Fleas: My Dog’s Souvenir from Our Adventure in Maine


Recently I took a trip to Maine as I’d never been to Maine before. I packed up my car with my dog and bags and off we went. My goal was to explore Maine through back roads, stopping along the way to see sights that were suggested by friends. I was also hoping to see a moose in real life rather than on the numerous signs along the roads. My trip was fabulous — Maine is definitely a state I will return to as its beauty was inspiring and there are still so many places I’d like to visit.


However, though my adventure to Maine was lovely, the adventure that continued for the next couple of weeks was anything but lovely as I learned more about fleas than I ever thought I would.

My dog, Sachi, came home with fleas. My best guess is that they hopped along for the ride from the ‘dog friendly’ hotel we spent one night in…


Sachi, in her nearly 13 years, has never had fleas and I had little to no experience with them or what to do to get rid of them! The first day home, Sachi was miserable and itching. Having no experience with fleas and my timely use of Frontline every month, their presence didn’t enter my radar.

By the second day, Sachi was more than miserable — she seemed to be losing her mind with the itching and chasing her tail. She stopped eating and was totally uninterested in going outdoors — I was carrying her outdoors and up the road and she would run back to the house as quickly as possible stopping every second to itch and chase her tail! I was totally at a loss as to what the problem might be until an ‘aha’ moment entered my consciousness.


I began a search with a flashlight through her thick undercoat and, voila!, I found 3 fleas! My research and learning began… I stocked up on flea shampoo, flea sprays, flea collars, herbs, essential oils and even a dusting powder (that I didn’t use). For the next week, I vacuumed, I did laundry, I bathed Sachi and repeated the process over and over again. I became convinced that fleas reproduce every nano second in abundance! And, yes, I began to fear that every itch I felt were fleas hopping onto me.


In my panic, the first few days I used everything flea related filled with fierce chemicals to be rid of them. Sachi had more baths in three days than she’d had in her entire life. My floors had been sprayed and vacuumed, sprayed and vacuumed until my house smelled like chemicals. When I realized that my dog, my cat, and myself were all feeling sick from the negative effects of chemicals that had never been present in my house, I stopped! There had to be another way, an alternative and more natural way!


Back to the drawing board of research and learning.  It was clearly time to change it up and get rid of both the fleas and the chemicals. I opened my windows to air out the house so that we could all breathe easier.


Though I do believe that the chemicals did help to rid the fleas and might even use them again if infested, I turned to what I know to keep them away. I gave Sachi more baths with a gentler, natural shampoo that I added essential oils to so her reactive skin could feel relief. I filled a spray bottle with water and essential oils to spray all the carpets and fabric surfaces. And, finally, I added brewer’s yeast tablets to her food to keep the fleas away. I have even been taking the brewer’s yeast tablets myself.


Here are some of what I learned in the process:


1. When using harsh chemicals to send the fleas running into the afterlife, read the directions on all the bottles & containers (which I did not do in my panic). Nearly everything says to use only every 3 or more days, NOT every day as I did.


2. Frontline, Advantix and any other topical application isn’t 100% foolproof – especially when staying in a flea infested dog friendly hotel.


3. The harsh chemicals did work but with negative side effects. However, my house smells much better with essential oils of Eucalyptus, Lemon Balm and Tea Tree Oil AND they worked as well as long as I was vigilant with vacuuming and laundry.


4. A piece of a flea collar tossed into each vacuum bag works to kill fleas that get vacuumed up so that you don’t need to discard the bag after each vacuuming (which becomes quite costly when vacuuming several times a day!). Though changing the bags more frequently seemed to be a smart precaution, especially if my vacuum was no longer being used daily. Remember, fleas reproduce in high quantity every nano second!


5. If you are going to travel and stay in a dog friendly hotel, consider packing essential oils to spray in the room BEFORE bringing in your dog. OR, carry along a flea “bomb” canister to clear the room before you spend the night. A friend suggested checking into the hotel, setting off the flea canister, go off for a walk, return, open the door and windows to air out the chemicals, and wipe off all surfaces before bringing in your dog(s), yourself, and your bags. Apparently, dog friendly hotels are not always as vigilant about cleaning to rid fleas between dog visits so if a room is closed up without guests for several days, guess what the fleas are doing while they wait?


6. I learned that cleaning with Apple Cider Vinegar also rids fleas though doesn’t  kill them so I could only surmise where they would go to…


7. Brewer’s yeast has farther reaching benefits than warding off fleas. It is a natural source of B vitamins, the stress relief vitamins, and balances healthy gut performance. Definitely a permanent addition to our diets!

6. Essential oils (only several drops of each) of Eucalyptus, Lemon Balm, Tea Tree Oil, and Lavender are great for putting on your hands to massage your dog once the flea situation is under control. Sachi needed lots soothing for her irritated skin and the indignity of it all. Massage was a great way for us to bond and heal from the experience and to get the essential oils onto her.


That’s my flea story and I hope to never have another flea story! I almost prefer ticks to fleas any day!


Daring Greatly

daring greatly brene brown yoga courage vulnerabilityBrene Brown is a refreshing and inspiring read for our times. Her latest book, Daring Greatly, presents the strength and courage of being vulnerable and steps to living whole-heartedly. Her ideas come from her years of researching shame and vulnerability and her own personal experiences. Brene Brown should be required reading for parents, teachers, and leaders of every field.

Ms. Brown can also be found on TED talks and on Soul Sunday with Oprah. I have listened to all of her talks and find I am always inspired, always learning something new.

Brene Brown outlines a path for the health of our world – individually, in families, in communities and in cultures worldwide. I encourage you to join me in reading Brene Brown’s books and listening to her talks.

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New Vivation Breathwork Monthly Group

I’m excited to announce a new, monthly group forming! I will be leading a group Vivation Breathwork group on the 3rd Monday of each month from 6 – 7:30pm in Housatonic. The exact location will depend on how many people register for the group. I suspect that the location may change as the group grows.

Vivation is a technique that uses Breath, Relaxation, Mindful Awareness, Integration and Willingness to create rapid transformation of well-being and excellence in living. I’ve been doing and teaching Vivation for over 20 years and am excited to be creating this group for anyone wanting to learn the process and experience life in a more open and passionate way!

If you would like to be part of the group and are in easy travelling distance to Housatonic, MA, call me @ 413-528-3514 to reserve your space, learn more or would like to recieve information on future groups.


Souluna Life Coaching

I am soon to be certified in Souluna Life Coaching. I’ve been studying and practicing all Spring and Summer. I am ready to do more coaching! If you or someone you know might want or need personal coaching to help move in a new direction, move from a stuck place in your life or are ready for personal or spiritual transformation, give me a call and find out more or to schedule a coaching session.

I have personally used Life Coaches in my own life and, each time, have found the experience invaluable! When I was younger, I wouldn’t have even thought about doing atheletics or a sport without a coach. When I began doing acupuncture, I learned the most from my mentor and coach as I was finding my way as an independent practitioner. When it came time to write a book for publication, it was with a coach that I learned what was holding me back and how to move beyond my fears, my sabotage mechanisms and my stuck places so that I could move forward and actually write the book! My coaches have helped me get out of my own way to design my life to be extraordinary!

Becoming certified as a Life Coach is my way of giving back. I am most interested in working with people who want to make a change in their lives so that they live in balance – body, mind & spirit – and hold a vision of their greatest self, living their most exciting, adventurous and extraordinary life. I want to work with people who are willing to enter the realm of transformation on the deepest level and design their lives to be totally in alignment with their life’s purpose. 

Souluna Life Coaching is the program that I chose to study because it truly is a method that most effectively moves us from stuck to awesome with a balance between all parts of ourselves – body, mind & spirit. I believe that all parts of our lives must be in balance in order to live the life of our dreams and our highest self. Attending to only one part such as our work or our goals or our relationships, misses the mark for living in balance so that all parts of our life are extraordinary.

I look forward to hearing from you and being part of your transformation!

Join me for my upcoming program at Kripalu!

September 19–22, 2010 Sunday–Wednesday 3 nights

Continuing Education Credits

Dynamic Healing: Massaging Clients Through Severe Illness: Advanced Training for Massage Therapists

Synthia Andrews and Linda Jackson

Synthia Andrews

Synthia Andrews, ND, MsT, is a naturopathic doctor specializing in the underlying emotional and spiritual contributions to health and healing. Her 30 year background as a massage and bodywork practitioner brings advanced training, clinical experience,…
Full Bio & Programs

Linda Jackson

Linda Jackson, LicAc, MAcOM, is a licensed acupuncturist and a long-time massage therapist who works extensively with severe illness in her clinic, home-care settings, and in rehab centers. Her job necessitates working closely with doctors,…
Full Bio & Programs

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Program Details

For licensed massage and bodywork practitioners.

Are you prepared for the day a long-time client tells you they’ve been diagnosed with cancer? How will you respond when a new client arrives with late-stage multiple sclerosis? People with severe illness are increasingly seeking massage as its health benefits become more widely known. This wonderful opportunity for therapists to provide assistance to those in need brings new challenges as well.

This workshop will enable you to

  • Work in a hospital, hospice, rehab, or home-care setting
  • Interface with doctors and a medical team and keep medical notes and records
  • Understand the interface of massage and medications
  • Develop your professional demeanor and bedside manner
  • Provide compassionate and non-invasive touch for the elderly and those dealing with disease, debilitating pain, or healing from surgery
  • Maintain healthy boundaries and face your own fears and concerns
  • Offer comfort through the dying process.

The program will include visual aids, lecture, discussion, demonstration, role play, student exchange, and hands-on massage practice. You will leave with increased confidence and enhanced skills.

Note Practitioners are expected to have passed basic massage pathology.

CE Credits
This program is eligible for :
  • 17 credits for physical therapists (PT), $20 additional charge
  • 17 credits for massage and body workers (NCBTMB), $20 additional charge
  • 17 credits for athletic trainers (BOC), $20 additional charge

Mindful Health

Amazon ImageJust finished reading Ellen Langer’s new book, Great book! I’ve been thinking about mindfulness and how it relates to health and along came her book! I highly recommend it for anyone in the health care field as it addresses how we describe our illnesses and how definitions & labels limit our ability to consider healing.

My intention for this New Year is to practice mindfulness in all I do. It seems so easy to be mindful on my yoga mat or when I’m writing in my jounal. It is another matter to practice conscious mindfulness when speaking to others or as I go about my day. To jumpstart my practice, I’m asking myself, “How mindful was I in my last activity?” What an amazing learning process! I get to notice when I mindlessly go about my daily activity and then an increased awareness of how to be more mindful the next time. I am also noticing how, when multitasking, I cannot be mindful of all I am doing. As a result, I am choosing to do less multitasking so that I can be more aware.

I am becoming most aware of the words I use to describe my experience or words other’s use to describe their experience. A little awareness with a big impact! Do you know how many times people describe their pain with the words, “It’s killing me…”? I am encouraging each person to drop the word “killing” in reference to their experience. How can we describe our experience in words that are empowering for change? For example, I’ve been dealing with a chronic pain issue in my neck… When I focus on the pain, it seems to get worse. When I mindfully focus on the times when I am not in pain, then a pain-free experience is given room to expand. Does my neck still hurt? Yes, and focusing on when it doesn’t hurt is leading me to the practices and health care treatments that are healing. For the first time in months, I am actually encouraged that there is a day very soon when my neck will not hurt.

I encourage each one of you to take a look at where in your life you can practice more mindful awareness. Is it with your personal health issues, in your conversation or is it in some activity that you do daily with mindlessness? Bringing mindful awareness to every activity is empowering for making real change. Through mindfulness I am learning what I want in my life and what is time to let go of. The result? I am happier, healthier and living much more simply!

Happy New Year and may we make 2010 a truly great year by bringing more mindful awareness into our daily activity!

Harried Holidays or Simply Stress Free?

We are just past Thanksgiving and the shopping frenzy has begun for the upcoming holidays. Over the weekend, I witnessed several accidents being cleaned up. As I passed each one, I wondered if this one was the result of someone being in a hurry to find the next gift for the cheapest price? What was so urgent that they needed to drive so fast or so dangerously?

Each year I watch people become more and more stressed as the holidays approach. I, too, can get into the frenzied pace if I am not careful. This year I am giving gifts that I’ve made or that I can purchase from the comfort of my computer. I’ve decided that the holidays are not worth risking my life or my finances by adding to an already busy and stressful life.

I plan to spend my holidays finding ways to relax and simply enjoy the company of friends or the company of myself. I’ve got a handful of books I’ve been wanting to read and another handful of knitting and sewing projects I will spend my evenings doing. When I visit friends and family, my requirement is to slow the pace and enjoy each other’s company.

May your holidays be filled with true peace and joy of the season! Be careful, celebrate simply and look forward to the New Year with less stress and a healthy spirit!

What is Really Behind Weightloss?

A frequent question I am asked is "Can acupuncture help me lose weight?". I know there are claims by acupuncturists that will say yes, however, my experience is that acupuncture can help with balancing the body, mind & spirit to help with weight loss but is not what will cause the weight loss. 

Weight is certainly a hot topic these days with all the news coverage about the growing epidemic of obesity in this country and around the modernized world. I, personally, have struggled with weight as well. Although, I don’t agree with diets and which one to choose anyway? In every bookstore there are shelves of books on the subject of weight loss and my email often have advertisements about a new secret to weight loss.

I have been on a quest to answer the question for myself as well as for others. I’ve been reading books about the food industry in this country and when obesity actually began in this country ~ a truly heartbreaking tale of increasingly limited food choices. I’ve been reading, "In Defense of Food" by Michael Pollan; articles & books by Geneen Roth who explores the emotional side of eating and have also read books, blogposts and articles by Janice Taylor, "Our Lady of Weight Loss" who has turned her weight loss into art expression. I want to know all the variables involved in successful weight loss, not the yo-yo dieting methods of loss and gain.

What I am finding is that true weight loss is a personal journey of acceptance, understanding and making lifestyle choices that go beyond food. Weight loss is also about my emotional & spiritual relationship to myself, my self-esteem, my self-image and choosing food that I truly enjoy eating.

Stay tuned for my next newsletter which will be focused on food, eating and, perhaps, weightloss.

Make it an awesome day!

Spring Allergies

Of course, allergies are a major complaint this time of year with something new blooming everyday and pollens filling the breeze! Symptoms of sneezing, scratchy throats, itchy eyes, runny nose, head congestion and even itching from bug bites! Each year, I am certain that more and more people are suffering from allergies. I have my personal theories on why and, in my work, it is more about helping folks return to a balanced resourceful state so allergies are not a problem.

In my own personal experience… my allergies show up from dust, molds and the May flies. What are May flies you ask? They are those pesky little bugs that swarm around your head when gardening, doing yard work, talking to a neighbor over the fence or taking an ambling walk in the woods. AND, they bite (ok, sting)! If it is particularly warm outside and I am sweating, they swarm even more. When I get stung by them, the area swells, becomes red, itchy and even hurts. The area can stay inflammed for well over a week!

What I’ve done and recommeded to others are 3 practices that do work:

  • Neti – nasal cleansing or nasal irrigation. Neti is quite effective for the sneezing and congestion that comes with seasonal allergies where there are pollens floating in the air.
  • Daily, drink freshly squeezed lemon (& lime juice) in warm water with LOCAL honey. The lemon & lime are quite alkaline so they help to bring your body into a more alkaline state which cuts down on the inflammatory response to allergens. The local honey works like a homeopathic remedy which allows your body to build natural defenses against local allergens such as blooming flowers and budding trees. Local honey is important because the bees who have made the honey have feasted on all those blooming flowers which assist in building immunity against the allergic response. My experience is that processed honey and honey from ‘who knows where’ isn’t as effective.
  • Focus my diet, in general, on a more alkaline food plan. Inflammation doesn’t like an alkaline environment. Eating lots of meats, processed foods or fast foods are quite acidic. Fresh greens, avocados, whole grains and most fresh vegetables are best for creating a healthy alkaline environment.

Allergies may not disappear completely with these strategies but the effects of them will be lessened considerably.

And, of course, there is the seasonal tune-up with acupuncture or your personal health care practitioner that also helps strengthen your body’s immune system and more efficiently weather the seasonal stress on your body!

Spring Again!

Another Spring is here and I’ve taken a few days off to enjoy feasting my senses during my long walks, tending my garden and simply sitting to listen, feel and smell the vibrancy of this season. Am I enjoying this Spring more because of the long brutal winter we had here in New England? Yes, I believe I am! It seems that the bitter cold temperatures we had in January, after the ice in December and then lots of snow throughout has given an awesome vibrancy to all the new growth and flowering plants!

Last week, as I am sure you know, there was the Swine Flu scare in the news. I spent the week answering questions and easing fears as folks wanted to know how to protect themselves from the impending pandemic. I became very aware that fear is a tremendous motivator as well as a potentially dangerous stressor which can lead to weakening our immune systems and leaving us off balance. I feel certain that when we continue to do what we can to quell our fear, we will remain healthier. Some of the practices I use to calm my stress, anxiety & fear are: yoga, Qi Gong, meditation, journaling, writing affirmations and breathing. I can’t say enough about using the breath to calm stress! And it’s free, always available and can be done anywhere! 

Of course there are the simple things we can do as well: 1. Wash your hands frequently, especially after handling money, using someone else’s pen or after strolling around with your hands on a shopping cart. 2. Keep your appointments with your health care practitioners or schedule an appointment to stay in balance. 3. Keep herbs and supplements handy in the event you are feeling sick or exposed ~ my favorites are Chinese herbal formulas, of course, as well as Vitamin C, Elderberry, Omega 3 and the great multi-vitamin I use daily. 4. If you are feeling sick, stay home and focus on self-care until you feel well again. 5. If you are flying somewhere, taking the subway or train and feel anxious about being exposed consider wearing a mask. From some of the news photo’s last week, it may even be the newest fashion trend. At the very least, hold your breath for 20-30 seconds if someone sneezes or coughs near you. And then, go wash your hands!  

It seems that the Swine flu scare has been mostly that, a scare, at least for now. However, the practices I mentioned above are a good idea anytime for staying healthy and supporting our immune systems.

Be sure to check your email over the next few days as I am writing a newsletter full of fun and informative stuff for your health and well-being. If you don’t yet receive my newsletters, do sign up!

Have a Great Day!