When Society Collides With a Global Pandemic

Dina McQueen Addiction, Conscious parenting, GirlieGirlArmy, Loving Yourself, Pandemic musings, Quarantine writing

In her 1988 New York Times bestselling book, When Society Becomes an Addict, the late author Dr. Anne Wilson Schaef compared western culture to “an active alcoholic.” I was 29 years old and in film school when I discovered this book. Even though I was still employed as the Production Editor of a travel magazine located off Market Street, I was attending night classes in a post graduate program at San Francisco State University. The production job had become monotonous, and left me feeling empty at the end of each day. It only took one semester of splitting my time before I was ready to leave the 9-5 life behind, and gave myself the chance to do what I’d been wanting to do for years: study filmmaking.

I enrolled in numerous classes that first year, including 8mm filmmaking, advanced screenwriting, and one mesmerizing course introducing us to the power of documentary film. One class in particular, however, bridged my fascination with the screen with my unresolved internal goings-on. The female instructor of this one class introduced us thirsty creatives to the filmmaker John Cassavetes, who had died in early 1989 the year after the publication of Schaef’s book on addiction—cause of Cassavetes’ death? Cirrhosis of the liver

The overlapping of my dip into self-inquiry (I had been a practicing anorexic/bulimic during my teen years and into my early 20s) with this seminar on John Cassavetes didn’t feel like an accident to me. He had been hailed by critics and fans alike for the gritty, real life, as opposed to Hollywood slick, way in which he chose to craft his films. The rough edges that he exposed—the messiness of a marriage, the monotony of 9-5 life, the challenges of intimacy, alcoholism—was his point; the viewer could not get away from experiencing the everyday sufferings of an ordinary life unless they got out of their seat and left the theatre.

I ended up getting a “C” on what I thought was the most brilliant essay I’d ever written—an eight-page exploration comparing the films of Cassavetes to our addict society, a society repulsed by looking at the truth of who we are: addicts who will do anything we can to avoid peering into the horrifying fear of what’s really going on. The grade on this paper shocked, but didn’t deflate me. I convinced myself that the teacher was in all likelihood an addict herself. She couldn’t possibly give me a good grade, because that would mean she would need to admit, “My name is … and I’m an addict.”

We are, as a people living in a western society that strives for no more than wealth and beauty: sick. We are sick with fear … fear of realizing that we really don’t much like who we are. Stuck in a global pandemic, forced into isolation and stillness, this collision of mandated shutdown of our routines with lives lived without introspection has created an impossible situation for those of us trying hard to model rationality in the midst of a totally irrational way of living.

And, as hard as it may be to admit, we have nobody to blame but ourselves.

4 Ways to Step up Rationality in the Midst of Irrationality:

1. Admit that you’re feeling out of control—to yourself, to your kids, and explain what that means to you, honestly and boldly. This is not the time to censor yourself. Kids right now deserve to hear the truth of who you are. If you once practiced addictive behaviors, or still do, in as age-appropriate way as possible, share your suffering with your children. This will give them permission to one day share their suffering (confusion, feelings of being out of control, anxiety, etc.) with you. The idea, though, is to model for them self-disclosure, and self-compassion, so that they will avoid becoming an addict of any kind.

2. Express yourself out loud—in safe, contained ways that prove to you, and your kids, that your seemingly out of control emotions are not going to kill you.

3. Sit and listen to calming music, or a guided mediation—in plain view of your family. This will demonstrate that it is possible to stop whatever it is you are doing, and breath. This is not the time to practice any kind of meditation or stillness exercises behind closed doors. Your children need to see you capable of cultivating inner quiet in the midst of the chaos that is our world today.

4. When you lose your cool and blow up, apologize—and make it a genuine, calm, descriptive discussion. Tell your children that you became overwhelmed with the moment, and that you’re disappointed in yourself for not expressing your anger, frustration, anxiety, etc. in a more productive way. Then perhaps, if the space feels right, bring your child into the conversation by asking them for ideas on how better to handle a moment of feeling out of control. Maybe take a few minutes to brainstorm ways to handle a boiling point more creatively. Maybe make a poster and hang on a visible wall in your home.

If our goal in life is to raise kids who become healthy adults, we must first admit we ourselves are not as healthy as we thought we were, or aspire to be. As Dr. Anne Wilson Schaef once said, “Healthy people learn to live with their world.” Using this global pandemic to scrutinize how we react to it is an incredible opportunity, one I hope we all recognize as a fleeting, precious gift. 

Dina McQueenWhen Society Collides With a Global Pandemic

Pandemic Memory #4

Dina McQueen Mama love, Pandemic musings, Quarantine writing

Christmas, 1968

It’s Christmas as I watch my brothers, two older, one younger, follow my father out the front door in their fancies. They’re leaving my mother and me home, heading to Chicago to spend the evening at Aunt Mary and Uncle Murray’s, where a ceiling high Christmas tree salutes guests as they enter the apartment from the carpeted hallway on the fifth floor. Mother’s side of the family was Jewish, I understood, but not in the same way my father’s side was. Dad grew up in an observant, kosher home; Mom’s childhood experience was pretty non-observant. Mom and Dad, I now believe, combined the two for our family.

Inside our Waukegan home one hour north of Chicago my mother, father, brothers and I were, if not kosher, definitely Jewish: we attended Friday night services and lit the candles at sundown each week. On Sundays until we moved to Southern California in 1970, my brothers and I attended Sunday School. My oldest brother went to Hebrew School, and would have soon been bar mitzvahed had we remained in Illinois. We celebrated Porum, and Passover, and the High Holidays; ate lamb chops instead of pork chops. I loved being Jewish; this is a deep truth I’ve carried with me into adulthood, even if the practices of religion were mostly left behind in Waukegan.

Once a year, however, the excitement of dressing up in velvet, with white tights, patent leather shoes, and my rabbit fur winter coat with matching muff was a happening I crazily looked forward to probably starting after Halloween.

Christmas evening 1968: I was sick. I would have to miss this once-a-year extravaganza. The one holiday a year that gloriously, colorfully, festively didn’t make any sense at all. It was a holiday celebrated for the sole purpose of throwing a kind of party. This event wasn’t interspersed with prayers spoken in unintelligible Hebrew, no special foods steeped in meaning, no underlying suffering passed down through the centuries to be recognized, honored, not forgotten. One holiday a year my Jewish brothers and I frolicked on the carpeted floors high up in a Chicago apartment gazing in wonder at the sparkling, decorated tree sending essential frivolity through my blood, where it became a part of who I would become—a woman unable to be bound by labels put upon me by anyone other than myself.

But … this particular December 25, I was too sick to go.

Sweet Mother, her Audrey Hepburn beauty, and her eagerness to stay with me—alone—the two of us, as she oversaw my fever and set about to take on the role of Madge—”You’re soaking in it”—to my tiny hands as they readied for a professional manicure. After the role-played manicure she got me cozy on her big bed in front of the TV and set about to heat up a can of Campbell’s Chicken Noodle Soup. Then, she served it on a tray with a side of saltines and a glass of ginger ale.

I’d been too sick that year to join the fancy party in Chicago with the rest of Mother’s family. Truth be told: I was not sad. No, far from it; my heart felt big and bright like a full moon. For just one night, one complete night, I was my mother’s princess. And this was the only Christmas present this Jewish girl ever really wanted.

Dina McQueenPandemic Memory #4

Pandemic Memory #3

Dina McQueen Pandemic musings

Chickenpox, 1973

The itching is insane. The bumps have popped up in my scalp, inside my mouth, eventually they’ll even erupt on the lips of my … um … vagina. As I moan inside the pounding of my own brain, I silently scream, When will this nightmare end?

Mother dabs puffy cotton balls drenched in Calamine Lotion across my back, the back of my neck, the tops of my feet. Midnight oatmeal baths, and the inescapable, relentless, when-will-this-end, this-will-never-end feeling of wishing I could leap out of my body.

My father brings Lifesavers Five Flavors & Butterscotch back with him from the pharmacy. I suck on ice, swallow red Jello, yellow Jello, nibble on warmed up white bread spread with margarine and cinnamon sugar. Tear soaked flannel pajamas unsuccessfully shield me from the unending suffering that has become my skin.

There was no vaccine. Chickenpox in the 1970s was a childhood rite of passage–the sooner you got it the better. Eleven was too late. Three weeks spent in front of a tiny black-and-white TV with no remote. When the bumps begin to dry out, crust up, picking scabs in places where nobody will see a scar is my new pastime. On my face, I struggle to keep my fingers away in an effort to let the scabs naturally drop.

One unfortunate morning, I wake up to the horror of a hole in my cheek–one prominently situated chickenpox fell off in the night. I’m ruined.

Dina McQueenPandemic Memory #3

Pandemic Memory #2

Dina McQueen Uncategorized

“When I was a child I had a fever …”

They’ve put me in an older brother’s room, the only bedroom of five that’s situated close to my parents’ room. I sleep in a dense fog that fills the room with dread. I sleep, and I sleep, and when I wake up some time long before morning, my night clothes are soaked. I hear voices, loud voices. These adult murmurings won’t leave my brain; there is nothing I can do to make them shut up and just let me go back to sleep.

I step out of the bed, tip-toeing on my ballerina feet. I am nine years old and I am sick. But I don’t really know this. What I know is that I must find a way to quiet the voices and I am too young; I have no power.

I slither out the borrowed bedroom door, my back sliding down the hall so quietly towards my parents’ bedroom. I don’t want the voices to know I’m on a mission to banish them. Slowly, quietly, inch-by-inch I finally reach the closed bedroom door where I hear my father snoring. Carefully I turn the doorknob, and silently I reach my mother’s side of the bed. The voices in my head are still raging.

I tap the pile of blankets—tap, tap, tap. My father stirs, jolts.

“What!? What’s the matter?!” He’s angry, I think. My heart is a frightened butterfly.

Mother quickly rises, scoops me up and out, where she closes her door and takes me into the kitchen just outside their room. She shuts the pocket door to give us more privacy, allow her husband to go back to sleep. In the safety of the bright kitchen in the middle of the night with my mother, and only my mother, I tell her I hear loud voices and I cannot get back to sleep.

She invites me to the square kitchen table as she moves like a spirit, from cupboard to refrigerator, to drawer. She dishes out a bowl of butterscotch pudding she’d earlier prepared just for me, the sweet comfort of my youth. I spoon cold pudding into my mouth; its taste is sweet like love.

Sitting beside me at the heavy wood table my mother tells me the voices are not real. “It’s the fever,” she says, and tells me I’m going to be okay. “Have some more pudding,” she says, spooning more into the dish.

When I’m finished she helps me change out of my damp night clothes and into a fresh, dry pair of pajamas. She takes my hand and guides me back to the borrowed bed, then tucks me in for the second time that night. I quickly fall asleep.

When I wake up in the daylight, the voices are gone.

Dina McQueenPandemic Memory #2

Pandemic Memory #1

Dina McQueen Father daughter memories, Pandemic musings, Wash your hands

Wash your hands

This morning washing my hands I realized this: 

Perhaps the one and only truly useful thing my father ever taught me was how to wash my hands. In one of the only memories I have spending alone time with my father I am five years old, in the bathroom I shared with my three brothers. I stand on a step stool, my back to my father’s button downed front, the knotted tie around his neck now loosened. It is dinner time, and he’s just arrived home after taking the L train from the city. In my memory, I waited every night for this special time with my father, as he helped get me ready for dinner. He holds my little hands in his large hands, with a bar of Ivory soap under the warm water as he makes suds, then sets the soap down and continues to gently rub my hands until it’s time to rinse the soap completely off before patting dry with the light green hand towel that hangs next to the wall-length bathroom mirror. In this way, my father showed he was capable of nurturing his one and only daughter, a memory I hold with tenderness; I cherished time with my father, rare and special moments forever etched onto my heart. Still, some sadness lingers, because these snippets of experiences were never enough, and a father is supposed to be there for his daughter across her growing years to impart much more than proper hygiene techniques. Still, my father was a gem among men, starting his family at age 22, working full time, and maintaining an active personal life filled with softball, bowling, and card games. He knew how to have fun, this I saw. It would have been helpful to have learned that from my father; fun’s never been my strong suit.

Perhaps this time in quarantine, with memories bubbling to the surface, I can peer into my life’s regrets, forgive those against whom I’ve been holding a grudge, and realize life isn’t over, just on pause. Push pause to reflect. This, I believe I can do.

Dina McQueenPandemic Memory #1

Now’s the Time for You to CBD

Dina McQueen Buddha Teas, CBD, GirlieGirlArmy, I love tea

I just love writing for Buddha Teas. Best writing gig ever. I just love writing for GirlieGirlArmy, cause, well, I’m somewhat of a warrior myself. And, I really love me some CBD. With a recent diagnosis of fibromyalgia, CBD supplementation has become a daily ritual. 100% hemp derived CBD is legal across the U.S.A.; at least that is my understanding. And, yes, I confess, when we moved back to California summer 2015, one of the first things I did was visit a doctor who would provide me with a medical marijuana certificate that I renew annually; these days I sleep better than I have in about 15 years.

Attached is a link to a pretty in depth article I wrote for GirlieGirlArmy about CBD. I learned some new things, reiterated what I’d already written elsewhere, and hopefully have inspired others to embark upon this thousands of years old plant medicine that even Queen Victoria enjoyed.

Let me know your thoughts.

Do you CBD? If not, you should!

Dina McQueenNow’s the Time for You to CBD

Single Herb Mediterranean Bliss

Dina McQueen Buddha Teas, Dreaming of travel, I love tea, Mediterranean herbs, Single herb teas

The summer after high school graduation, I found myself immersed in a month-long European tour that my grandmother had given me as a graduation present. I celebrated my 18th birthday on a Mediterranean cruise ship, drinking something shockingly blue with fellow graduates, not appreciating how privileged I was. Nor was I aware how deeply the port stops—Naples, Rome, Florence, Marseille, Barcelona, Morocco—would impact my life, and, ultimately, inform the choices I would make throughout my adulthood.

There is a mystique about the Mediterranean that cannot be overlooked when either boldly saving pennies for a future trip abroad, or mundanely deciding which single herb tea to explore next. Becoming part of the Buddha Teas community meant I would be introduced to dozens and dozens of teas that not only had I never knew existed, but teas that had the potential to alter my life experience. I do not exaggerate when I share with you that taking my first sip of Buddha Teas Rosemary Tea changed me

Okay, so those who know me understand that I can tend to lean towards the dramatic, but I do not write this blog piece intending to exaggerate; I write precisely from my personal experience, as well as research. And I hope that you will trust me to deliver you information and insight that will lead you to also experience an ah ha!, and bring a slew of new and exquisite tea experiences into your life.

Let’s get started:

The Esteemed Lineup Includes: Fennel Seed TeaFenugreek Seed TeaOregano TeaRosemary TeaSage Leaf Tea, and Thyme Leaf Tea. Let’s look at how much these  particular “Mediterranean” selections have in common.

  • As a cooking ingredient, they are frequently incorporated into Mediterranean cuisine.
  • They are very aromatic.
  • They boast anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, antibacterial qualities.
  • They are known immune boosters, and some are even said to relieve pain.
  • Some are reputed to boast a multitude of vitamins and other nutrients.
  • They prove beneficial for the digestion.
  • They all produce an astonishingly delicious cup of tea.

Now let’s explore more regarding these glorious herbs …

Fennel seed is a remarkably versatile herb with an ancient history that today holds its own with herbal medicine practitioners. In the 10th century, when Old English called fennel finule, fennel seeds were one of nine plants included in a pagan healing remedy, Nine Herbs Charm, which was intended to treat poisoning and infections. The fennel seeds themselves are a rich source of many nutrients, including fiber, protein, magnesium, iron, and B vitamins. Well known as an ingredient in many cultures’ cuisine, including as an addition in Swiss sweets as well as in Italian sausages, fennel seeds, either raw or lightly toasted, are typically chewed after a meal in Indian households.

Thousands of years ago, Ayruvedic practitioners discovered fenugreek to assist with certain health conditions. Additionally, fenugreek has long been included as a spice for various dishes. All parts of the fenugreek plant are used in various cuisines in certain parts of the world, but you’ll usually find it included in Indian foods. When harvested as a microgreen, fenugreek is prepared, along with the seeds, for salad. It is an ingredient in the popular Indian spice blend, garam masala. Used as a supplement, fenugreek seeds are ground and put into capsules.

In warm climates, oregano is perennial, but it becomes an annual where winter hits hard, as this brightness of the mountain cannot withstand the super cold. Sometimes called wild marjoram, its delicate purple flowers create a distinctive and pleasing visual. What a surprise to learn that this popular home garden herb can get as tall as 4 feet high, and 2 feet wide! If you don’t grow your own herbs, and don’t regularly include oregano when you cook (or even if you do!), you might want to consider including Buddha Teas Oregano Tea in your arsenal of healing herbal teas, as this one is filled to the brim with healing and flavor awesomeness.

If you’re into cooking, you’ll likely be familiar with the fragrant, famous ingredient rosemary. Native to the Mediterranean region, considered an evergreen shrub with needles for “leaves,” this versatile herb sprouts tiny blue, lavenderish, and white flowers. Many people plant rosemary bushes for ground covering. It’s a hearty, drought- and pest-resistant plant, that can flower all year in temperate climates. Important these days as well, rosemary shrubs attract bees.

A derivative of Latin, the word sage translates to “salvere” and means, “to be saved.” And though a Thanksgiving turkey that was likely stuffed with sage would argue otherwise, the Native American ritual of “saging” to clear one’s physical and/or spiritual space certainly supports this definition. If you’re feeling rather blue, or suffering tummy troubles, you might consider fixing a cup of Buddha Teas Sage Leaf Tea, as it has the reputation of assisting with both, in addition to providing a delightful taste sensation.

A relative of oregano, thyme earned a reputation in ancient times as a powerful plant, able to accomplish everything from providing courage to warriors, a substance for ancient Egyptians with which to embalm, a purification tool for Romans, and when stashed under one’s pillow, it was used as a sleep aid. Burned as incense, thyme was even utilized as an aid to carry one’s spirit into the next life. Another interesting fact: before antibiotics were developed, thyme was added when dressing wounds.

Now that you’ve heard a smidgen of my personal experience visiting the Mediterranean, and perhaps learned a little bit about the amazing history and qualities of some of her native herbs, I hope you’ve become inspired to explore Buddha Teas’ unique selection of these savory, healing teas.

Cheers!

Dina McQueenSingle Herb Mediterranean Bliss

Why You Need to Wear a Q-Link 24/7

Dina McQueen Cell phones & cancer, EMF Pollution, EMF Pollution & Autism, Q-Link

MyBracelett&Nimbus

My new Women’s Executive Bracelet, with the Nimbus plugged in while I work

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Dr. George Carlo, an epidemiologist, lawyer, and scientist who headed the world’s largest research effort into wireless safety has pointed out four major findings in his research on the invisible hazards of living in the Wireless Age:

1. developing skulls of children are penetrated deeply by the energy emitted from a cell phone

Cake and Q
2. the blood brain barrier, which prevents invasion of the brain by toxins, can be compromised by  cell phone radiation
3. cell phones interfere with pacemakers
4. radio frequency radiation creates micronuclei in human blood cells, a type of genetic damage known to be a diagnostic marker for cancer.

 

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Dr. Carlo, and countless other physicians and scientists, believe that cell phones and wi-fi are ruining our health.

“Almost every study that has been done, shows some evidence of danger.”

“There are no studies … that provide conclusive evidence of safety.”

Please take the time to watch this video, and go to my Q-Link “Shop” to start protecting you and your family from the dangers of living in the “modern world.”

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Dina McQueenWhy You Need to Wear a Q-Link 24/7