Chamomile: A Secret Weapon Against Anxiety

Like so many people, I find myself in a fair share of anxiety-inducing situations. I’ve dealt with everything from arrogant co-workers to almost getting hit by a getaway car. (True story.) Others might suppress whatever short-term anxiety they have until it eats them alive. But I’ve chosen methods of self-care to counter whatever anxiety I’m battling. I’ve already discussed with you the benefits of meditation, now I’ll share with you another tool you can use, one that tastes as good as you’ll feel after drinking it: chamomile tea.

Chamomile tea already has a reputation for being a relaxing drink, but that’s only scratching the surface.  The same properties that make chamomile a good drink for bedtime also make it the ideal remedy for reducing anxiety.

Herbalists and medical professionals classify chamomile as a natural herbal sedative. The reason is because the flower is rich in an antioxidant called apigenin, a substance with calming and anti-inflammatory properties. The levels of apigenin in chamomile are strong enough to relax tension in the body, which is a reason that the tea is recommended as a remedy for muscle spasms as well.

Because anxiety builds up physical tension, what you need in order to counter that tension is a relaxant. While certain prescribed remedies can help, chamomile offers a more immediate solution with no toxicity levels. Because it is absent of caffeine, it has been seen to be superior even to green tea when it comes to its calming effects.

As far as brands of chamomile tea go, Celestial Seasonings and Bigelow are two big-name brands that you can trust when it comes to quality.  If you’re looking for a bargain brand, Manasul makes an affordable, yet even more potent, variety of chamomile tea.  The reason Manasul’s brand of chamomile tea is especially strong is because its tea is made from the heart of the chamomile flower, which equals higher concentrations of apigenin, which leads to quicker results when you need to reduce emotional tension and anxiety.

So, the next time you fell as if you’re at the end of your rope, or the world is just hammering away at your patience, take the time to brew yourself a cup of chamomile tea. And take you’re time as you sip it; make every drop count.

Beach Therapy

In my stress relief practices, one of the major things I recommend is to take a trip for yourself, no matter how near or far. This summer, I had made a promise to myself that before the end of August, I’d take a trip to Orchard Beach in The Bronx. Sure enough, Saturday of Labor Day Weekend, I was able to keep that promise.

After taking care of a few personal tasks in the early part of that Saturday, I made my way to the Bx12 local, the main bus line to take to Orchard Beach in the summer. After Labor Day weekend, the bus lines to that beach are discontinued until Memorial Day the following year, so it was my last opportunity to get there this year. Thankfully, I made it to the bus with plenty of time to spare.

The bus ride was unusually dreamlike, with little to no traffic, which is unusual for a holiday weekend. The feeling of pulling up to the beach entrance was a feeling of joy and relief, making it there with 3 hours until closing. I walked through the paved path through the trees, and when I saw the spread of the beach, it was as if I had found a paradise a stone’s throw from the city.

After grabbing a hot dog and a bottled water, I started my walk along the paved path beside the beach, admiring the view of the Long Island Sound as it stretched toward the ocean. I couldn’t help but snap picture after picture of the seagulls as they flew over my head. The further I walked, the less crowded the beach became.

Soon, I found myself compelled to walk on the sand, keeping my sneakers on, and walking as carefully as possible to reduce how much sand could seep into my shoes. It felt good to walk on the beach, feeling the coolness of the wind on my face, the smell of the salt water. I ended up walking so far down the beach, I had made it to the edge.

This was my first time climbing the rocks at the edge of Orchard Beach. I could see the yachts and other boats sailing down the ocean water, the jet skis zooming towards the land. The calm ripple of the ocean waves were so calming, I had to close my eyes and listen. When I slowly opened my eyes, I couldn’t help but look into the distance to my left. I saw two small islands, the Twin Islands, out in the distance. I had to get a closer look.

I found a small, sandy path just beyond the end of the paved walkway, and as I walked that path, I could see a small group of people along the rocky edge. A lone fisherman, a father and son fishing together, two men drinking beers and laughing, and a woman looking off in the distance. Just past the lone fisherman, I could see the Twin Islands perfectly. It was the first time in my life I had seen them. So many people have been to this beach, but so few of them have ever heard of the Twin Islands, let alone seen them. As I snapped pictures, the lone fisherman gave me a thumbs up. Funny thing is, I didn’t notice until days later as I showed my pictures to my co-workers.

As I made my way back to the main entrance, I looked up, and I could see a small rainbow peeking through the clouds. I looked around, and no one else noticed it but me. It was a solitary and special moment as I made my long trek back to the bus, a way to end my trip that I can never forget.

Sitting on the bus as I made my way back to the hectic mayhem of the city, one repeating thought dwelled in my mind: It’s amazing what beauty awaits us if we’re willing to push further beyond the roads paved for us.

Greener Pastures

I was born and raised in The Bronx.  I’ve lived here for over 3 decades of my life.  Everything in my life is practically synonymous with this borough, from the early days of hip-hop to the Yankees.  I had met Peter Gunz and DJ Kool Herc in the same summer just walking around my neighborhood.  I loved the fact that I was walking distance from Yankee Stadium, both the “House That Ruth Built” and the “House That Jeter Built”.  Every movie and tv show that was ever filmed in my borough, I’d be able to tell you exactly where that filming location was. Sadly, I’m getting a feeling that it’s time to leave the place I’ve called home.

One major drawback of The Bronx is that it’s ripe territory for greedy real estate agents to plunder. More people have lost their apartments here in the past 5 to 7 years than in the past 2 decades. Apartments that used to be $900 a month are now $2,500 a month, unless you qualify for section 8. Homeless shelters are popping up left and right, and people just can’t afford to live here anymore, unless they work 3 jobs and only get 3 hours of sleep a night. Currently, I’m living with my parents, and it’s a frustrating feeling to be in your mid-30s and having to answer to them. The job I’ve managed to hold onto for 5 years is driving me up the wall, and even with the city increasing minimum wage, the cost of living doesn’t get any easier, as the price for anything from groceries to entertainment just keeps rising.  I finally understand why so many of my friends who grew up here and raised their kids here have moved away.

A friend of mine had been trying to get me to move to Philadelphia for some time.  While living in the city of brotherly love has always been tempting, it wasn’t until now that it has become a necessary option. Living in The Bronx would mean that I’m stuck living with my dad and stepmother, and moving out to Long Island’s Suffolk County would mean living with my mother, as expensive as things have become out there. And as much as I love my mother, I can’t afford to have her doting over my life like Marie Barone in Everybody Loves Raymond. It’s a frustrating feeling when your folks keep asking when you’ll get a new girlfriend, yet quote Bible scripture about premarital sex and start fear mongering with images of hellfire and eternal damnation if you don’t do what they say.

To be honest, living with a friend rather than a parent or relative may just what I need right now, and living outside of New York may just be what my bank account needs.  As much as I love New York, I can’t keep up with things. And make no mistake, I love New York.  I love being about to take a bus into Harlem and walk 125th Street, whether it’s for DVD shopping or going to the Magic Johnson Theater. I love being able to take a train down into midtown or lower Manhattan, visiting comic stores, book stores, and pizzerias. I love being able to go down to Chinatown and visit every restaurant on Mott Street, even the back alley 4-for-$1 dumpling spot that no tourist has ever been to. I love being able to go arcade hopping, from Two-Bit’s Retro Arcade by NYU to the Barcade on St. Mark’s Place.  There’s so much to love about New York.

Yet, at the same time, every other thing I love about this city is vanishing, because of greedy real estate practices.  My favorite comic book store, St. Mark’s Comics, was forced to close after 35 years of business. My favorite retail store in Harlem, Kiss Electronics, was forced to close after decades of business. So many music stores, including my favorite record store, Second Hand Rose’s, had gone out of business. Even the landmark Katz’s Deli had been forced to shut down. Legacies that had shaped New York into the stuff movies and sitcoms were made of, forced to go out of business because, “The rent is too damn high.”  And politicians like Mayor Bill de Blasio, and his predecessor, Mayor Michael Bloomberg, could care less. It was under Bloomberg that the city became so unaffordable, and when New Yorkers expected de Blasio to turn things around for the people, all we were left with was higher costs of living, and our only options being to stay in the city and become homeless, or leave the city for a more affordable quality of life.

Of all the places I’ve considered moving to, Philadelphia might be the most feasible. Of the times I’ve visited Philly, I’ve never really gotten to do what most people do down there. I’ve never gotten to see the Rocky statue from Rocky III, or run up the “Rocky Steps”.  I’ve never had a Philly cheesesteak made in Philly.  I’ve never even been to a Wawa’s! Even my late Uncle Lenny would tell me about the times he’d visit Philly just to see the Penn State Relays. My friend’s sister-in-law ran the Relays, and I never even got to see her win.  But most importantly, my best friend lives there, and has invited me down there with open arms. He had mapped out in his mind ever scenario to get me to move down there, and now, I’m doing the same.  While he’s offered me a place to stay, I’m still eyeing apartments down there as a plan B, so I have a contingency just in case. I’m researching what kinds of jobs I’d qualify for, in case my writing endeavors take longer to come to fruition. And if worse comes to worse, I’d be only 2 hours away from NYC, and 3 hours away from my mom’s home in Suffolk.

Change is hard, especially when you’re leaving the place you’ve called home all your life.  But if you’re to truly grow, change is necessary. Otherwise, you’ll be stuck in the same self-destructive cycle you’ve been in. So, I’m making a change.  I’m going to miss The Bronx when I’m finally gone, and I’m going to miss NYC, but I’ll have a friend waiting on the other end for me.

Of Fragile Egos and Swollen Eyes

One day ago, an 18-year-old woman from Manchester, England, was punched unconscious by a man outside of a club at 3:30am. The reason for the assault? She simply told the man, “Sorry, I’m not interested,” after he and his friends harassed her.

In this era of immediate gratification, where even dating has become a matter of “swipe right/swipe left”, have men forgotten how to be gentlemen? More importantly, have they completely forgotten that women have the right to say no?

Speaking as a man who has been rejected more than his fair share of times, yes, I’m aware how much it sucks to be shot down by the opposite sex, to have that girl you’re trying to approach say that she’s not interested. Yeah, it can bruise your self-esteem.

The right thing to do is dust yourself off and move on. You pick up the pieces, reflect on it for a moment, then move forward.

What you DON’T do is attack the woman who politely turned you down.

Because of that man’s fragile ego, a young woman is now disfigured for all of the world to see. And this isn’t the first time an assault like this has happened under the same circumstances.

I’ve heard from women who are afraid to socialize because of the fear of something like this happening, beautiful women who have to deal with random men trying to flirt with them, when all they want to do is go about their business. I’ve never been in those women’s shoes, but I absolutely understand their frustrations and fears.

Recently, I watched a YouTube video of the online gaming personality Sweet Anita, and in the video was a clip that hammers this point home. While she was playing an online game of Overwatch, a man harassed her by asking her to let him lick her p***y. When Anita politely declined, he continued to make obscene requests. When she finally had enough and insulted him, there were people in the comments section of the video saying that Anita was wrong to do so. My reply? “Well, let’s see how well any of you handle unwanted sexual harassment.” And the point was made.

No woman has to say “yes” to a man’s advances if she doesn’t want to. Every woman should have the right to say “no.”

(Link to reference article below)

https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/crime/woman-man-turn-down-beaten-unconscious-manchester-not-interested-a9005661.html?amp