Question the Rules: My Review

I have a love-hate relationship with (or should I say, addiction to) information products. I’ve probably spent a cool thousand trying to learn how to successfully launch an e-book, start a small business, market my writing, build an empire, get right with money, and work on my patterns… mostly with limited success, I must admit.

When I got word that Question the Rules program was launching, I totally didn’t want to pay for it. But when I heard that Lee and Johnny were looking for guinea pigs for a discounted price, I couldn’t resist putting my critic hat on and going for broke. Here’s my review, and some of my favorite tunes. (I’d tell you how cool these guys are, but that wouldn’t be very punk rock. Let’s just say they’re normal guys that picked up a ton of cool shit along the way, along with the ability to distill it. Or, if that’s not enough, their the bios are plastered on the site.)

Described as “the nonconformist’s punk rock, DIY, nuts-and-bolts guide to creating the business and life you really want, starting with what you already have,” Question the Rules is a vast collection of audio files covering some essential but often neglected aspects of the whole business-building thing.

The first module is about the d.i.y. mindset. As someone who started self-publishing at the age of twelve (cutting out strips of typewritten prose, pasting them on dark magazine-ad cutouts and spraypainting the whole thing with Halloween hair paint before heading to Staple’s) I think I needed the reminder that the punk rock mindset can apply to many things–like, maybe even things I’m trying to do today.

The second module covers goal-setting, but not in the annoying school counselor or Franklin Covey “will that meet your needs over time?” way. Instead the focus is on figuring out what your real goals are, and what you can do to realize those goals right now without waiting for some moment in the far-off future.

The third module is on belief and faith, but not in a church sermon or New Age-y type of way. Although I’m pretty much agnostic, this section pretty much made sense to me. At this point, my cynical self was getting a bit edgy since I couldn’t find anything to rip apart.

The final module was actually a series of three audio files on the ins and outs of networking and how to do it in a non-slimy way that doesn’t piss people off (but still helps you get what you want.)

Finally, there are a ton of bonus interviews with some rock stars, including a few that don’t have a zillion interviews plastered all over the internet. (In addition, Lee and Johnny give good interviews and focused on specifics that are different than the bajillion other interviews out there.)

PROS: I found the content incredibly useful and a lot of fun to listen to. I liked that it’s not a cut-and-dried, step-by-step approach but focuses more on philosophy and mindset in addition to personal anecdotes we can sometimes apply to our own lives and businesses (or use our own brains and creativity to adapt to our unique circumstances). In the world of self-professed internet gurus, I found the approach refreshing. So many products are authoritarian step-by-step guides found everywhere that often don’t work for unique situations. And then the developers wonder why they’re getting a lot of e-mail with questions (as people try to fit their circular businesses and lives into a box-shaped pattern) and wonder why people guru-ify them (the inevitable outcome of a “do what I did and be rich and famous like me” approach). And as someone who grew up with a love for all things punk rock (I was a part of the riot grrrl movement), I got personal satisfaction out of seeing the strategies I was attracted to back in the day applied to the type of work I’m attempting to do now.

CONS: Although there are practical strategies, this is definitely not an overnight effort, nor is it specific to any one industry. If looking for specific results in the short-term, this is probably not the product to buy. It’s great food for thought that will help with long-term strategy, and can help put you back in the right direction, but it’s certainly not something I’d see as absolutely essential. Also, they mispronounced Sedoku.

MY EXPERIENCE: It may be a coincidence, but I happened to land a couple of nice gigs I didn’t apply for shortly after listening to the QRT audio–and while contemplating the approaches described. (Of course, I also work my little tale off, which may have something to do with it. But I’ve been doing that for years.) And even though Ben Weasel pissed off my middle school self in the early ’90s when he wrote a song about how he didn’t give a shit about Nicaragua (he can’t even spell it right), QTR-inspired nostalgia still compelled me to go buy Screeching Weasel tickets for this summer. Watch out! It could happen to you!

Anyway, I hope you enjoyed the review and music. Check out Question the Rules here, if you’re interested. And feel free to post your favorite punk rock vid links in the comments. I miss that shit.

Somatics, Staphysagria, and Regaining Wholeness

This post is part of the May herbal blog party, which will be hosted by Sean Donahue at Green Man Ramblings. Check his site on May 15th for a list of everyone’s posts on this month’s theme, Herbs for Sexual Health & Vitality.

The topic of sexual assault isn’t one that is often broached in polite conversation, but we needn’t pull up statistics to realize that it is a pervasive problem in our society. Whether this is part and parcel of an overarching culture of violence or a phenomena all on its own is debatable, and there are countless books and articles analyzing sexual assault from just about every aspect imaginable. In this post, I’d simply like to discuss some options for self-care following traumatic sexual assault. Since the effects can be long-lasting, “following” could be months or years after the event. And to be perfectly honest, there are several things I’d recommend before discussing herbal remedies, so I’m including all of them.

Trained Professionals

When dealing with immediate assault, referral to professionals (such as a rape crisis center) is always a good idea. Some survivors may seek medical and emotional care, and others may also wish to report the crime. This is an individual decision (that should be respected) and is well beyond the scope of this article. RAINN is a great resource.

When interacting with someone in distress, it is difficult at times to not try to “fix things” right away. However, approaching a survivor with a laundry list of suggestions, as helpful as they may seem, is rarely the best approach. Simply listening, telling them how sorry you are and reminding them that it wasn’t their fault is often the best approach. Then, ask them what they need from you.

Somatics

Traditionally there has been a split in ideology between the sex-positive movement (which often ignores the topic of sexual trauma) and the sexual assault survival movement (which often ignores the topic of sexual pleasure). Staci Haines helps bridge the divide between the two with her wonderful work based on somatic (mind/body) methodology and provides a specific step-by-step approach towards healing and wholeness. Her book, Healing Sex (previously published as The Survivor’s Guide to Sex), and DVD of the same name are available through Clies Press and the Healing Sex: The Movie website. In addition, the Generative Somatics website is a great resource.

Therapy

Finding a good therapist can be incredibly helpful, so long as they have experience dealing with sexual assault survivors and there is resonance/rapport between the client and therapist. Therapists who are certified in cognitive restructuring or cognitive-behavioral therapy can be invaluable.

Anemone

There is no one herb that can really clear the shock of an assault, but there is one that seems to take things down a notch when dealing with flashbacks, numbness or gloominess, and that is anemone.

Whether you are using anemone pulsatilla or anemone tuberosa, be very careful not to overdo it. A drop may be all that is needed, and I’ve never used more than three. Anemone gently lifts the spirits and can help break through fear and depression. It works well for thin, cold-bodied vata types, but it can be unsettling for ”robust people with strong circulation,” (as herbalist Charlie Kane puts it). It is also contraindicated for pregnancy.

Staphysagria

As a few readers know, I’m a big fan of the Heilkunst system of medicine for clearing trauma on a deep subconscious level. Treatment is administered sequentially under the guidance of a (certified) Heilkunstler who has attended a stringent 4-year program. I am not a Heilkunstler but would like to write about staphysagria, a remedy that is often indicated when there is any kind of violation (be it invasive surgery or sexual assault), as well as feelings of suppressed anger, guilt, humiliation and indignation. (Poppy is used for fear, lachesis for jealousy and ignatia or nat-m for feelings of loss, and remedies are often used in combination.)

Made from the seeds of Delphinium Staphisagria, the plant in full potency is toxic and used for killing vermin. The potentized (homeopathic) remedy is indicated when there is a history of abuse or misuse of power (be it physical, sexual or emotional) and the person who is suffering is unable to fight back. When used properly, staphysagria can clear the effects of this type of trauma on a deep level like nothing else I’ve seen.

Other approaches

I’ve heard anecdotes from survivors who have used EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) and EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique) with mostly positive results. Might be worth looking into.

Again, my heart goes out to anybody who’s ever either experienced sexual assault or had to loved one affected by it. Remember that hope is available and healing is possible. Best on your path.

Writing for Pay Teleclass

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Egg Moon

Regular readers will recall that I’ve been working my way through Full Moon Feast’s moon cycles, starting with Hunger Moon and following up with Sap Moon. Now we’re on to Egg Moon, which seems quite fitting with Passover and Easter having just past us by. Eggs represent the springtime (and fertility), partially due to the fact that hens produce more eggs in the spring due to pituitary gland stimulation brought on by increased sunlight. This occurs, of course, when chicken are raised on farms rather than kept in factories–but more on that in a bit.

Eggs are particularly meaningful to me because they’re what I turned to when I had terrible health problems from a vegan diet. Some do better on a plant-based diet than others, and I was pretty malnourished and finally sought help when my hair started falling out. An acupuncturist, an herbalist and a medical doctor all told me to start eating meat again, and I decided to listen. However, I really didn’t know how to cook with meat yet. I was also completing an internship at an environmental magazine with housing provided, and my coworkers were all either vegan or vegetarian. And so I started eating eggs, a gateway food to get me back on track. Eggs represented renewal and life for me in a way that was more literal than symbolic as a substantial part of my journey back to health.

A big reason why I’d decided to go vegan in the first place was after seeing photographs and videotapes of rooms so crammed with chickens that the word overcrowding would be an understatement. These poor creatures have no room to move, and no access to sunlight or the outdoors. They are pumped full of antibiotics to prevent outer manifestations of disease, have their beaks cut off to prevent pecking (as birds in distress are wont to do), are subject to artificial lighting (so they think it’s always summer and lay more eggs), are deprived of food (also to increase production) and, of course, are overbred. To add insult to injury, these miserably confined animals are forced to lay in their own filth.

I’m well aware that we all have to make our own decisions, and the way we spend money is one of our most personal choices. I personally choose to buy eggs from chicken raised in farms rather than factories, preferably farms that I can visit. Chicken that I’ll find able to eat greens and even bugs and snails in open pasture, healthy chicken wandering outdoors with their beaks intact. As Joel Salatin of Polyface Farm and many others have demonstrated, chicken can work really well in a farm environment when they hang out on fields cows previously grazed on. They eat bugs and scratching through cattle droppings to sanitize the pasture. And, as per usual, not only are eggs from farms more ethical to eat, they are also far more nutritious with a good balance of fatty acids. Eggs are incredibly nutritious, with protein, A+D vitamins, chemicals such as lutine (essential for eye health) and choline (essential for brain health). Although eggs are high in cholesterol, it’s been shown that blood cholesterol levels aren’t really affected by cholesterol intake.

I will readily admit to eating properly sourced eggs raw. Why? Because I think the chances of getting salmonella from healthy eggs is much lower than from factory eggs, and because I know that it’s possible to eat an egg with salmonella without getting sick. But, again, we all have to make our own decisions on that one. I eat raw eggs in smoothies, hardboiled eggs in salads and added to chicken broth for egg drop soup. I eat them scrambled with chicken and avocados, or with tomatoes and garlic, or with spinach and mushrooms. I eat eggs in quiches and souffles, fried, poached or deviled. I’m still perfecting the art of the omelet, and hope to experiment with frittatas this Egg Moon. And of course, there’s more than just chicken eggs to play with. I can go on a mad treasure hunt for goose eggs, duck eggs and even salmon eggs, to name just a few.

And if anybody at the grocery store says anything about my massive egg purchases, I can direct them to this hilarious article by Tony Gentilcore–and so can you!

How are you eating your eggs these days? Let me know in the comments.