other kind of shopping. I soon became hooked on collecting vintage clothing.

To justify the addiction – I started to view vintage and designer items as being like penny stock investments. There was a reasonable expectation in my mind that if taken care of, they would increase in value over time. The idea of having tangible products appealed to the poet in me, as I do sometimes have my head in the clouds. Thoughts and ideas (and stock market investments) can go up in vapour, whereas palpable things stay put.

The oldest, and some of the most exquisite dresses in the collection are still in storage. Since I started collecting, I wanted to prove that the material landscape of the dispossessed (or throwaways) is of greater interest and value than new things that are mass produced and bought at the mall. Vintage hats and antique lace really inspired me for some reason.

The same thing applies to the internal landscape of the dispossessed. If adversity does not destroy or make us bitter – it will gift us with autonomy, courage, and artistic expressions to share with the outside world. We may need to go to battle with our past – in order to salvage our own souls, as we traverse our peerless internal landscape. Entelechy is the survival of potential.

For a few years I left nursing and worked with a PhD research scientist who had an incredible academic record, twenty-two years of post-secondary education. His PhD was in linguistics with other degrees in math and computer science. We published maps and did special applications contracts using advanced remote sensing technology. We also published a Cities From Space Series using the Landsat satellite data. We sold a couple hundred thousand satellite image maps during that time frame. This was in the late eighties, before satellite imagery was available to the public on the Internet. Advanced remote sensing technology was still in its infancy, but for a micro-enterprise of just two people, we did publish and expand on different uses for the remote sensing technology and digital image processing.

After a couple years of publishing satellite imagery, getting more creative with the mapping elements really started to appeal to me. I started buying old atlases and maps from thrift stores to study the early artistic collector’s maps. I went to trade shows with the maps and saw all of the other creative arts projects that were on display at the shows. Along with the maps and Cities From Space series we published place mats, fridge magnets, and huge wall murals for fire control rooms, real estate, Geological Survey Canada, and many others.

What I learned is that good product is very time-consuming to make. Once it is made – it still has to be marketed. I started my own company, Quiet West Publishing & Marketing and began working on a mosaic and map to cover the entire BC coastline with multiple artistic elements. This was a visionary overlay,  with the additional dimensions of true ground and shoreline features. The creation of the Inside Passage Legendary Map came from the exposure I had to satellite image mapping technology – combined with the poetry and art. I saw this as being the ultimate blend of ideas.

BC has thousands of micro-entrepreneurs and artists. They are highly concentrated on the Islands, in and around Nelson, among the Aboriginal people, and basically all over BC. The gift show typically featured a BC Creative Arts section. Hand made jewelry, pottery, artwork, and wood items are the most predominant. But the sky is the limit – and the birdhouses are so cute!

For the most part – the creative arts is about doing a labor of love. There are certain parallels and analogies surrounding the birth of an idea – and how they can take on a life of their own. Labor is central to our lives in more ways than one.

The basis of an entrepreneur’s optimism and repeated efforts – in spite of the odds and the risk she faces, is aptly reflected in a quote credited to Napoleon Hill: “More gold has been mined from the thoughts of men than has been taken from the earth.”

And to that quote – we can take the liberty to add women, right there beside the men. Why? Because the poverty faced by women, also affects the children women give birth to.

In addition, being robbed of our potential is worse than a protracted labor pain. It is one long and extended contraction, until the adversity gives birth to change. We do not deserve the pain and struggle of poverty and hard work without reward, or sufficient support systems. The children who happen to be born into that cycle do not deserve to be dehumanized either. It only creates confusion and withdrawal surrounding thinkable outcomes.

It is time to start mapping it out – and change the archetype.

Copyright Valerie J. Hayes and Quiet West Vintage (2018). Unauthorised use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author/owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Valerie J. Hayes and Quiet West Vintage with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

A Poem ~ How I Change

How I Change

I change

Behind a curtained blind,

Where some of me 

Gets left behind ~

& Some of me…

I find.

Valerie Hayes

Copyright Valerie J. Hayes and Quiet West Vintage (2018). Unauthorised use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author/owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Valerie J. Hayes and Quiet West Vintage with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Where Do Women Stand In Small Business Ownership ~ When It Comes To Canada’s High Potential For Growth In E-commerce?

According to the Federal government SME research and statistics (2012-2016)  Canadians are among the most wired in the world with Internet access available to 87% of the population. Some of the northern and rural areas do not have the same service as the urban areas do. Within Canada, BC and Alberta are the biggest users (according to 2012 stats).

As far as small to medium businesses in Canada, more than half are located in Ontario and Quebec. The average number of people owning SME’s is 45.2 per 1000 population nationwide. Western Canada has consistently demonstrated a robust growth in small business development. The majority of small businesses (78%) offer services. The highest percentage of small business is made up of micro-entrepreneurs consisting of businesses with one to four employees.

Small businesses have a revolving door element. Out of 13,820 start-ups, there were 12,590 deaths. A high percentage of those are in the professional, scientific and technical service sectors. BC and Alberta combined, contribute more than the national average in SME according to GDP measurements.

How do women fare in the participation surrounding business ownership? Unfortunately, we do not fare that well. According to stats from 2014 – small businesses with the majority of male ownership was 64.7% while the majority of female owned businesses was 15.7% The female owned businesses tend to be concentrated in the service sector, mostly in information, administration, aesthetician services, decorating, daycare, health care and recreation. Outside of these service areas, the business ownership by women drops to around 8%

The average educational levels for SME owners is a Bachelors or Masters degree for 30-60% of them. This comes as no surprise since Canada already has a high percentage of tertiary level education among its population. Since women tend to be more cautious when it comes to business, we are also inclined to do more research. The reality of it is that only 4.5% of the population establishes a successful small business. It doesn’t take much math comprehension to see what a minuscule representation women have in the bigger picture. But women do tend to be strong in semantics at a time when there is value in being able to write semantic HTML. Many women also have a good eye when it comes to colours, layout and design.

What are the barriers for women in business? It cannot be denied there are many barriers, when there is such a dramatic gender difference in business ownership. Whatever the reasons, women do face an uphill battle. The most obvious barrier and lack of support pertains to financing. But the gender barriers are far more complex, longstanding – and much more deep-rooted than money alone. They surround us. Maybe even engulf us, in the amount of disdain we have to endure.

E-commerce provides an opportunity for female owned micro-enterprises to gain some ground in developing and owning businesses. Ten years ago, a website could not be developed without learning how to write code. Five years ago you had to take hours and hours of computer instruction just to be able put a blog and online store together on the same website. And if not done correctly from a technical perspective – it would slow your site to less than a crawl.

Another valuable tip for E-commerce start-ups is to ignore all advice (advertising and hype) telling you it is possible to set up an online store in minutes. No such concept (of instant gratification or results) exists when it comes to building something with lasting value. Businesses do not get built in minutes. You need to have a long-term commitment to task, combined with some clear day to day directives. I set mini mottos and foundational criteria in my head for almost everything. Otherwise I get sidetracked.

Before they started doing automatic file compressions and cloud computing, you would be charged bandwidth on images. In some cases, they took your credit card number and titrated it according to some non-identifiable bandwidth usage. It was very limiting in the number of pictures you could upload, as well as in trying to estimate what the bandwidth would cost overall. Plus every single image had to have several captions, alt tags etc. which made it tedious and prohibitive if your site relies on showing multiple images on thousands of products. Now you can upload as many pictures as you want to. The one thing to note is that once uploaded, they are lossy images and cannot be photo edited. In looking back at some of the bad pictures I took, I thought maybe I could use a photo editing plug in to make improvements. But the photo editing has to be done before uploading – due to the loss of resolution in the compressions.

Web developer costs range between 65-100 dollars an hour. Don’t be taken in by the cheap outsourcing costs you read about. For 35-50 dollars an hour you get a language barrier, which is not conducive to developing anything. You have to learn how to do things on your website without hiring a web developer. There are too many changes and tweaks to make, never mind allowing someone you don’t know onto the admin panel of your site. There is nothing worse than a bunch of cluttered up code. It can break your site. Whoever made up the slogan “Code is Poetry” must have different neuronal pathways than I do!

Just a few years ago you could not set up payment gateways without going through rigorous and complex settings that required you to store all credit card data on your site. It put a huge burden of responsibility on the web developer or business owner because of the threat of hacking and phishing. In an effort to overcome that hurdle, they set it up so when the customer paid they were re-directed to the secure payment gateway. But it was only a partial solution as it had the disadvantage of taking the person away from your website at the critical point of conversion, and disrupted the continuity of your branding.

The technical advances now are such that the purchase goes to the secure payment gateway using screen shots so that it gives the impression of staying on the site while the payment is being made. This means the website does not need to store any credit card data or a customer’s personal banking information on the site. In addition, the newer platforms are connected to QuickBooks. All of the parameters surrounding taxation, shipping etc. can be entered and tracked on one site. As they streamline these attributes, they improve them. For instance, they recently added a feature to enable an E-commerce business to give partial refunds. Such features permit compromises to be made between the business and customer, without losing customer satisfaction or losing the sale.

As a micro-enterprise, I have not launched the online store yet. But, as I have been doing the research and photography – working quietly on getting product listed, I have also noticed that advances in technology have already passed many of the concerns I had. Once the store is launched and up and running – I hope to be able to encourage other women to look toward E-commerce as something that can be achieved, without facing such astronomical hurdles. After all – we have a lot of catching up to do!

For Reflection


For Reflection

Foliage responds when nature talks

But weakest is the central stalk –

Wavering wildly ~ “The Thinking Reed”

Subjects nature to its greed.


Brambles & briars – bushes & thorns –

Gouge the flesh of pride and scorn.

They weave together close to the ground –

Whispers among them make no sound.


Flowers rejoice – lift faces to the sun,

Pulse out energy – bursts joy from each one.

Trees in the forest make great requests ~

Call for the clouds & their needs are confessed.


Harmony is balance – hearing each other,

In hundreds of years – this we discover,

That frail and feeble is our tact –

& Rapid change to what we know as fact.

Valerie Hayes

Copyright Valerie J. Hayes and Quiet West Vintage (2017). Unauthorised use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author/owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Valerie J. Hayes and Quiet West Vintage with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

The Inside Passage Legendary Map Theme Poem ~ About Grief & Hope


Music reaches the wandering herd,

Timeless tunes of twittering birds ~

Fallen and fractured – Swallows sleep

Wind O’less waves churn dark and deep.

Feathers find warmth – Still silence hopes

Sunlight shimmers upon scattered notes ~

Through all history one promise remains —

Birds sing a new song ~

After it rains.

Valerie Hayes


Sky So Blue

Like me – The sky is so blue ~

Then the setting sun – With a purplish hue;

Bruises & bleeds – Clear across the skies ~

‘Til absorbed by the darkness – & Shadows our lives…

Valerie Hayes


Copyright Valerie J. Hayes and Quiet West Vintage (2017). Unauthorised use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author/owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Valerie J. Hayes and Quiet West Vintage with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

A Poem ~ The Thaw Of Spirit Lake & The Face Of The Trail

My favorite trail on Haida Gwaii is Spirit Lake Trail, and is located in Skidegate. True to its name, it is a dreamy, undulating and inspirational loop through the trees, around the wilderness shoreline of a beautiful lake. There is a sense of privacy and privilege, in feeling so fully integrated with the forest. Big eagles perch on dead and broken trees jutting out of the lake, just feet from the trail. Moss and mist drape over sections, and then suddenly there is a brilliant contrast of azure blue. For just a few weeks in the winter, majestic white swans will often migrate through and spend some time (gliding by), adding to the picturesque beauty of the trail and lake. They make a variety of strange sounds, like grunting and hissing. Apparently they mate for life, through mutual bill dipping and head to head posturing. The males are called cobs. The females are pens, and the young are cygnets.

During the time I lived on Haida Gwaii, I walked it nearly every day, and will always remember it as a highlight of living in such a beautiful place. Each time I trekked around it – it was different, with some new and delightful lighting, or an unexpected scene around the next bend. Occasionally, there were huge black bears near the trail, with thick, luxurious coats that added to their size. Haida Gwaii is home to the largest black bear in the world. They were in my yard more often than I saw them on the trail. They were never aggressive, and for the most part, remained shy and aloof – demonstrating they can run shockingly fast.

Curiously, although there have been black bear and grizzly bear maulings throughout the rest of the British Columbian wilderness, there has never been a serious bear mauling on Haida Gwaii. There is no documentation, memories among those who grew up there, or even in Haida Gwaii storytelling and folklore – that describes a bear attack on Haida Gwaii. The main “bears becoming an issue” is about a resident (many years ago) who was feeding, attracting and habituating bears to be his friends and companions. He lived with his mother who was frail and elderly. In addition, they lived right on main street where children had to pass by on their way to school, so it was a problem. The imbalanced resident and bear lover, when under pressure to stop it – ended up shooting the bears and then himself.

The climate on Haida Gwaii is similar to Vancouver, with most winter storms being more wind and rain, as opposed to snow and ice. The poem called The Thaw of Spirit Lake was written during a period of time in the winter when the lake was frozen.

Later in the spring on another walk, I stopped and snapped a picture of the face in the trail, without even fully realizing it, until I saw what looked sort of like a porcelain dolls head in the thumbnails of the photos. The camera I was carrying at the time, was just a small, very old 4 mega pixel point and shoot. When I saw the picture of the face, I was surprised to see I got the whole face in the picture. The face in Spirit Lake Trail goes with the poem. I felt awed and delighted to be out there enough to capture them both!

The Thaw of Spirit Lake

The lake is like milk – To nourish the tenseness

Like the soft rush of silk – Slides over the senses

And threatens to thaw our daily defenses.

While frozen reflections

Skim past expressions.

For what lies beneath, no one can see ~

Cannot be dredged or warmed a degree…

Until winter releases & shows the first cracks,

On a face that it teases ~

Until spring makes it laugh.

Valerie J. Hayes

snap shot of a face in Spirit Lake Trail

The Face in Spirit Lake Trail In Skidegate on Haida Gwaii

Copyright Valerie J. Hayes and Quiet West Vintage (2016). Unauthorised use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author/owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Valerie J. Hayes and Quiet West Vintage with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

The Old Spinning Wheel

The other night I was talking to a woman about how certain aptitudes seem to come down through the generations, like it is in your blood. She was telling me about her own history in Prince Edward Island coming from a background of artists and how she learned about, and developed an appreciation for beautiful things.

My earliest recollection of my Swedish grandmother, is of watching her spend hours upon hours, spinning and carding wool. I knew she found solace in the rhythmic constancy of the spinning. She also made beautiful quilts. She fashioned bits of satin into flowers of all different colours, to create a big bouquet in the center. Then she would embroider stems and apply the leaves. Sometimes she made the flowers out of a combination of fabrics – brocades, velvet or printed cottons. The quilt, with its layers of wool in the center, was her canvas.

The spinning looked simple enough. As an adult, I have not had a chance to study  many spinning wheels. When I did, I realized it is not that simple. I chatted with a woman who does spin, and is quite passionate about it. She said she had learned how to spin from watching You Tube videos, which makes a great deal of sense, since you can pause it and go over sections, you don’t yet grasp. She also explained, how at first it is a real struggle, like you want to tear your hair out. But then – when you get it, you can’t understand why you found it so difficult. I told her about my grandmother and how it almost seemed like spinning was an escape for her, and a way to relax – while shutting the world out.

From what I have read, spinning is an art form. Like other art forms, there is a variety of ways to approach it. In essence it is the art of twisting fiber, fleece, wool, silk, alpaca, angora, mohair, flax, etc. into a continuous thread. It can be spun thick or thin, plyed or unplyed, dyed, or left natural.

The You Tube website is called “The Joy of Spinning”. It turns out spinning does have an effect on the limbic system, and pathways in the brain, to create a sort of Zen-like state. You get into a flow, yet at the same time, you have to maintain concentration.

Although I don’t know how to spin yarn in the real sense, I am most convinced there is joy and relaxation to be found in doing so.

Because my Grandma proved something to me long ago…Our brains like to spin!

Copyright Valerie J. Hayes and Quiet West Vintage (2014). Unauthorised use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author/owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Valerie J. Hayes and Quiet West Vintage with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Ladies Wear Many Hats ~ An Inside Passage Poem

Inside Passage Legendary Map By Quiet West Publishing

Ladies Wear Many Hats

Ladies wear many hats ~

We put the lady on the map,

To illuminate despair –

To journey where we dare;

To follow rivers to wilderness,

To fly and then return to nest.

To soften contours of the stone –

And pave the road with poems.

Valerie J. Hayes

Early 1900's With Real Bird

Early 1900’s with Real Bird. This Practice was Banned in 1909

1960’s Velvet Rose Hat

1940's Black & White

1940’s White on Black


1950’s Scarlet Glamour

Carved Mother Of Pearl In Natural Sun Lit Colours

Copyright Valerie J. Hayes and Quiet West Vintage (2014). Unauthorised use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author/owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Valerie J. Hayes and Quiet West Vintage with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.