Spider Webs and

Your Mind

Enjoying The Little Things…

On The Mountain

by Joan Courtney

Spider webs have a special significance for me. As they glisten in the sun, the beads of dew sparkling

in the light like asymmetrical diamonds on a necklace, they carry a message. Their thin structure belies their strength.

Even though they are spun from thin strands of silk, they can support the weight of the dew and create a trap for nourishment in

their nets. This concept brings to mind a symbol of the weaver, the spider herself.

She is a reminder that I have the ability to weave my life into a strong, useful, lovely work of art. I also have the reminder that what I do is temporary.

The spider’s web will last for a specific time, then it is gone. And what I create in my life will be the same.  It will be as good as I can make it for that time and then it dissipates.

Among Native American traditions, creativity is the hallmark of spider medicine. The spider’s ...READ MORE

Fall Is Here

Enjoying The Little Things…On The Mountain …. by Joan Courtney

Autumn is just beginning to make itself felt, with light fingers of cooler weather in the mornings. As I step out for my morning jaunt, I pull on my hoodie for some warmth. Halfway through the sashay, off it comes, for my body is moving right along by then. The afternoons are still warm, punctuated by monsoon thunderstorms. But early fall is in the air.

The aspens are beginning to get the brown and gold tones of the change in the season. As I walk through the neighborhoods and through the forest, the sounds seem softer and gentler as the days grow shorter. The birds are becoming fewer as they wing their way south in that familiar V formation. What surprised me this year is the migration started in mid-August, much sooner than I remembered.

Our snowbirds are still with us and I, for one, am grateful. Those summer visitors bring a different energy and vitality to the Mountain. I look at what’s happening in our town and am proudly amazed.  So many activities to choose from! Beautifully restored cars are also starting to appear, possibly in preparation for Run to the Pines and the Fall Festival. Wow! It’s right around the corner. Seems the pages on the calendar are flipping by so quickly!

In the evenings, the forest animals tuck themselves in for the night. The birds with READ MORE...

Take Time To Play

By Joan Courtney

Ouch! Summer is wrapping up and it’s time to check: have you had your summertime fun yet? Amusement and play shouldn’t end with childhood. And this season is the time for travel, vacations and time out. Time to play. But, you tell yourself, “It’s been so long since I’ve had any fun, since I played. I’m stuck and don’t know how to play anymore. And I still have to mop the floor, arrange the pantry, do the laundry and (fill in the blank).” How about scheduling in some time for play? For fun? Or is that a foreign notion?

There is a certain feeling with play. And yes, if it’s been a while since you played, that feeling might be distant. One way to get into the “play state of being” is to journey back to a time when you did have fun, perhaps as a child. Remember that field trip when you were a kid? Or bicycling to the local A and W root beer stand for a Very Small Glass of that bubbly beverage? Or lying on the grass and looking up at the stars? Or the warmth of the ocean breeze off the Baja ...READ MORE...


Enjoying the Little Things…On the Mountain

by Joan Courtney

On my daily morning walk with MacDuff, we pass a ditch with running water. Sometimes the ditch is fairly full, burbling and moving along. Once, it was so full, it overflowed onto the empty lot on the corner.  Other times, it is simply a trickle. The water itself is usually clear, with a definite movement to it. But it can also be quite muddy and slow with a lazy attitude.

When I think about it, the water in this ditch can be like a mirror of my own path through life and, perhaps, yours too. It begins its life on earth as it falls from the skies or melts from ice into a stream. In the same way, we begin our lives on earth in a clearly defined way as a baby. We bring special characteristics to define our personality and attitude toward life. We are here on earth at a specific time, in a particular place. We are gifted with certain challenges and benefits. Within these boundaries, we move through life, much as a river flows, coming upon many twists, turns and obstacles along the way.

Water is a great teacher. It shows us how to move through the world with grace, determination, ease and humility.

• When a river flows over a waterfall, it gains power and moves on. As we encounter our own waterfalls, we may tumble but then we keep moving along.

• Water can inspire us to be flexible and let go of the familiar when it no longer serves us.  We can be brave and not waste time clinging to the past but flow onward without looking back.



ACCEPTANCE - Enjoying the Little Things…On the Mountain by Joan Courtney

One of my ongoing goals is finding and expanding inner peace.  And I have found that discovering that peace within is a wonderful but difficult process. It is so very easy to look for it outside, totally overlooking the quiet place within. Some days are better than others, with the best days coming when I live in the moment. I want to share some of my tried-and-true thought patterns for getting to that balance, that peace.

Simplify. If I allow it, my life can be full of bumps and potholes.  Persistently simplifying my life helps me to avoid the potholes and smooth out the bumps. When deciding to simplify my life, inner peace begins to fill the cracks and crevices. How to do this?

Prioritize my to-do list. If the day is jam packed with “I’ve got to do this” or “My list is endless,” my mind goes into overdrive.  By sorting through what is most important and letting the rest go, I can slow the inner frenzy.

Set personal limits. If I find myself worrying about a project or a situation, I set a limit on how long I will fuss about it. When the inner timer goes off, I either elect to make a decision, set up a series of smaller steps toward achievement or table it for future thought. I also work on grounding myself with nature, feeling the earth beneath my feet and hearing the whirr of a hummingbird.  Even looking at the trees and sky through the office window can help to anchor me to the earth. This gives me inner peace as I am gaining control over my thoughts and emotions.

Promote tranquility. Keeping things simple helps me to avoid the ping pong of those turbulent thoughts. Finding time to enjoy the wisps of clouds on the mountainside or that tiny bright yellow flower gives me a strong connection to nature.

 Accept. By being in the moment, I foster acceptance. I am coming to the conclusion that the world is not always as I perceive it; that the more I resist, the more complex and challenging it appears. When I choose to accept what is, I stop feeding into resistance, opening space for what could be. Then, the problem is not made more powerful and sticky in my mind with my galloping thoughts. Much of its power is gone and I feel a stillness inside.

Accepting doesn’t mean giving up. It merely allows me the flexibility of having other options, different strategies that would open new doors.

Acceptance gives clarity. By clearing whatever is going on, I am able to make better decisions. Or, probably even tougher, I can let the situation READ MORE...


Enjoying The Little Things…On The Mountain

By Joan Courtney

My daily walk takes me past a pond. As spring pokes its head up from the grasp of winter, I am transported back to when I was a kid, back to some wonderful memories. As with the Lakeside Pond, the water in Polliwog Pond (named for the polliwogs that later matured into frogs) could be peaceful. No ripples moving across at all. Or the frogs and birds that stop by to drink and eat might cause a ripple or two. The wind would travel across, creating small waves. All of us neighborhood kids would ride our bikes over to this place, especially in mid-summer, looking for a place to cool off from the heat. To stomp around in the water was the height of freedom!

At times this last winter, the pond here in Lakeside iced over. All but the very center of the pond is covered with a thin layer of hard and cold. And I was told that the ducks at Woodland Park will tumble and skate over the ice on their webbed feet to splash in the water in the middle of that lake. But this time of the year, the pond is liquid. If the Duff and I happen to startle the ducks as they sleep, they will awaken and take off. They are like little motor boats, with their feet in the water and tails acting as rudders as their flapping wings propel them across the pond. These little creatures create huge waves which lap on the shore only to be returned again.

But underneath the ripples and waves on top of the pond, moving deeper and deeper toward the   READ MORE...

Mountain Appreciation

Enjoying The Little Things…On The Mountain

by Joan Courtney

The Mountain is filled with seasons of the mind. Not only do our towns experience the four seasons but there are shifts in energy as summer and winter visitors come and go.  As these folks visit here, they bring a vibrant energy with them.  A feeling of camaraderie and renewed friendships is in the air as they share adventures and happenings. Right now, though, the season shows winter is coming to an end.  Mother Nature is beginning to consider springtime. That doesn’t mean that snow is finished with the Mountain and its slopes quite yet for a snow storm is due to come in over the next few days, as I write this.

It’s time to finish up what was started in November. To put away projects or hurry up and complete them.  I had many plans at the beginning of winter, one of which was to clean out the garage. While it’s partially cleared, I have more to do. I was sidetracked by snow and the temptation of walking and hiking while time was available. Spring is approaching. With it comes warmth, a change in seasons again both in my mind and out in the world.

 As spring draws nearer, gardeners avidly pore over their seed catalogs. The debris from fall is being cleaned up and seeds are being planted and nurtured in greenhouses or on window ledges. One gardener I know is even making plans for bees and a hive to pollinate the area in her garden. Time to prune fruit trees and check the soil for the next season. Spring is right around the corner.

No motivation to wrap up the season? Here are a few tips:

Take an inventory of winter projects. Where do they fall on the spectrum of “done?” “In process?” Or “never started?” Decide what you want to do with each one and follow through.

Enjoy the last touches of winter. Time to have a bonfire? Get together with your winter friends and celebrate the season? Savor walking in the colder weather? Time to do it!

Move through your mental checklist. Feeling some cabin fever? Some cures that do the  READ MORE...

Why Morning Walks Are Good For You

By Liesl Hall

Photo Credit: Liesl Hall


Who doesn’t love going on a morning walk when the sky is just starting to be lighted and the air is cool and smells like pine trees? In the White Mountains, residents have no problem going outside and enjoying the crisp mountain air. In the city, there are too many people, too many stoplights and too much smog but in the mountains? We are lucky to be able to walk outside our door and know that the air is clean and that the woods are ours to explore.


Other than pure enjoyment, there are a few other reasons why morning walks are actually great for you.


 1 They boost your mental energy. When you first wake up, sometimes you’re groggy and it’s hard to clear your head and think properly. Studies show that taking walks in the mornings can actually help you think better for the rest of the day. When your blood gets pumping early in the morning, your READ MORE...

Move more, sit less, and be well!

By Carol Kennedy-Armbruster, Ph.D.


   You’ve probably been reading about companies investing in standing desks and workstations. So, what does the average person (who sits at a desk all day) do to decrease sitting time? Many of you have your own office/desks and may have invested in a standing desk. However, if you are not convinced that moving more throughout the day may be good for your health, read on!

     Recent studies have suggested that workers who used sit-stand desks were 78% more likely to report a pain-free day than those who used regular workstations/desks according to a 2016 Stanford University back pain study (1). A 2016 study published in Diabetologia concluded that an extra hour of sedentary time was associated with 22% increased odds for type 2 diabetes and 39% increased odds for metabolic syndrome (2). It’s understood by physiologists that a lack of whole-body muscular movement is strongly associated with obesity, abnormal glucose metabolism, diabetes, metabolic syndrome, cardiovascular disease risk and cancer as well as total mortality independent of moderate- to vigorous-intensity physical activity. This may come as a surprise to many exercisers that either run in the morning before work or take a noon walk. The older guidelines for exercise are fulfilled, so why do you need to move more throughout the day?

   A new paradigm of inactivity physiology continues to show up in the literature. In fact,in 2013 (3) the American Medical Association adopted a policy recognizing the potential risks of prolonged sitting and suggested that employers, employees and others provide alternatives to sitting such as standing desks. This new way of thinking emphasizes the distinction between not exercising and the health consequences of sedentary behavior that is limiting everyday life non-exercise activity. Until now, the expression “sedentary behavior” has been misleadingly used as a synonym for not exercising. Sedentary time should be defined as muscular inactivity rather the absence of exercise. In 2011 Pronk et al (4) researched the impact of sitting time through his “Take-a-Stand Project.” This project reduced time spent sitting by 224% (66 minutes per day), reduced upper back and neck pain by 54%, and improved mood states. Removal of the program largely negated all observed improvements within two weeks.

   This paradigm of inactivity physiology or sitting time is based on four issues: 1) Sitting and limiting non-exercise activity independently increase disease risk; 2) sedentary behavior (i.e., not choosing to exercise) is another risk factor; 3) the molecular and physiological response in the body of too much sitting is not always the same as the...READ MORE...

Herbal First Aid Kit

First Aid Kit, Part Four

By Leilah


The next remedy to add to your First Aid Kit is not an herb but a good earth medicine.


   Clays are for topical applications for sprains, strains and swellings due to injuries as well as for any type of insect stings and critter bites. My little dog stepped into a cat’s claw bush. Thorns were deeply imbedded in his paw. He was limping and in some pain. For two days, mornings and evenings, I placed clay packs on his paw, making sure it was secure. He actually liked this treatment and was quite content hobbling around with his clay pack. The clay drew out the thorns, controlled any possible infection and his paw was back to normal again on the third day. This treatment can also be used for those nasty imbedded foxtails. If you can’t get a splinter out with tweezers, try a clay poultice. I have also clay-packed my swollen feet after a long hike.

    How to make a Medicinal Clay Pack

Combine and mix your clay. I use Bentonite clay, with enough water or herb tea, to turn it into a paste. It should be the consistency of toothpaste. Apply directly to the affected area, cover with a clean cloth and secure with a plastic bag and/or other bandages. You may leave it on for several hours or overnight or until the clay is dry. If this is your first time, please check for skin sensitivity. Do not apply this pack if the skin is broken.  Do not leave bandages on overnight around the neck or face.

The next remedy to add to our First Aid Kit is Lavender Essential Oil.

Lavender Essential Oil

   Many people grow lavender in their gardens for its loveliness and its wonderful aroma. This beautiful flower has cooling and nervine properties, useful for emotional upsets, anxiety, depression and pain. One woman told me that, whenever she gets a headache, she goes into her garden, sits next to her lavender plant, inhales the aroma and, within a few minutes, her headache goes away.

   But, what is lavender essential oil? The essential or the volatile oils in lavender are extracted through steam distillation which produces a very concentrated and healing essential oil. What can lavender essential oil be used for?


   Lavender essential oil can be used for stings/bites from mosquitoes, spiders, scorpions, poisonous fish and all other known and unknown poisonous critters as it has the capability of neutralizing poisons. It also contains antiseptic as well as pain-relieving properties. As soon as you notice you have been stung/bitten, apply lavender essential oil directly to the site of the sting. READ MORE...


By Lielah


In the last issue of GYMOAZ, I started to build a natural First Aid Kit with you, the readers. The first natural remedy I wrote about was Aloe Vera. In this issue, I would like to present you with the next remedy, Arnica.



   Arnica, also known as arnica montana, is a perennial plant that grows up to one to two feet tall with bright yellow daisy-like flowers. Arnica is actually toxic when ingested at full strength but perfectly safe in a homeopathic dilution. Homeopathic remedies have been used for hundreds of years and arnica has grown to be one of the most popular homeopathic medicines throughout the world. It is trusted by professional athletes to soothe sore muscles, by prominent surgeons to relieve post-surgical pain, bruising and swelling and by savvy moms to treat playground bumps and bruises. Arnica is available as gels and creams for topical use, as well as small pellets for internal use.


Arnica gel or cream

   Arnica gel or cream is used topically for injuries that result in soft tissue damage and inflammation. Apply arnica on bruises and swelling associated with sprains and fractures, sore or strained muscles and for arthritis pain. A study in Switzerland has shown that arnica gel is as effective as ibuprofen gel to reduce joint stiffness in people who suffer from osteoarthritis. Arnica gel is an effective healing remedy in minimizing bruising, controlling inflammation and speeding up the healing process after injury or strain. It is generally mild and safe to use on children and babies. Do not use arnica gel or cream on broken skin as it can irritate an open wound or rash.


Arnica pellets

   Arnica is also available in small pellets to use internally for injuries and pain, as well as for arthritis, fibromyalgia, neck and back pain and whiplash. Overexertion and strains from unaccustomed tasks are likely to cause sore muscles, such as when taking up a new sport or an exercise routine or gardening or home improvement projects. Arnica can prevent and soothe sore muscles.

The FDA has not approved these statements.  The information given is not meant to act as a prescription, medical advice or therapeutic advice. Consult your healthcare professional prior to using botanicals discussed in this column.

(First Aid Kit to be continued in future issues of GYMOAZ.)

-Leilah is the founder of The Herb Stop (established in 1992); daughter Natalie is the owner. The Herb Stop is located at 4004 N. Highway 87 in Pine; 877.345.HERB | www.HerbStopOnline.com

To learn more about the safe uses of herbs, please contact The Herb Stop about upcoming classes at: www.herbstoponline.com




By Leilah


   Everyone knows the importance of a first aid kit.  Besides band-aids, sterile gauzes, and other common items, you may want to include a variety of herbs and other natural remedies, so that you are prepared to treat common ailments and injuries. Most emergencies respond very well to herbal treatments. The first herb you want to include is aloe vera.


Aloe Vera

   An aloe vera plant is a must in every home. Bring it inside during the winter months, as it does not tolerate temperatures below 32 degrees. Aloe vera is an amazing plant to relieve superficial and more serious burns, as well as burns from radiation during cancer treatments.   Aloe vera accelerates tissue repair and normal cell growth. Research has shown that aloe vera penetrates human skin almost four times faster than water. Applied topically, the thick gel that oozes from the cut leaves is soothing and pain relieving. When combined with other healing agents, aloe vera helps these substances penetrate the skin more effectively, carrying them to the deeper layers of the skin. Internally, aloe vera has the capability to heal the whole digestive tract. Take one ounce of aloe vera juice every night before bed for about two weeks or longer.


How to Prepare the Gel

   Cut a firm leaf from your aloe plant. Slice it open on a plate. The gel will start oozing out. Use a spoon to scoop out the inner gel. If you want a smooth gel you can puree it in a blender. Apply the gel directly to a burn, wound, or skin irritation. It will feel cooling and soothing, as it instantaneously repairs and heals damaged tissues. Aloe gel does not keep well; therefore it is best to use it right away.

   As a replacement for an aloe vera plant, you can purchase prepared aloe vera juice or gel from your health food store.

-The FDA has not approved these statements.  The information given is not meant to act as a prescription, medical advice or therapeutic advice. Consult your healthcare professional prior to using botanicals discussed in this column.

-Leilah is the founder of The Herb Stop (established in 1992); daughter Natalie is the owner. The Herb Stop is located at 4004 N. Highway 87 in Pine; 877.345.HERB | www.HerbStopOnline.com

Herb Stop certification classes are offered. To register, visit the web page at: https://www.herbstoponline.com/pages/herbal-certification-classes




"Not all who Wander are lost."

 — J.R.R. Tolkien

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