Tag Archives: life

What Childhood Games Can Teach Us About Life

My son joined Chess Club at school this year, and really enjoyed it. This was surprising because as a young 4-year-old who wanted to play board games, he would throw a fit every time he lost. To see him growing up to a 10-year-old who loves to play a complex game where there can only be one winner shows how much you can mature in a short amount of time.

Now that it’s summer break, we’re enjoying playing more board games. He was teaching me to play a new game, and I had a “light-bulb” moment. While I lost the game, I asked that we play again. He was surprised, and said okay, so we played again and again I lost. I told him I really wanted to play another round to figure out how to win. He thought I’d want to play something new to see if I could win at something else. That made sense, especially when we think about life and how easy it is to be discouraged and give up when you first don’t succeed at something new.

We played the game three times until I won, and I explained to my son that life is like the games we play. We can get easily upset when we lose, or try over and over again until we win. Or, like he suggested, you can switch to something else. This reminds me of how we have different attitudes in health. We often go through the same cycle as learning a new game: trying something and winning (it works), then doing it over and over again and once we lose, giving up (health changes over time, so if we start to break down, we often give up and accept living with a problem).

Unfortunately, life isn’t as simple as a game with clear rules, players and outcomes. It is far more complicated, especially when it comes to our health. There are different methods of healing, different styles of living and different foods to eat. But, I often find myself thinking with the same persistence: not giving up, and asking for advice from those who have figured things out. That is how I found Hen Sen Herbs.

It is truly a beautiful thing to live in a country with so many health care options. Mind you, they’re not all supported by the health care insurance system, but I am so grateful that we have Traditional Chinese Herbalist, Acupuncture, Massage as well as the American Medical Association practitioners. If life were a game, I’d say we’re fortunate to live in a country with the freedom to choose how to best live our lives.

When You Should Talk To Your Ten-Year-Old Self

When you were ten years old, you probably never thought of heart-burn or high cholesterol. Now that you’re an adult, topics like this come up in the office or among friends. Everyone has an opinion or story about what kind of medical help or medicine you should try. Even the television and Internet have overwhelming advice and suggestions.

Now, many of us see a doctor or health are practitioner before seeking someone in the natural health field, and get treated like a ten-year-old. This can happen with natural medicine, but often the big difference is that a traditional American medical doctor doesn’t spend more than 15 minutes with a patient and will prescribe a pill to treat a symptom that isn’t life threatening. A natural medicine practitioner like a Traditional Chinese Herbalist, spends time to really get to the root of your health problems.

When I hear stories from my friends and family about how they were ignored or suffered with only a prescription to treat their health issues, I think about how when we were ten years old, we were told to stand up to bullies. We were told to listen and respect authority but also to speak the truth and to start taking ownership over caring for ourselves. We were told to keep trying. We were told to never stop learning.

Now, I know every culture is different, but in America we have a problem with bullies. It starts in elementary school and follows us into adulthood. We need to start listening to what we tell our children about standing up for yourself and treating others with respect. We are never too old to practice what we may have told our ten-year-old-selves.

And, remember to be kind to yourself. When your health is struggling, and you’re looking for answers, don’t be too hard on yourself. I know some folks who feel bad that they didn’t find help sooner, but the truth is that we don’t know what we don’t know. The key is to never give up. Just like the 10-year-old at a soccer match, never give up on yourself. It might feel silly to see yourself like a kid, but it can be helpful and encouraging. Remember: Be Kind. Keep trying.

The Safest Place To Live

©Holli Margell Seattle Skyline

©Holli Margell Seattle Skyline

With all of the wild fires burning around the Pacific Northwest, my kids can’t help but hear about the damage on the news. My daughter asked me, “Where is there the safest place to live?” She is only 7-years-old but knows that some places in America have Tornadoes, and some have Hurricanes and Earthquakes. She wanted to know were we could live that would be safe from all of the natural disasters.

This was a hard question for me to answer, and I asked her what safe meant to her to better understand what she was worried about. Lucky for me, my Mom was visiting, and she answered, “It’s the place where you have a good community to help each other out.” As I thought about it more, she was right (funny how parent’s often are). No place on earth is safe from natural disasters or disease, but what makes one area or city survive them is the community that works together.

We have a national program to help every state handle a disaster called FEMA, which stands for Federal Emergency Management Agency. This is very important on a country-wide level, but more importantly is the community you have in the city or neighborhood where you live. If you think about it, if an earthquake happened, who would be able to help you immediately? Your neighbors!

In the city of Seattle, we have a program to help neighborhoods plan for a natural disaster called SNAP (Seattle Neighbors Actively Prepare). They teach groups how to organize a safe place for folks to gather and share resources, as well as how to pack an emergency kit for families. A good way to do this is by contacting your local neighborhood council or group and planning one afternoon to invite neighbors to make a plan.

You don’t have to be in Seattle, or go to training to build your community up or plan for an emergency. This can be as simple as walking around your block and introducing yourself to your neighbors. You can create a simple plan by inviting neighbors to join you in figuring out how you can help each other out in case of an earthquake or by setting up a phone tree in case of fire. For example, we have introduced ourselves to our neighbors and while it’s nice to know two hair dressers live a door down, it’s even better to know of the ER nurse next door!

We all have the potential to live in a safer place just by getting to know our neighbors, making a plan and having our own emergency kit to with a few extra things to share!


Holli Margell, Editor

Why We Need To Eat More Fruits And Vegetables!

Are we eating enough vegetables and fruits? Fruits and vegetables are nutritious and delicious. They are packed with vitamins and minerals. As a balanced diet, it is suggested that adults eat 100-200 grams of fruits and 400-500 grams of vegetables every day. Fruits and veggies provide fiber that fills you up and keeps your digestive track happy. Fruits and veggies are nature’s treat. There are so many fruits and vegetables to choose from, what is the best for us?

Here in America, our biggest problem in balancing Yin and Yang is our diet. It is often referred to as the “Yang Diet” for it is composed of primarily foods and cooking methods which are yang qualities known as dry heat. As the stomach and intestines need moisture, our yang diet doesn’t include any. Too much Yang, results in a number of complications and perhaps eventually in a noticeable illness. As a result, an individual suffers from food blockage, stomach and intestinal pain, gas, a bloated stomach and so on. When the whole system becomes dry, skin dryness, psoriasis, dandruff, loss of hair and acne become just a few of the outcomes, which may result from too much heat in the system.

It is fundamental to health. We are what we eat. Our emotions, the change in season, climate and our sex may influence our health as well. Meaning, we have to create our health care, create a balanced diet, clearing negativity, keeping our earth clean and most important treat your body with respect and others as well.

Eating seasonally, so in warmer weather seasons you may have more fruits and vegetables, while in colder seasons more grains. Fruits that are grown locally, fresh and in room temperature, should avoid chilled fruits. The digestive system doesn’t function as well in summer as in other seasons and cold-temperature foods may reduce gastric juices, leading to poor appetite and indigestion. Some fruits should not be eaten on an empty stomach, including tomatoes, bananas, oranges, hawthorn and persimmon.

If you eat leafy green vegetables our brains function better, the thinking is clearer. The brain needs a fairly large supply of oxygen to function at its best. It is of utmost importance that our body receive enough oxygen, especially while curing any disease. Broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, green vegetables and radish sprouts are all is cruciferous vegetables that bring about consistent types of changes in the gut bacteria that are known to metabolize glucosinolates, lignans and fiber. In fact, the ability to metabolize glucosinolates (and convert them into cancer-preventive isothiocyanates) may be a very important factor in prevention of certain cancers, especially cancers of the digestive tract.

It certainly takes time to prepare vegetables, but what a reward!



What Does Age Have To Do With It?

When we were young kids, most of us couldn’t wait to grow older. We looked forward to each birthday as they brought milestones of freedom: The freedom to vote, to drive, to drink alcohol. But, then adulthood brings the stages of life most people do not look forward to reaching. As we age, we reach a point where we no longer enjoy it.

But, what does age really mean? Do you feel your age? Most people I know over 60 years old do not feel any different than when they were 35. What has changed is their body, not their spirit. Some have said, you are only as old as you feel!

The mind-set we have helps us look at life either as a chance to grow richer or to simply survive. As a result, age can either give us a marker for growth or a mark of time to feel old. I recently read the book, “Mindset” by Carol Dweck, Ph.D. She digs into the psychology of success. The book shared research and anecdotes to explain that we all find ourselves into two sets of mind-sets: growth or fixed. With the growth mind-set, we believe we can grow and learn no matter our age or circumstances. The fixed mind-set means we believe we get what we get when we are born and either have talent or do not – there’s no changing our lot in life.

As I was reading the book, I thought about artists. When it comes to mastery of skills and talent, age is a blessing. I’ve been reading a lot about famous artists who didn’t become famous until they were very old by current standards. One of those is Japanese artist, Hokusai who said, “At 75 I’ll have learned something of the pattern of nature, of animals, of plants, of trees, birds, fish and insects,” he wrote. “When I am 80 you will see real progress. At 90 I shall have cut my way deeply into the mystery of life itself. At 100, I shall be a marvelous artist. At 110, everything I create; a dot, a line, will jump to life as never before.”

Sadly, he didn’t live to be 110. His observations about his artistry are enlightening. It’s only through practice and time that we can deepen our knowledge and talents. We are always growing if we simply focus our mind-set on the opportunities to grow and keep trying. Age is just a mark on the calendar! Enjoy each stage of your growth.

– Holli Margell

How To Get The Most Out Of Your Day: One Day At A Time

Here we go again. The year 2014 is almost over. It is literally disappearing before my eyes just like an ice cream melting in the hot summer day in a 3-year-old girl’s hands. She loses most of the ice cream partially because it melts faster than she can eat it, but mostly because she is distracted by her surroundings, or even worse she drops the ice cream on the ground because she doesn’t pay attention at all to way she holds the cone. She tilts the cone. Ice cream falls off. A few seconds later she notices the ice cream is gone and bursts into tears. We all witness a incident like this all the time at the theme park in summer.


When it comes to the way we handle the time given in one particular year, we are no different from the little girl with an ice cream. We waste most of it. We don’t treat it like the most valuable thing in the world. We don’t keep track nor pay attention to it, so we don’t even know where the time went. It’s time down the drain with little accomplishment. I don’t know about you. Maybe you understand how precious the time is and discipline yourself to spend the time only on the things you love to do. But many of us are either busy running unimportant chores or sitting around and doing nothing. And by nothing, I mean watching TV or surfing the web or whatever for hours without any specific purpose or goals. And the worst part is we don’t even realize we lost the time. What can we do about this?

One of the things you can do to prevent this from happening is to plan your day at the very beginning of the day, preferably do it the night before, so that you know exactly what you are going to be doing from the get-go the next day. No wasting time. In my opinion it’s best to combine a planning with meditation. The reason is that it will give you a chance to reflect on your own life and find our what it is that you truly love to accomplish in your life, instead of just being stuck in a rut and doing only the things you have to do, or worse yet what others expect you to do.

My life is a typical example of this. I turned 44 in August, and I was shocked to realize that I am almost half way through my 40’s. Last I checked, I was still 40. “What happened? Where did my time go?” I thought to myself. It felt like I lost 4 years in one year. Losing 4 lb. in 1 week would be very exciting to many, but no one would be excited about losing time like I did. What I mean is that I don’t remember doing anything meaningful or just plain fun in the last 4 years. I have been just busy running around, and completely neglected to nourish my soul with the things I love to do like photography and baking bread. So, before you plan your day, it’s always good idea to look deep inside of you through meditation and ask yourself what truly makes you happy. Incorporate it into your daily schedule.

Simplified version of ideal planning should go something like this: Meditate 15 – 20 minutes at night in the quiet area and ask how you can make your life fulfilling. Then spend another 10 – 15 minutes to list all the things you should do or have to do. And go through the each item on the list and ask yourself if they are aligned with your passion, and more importantly to see if they are going to help you achieve the kind of your life you want. If so, go ahead and incorporate them into your daily plan. If not, they should not be included in your agenda, or have someone else do it.


One thing I realized when it comes to planning and scheduling is that it is hard to list the things that you want to accomplish in the period of 10-15 minute. The harder you try, the more blank your mind becomes. Solution? Use your smart phone! Whenever I come up with an idea or a task during the day, I immediately enter into the calendar that is synced with my Google calender. I don’t initially allocate specific time for each tasks. So, when I look at the actual calendar at the end of the day, I have so many tasks overlapping in one hour time slot. I simply spread them out in appropriate time slots in Google Calendar on my computer. Next day, all I need to do is follow my calendar. It’s automatic. It’s like having a boss yelling and forcing you to get things done which is very effective for me.

If you carry around a traditional day planner, that’s even better! Something about writing on the paper with a pen makes each task much more meaningful and somehow registers in your brain much better than with an electronic device. Still, the concept is the same. So, get ahead and get in the habit of planning your day and get the most out of your life!!

Kaz Isogai

The Fastest And The Most Effective Way To Find A Cure For Your Chronic Illness

They say that the shortest and the fastest way to get from point A to point B is a straight line. Anyone can draw a straight line on a piece of paper or map trying to figure out the shortest distance between where you are and where you want to go. And we have no problem guessing how far you have to travel simply by measuring the length of the line on the map. If you use an online mapping service like Google map, it even tells you the estimated time to get to your destination. But in reality, it is not as simple as drawing a straight line on a piece of paper.

Unless you can fly like a bird, own a private helicopter ready to take off from your roof top, ride on the laser guided missile, or dig a straight underground tunnel, it is impossible to transport yourself in a straight line through a busy city landscape. So we travel by a car, on foot, on bicycle or any available means of transportation, and compromise to on the route which you think is faster and cheaper than the other options. But it is never the fastest or the shortest.

Life like a map, there are no straight lines.

Life like a map, there are no straight lines.

Some of you may commute on the public transportation simply because of economic reasons. You may walk half a mile to bus stop, wait for a while, get on the bus, pay a fee, make yourself through the crowd of obnoxious commuters who may make your life on the bus miserable. And you may even have to transfer several times to get to the final destination. Driving a car is another option. It comfortable and convenient compared to public transportation, but the price you pay can be higher due to extreme stress trying to navigate through a bad traffic in a shortest possible distance. Some hard core cyclists commute 20 – 25 miles each way on the bike in rain or shine purely for the purpose of the fitness. Not surprisingly, the time one spends in the rough weather can be really tough and long.

The point I am trying to make here is that no matter what type of transportation you choose, it is impossible to travel in a straight line without obstruction. No matter what route you take, you still need to make many turns, make multiple stops at the traffic lights, possibly get stuck in a traffic, take a detour or share a ride with other tired irritable commuters in a tight space and the list goes on. In other words, there is always a price to pay in order to get to your final destination whether it is a emotional, physical, time or monetary.

Seeking a cure for the illness is just like trying to figure out the fastest way to commute from home to work in the busy city. There is usually substantial cost associated with it. Here is what I mean: Almost everyone who is afflicted with some kind chronic illness has gone through so many different types of treatment methods, diet systems, exercise programs, dietary supplements, emotional ups and downs and countless trials and errors, trying to find a cure for their ailment. Just when your health shows the sign of improvement, all of a sudden it takes an unexpected turn and your health starts to deteriorate again. You wonder why nothing is working and keep on trying something new and different.

Let me use my recent experience with hemorrhoid problem as an example to illustrate this. Some of you already know, from my past article, my journey trying to find a cure for the hemorrhoid. But bear with me for a little and pay attention to what I am trying to tell you because it is very important for anyone who is trying to find a cure for chronic illness. It is the closest thing to getting to the destination in a straight line. The fastest way – a straight line from point A to point B. No turns. No detours.

Over past several years, my stress level has almost quadrupled because of my extremely busy schedule in both personal and business life. I have been beaten up both physically and mentally without knowing how bad it has gotten. Last summer, I started develop some kind of chronic hemorrhoid condition. I admit I had a very minor issue with it in the past, but it was always easily treatable with good diet and herbs before. So, I approached the problem with the same attitude and method as before, yet this time it got progressively worse to the point of mental breakdown. Sometimes the pain was so severe I would have to lie in my bed face down, tears in my eyes, moaning and cursing as long as my body can tolerate the pain. The pain usually went away gradually after several hours of suffering. In some cases I had to depend on over the counter pain killer, which I really tried to stay away from so that I could at least sleep for 2-3 hours before the sunrise.

Occasionally the condition would get reasonably better to the point where at least the pain was not an issue. I could almost see the light at the end of the tunnel. I would tell myself, “ This is it. I can finally tame the beast.” Then all of a sudden, it would make a 180 degree turn and the hemorrhoid and pain would get hold of my life again. I kept my diet very well, tried many things including the herbs Juli prescribed and many other natural products. Nothing really helped. My mother in law even told me to use steroid based medication which of course I refused outright. I kept on looking for an answer outside as if someone else held magical cure for my hemorrhoid. I tried everything and looked everywhere…EXCEPT INSIDE OF ME.

One day, as I was reading a book, the idea suddenly came to me out of nowhere. It hit me like a ton of bricks on my head. I figured it out what was wrong with ME. I finally found the answer. It was like looking for a lost key for a longest time and end up finding it my own pocket. I had been so busy and stressed, and I have never spent a minute to have a private conversation with myself. I realized that I’ve been doing only the “I HAVE TO DO”, things and the, “I SHOULD DO”, “WHAT’S BEST FOR MY FAMILY” and none of the things “I LOVE TO DO”. I realized I have been very unhappy.

I have been pretending to be happy. Most importantly, I realized that I have been unknowingly building up a STRESS ticking bomb inside of me like a volcano that was about to erupt. My hemorrhoid was like a growing lava dome inside the volcano. The only thing that prevented it from exploding was a proper diet and the herbs Juli prepared for me.

I still have a long way to go before it is completely healed, and finding a time for the thing “I love to do” is not a easy task. But I know now that I can control the hemorrhoid simply by reducing the level of stress (growing lava dome) before it gets out of control. Engaging in fun exercise is one of the ways to reduce the stress. For me, playing soccer, swimming and playing tennis are some of my favorite activities.

They say that the level of stress can be measured by the level of hormone called cortisol in the body. There are many helpful articles out there about the relationship between stress and cortisol and what can be done to reduce it. So folks, if you are like me and have developed some kind of chronic ailment, please take your time to find activities or exercise that can help reduce the stress before it’s too late.

Oh, by the way, in case you are wondering how I finally realized what my real problem was, I will tell you the easiest way to do it, because your bottom-line cause of chronic illness may or may not be stress related.

Once you follow this simple technique, you will learn how to talk to your inner self and find how to get from point A to point B, in a straight line. In other words, you will find the solution to your nagging persistent problem in the shortest period of time. No detours.

Here is how to do it:

Find a quite dark place where no one bother you.

Sit comfortably and close your eyes.
Focus on your breathing, nothing else for as long as you can (Preferably, more than 10 minutes).

Then listen to your body and find out what it is telling you.

It is an oversimplified version of a meditation technique. As a disclaimer, I am not an expert at all on this matter. It just so happens that it works for my own purpose which consist of two main goals: 1. To regain energy and rejuvenate the mind and the body, 2. To find my true self.

If you are beginner like me, don’t worry. Just close your eyes and focus on your breathing for 5 minutes. Do it everyday and see where it takes while you search for a good book on the subject or a true master of meditation. You will be amazed by the positive result you receive from this exercise.

– Kaz Isogai

What You Wear Matters As Much As What You Eat

Here in America, we debate our food and talk about what diet makes a person healthy. We care about our packaging, labeling and ingredients in our food. But, we don’t usually hear about our clothes. Did you know that many man-made fabrics contain plastic? Or that they are sprayed with the same stuff we don’t want in our food: insecticides, pesticides and carcinogens!

I have always been sensitive to fabrics. Some are too itchy (usually a polyester blend), or just make me feel like my skin is crawling. And, now, I’m beginning to understand why. Skin in the largest organ of the body. We absorb what we have in our environment through the skin: from water to lotion to our clothing. And I suspect my skin has been reacting to the bad stuff added to our clothing. That’s why I prefer to wear natural fibers like cotton. But, even cotton is heavily sprayed with pesticides. So, what can we do about what we wear?

We can pay for clothing that is organically grown using natural fibers like cotton and hemp and even bamboo. These clothes are usually more expensive than what you find at a regular department store. I bought a shirt that was made of organic cotton when I was pregnant, and at the time it was a difficult decision. It cost so much money, but it felt so good that I chose to wear it during labor. And you know what? I have been wearing it for the past 5 years! It has held up and not worn out as quickly as all my more affordable clothes.

Used clothing is another option. When we wear used clothing, it has had a chance to off-gas any sprayed-on toxins, and has been washed enough to remove any residual dyes. I grew up bargain hunting at thrift stores. Even though I remember being embarrassed a few times to admit where I got clothing in High School to my admiring classmate, I’m better off for it.

For our family, we buy used and new, and sometimes we purchase more expensive clothing pieces made from natural fibers. We also wear our clothes out. Instead of buying a new wardrobe for every season, we only buy what we need when we need it. As they say, “You are what you eat,” and I’d venture to say you are what you wear too.

Holli Margell, Editor

Who Is Your Hero?

Who is your hero?
I would like to start the year with my hero. My hero is one that inspires me, makes the better of me, kicks my butt when I am going the wrong way and centers me.
All my life, my hero has been my father, who is also my teacher. He has taught me to be the best I can and that I am important._
My grandma had the power of knowing. She taught me health and was not polite in her way of teaching. When I don’t feel well, it was my fault. Since both my heroes have passed away, I keep to heart they’re teaching and I will pass on their teachings to my kids and patients.
To the present, my hero is my husband. As I was pregnant with our third child, my fourth, he’d say, one or two doesn’t make a difference, well it did. Got only two hands, third took extra hands. He keeps me centered with a sense of humor and picks me up when I am down.
Life seems like a fairy tale. Each chapter is different. I see life as a series of chapters where we grow wiser and better as we get older.
Happy New Year!!! Make this a year to remember and be a hero to someone. We all need some inspiration.
My wish for 2013, is for us to build a stronger connection to the ones we care for with strength and compassion.
Live life to the fullest!