Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Dylanna Jackon Grasinger of the International Institute of Erie: Interview

by Chelsea Morning

There is nothing sweeter in this difficult world than finding your place, coming home, and sharing your life with loving family and true friends.

Most of us have our humble homes, our little nests filled with our favorite things, a place to tuck our children safely in with love and lullabies , to dance, to sing, and to dream, a moveable feast of life, that infuses into the walls, the floorboards, the very foundation.
As the holiday season embraces us and we fill our warm dens with our tribe of family and dear friends, when the smell of spice steeps our kitchen like tea, and little trinkets are joyfully gifted and lovingly received. Let us also think of our neighbors and those in need.

For refugees and immigrant families, whose lives have been uprooted from their communities, finding no other choice but to flee from war, injustice, and violence, leaving behind their homes, their favorite things, their own spice-scented kitchens and memory-infused walls to seek refuge, shelter and new beginnings, starting over in a new place can be difficult and frightening.

We, as individuals and as a community can be the change we wish to see. We can help our new neighbors find their place and finally feel safe, welcome and at home. I asked Dylanna Jackson Grasinger, the earnest, compassionate, and amazing director of the International Institute of Erie, what we can do to help.
What is the mission of the International Institute of Erie? What services do you provide?
Our mission: We are part of a nationwide network that assists the world’s most vulnerable people overcome social, cultural and economic barriers so that they can flourish and help local communities grow.
We provide a variety of services to assist the newest members of the Erie community. Our Reception and Placement Program (R&P) is the welcoming committee. R&P workers meet new arrivals at the airport, get them into their homes, provide cultural orientation and show them how to navigate through the city and through all the various systems they will use towards establishing their own success. Our Matching Grant Program (MG) works with our arrivals who are able to work and provides classes and support towards finding sustainable employment. We have an interpretation program to help improve communication between our new arrivals and providers. We also have a diverse portfolio of ongoing classes that assist with learning English, family support, women’s groups as well as childcare and after school programming.

Each of the individuals and families you serve are all seeking safety, freedom, and the opportunity to rebuild their lives and their futures. Many have had to flee their homes, leaving much behind, and arriving here with very little. Donations, of course, is one way the Erie community can help our new neighbors feel welcome. What are some of the more helpful donations that are needed, and where can donations be brought to?
The Erie community has always been a very giving community. Donations help us to fulfill our mission. Our families arrive with little more than their clothing, and the weather they are coming from is not the same as the weather we enjoy here in Erie. Donations of winter coats, boots, gloves and hats are always welcomed. Backpacks, school uniforms and other school supplies are extremely
useful in preparing our students for school. Household goods ranging from silverware through pots and pans in good condition are helpful in getting our households set up. Gift cards to Walmart or cash donations always seem to help us get needed supplies and household goods. Furniture donations are on an as-needed basis. All of these donations can be brought to the International Institute at 517 E. 26th Street, Erie, Pa from 8am until 4pm, Monday through Friday. If you have any questions call (814) 452-3935 ext 2021 or email jbrooks@uscri-erie.org.

Other than donations, are there other ways the Erie community can be supportive? Are there opportunities for local employers or landlords to become involved? Are there occasions where people can volunteer?
Erie has long been a very welcoming community for people wanting to build a better life and continues that tradition and support. We work with a variety of landlords and employers who see the benefits of having refugees as tenants and employees. We have amazing volunteer opportunities ranging from assisting in-home set up, organization of donations, assistance with office work, etc. If someone is interested in getting involved as an employer, landlord or volunteer call (814) 452-3935.

The families and individuals arriving here are coming from many different countries, with lifestyles and culture that may have few similarities to America. What have you noticed that they like most about living in Erie, and what do you feel our community can do to help them feel more at home?
The amazing thing about refugees that arrive here in Erie is not the differences, but the similarities. People come here looking for a safe place to live, the ability to earn a living, and the opportunity for their children to achieve their dreams. Our clients love that Erie provides them those opportunities. Community members should treat them like they would treat their other neighbors. Speak to them when they have the opportunity. Make sure they feel welcomed. Ask them questions and provide them with information and help if the opportunity arises.

After having worked with so many uprooted families, assisting them in reclaiming their lives, learning their culture, hearing their stories, witnessing their struggles, watching them achieve their dreams; what does the word ‘Home’ now mean to you?
I have been fortunate enough to meet and know people from around the world and be a part of their success. They are defined by their love of their family, desire to build the best life possible and acceptance of things that cannot be changed. I try to build my home around those same concepts.

Follow on Facebook at: International Institute of Erie/USCRI

Saturday, October 27, 2018

I Can't Believe I Ate The Whole Thing!: Digestive Upsets

This is the time of year most of us generally heap liberal amounts of abuse on our digestive systems on a day we call "Thanksgiving". Our bodies sure aren't thankful and, unfortunately, have ways of exacting revenge. Upset stomach, burping, gas, heartburn and indigestion can ruin the whole day. Herbs can help. Be aware, however, that if your digestive problems involve pain or bleeding, you may have a more serious disorder such as appendicitis or intestinal blockage. Seek appropriate help.

Heartburn is most often caused by too much acid in your stomach, or hiatel hernia. Herbs that decrease stomach acid include licorice root, meadowsweet, chamomile and lemon. Herbs that absorb excess acid are slippery elm, marshmallow, flax and fenugreek seeds. The acids in carrots and apples also neutralize stomach acid. Clinical studies have shown that chamomile, marshmallow, licorice, slippery elm, calendula, garlic, wild yam and St. John's wort protect the stomach from its own acid and also reduce inflammation and infection of the lining. If you suffer from gas, try using coriander, anise, caraway, fennel and basil in your cooking, or make yourself a tea of peppermint, thyme, lemon balm or chamomile. Most of these herbs are described as digestive stimulants, but research has found that they actually relax intestinal muscles and relieve cramping. Peppermint is the most popular of all of these herbs. Caution: people with gastric reflux should not drink peppermint tea because it relaxes the sphincter between the esophagus and the stomach.

Many people assume that their stomach problems are caused by too much acid, but poor digestion of proteins can result in too little stomach acid. Gas and indigestion following a high-protein meal are an indication of this. A treatment for low stomach acid is to take herbal bitters, which encourage your stomach to produce its own acid. True to their name, these herbs are bitter. One of the best-known bitters is gentian. Bitters are quite popular in Europe but have a rather limited popularity here in the USA. However, we drink our bitters without even knowing it. The primary ingredient in beer is the digestive bitter known as hops. Other bitters include goldenseal, Oregon grape root, blessed thistle, chicory and dandelion.

You can forget taking capsules to disguise the bitterness- you won't get the same results this way. You can mix bitters with tastier herbs such as orange peel and spices, or even sweeten them. Fortunately, you do not need much of a bitter to enjoy its effects. Just fifteen drops of a tincture or a quarter teaspoon of the powdered herb before each meal is enough. (Recommended amounts of all these herbs are considered safe for otherwise healthy, nonpregnant, nonnursing adults. Use all herbs cautiously and be aware of any contraindications.)

Heartburn Formula
1 tsp. each chamomile flowers, lemon balm leaves, licorice root
1/2 tsp. slippery elm
1/4 tsp. each fennel seeds, catnip leaves
1 1/2 cups boiling water
1 1/2 cups apple juice (optional)
Combine herbs and pour boiling water over them. Steep 15 minutes, strain out herbs and add juice. Drink 1 cup after each meal. Store in the refrigerator. This will keep for a few days.

by Judy Burger

Thursday, October 25, 2018

Pumpkin Pie Spiced Nuts Recipe

It's that time of the year! We've mixed up our special Pumpkin Pie Spice and want to share a special seasonal favorite with you.

Pumpkin Pie Spiced Nuts

One 8 oz jar dry-roasted peanuts
1/2 cup pecans
1/2 cup walnut halves
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 tsp water
3/4 cup sugar
1 Tbsp Pumpkin Pie Spice
3/4 tsp salt

Combine the nuts. Mix together the egg and water and toss with the nut mixture. Combine the sugar, Pumpkin Pie Spice and salt and toss that with the nuts until they are well-coated.
Spread nuts in a single layer on a lightly greased cookie sheet.
Bake at 300 degrees F for 20-25 minutes. Break up any large clusters and allow to cool.
*May substitute any combination of nuts, such as almonds instead of pecans.

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Bell Pine Art Farm

"Bell Pine Art Farm sculptures are handmade by loving hands as reminders that healing and balance begins within. We provide meaningful art as tools for ceremony and gift giving. Practitioners of every faith apply this circle of sculpture in the healing and sacred arts. It has found its way onto personal alters, medicine circles, hospital programs, churches, sacred sites, and meditation retreats and is collected by people all over the world.

Some of the sculptures are a vessel with a cloth in the bottom for absorbing sacred fluids such as water from ceremony, sacred places, sacred sexual practices, menstrual blood, essential oils, or for holding small stones, crystals or earth.

Paired with essential oils, our sculptures offer a calming experience combining the beauty of handmade art with the ancient craft of aromatherapy. Our Pacific Northwest clay-body releases essences, relaxing our nervous system and nourishing the body-mind. Oil absorbs into the porous surface of the clay and gently diffuses into the air as it evaporates, slowly dissipating and waning over time. A 60-80 square ft (8X10 ft) enclosed room can be subtly filled with fragrance with one to two drops of oil in the tiny bowl, impression or on the surface of the sculpture. Strength and time depends on quality, volume, temperature and variety of drops used, but generally lasts 1-2 days fading gradually. The diffusion process speeds up when sculptures are bathed in warm sunlight or nestled among candles. Any of our clay sculptures can withstand heat up to 1000 degrees f. and can be placed on a warming tray, or directly on a wood stove surface."

Learn more at http://bellpineartfarm.com

Conscious Ink: Humanitarian Spotlight

Get (temporarily) Inked Up... For Good!
"At Conscious Ink, we love supporting our community, and the world, by donating much-needed funds, and our empowering products, to amazing causes, along with supporting fundraisers and charity events.
Some of the organizations we've worked with and supported: Realize Your Beauty, Embrace-Body Image Movement, Safe BAE, American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, Canadian Fabry Association, Alisa Ann Ruch Burn Foundation, Rain City Rock Camp, Mindfulness Thru Movement, Boys and Girls Club, World Muse, Ignite South Africa, American Red Cross,  Heart and Soul Academy, Brave Girl Boxes, Cervivor,  Make-a-Wish Foundation, Prader-Willi, Angels, CureDuchenne, Living Beyond Breast Cancer, LA Gives Love, Operation Shanti Rocks L.A. and many more!"

PATCHOULI: Essential Oil of the Month

Patchouli essential oil is extracted from the fragrant leaves of the Patchouli plant. Its earthy scent has been used for centuries to mask offensive odors and to scent clothing and other textiles before trading. Patchouli oil has many uses for both the mind and body. It is grounding and balancing, with a somewhat spicy scent that mellows and deepens with age. It is often used in facial products due to its ability to lessen the appearance of wrinkles and nourish aging skin. Patchouli is often mixed with other essential oils in perfumery as an enhancer, but it can easily overtake other scents so little is needed. 
Try a few drops of patchouli and a few drops of frankincense blended in a light carrier oil for a luxurious bedtime massage oil.

by Kristy Baird

K2 STONE: Gemstone of the Month

K2 is a combination stone of Azurite in Granite. The anchoring energy of Granite with the high vibrations of Azurite gives one the sense of floating freely with their feet firmly grounded. For meditation and retrieving information, K2 allows for deep understanding of universal truths, past life recall and connection to lineage. It gives you the knowledge of experience and the foresight to apply it for spiritual advancement.

SCULLCAP: Herb of the Month

Scullcap (scutellaria lateriflora) is a powerful calming herb with many uses. The name comes from the latin scutella, meaning "little dish". It is also sometimes called Mad Dog Weed, because in the 1700's it was used as a treatment for rabid dog bites. 
Scullcap calms and strengthens the nerves, relaxes spasms, relieves pain and promotes rest. It can help to rebuild nerve sheaths, and can actually stimulate the brain to produce more endorphins. People who are going through opiate withdrawal may find scullcap to be a calming ally. 
Scullcap is very high in antioxidants. It fights free radicals and therefore has been researched as a cancer fighter. Also due to its high antioxidant content, we find scullcap to be very helpful in calming anxiety as a nerve tonic. It is comforting and is used to promote emotional well-being and relaxation during times of distress. Those with epilepsy may find a reduction in seizures- it also reduces tremors, muscle spasms and other nerve-related symptoms. 
Scullcap also reduces inflammation and can be helpful for those suffering from arthritis and inflammatory bowel diseases. It also has cardioprotective efffects, helping to reduce the risk of heart disease. 
Scullcap is a very potent herb and should be used with precaution, particularly when using it in tincture form. It should not be used during pregnancy.
Try a cup of scullcap tea at the end of a long day to help relax and ease into sleep.

by Kristy Baird

Saturday, October 20, 2018

Book Spotlight: Sacred Contracts: Awakening Your Divine Potential

New York Times bestselling author and medical intuitive Caroline Myss has found that when people don’t understand their purpose in life the result can be depression, anxiety, fatigue, and eventually physical illness—in short, a spiritual malaise of epidemic proportions. Myss’s experience of working with people led her to develop an insightful and ingenious process for deciphering your own Sacred Contract—or higher purpose—using a new theory of archetypes that builds on the works of Jung, Plato, and many other contemporary thinkers. 

Myss examines the lives of the spiritual masters and prophets—Abraham, Jesus, Buddha, and Muhammad—whose archetypal journeys illustrate the four stages of a Sacred Contract and provide clues for discovering your own. Myss explains how you can identify your particular spiritual energies, or archetypes—the gatekeepers of your higher purpose—and use them to help you find out what you are here on earth to learn and whom you are meant to meet. Exploring your Sacred Contract will shine a light on the purpose and meaning of your life. You are meant to do certain tasks, you are meant to have certain relationships. 

In coming to know your archetypal companions, you also begin to see how to live your life in ways that make the best use of your personal power and lead you to fulfill your greatest—in fact, your divine—potential.

Both visionary and practical, Sacred Contracts is a bold, powerful work of spiritual wisdom. Without a doubt, your most intriguing challenge in life is to recognize your spiritual commitments and live them to the fullest.