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Change June 6, 2014

Posted by nrhatch in Exercise & Fitness, Food & Drink, Health & Wellness.
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42 comments

Chicken-Little-PosterFor many things, it’s slow and steady progress (not perfection) that helps us manifest change.

For others, cold turkey works best.

Gobble.  Gobble.

For example, switching from regular milk to skim milk or from dairy milk to almond or soy milk is harder if we alternate back and forth.  We don’t acclimate to the new milk until we STOP drinking the old milk.

The same is true of other dietary changes.

Our taste buds adapt to less salt and less sugar, but only after we eliminate the “problem foods” from our daily diet.

Also, change is easier if we don’t rely on sheer will power alone.

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Most of us are impatient and don’t want to wait.  Delayed gratification often is not enough to keep us slogging along with the new regime.

If we focus on the short term rewards gained from the behavioral changes we’re making, rather than on what we are giving up, it makes it easier to stick with the new behavior until it becomes status quo.

For example, we can focus on how we feel after a vigorous walk, rather than obsessing about the slow-to-move number on the bathroom scale.

Aah . . . that’s better!

For some terrific tips on mindful change:  What Needs to Change for Change to Happen (Find Your Middle Ground)

Chikungunya, Dude! June 5, 2014

Posted by nrhatch in Bulletin Board, Health & Wellness, Humor.
Tags: , , , ,
34 comments

Mosquito (in Public Domain)

A mosquito borne virus, which originated in East Africa before spreading to Asia, Europe, and the Caribbean, continues to make the news.

Symptoms of Chikungunya Fever include fever, headache, severe muscle pain, and a rash.

These symptoms appear 3-7 days after an individual is infected by a mosquito bite and can last for 2-4 months.  The infectious stage lasts 10-15 days.

The name (which sounds like “chicken goon-ya”) comes from the East African dialect for “doubled over.”

That does not sound good.

Take suitable precautions to avoid getting bit by these blood-sucking-good-for-nothing-critters that should never have been allowed on the Ark.

What the hell was Noah thinking?

Aah . . . that’s better! 

 

 

 

Give Your Brain A Boost . . . With A Book April 25, 2014

Posted by nrhatch in Books & Movies, Health & Wellness, Meditation.
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43 comments

150px-Carlo_Crivelli_052Last week, Andra Watkins (The Accidental Cootchie Mama) shared links to two research studies done to evaluate the impact of reading on brain function:

Brain Function Boosted After Reading A Novel

This study revealed increased brain activity measured in the MRI’s of 21 college students during and after reading the novel Pompeii.

While this is promising news for book lovers, I wish the study had used control groups so we could compare results and determine whether reading novels has a more pronounced effect on the brain than:  watching movies, playing video games, meditating, dining out, texting, yoga, drinking wine, eating chocolate, walking, parasailing, riding a bike, talking to a close friend, having sex, etc.

Since everyone read the same novel, it’s hard to conclude, based on this study alone, that novel reading is better for the brain than other activities, such as reading poetry, attending a concert, watching a ballet, or “getting jiggy with it” by going ballroom dancing.

But reading definitely woke up a few neurons.

How Reading Lights Up Your Mind

Another article with anecdotal evidence about the value of reading (and meditation) for brain health.

Here’s what the article had to say about meditation:

“Meditation has long been studied to better understand how sustaining attention and focus affects the brain. Studies on mindfulness meditation, for example, show that parts of the brain associated with positive mood are activated with the practice of focusing attention.”

I have found this to be true.  Plus the sustained focus and attention carries over in all areas of life. Instead of re-acting to events (using stale beliefs about past experiences), we more mindfully choose how to spend our days.

Sally-BrownPerhaps by curling up with a good book.

And a cup of coffee.

Aah . . . that’s better!

Related: Fight Brain Drain & Set Your Mind On Fire (Andra) * Your Brain On Jane (NPR) * Cross Train Your Brain

Cross Train Your Brain April 24, 2014

Posted by nrhatch in Exercise & Fitness, Health & Wellness, Meditation.
Tags: , , , , ,
45 comments

A few weeks ago, we attended a lecture at Freedom Village on Cross Training Your Brain.

We’d heard the speaker, Dr. Kevin W. O’Neill, once before when he presented A Brain Training Symposium.

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Dr. O’Neill reiterated that what benefits the body, benefits the brain:

* Exercise ~ Ball Room Dancing is #1!
* Eat right ~ a Mediterranean Diet is best
* Sleep tight ~ without popping pills
* Don’t let the bed bugs bite
* Manage stress ~ meditation is great
* Focus on positives ~ don’t worry, be happy
* Interact with friends ~ be a social animal
* Tickle your funny bone chakra
* Learn something new today ~ build synapses
* Share your talents/volunteer/help others
* Develop an attitude of gratitude
* Drinking coffee lowers the risk of dementia
* Eat tumeric ~ curried veggies, please
* Play games, solve puzzles, have FUN!
* Live, Love, Laugh, Learn!

A few key points:

(1) Exercise is the fountain of youth when it comes to brain health.  It lowers the risk of developing Alzheimer’s, increases gray matter, improves blood flow to the brain, elevates mood, and reduces stress.  For a 76% reduction in Alzheimer’s risk, try Ballroom Dancing!

(2) Reducing Stress helps maintain brain health ~ try exercise, yoga, tai chi, meditation, or other purposeful pursuits.  And get enough sleep.  Sleep allows neurons to shut down and repair themselves.

(3) A diet rich in whole grains, fruits, and veggies, and omega 3 fats helps keep dementia at bay.  Vitamins C, D, and E are key building blocks for brain health.  As is Folic Acid ~ found in dark green veggies, chickpeas, and pinto beans.

(4) Intellectual Stimulation and Social Engagement are beneficial to brain health as we age.  Playing games and musical instruments helps ward off dementia.

(5)  Go ahead, enjoy your daily dose of caffeine.  According to the research Dr. O’Neill shared, drinking 3-5 cups of coffee a day will lower your risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease . . . by 65%!

But don’t just sit around drinking coffee, R~E~A~D!  More on that tomorrow.

Aah . . . that’s better!

 

What do you do to keep your brain sharp?

13 Life Lessons February 12, 2014

Posted by nrhatch in Health & Wellness, Humor, Life Balance, Mindfulness.
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31 comments

Yesterday’s post contained some advice S~T~R~E~S~S.  Following up on that post, here are 13 Life Lessons to help you deal with daily challenges:

Donald-Duck-Mad1)  Acceptance.  Accept that some days you’re the pigeon and other days you’re the statue.

2) Exercise restraint.   Keep your words soft and sweet (in case you have to eat them).

If you can’t be kind, at least have the decency to be vague.

3)  Look for hidden blessings.  If you lend someone $20 and never see them again, it was probably worth it.

4)  Go With the Flow.  A truly happy person is one who can enjoy the scenery on an unexpected detour.

5)  Watch your tongue.  If you put both feet in your mouth at the same time, you won’t have a leg to stand on.

Donald-Duck-Driving6)  Drive with care.  If everything’s headed straight  for you, you may be in the wrong lane.  It’s not only cars that can be recalled by their maker.

7)  Be patient and wait your turn.  The second mouse gets the cheese.

8)  Perfection is over-rated.  Laugh at your mistakes.

And remember that some mistakes are too much fun to only make once.

9)  Dance like no one’s watching.  Nobody cares if you can’t dance well.  Just get up and dance.  Life is not a dress rehearsal.

10)  Sleep late when you can.  It’s the early worm that gets eaten by the bird.

11)  Birthdays are good for you.  The more you have, the longer you live.

12)  Be kind.  Perhaps our sole purpose in life is simply to be kind and compassionate to others.

13)  Do what you can.  You may be only one person in the world, but you may also be the world to one person.

Aah . . . that’s better!

Inspiration: e-mail from unknown author

Put Down That Load! February 11, 2014

Posted by nrhatch in Health & Wellness, Life Balance.
Tags: , , ,
26 comments

Green-ParrotA lecturer on stress management raised a pitcher of margaritas into the air, then asked her audience, “How heavy is this pitcher?”

The audience called out answers  ranging from four to eight pounds.

The lecturer replied, “The absolute weight doesn’t matter as much as the relative weight.

“The longer you try to hold it up, the heavier it feels:

* Holding it for a minute is no problem.

* After an hour, your arm will ache.

* If you try to hold it all day, you’ll need an ambulance.”

As the audience considered her remarks, she continued:  “In each case, the  absolute weight remains the same, but the longer we hold it up, the heavier the relative weight becomes.  The same is true with stress.”

“If we carry our burdens around all the time, they become heavier and heavier and we become more and more fatigued.  We need to put our cares and concerns down once in a while to give ourselves a chance to recharge.”

With that, she poured herself a margarita, took a sip, and added, “Once we’re refreshed and recharged, we can carry our burdens more easily.”

 Aah . . . that’s better!

Great advice!  Whatever burdens you’re carrying right now, put them down and give yourself a chance to recharge.  Take a mental health break.

Margaritas optional.

Inspiration:  e-mail from unknown author

Related posts:  Your Wheelbarrow Of Woe * Just Let Go * Ordinary Miracles

Ask Your Angels February 1, 2014

Posted by nrhatch in Gratitude, Health & Wellness, Synchronicity & Mystery.
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20 comments

Sometimes angels tell us what we need to hear:

* It’s never too late to shut up!
* Silence is always appropriate.
* Silence is the refuge of the wise.

Sometimes angels remind us of choices we face:

* You can choose to reflect difficulty or you can use humor and courage to lighten your own burden and the burdens of those around you.

Angels are calm and compassionate.  Sometimes wry, often amusing, they lift us up without putting us down.  They encourage and inspire without nagging or bullying.  They are not bossy or judgmental.

Here are 5 steps to talking to angels . . . with GRACE:

Grounding ~ be centered and present in the moment
Releasing ~ let go of worries, concerns, and negativity
Aligning ~ be open, focused, and relaxed; awake and alert
Conversing ~ connect with the highest source of knowing and listen
Enjoying ~ it’s FUN to tune in to our higher self and inner wisdom

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Angels can help us heal by removing energy that is “bent out of shape.”

* Focus on the physical or mental imbalance you want to transform.
* Close your eyes and focus deeply on the problem that needs healing.
* Visualize an angel using a vacuum cleaner to suck out the bad stuff.
* Visualize the machine unclogging blocked cells of spent & bent energy.
* Feel the pain diminish as you breathe deeper and lighten up.

Don’t forget to thank your angel for its multidimensional recycling efforts!

Aah . . . that’s better!

Source:  Ask Your Angels by Alma Daniel, Timothy Wylie, and Andrew Ramer

When we look within, and begin using an internal reference point, we unearth our Inner Cheerleader who NEVER has an agenda other than encouraging us to be the best we can be.

No Regrets January 28, 2014

Posted by nrhatch in Fiction, Gratitude, Happiness, Health & Wellness.
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21 comments

IMGP4187Barb heard a knock on the door and looked up.

David, hat in hand, stood framed in the doorway.

“David!  Come in . . . it’s so good to see you.”

He hung back.  “I figured you’d never want to see me again.”

“I do want to see you.  Very much.  Please come in.”

He looked at Barb and frowned, “This is all my fault.  You’re stuck in here because of me.  If I hadn’t dropped you . . . “

“It was an accident.”

“You make it sound like I spilled a glass of milk.”  He nodded at the chart at the foot of the bed. “What do the doctor’s say?

“Well . . . the psychiatrist is frustrated.  He’s waiting for me to be angry.  Or sad.  Or angry.  Angry would make him happy.  He wants me to grieve.  To rail against fate.”

“Why don’t you?”

“Besides the fact that I’m getting a kick out of doing the unexpected?”

“Yeah, besides that.”

“I don’t know.  I’m just not angry.  The psychiatrist is sure I’m in denial.  He scowls when I smile and shakes his head when I laugh and tell him about my day.  He scribbles madly on my chart when I say anything positive.”

“So you’re driving him crazy.”

Barb grinned. “Yes.  And I take great pleasure and pride in that.”

“Maybe you are in denial.  Maybe it just hasn’t caught up to you yet.”

“Maybe.  But I don’t think so.  I think I’m in a state of acceptance.  At peace with the “what is.”  Any day could be my last.  If this is my last day, why would I want to spend it crying over spilled milk?”

“This is NOT spilled milk, Barb.  You’re paralyzed from the waist down.  I ruined your life.  Forever.”

Barb reached out and touched the back of David’s hand, “No, you didn’t.”

“How can you say that?”

“Easy.  Even in a wheelchair, I’m not as crippled as those who allow emotional scars to eat them alive.  People like that walk through life without seeing the good.  They are blind to the present moment.  Being paralyzed may keep me from walking, but it’s not going to blind me to the wonder and delights of life.”

“I just want those 5 minutes back.  If I hadn’t been showing off . . . “

“Let it go, David.  I forgive you.  Forgive yourself.  Let go of the guilt.  Let go of regret.  You’re my best friend.  I don’t want you to destroy your life.”

“You mean like I destroyed yours?”

“Shall I be honest?”

“Yes.  Give it to me.  I can take it.”

“I would not choose to be in a wheelchair.  But I don’t get a choice in that right now.  It is the “what is.”  How I relate to that issue is the issue.  I can crawl into a ball and cry . . . or I can look for opportunities to laugh and smile.  I can hang on to anger . . . or I can embrace peace.  I can choose to be sad . . . or choose to be happy.   I choose happy.”

Barb reached out again and covered David’s hand with hers.  “I want you to do the same.  For me.  Be happy.  Live life with no regrets.  Find whatever joy you can.  Don’t take life for granted.  Life is good, but life is short.  Bad things happen.  Laugh when you can.”

Aah . . . that’s better!

Is happiness an inside job?  Are we buoyed up or dragged down by the thoughts we choose to think?

Is Barb right?  Does hanging on to pain, regret, guilt, fear, anger, and sadness weigh us down more than losing the ability to walk?

Quote to Ponder:  How refreshing the whinny of a pack horse fully unloaded! ~ Classic Haiku

Following Our Feet Out Of Bed January 16, 2014

Posted by nrhatch in Happiness, Health & Wellness, Life Lessons, Mindfulness.
Tags: , , , ,
44 comments

Mickey-OKI read a book once that said that people with clinical depression deserve a gold star “just for following their feet out of bed in the morning.”

I agree.

Recognizing all of our small accomplishments does wonders to lift our mood, even if we don’t suffer from clinical depression.

It also gets us off the hook for failing to win the Nobel Prize.

When I stopped practicing law, I wondered if I was wasting my life and the precious gifts I had been given.

My lack of achievement when compared with what others had accomplished (with far fewer resources) made me frown at my countenance.

Focusing on the negatives sapped my energy and enthusiasm . . . not a recipe for future success.  Switching gears, I turned my attention from what I didn’t do to what I did do.

I made a list.

This week, while sorting through my writing files, I found the list:

I followed my feet out of bed 357 days (so far) this year.  I wrote 30 songs and submitted 4 to the John Lennon Songwriting Competition.  I read more than 30 books.  I donated goods to charity and gave things to friends.  I shared laughter with those who crossed my path.  I made homemade gifts for loved ones.  I visited my nieces and nephews.  I hosted a going-away party for Sue.  I painted pictures.  I rode my bike.  I cooked dinners and went grocery shopping and paid the bills.

I interviewed, selected, and trained 15 people to act as volunteers for Side By Side.  I attended meetings of the Domestic Violence Working Group and planned several in-service meetings.  I gave talks on Domestic Violence to the Cherry Hill Religious Leaders Organization and to students at Cherry Hill West High School.

I forgave mistakes and missteps and encouraged others to do the same. I gained a better understanding of myself and others. I fed the birds and enjoyed the antics of thieving squirrels.  I raked leaves and planted tomatoes and peppers and flowers.  I stopped to smell the roses.

Writing the list enabled me to realize that I had NOT wasted the year . . . even if I hadn’t won the Nobel Prize.

* Don’t get caught up in the numbers game.  Having a profound impact on one person may be more important than having a modest effect on a thousand.

* Most of us will never do great things, but we can do small things with great love. ~ Mother Teresa

Sometimes, when the world spirals out of control, we need to press PAUSE and “just be.”  We need to breathe, relax, and repeat.

Other times, the best thing for our health and wellness is to “do something.”  Anything would do for a start.

Aah . . . that’s better!

What about you?  Do you find it easy to find the right balance between doing and being?  Or does life often feel a bit off-kilter?

Related post:  Old Advice Is Not Always Good Advice (Rainee)

Taking A Holiday November 27, 2013

Posted by nrhatch in Exercise & Fitness, Food & Drink, Health & Wellness.
Tags: , , , , ,
31 comments

What we eat is important to health and wellness . . . but so is flexibility.

Being too rigid adds to our stress levels and creates feelings of deprivation ~ both of which can negate the benefits of healthy eating.

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When we view food choices as “all or nothing,” we’re afraid to slip up.  And, if we do, that momentary indulgence can result in an all-out binge.  Instead of enjoying a single cookie or savoring a piece of chocolate, we inhale boxes and bags of sweet and savory treats.

By swapping our “all or nothing” mentality for a 90/10 rule, we can enjoy mini-indulgences without telling ourselves that we’ve “blown it!”

What we do MOST of the time matters more than the occasional Holiday.

Here . . . have a cookie!

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Aah . . . that’s better!

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