The Comfort Of Cardigans In Cool Weather

Whether at work, out for a walk, or dinner at your favourite restaurant – when the weather cools off, cardigans can be worn as outerwear or layered. As the weather changes, it often goes from chilly to hot within a matter of hours.

When going out on boats or hiking in the wilderness, layers can be a life saver. In my opinion, nothing beats wool (or a wool blend) when it comes to cool wet weather. The advantage of wearing layers is that you can easily remove them as the weather warms up.

Urban or city attire carries the same principles as any other outdoor adventure. It’s not much fun being out and about if you are freezing cold, or not dressed for the weather conditions.

How many times have you walked into a restaurant wearing a sleeveless dress, drawn in by the ambience and a mouth watering menu – only to discover they have the air conditioning set on “freeze”. No lingering allowed for the scantily clad summer tourist. Yet, all you need is a cardigan!

Aside from the fishing and boating layers of wool that are primarily for function and practicality – a few casual and dressy cardigans will add comfort to your life, when it comes to the more cosmopolitan escapades.

Celine Wool Cardigan With Ribbon Applique
1950’s Beaded & Sequinned Cardigan
Lady Anne black ban-lon sweater with white beadwork, made in Canada
Lady Anne 1960’s Beaded Ban-Lon Sweater – Canada
Another 1950’s Work Of Art On Wool
Rodier – Knitwear Made in France
Avagolf 1970’s Velvet Trimmed Cardigan – Italy
1960’s Madame Runge
Ballantyne Scotland
Rodier With Birds On A Branch – France
Sonia Rykiel Merino Wool Wrap Cardigan With Rhinestone Pom Poms
Chanel Gold Trimmed Sporty Zip Cardigan

Physical Illness & Mental Illness ~ & Never The Twain Shall Meet

Though we have an unspoken adage surrounding this topic with “never the twain shall meet” between the two – in actual fact, mental and physical well-being are wholly and inextricably linked. For example, the proverbial hard driven Type A personality, with high blood pressure, is prone to having a heart attack or stroke. Yet for some reason, he is not considered mentally ill, even though he may have been told what the outcome would be, ten or twenty years ago, when he walked into a doctor’s office with a blood pressure of 220/110 – or got diagnosed with atrial fib or Type 2 diabetes while in his fifties.

In addition to medication, this Type A person would be told that if they don’t change their lifestyle – they are high risk when it comes to being a statistic for a leading cause of death. Almost every illness created or worsened by lifestyle factors – should also be called a mental illness, because thinking is what leads to behaviours. Repressing emotions can be just as sickening – as oppressing, regressing, or expressing them.

Every single human being gets physically ill from time to time. When you add accidents, sports injuries, falls, pulled tendons and ligaments, burns, iatrogenic, idiopathic, and chronic illnesses – the range of physical ailments we and our loved ones are faced with, is a cringing fact of life. Yet, from bumps and bruises, to life altering disabilities – the resilience of the body and mind, will dust off what we can, and get back in the saddle.

When a person develops a physical ailment – they are not automatically labeled for life as being “physically ill”. Why wouldn’t we apply the same transient logic to the many facets of mental illness as well? Certain diseases, injuries or events – cause life altering disabilities, but in most cases, people get over their colds and broken bones – and carry on. The same goes for most of the psychological hurdles and hardships we face.

Considering the credibility of the DSM manual is steadily decreasing, as it increases in volume, it is time for the industry (and general public) to pause and take stock. Inventing and adding new mental health disorders by the dozens is highly questionable, and is finally being challenged by many altruistic and educated professionals in the field.

The DSM has been designed so that any person who goes in for an evaluation or screening, would be considered to have at least one of those burgeoning 347 mental health disorders. Truthfully, a somewhat scatter-brained manual is growing like a stage four glioblastoma. If they continue to invent and add more illnesses to the book at the same rate, by 2030, there should be around 500 mental health disorders for society to contend with.

What the average person might not know, is that they are coming up with these diseases without any diagnostic criteria whatsoever. No wonder the entire field is frequently being called junk pseudoscience by a growing number of educated people and organizations. How do they come up with all these disorders? They simply get together, make them up, give them a name; and then vote to add these new disorders to the book (in their own best interests of course). Who can escape being mentally ill at that rate?

Anxiety and depression are considered to be mental illnesses. Who – in their right mind, has not experienced anxiety and depression at some point in their lives?? Are we all nuts? Or is the DSM a true extension, and example of what is bat shit crazy? Yes the human mind is very complex. In fact, the brain and the mind are not exactly the same either. Who are they to be judge and jury over how another person processes their experiences, thoughts and emotion? Most professionals in the mental health field are more nuts than the general population. That much HAS been proven!

Why are they being so sickening around the subject of mental health? Pure profit motive underlies the growing fiasco. Worse yet, like they did with Oxycontin, it is a way to get innocent people struggling with what could be little more than temporary sniffles, into a lifelong battle with drugs, side effects, and increasing marginalization around being “mentally ill”. But ironically, mental illness is still not compared to physical illness. The industry itself is more than happy to label and stigmatize people for life.

How does a psychiatrist, having never before met a person, and using zero diagnostic criteria – have a ten or fifteen minute conversation, and then pull some diagnosis out of his hat? Ten different psychiatrists would probably have ten different opinions. Every single one of them would be inclined to sling prescription meds at the poor person to top it off, whether they need them or not. It becomes alarming, when they start making these assumptions without any criteria, or even manifestations or documentation of overt maladaptive behaviours. Who can honestly say they are not motivated by profit, ego, politics, or their own distorted values – when they make their rash judgements?

The reason people are supposed to be referred to a psychiatrist by a GP or family doctor, is because many mental health disorders have an underlying physical cause. Also, a family doctor who knows the person, is more likely to recognize atypical behaviours or symptoms. It is up to the GP to rule out physical causes first and foremost. Therefore no psychiatric diagnosis can be made, without first doing some physical diagnostics and baseline tests.

For example, hypothyroidism causes depression. Idiopathic dystonic movement disorders might start with anxiety or panic attacks. Parkinson’s disease, MS, diabetes, and hormonal imbalances are often signalled by depression, withdrawal, and a loss of motivation. The list goes on an on, especially as people age. Even a urinary tract infection in an elderly person can lead to delirium.

During the years I worked in community mental health, the correlation between physical and mental health was very obvious. In the mental health system, when people would get physically sick, they would quickly decompensate mentally as well. If we are honest with ourselves, we know that when we are physically ill, we soon battle depression.

There is an entire spectrum surrounding drugs of choice, when it comes to substance abuse. But when you consider that a very high percentage of opiate users started out with prescription pain pills, in order to medicate a physical injury – what does that tell us? Substance abuse is one of the most debilitating and life threatening mental health disorders, yet the person often started out with physical pain and symptoms.

In the case of drugging children who are diagnosed with ADHD, with Ritalin and Adderall, because these are stimulants – the corresponding street drugs are Meth and Ecstasy. How many kids diagnosed with ADHD started crushing and snorting those meds as early as grade six? How many of them were misdiagnosed to begin with?

Heavy cocaine use will cause cardiac arrhythmias and stroke. Alcohol eventually causes liver disease, GI bleeds, and a host of other co-morbidity factors. So why do we continually separate physical illness and mental illness?

When people are ill, it is usually temporary. If they are permanently ill, they are terminal, or unable to overcome whatever it is that has struck them down. People with a mental health diagnosis do not need to be permanently ill. In the case of any diagnostics, a physical exam, to rule out a physical cause, is the first step taken by a prudent GP. The importance of evaluating physical health, diet, exercise, substance abuse, side effects of medications, and external circumstances – cannot be underestimated, before making a mental health referral.

If there is a debilitating and disorganized thought disorder, threats of violence to self or others, abnormal and disruptive behaviours, and the inability to self-care – those are the real parameters of mental illness. We need to stop permitting the labelling of every human struggle as a permanent disease condition. Every time we hear that someone is mentally ill, we thing of a deranged and dishevelled person staggering around and babbling incoherently.

Why is mental illness stigmatized as such? Are you still labeled as being physically ill, from a bout of bronchitis two years ago? The medical and pharmaceutical industry is responsible for stigmatizing mental illness. Someone needs to oversee how and why they are creating all these new illnesses to add to the DSM manual. It’s all for profit – and in most cases, they are also exploiting the vulnerabilities that led the person to their doors in the first place.

We are either all mentally ill due to past experiences with depression, anxiety, grief, substance abuse, insomnia, hyperactivity, etc.etc. Or in truth, very few people are permanently mentally ill. For those who are permanently disabled for mental health reasons, they will most certainly have some sort of movement disorder due to the medications they must take, which signals a direct effect on the basal ganglia of the brain ( a physical problem). Therefore the long term treatment must also include what the treatment itself is doing to the body, brain, and central nervous system. Do they care? Or do they just keep adding more?

Mental health professionals frequently overlook physical causes of mental health disorders because they themselves are uneducated and lack experience medically, when it comes to physical health. How many psychiatrists take a person’s blood pressure, or will pull out a lab req, before they make their diagnosis and order heavy duty psychoactive drugs?

The law denies insanity pleas, because the law defines the knowledge of right and wrong, as being a key parameter in determining culpability. Therefore, insanity pleas are usually no excuse when it comes to thieving and violent crime. Otherwise all property crime related to getting enough money for the next fix, would be deemed a mental health issue. If they do decriminalize drugs, surely they won’t decriminalize violent crime or property crime, claiming the person was compelled to be aggressive due to substance abuse. Yet the crime rate is a direct result of the substance abuse disorder.

If drugs are decriminalized, there has to be a way to prevent the crime that is secondary to those addictions. In the bigger picture, we cannot overlook the fact that physical and mental health represents an integrated set of systems within the body – one that has a rippling effect on families, the workplace, and the communities. In a similar way, illness and toxicity is spread to encompass a wider legal and social challenge.

Therefore an orientation to a more holistic approach is warranted, not just in the three spheres that are charted on mental health records – but on a half a dozen other spheres, extending to families and communities. Various societal influences, indirectly deceive us into creating our own “egosystems” and “ergosystems” out of their skewed drug-induced sales pitch. It’s both an excuse and a blame game – to fully and completely crush the vulnerable, since that is how those who exalt themselves stay “high” on the totem pole in the hierarchy of life. They readily judge others, without considering their own fragile state.

It’s all so complicated – few know where to even begin to bring it all together for the common good. One of the first questions we might ask ourselves; is what is the polarized opposite of vulnerability and shame? Arrogance and blame. Arrogance itself is a common delusion, and known as one of the dark traits of human nature. In truth, it is an attempt to cover insecurity and deception.

If we must blame, it really should be backed with some empirical evidence and accountability. But who is capable of taking on big egos or Big Pharma? Who can deny the need for medication, when it is initially prescribed by a doctor? By the sounds of it, the average middle aged person cannot go anywhere for a week without taking along his or her plethora of medications. Once prescribed – there is a duty to take the medicine. When a person is diagnosed with cancer, to include false mammogram readings, there is an immediate duty to treat and follow doctor’s orders. Pre-screening carries more hazards than benefits.

The only solution is to start teaching people to take responsibility for their own health and well-being. Autonomy does not equate to blind trust – by allowing ourselves to become human market potential. Yes we all need help from time to time, if we can afford or even find a qualified, and sincere professional. But the DSM model of inventing diseases and making people sick, instead of concentrating on wellness, is a profit driven model, prone to exploiting those who are struggling with a temporary problem.

The growing trend around volunteer peer counselling and education to equip people to do peer counselling, is a very positive trend. It is geared toward empathy and compassion, as opposed to the crumbling DSM criteria. It is more equality based, much cheaper, probably deeper – and every bit as effective as expensive counselling sessions, if not more so. Talk therapy does not have to cost the system $150.00 an hour. After all – most of us know how to talk! It takes a big whack on the head – before they can take that much away from us!

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!

Thinking Crooked ~ What Is A Conspiracy Theorist Anyway?

Since human beings have been prone to cooking up deceptive deals since the beginning of time – what then, is a conspiracy theorist? The term seems to revolve around enmity and paranoia, but at the same time, wouldn’t it be naive and stupid to believe there are no conspiracies at all? Probably the root of most conspiracies is greed and profit motive, with a disregard for truth, to the detriment of individuals, families, communities, and the environment.

One common conspiracy theory revolves around vaccines. On one extreme, there are people who believe all vaccines are harmful, and therefore they refuse all vaccines. On the other hand, we have gone from four vaccines at birth to more than a dozen, in just a few decades. Since vaccines (and all drugs) carry some risks, it makes sense to weigh out and reduce the risks.

If a baby is pre-term or sick, it makes sense to delay or spread the vaccines out over a longer period of time. It also seems prudent to have concerns about mercury and other adjuncts contained in vaccines. One of the best immune boosters for newborns is colostrum and breast milk. Although I think some of the newer vaccines might be questionable, it is probably not a good idea to reject all vaccines.

The one world order is another popular conspiracy theory, which seemed quite plausible to me for a period of time – but I now believe it is bogus fear mongering. The chances of a group of leaders becoming unified enough to take over the world is pretty far-fetched. Nations will always have conflicts, wars, and religious and cultural differences. What are the chances those differences would be reconciled enough to create a one world government?

The 911 terrorist attacks in New York sparked more questions than answers. However, terrorist attacks happen all over the world. Regardless of who initiated the terrorist attack – it is still a terrorist attack. Certain countries are targeted more frequently than others, but there is no doubt that such attacks are based on the conspiracies of certain deranged individuals working together. Five minutes of listening to Alex Jones, and we need to be deprogrammed.

Do I believe in a unified conspiracy theory? Not at all. Mostly because it is next to impossible to get people unified on any topic, let alone things that are next to impossible to prove. But as far as conspiracies in general – we are a society prone to deception. What is conspiracy, but an inclination for some people to create plots to deceive others?

Conspiracies are sort of like weeds in the garden. Truth and goodness will not be choked out by an overgrowth of deception in any realm. In the meantime, wisdom dictates that we don’t foolishly allow ourselves to be deceived. Discernment is valuable. Blind trust is not. Those who refuse to be duped are not conspiracy theorists. Sometimes our definitions become a little skewed and all encompassing, when we are simply navigating our own best interests in a complex world.

In the end, I think we will all be surprised at the amount of deception in this world. In all likelihood, the greatest deception and conspiracies will be in areas we did not see or even contemplate. Such is the nature of deception!

The Nature Of Therapy

There is no therapist that can speak to us like nature does. The air is fresh with the smell of spring blossoms and the wafting of woodsmoke from the nearby campsites. There is no arrogance in her breath taking beauty and quiet tranquility. There is no desire to compete with the sound of rushing waters. She sets her own goals – and all we have to do is stick to the trails. These pictures are of Vedder River in Chilliwack, BC.

Vedder River
Rotary Trail on Vedder River
Vedder River Rotary Trail
Other Side of South Dyke Trail
Vedder Rotary Trail
South Dyke Trail
Near the South Dyke Trail
Journey to the Farm Store

What Is Truth? What Has Happened To Objective Reality?

The vast majority of people by the time they reach college, do not believe there is such a thing as objective reality. Truth is supposed to correspond with reality. However, in actual fact – we are steeped in relativism. Only images, impressions, preferences and perceptions form a concept of truth. We live in an illusory world, where countless mixed motives are vying for the perceptions of truth. All throughout history, various theories gradually turn into facts, whether they correspond with reality or not.

There are 4200 religions in the world today. Within those conceptual frameworks and belief systems, there are layers of differences in what people believe to be true, even if they belong to or believe in the same religion. When you extrapolate the number of different ideas of what is true based on religion alone, it grows exponentially. The war between truths then – is the war between relativism, and objective or corresponding truths. The correspondence theory of truth means that truth corresponds to reality.

What is the definition of “ism”? An ism is a set of beliefs, which are especially subject to disapproval of certain segments of the population. Isms are used to form nouns that represent layers of social, political, or religious beliefs. We all have vague ideas surrounding definitions of fascism, liberalism, ageism, racism, sexism, classicism, and many other isms related to ideas, concepts and theories.

The problem is that isms are then connected to a sense of inferiority and economic vulnerability. The notion that the higher class, the superior, and dominance oriented stance is based on religious beliefs, gender, power, or economic status is a method of control. Dominance and control is not about love. It is about the ongoing self-serving interests of those who exert power over others for personal gain.

In actual fact, power, control and dominance come from a place of deep insecurity. Fascism dictates power over the lives of others. It is a representation of strong, autocratic, dictatorial and oppressive control over others, not just the behaviour – but the actual thought, belief and opinions of others. Why? Because isms lead to insecurities. When controlling personalities or political ideologies are faced with instability or lack of confidence – they project their wrath and blame others.

Since objective reality is so scarce – how does one define delusional? Delusional means that beliefs are not based in reality or have been founded upon faulty or mistaken judgement. There are extreme delusional cases in mental health, where people believe they are being chased by aliens, or have bugs crawling on them, or they may have auditory and visual hallucinations.

But in the absence of a loss of touch with reality – who has the right to control, demonize or diagnose another person’s intellect, thoughts and beliefs? Are they layered? Absolutely. There is no belief system or ism that is not layered with multiple concepts, ideas, memories and experiences. If delusional is applied to one person’s belief system – then it applies to all.

The poor person is not delusional simply because he or she is poor or facing economic vulnerability. The disabled person is not delusional because of illness or a physical disability. Yet the disadvantaged are far more likely to be labeled as such. Women, especially single women, poor people, Aboriginal people, and those with disabilities are also most likely to be labeled and medicated for their beliefs and/or vulnerabilities.

When it comes to corporate fascism and human rights abuses – the rich man is not considered to be delusional for some unknown reason. Yet he may be the most delusional one of all. He lacks insight. He is incoherent in rational thought, because he will not be challenged. He is a con artist, yet he has set up so many layers of protection, he sees himself as being invincible. He will not admit wrongdoing, or expose any vulnerabilities. Power is probably the number one delusion of all time. We only need to look at some of the political leaders to see the range of self-exaltation and delusion among the rich and powerful.

Power is delusional because it is often arrived at as a result of deception. If power is achieved through a series of foundational lies – it is sure to crumble. Abuse of power means the person will lose that power. All it takes is a single stroke. It could be a stroke of the pen, a stroke of ballots, a stroke of bad luck, a stroke of God’s wrath, or a stroke – as in a hemorrhagic brain aneurysm, and that person’s reign of power is gone – like chaff in the wind. Then, they await the final judgment day. In the meantime, their reality changes, and their delusion is not sustainable.

So who in their right mind abuses power and uses deception and coercion to oppress the poor and the vulnerable for personal gain and exaltation? Lots of people do. It is a rampant problem, which has led to countless conflicts, wars, and loss of human rights and potential. Those who abuse power do so at their own peril – yet they lack insight into the basic principles and guidelines surrounding morality in human behaviour, such as the golden rule. They see themselves as vastly superior. Is that not a central symptom of delusional thinking? Once they completely lose their health, mobility or cognitive function – they will not even be able to take a shower or go to the bathroom on their own. What makes anyone so delusional as to believe they are exempt from the natural laws of the universe?

Is a god-like, self exalted, profit driven doctor, or a rich and ruthless executive exempt from natural laws and loss of power? Prestige and position is temporary. Wisdom dictates that they should not abuse their power while they have it. There are consequences when it comes to the abuse of power for personal gain. No matter what they get away with in life, it does not mean they won’t get a multi-infarct dementia or have a heart attack. Do they really think they will maintain power over others once that happens? Isn’t it better to make decisions in life with some integrity, so that when you do exit the world of power, dominance and control – you have hope of mercy and compassion – instead of wrath and judgement?

The age of relativism, or the impressions of truth, do not portray an accurate representation of reality. In fact, the greatest intellectual question of all time – is to define what is truth. One lecturer proved a point about eye witnesses being able to provide truth as evidence in a trial. During his speech, he had an actor unexpectedly run in front of him on the stage, and wave his hands in front of his face, then run away.

The lecturer stopped his lecture and began to ask people in the small audience what just happened. Five out of five people who witnessed this, believed the man had slapped or slapped at the speaker. In reality, there was no slapping involved. The speaker did this exercise to prove a point about eye witness testimonies.

One of the most powerful representations of the altered perception fact is demonstrated by some of the Mount Everest disasters. The book by Jon Krakauer “Into Thin Air” is a journalistic non-fiction account of one of the greatest tragedies on Mount Everest. The ill fated 1996 expedition was one of the worst climbing disasters of all time, where a freak storm and a series of human error, led to the death of eight climbers. Although the book became a best seller, there was much controversy about the truth or objective reality surrounding the events that took place.

On that particular expedition, Russian climber Boukreev was portrayed by Krakauer as having made many mistakes. In fact, the experienced high altitude Russian climber saved three lives because he had the experience and foresight to make decisions that were not understood by the novice journalist.

In addition, the lack of oxygen and extreme weather conditions did give each individual a unique perspective, since it was a matter of location, hardship, survival and individual peril. Boukreev refuted many of Krakaeur’s statements, claiming in different interviews that he was haunted by the falsehoods. Krakauer ended up making a lengthy addendum to his book, in an attempt to explain the differences of perception.

Boukreev then co-authored a book “The Climb” Tragic ambitions on Mount Everest, depicting his version of the climb, which was quite different from the journalists point of view. He was ultimately vindicated when he was awarded the David Sowles Award, the highest mountaineering award for courage, due to the fact he saved the lives of other climbers. What could be a better representation of truth than to risk one’s life to save others? Those people are alive because of him, and surely they believe it!

Sadly, only a year later Boukreev, at age 39, was killed in an avalanche during a high altitude winter climb. His final poetic tribute is perhaps a demonstration of the old adage “to thine own self be true”.

May your spirit rise higher than mountains! I have returned from my Fall expeditions and all my pain of the Summer has lifted somewhat from my spirit into the crystal air of the Himalaya. Compelled: in that world you may know yourselves and beauty that is eternal. The very best to you in the coming year.

Anatoli Boukreev
Santa Fe, New Mexico
January 1, 1997

To those who are fascist and delusional about power – when their end comes, the spirit is not lifted, but rather it is weighted down with that anchor of delusion, as it faces the ultimate defeat. Defeat in death is only defeat, if it is accompanied with self-exalted, destructive delusions and lies. Otherwise, just as Boukreev predicted – his spirit will be lifted to an eternal beauty. The choices we make on a day to day basis, and the way in which we treat others, has eternal ramifications. Make no mistake, since that is the essence of faulty thinking – and the eventual judgement people bring upon themselves.

Did Anatoli Boukreev know he would be gone shortly after he wrote those words? Who knows? But he did know the truth about the human spirit, the concept of eternity, and what it means to rise above it. He came to this conclusion as a result of a passion for mountain climbing.

Some people might believe such behaviours exhibit a death wish, or foolish risk taking. But none of us gets to dictate or control the actions or outcomes of another human being. If we can eradicate that single delusion surrounding power, dominance and control – surely the world would be a better place. There are more mountains in the human mind – than anywhere else in the Universe. Some traverse the deepest crevasse – without even realizing it. They lack the intrinsic courage to look up, or down – until it is too late. Delusion is not only a state of mind – it affects others to the detriment of spirit and truth – from which there is no escape.

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.

Cholesterol, Statins & The Carriers Of Misinformation

Cholesterol is a lipid with global functions in the body and brain. The misinformation around good and bad cholesterol has caused many people to accept statins as a preventative measure for heart disease. Statins were first discovered in the late eighties. Between 1996 and 2012 the drug company Pfizer made 125 billion dollars on the sale of Lipitor over a fourteen year period. Are there fewer heart attacks a result? Hardly, but the drug company is much richer, so that’s all that matters.

Statins top the list of drugs given to seniors, with 50% of all seniors prescribed the drug. Suggestions and arguments were advanced at one time to add this poison to the water supplies. People as young as forty are being prescribed statins, and there is no end in sight. Next they will be targeting children, with some articles suggesting they be given to children as young as seven years old. Yet statins are the culprit in a high percentage of children who are victims of accidental poisonings. 30% of teens who took statins thinking they might get high, ended up in the hospital in more serious trouble than when they take opiates. Even a single adult pill can poison a young child.

Since statins have been prescribed so much, one would think the death rate from cardiac disease would have dropped by now. But heart disease continues to be in the top ten causes of death worldwide. Statins are now directly linked to an increase in cognitive decline, but they won’t tell you that when it is prescribed. Why do people get suckered into taking these drugs? Fear and misinformation, is what drives people to take statins. Plus, there has been long term indoctrination to blindly trust, and turn our autonomy over to doctors to make decisions about our health. How do they know what a person’s daily diet and habits are? Like the general population, there are doctors who are competent and trustworthy, and those who are not. Doctors can and do save lives – but over prescribing medications is a huge and steadily increasing problem, that does just the opposite.

The brain, nerves and all muscles need cholesterol. Cholesterol is a lipid. The misinformation surrounding the good and bad cholesterol is based on an over simplified and faulty sales pitch. LDL and HDL are actually cholesterol carriers, not two different types of cholesterol as we are led to believe. They serve many different functions, not only in the brain, but in digestive processes and the production of bile. LDL means low density and HDL means high density carriers of lipoproteins. The body needs both to function. In fact the higher levels of cholesterol occur naturally and serve to protect the brain as we age. At different stages of life, the body makes adaptations to feed and protect different functions.

The brain is 60% fat for good reasons. Human breast milk is very high in cholesterol, because the brains of babies are growing and developing at a rapid rate. Cholesterol is an antioxidant and protects the brain from free radicals. It provides insulation and protection of the myelin sheath and nerve cells. It provides a cell membrane barrier to further protect brain cells and enhance the function of neurotransmitters.

To narrow scope and function of statins to the chemical prevention of arteriosclerosis is a non holistic and faulty description surrounding a very complex subject. Probably the most comprehensive information that does not oversimplify their use and how they work, is a book written by James & Hannah Yoseph entitled How statin drugs really lower cholesterol: and kill you one cell at a time.

What are the main side effects and complaints when people start taking statins? Although the side effects are numerous and often debilitating, the main complaints revolve around muscle weakness and brain fog. The most common side effects are headache, sleep disturbances, muscle tenderness, drowsiness, dizziness, impaired cognitive function, nausea and vomiting, and in some cases liver damage and kidney failure. Recent information is linking it to an increase in dementia (another leading cause of death).

Almost every research institute continues to make broad and generalized claims that statins are a wonder drug, however since heart disease has not decreased even though 50% of seniors take statins, that should tell the average lay person the claims are bogus.

People who are developing arteriosclerosis do not need statins. They need to change their diet and get more exercise. There are good and bad fats, good and bad foods, good and bad daily habits – but cholesterol is cholesterol and is very important to our health. In my opinion, if we listen to our bodies and get a side effect from a drug, it means there is something haywire happening as a result of it. When we get a severe headache from MSG laced food, doesn’t that tell us our brain and bodies are sensitive to that chemical and we are best to avoid it?

If LDL is “bad” cholesterol, why does every single human being have it? It is because we need it. It should not even be defined as bad cholesterol because cholesterol is cholesterol. If anything it might be described as a bad carrier – yet that makes no sense, so this very complex subject gets overly simplified and people accept the statement as fact, when what they should do is research the causes of higher than normal LDL levels and then make lifestyle and diet changes to lower them. The claims of good or bad tends to make people immediately think – “Oh no, I don’t want bad cholesterol” so they are quickly convinced a pill is the answer.

But the very thing it is supposed to help with is completely derailed. When people have side effects such as muscle weakness, drowsiness, poor appetite, abdominal pain, etc. they are less likely to exercise. If a drug causes generalized weakness and muscle pain – what is it doing to the heart muscle?

The interesting thing about drug companies and the reporting of side effects is that they downplay them. They want us to believe the side effects are minor, or a necessary evil so to speak. Of course once you start taking them, you must take them for life. Now that’s profitable (not for the patient though)! One cardiologist on YouTube went on and on about a genetic condition that prevents people from breaking down cholesterol. The particular genetic condition he was referring to is very rare, with fewer than 1 in 500 people who are afflicted with it – so how does that translate into prescribing the drug for half the population? How can they seriously claim they are not trying to dupe people?

We need cholesterol and healthy fats. We also need functional carriers for cholesterol. When we experience adverse reactions or side effects to anything we are exposed to, we need to stop and evaluate what is happening to us. Only the individual knows how he or she felt before taking the drug and what symptoms or side effects develop. In many cases people were being told the side effects were not real, but rather imaginary somatic complaints (delusions). How handy! What a bizarre and arrogant way to invalidate what people are experiencing. The second very valid question is to ask yourself, “Is there a conflict of interest or profit motive that supersedes my well being in prescribing this drug?” It’s a no-brainer!

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 ishttps://www.guidelinecentral.com/summaries/american-geriatrics-society-2015-updated-beers-criteria-for-potentially-inappropriate-medication-use-in-older-adults/#section-420

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 https://www.guidelinecentral.com/summaries/american-geriatrics-society-2015-updated-beers-criteria-for-potentially-inappropriate-medication-use-in-older-adults/#section-420

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?

Meloncholy

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.

CANADIAN CHARTER OF RIGHTS AND FREEDOMS

 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 https://www.guidelinecentral.com/summaries/american-geriatrics-society-2015-updated-beers-criteria-for-potentially-inappropriate-medication-use-in-older-adults/#section-420

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.

Benefits Of Playing Guitar ~ Don’t Give Up On The F Chord!

Playing an instrument has many health, brain, and mood benefits. For all ages, probably most notable in young children and older adults – playing music improves math, memory, cognition, and literacy skills. It is a method of combining relaxation with learning.

My primary motivation for learning the guitar, is because I like to sing, and cannot sing very well without an instrument. It does teach patience, as well as the recognition of musical strengths. Some musicians are naturals, and can learn very quickly, tying it all together without too much effort. Others have more strengths in certain areas, like rhythm and timing, as opposed to singing. One thing for certain, all great musicians spend a lot of time playing music. You don’t get good at anything without having a passion for it and putting in the practice time.

If you look at lists of the world famous guitar players, more men than women make it into the top percentile. But when it comes to singing, women do not lag behind. There are many different components to self teaching – such as finger placement, ease of changing chords, timing, memory, pitch, projection, confidence, patience, and practice. It takes time to improve, and at first advancements seem almost imperceptible.

For those who study musical theory and take umpteen lessons, they are already well ahead of the weekend warriors and back porch musicians. Nowadays, you can learn to play just by watching tutorials on youtube. It’s great because you can pause it and replay it, which is more difficult to do in person! Or you can get the chords and lyrics of your favourite songs off the Internet and just start playing them. You might not impress anyone, but it’s a start. If you have listened to certain songs often, you can emulate the timing, emphasis, and pitch from memory.

Learning an instrument teaches patience, and after awhile improves your confidence. A lack of patience is probably the number one reason many people who want to learn, simply give up. To begin with, you can only play until your fingers hurt, which is probably another reason people quit. Some guitars are much easier to play than others. If the action is too high (distance of strings to frets) it is more difficult to press and hold the strings down. If the guitar does not hold a tune or sound good, it is another deterrent to learning to play. I like to play a small acoustic parlour guitar (Martin). They have great sound, and are easy to handle and play. These well made small guitars are ideal for children, songwriters, small spaces, and traveling with.

Like exercise, unless you are training for a marathon or the Olympics – you don’t have to play several hours a day, but you have to commit to playing or practicing on a regular basis. You will notice that on some days you can play and sing well, and on other days, not so well. Fatigue, medication, alcohol, colds, phlegm, dry throat – all impede the voice, the energy levels, and/or hand eye coordination.

As it is in all athletic endeavours, technique is the key to doing it well. Professionals will take many years of voice lessons, learning to master the muscles involved in singing. But how many recreational musicians want to learn how to regulate sub-glottal air pressure, or about the multitude of tiny muscles in the larynx and throat? There are many theoretical aspects of music that seem to take the fun right out of it. How many lay musicians throughout history actually studied the anatomy and physiology of the voice?

We tend to think piano players need strong fingers – but what they probably need more, is good posture and strength in their chest and back muscles. Natural musicians have the ability to let the music flow right through them. You will notice that the most accomplished players of almost any instrument, demonstrate a fluidity in their entire bodies as they play. I tend to think playing an instrument involves all muscles of the body, including the feet and legs.

The simpler points to know about the athleticism involved, is to stay in shape to maintain strong muscles in the diaphragm, chest, back and arms. Paying attention to posture, stretching, and learning to regulate the breathing – all contribute to improved singing.

A couple years ago I watched an interview with Linda Ronstadt, whose powerful voice and musicality left an incredible legacy of her talent. Unfortunately, she developed Parkinson’s disease, and described changes in her voice that made her realize something was wrong, long before she got the diagnosis. It must have been a devastating loss for her, since singing was part of her entire life, up until she developed the disease.

Since there are so many muscles involved in singing and playing an instrument, a change or loss in the ability to sing or play, would probably be one of the earliest indicators of something else going on in the body. It can easily become something you love to do – so it is a blessing to even be able to do it.

I remember a friend from school whose mother wanted her to play piano. She had to take piano lessons religiously. She was made to practice every single day, and when she got in trouble, she had to practice more. One time she said, “Oh no, I’m going to get grounded for this – and my mother will probably tie me to the piano for a week!” This is where the whole concept and purpose of music can get derailed. Many parents want their children to excel in music, sports and academics. All of them require discipline and dedication. In reality, none of them can be controlled by someone else.

Of all things, music should not be pressured. Encouraging patience, and developing an intrinsic love for the instrument, lyrics and genre of music is the foundation for developing a lifelong musical habit. It may not turn everyone into a shooting star, but it makes for a very positive and interactive activity that you are likely to continue. Music is innate to all of us in some way or another. It is never too early or too late to begin learning.

Since I am no guitar whiz and play only for relaxation, it took me the longest time to learn an F chord. Not that I couldn’t learn the finger placement, but I found it very difficult to barre all six strings and then reach and press down the other strings at the same time. Never mind trying to go from a C major to a convoluted F chord and back, in just a couple of seconds. It was too difficult to persevere, so I abandoned it. Plus, I found countless songs to play that could be transposed to eliminate the F chord.

But, come on! I finally told myself – how can you be a real (or even a semi-real) guitar player, and not even know how to play an F chord? Try it again…one more time! Another lesson embodied in this lowly experience – is to go back to what you could not master, and see if the practice has helped your abilities, or if there is an easier way to do it!

Lo and behold, while casually looking at the chord bank not long ago, I realized I had only tried a couple of different ways to play an F chord (the hard ways). I was quite amazed to realize there is a much easier way to do it, requiring you to barre just two strings instead of six (whew)! It actually only took only a couple minutes to learn. Years of procrastination and believing it was too difficult, was a waste of a perfectly good chord, and learning some great songs.

It just goes to show you – as it is with many things, there are other ways to achieve the same results. The doo-ability dawned on me rather slowly – but now I know, you don’t have to be a long fingered contortionist, simply to play an F chord!

Vests, Waistcoats, Gilets & Sleeveless Jackets ~ Versatile By Design

Although I have always thought of these tailored and highly versatile tops simply as vests – they are also referred to as waistcoats, sleeveless jackets, and gilets. The down filled, leather and wool varieties might be worn as jackets, or under a coat to keep your core warm. They are great when layered over a sweater or hoodie if you want a less bulky freedom of movement for an active lifestyle.

There are people who are naturally warm blooded, and can wear a tank top almost anywhere and not be cold – but some of us unfortunately are just the opposite. Another vest advantage, is if you must take your coat off, yet worry about being cold, such as going out for dinner – a padded gilet is like a comfort measure you can add, to avoid freezing while indoors. They do not have any trailing parts that might dip into the food, like some bell sleeves and large wrap scarves do.

Regardless of whatever fashion trend is happening, I have always loved vests. They can be worn over a skimpy top to add a looser layer, or buttoned up to accent the waist and cover the tummy. In the summer months lighter vests can be worn buttoned up as a sleeveless top. They can be paired with skirts or blue jeans, with western wear, or to jazz up an evening outfit. In addition to being practical and comfortable, the coolest thing about them is how much intrigue they can add to almost any outfit.

Once you like the fit and look of a certain vest, you will be certain to hang onto it for a long time. Vests add warmth, colour and contour – and often have a much coveted extra pocket or two for a cell phone or keys.

Whether you are looking to a kick up an outfit for a night of line dancing, or like the cut and comfort of a certain style, there are many to choose from. The zippered and snap fronts are among my favourites. Have a look at the samples below to see what type of vest might suit your own fashion repertoire. Whether you lean toward comfortable chic, feminine toppers, jazzy western, outdoorsy layers, or dinner at the Ritz – these stylish additions are sure to have your back!

Isadora Paris Beaded Leather
Iceberg Leather With Blue Wool Back Covered With Images of Origami Bats?
Iceberg Jacket Back – Italy
A Touch Of Black Silk – France
Cache Natural Suede Leather – Canada
Hairston Roberson Ropa Embellished Denim – Dallas Texas
Donna Karan Soft Black Suede – USA
See By Chloe feathery black, red and white wool vest made in Italy
See By Chloe Feathery Wool Vest
Gallant Gaumont Montreal black front zip winter vest, made in Montreal, Canada
Gallant Gaumont Montreal Sleeveless Jacket – Montreal, Canada
Versus Versace Bright Garden Theme – Italy
Kenzo Wool Wrap Style

The History Of Valentines Day ~ Has Many Tales

Although many of the background stories describing the origin of Valentines Day are quite tragic – there is nothing tragic about love. It is the most powerful and enduring emotion of all. Love is truly what is behind this holiday, regardless of the martyrs, legends and myth.

One of the early stories describing the origin of Valentines Day is about the Roman Emperor Claudius, who is said to have outlawed marriage for young men. He believed it would create a distraction for young soldiers who were needed in the battlefield. He did not want them to be longing or pining for a loved one when sent off to war.

In defiance of this injustice, St. Valentine performed marriages in secret until he was found out. He was imprisoned and sentenced to death. During his time in prison, he fell in love with the jailor’s daughter and just before being put to death, he sent her a love note and signed it “From Your Valentine”. There are many variations of the legends around martyred saints, to include some rather grisly accounts of these heroic and sympathetic figures getting beheaded for helping Christians escape persecution.

The many variations of the origin of Valentines Day began in the Middle Ages around 469 AD. Most stories describe a martyred saint, and in some literary circles they maintain the saint was put to death – “whose acts are known only to God”. There was a Christian feast of St. Valentine, which did not have anything to do with wooing or courtship. It took another few hundred years, for the lovebird connection to be made, with the brilliance of Chaucer, who created the most illusory and fanciful tale of all.

Chaucer wrote the best legends by far, in my opinion. It came from a dream and takes flight from the macabre martyrdom, to the mating of birds. He wrote a comical debate called “The Parlement Of Foules” or “The Parliament Of Fowls/Birds”. During the dream, the birds have sort of a squabble, with Nature as the arbitrator. As a result of Chaucer’s dream coupling, Valentines Day became popularized – leaning toward courtship, as opposed to martyrdom.

In England and France it was believed that February 14th was the beginning of the mating season for birds. Except it has been pointed out that February 14th is not actually the mating season in England. It only serves to enhance the literary or artistic license around the entire subject. Apparently several other poets soon adapted it to their own style – creating Valentines poems, ballads, and lyrics for their love interest. Chaucer takes most of the credit for transforming it into a more light-hearted and happier holiday. No wonder the earlier cards were decorated with more birds than hearts or cupids.

Another one of the oldest known Valentines was a poem written by the Duke of Orleans in 1415 while he was imprisoned in the Tower of London. By 1840 the holiday was further popularized and developed as a romantic day for lovers of all ages and backgrounds, due to the mass production of Valentines Day cards. Apparently women have always purchased the majority of Valentines cards, up to 85% of the numbers sold.

By the late 1800’s the Valentines Day cards were adorned with Cupids, the adorable winged cherubs with the golden bow and arrow. The Roman myth describes Cupid as the son of Venus, the goddess of love and beauty, and sometimes as the god of affection. Cupid is known to have carried two types of arrows. The one depicted on the cards shows him with a golden tipped arrow. He takes careful aim, and for those whose hearts are pierced with the arrow, they will fall deeply in love.

The other less known and undesirable arrow in Cupid’s love arsenal, has a lead tip. If the heart is pierced by one of those – it causes the person to be cursed, and fall out of love. The many tales and historical accounts of Valentines Day are a somewhat murky mix of martyrdom, flights of fancy, and love – where the folklore stems from a mixture of heroism and sacrifice.

Dating back to all the love songs, cards, candies, flowers and gifts ~ it is worthy of celebration regardless of the origin of the actual February 14th holiday. When you see the medieval wording in “The Parlement Of Foules” at first it brings to mind “The Parliament of Fools” as opposed to Fowls! There is an element of truth in the misinterpretation!

Since love has been in existence since the beginning of time – surely love is where it all begins. Best of all, love is the one thing in life – that never ends!

Mating With Symmetry
Copper Heart Parure
Winged Cherubs Repousse On Sterling Silver
Birks Carved Sterling Silver Locket
Swarovski Crystal & Enamel Kitty Clutching A Heart
Yves Saint Laurent
Hearts of Stone

Lingering Repose ~ Lounging In Bed Jackets & Peignoir Sets

The romanticism of vintage lingerie lingers long past the dates they were sewn. Perhaps not the everyday wear, which was patched and darned for practical reasons – but rather the lounging past, where one would be temporarily bedridden. She would remain close to her hairbrushes and powder room, and require some delicate habiliment as well.

Vintage bed jackets were frequently worn because while in bed, the lower part of the body was covered with blankets. In order to receive guests or sit up for a cup of tea, the bed jacket was donned for warmth as well as to create a more appealing image. Pretty things tend to cheer up a person who is sickly and shut in for periods of time.

Vintage full slips were often decorated with lace, plisse accents, fancy trim, and embroidery. It is not uncommon to find vintage slips with side or back zippers, making them more like a skimpy modern day dress than a slip. Some slips are elaborately made with lace insets and ruffled bottoms. In the thirties and forties, many of them were made with a bias cut similar to the dressmaking of the era. Other than fabrics and labels, a tip to help identify authentic full slips, is to look at the adjustable shoulder straps. The modern day reproductions have plastic hardware to adjust the straps, whereas vintage slips have metal ones.

Antique and vintage petticoats will often have a lace ruffle on the bottom, or layers of ruffles. The labels on vintage lingerie tend to be very small, often on an inside seam. Peignoir sets were common additions to the bride’s trousseau or honeymoon attire. These sets consisted of both a nightgown and a matching robe to wear over top. Both were adorned with matching ribbons and lace. Many of the peignoir sets were voluminous and flowing in style. They could be quite dangerous if worn near an open fire. One such account describes the death of the second wife of lyric poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. Apparently the spark from a wood stove caught her long and flowing bed clothing on fire.

In the twenties and again in the sixties, there was a surge of popularity around the Asian aesthetic. Kimonos and kaftans were high fashion for the evening soiree. There has been a recurrent fascination for ethnic and exotic textiles from faraway lands. The high fashion trends often followed along the same lines and styles of home decor, to include elaborately hand painted teapots and vases from the Orient.

Embroidered Kaftan – Kuwait
Matching Ribbon Front Ties On A 1950’s Peignoir Set
Antique White On White Embroidered Bed Jacket
Details Such As Covered Buttons & Inset Ribbons On Peignoir Sets
1960’s Hand Painted Peace & Love Bra
Can’t Forget The 1960’s Flower Power!
1950’s Nylon Peignoir Set
1950’s Bridal Peignoir Set – Canada
Bill Tice Kaftan With Gold Detailing
1950’s Nylon Crinoline
1960’s Pucci-Like Loungewear With Matching Trousers
Vintage Chinese Embroidered Robe
Patricia Fieldwalker 1980’s Silk Set
1950’s Embroidered Half Slip
Silk Bed Jacket With Embroidery
1950’s Full Slip
1960’s Lounging Jumpsuit With Front Panel

The Cool Warmth & Beauty Of Shawls & Wraps

Highly decorative shawls and wraps date back to India and Persia in the third century. The earliest known manufacturing began with the looms of the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. The original Kashmir shawls are made of goat hair, and were often elaborately woven and decorated. By the eighteen hundreds these shawls became increasingly popular in Europe as well. They were a subject of much fascination, and became coveted outerwear for the most fashion conscious, as well as creative individuals attracted to wearable art. They were especially popular to be seen wearing at the live performance theatres and operas.

To keep up with the rising demand for beautifully designed shawls, France and Great Britain developed a mechanized shawl industry, in order to imitate the famous Kashmir shawls. Known as Paisley workshops, they were able to create a price competition for the shawls, which forced the original Kashmir production to cut costs and compromise on quality.

The shawl industry peaked in the eighteen hundreds and early nineteen hundreds before there was dip in the demand. The loss of interest at the time can ironically be attributed to the mass production. Regardless, from the twenties onward, shawls have continued to be worn by discerning and creative individuals. The sixties in particular, brought about a revival in decorative shawls, from Kashmir goat wool, to fringed piano shawls, and all kinds of capes and ponchos.

Just as it was hundreds of years ago, shawls can be worn over a plain wool jacket or sweater, or to offset a certain type of skirt. They can be draped over dresses and evening wear. A casual chic look with a hippie flair shows them worn with jeans, boots, and tank tops. They have been popular in warmer climates with cooler evenings, to drape over the shoulders as the temperature falls. They can be an elaborate addition to the little black dress instead of wearing a coat.

Below are some samples of different types of shawls and wraps. The Persian method of draping is shown in some of the pics below. To wear it this way you put one third of the shawl to one shoulder, and then drape the rest so the fringe or edge falls to one side.

Wool Shawl With Hand Knotted Fringe
Close Up Of The Weaving & Knotting
Ruffled Wool Cape Shawl With A Tight Weave – Italy
Lavishly Embellished Wool Shawl
Close Up Of Needlework On Embellished Shawl
This Image Shows The Extensive Amount Of Embroidery & Vibrancy
Woven Shawl With Vibrant Colours
The Reverse Side Of This Unique Woven Shawl
Beautifully Embroidered Silk Shawl
Close Up Of Floral Embroidery On Silk Shawl
Chanel 1980’s Shawl Decorated On Both Sides
Mid-Century Embroidered Kashmir Shawl

The Detox Trend ~ Is It A Safe Concept Or A Scam?

In the past, the term detox was reserved for drug and alcohol addiction, which is a topic for another article. Drugs and alcohol have an effect on the central nervous system. Detoxing in this case requires medical supervision and other support systems in order to manage the detoxification safely. However the terminology and meaning around detox has shifted to include all kinds of so-called cleansing and flushing treatment plans. The trend in the past fifteen years or so – has been to unscientifically transfer the concept of detoxing from drugs and alcohol, to using supplements and diets to detox random and unknown toxins from the body.

Some of the detox regimes invented in recent years are extreme and potentially damaging. Others are outright scams. Some people believe they can flush their bodies clean by drinking excessive amounts of water, which can lead to severe electrolyte imbalances. Concentrated herbal supplements can overload and damage the liver. In some cases people are buying unregulated supplements with unknown substances in them, making it very difficult to trace adverse reactions.

Last night I listened to a guy talk about how he and his girlfriend dislodged and excreted hundreds of gallstones overnight. The concoction they used, was a cup of olive oil, combined with a cup of lemon juice, to be ingested all at once. He said he could feel the gallstones moving and rolling around as they fell out of his liver and gallbladder during the night. Really? That’s amazing!

First of all, a young, slender, fit man is the least likely to have gallstones. The old adage for gallstones is geared toward women and is known as the triple F – fair, fat and forty. The other thing is to be careful what you wish for. If there are asymptomatic gallstones languishing somewhere, and they suddenly get disrupted, which can happen with rapid weight loss or surgery itself – they can go from being unnoticeable to plugging a major bile duct. When gallstones clog a bile duct or large ones pass through, the person gets very ill, to include severe nausea and vomiting and abdominal pain, which often radiates to the shoulder.

Another naturopath described a similar brew, but added things like wrapping your waist in saran wrap, with a hot water bottle over top your abdomen, and laying on one side with your knee up. According to him, the position, and even some abdominal massage would facilitate dislodging the gallstones. A word of caution – if a person is prone to appendicitis, the last thing you want to do is apply a hot water bottle to your abdomen. It sounds like bad advice, even for gallstones. Hot water bottles are for your back, feet and joints, and should be used with caution on the abdomen.

If you have ever experienced or witnessed a severe gallbladder attack, you know the high level of distress it can cause. The likelihood of passing hundreds of gallstones in one night, without incident, is very hard to believe. Somewhat similar and equally intense, is the passing of kidney stones. It also causes extreme pain, because the stone is moving through a narrow lumen. Agony is probably the best term to describe the passing of rock like substances through bile ducts or ureters.

Another health guru was telling people to drink a high concentration of epsom salts! Bad idea to take high doses of salt for any reason. Sodium is one of the main electrolytes in the body, and must be kept in the normal range. If sodium levels are too high or too low – a person can rapidly become confused and disorientated, and if it is not corrected immediately, will convulse and die.

There is nothing wrong with the idea of detoxing the body by stopping or cutting down on harmful substances. To stop drinking alcohol or taking over the counter medications for a period of time to give your body a break is a good idea. Anything that reduces toxins might be called detox, in a much milder but healthier sensibility. Many of us don’t drink enough water, so to adjust water intake to normal healthier levels is a good idea too.

Initially the whole detox trend was more about taking away what is harmful for a period of time, or going on a healthy organic diet kick. But now it is literally all over the map; from coffee enemas, to oil and lemon concoctions, epsom salts, and high doses of supplements. This is the part that should trigger red flags and sound warning bells before you swallow any of it. You risk disrupting the homeostasis of your body and adding a potentially toxic load on the liver and kidneys, instead of improving things.

Our bodily systems are too complex for us to interfere with in extreme manners other than fasting. Fasting does not involve adding anything harmful to the system – and the body is naturally equipped to tolerate it. Although it is an individual choice how to go about doing a fast, fasting cannot be called fasting if a person is drinking juice.

Juice and other beverages top the list of hidden calorie culprits in everyday life. A juice fast can easily add a thousand to fifteen hundred calories a day to the system, without the fibre that should go with it. It is better to go on a high fibre calorie reduced diet than it is to do a juice fast. Some vegetables are too high in natural sugars to be taken in highly concentrated doses. Ask yourself if you would eat twenty beets or carrots in one sitting. Probably not – and even then it would be healthier because of the fibre, and the fact you would probably feel full after just a few.

Fasting truthfully means water only. It means you do not take in any calories at all. The body does not go through a state of ketoacidosis if there is juice being added. The whole idea is to avoid concentrated sugars, and allow the glycogen stores in the liver to be used up. In my opinion the only worthwhile and true fast is a water only fast. It is difficult to do physically and emotionally – but it is an effective way to re-set the immune system and get rid of rogue cells. The complex bodily systems work together to do the sorting and cleansing, as it converts fat to fuel and burns it. It is the only thing that can give the liver and gut a complete rest from digesting food and additives. If the diet is changed for the better after a fast, the entire system has a chance to improve, including the bacteria in the gut.

A word of caution, don’t go to Costa Rica or some other exotic location to do a prolonged fast. There are horror stories about health retreats without any knowledgable medical supervision. In one case a young woman had ulcerative colitis and then got an infection from the water she was drinking at a retreat in Costa Rica. It was a dreadful and near fatal experience for her. Ultimately it was a very costly trip as well, because she needed to be hospitalized and then had to have family members from another country fly to Costa Rica in order to accompany her home.

Other than nutritious food, be wary of adding anything to your body in high doses. This includes oil, salt, laxatives, enemas, apple cider vinegar, supplements, concentrated protein, excess fluids, and excess juices. Avoid them! Ironically, they are probably toxic – meaning the cure is worse than the disease you probably don’t have.

The things that do help detox the body would be along the lines of taking away alcohol and refined sugars, avoiding OTC medications like Tylenol and Ibuprofen, stop taking antihistamines and cough medications. Avoid sugar substitutes and processed meats. Be cautious with regards to what you are putting on your skin. Many lotions including sun screen, and especially spray on tans, have a host of chemicals in them. Our skin is our largest organ. Some of the most expensive beauty products are also the most toxic.

The things you can add to help your gut, liver and kidneys – a healthy intake of water, a teaspoon of apple cider vinegar in water each day, fresh squeezed lemon or grapefruit diluted in water, lots of fibre, exercise, non-toxic soaps and skin care products. Saunas and steam rooms help the skin to eliminate toxins by opening and cleansing the millions of pores on the skins’ surface, as well as having a relaxing effect on the muscles.

Monitor and reduce your caloric intake if you need to lose weight. Don’t put too much trust in what other people tell you to do, no matter how they try to qualify themselves. Put on your quack filter, then the profit motive filter – before buying into any of it. A non-quack would never tell a person to ingest large amounts of strange concoctions, especially things that can skew the electrolytes. Healing is the one aspect of life where we cannot drum up instant results. The notion of doing a rapid housecleaning within the systems of the body, without respect for the fact our bodies have the capacity to heal without such intrusions, is not wise.

Be patient. Trust your intuition – and do your level best to keep the good, and turf the bad! Day to day habits are the things only we as individuals really know about. Generally when we get off course, we can do a lot of good by taking small steps, in order to change direction. The original meaning of therapeutic is healing gradually, and with care.

What Exactly Is Couture & Haute Couture Fashion?

the clothes created by coutureFor them, buying French couture has become a status symbol, something to rack up along with their brand-new BMWs and their hacienda-style villas …— Vogue

The Vogue quote taken from the Miriam Webster dictionary gives a subjective definition, but it still leaves it to the imagination. Does it include ready to wear? Is it high fashion from certain places only? Is there a difference between couture and haute couture?

The real couture refers to clothing that was essentially commissioned from one of the famous couturiers, similar to any other work of art. The term haute couture means high dressmaking, high fashion, or high sewing. The work is done by the most experienced and capable dressmakers, made by hand, using opulent fabrics, trim and needlework. The garment is often created in consultation with the client and is custom fitted.

In France, the term haute couture is a protected name and can only be used if the fashion house adheres to strict standards. The original and famous haute couture in the nineteenth century is credited to Charles Frederick Worth in 1868, with rare and coveted pieces in high demand among serious collectors. Few garments in the modern era are made with such lavish decorations and attention to detail. Although Worth made the concept famous, haute couture dates back to the seventeenth century Kings and Queens, specifically Marie Antoinette who had her own private dressmaker.

In 1930 and again in 1945 the description of haute couture included the following criteria: made to order with one or more fittings, atelier employing a minimum of fifteen full-time staff and twenty technical staff, and a presentation to the public of at least fifty original designs each year.

Today there is a list of about twenty members on the official French list. Those considered to be in the high fashion or couture category are famous designers such as Chanel, Dior, YSL, Schiaparelli, Courreges, Jean-Paul Gaultier, Thierry Mugler, Patou, and several others. Made to order clothing is far less common today than it was a hundred years ago since it is so labour intensive, the profit margins are reduced, which also reduces the incentive to do custom orders.

There was a time when it was very trendy for wealthy women to order a haute couture dress from a Parisian dressmaker. However as time has gone by and most garments are sold pret-a-porter, which means ready to wear as opposed to made to measure, true haute couture is now quite rare. The more common pret-a-porter label applies to designer clothing made by famous designers, and is often a sub-title on the garment label.

As it is with other subjective terms, haute couture can refer to a made to measure garment from a well known or famous atelier. If the item is made in France, they have specific criteria to be met by an organization known as the Chambre Syndicale de la Haute Couture with a list of official members. With more stringent legal parameters France provides us with the history of the term, the original outlines, and the closest definition.

In other countries the definition does not have legal parameters, therefore the reputation of the designer, attention to detail, workmanship, originality, and overall quality are the things to consider. Almost all famous designers have a range of ready-to-wear clothing with some fairly casual items and others that are very expensive and detailed. For example you can find vintage Alexander McQueen or Thierry Mugler dresses ranging from a thousand dollars to twenty-five thousand, so prices can vary widely.

High end designer clothing that is not made to measure could be called couture instead of haute couture, meaning it is ready to wear, and made to very high dressmaking standards, with attention to detail and hand finishing. Perhaps it is more accurate to claim an item is couture quality, when describing well made fashion pieces. Although the term is often misused or misunderstood, when it comes to high fashion – it is generally not one to be used or worn loosely!

The following pics show some close-up examples of vintage needlework and detailing in fine garments.

Chanel Evening Top With Sequinned Detail 1990’s
1950’s Fine Embroidery On A Skirt & Top Set
1960’s Mike Benet Gown With Satin Skirt
Distinctively Yours 1960’s Pleated Smock Dress – Canada
1950’s Priscilla Of Boston Linen Dress With Embroidery At Waist
The Under Side Of A Trimmed Kaftan
Jacquard Kaftan With Hand Stitched Trim & Tiny Buttons

Neurotoxins & Nephrotoxins ~ Are Far Worse Than Potatoes & Beans!

There are certain toxins that are so common, we assume they are harmless. For example Ibuprofen, a common over the counter pain medication, is a nephrotoxin. Tylenol, especially when combined with alcohol or a general anesthetic – can be very harmful to the liver. Any drug or food additive can be toxic if the doses are too high, used on a daily basis, or if combined with other substances – that can create a synergistic effect.

The most known neurotoxins are things like aspartame and other artificial sweeteners, aluminum, lead, and mercury. Other than fillings in our teeth, mercury can be found in high levels in certain types of fish. Tilefish, swordfish, and mackerel are known to contain fairly high levels of mercury. Tuna falls into the mid-range, and wild salmon has one of the lowest levels. The solution is to limit fish intake to a couple times a week, and consume fish with the lowest levels of mercury.

Bisphenol or BPA is contained in the coating on the lining of canned foods. It is presumed that certain more acidic foods like canned tomatoes might contain higher levels of BPA. The fake butter on microwave popcorn and the stuff you get at the movie theatres, contains the neurotoxin diacetyl. Sadly, peanut butter often (but not always) contains a toxin called aflatoxin.

To reduce these toxins, it is best to buy tomato sauce in a glass jar. Avoid the bright yellow fake butter, use a hot air popper, and add real butter. As far as peanuts and peanut butter – the aflatoxin comes from a fungus. The main thing is to buy food as fresh as possible. Some nutritionists suggest avoiding bulk bins because the age of the product is unknown. But if you go to a grocer with a high turnover of that particular product, it should be okay. Supermarket peanut butter is said to have less aflatoxin, but that might be because it has fungal inhibiting additives in it, so it is worth checking the labels on your brand of peanut butter too.

MSG as most of us know, is another neurotoxin – enough to give some people an instant and severe migraine headache. The high concentrations of MSG are found in things like instant noodles, with the little packages of flavouring to add. Certain Chinese dishes are known to contain high amounts of MSG. It is a salt enhancing additive, so pay attention to things like broths and pre-made soups as well. Most of the bouillon cubes are culprits as well. I used them for years before realizing they had a whack of MSG in those little cubes.

Another thing that can be toxic to our systems is meat grilled under high heat. The toxins can be significantly reduced by using a wet marinade before grilling. Like fish, I suppose the best thing is to pick your poison, and then reduce it to occasional use, mixed in with lots of fresh vegetables! Processed meats such as bacon, cured hams, and luncheon meats contain nitrites and other additives – so should be used sparingly. Ironically, the sodium nitrites put into the meat is added to counteract the risk of botulism poisoning.

The list of neurotoxins is a very long list, to include pesticides, natural and artificial flavourings, lead, arsenic, and alcohol. Some of these toxins cross the blood brain barrier. We would go crazy trying to avoid them all – but we may go even crazier if we don’t!

If you buy a package of snack food and then sit down and google the fine print listed under ingredients – it might be a deterrent. There is a case to be made for home grown gardens, organic foods, and avoiding canned and packaged foods. Other brain saving tips include storing food in glass containers instead of plastic ones, and cutting down on all packaged and refined foods. If there are things added to the routine shopping trips with a high “bliss factor” – get out your magnifying glass, and research the list of additives.

Another helpful exercise might be to eliminate all packaged and canned food for a month, and see how much of an adjustment you have to make. There is a belief that it takes twenty-one days to change a habit. I’m not sure if its true or not, but it seems plausible. Small everyday habits, like chewing aspartame laced gum, or taking certain supplements that are too concentrated for the body to use, and must be excreted – can be habits that lead to allergies or symptoms that are difficult to trace.

A couple years ago I read that fish oil capsules can go rancid while stored in the fat cells of the human body, and can even be rancid before being ingested. I don’t know if there is any scientific proof to support the theory, but I would rather eat fresh salmon than take fish oil capsules anyway. Botox is another deadly toxin. Now that it is being used so frequently in the aging and beauty circles, there will be more information coming out about its toxic and possibly systemic effects. We will likely see more insidious and long term health issues associated with Botox as time goes on.

Food is high on the list of life’s pleasures. Like many other things that enter our brains, we need to develop our own individualized filters. We lean toward instant gratification. But probably the simplest advice is to lean toward the au natural, “Grow Your Own & Cook it Slow. Next to that – Buy it Whole”!

Can Knowledge Alone Make Us Healthier?

Let’s face it – our health is valuable, not only with regards to outward appearance, but also as it contributes to longevity and how alive we feel. We are constantly seeking ways to boost and invigorate ourselves, in order to attain maximum energy. If energy could be put into a pill and bottled – it would fly off the shelves. What is the worst thing about sickness, depression, hangovers; and weighted, heavy, oppressive rainy days? The low is almost always characterized by a loss of energy. It seems it does belong somewhere in the thermodynamic spectrum, the part that correlates with life force.

Is a high level of energy something we are born with, or is it acquired somewhere along the way? We all start out with a fair bit of energy, and it either thrives or diminishes as time goes by. Some people manage to keep reviving their energy levels into their eighties and nineties. Can we find a way to gauge energy levels, so we can track it like a brainwave pattern or a cardiac rhythm? We know how important it is – but we don’t quite know what it is. Energy is related to both food and mood, since we burn and convert food into fuel. Mood is often perceived as having a high or low energy level. Therefore more than anything, food is our best friend or worst enemy – depending on what we choose to eat.

Wellness promotion is now a multi billion dollar industry. Much time and energy is devoted to educating the public on everything from nutrition to mindful awareness, supplements and fitness – as well as warning us of the hazards of tobacco, a sedentary lifestyle, and way too many refined carbs. Candy works better than a carrot when it comes to human behaviour.

Candace Pert wrote the book “Molecules of Emotion” which may have opened doors to a new way of thinking about emotions in the realm of academic research. Although I was familiar with some of her work, most notably the discovery of opiate receptors in the brain, I have only read excerpts of her book. I certainly agree with ground breaking research on all forms of holistic approaches to health. After watching some of her videos, I wondered why she was not able to apply her extensive knowledge on the mind-body-emotional connection to her own life.

The first video I randomly chose to watch Candace Pert present some of her ideas sort of surprised me. I was expecting a fit, vibrant woman bubbling with enthusiasm over the knowledge she had acquired during her prolific life’s work. Instead I saw a woman who was very overweight, and clearly short of breath just standing still and speaking. The first thought I had was how unwell she looked. She sounded anxious, and then congestive heart failure popped into my mind. It so happened I had chosen a video published just a few months before she died. When I looked up what she died of – it confirmed she died of heart failure at age sixty-seven.

Few people have the level of knowledge, education and research to advance to the kind of acclaim attributed to Candace Pert, so what went wrong in her own life? The average life expectancy for women is around eighty years old. Those figures do not take into account a very important factor, which is quality of life. Many people would prefer not to linger in the “death zone” too long as it robs quality of life. A loss of appetite and energy makes for a dismal existence. How many of us would choose to be sick – knowing we are steadily getting sicker, over a period of ten years or more?

We tend to measure success in life based on how much we have achieved, how much money we make and accumulate, the education we acquire, the house we live in, cars we drive, and clothes we wear. Alongside the external measures of success, we have the more primal aspect of survival to contend with, especially as we age. So when very successful people like Steve Jobs and Candace Pert get sick and do not reach life expectancy, what does it teach us? Is it genetics or a hard-driven personality burning itself out? Who can say?

From what I have observed over the years, congestive heart failure has a gradual onset spanning a period of about ten years. The early symptoms present with swelling of the ankles, a persistent cough, and shortness of breath on exertion. Gradually the heart becomes enlarged as it struggles to pump blood throughout the body. Over time, the lower legs and abdomen swell and the person begins to experience shortness of breath while at rest.

The symptoms associated with CHF cannot be ignored or denied. Given the fact Candace Pert was sixty-seven when she died, it means (hypothetically) she would have had symptoms for a good ten years. Since she was writing and lecturing about the mind body connection, why was she unable to reverse her own morbidity when she began to experience symptoms of heart failure? Surely it was not due to a lack of knowledge on her part.

I think what can be extrapolated from her work and early death is that the emotions and spirit are much more complex than we can fully comprehend. Every single type of addiction known to man can bypass our knowledge and common sense for unknown reasons. We tend to think of addictions as being drug or alcohol related, but there are hundreds of different kinds of addictive behaviours. Our psyche will switch from one to another with hardly a twitch of awareness. The onset of symptoms with the capacity to adversely affect our health, means we need to take some drastic measures to change the direction we are headed. It is a call for action and change.

Knowledge alone cannot save us. Whether it is diabetic teaching or education about tobacco – we all know the drill. Every smoker knows smoking is bad for the health. Every jogger who dons a track suit and heads out in the pouring rain knows this discipline is going to add energy and vitality to his or her life. Some people look piously upon the person swilling a can of Coke and turn toward some other insidiously destructive substance. Others do everything right, from activity to food choices – yet they can still end up with cancer or some other serious illness.

To further muddy the waters – we can research every topic under the sun on the Internet now. The problem is there is so much knowledge and information out there now it makes it difficult to filter out all the misinformation. You can read oppositional arguments to every health related topic. Various health gurus are telling us to avoid things like tomatoes, grains, and beans, when common sense would tell us these are not the real culprits. Should you, or should you not take vitamin D, calcium, probiotics, supplements of all kinds, and various strange sounding tinctures and extracts?

Candace Pert was obviously a disciplined academic researcher who acknowledged the connection between mind, emotions and physicality, yet that academic discipline did not transfer very well to fitness and weight loss in her own life, even after she developed symptoms that were certain to shorten her life. Something deep down inside hindered the cognitive connection to take immediate action. What was it?

I think she made tremendous connections and advancements in the field of neuropeptides, pharmacology and neuroscience. She did understand that we cannot treat or examine one part of the body, without realizing that systemic illnesses affect all systems of the body. But in later years as she got more into the spiritual connection, it sort of veered away from science to a somewhat vague New Age spirituality. If she mentioned the word “soul” it was a four letter word not to be used in scientific literature. Yet she was striving to identify the spirit as well as the mind and emotions, as they pertain to health, healing and cognition.

Perhaps the best lessons we can learn go right back to the science of nutrition and physical exercise – and even then, the healthy tennis player might just drop dead of a heart attack while on the court. Knowledge informs but it does not guarantee insight, assimilation or change.

It brings to mind the questions surrounding pre-destiny and fate. Perhaps we are all born with a death date on the horizon, which will not be altered no matter what we do? How much of our physical presence is rooted in spirituality and soul? Are they separate – or blended into every molecule of our physical bodies?

I believe our soul inhabits our physical bodies and consists of mind, thoughts, emotions and spirituality. Our soul gives us our unique identity, intuition, insight, and prompts us to action pertaining to physicality, yet elements of the soul are outside the realm of flesh and blood. It explains why so many near death experiences are described as leaving the body and looking down on what is happening. It is outside the scope of science because for one thing – how can we see ourselves without our eyes?

As it is with hindsight and so many famous yet humanly fallible people, we can learn as much from what they did not do – alongside all the research they did do. Like rats in a lab, what is it about sugar, drugs and alcohol that holds such a magnificent and compulsive attraction to us? Why are some of us more susceptible to those addictive substances, even when we know they will significantly shorten our life span?

Knowledge is increasing at a very rapid rate. We have to filter the noise, the distractions, and the contradictions – in order to navigate the systems within our own bodies. When science is applied to spirituality – it is doomed, because spirituality is not based on scientific knowledge. It is based on faith. Like love – faith is unseen and difficult to fully define.

Are there molecules of love and faith circulating within our physical bodies? Maybe so. But in the end – our soul perseveres, and is the only part of us that can leave and go to another dimension. Knowledge does serve us as we navigate life’s complexities, but truly understanding it all – is probably the greatest enigma of our entire existence.

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.

Twentieth Century ~ Stages Of Embellishments

The twentieth century left a trail of embellishments that will never be re-created except in couture fashion houses for the elite. As we look back at some of the beadwork, laid work, embroidery, hand-painted wonders, sequins and stitch work – we see a reflection of the times. There was no Internet or cell phones for a good part of the twentieth century. More time was devoted to the application of ideas, colour, buttons, beads, sequins, embroidery – all to enhance the aesthetic appeal. Everything from the most elegant of dresses to radical looking blue jeans, to aprons, table cloths, and bedding – were needled into some shape or form; decorated as such for the sole purpose of beautification. Some fine examples of time consuming embellishments are shown in the pictures below.

Close Up Of A 1920’s Small Beaded Flapper Bag
Full Circle Maxi Skirt 1940’s Or 1950’s India
Embroidered On Silk
Beaded & Sequinned Sleeve
Hand Painted 1920’s
1980’s Dress With Embroidered Bow
1940’s Cropped Velvet Jacket
1950’s Black On Black Sequinned Cardigan
1960’s Embellished Blouse
Scene On A 1930’s Japanese Kimono
1970’s Batik Maxi Skirt
1930’s Or 1940’s Peasant Style With Decorative Stitching
1990’s Light Jacket
1970’s With Embroidery & Sequins
1960’s Embellished Trim On Silk Dress
1990’s Casadei Cocktail Dress

Art Glass In Jewelry ~ Shades Of Mid-Century Radiance

Art glass in jewelery from the thirties through to the sixties left behind some stunners. When you consider they made costume jewelery sets with five strand necklaces decorated with faceted Swarovski crystals and hand made coloured beads, in today’s world, it is pretty decadent detailing – as well as being labor intensive. Often the beads were etched, hand painted or gilded with metals and other accents. From lamp work and blown glass, to the secret methods of design passed down through generations of glass makers – they added to the iconic opulence and radiance of the era.

1950’s Three Strand Art Glass Necklace

1960’s Shapely Art Glass In Lavender & White
Ciner
1960’s Milky White Art Glass
1950’s In Gold Accented Pastels
Precision Cut Glass
1950’s Vendome Featuring Faux Turquoise Beads & Glass

London In The Sixties ~ Alice Pollock & Ossie Clark

London in the sixties and seventies brought us some of the most incredible fashion pieces – outfits that matched the arts and culture of the time. Alice Pollock was a London fashion designer and retailer who opened a boutique called Quorum. She teamed up with fellow designer Ossie Clark and featured other up and coming designers. They brought together an eccentric and creative group of designers and flourished. Their fashion shows were known for visual extravagance and theatrics.

The boutique was opened in 1964 and went strong until the 1970’s. Celia Birtwell was part of the partnership as a textile and fashion designer, known for her bold styling and attention to detail. In the late sixties they adapted to another look when the designs became more subtle, and mini skirts were replaced with maxi skirts. Tragically, many years later in 1996, Ossie Clark was stabbed to death by a former lover.

The Alice Pollock blouse featured in this post is part of the Quiet West collection. It is made of a rich creamy sunglow coloured synthetic fabric with a deep crinkling throughout. The style and attention to detail is quite remarkable. It has covered buttons down the front and on both sleeves. The most distinguishing feature of this blouse is the collar.

Awesome West Coast Views Of Mid-Century Hats

I couldn’t resist sharing some photos of mid-century hats under experimental lighting conditions:

Helen Yoffe Creation 1940’s
1960’s Velvet With Asymmetrical Brim
1960’s Gathering Strawberries Hat
1940’s White Feathers On Black Fur
Mid-Century Sassy Blues
1950’s Out Of The Wild Feathers
1930’s Glam With Sequins, Veil & ostrich Plume
1930’s Open Work Hand Embroidered
Early 1900’s Before The Ban On Using Real Birds To Accent Hats

Sugar Coated Toodles ~ The Upside Of Dumping Sugar

I have been reading some other posts describing the rationale for giving up sugar, for many reasons – one of which is the fact it has pathways to hijacking the dopamine receptors in the brain. There are some compelling reasons to quit the habit. Like other types of addiction, sugar can become an insidious health problem.

Our brains and energy conversion relies on sugar. However all carbohydrates are broken down into simpler sugars for our bodies to burn as fuel. In addition, glucose feeds the brain. The liver stores glycogen to tide us over times when we have nothing to eat. But these bodily needs are a far cry from the sugar that is in a high percentage of foods. Although some people consider fruit to be taboo on a sugar free diet, I consider fruit to be as healthy as vegetables, especially when eaten as a whole food.

How successful can we be when it comes to eliminating added sugar? I will readily admit, it’s not easy and takes awhile to figure it out. Consequently I did not immediately eliminate all added sugar, because a few times I realized after the fact that I ate something that did have added sugar. Like who would think soup, gravy or certain types of cheese might have added sugar?

Overall, I managed to drop it to a few teaspoons a month, and then to almost nothing. I no longer have any added sugar on a day to day basis. During the occasional times I eat out, I don’t order anything I think might have sugar, but don’t worry too much about it.

Then there is the juice factor, which for awhile I thought belonged in the healthy eating category, but have since changed my mind. The assumption came about as a result of the promotion of juicers and combining things like kale and spinach to make green juice. It was further reinforced by the trendy juice bars and juice trucks parked in locations around the city. Green juice did not look that appetizing to me, but it gave the impression it was a way to concentrate and fast track the nutrients from fruits and vegetables into our systems.

Last year, after doing a twenty-one day water only fast, I thought juice was the best way to break the fast for some reason. But I simply could not tolerate it after the fast. Although I like carrots and most fruits and vegetables, the thought of drinking a sixteen ounce bottle of carrot juice is inconceivable. I know this because it made me sick after the fast and I could not retain it for five minutes. To break the fast, I switched to diluting small amounts of home made soup with water, which worked fine until I started sorting out what I could and could not eat.

After literally starving for three weeks, I wondered why I could not tolerate carrot juice. After doing some reading, I realized there are approximately twenty-one carrots in a sixteen ounce bottle of carrot juice. When concentrated like that, the juice is unnaturally high in natural sugar. The same size bottle of freshly squeezed orange juice has between six and ten oranges in it. We would not normally eat that many oranges or carrots in one sitting, or even over the course of several days. Plus, when we eat the fruit or vegetable we are getting all the fibre and other nutrients, along with a sense of fullness after we have had enough.

What I learned is to avoid juice with the exception of fresh squeezed lemon, lime, grapefruit, or orange juice with sparkling water added. Mostly I squeeze a half a grapefruit at a time, and then fill the glass with water. I also eat the pulp of the remaining fruit to get the fibre. Juice can be a real culprit when trying to adjust or eliminate the amount of sugar in ones diet. One of the first things to evaluate when it comes to sugar, is the beverages consumed, especially if it is on a regular basis.

The next thing is to read labels and look for the hidden sugars in everything that comes in a package, can or bottle. Four grams of sugar is equal to one teaspoon. If the food label says there is one gram of sugar, it sounds innocuous, but if that one gram is in every tablespoon of salad dressing, you could easily be adding a full teaspoon or more to a salad. One gram of sugar per serving is the lowest dose sugar in most packaged food. In comparison, a bottle or can of pop has between ten and fourteen teaspoons of added sugar. If you are not committed to giving up all added sugar, consider the old adage and “pick your poison”. There are plenty of reasons to cut down and reject sugar laden products, even without deciding on hard core abstinence.

The arguments against sugar abstinence are weak. They complain that adding sugar to the list of addictive substances like drugs and alcohol, is unfair because we can abstain from drugs and alcohol, but we cannot give up food. The other counter argument is that calling it an addiction turns it into a pathology, and could lead to cycles of binging. Some of the more illogical debates claim eliminating sugar is eliminating a food group! Defeating the sugar blues leads to improved nutrition, so calling it a food group is a major stretch.

Although I did eat some added sugar from time to time by mistake, as well as a piece of chocolate at Christmas time – on a day to day basis, I have kicked the habit, to include adding stevia to tea. I know stevia is not sugar, but I think it reinforces the inclination to rely on a sweetener. Going sugar free has been trial and error – because I will readily admit to being a bona fide addict. One good thing to note is that the piece of chocolate at Christmas did not lead to a relapse or binging.

By the time I finally made up my mind to quit, I could no longer deny the cravings and roller coaster aspects of seeking out sugar fixes every day. This included a yo-yo factor in weight gain and loss over the years, which in itself is unhealthy. For myself I choose the abstinence route because I know there is no middle ground. On the other hand, once it is under control for a period of time, all of the neurochemistry and energy fluctuations associated with it have settled down. The cycle is no longer ingrained.

The easiest way to give up sugar is to buy whole foods and prepare it yourself. It is one way to be sure you are not getting the “bliss factor” of added sugar in the soup from your local deli. Beware of cheese with fruit in it, because it often has added sugar as well. Some of it actually tastes more like cheesecake filling than cheese. The same goes for some nuts, peanuts and most dried fruit. The preservatives or flavouring often have extra sugar added (to keep you coming back for more)!

It took awhile, far more than an eight week trial – to become sugar savvy. I don’t get overly paranoid about it, because I know there will always be a few slips. I cannot bring myself to be picky and sugar snobbish when eating out, other than trying to pick the dish that is most likely to be sugar-free. Sugar dependancy involves the entire system, therefore the changes will be systemic and gradual when it is taken away.

It is not like our bodies go without sugar once we make the dietary changes. We simply adjust to the simple and complex carbohydrates with natural sugars in them. They are digested and utilized by the body as fuel. Whole foods contain hundreds of micronutrients, along with the natural sugars and do not contribute to the addictive cycles.

The quest to go sugar free has not been perfect, but is well worth the effort. I do believe it alters brain chemistry and helps keep me on a more positive and even keel. It stops the roller coaster cycle of ups and downs, both physiologically and mentally that accompanies repeated spikes and drops in blood glucose. Sugar is corrosive to every single blood vessel in the body and can damage the kidneys. It will shrink the vascularity of everything from our brains to our lower extremities. We should be sneezing at it!

Fifteen years or so ago, I did diabetic teaching. So much of it involved teaching people about the glycemic index in food, and testing blood glucose levels every four hours. In addition, we had boxes full of sugar substitutes to give to people. I would look at a box of Splenda and feel guilty offering it as a solution. I had a gut feeling it was not helping people at all. The same went for poking oneself every four hours, just to be guilt-tripped and mortified at the high sugar results.

I wanted to tell people, “If you don’t change your diet, don’t torture yourself. Either change what you are eating, or increase your activity, and then check your blood sugar.” I likened it to telling an alcoholic to test their blood alcohol levels every four hours while still drinking. What is the point? You already know you will have high readings, and it is probably depressing to reinforce it.

One of the interesting correlations is the one between diabetics and depression. If you talk to anyone who has done diabetic teaching for a period of time, they will tell you that counselling for depression is central to the role. Blood sugar instability does wreak havoc within our systems. Similar to alcohol, some people can tolerate it without getting addicted, sick or depressed – but others cannot.

Some of us cannot take sugar or alcohol in moderation very well. Our bodies and brains do not have a shut off switch. Somewhat like the genetically disposed mice in group A or B. Group A will go through a maze and discover food, water and alcohol in their travels. They might taste the alcohol a couple of times, but they will gravitate to the food or water. But the genetically predisposed mice in Group B will soon gravitate to the alcohol. After more trips through the maze, they will avoid the food and water altogether and go for the alcohol.

Surely mice cannot be character disordered little critters who just want to party. Even though we cannot really compare ourselves to mice, the experiment does tell us that we have markedly different genetic factors that make us susceptible to addictive substances.

How much of it is a cross to bear? Without a doubt, it is. What percentage of the population has addictive genetic traits? It is definitely a fairly high percentage. I also wonder how many have acquired addictive traits as a result of the substances that short circuit the neurotransmitters and neuro receptors in our guts and brains?

In hindsight, I wish I had given up added sugar a long time ago. It is one of the best things I have done for my health. After finally conquering it, I have no intention of going back to the same old habits.

No matter how you decide to go about it, there is a gradual mood and diet-altering change that takes many months to adjust to. You soon realize that even without the added sugar, there is no shortage of sweetness in this world!

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.

Quiet West Blog Topics For 2019 ~ Streamlining West Coast Wellness, Culture & Art

The word streamlining has a slimming ring to it, which is timely for a New Year’s Eve post. Just a couple more days of overindulgence and we are ready to streamline.

I believe the subject matter surrounding individuality, wellness, and fashion history as it relates to culture and art – is central to living a vibrant life and reaching one’s potential. Since these are vast topics, the notion of streamlining is brought about by adding a unique and original perspective. Entelechy is assimilation. We can only share what we have learned – and hope it helps contribute to a broader perspective on women’s issues, how we perceive ourselves, and what we hope to change.

Fashion is important as a mobile art form, and in how we show ourselves to the outside world. It is not about the most expensive or range of designer clothes one wears. But it is one of the key components in visual self expression. We will never get enough of draping the human form with textiles and design. Some dresses are as memorable as a lavender sweater paired with a Himalayan scarf!

In some situations, people are completely thrown off by a person’s style of dress. In one true crime show, a police officer in Florida approached the driver of a vehicle to see what the guy was up to. Once he saw the young man who was dressed in a T-shirt and board shorts, he mistakenly assumed he was a typical “surfer dude”. Instead it turned out to be life threatening conjecture. The police officer ended up in a deadly shoot-out with a fugitive on the run for murder in another State.

The 1979 show “Being There” is a story about a simple gardener named Chance who received a trunk full of expensive clothing from the twenties and thirties, which gave people a totally different impression of him. It is a poignantly satirical movie with many layers of meaning.

If you look at any of the fashion conscious celebs and actresses, their style and image is carefully crafted and central to their existence. They have to constantly pay attention to image. Apparently Dolly Parton has never even stepped outside without being made up and dressed to the nines. Cher is another iconic image, more striking than a runway model in a Paris fashion show. She is almost the polar opposite to Dolly Parton in her looks – yet both are equally dramatic and incredibly talented. Stunningly, they suit their looks!

For the average person, fashion and image is less important than it is for models and movie stars, because we don’t think there is a need to craft our image and sell ourselves in such a manner. Yet, tell that to a person who is going on a first date with someone they really want to impress! Fashion is embodied in self expression and lifestyle. It matters sometimes – and other times it doesn’t really matter at all. Regardless, we all have to present ourselves to the world in some capacity, so in my opinion, we might as well appreciate the beauty and have some fun with it.

Whether we are wearing sweat pants and sneakers, or head-to-toe designer, we are making a statement about ourselves that is rapidly judged by other people. I have noticed that even babies in strollers will do a quick visual summary of a person approaching them. In many cases they will glance at your feet first, and then do a quick toe-to head sweep upward – and then look at your face. They learn to check out a person’s shoes early in life!

Years ago I participated in an online University course in women’s studies. I still remember many of the key points the lecturer made. She gave multiple examples of what women said when they were asked to describe themselves. Most of the answers were self-deprecating.

On the other hand, men were inclined to say neutral or positive things about themselves. In fact, none of the men they asked made self-deprecating comments. Finally they were asked, “Okay, tell me what is wrong with you?” One answered, “I’m a little near-sighted” and another said, “I don’t swim the breast stroke very well.” They were not the least bit inclined to say they were too fat or had thunder thighs – regardless of what they looked like!

I don’t discredit men for having a healthier self-image, but I do wonder why there is such an inclination for women to have deep rooted insecurities. Having known and worked with women most of my life, I noticed that even some of the most gorgeous women with near perfect bodies and intelligent minds, might be more dubious about how she is perceived than the average person. In some ways it is probably more difficult for the strikingly beautiful woman with a willowy figure – to navigate the complexities of life, than it is for the average person.

A woman, especially one who is a bit shy and reserved, with too much attention, wastes valuable time and energy trying to deflect it. The accusations many women get of being aloof or snobby, are often unfair assumptions. Others might be jealous and make snide remarks. We should keep in mind that as much as we envy or admire long naturally curly hair – or the near perfect figure, the genetically lavished person has feelings like everyone else.

In my opinion self-esteem is highly overrated. We ought to aim for a healthy cognitive bias. The trouble with all the self-esteem workshops and promotion is that most people really don’t need it. They have enough partiality to get by. Low self-esteem cannot be elevated or reconciled in a two day workshop. Acting lessons would probably help more. For those who don’t like to feel raw and exposed in their insecurities, the cognitive bias is the thing to adopt.

It’s like okay, I am what I am, and can only do so much – therefore I’ll just fake it to the best of my ability. How shallow does that sound? Basically it translates into reinforcing your own abilities, knowing you might make a mistake – but at the same time acknowledging this is my decision, job, obligation, duty, expectation, or opportunity to carry it out. Believing you can do something is half the battle. If you practice something a hundred times and get it right once, it proves that you can get it right again and again, just by learning to duplicate what worked.

When you think about it though, the old adage, “fake it til you make it” is essentially what everyone does. I remember when obstetricians would get called into last minute hair-raising obstetrical emergencies, with no choice but to make an immediate life saving decision. One time I asked one of them, “How can you be so sure making the call, in just a minute or two?” He candidly replied, “I’m not. But you can’t let them know that.” After his admission, when I saw specialists get stressed out and lose it in emergency situations, I would think – he is losing his ability to feign and hold onto his own cognitive bias.

Good or bad – we require such a bias in order to make competent and autonomous decisions. We just need to find a balance between our doubts and our confidence – to keep it in check. Otherwise we might be prone to wallow in doubt or do something overtly stupid.

The next ideation is in making the female comparison to the rather demeaning comment some men get as having “more brawn than brains”. I suppose something like “Bimbo” would be along the same lines.

Since we have entered the era where there is recognition of the theory of multiple intelligences, we cannot be too quick to judge anyone. Although there is no empirical data to support the concept of multiple intelligences, no matter how smart someone is, there will be many deficits in knowledge and experience.

Most people are intelligent in certain areas and less so in others. One of the best examples of this is the aptitude for air traffic control. Some people have the ability to track moving objects at different altitudes and speeds, but for most people it is difficult and stressful. Often a really smart person will have no sense of direction, or he/she might have a tendency to reverse numbers, and must constantly double check them. Those with enhanced social skills and excessive confidence simply come across as smarter, but it could be bogus. In truth, we have the challenge of holding our own – while simultaneously discerning others.

https://www.psychologytoday.com/ca/blog/unique-everybody-else/201311/the-illusory-theory-multiple-intelligences

The notion of intellectualizing fashion and beauty appeals to me. The holistic approach to superlative health and wellness facilitates the autonomous integration of the outward appearance with the inner person. This is often described as “being comfortable in one’s own skin”.

Beauty is all around us. Age is irrelevant because the appreciation of beauty and art has no age limits. The fear of losing beauty is unfounded because we don’t have to be beautiful to appreciate beauty. Just as we don’t have to be a concert pianist to love music, or a CFL football quarterback to love sports. If a person sees the beauty in an incredible catch and touch down – they will enjoy it whether they are twenty or eighty years old. The interests we develop, and things we see as beautiful or inspirational stay with us.

Beauty is both objective and highly subjective. If you put twenty women in a row who are healthy and in good shape, and gave men the opportunity to rate their beauty, it would vary widely. If you let those same women mingle and show their personalities – the least beautiful one might suddenly become the most attractive woman in the room.

Mirroring is what we all tend to do, in everything from subtleties in body language to linguistics. The more intuitive, empathetic and capable a person is at mirroring – the more they will apply the law of attraction. Whether is is the tendency to seek out like-minded individuals, or the ability to reflect back what they care about in order to engage them, it seems to be a natural communication phenomena.

Whether you are on the quiet and demure side of life – or an outgoing, vivacious chatterbox, it’s all fine. An easy way to deal with self image is to remember – the more attention you pay to others, the less you have to worry about yourself!

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 Long Tail In Niche Markets ~ Obscure & Unique Products

According to Internet statistics, there are 644 million websites worldwide, which seems staggering in terms of competition. Further research indicates that 75% of the registered websites are parked domains. The remaining websites serve us with a range of information, products, government and banking services, and entertainment.

As far as e-commerce sites, reports vary widely with some suggesting there are twelve to twenty-four million online stores, while others give much more realistic numbers. RJ Metrics set up an algorithm with claims of 95% accuracy to determine the actual numbers. They concluded there are approximately 110,000 e-commerce sites worldwide.

To further narrow it down RJ Metrics was able to tell us how many of the e-commerce sites are heads or tails, without flipping a coin. As expected, more than 90% are in the head. Many bloggers and business people also try to evaluate the middle and overall length of the tail.

In reality, there are only about 10,000 long tail web shops to date. The long tail represents niche markets and obscure one of a kind items that are hard to find otherwise. The difficulty with long tail products is that it is harder to reach the intended audience. The web development time is longer, which is a deterrent to many start-ups. Instead of putting up four or five pictures of mass produced T-shirts for example, and then adding the variables in colours and sizes – one must photograph and describe a large volume of products one by one.

Although the concept of niche marketing is not new, the long tail theory is only about ten years old. In supply and demand chains, when distribution and storage costs go down, it opens the door for niche markets. A good example of this is how the Indie author book sales captured a 36% share of the Amazon book market. Independent authors and publishers can now create and deliver digital products to a minority audience. This was never possible when authors relied on large publishers and distribution networks to succeed.

The gist of the successful long tail e-commerce site is to have a large volume of one-of-a kind items. This seems logical. When doing Internet research on vintage clothing web shops, it becomes evident that the smaller stores with minimal product get lost in the shuffle and don’t attract much attention.

As I learn about how the products we choose as we embark upon the e-commerce learning curve, it reinforces what I have believed for a long time. If distribution and storage costs are reduced to make it possible to get our own little cubbyhole of products launched – it opens doors for more creativity, independence and autonomy in business. It also reaches customers who have less interest in the head – but may have in-depth interest in products with less hype and advertising.

The long tail serves a wider spectrum in the culture and arts segment. Initially the choices to sell niche, second hand, collectibles, and antiques was limited to eBay and Etsy shops. A lot of water has gone under the Internet bridge since eBay was launched in 1995. Etsy followed with a large multi-vendor platform in 2005. The high end multi-vendor site 1stdibs was founded in 2001 and FarFetch followed suit in 2007. Canada’s RealReal site and FarFetch both raised well over a hundred million dollars to launch and promote long tail e-commerce. Much of the second hand market is based on consignment, which is different than a private collection.

In my opinion consignment has multiple issues. If a person decides to sell their items on consignment, they will typically have numerous things they want to sell. If the retailer wants two or three of those items, they are pressured to take all of them. Whereas with a private collection amassed over time, the selection criteria remains fairly consistent.

Consignment also has multiple accounting considerations. If large retailers become insolvent, they must return items to the original owner, or the reputation for selling on consignment will suffer. However, unless a person has been collecting and storing product for decades, consignment is the only way to get the luxury brand vintage products for resale. E-commerce has helped the vintage and second hand clothing market by leaps and bounds. Otherwise most of the beautiful and artistic vintage clothing would never be photo-documented and shown off like it is now.

Since there are not too many people who will accumulate, save and store product for many years, the Quiet West website is a good long tail learning experience. It is somewhat encouraging to know there are not six hundred million competitors out there! Of the 10,000 long tail E-commerce sites, they include independent books, foreign films, photography, art, music, and the vintage clothing and second hand market.

The conclusion may not be a get rich quick scheme for the long tail retailer. But we can make great gains when it comes to increasing cultural and intellectual diversity and choices. What happens if the long tail becomes thick or bloated over time – and the head starts to shrink?

Paradoxically, I think the long tail ideas and products make for a higher and more sophisticated consumer intellect, more choices, serve minority interests, reduce pollution, and create a greater cultural awareness.

There will always be both inspiration and aspiration for the starving artists and determined but small entrepreneurs who are willing to put in the extra development time to get their products in front of people. As far as growth is concerned – the tail could get thicker or it could get longer. After all – we can’t let everything go to our heads!

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.

“Just Get Me Through December ~ A Promise I’ll Remember”

“How pale is the sky that brings forth the rain
As the changing of seasons prepares me again
For the long bitter nights and the wild winter’s day”

The lyrics of Alison Krauss and Natalie MacMaster’s song rings true for many of us this month. Yesterday’s cold rain kept even the hardiest of cyclists, walkers and joggers indoors. The only humans you see out and about in the inclement weather are those who are walking their dogs.

The month of December brings joy to families for the Christmas and holiday season. The idyllic images of excited and happy children putting cookies out for Santa – with the aroma of delicious food cooking and a tree surrounded with gifts – is truly the stuff warm memories are made of.

The other aspects of the month are not quite as engaging. It is typically a time of wild storms and power outages, which left thousands of people in BC without power over the holiday season. Wind storms and power surges also left many homes with unforeseen damages and repair costs.

The other draining features of the month, aside from financial pressures, is the fact the days are so short. We have finally passed the winter solstice and longest day of the year. One of the great things about the west coast is that once we get into January, the days are notably longer. Often by the end of the month, the crocuses are in bloom.

Hard as it is to believe – it means spring is around the corner! It is a time for New Year’s resolutions and renewed optimism. Although I sing and play the guitar on a regular basis, one of my resolves is to join a singalong this January. Singing and listening to music is not only for the love of music – but also for our mental health and shared countenance. Joining together with others expands and magnifies the benefits of music – and conveys its messages both inwardly and outwardly.

In recent years music and art has become integrated into therapeutic treatment plans for those with dementia. The upshots can be quite dramatic. In one of the music programs, the family of a person with dementia is asked about the person’s music history. They compile a list of favourite artists and songs the person loved to listen to when they were younger. Once the tailored playlist is put onto an MP3 player, the headphones are put on for the patient and they track the outcomes.

The results are both dramatic and encouraging. In one case an elderly black man whose name is Henry – had very little quality of life and was almost completely non-responsive before being introduced to the individually tailored music program. When they put the headphones on, he immediately perked up and started singing along. After they took the headphones off – for the first time in ten years, he began talking.

Henry said the music made him come alive inside. He poignantly pointed out that it reminded him of love and romance. He remembered his favourite artists and the best songs they did. Watching the transformation in him and the eloquence of his expression after ten long years of depressing silence, was truly heart-warming.

Another innovative approach to using music as therapy is when people have strokes with damage to the areas of the brain responsible for language. It makes it very frustrating because the person is cognitively intact, but lacking the ability to speak or find familiar words. The vocabulary is there somewhere, but is no longer accessible. They have found that a person with damage to the left hemisphere of the brain can re-develop the ability to speak by singing what they want to say to a familiar melody. The musical lyrics and notations are right hemisphere dominated. After awhile the person can drop the melody and speak the words normally.

The music and art therapy programs need funding to keep them going. They have already found that the people involved in music therapy improve in cognitive function and mood. Alternatively family and friends can gift a person in a long term care facility with a playlist and headphones.

What we already know about music, memory and mood and how it affects the brain and limbic system – is miles ahead of what we knew about it in the past. Music unlocks memories and facilitates language comprehension and flow. It is one of the few rather addictive pleasures that elevates the mood without any negative side effects or downside.

In another case on Haida Gwaii – a talented elderly musician with advanced Parkinson’s disease needed assistance to get on the stage. But once there – he was able to play the saxophone with as much rhythm and finesse as ever. When asked how he thought it was possible he replied, “I don’t know. I think it is because the music is hard-wired into me.” The dancing crowd would have agreed!

This December, I found myself listening to Alison Krauss a fair bit. Eventually the lyrics started to sink in and I could relate to them, thinking “Get me through December” might have more widespread common ground than “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer”.  One is truth and the other is fantasy. We need a bit of both to get through the month.

For some the month of December is full of good cheer and positive experiences. For others it is the polarized opposite. Probably for most of us – the month brings a mix of the two extremes. For those who experience the good that can come with the holiday cheer, it is also a time to have compassion, empathy and charity for those who are less fortunate. Without such an inclination, Christmas becomes glaringly harsh and materialistic.

The good news is that it is almost over. Once again we are headed into a year of new beginnings and change.

Whether we are motivated and inspired by faith or by a change in the weather ~ the soft melody and lyrics remind us the time is short-lived. It is a mnemonic of how much music can reassure us and soothe the soul.

“Just get me through December
A promise I’ll remember
Get me through December
So I can start again”

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.

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.

Quackery In The Health, Aging & Beauty Circles

True beauty stems from genetics, optimal wellness and integrated optimism. Optimal wellness is the combination of physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual wellbeing.

The wellness industry went a bit overboard in recent years. This morning I was reading about the Goop website and various pitches by Dr. Gundry who advocates a very restricted diet, makes multiple bizarre medical claims, and sells copious amounts of equally strange sounding supplements, things like “lectin shields”. Can’t you just envision a warrior with a huge bronze shield over his heart and vital organs, as he goes to do battle with his leaky gut? It almost sounds heroic doesn’t it?

If one of these health gurus wrote a fictional book, it would be like a video game inside the body. The good guys are navigating the blood stream in hurricane zodiacs with lectin shields and various other supplements to enhance their powers. The pirates sprouted from beans – and came surreptitiously sneaking out of a leaking gut. Whoa! Before you know it, there is a real bowel-optic war going on inside of you. It used to be a joke to describe someone who has a shitty outlook on life, but now it is about being double crossed by the foods we eat. The leaky gut promoters tell us we need to add more warriors to the mix. You must translate money into supplements as benefactors for your gut.

One thing this health craze has brought on, is an increase in liver disease. Twenty-five per cent of liver disease is now related to supplements. In addition, post-op bleeds can often be attributed to supplements that alter the clotting factors. One can never assume the supplements will not interact with other drugs and should always be included with the information provided to first responders and other medical professionals.

I often wonder about those who refuse to eat ordinary food, because of all the health guru hype. The list of things various quacks tell people to avoid includes; all grains, beans, nightshade vegetables, dairy products, meat, bananas, grapefruit and so on. What if people who adhere to these diets were faced with starvation or famine? Would they refuse to eat bread or meat? What do they eat?

The gist of the Goop website is that women are seeking autonomy. So how exactly are we are going to get autonomy from the ideas and beliefs of Gwyneth Paltrow? To me, that’s sort of like basing your spiritual beliefs on the celebs that have joined Scientology. Can’t we just say, “Whatever floats your boat” and ignore them?

Does being an actress make you a health expert? If she is advocating for autonomy, then why is she pitching so much misinformation? Autonomy means self-directed, not being spoon fed a bunch of fluff by someone who thinks everyone wants to be just like her. No one is just like her. Nothing is going to change that. Not even taking her advice, range of supplements, and quirky products will change the fact we will never look or act like Gwyneth Paltrow. She, like most of us, still has a whole lotta living left to do…Only time will tell how she manages it all. She has set herself up for some critical scrutiny as she ages.

Supplements of every kind, along with a multitude of alternative and fringe treatments are now the norm. I think it’s good to make informed choices, with autonomy over our own health a consistent priority. We don’t need the far-fetched claims of others in order to gain self-determination. They seem to be capitalizing on little more than the notion of cult celebrity followings. We need to listen to our own bodies and sensibilities.

Between the two extremes of conventional medicine and some of the alternative approaches – is where common sense might prevail. In reality, individuals must navigate the unmapped territory leading to their own health and recovery. The only real guide is your own intuition. The thing to guard yourself against is treatment and medication with a stronger dose of hype than benefits.

There is no magic pill. The body has tremendous capacity for healing. We need a wholesome diet, exercise and rest. No matter what happens to us, unless it kills us – first the body stabilizes and then it begins to heal, gradually. Our job is to pay attention to the problem, research it; and then carefully sift the information and advice we are given for quackery, fraud, and pure profit motive.

With a balanced and more secure perspective, we are better equipped to make informed choices. There are good reasons to include some discipline into the daily grind. Our own awareness can alert us enough to help offset everything from repetitive strain injuries to heart attacks and strokes. We are better off to find ways to keep the endorphins flowing and the cortisol levels lower.

I believe each individual is unique with specific genetic markers, developmental attributes, psychological and emotional make-up, addictive tendencies, athletic inclinations, intellectual interests and so on. When we go to a doctor, they have no idea what we put into our bodies, how we think, or what our genetic history is. They can stitch up a wound, order an X-Ray, write a prescription and give you advice. When it comes to trauma, bowel obstructions, automobile accidents, ectopic pregnancies, and countless other mishaps – conventional medicine is not to be scoffed at.

But when it comes to the habits of everyday living and the vague, foggy complaints of fatigue or general malaise – we get hooked. Yeah that’s me! I need a fix. Then as we age, it’s all about chronic disease and inflammation. If we believed all the supplement promoters, we would be living on little but supplements and green juice. We would be taking co-enzymes and handfuls of gelatin capsules  thinking we can make ourselves glow in the dark, emanating an instant revitalization and youthful vigor.

As far as judging a person’s health choices, I don’t think we should. But I do believe in common sense and warning people to filter it all, and use caution when tempted to buy into some of those questionable concepts.

For starters there is no such thing as “age reversal”. How could there be? As an example, there have been some very interesting early studies on the long-term effects of Botox, which made sense to me.

Apparently the way the face is innervated with the network of craniofacial nerves, there are neuronal pathways to the brain affecting the movement and coordination of the hands or “hand-mapping” associated with the nerves in the forehead. It is only a matter of time before they figure out the physical global effects of repeated Botox injections. A person might start to look and act borderline catatonic after a few years.

Another interesting thing about Botox is the effect on communication. Apparently we learn a great deal from facial expressions and tend to mirror them. Empathy and compassion, fear, contempt, curiosity – are all part of reading people’s faces. Some articles surmise this can impact relationships. Children in particular rely on facial expressions and tend to make very accurate assessments.

Recently I noticed Celine Dion has come out with a skin product with some extraordinary claims. This product boasts it will put plastic surgeons out of business. I laughed when I read about it because I remembered shopping with my sister one time. We got taken in by an expensive skin cream with similar claims. We each decided to buy one with the agreement to use it faithfully every day. The observation on our mini clinical trial was going to be put to the test, the next time we saw each other. We agreed we would be brutally honest. A few months later when we saw each other again, we took a good long look at each other’s faces, and in unison both of us quipped…”Nope. It didn’t work”.

The gluten free craze is another interesting diet phenomena. For one thing, only one per cent of the population truly has celiac disease. In the past, the diagnosis was based on symptoms and biopsies of the intestine. Now they can do a definitive diagnosis. Canada has about 35,000 true celiac cases, which are tracked on a data base. Although there is a genetic factor, apparently there is never a direct genetic association because of the way it is spread genetically. In addition, it is very difficult if not impossible to go completely gluten free due to the extensive cross-contamination of grains.

For those who truly do have celiac disease, they will react to a homeopathic dosage of gluten. Therefore it is common for them to have frequent flare ups even if they are vigilant about gluten. One of the most interesting things about celiac disease is that many who suffer from it have found they can eat slowly fermented artisan breads, especially sour dough.

For those who do not have celiac, by all means avoid anything that bothers you. But in actual fact, if we don’t have celiac disease, there is no reason to avoid gluten and many good reasons to eat healthy grains.

One of the main things to note about the gluten free craze, is that it brought a whole range of packaged and processed foods, high in sugar, additives, and fats, yet there is a perception this is healthier. The perception is based on a couple of books written by health gurus describing wheat as the worst thing ever grown in a field – and presto, no more gluten for half the population. Hopefully it is a fading trend. I tried going gluten free myself a few years ago – but my gut feeling was that it didn’t make much sense. Plus the gluten free bread is gross in my opinion.

We often hear about leaky gut as the cause for all kinds of health problems. But that too is a manufactured term. There is no proof such a diagnosis even exists.

As far as navigating my own ideas about health, I place autonomy at the top of the list. Therefore I avoid doctors, prescriptions, supplements, and more recently  dropped all OTC medications joining the list of “things to avoid”. The biggest vice for me was to finally kick the sugar habit.

There was a fair bit of reluctance to give up sugar. I love fresh ground dark roast coffee with cream and sugar first thing in the morning, and cannot get used to coffee without it. So, coffee goes out the window along with the sugar. I’m still experimenting with substitutes for the morning java. After trying everything from chicory root to vanilla yerba mate, nothing holds a candle to the old fashioned sugar laden cup of coffee. The only other time I managed to quit sugar was in the seventies after reading a book called “Sugar Blues.” It wasn’t long though, before I lapsed into my old ways. Ha! But this time I’m serious. I think last time I lasted about a year, so only time will tell.

Part of the initial adaptation to decreasing or eliminating added sugar is in screening the labels on everything you buy. You need to take a light loupe to the grocery store to read the tiny fonts on the labels. There are a few sugar free salad dressings. Most sauces have added sugar. Almost all processed food has sugar and additives. I find it easiest to stick with fresh whole foods and fresh baked artisan bread. There are also brands of nut butters without any added sugars.

There are things in both conventional medicine and alternative medicine to be embraced by people keen to regain their health and vitality. On the flip side, both have a multitude of things to be avoided. Personally, I would never take chemotherapy. Nor do I go for mammograms as I think they are a hoax. The thought of a CT scan gives me claustrophobia. I skip all pre-screening tests and always have. Denial has its place in life.

Whether we agree with another person’s choices or not is irrelevant. So many of our health choices are based on fear. Many other decisions are based on what some other authority tells us is best for us. We get so used to hearing what is best for us, we hand over our better judgment simply to serve someone else’s profit motive. Don’t expect anyone other than those who love you, to be THAT interested in your health or well-being.

We fail to realize fear itself is the cause of much disease and disharmony in the body. Our psyche, emotions and spirit inhabit our physical bodies, yet we are hesitant to factor those in when we start fretting over our health.

Aging and death are inevitable. We don’t need piles of pills and supplements. As a rule, they do more harm than good. In long-term-care one of the most glaring things I noticed was that those who were the most out of control also took the most psychoactive medications. The healthiest ones could be a hundred years old, and all they took was a baby aspirin each day.

My own advice for optimal health, which I most certainly have not always followed myself but am more inclined to do now: Listen to your body and trust your intuitions. Reduce dependency on medications. Don’t quit any medicine cold turkey, but taper it down gradually. Avoid surgery if you can heal without it. There is always a risk of infection and/or developing scar tissue that can cause problems later.

Lean toward holistic and individually tailored approaches to healing and therapy with careful research. Monitor your progress based on how you feel. Be patient and trust in the body’s incredible capacity to heal.

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.

Some Modern Design Elements ~ Hawked From Spiders & Birds

Daring V-Neck Top Made In Italy

Valentini Italy – Winged Evening Top

See By Chloe Sleeveless Jacket

Demi-Couture Cocktail Dress Made In France

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.

 

Is Sterling Silver Really The Poor Woman’s Gold?

There is an old adage referring to sterling silver as being the “poor man’s gold”. But for such a title, sterling silver could not be described as the next best thing to gold, because there is such a difference between the two. Regardless of the huge difference in value, there are many reasons to choose sterling silver over gold.

Sterling silver lasts a long time and cleans up beautifully. Whereas in my opinion, the thing to avoid is gold and silver plated jewellery, because over time the plating wears off. Jewelery should not turn into junk within ten or twenty years. As a matter of fact, fine jewelery – if taken care of should last forever. For example, the new Hermes bracelets are plated with platinum, which is not a good deal for seven or eight thousand dollars each. They will not stand up to the test of time.

Sterling silver is a more relaxed medium for artists, allowing creative freedom in the design, to include clunky and large pieces, and best of all – the extensive use of coloured gemstones. You don’t see that in gold jewelery very often.

The modernist lines, open work, and carving in some sterling silver, is quite remarkable. There is time-consuming finesse in the workmanship involved. Sterling silver can be worn with any outfit, from casual to ballroom. From bold and heavy to delicate and cascading, it can be matched to the style of an outfit and the personality of the wearer. It does not have the look of being overtly gaudy or ostentatious – yet there is enough pizzazz in some of the designs to turn heads.

For a fraction of the cost of gold – you get artistic workmanship second to none. Personally I would rather buy a unique artisan sterling silver piece of jewelery over and above a platinum plated Hermes bracelet any day, regardless of how much money I had to spend.

Therefore in my humble opinion – the oxymoron in the old gold adage, is that the gold plated jewelery is really the poor woman’s gold, even though it might be very expensive.

And sterling silver? If it is well crafted, nothing beats it for everyday wear. For special occasions – there are some sterling silver gemstone statement pieces that can rival any other jewelery design or materials.

The silversmith world is full of master craftspeople who exhibit endless creativity and lasting value in the pieces they compose. In truth, there is no other metal with such an illustrious history of design.

I’m writing this early in the morning, and am not thinking too much about wearing either silver or gold. But the latest song I have enjoyed playing and singing, is the Emmylou Harris song called “Gold” from her “All I Intended To Be” album. The chorus line “No matter how bright I glitter, baby – I could never be gold…” Makes sense to me!

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.

 

Fabulous Fifties Frippery ~ Samples Of Evocative Adornment

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.

 

Head Turning Vintage Earrings From Different Eras ~ Some Striking Examples

1960’s Lamp Work & Swarovski Crystals

Victorian Replica – Light Catching Briolettes

Taxco Onyx & Abalone Earrings

Taxco Onyx & Abalone Earrings – Signed

Baltic Amber Nugget Earrings

Antique Steel

Carved Sponge Coral

Shourouk Blondi – France

1960’s Pools Of Light

Taxco Sterling Silver Metal Work & Large Onyx Stones
Art Glass & Fancy Gold Tone Metal Work
Gilded Czech Glass Button Style Earrings
Giraffe Head With Crystals & Enamel Outlines

Randy Collection Black Silk Cocktail Dress With Subtle Plisse Frills ~ Made In Montreal

What is to love about this dress? It has so many features to praise. The fabric is a deluxe black silk velvet, top and bottom – contrasting with a crispy silk taffeta for the centre part of the skirt. It has a subdued shoulder definition, more like dresses from the forties, as opposed to being eighties or nineties. It is most likely early nineties. It does not have the original belt, so I decided to photograph it with some different options to see which one looks best.

In addition to a nicely defined shoulder and neckline, giving a perfect balance to the hips, the accents on the dress have an Edwardian touch. There is ruffled plisse trim on the cuffs, hemline, and also accenting the bottom velvet portion of the skirt. The skirt itself is lined and has a hint of the French bouffant silhouette.

This obscure Canadian designer deserves much credit for the creation of such a beautiful dress. The only other one by this designer I could find is a 1960’s empire waisted floral maxi dress (also gorgeous). It would seem this Montreal designer peaked between the sixties possibly up until the early nineties. It is a pleasure to share this beautiful and timeless dress.

Wide Fabric Belt With Oval Rhinestone Buckle

Vintage Stretch Belt With Faux Pearl Accents

A Wide Silk Sash

Trim On Skirt & Cuffs

Poverty Of Soul ~ Reasons To Avoid Made In China Labels

There are many reasons to avoid the Made in China labels. Not as a prejudice toward the people of China or their capacity to make product, because they make some of the most beautiful porcelain and silk embroidered textiles in the world. Vintage items made in Hong Kong are made by hand with attention to detail and can easily be distinguished from the cheap reproductions. It is the mass-produced made in China fast fashion and jewelry that is to be avoided. A high percentage of it is ending up in the landfills.

During the depression era in Canada, you would never know it now, but people were so poor they often did not have a single pair of shoes to wear. Clothing was patched repeatedly, to include mending underwear and darning socks. When an item of clothing fell apart, the spare fabric was used to make quilts. Women used rolled up rags or strips of folded newspaper to curl their hair.

When it came to food or fabric – stretching it was the first and most important consideration. Many prairie children from large families scrambled to get to the table quickly enough to get adequate portions of food. There was shame associated with poverty, so the mantra was always to “make do” with what you have. The stigmatization of wearing second hand clothing was the basis for mockery and insults. It is interesting to note that songs in the sixties and seventies contributed to the humiliation. Then came the hip-hop song in 2012 “Thrift Store” to counter some of those earlier pigeonholing attitudes. It didn’t hurt the newfound trendier second hand market to have gorgeous actresses and models don vintage dresses for celebrity events and awards. Poverty creates an endless cycle – yet beauty is timeless.

Today’s poverty is somewhat different. Instead of the sparse conditions of the past, we are now inundated with material things and rampant consumerism, but it is a vacuous abyss. For vast numbers of people losing motivation and overdosing in the midst of all this materialism, creates a chasm of grief emotionally, and again, in terms of the loss of human potential. We are steeped in the seductive appeal of accumulating wealth, yet more people are hungry, homeless or in severe emotional pain than ever before. It is testimony to the fact we have too much consumerism and not enough “soul”.

My pursuit to collect things other people don’t want – and to avoid things made in China, paradoxically came from experiencing poverty. Society seems to have a standard that dictates if we have nothing – we are nothing. It is easier to cease to exist and be blotted out or erased, if you are a proven non-entity. There is seldom a mention in the news of the world when a poverty-stricken or drug addled person dies and is simply – gone.

As much as we can refute materialism and consumerism, we will never get away from it because of the supply and demand chain. There are many reasons to avoid clothing made in China. Fast fashion items have a short shelf life, and some of it is not that cheap. You will often find that the seams unravel; the garment does not hang straight, and does not stand up to the test of time.

Clothing made in Canada on the other hand, is just the opposite. Canadians are known for making good quality product. Montreal deserves endless accolades for their creative contributions to Canada’s fashion and art scene. Toronto is also right up there as far as being appreciative and supportive of some of Canada’s great talent. We do sometimes have a tendency to be conservative and fuddy-duddy – but we fare quite well on the global vintage fashion scene, thanks to our eastern counterparts and their love of Canadian culture.

The problem with the upsurge of fast fashion and the rapid cycling of trendy but trashy clothing from China is that it contributes to impoverishing our own talents and ability to design and manufacture Canadian products. How can we have so many people losing value for their own lives and dying in the streets, while in the midst of plenty? It’s a true epidemic, and a mind-boggling one at that. Why do we need to go into a supermarket and see an entire wall full of different kinds of shampoo and conditioner? Do we really need three hundred different kinds of soap and product for our hair?

Yes I have amassed a huge collection and am the epitome of materialism. And the motivation is probably strongly associated with addiction and fear of poverty. But there is a satirical element interwoven into the collection. People have a tendency to seek what is new. Yet almost all new things are copies or adaptations of things from the past. The world of the newly made cannot compete with things from the past. Good product cannot be made in a rapid churn and burn cycle.

Canada, France, Italy, UK, Germany and the USA have a proven track record when it comes to making high quality, fashionable clothing and jewelry. The biggest difference between made in China versus North American and European clothing is that certain things are iconic, classic, and have lasting value – whereas there is nothing contemporary made in China worth saving. That should tell us all we need to know.

Success is a concept which was not even articulated until after the twelfth century. We spend our entire lifetime seeking something ill-defined and based on what? In truth – good food, a supportive and cohesive family, peace of mind, health, optimism, meaningful work, fresh air, mobility, quality of life – are all markers of success. Fame and fortune are actually very short lived, and create an illusion somewhat like a desert oasis. It is very appealing until you get there, and your hard won concept of success can go up in a puff of smoke. Even Elvis Presley ended up in a lonely and disenchanted place of addiction and loss of talent.

All art is an expression of emotion – depicting the extremes and experiences of our existential and inner condition. Whether art imitates life or life imitates art – one key point can be extrapolated in either case: life and art imitates and expresses emotion in every realm. Emotion is not to be discounted, trivialized, or contrived as being a disquieting hysteria coming from unstable females.

All throughout history different things have contributed to paradigm shifts, from religious oppression, to questioning dissonant conceptual frameworks. The cognitive and emotional factors can lead to mass awareness. Don’t let anyone convince you that being motivated by emotion is histrionic and illogical. We are all motivated by emotions. Thoughts are deeper than speech and emotions are deeper than thought. Therefore with some added logic, self-control and balance – our emotions can be the most powerful and driving force in our lives.

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 Flirting With Homo ~ Nyms

Flirting With Homo~Nyms 

If the needles on trees

Could sew up the breeze

And the date on the calendar

Might sweeten and please ~

If the legs on the table

Could walk away free —

Then grey doesn’t matter

If you are winking at me.

 

If the hand on the clock

Runs out of time…

And the catch is a fluke

But meant to be mine.

If one stalk of celery

Should follow me home

And the peel of an onion

Cries when I’m gone…

 

If the crop bears fruit

Without loss of its sides,

And the train has a thought

That both of us ride –

If the pear has a shape

That won’t alter or divide ~

Then whatever the weather

We could bail it together.

 

If you bolt when I see you

I’ll pipe up in your dreams –

And the drift will hold true ~

Like a trunk full of steam. 

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.

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 quietwest@yahoo.com 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.

Cynthia Rowley Leather Trousers ~ With The “Bee’s Knees” In Brocatelle

These awesome Cynthia Rowley lambskin trousers are decorated from the knees down in a vivid floral brocatelle fabric. Bright enough to create a buzz around bee-ing so evocative and animated in these “dancing garden digs”. Check them out!

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.

A Piece Of Canada’s Finery In Fashion Design ~ 1960’s Surrey Classic Hooded Velvet Coat In Deep Violet

Every Surrey Classic coat I have come across was beautifully made, with unique buttons, contrasting lining, and luxurious natural fabric. In some cases the designs reflect our Canadian conservatism. I guess being Canadian, I might have seen more of them than the average person. I assumed they are well known, but after checking on Google a few times, I cannot find the designer history (so far).

From memory, based on what I have seen over the years – I am guessing they were making coats from the late fifties until the late seventies. Many of them are camel hair or cashmere wool blends, and often in subtle, neutral toned plaids. But in the sixties they did a series of stylish cotton velvet coats in bright colours – to include hot pink, cerulean blue, indigo and purple. Below is an example of one of their velvet classics – a double breasted hooded design. It looks like a good, all-season dress coat for Vancouver’s west coast weather!

It features a square cut hood that hooks up at the neckline, adding a practical and coveted detail, as it prevents the hood from blowing off while walking against the wind and rain. The buttons are open with small, square, lucite inserts. The back has a wide half belt as an accent, to offset the slight gathering and flare of the skirt. Best of all – it is in a rich and absorbing African Violet colour – certain to be a head turner, like walking in full bloom!

If Sown As A Plant ~ What Would I Be?

If sown as a plant ~

A thistle I’d be –

Or the barb on the stem,

Of the prickly rose tree.

I would needle and defend,

With the tip of each end –

& No one would know it was me!

With flowers for friends ~

Only artists can paint,

A picture with words –

& Give them some space.

Yet the thorn on the plant, 

Will never get praise –

Whatever its’ stance.

O’press a spiny weed

 & The task to ask ~

Is ~ Who spikes

 The pointed seeds?

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.

Objet D’Art Stone Carvings ~ With Colour & Intrigue Between Artisan & Stone

After looking at so many different coloured gemstones – these larger art objects are a rocky delight. Two of the images posted are similar size camels – one in a dark green stone and the other pure white.

I find the Asian soapstone carving with the chickens and peonies to be the most delightful of all. Carved stone sculptures take on aspects of both the artisan and the stone. When really well done – they are quite fascinating. From collecting stones and agates on the beach – to examining these larger objets d’art made out of stone, it gets easier to understand what makes people become rock hounds. Carving stone must take more patience than your average hobby!

Mottled Dark Green Stone Carved Camel. Size 7″ Long x 5″ High.

White Stone Camel With Visible Banding. Size 7″ Long X 5″ High

Asian Soapstone Carving Of Chickens & Peonies. Size 5 1/2″ Wide x 8 1/2″ High.

Stoned Looking Stone. Size 5 1/2″ Wide x 5 1/2″ High

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.

 

When Did Cats Become So Fashionable? Our Figural Favourites ~ Fetch Feline Fads

From tigers and leopards – to kittens and house cats, the mid century cat revival kept them coming back – in jewellery, belts, scarves, and clothing. The sixties was big on leopard statement pieces, such as the necklace and pins shown below, featuring pave crystals and stylistic poses.

Many bold fashionistas donned leopard print pantsuits and coats, often paired with a matching leopard print hat, bright bakelite bangles and rhinestone studded cat eye glasses. The look would be polished off, and fully attention grabbing – with a heads up narrow eyed nonchalance, sporting long scarlet nails, black winged eyeliner, and crimson lipstick. What mixed messages they give!

The figural creations of cats and the love of their imagery, has depicted them sauntering down the runway on the latest super model. The innate huntress, her grace and stealth, with an aloof independence – and soon, she makes us grateful to be noticed by her! Or the big cat might be snuggled front and centre on a coveted designer sweater. It just goes to show how popular the affection for cats can be.

From the scaredy cats to the scary cats – we seek ways to coexist. By incorporating them into fashion statement pieces, from the wildest cat in the jungle, to the sweetest little ball of fluff – they all seem to have at least nine lives!

 

Made In France ~ Antique Translucent Cobalt Blue Lamp Work Necklace Set With Visible Rods

Once you start examining antique and vintage beads more closely, it becomes evident that some of them are individually hand made – and are really quite spectacular. Historically, due to the small size of beads, and the fact they are non perishable – they quickly became an ideal product for barter along the various trade routes.

Since the beginning of time – beads have made their way around the world to be deposited on beaches, in attic trunks, old jewellery boxes, thrifts stores and flea markets. Like old buttons – some of the creations are obsolete and thus coveted all the more. The best of what has made its way to North America from Europe and Asia – are now treasure troves among collectors and designers.

The distinguishing features between African, Asian and European antique beads are obvious in some cases, but less distinguishable in others. The rare lamp work necklace featured in today’s post is exceptional in colour, gradation and symmetry. It would take considerable heat and finesse to make the beads so even, uniformly graduated, and smooth. The lighter coloured rods used to make the beads are visible inside each bead. Each one is joined with petal-like metal accents with a finely dispersed patina. The clasp is a unique cylindrical screw, with a small floral motif. Made In France is imprinted on one end. The bracelet appears to have had the clasp replaced at some point with a more contemporary sterling silver clasp.

Although one can assume these beads were made in Europe, I wondered if they possibly came from Czechoslovakia. But after doing some more research, and knowing this set was Made in France – I concluded the beads were probably made in France as well. Especially so, since each bead is joined with metal to the adjacent one, so the necklace is a unit as opposed to being a string of beads.

France and Italy have renowned historical and traditional lamp work techniques and artistry surrounding glass bead making that can be traced back many centuries. Master craftspeople in family owned businesses, and partnerships of the seventeen and eighteen hundreds – knew the techniques involved in this sophisticated artistry, and kept them as carefully guarded secrets.

The necklace featured in this post is somewhat difficult to date. It looks like something that would have been very fashionable in the thirties. However, the visibility and lighter colour of the glass rods inside each bead – indicates it might be earlier than the thirties. Historically, as lamp working techniques developed, the artisan had the option to use coloured glass rods. In this case it is unknown whether the whitish rods inside were an intentional element of the design, or if it was all that was available at the time.

The light is distributed so evenly in this beautiful colour of blue – it draws you into its depth. This extraordinary vignette of translucent gradient lamp work beads ~ showcases an ethereal embodiment of icy cool blue light.

Lamp Work Necklace & Bracelet Set Made in France c 1930s

Bracelet

 

Ivory & Certain Types Of Fur Are Basically Banned From All Markets

For a long time, antique and vintage ivory and furs were in a different category from the new ones. It was generally considered okay and ethical to buy and sell these items if they were classified vintage or antique. I have never had much attraction to buying vintage fur, with the exception of some mink hats and headbands, and a few items with genuine fur collars. The list of banished furs includes fur from all big cats, all primate fur, and all types of bear fur. Sealskin products cannot be exported to the USA, European Union, Mexico, or Taiwan. Canada is one of the few countries that permits the sale of sealskin items.

Ivory has become a taboo product due to the poaching, endangered elephants, and the skill artisans have to make it look antique. Although it is not illegal to own inherited or antique ivory, it can no longer be exported or sold. Some of these laws are fairly recent and expanding to include other countries. The only way to identify the age of the ivory is through carbon dating. Recently an antique dealer in Toronto was fined and charged for having carved elephant tusks for sale. As it turned out, they were able to identify the age of the tusks, which placed them in the seventies when poaching was a real problem.

Over the years, I have picked up some ivory necklaces and bracelets but cannot be sure how old the pieces are. It seems the best thing is to donate them to a museum or educational institute. Different types of ivory can be identified by the pattern of the schreger lines. The location the ivory came from can also be identified because they can determine the diets of the elephants by the tusks.

One of the many sad things about the poaching, is that of all the elephants that die naturally, the ivory cannot be used because of the illegal activity associated with it. It’s too bad the elephants were not protected from poachers in the first place. There should have been a method of making sure all tusks were matched to the death of the elephant. The product made from the tusks of elephants that died naturally should have been hallmarked as such. It would be a good idea to have a method of marking during the creation of the piece, similar to what they did to help people avoid buying blood diamonds. Ivory is very beautiful, especially since it has often been combined with some of the most exquisite carving known to man.

As far as the example set in Kenya where tons of confiscated ivory was burned – on principle, I disagree with the destruction of artifacts. However, the issues surrounding the endangerment of these beautiful and intelligent creatures, the horrors of poaching, and the difficulty in accurately dating the ivory – makes the bans understandable.

There can be some confusion in terminology surrounding vegetable ivory and what is referred to as “French ivory”. Vegetable ivory is from tagua nuts and can be carved, decorated or dyed. French ivory is a type of celluloid or plastic that looks like ivory. French ivory and vegetable ivory have nothing to do with elephants or endangered species.

Now it’s time to see if any of the feathers on the hats are from endangered birds! I do have one hat with a real bird on it. It is a black hat embellished at the front with a small blackbird – dating it prior to the 1909 ban on such practices. The moral of this story is an anthropomorphic oxymoron. From an animal’s perspective – humans do some very strange things!

A few ivory sample pieces from the Quiet West collection:

Carved Ivory Necklace Featuring A Large Scarab

Carved Ivory From Hawaii

Antique Necklace Featuring Carved ivory Beads

Antique Carved Elephants From Africa 1920’s or 1930’s

Antique Asian Carved Small Bottle

Maker’s Marks

Example Of French Ivory Or Celluloid Antique Ring Box

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!

The Variety Of Vintage Necklace Clasps ~ Ideal For Short Hair & Updos

Similar to the extra little details that make luxury scarves stand out – beautifully crafted vintage costume jewellery will have interesting, decorative and secure clasps. In some cases the clasp is the most decorative part of the necklace. Often there is a brass hook with an extra trailing of beads or gemstones dangling from the clasp. In the case of multi-strand necklaces – there will be a decorative metal clasp, with the strands attached in rows on each side.

The hook clasps are the most common. I have seen a cylindrical bar clasp on a few bracelets, but the one shown in this post, is the only necklace I have come across that has one. It is a mix of crystal and chalcedony. The following are some examples of vintage necklace clasps on some costume – and some sterling silver necklaces. The first example is a classic vintage Oscar de la Renta very realistic string of pearls with a purple art deco clasp. A good tip to pass on for collectors and vintage enthusiasts – is to check the clasps on a rack of necklaces as a shortcut to finding the authentic vintage ones.

Oscar de La Renta Faux Pearl Necklace With Art Deco Purple & Clear Glass Clasp

Martha Sturdy Clunky 1980’s Necklace With Large Hook Clasp & Signature

Sterling Silver Square Clasp On A Wood & Amber Three Strand Necklace

Mini Glass Bead Covered Clasp On A Torsade Necklace

1950’s Faceted Crystal Three Strand Necklace

Vendome Faceted Crystal Aurora Borealis 1950’s Three Strand Necklace With Fancy Clasp

1950’s Four Strand Necklace With Flowers As Joiners

Chalcedony Powder Blue Necklace With A Unique Sterling Silver Double Hook Snake Clasp

Antique Rock Crystal Necklace Made in Spain

Multi Gemstone Vintage Necklace With A Bar Clasp

Japanese Blown Glass Necklace With Round Beaded Clasp 1950s

Panetta Vintage Necklace With Safety Chain On Clasp

 

1950’s Cerise & Burgundy Hat Made Of Individually Hand Cut Leaves

This delightful 1950’s hat has an American made Union label. It is made of hundreds of individually cut-out leaves, alternating between cherry and burgundy colours. The hat has a netting with a small velvet bow on the top. It would be unlikely to see someone wearing a hat like this today – but in the fifties, this type of hat would have been a coveted treasure in the top shelf of the closet, and saved for special occasions. It would have been matched to an outfit, possibly a dress and jacket set, and accessorised right down to the gloves and bag.

Shirokiya Japanese Silk Kimono From The Showa Era ~ With Breathtaking Scenic Art

This silk kimono features a mountain scene with people – some walking, and others on donkeys or horseback, others with carts, as they wind their way down the mountainside. The scene is on the back of the kimono only. It is in a dark grayish-green base colour, with other muted blues and some luminescent colours blended into the grandiosity of the mountain scenery. Underneath the main image – there are abstract looking gold tone trees, giving an appearance of being uprooted and blowing in the wind. It is lined in a muted, lighter coloured silk.

Thankfully it has a label dating it to the Shirokiya department store in Japan somewhere between 1903 and 1940’s. It looks to be twenties or thirties to me. The store burned down in the thirties. Apparently the women in the building on the upper floor did not want to jump because they wore no underwear underneath the kimonos. As they looked down upon the growing crowd of onlookers – they could not bear to be so exposed. The story might be myth though – however widespread. Regardless – it led to a surge in the sales of western undies and pantaloons!

After doing a little more reading – this kimono would be from the Showa era 1929-80’s placing it in the thirties or forties, based on the label and artwork. Once you examine the imagery on this kimono – and then compare it to the earlier period kimonos depicting wealth, stability, prosperity and brightness – you can see this one has a more somber tone. Instead of having bright floral scenes and birds – it shows people leaving an area. It represents being dispossessed as opposed to being carefree, happy, stable – and able to demonstrate the artistic elements of a fanciful existence. There are no signs of light-hearted whimsy on this one. They are not chasing butterflies.

In looking at the political time frame that brought about the upheaval – it makes sense. This kimono would be from the thirties or possibly the forties – as displacement and unrest became increasingly prevalent in Japan, and the rest of the world. Nevertheless – it is a poignant and beautiful scene. Whatever emotions reside in the human spirit – will be expressed in the art of the time period. It is a deftly transposed reflection of their experience – and the overwhelming power that looms larger than they are. It creates a majesty all around them in the mountains as they weave their way to a destination on a downward journey.

It is a depiction of just one stream of humanity in our human history – as they were caught up and swept along by external forces beyond their control. It is another reminder, as we approach this Remembrance Day weekend – that peace and democracy has great value to all of us, regardless of what culture or historical time frame we come from.

Rare & Absolutely Stunning ~ Three Dimensional Carved Rock Crystal Necklace In A Floral Theme

This is one of the most beautifully made necklaces I have ever seen. In most cases a carved rock crystal necklace will have one flower with a couple of leaves. It may have a single faceted (or round orb) as a pendant. Other than the pendants, there are only two carved flower and foliage rock crystal necklaces that I could find on the Internet. One is by Seaman Schepps and is listed as a rock crystal, pearl and diamond silver suite to include a pair of earrings (for $97,632.00). That one depicts alternating foliage (leaves) with pearls, diamond accents, and rock crystal.

The other carved flower rock crystal necklace on 1stdibs is by Russell Trusso (sold). It features a row of five single dimension clear rock crystal flowers at the front of the necklace and is accented with clear crystal leaves. When we hear the term “pools of light” – we think of round rock crystal. The clear smooth orbs look like marbles. They do not string or wire them through the bead. The beads are either encircled in order to be held in place, or as in this example – the clear beads are attached at the tops.

What makes this necklace so outstanding and rare? The fact it is three dimensional, which captures the light like magic. Plus the entire necklace is made of carved and faceted rock crystal, to include every single flower petal. It has five large clear faceted orbs that alternate with three dimensional carved flowers, in delightfully luminescent pastel shades of carved quartz. Because it is all rock – it is fairly heavy and is strung on steel wire. It has smaller faceted quartz beads toward the top, and a round sterling silver clasp. This necklace is quite a masterpiece. It is a design that literally brings rock to life. And with great finesse – enhances the enchanting, light-catching beauty of the gemstones.

Carved & Faceted Rock Crystal & Coloured Quartz

Interplay Of Colours On Carved Flower Petals

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.

Stroheim & Romann Exclusive Hand Printed Fantasy Garden Textile ~ With A Palette Of A Dozen Colours

This artful textile is labelled along one side “Stroheim Romann Inc. Exclusive Hand Print Fantasy Garden” and shows the colour palette with a dozen colours. Thinking in terms of offset printing – this is one expensive printing job! It never ceases to amaze me how some textiles can stay so vibrantly alive, almost increasingly so – as they age. The aliveness is in direct proportion to the time and effort that went into creating it.

Can Dresses Be Compared To Musical Notes? There is Comfort in DGAC – But Try On An F#m!

Yesterday, I wanted to learn the song “Sweet Old World” by Emmylou Harris. According to the guitar chords and lyrics in chordie.com, the song is marked as difficult to play. I transposed it to -4 semitones to find a somewhat familiar chord sequence. In that combination most of the song is in D Em and A, which is great.

There is one F#m to go with the lyrics “cradled in your arm” and “together with another one” – just a few words, twice in the whole song. But you simply cannot dance around them, or skip over them. I never play an F chord. You have to be a contortionist within limited fretting space (like a real guitar player). Now I might be motivated to figure it out, just so I can play the song. Never having taken a music lesson means you can avoid anything you want. The lyrics and the songs are the driving force. They stay alive forever. I know there is a cliche “it’s the singer not the song” but I think they got that one backwards.

I started thinking about musical notes and what they convey. How many other things are comparable (especially dresses). The notes trigger emotional responses and have a predictable harmony. As I think about what dress style goes with an F#m – I envision it would be light and wispy, very noticeable but at the same time, diaphanous and ethereal.

The personality of the F#m is mysterious. She is made of silk chiffon, fluid in movement, and neutral in tones. There is a subtle nuance to the way she flows, from a comfort zone, shifting seamlessly into an artistic resplendance. The melody is in her movement, for the undulations of rhythm, is flowing right through her.

Not everyone can wear her, because it is not easy to emulate her style. You must be limber and coordinated, to learn how deftly and quickly she changes. The embodiment of an F#m is for a special time and place – in life as it is in a song. With unwavering confidence, she slips through the crowds effortlessly. Her memory is sweet. She is like the scent of hyacinths wafting by, as fleeting and elusive as a leaf in the breeze.

It is the range of little things, the small and unexpected notes, that brings beauty to our days. Check back. As soon as I find an F#m dress – I will post it here!

Once defined – it didn’t take too long to find one. This gorgeous silk dress fits the description for an F#m. The fabric is a muted blend of gossamer-thin patchwork patterns. A jacquard coloured silk with ribbon-like accents and gold metallic threads running horizontally across the fabric (like guitar strings of the imagination)!

Meanwhile – I’m going back to playing and singing “Silver Threads & Golden Needles” in good old DAE. If a song can bridge the difference in style between Janis Joplin and Emmylou Harris – there must be a key to the room for the rest of us!

Without a belt it has a 1920’s drop waist silhouette

A melodious blend of colours…

Shown with a narrow gold tone & pave crystal snake belt. Exotic!

Gossamer silk with gold metallic thread shown in morning window light.

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.

Raised Velvet Pussy Willows On Sheer Silk ~ Mitra Abedi Haute Couture

This open front sheer silk jacket is a delicacy of refinement. It is enhanced with richly coloured raised velvet pussy willows. The label as shown at the bottom of this post, is mostly unknown and enigmatic. The colours and textured shapes used on the black silk create an optical illusion with an alluring – yet subtle interplay. It is one of the finest examples of something that “flows”. This jacket scores high in artistic merit. It is among the top ten per cent of the most beautiful items in the Quiet West collection.

Incredible Haute Couture Gold Metallic Embroidered Kaftan Ensemble With A Hooded Cape

Since all the photography is done in window light – I hope the sun shines this weekend! There is no other kaftan ensemble like this one on the Internet. Although I have looked at them and studied the photos of a variety of kaftans often, I spent several hours researching vintage kaftans again last night. I enjoy looking at the range of gorgeous, exotic, and loose flowing examples of such decorated finery. Many of them are listed on the 1stdibs website, a site that brings together a collection of the most beautiful vintage items in the world. So I am very enthusiastic about sharing some photos of this amazing outfit. It is a stunning and rare example of a haute couture kaftan ensemble.

It is even more striking with the added dimensions of the hooded cape. When it comes to ethnicity – the arts is where we can see that every culture has created things with jaw dropping beauty. I believe this outfit is Moroccan, possibly with a special kind of Turkish gold thread that was used on elaborately decorated high end textiles in the Middle East. I have to do more research on the type of needlework techniques used. It may help narrow down and confirm where this outfit was made. Is it any wonder most of the famous designers created their own versions of this type of outstanding elegance?

Reverse Side Of Embroidery

Some Idiosyncratic Necklaces You Will Not Find At The Mall

Openwork Sterling Silver Pendant Necklace With A Blue Bottle Of Smelling Salts Inside

Never Leave Home Without It!

Erica Weiner Miniature Harmonica Necklace

Wood & Brass Monocular Spyglass Necklace

Don’t Get Mugged For A Molar!

Stones Eggs In A Wire Sculpted Bird’s Nest

This One Must have Been Tricky To Make!

Link Necklace With A Ratcheted Hand Cuff Clasp Marked Italy

First Impressions?

It Works!

A Winchester Bullet With Orange Quartz At The End. Who Would Wear it?

D’orlan For Bosses Or The Bush?

Arella A 1970’s Western Outfit That Flirts With The Fringe

With a voice, boots and a guitar – this would be a great outfit for a Western or Bluegrass performer in any era. If this outfit could sing – she would sound like Emmylou Harris!

Cape Like Top With Studded Pattern & Patterned Cut & Stitching

Great Detail On This Outfit

Zig-Zag Cut & Stitching On Both The Top & Skirt

A Bona Fide 1950’s True Blue Poodle Skirt ~ From A Wool Felt Dying Breed!

The 1950’s dyed wool felt poodle skirts have been copied many times over the years, using a wide variety of different fabrics for both the skirt and the appliqués. They were especially popular among the swing, rockabilly and jive dance enthusiasts. The original ones are easy to spot, as they demonstrate a stand-alone authenticity. The real ones have been few and far between in vintage circle (skirts) for a long time, probably since the seventies. The reason they are so scarce is likely due to the difficulty in cleaning this type of wool. It is prone to all things that make one shudder – such as shrinkage, moths, and stains that become embedded into the fabric. To make matters worse, the colour will immediately begin to bleed out when immersed in water (death for the dogs!). I have seen a few poodle skirts over the years, but mostly they were in poor condition. This is the only one that has made it into the Quiet West collection. I love the way they managed to make the dog’s hair and tail so distinctively curly on the appliqué!

Trifari & Alfred Philippe Designer History ~ From Cartier & Van Cleef & Arpels

Trifari became one of the world’s most recognizable names in collectible costume jewelery. Italian immigrant Gustavo Trifari founded the company in New York City in 1910. In 1930 Alfred Philippe joined Trifari as the head designer. Prior to joining Trifari, he had been with Cartier and Van Cleef & Arpels. Phillipe preferred using individually hand set imported Swarovski crystals. Similar to mid-century Ciner and Panetta jewelry – the designers first worked with precious metals and gemstones. When the glamorous era of the thirties caught on – the objective was to make costume jewelry of such a quality as to mimic the real thing.

After the war Trifari developed their own type of base metal called “Trifanium” . During the fifties and sixties the company continued to grow and thrive in the business of ritz and glitz glamour. In 1968 the legendary designer Alfred Philippe retired. Andre Boeuf (also previously from Cartier) became a lead designer. During the seventies notable designers Kenneth Jay Lane, Kunio Matsumoto, Marcells Saltz, and Jean Paris created designs for Trifari.

Trifari remained a family run business until the early sixties. It was sold to Hallmark in the seventies, and then purchased by Chase Capital (Monet Group). By 2000 Trifari was sold to the Liz Claiborne Corporation and moved production overseas. Certain luxury vintage costume jewelry will occasionally be unsigned (such as Chanel, Weiss, Sherman and some unknown early and mid-century master craftsmen and designers). One little known fact to share about Trifari – is that their pieces are always signed. The patent numbers and corresponding dates can be researched on Google.

The following are a few examples of Trifari jewelry in a range of dates prior to 2000.

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.

Thankful For Old Friends

 

Thankful For Old Friends

Old friends who are growing frail and tired –

If we are wise, we will esteem them higher.

For experience and wisdom knows no bounds –

And among old friends is abundantly found.

 

Treasures have often been tossed away,

Because they don’t fit with the present day.

Now we see the value in many old things –

Like artifacts, gems, antiques and rings.

 

But we race around in these busy times,

Chasing the elusive ~ the ladders we climb.

While our older helpmates quietly sit –

Patiently waiting – hoping for a visit.

 

If we forget about them, what a tragic mistake,

Old friends are precious for everyone’s sake.

A nation’s history and culture take stock…

Lest she become lost – amidst the tick of the clock.

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.

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 House Of Rodier ~ With More Than A Century Of Excellence In French Knitwear

The French designer Rodier has maintained a certain obscurity or subtlety over the past century. But once acquainted with some of their product, this brand is worthy of accolades for its long tradition of excellence in knitwear.

The House of Rodier was formally established in France during the mid eighteen hundreds. With a primary focus on knitwear, they began redesigning shawls of the Kashmir, which brought them acclaim for their creative divergency. The elaborately decorated shawls from the late eighteen hundreds through to the twenties, created stunning examples of the arts and culture of the time.

During the 1920’s and 1930’s Rodier assisted Jean Patou as he embarked on his career in fashion design. They also redesigned a fine knit jersey commonly used in undergarments, which was later made famous by Chanel. The looms of Rodier attracted much inspiration from other cultures. Like a laboratory of looms, they experimented with a variety of fabrics to include spun rayon called senellic. Some articles claim Rodier made sweaters for Chanel, Patou, Lanvin and other luxury brands during the post war years. Since inception – they were central to the “sweater and knitwear source” coming out of France.

Rodier created its first ready to wear line in 1956, and like all luxury brand companies has gone through many changes over the years. In the 1980’s they did an expansion with a focus on the US market. Over the following decade they spiced up their line and sold to multiple luxury boutiques.

As the century came to a close Rodier opted to do a number of licensing agreements. Alas, the tradition of excellence may now be compromised, which makes the earlier Rodier knitwear as distinctive and coveted as it was during Napoleon’s reign.

Below are some pre-millennial examples of Rodier sweaters:

When Organic Matters Are Just Beachy ~ The Popularity Of Seashell Jewelery

Contemporary Artisan Shell Collar Necklace

 

Shell Pin Accented With A Tiny Shell Bug

Baroque & Keshi Pearl Statement Necklace

Large Shell Set In Sterling Silver

Large Shell Set In Sterling Silver – Mexico

Sterling Silver Bracelet Elaborately Decorated With Abalone Shells

Shell Necklace In Shades Of Pink & Coral

Stretch Bracelet Made Of Matching Shells

Raffia & Shell Necklace

Carved Mother Of Pearl Earrings

Abalone Set In Sterling Silver With Decorative Bail

Abalone Set In Sterling Silver Setting

Open Shell Belt Buckle With Gold outlines

Thinking Outside Of The Box ~ Paying Homage To Canada’s Lucrative Second Hand Markets

Pair of Carved Stone White Howling Wolves

 

Wood Carving With Teeth Of Bone

The second hand market in Canada is flourishing with the buying, selling and swapping of a wide range of interesting products. It has given rise to some near maniacal television shows like a modern day gold rush with lots of buzz and excitement. Thanks to the Internet – no one has to go panning for the valuables in creeks, cross uncharted mountain ranges, or even risk their lives. According to Kijiji alone, Canadians bought sold or swapped used products to the tune of 1.9 billion dollars in 2016. It’s interesting to note that British Columbians buy four times the national average in second hand goods.

Thrift stores are magnets for serious collectors. It has only been since the nineties that thrift store shopping has been trending upward. The stigmatization of buying second hand began to vanish and soon after became trendy. The idea of collecting a product line in the second hand market makes so much sense. Everything from old Levis, to antique glass and porcelain, limited edition and original art, concert band T-shirts, motorcycle memorabilia, and my favourite – vintage clothing and textiles, has gone up exponentially. The value of certain things has increased as online selling has become easier to get into. Along the same lines as the theory of like aggregates, like items are more easily accessed and compared by interested consumers. The more unique, artistic, rare, made by famous designers, in demand or outlandishly quirky – the more likely it will increase in value.

I find it very intriguing when I come across other collectors and gradually begin to notice what they collect. In one case, it was a tennis player who knew the pricing and quality of tennis rackets. He would select certain brands for five bucks or so, have them restrung and then resell them for several hundred dollars each. Another man was buying 35mm camera lenses and combining components of them to rebuild lenses with uniquely exaggerated fish eye or bokeh capabilities.

For several years there was a man with a thick Russian accent looking for and buying cashmere. He accumulated an entire roomful of sweaters. Apparently no one was sure what he intended to do with them. After he died, I learned through the rumor mill that he had planned to send them back to where he was born in Russia. He had grown up impoverished and it was “always so cold”. It’s really too bad the cashmere didn’t get packed up and sent to his hometown.

The second hand market is filled with eclectic hobbyists and hidden professionals. Most of us have no clue what motivates another person to collect what they collect. The more knowledge the person has about the specific items, the more he/she will spot authentic items with value. Glass is a good example. It ranges from hand painted moriage in Japanese porcelain to the incredible spectrum of murano glass from Italy.

The differentiation between hoarders and collectors is easy to make. Hoarders have a diminished capacity to make selections. Therefore they do not collect based on knowledge and a larger vision, but rather on fear of throwing things away because they might need or want them some day. Hoarders tend to be disorganized and non-sensical in what they stockpile and do not like to get rid of things.

Collectors on the other hand are always culling and getting rid of mistakes because that’s how we learn. It is also how a collection is refined and built to higher standards. In addition for collectors, the collection becomes increasingly organized. Whereas with hoarders it is the exact opposite and everything piles up uncontrollably. The collector is motivated to a large degree by curiosity and learning. The collection itself has a systems component.

In my opinion there is no other place but the second hand market to find high quality items and products for resale, at a fraction of the cost. You could not buy the buttons for a designer jacket for what it costs to buy one in a second hand store. And then you would still have to sit and sew them all onto the jacket.

Canada’s high standard and good reputation in the online second hand market can be credited to Montreal and Toronto. Montreal mid-century designers are now being recognized in the upscale International vintage clothing markets. Canada has turned out some world-renowned luxury brand names such as Claire Haddad, Wayne Clark, Bill Tice, Gustave Sherman, Patricia Fieldwalker, Val Hughes and Madame Runge as some examples. Next to Italy, France, and the US – we can hold our own quite well in comparison to most other countries.

There are countless good reasons to promote the Canadian second hand market. We are an affluent country with much history and culture – due to the diversity and widespread travel. We have a great selection and clean well organized second hand stores. I skim through roughly 30,000 new items per week. Of that I might select six to ten items on average.

With everything from obscure coins, antique glass and art – to old typewriters and some very unique hand made musical instruments with wooden tuners, we have enough abundance in our second hand stores to contribute to E-Commerce, education, niche markets, hobbyists and recycling. The identification of unique product lines and global trends – is continually increasing the scope and opportunities within the second hand markets. It also creates an eclectic exhibit of our diverse Canadian culture and heritage.

Taxco Mexican Sterling Silver

Leaded Glass Crystal 1950s Germany

Antique Claret Jug Or Decanter For French Bordeaux Wines

Porcelain Bust Made In Germany

A Tribute To Beethoven

Antique Asian Symbolic Figures

Hand Painted Dresser Jar 1940’s Japan

Antique Carved Bamboo Three Dimensional Images

Mid-Century Porcelain Fish Teapot Made In Japan

Antique Wooden Child’s Toy

Cloisonne Owls

Carved & Signed Figural Animal Head

Alligator Covered Box With Artwork On Lid

Antique Asian Wooden Cigarette Box

Antique Carved Wooden Serving Dish Haida Gwaii

Carved Stone Owl On Peach Coloured Quartz

Antique Wooden Hens

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.

Fine Feathers Are A Fetching Sight ~ & Fanciful By Day Or Night

Turn Of The Century Egret Feather On A 1950’s Hat

1950’s Feathered Brimless Hat

1940’s (Faux) Bird Revival On Hats

1960’s Single Feather On A Wool Hat

Feather & Matching Trim

1940’s Feather On Velvet & Grosgrain Ribbon

A 1920’s Sequinned Skull Cap With An Ostrich Feather

1930’s Or 1940’s Hat With Purple Feathers

1950’s Special Occasion Blue Feathered Brimless Hat

1960’s Or 1970’s Feathered Fall Hat

1950’s Original With Blue, Black & Red Glistening Feathers

A 1950’s Feathered Hair Band

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

1992

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.

Featuring A 1970’s Opulent Green Maxi Coat With Extensive Beadwork & Laid Work ~ Made In Africa

This one needs some retakes to show the detailed needle work better. When I bought it I was told that it was brought back to Canada by the wife of a Canadian diplomat in Africa. It is a heavy garment with yards of fabric in the skirt to create a wide sweep. The lower portion of the skirt also has the detailed couching and beadwork patterns.

When It Comes To Vintage Fashion Experts ~ Does Anyone Really Know It All?

As much as we can appreciate and learn from the expertise of others, beware of the collectors and sellers who claim to know it all. For those who are truly immersed in vintage textiles and design, it is a never-ending learning curve. When we seriously delve into the arts, like many other vast topics – it will increase our awareness of how little we know. A stubborn superiority will do nothing to alleviate our ignorance.

There are thousands of different types of fabric. Rayon alone has fifty different types and descriptions. The difference between hand loomed and machine loomed requires knowledge and a close examination of the garment. Fabrics such as mock crochet and many of the silk satin blends used in vintage clothing are now obsolete. Historical textiles from Egypt, India and Japan, for instance – can be traced back two or three thousand years. One could study textiles alone for an entire lifetime and still not know it all.

The same goes for jewelry. For example, there are thousands of sterling silver markings. I believe Mexico alone has around twenty-five hundred. Jewelry is fairly easy to transport and save – therefore it is more likely to survive the test of time. The country of origin in both textiles and jewelry design shines through in the product. Mexican sterling silver is artistically superb – especially the early and mid-century Taxco. Scandinavian and Navajo sterling silver has a very different and distinctive look compared to Mexican sterling silver. Gemstones in the jewelry also reflect the country of origin, such as the old turquoise mines, gemstones in the particular location, various treatments, settings, and alloys used.

One of the big questions in vintage clothing is in the perceived authentication of designer pieces. I don’t dispute that the vintage clothing market is complex, because it is and always has been in a state of flux and change. It is easiest to see this once you compare the same brand from decade to decade. Louis Feraud clothing from the sixties is highly desirable and recognizable. The eighties Louis Feraud is not as distinctive or as creative, however some of the scarves and certain pieces are drop dead gorgeous regardless of the age.

In my opinion the primary way to authenticate a designer garment is twofold – one is by the labels. The other is by the fabric and design. The best designer vintage has all labels to include the brand, fabric and where it was made. Pre-seventies clothing will often not have fabric content because it was not a legal requirement to have the fabric and care labels until then. Experience does help with evaluating the authenticity of a garment. However, if that information cannot be passed onto the consumer logically and without the pretense of knowing something they don’t know – how is that fair to the consumer or to the industry?

The art and history surrounding fashion design and textiles is as vast as any field can be. We are studiers and stewards of things that came before us – things we ourselves did not create. As human beings we are prone to making mistakes. There are hundreds of little tricks to help us identify things. If you use a jeweler’s loupe to examine fabric, it helps differentiate types of embroidery, the warp and weft of the fabric, loomed versus printed, damask versus brocade, etc. Gradually more and more criteria gets added to the list in your head when evaluating vintage garments. Anything that has covered buttons and/or silk lining warrants a second look.

A jeweler’s loupe will also help identify hand painted versus transfer decal, because you can see the dot pattern in anything that is printed. To determine if cinnabar is real, you hold the loupe at an angle and look for the layers in the lacquering. There is a very strong intuitive sense one gets from certain things. In some cases I will know immediately if the item is authentic – without looking at any labels. I do not buy anything designer with a Made in China label with the exception of vintage and antique Chinese silk embroidered pieces and Chinese export porcelain (and mud men). A small percentage of things in the collection are made in Hong Kong.

In many cases with jewelry I cannot identify markings that are worn or too faded. Another example is that designer labels like Dries van Noten were originally made in Belgium. Now many of the luxury labels are made in India. Dries van Noten also has clothing made in Romania on newer items. My philosophy is to be honest and up front about where an item was made and price accordingly. I do not consider famous brands to be authentic unless they are made in the country of origin. It may be a purist attitude but that’s how I see it.

In reality vintage designer clothing has become the crème de la crème of high fashion. Certain iconic pieces by Versace, Alexander McQueen, Thierry Mugler, Karl Lagerfeld, Rudy Gernreich, Christian Dior, Valentino, Courreges as just some examples – are now fetching prices between five and twenty-five thousand dollars per item. Some of the well-preserved dresses from the twenties are now listed on various sites for several thousand dollars each. I checked a textile auction in New York and saw that designer dresses with significant damage from the fifties and sixties sold for close to a thousand dollars each.

The clincher is that certain pieces by certain designers at specific times in their careers – are like original or limited edition art pieces. They represent the creative genius that drapes the human form – with rich colors, textiles, fluidity of movement and multi-dimensional ideas. The art in design has no room for know-it-alls. It is one big mirror room – both dazzling and dizzying in scope. A vintage clothing collection reflects the culture of a country. Online collections of vintage clothing from different locations are a unique representation of local talent as well as the migratory nature of things from faraway. I love to look at collections of vintage kimonos from Japan. The artistic elements of the Japanese kimonos surpass most textiles. A collection of vintage kaftans from Morocco would create an awesome and inspirational show.

We are all partakers of fashion to some degree. Some of us like to keep fanning the flames of fame for those with vision because they created beautiful things with lasting value. We pluck what we pluck for many reasons. I believe it is best to be dedicated to learning and willing to admit and correct mistakes. Why? Curiosity is a driving force. The field is sweeping and boundless. The biggest mistake is to get arrogant and convey to consumers that we know-it-all. It is completely acceptable to cite ones credentials – with specifics, not braggadocio hot air. We are more or less prone to filling in gaps with mere conjecture. I do accept and respect the knowledge of others, but it is not based on what they claim to be, more on what they are interested in and have experience with.

To create a division between “us and them” from those who declare to be experts – is the kind of limit the arts neither needs nor accepts. Just as in poetry, we get to pick and choose our words. That’s the beauty of art. Quite simply when it comes to vintage fashion and design – no one knows it all. The flow and finesse surrounding beauty and creativity in the arts contains a central hypothesis. Since it applies to almost all things requiring talent or knowledge – not only in the visual arts, but also in sports, literature, music, academia and technology. The bottom line is – show me your stuff. Don’t tell me how great you are. When it comes to vintage fashion – we are talking about material things. Besides all that – it is probably wise and a better reality check, to let those with less of a cognitive bias, be the ones to decide how great we are.

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 Poet’s Parallax ~ Raja Hand Woven Silk Damask Textile ~ Translated Into A Lustrous Splendor

This hand woven silk damask textile by Raja is absolutely stunning. It is very large, with an ivory backdrop, rich in depth and texture, yet vibrantly reflective. The pictures below show each side of the design, as well as some close ups. Although there are many hand woven rugs from India and Pakistan, hand woven silks, and beautiful hand embellished saris – so far, I cannot find anything comparable to this on Ebay, 1stdibs, or any of the other sites on vintage textiles. From the Antique Textile History, the following information sheds some light on the origin of such a textile, not including the selection and preparation of the silk, or colours, but enough to enhance our appreciation:

“BROCADES – THE TRADITION OF BRINGING SILK TO LIFE
Brocade weaving, especially with gold and silver, has been an age-old tradition in India. There are two broad classes of brocades. Brocades of pure silk or silk and cotton blends and zari brocades with gold and silver threads. The most important material in brocade weaving is silk. It facilitates lovely weaves, is durable, strong, fine and smooth. There are several varieties of raw silk of which the chief ones used for brocades are Tanduri, Banaka and Mukta. Tanduri is imported from Malda and other places in Bengal. Banaka is thinner and finer variety and is mostly used to weave soft fabrics such as turbans and handkerchiefs. Mukta is a coarse and durable silk used for kimkhabs, as fine silk would not withstand heavy gold patterns.”
“MAKING NAKSHAS (DESIGNS) ON BROCADES
Making of nakshas (designs) forms an important part of brocade weaving. Banaras is the main center where the nakshabandha (designer) tradition prevails. The skill and imagination of nakshabandha plays a prominent part in making of designs. Designs are associated with legends and symbolism. The most popular motifs are drawn from nature. In Banaras, it is said that nakshabandha families were brought to this country during the reign of Muhammed Tughlak (1325-1350 A.D.). They were supreme masters of the art of tying designs into the loom. Local artisans and weavers learned this art from these great craftsmen. Some of these craftsmen were also great poets-perhaps they wove their poetry into their designs. One such renowned poet was Ghias-I-Naqsband, mentioned in Abul Fazl’s ‘Ain-I-Akbari’. The nakshas are first worked on paper. This part of the work is called likhai (writing). The nakshabandha then makes a little pattern of it in a framework of cotton threads like a graph. This pattern gives guidance to the working of that design into weaving.”

The example in this post, is a much heavier silk than most. The design on one side does not show through or impact on the other side. I am guessing it was part of a special ordered bridal trousseau, and estimate it to be from the sixties or seventies. It is truly extraordinary – with many components in the design and fabric, from dimensional rose floral outlines, to small raised slubs on the fabric, and a periwinkle contrast. The centre on one side features a large round design, a bouquet, outlined in coloured lines. In the very centre, there is a small red symbol or signature. The condition is pristine. It is one of the most beautiful textiles I have ever handled and photographed. It is visually tactile, a fascinating sight to behold, with a luminescent glow and vibrant colour and synchronization. It creates an exhibit with features unique to the richly exotic and historical textile artistry from faraway lands.

It demonstrates how the non-material world – beginning with the vision of a poet or artist, can be woven into the material world – and will always retain the beauty and vision of the soul that went into it. Initially as a concept it may seem overwhelming and elusive. Eventually it turns out to be, a fine representation – of soulful materialism and poetic realism.

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1940’s Plum Dress Silhouette – With A Sample Of Laid Work On A Detailed Bodice

Couching or laid work is an embroidery technique dating back to 1070. It was one of two main techniques used in the Bayeux tapestry, a European historical work of art, consisting of fifty different scenes, and measuring 230 feet long. Laid work was also used traditionally on textiles in medieval England and Japan, with extensive use of metallic thread. Another location with a strong tradition for this intricate embellishment, was in Palestine, with production centred in Bethlehem. The Wikipedia definition is:

In embroidery, couching and laid work are techniques in which yarn or other materials are laid across the surface of the ground fabric and fastened in place with small stitches of the same or a different yarn.[1]

Once you take a closer look at this type of embellishment, as shown in the last picture of the post, it is mind boggling to absorb; how much time and attention to detail, goes into this type of needle work.

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1970’s Missoni ~ Glitter & Multi Colour Bold Stripes ~ Bent On Being Curvy-Linear

Missoni created some of the wildest (and coolest) outfits in the sixties and seventies. My favourite dress in the mid seventies, was a brightly striped Missoni, likely from the sixties, found at a thrift store in Calgary. I loved wearing it. It was similar to the shorts in this post, in that it was brightly coloured with shimmering vertical stripes. The stripes on these Missoni shorts are curvilinear – adding a dazzling and dizzying dimension to the design!

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A Fall Scene ~ 1970’s Lemay Embroidered Denim ~ Get Fresh With Flowers & High On Mushrooms

Check out this fabulous Lemay seventies embroidered denim shirt. It is heavy enough to be worn as a jacket. The scene on the front depicts sprigs of flowers only; but on the back, the mushrooms are taking over! The logo on the label, is of a dog (at least I think it’s a dog) smoking a pipe. Overall – this shirt is happy and well done. I bet she was donned, and danced like a diva – at a few hippie music festivals over the years!

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Gottex In Bright Hues ~ A Sybaritic Summer ~ From A Walk On The Beach ~ To A Picnic On The Dunes

Leah Gottlieb (1918-2012) and her family, were the founders of Gottex. The company was started in 1956, in Tel Aviv. Her vision was to design luxury brand swimwear and beachwear; with the relaxed versatility, enabling seamless meandering – from the beach or poolside, to luncheons, cocktails, and romantic summer evenings.

Gottex swimsuits have graced such figures as Diana Princess of Wales, Elizabeth Taylor and Brooke Shields. In 1975, the company was approached by Yves Saint Laurent and Pierre Cardin, with a request to design swimwear lines for them. Instead, she chose to remain independent and grow her own brand. Vintage Gottex resort wear, made in Israel, is deluxe in artistry, colour, and uniqueness. True to her word – it is an all around uplifting brand!

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The Finale ~ Celebrating Canada’s Best Mid-Century Designers ~ Montreal Is The Winner!

To sum up the Canadian Designer Celebration mini series, a high percentage of Canada’s best mid-century designs and designers, have their roots in Montreal. The more I delve into the collection, and the labels – the more I realize how much of our great fashion history can be credited to Montreal. When it comes to fashion, the French do not disappoint. Toronto as a second runner-up, retains a mid-century vibrancy, with its legacy of notable designers.

The Montreal designed little black cocktail dresses from the sixties, are as sleek, and as wearable today, as they were back then. The hallmark of a great designer, is in the timelessness of their creations. I will happily share some exclusive examples…Starting with a late fifties, or early sixties Irving Nadler lace cocktail dress with a cape style top.

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Irving Nadler, Montreal Late 1950's or early 1960's Cocktail Dress

Irving Nadler, Montreal Late 1950’s or early 1960’s Cocktail Dress

DSC_0302DSC_0313The next 1960’s little black dress from Montreal is aptly labeled – After dark Cocktails.

After dark Cocktails, Montreal 1960's black halter dress.

After dark Cocktails, Montreal 1960’s black halter dress.

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Another Montreal classic little black dress, 1960’s black velvet, with gold piping at the waist.  This one has the musical label – Beau Time Melodie Frocks.

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An impressive 1950’s full circle skirt by Montreal designer Val Hughes.

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To end the series on a brighter note, this very artistic, abstract printed silk skirt, is labelled Cocktail Montreal. Thanks to these fabulous and talented designers of the eras  – they put Canada on the runway, when it comes to mid-century chic.

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Celebrating Fabulous Canadian Hat Designers ~ Lilliput, Nadelle, Leopold, Andre & M’Sieu Leon

These wonderful hat designs are mid-century Canadian, made in Montreal and Toronto:

Lilliput, Toronto feathered fedora with velvet accents.

Lilliput Feathered Vintage Fedora in brown tones. made in Toronto, Canada

Lilliput Feathered Vintage Fedora – Toronto, Canada

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Featuring Nadelle, Montreal 1960’s velvet lampshade hat, and Nadelle 1960’s elaborate beaded turban.

 

DSC_0424Nadelle, Montreal
H072frontviewH072nadellesatinhatLeopold Original, Toronto 1960’s Velvet Hat With Big Satin Bow.

DSC_0478DSC_0469Andre, Montreal 1960’s Gold Brocade Turban.

H0058mainH068close2M’Sieu Leon, Montreal 1970’s Beaver Fedora.

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Accolades To Mid-Century Canadian Designer & Retailer ~ Madame Runge

Madame Runge was an upscale retail shop on South Granville Street in Vancouver, from the late thirties until the seventies. I believe most of the clothing designs they carried, were commissioned and made by Montreal designers. Some of the examples are; Harold Taub For Madame Runge, Silverworm For Madame Runge, Gerson For Madame Runge… Regardless of the different designers, vintage clothing with Madame Runge labels are of exceptional fabric, style and quality.

The last image in the post, is a 1960’s double breasted green wool coat. It shows both the Madame Runge label, as well as “Styled By Gerson Inc. Montreal”. Although Madame Runge was based out of Vancouver, it is a rarity now, to come across the label in Vancouver.

The first dress and coat set in this post has been in the Quiet West Vintage collection for about thirty years. The green silk fil coup dress below it, is a more recent purchase. One thing for certain, Madame Runge labels are, and always will be, sought after and treasured by vintage clothing connoisseurs.

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Madame Runge Dress & Coat Set

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Madame Runge Dress With Ruffle & Trim

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Madame Runge Close Up Buttons & Trim

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Madame Runge 1970’s Silk Fil Coup With Plunging Neckline

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Madame Runge 1960’s Double Breasted Wool Coat Co-Labeled Styled By Gerson Montreal

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Styled By Marek Gerson Inc. Montreal

Celebrating Canadian Designer Wayne Clark ~ Featuring A 1980’s Silk Chiffon Couture Cocktail Dress

This exceptional 1980’s Wayne Clark Couture dress, is made of layered silk chiffon, with  rhinestone embellished lace inserts in the bodice, and sheer balloon sleeves. The dress has rows of satin piping down the length of the skirt, satin cuffs, and matching trim on the bottom layers, of an asymmetrical hemline. The back is open, plunging to the waist, and ties at the back of the neck, with a dangling satin ribbon.

For those who love the floating and fluid movement of a silk chiffon skirt, and being well covered; in a pose to behold. Those watching your back, will know… A Wayne Clark dress – is worth its weight in the folds!

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Celebrating Canada’s Finest Designers ~ Gustave Sherman ~ A Cut Above & A Shine Beyond ~ A Lifetime

Gustave Sherman of Montreal made costume jewellery from 1947-1981. The company logo was “made to last a lifetime”. He sourced out, and used the highest quality Swarovski crystals, and set very high production standards. The backing on Sherman jewellery is heavily rhodium plated, japanned, or sterling. The stones are brilliant, cut with precision, into narrow marquise stones, with cluster elements, and stunning designs.  Sherman jewellery lasts to this day, and will last much longer, therefore the jewellery was made to last more than one lifetime.

Sherman jewellery has always been recognized as high end costume jewellery, and was sold through luxury retailers and jewellery stores. The jewellery continues to be highly collectible. Certain pieces, in particular full sets, and the colour Siam red, command high prices, and have set off bidding wars on Ebay. Gustave Sherman passed away in 1984. His legacy, and commitment to the highest standards in craftsmanship, has left us with sparkle and shine – to wear and to admire, for many years to come. From the Quiet West collection, the following are some fine examples of the lasting quality in Sherman jewellery.

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Sherman Pink Earrings & Matching Pin

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Sherman Script Signature

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Sherman Earrings With Blue Marquise Cut Stones

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Sherman Signature in Block Letters

 

Gustave Sherman stunning vintage necklace - signed

Gustave Sherman Stunning Vintage Necklace

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Sherman Signature On Necklace

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Sherman Bracelet With Coloured Stones

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Sherman Bracelet With Safety Chain On Clasp

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Sherman Signature On Coloured Bracelet

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Sherman Fabulous Large Rhinestone Pin - Signed

Sherman Fabulous Large Rhinestone Pin

Gutave Sherman Blue Crystal Pin Signed on the Back

Gustave Sherman Blue Crystal Pin

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Celebrating Canada’s Finest Designers ~ A Six Part Series ~ Featuring A 1960’s Kaftan By The Brilliant Claire Haddad

Claire Haddad: Born July 17, 1924 – May 17, 2016. Her bio states she is “an Order of Canada recipient, and fashion designer to the stars”. One of her dresses was on the front cover of Vogue magazine in April 1966, worn by model Veruschka von Lendorff, and photographed by Rubartelli. Based out of Toronto she was known for creating eclectic lounge wear, and luxurious high fashion sleepwear from the early sixties until the eighties. She was forward thinking enough to envision loungewear, worn as elegant evening attire outside the home.

From the Quiet West collection – it is a pleasure to share a fabulous 1960’s Claire Haddad kaftan featuring a desert scene on a vivd background of electrifying colours, which was so hip in the sixties. The trim is black, loopy cord, and outlines the neckline downward to the V opening on the front. The trim changes into looped cord buttonholes, for small, rounded black buttons. The two front slits and sleeves are also accented with matching trim. The overall portrayal is so sixties trippy – of swaying, shocking pink palm trees – and camels heading into a psychedelic oasis. It really is brilliant!

Claire Haddad 1960’s Kaftan

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1920’s Silk Chiffon ~ An Ethereal Embroidered & Beaded Dress Ensemble

This 1920’s silk chiffon dress ensemble, is remarkable in how it is made, and even more so, in that the condition is near mint. The base dress was originally without a zipper, and would slip over your head to put it on. Wisely, this dress had a back zipper put in, to avoid stretching and pulling the delicate fabric, when putting it over your head, especially so, given the dress has sleeves. The zipper was put in professionally and stitched by hand. The entire dress is made by hand, to include all of the embroidery and beadwork, as well as the edging and seams. It is rolled and hand stitched, similar to a luxury scarf. The base dress is sheer, and is also covered in the same complex pattern of embroidery and beadwork.

The second layer, like the base layer, is extensively embroidered and beaded. It slips over your head, and attaches at one shoulder, draping diagonally over the dress. This makes one side semi sheer, and risqué, while the other side is draped in folds of silk, like a Roman goddess. The other minor change that was made, was on the left shoulder, where the second layer of the dress is attached. It was changed to a narrow strip of velcro. This too, saved the dress, since the weight of the fabric pulling on hook and eye fasteners, would have eventually torn the fabric. Thankfully, the dress has maintained all of its original glory and design, without damage, which is a rarity in 1920’s clothing.

It is of the calibre of the Callot Soeurs dress designs, when life was seen to imitate art and drama. A few breathtaking poses, show the remaining posies, of the most intricate dresses – ever put on the stage.

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Avante-Garde Hand Painted Silk Dress ~ With Carved Faces On Red Headed Buttons

Another beautiful vintage/antique dress to share, with a handkerchief  hemline, and the 1920’s stylish silhouette. The pattern on the front is both magical and mesmerizing. Many of the 1920’s dresses are lavishly beaded and embroidered. This dress features a hand painted design so avant-garde – it vacillates between sophistication and the desires of her heart. A damsel so charmed, she fans the coquettish. One would suppose – she is a wee bit standoffish, and so very hard to get – as to command a chic nonchalance. For she knows when she arrives she will steal all the glances. The buttons are so done up. With little carved faces, heart shaped lips, and wild red hair, standing straight up on end. What an eloquent way to dress for a smile. She scores a ten on being a classy and fanciful exclusive. She is an original and we get to admire – another fine example of how Art marries Style.

DSC_0482DSC_0474DSC_0472DSC_0475DSC_0485DSC_0470Copyright 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.

Country Of Origin In Clothing Design & Manufacturing

The reality is that most luxe brands are now outsourced to China, India, Tunsia, Sri Lanka, Romania, Turkey, Bangladesh, and so on. In many cases, the label will have Italy or Paris written on it, but the fabric content and care label, will give the real country of origin. Items without a country of origin label; can be assumed to be outsourced, unless they are authentic vintage, and the item holds up to scrutiny in the textile, workmanship, and design.

With years of experience, in looking through racks of second hand clothing, the country of origin can often be recognized without even looking at the label. One of the rising values in the spectrum of the vintage fashion market is that – it is fast becoming the only place one can buy authentic luxury brand fashion items, from the original country of origin. Regardless of advertising to the contrary, there are inherent differences among the countries:

Canada & UK – tend to manufacture clothing of good quality and materials, however the style or design, often leaves much to be desired. Both countries have turned out some awesome luxury brand designers such as Frank Usher and Mulberry in Britain, and Claire Haddad and Wayne Clark in Canada. However, the frumpy, conservative and stodgy – is definitely in with the mix.

USA – with New York as a global fashion hub, the US has turned out many luxe brands, with vintage hats near the top of the list. Similar to Canada and Britain, there is generally good quality and workmanship, with some fantastic designs, and others to pass by.

China, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh – for the most part, the clothing is flimsy, fast fashion.

Japan – turns out the most beautiful textiles, with the kimonos being works of art. Textiles made in Japan, are not that common, but in my experience, tend to be of good quality and construction.

India – with a rich history in textiles, turns out the most beautifully embellished fabrics, using beads, embroidery, tiny mirrors, and appliqués, often on vibrantly coloured silks. The clothing is usually casual, like the summertime free flowing dresses and skirts, so commonly seen. The problem is – so much of the clothing from India, does not have proper closures. If they do, they may not line up quite right. In my opinion, it is like there is greater focus on the textile, than there is on the garment construction.

Switzerland & Belgium – are at the top of the list when it comes to cost of labor. Dries Van Noten is a luxe brand originally from Belgium, and now outsourcing to India. I have items from this designer, from both Belgium and India, and do notice a difference.

Germany – has made luxe brands such as Louis Feraud, and Escada (originally made in Germany, now made in India) and several other well known brands. They tend to make quality clothing, with some great historical designers, but with a tendency (like Canada and the UK) to maintain high values for quality, practicality and common sense.

Australia & New Zealand – are also very high in labour cost. Similar to Canada, and Britain, they tend to make clothing of good quality and workmanship. I seldom come across things from Australia and New Zealand, and have only picked up a few items made there.

Italy & France – I concentrate on finding clothing made in Italy and France especially, and would estimate less than 1% of items in the second hand market are made in France. There are a half a dozen French labels I don’t buy when they turn up, such as Morgan de Toi and Copine. Some of the Italian labels are also categorically not worth buying. But, for the most part, the best clothing items, superior in fabric, quality, design and workmanship – are made in Italy or France.

In summary, Italy and France can never be displaced, or replaced – when it comes to the innate and historical savour-faire in the soigné circles!

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.

Alexander McQueen ~ Fit For The Inclusion In Savage Beauty ~ A Very Foxy Silk Scarf

Alexander McQueen committed suicide in 2010, at the age of forty. His suicide was on the heels of his mother’s death. Their funerals were just two weeks apart. In the following year, many accolades were given to him, through exhibits and the media. He had illusory visions, translated into designs for movies, celebrities, and most notably – incredible theatrics for his own shows.

The New York Metropolitan Museum of Art did a tribute to Alexander McQueen in 2011, in a show titled Savage Beauty. The exhibit turned out to be the most popular exhibit ever held at the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art. When it was over, there was a public rally to reopen it. When I read about the show, and looked at some of his designs, I associated it with this unique Alexander McQueen silk fox scarf. It is so alive, and life size – it looks like the hair of the fox stands up, three dimensionally, and like his eyes are looking up at you.

In putting together a designer collection, and learning a bit about the lives and history of some of the famous designers, it becomes apparent; there is often a tragic correlation among them, similar to the music industry. The most talented, have a window of time, where they step out and shine. Briefly, the conditions are optimal, to work on and share their talent – and eminent creativity. Then, tragically, they are gone. From plane accidents, to overdoses and suicides, their lives are cut short. As it so often is with human nature – the recognition and appreciation after they are gone, is greater than when they were here…

DSC_0469DSC_0474DSC_0468DSC_0479Copyright 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.

To All Loungers ~ Get The Show On The Robe!

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Christian Dior

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Patricia Fieldwalker

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Conrad Lingerie 1960’s Montreal

1960's Lounge Things By Style Rite

1960’s Lounge Things By Style Rite

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Vera Ramsay Vancouver 1940’s Satin

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1940's Ivory Satin Robe With Quilted Accents

1940’s Ivory Satin Robe With Quilted Accents

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Confezioni Di Lussi Dini 1950's Hand Embroidered Short Robe

Confezioni Di Lussi Dini 1950’s Hand Embroidered Short Robe

DSC_0328Copyright 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.

Beautiful & Opulent ~ 1950’s Fuji Kogyo Gold Damask Robe Featuring Embroidered Velvet Accents

This beautiful vintage robe boasts breathtaking distinction. It is embellished and embodied in the warmth of the Mt. Fuji silk patterned textile. The luminescent textile is further enhanced by an extensive amount of pin tucking around the lapel, collar, sleeves, and pockets. The embroidery is done on a backdrop of black velvet, contrasting with the gold, to enhance the vibrant colours of the embroidered floral accents. It is completed with a black trimmed, gold tasseled belt. It has a western design, with the artistry and beauty of the Japanese aesthetic. This robe, like the Cantonese piano shawl in the previous post – captures the culture and talent of an era, to give us another shining snap shot of the rich history and artistry in textiles.

DSC_0428DSC_0432DSC_0440DSC_0446DSC_0419DSC_0433Copyright 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.

Get A Fix On This ~ 1920’s Fringed Cantonese Embroidered Piano Shawl Featuring Birds & Flowers

I realize vintage clothing hunting is an addiction, but ironically it can’t get the best of you, because you are looking for the best in it. Every score is a fix. Unlike gambling and certain other addictions – you don’t lose it before you get (it) homeYou can wake up in the morning and look at it without regret. Certain things can be marvelled at every time you look at them. There is the initial amazement when you first spot it. Following that, the enthusiasm and desire to get it home and spread it out, or put it on a mannequin to photograph and examine it more carefully from different angles.

The Cantonese piano shawl featured in this post, is in my top ten highest of vintage fixes. The biggest rush is in the colourful array of embroidered birds. The embroidery technique used to make the feathers looks so real, vibrant and alive. It features several different kinds of birds, some perched, others in flight. The macrame around the edges and long silk fringe, is almost like extravagant long hair. It is a large and most impressive work of Cantonese textile art, which was so avant-garde in the fashion circles of the twenties. There was another flurry of dramatic piano shawl poses in the sixties.

It is a show don’t tell true treasure from the archives of the past. The first picture in the post represents the 1960’s iconic comeback of the piano shawl. It is a stunning photo of Raquel Welch taken by Franco Rubartelli for Italian Vogue magazine in 1969. She is wearing a Valentino 1920’s inspired piano shawl, complemented with an amazing sterling silver and turquoise squash blossom necklace.

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Photo by Franco Rubartelli for Italian Vogue Magazine 1969 Raquel Welch Wearing A Valentino Piano Shawl & A Squash Blossom Necklace

DSC_0342DSC_0328DSC_0330DSC_0341DSC_0332DSC_0325DSC_0328Copyright 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.

A Poem Finding Flowers ~ With A Festoon Of Flowers In Bloom

 

Finding Flowers

When I was a child ~ I mistakenly thought…

A weed was a flower ~ Until I was taught —

Then I grew up & found out wrong;

Some weeds are flowers ~

Grown wild and strong.

Valerie Hayes

 

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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.

Ciner ~ Among The Most Glamorous Mid-Century Costume Jewelry

There will always be artisans and master craftsmen who make beautiful jewelry. The biggest difference between today’s costume jewelry makers, and the early mid-century jewelry makers; is that, jewelers like Ciner, before he started making costume jewelry, was a designer and master craftsmen, who made fine jewelry using precious metals and gemstones. He was not just artsy – he knew the trade, and the commitment to task required to make high quality jewelry.

Emanuel Ciner started his jewelry making company in 1892 in New York City. In the thirties and forties, when glamorous costume jewelry became the craze; Ciner, along with several other fine jewelers (such as Panetta and Marcel Boucher), started making jewelry to emulate the real thing. They used designs and production standards on costume jewelry that is equivalent to settings in platinum and gold, replacing diamonds and gemstones with exquisite Austrian Swarovski crystals. The faux pearls were developed in Japan, using a fine nacre-like glaze, set in multiple layers, over glass beads – thus replicating the lustrous sheen of real pearls.

This level of quality and finery in adornment, attracted the celebrities, who loved the glamour and the spotlight. Ciner continues to make jewelry to this day, but apparently the vintage pieces, in particular, the necklaces, remain the most sought after by collectors. The necklace in this post was made after 1955, and is fairly heavy. The pieces in this post are most likely late fifties and early sixties.

Ciner Dramatic Mid Century Ear Clips with black centers surrounded by pave crystals

Ciner Dramatic Mid Century Ear Clips

Ciner Ear Clips 1950’s or early 1960’s

Ciner gold tone bamboo patterned necklace - signed

Ciner Gold Tone Bamboo Patterned Necklace – Signed

Ciner Gold Tone Choker Necklace - Signed

Ciner Gold Tone Choker Necklace – Signed

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