Flowers

Flowers play a prominent part in spring.

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Pink, yellow, purple, red, orange, white, green, brown, blue, turquoise, coral, speckled – flowers seem to come in all colors and a variety of shapes and sizes.

Well, I guess that nature reflects human beings when it comes to variety.  Nature seems to take a fancy pleasure in the diversity in its creation spreading the wonder of color and texture over the landscape of the weary winter soil.

Smart humans viewing nature’s array of glory take the hint when viewing their own neighborhood of diverse ethnic makeup and say “aren’t I a lucky person.”  Living in a community where we’re daily exposed to people of diverse backgrounds and ethics mixtures enrich our lives and positively expands our view of the world.

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Take a moment to view a flower garden and you’ll see blooming spring diversity in all its form.

 

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Writer at Work

Writing is and can be an exhilarating pass time, fascination and/or professionI appreciate my friend sharing this professionally created door marker.  The insignia surely is not my creation but inspires me when I get a writing block.

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I took a short break from public writing which turned out for me to be a restless time because as we all know – ‘writers, write.’

The writing bug is beginning to buzz just like all of the busy birds and bees of spring.

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All I need to do now is ‘unclutter’ all my paperwork.

Ray Anthony Lewis

UNDENIABLE

I was watching an interview between Dan Patrick and Ray Anthony Lewis.  Ray Lewis completed a distinguished 16-year career as a middle linebacker with the Baltimore Ravens wearing #52 and is inducted into the Football Hall of Fame.

Ray mentioned many inspiring quotes during the process of the conversation but one particular thought remains with me: “If you stay ready then you ain’t never got to get ready.”  This seems to be his mantra for success.  Even though Ray experienced a challenging childhood he continues striving for success in his adult years because he wants to “stop my family’s pain.”  His humble beginnings taught him that personal dedication and striving to, as he says, “get on the other side of pain” seems to be his driving force for success.

As Ray joined his fellow teammates at the University of Miami he came to the university with 1 pair of jeans and 3 white tee shirts.  Certainly, he has expanded not only his wardrobe but his capacity to stay ready and stop his family’s pain by providing not only a sincere example of dedication but the physical trappings of material success.

A profound quote by this successful man really remains with me: “If there’s something in your life that needs changing then you better change it because if you don’t someone else will and you may not like how they do it.”

 

PAIN

100 million is the estimated number of Americans who live with chronic pain. 

 

Special nerve endings in our body can distinguish pain signals from other signals.  These nerve endings send messages to our spinal cord.  That’s why you yank your hand from the fire without thinking, “That’s hot.” – Your cerebral cortex thinks about the pain and decides what to do. (WebMD July/Aug 2018p.76,77)

Your nerves, spine and brain constantly message each other to determine how you feel the pain.  – Your limbic system responds with emotion: anger, fear, frustration, or even relief.

Your brainstem controls your automonic functions (functions in your body that occur without you thinking about them) like breathing and heart rate that can change in response to pain. It’s a feedback system in your body designed to keep you healthy.

People who deal with chronic pain show actual heightened activity between a certain network of brain regions and the insula, a “receiving station” for sensory input (Arthritis Today Sept./Oct. 2018) according to Neil Basu, PhD, senior lecturer and acedemic rheumatologist at the University of Aberdeen in Scotland.  These changes are referred to as “pro-pain” effects.  These changes stem from alterations in the central nervous system (CNS) – the brain and spinal cord – where the pain signals are processed.

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Brain Signals  Pexels.com

Pain is designed to be a defense mechanism for our body.  It tells us that something is wrong.  Something needs our attention.  Something needs to be fixed – but there is no doubt that pain causes stress.  Stress causes our body to release hormones designed to protect us from short term stress – such as a bear trying to attack our family.  Obviously, neither long term pain or long term stress is good for us, our physchological health or our body’s general well being.

You probably have some kind of pain every day says Xavier Jimenex, M.D. director of the chronic pain rehabiliation program at Cleveland Clinic – back pain, headache, and neck pain, in that order.  In fact, one in 10 American adults has been uncomfortable continuously for the past 3 months, according to a 2015 report.  And – wouldn’t you know it? – women tend to feel pain more often, longer and with a greater intensity than men, says Stanford University pain psychologist Beth Darnall, Ph,D. “That’s partly because sex hormones like estrogen and progesterone pay a role in how we experience pain,” she says. (Good Housekeeping Aug./2018 p.85)

There are options for pain relief.  Some are “natural” others are “manufactured.”

The standard American diet tends to include lots of unprocessed carbohydrates, unhealthy fats and processed foods.  Intake of these foods increases cytokines which will boost inflammation and make you susceptible to chronic pain says Robert E. Sorge, Ph.D., a psyhologist at the University of Alabama at Birmingham.

Lack of sleep will impact your pain.  When you suffer from migrains, acid reflus, fibromyalgia, rheumatoid arthritis and other conditions your lack of sleep increases the inflammation in your body and that will boost how much pain you feel explains Thomas Roth, Ph.D., director of the Sleep Disorders and Research Center at Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit.

Your view of your pain can affect the intensity of your pain.  When you focus all of your attention and energy on how much your pain hurts it can tell your brain that the pain’s intensity is overwhelming your ability to deal with it.  You therefore become anxious and feel helpless to deal with not only the pain but your ability to relieve the pain.

So, flip your thoughts and create new experiences around your pain.  I am not suggesting that you ignore your pain signals, I’m just saying that thinking differently about an expeirnce, including pain, can lead you into exploring new pathway which will send a different signal about your pain to your brain. (Good Housekeeping Aug. 2018)

Obviously, intense and/or chronic pain needs attention.  That may come in the form of prescribed medication, long term physical therapy, intense exercise or a prescribed alternate relaxation method.  There are a handful of products available today that can assist you in dealing with your pain.  One is joining a medical clinical trial program.  Clinical trials are the heart of medical advances and the success of these trials hinges on the participation of people like you. (RA Today Vol. 10, Issue 2)

The news surrounding opioid addiction has been in the forefront of the media.  

In 2016. more than 214 million prescriptions were written and filled for opioids.  83% of prescription opioid-related deaths are unintended/accidental.  However, prescriptions opioids can be helpful in managing chronic pain.  An opioid overdose emergency occurs when there are so many opioid molecules in the brain that they overwhelm the brain receptors and block the body’s drive to breathe – this is life threatening. (Adapt Pharma 2018) An article in Brain & Life (Aug/Sept 2018 p.23) suggests that medical providers should prescribe pain relief medication for immediate relief and not extended-release or long-acting.  The re-evaluation for patient care should occur within 4 weeks and then again at 3 months.

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YOU’RE IN CHARGE  Pexels.com

Whatever path you choose for your pain relief make sure that it fits your needs and it works to relieve the intensity and inflammation that accompanies chronic pain.  Also pay attention to your pain signals – they are telling your that something in your body isn’t working as it should – it needs attention.  Remember, you are in charge of you! 

That One Person…

By the time you’re 2 years old, your environment has already influenced your developing brain. The message that both early stress and loving tactile interaction affects a child’s brain is nothing new (DiscoverMagazine.com5/2018). When you feed your precious newborn hold them and look into their eyes – don’t lay them on the couch and prop up the bottle with a baby blanket, it’s important!

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HAPPY BABIES Pexels.com

Developmental research shows that having one or more caring adults in a child’s life increases the likelihood that they will flourish, and become productive adults themselves. (Scales, P.C., Developmental assets: Amer. J.of Comm. Psy., 20(4),445-461.

Obviously, “That One Person” in a child’s life makes a difference.  Having a positive adult influencing a child increases the likelihood that the child will:

  • stay calm and controlled when faced with a challenge
  • show interest and curiosity in learning new things
  • care about doing well in school
  • complete assigned homework
  • play sports or participate in some type of organized club
  • participate in volunteer work or community service (Research Brief 12/2013 Child Trends – #2013-54)

This means that when a child has “That One Person” in their life who believes that they are special, that child has a greater likelihood of positive outcomes and a reduced likelihood of negative outcomes in both their family and social environment.  To translate this into everyday terms: the child will volunteer, exercise, stay calm, show interest in learning, be less sad and be less likely to be bullied.

You as a parent, of course, are  UNIQUELY “That One Person.” When your newborn is awake during those first few months, spend the time walking or singing to them; research reveals that these interactions wire baby’s brain for language and communication. You don’t even need to stop your daily activities.  Put your baby in a sling and kindly narrate your activities.  This advice is given to us by Dr. Lee Beers, MD, FAAP, a pediatrician with Children’s National Health Center in Washington, DC.

3.8 million babies were born in the U.S. in 2017 and a new baby is born in the U.S. every 8 seconds. (WebMD.com Jan/Feb2019). If you are attentive to your child’s cues they will naturally fall into step with the positive motivations.

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COMPUTER LITERACY Pexels.com

However, even if you aren’t a new parent there are many opportunities to be “That One Person.”  One is to become digitally literate.  Keep up with the latest technology and guide your children’s use of it – this will reduce the risk of their victimization.  Kids who face online cruelty report loneliness, depression, low self-esteem, and anxiety.  Nearly 9 in 10 teenagers have seen some sort of cruelty between their peers on social media (WebMD.com Jan/Feb 2019).

Mentors are “That One Person.” If you are a grandparent, a clergy member, a school teacher, a librarian, a social worker, a medical provider, a first responder, a scout leader, a cook at school, a bus driver, a mailperson, a cashier, a bank teller, a school peer-advisor, a caring adult then you are “That One Person” who can make a difference in a child’s life.  You are a mentor-like adult.  When the big scientific “they” examine the association between having a caring adult and the number of child ‘well-being outcomes’ the “numbers” prove that a greater likelihood of positive outcomes equals a reduced likelihood of negative outcomes.  In other words, having a caring adult in your life equals a better life for the child.

Social Well-Being

20181220_210755Co-hosting with James Kelly the syndicated radio talk show “Aspects of Writing” that is devoted to showcasing writers, authors, illustrators, visual arts, and creative composition gives me an opportunity to meet professionals in these fields.

Recently we were privileged to host 4 distinguished guests who offered an exciting glimpse into the arena of creative writing and graphic design. These award winning creators share their unique talents with not only the general public but individual children.

You may often spot them at your local library sharing a precious moment reading to a young child or talking about the alluring illustration that adorns the front of a childhood mystery novel.  These writers and illustrators are well known in their field and respected by their peers and could spend their time in any number of ways.  However, they opt to read at your local public library or come to a local radio talk show so that their professionalism can be spread out into a wide circle.  They want their message for the love of writing and illustration to awaken in everyone the adventures that lurks within the pages of a book or the laptop in your hands.  They want you to feel, experience, absorb and remember the unique sensation that is possible from reading a good book.

Social Well-being is evident as these writers and illustrators willingly share their talent with the public.

As you pick up a book your eye focuses on the cover art.  The purpose of the illustration is to not capture your attention but to intice you to purchase the book or download the ebook. Whether you are someone who likes to feel the physical book in your hand or use an electric devise to read a story you still are induced by the opening line of the story and any illustration within the book.   So the next time you walk by a shelf of books think about the author and illustrator who made that precious book possible and spread a little Social Well-Being…

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Your Children’s Legacy

This web site focuses on maintaining health and wellness.  That’s why I’m writing about an invisible lifelong family legacy that you can pass on to future generations by simply making an educational decision.

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Epigenetics is the chemical modification of genes and how the information in our genes is expressed and used by our cells – how cells read our genes.  The scientific journal Nature Neuroscience (June 2004) proved and reinforced this evidence.  A mother’s behavior can cause epigenetic changes in her child (DiscoverMagazine.com 5/2018).   What grandma and grandpa do and what parents do, influences their descendents.

Timing matters.  When the  brain of a 2 year old is influenced the affect is more long lasting  than when middle aged adults are targeted.  Neural communication, brain development and function reveal more methylation at a younger age. Researchers at Yale University published their study of Russian orphans documenting this finding(Szyf/Meaney). These altered traits on the affected genes can be transmitted to the next generation (Science, Jan., 25).  Epigenetic changes in certain regions of the brain underlie our intellectual intelligence – our ability to learn…(DiscoverMagazine.com5/2018).

Medscape (American Nurse Today 2017;12(10) relates that Epigenetic changes the DNA and interfers with transcription and alterations which affects how cells read and interpret genes that results in visible characteristics(phenotypes).  A collection of chemical tags, like methlation, can interfere with transcription to turn genes on or off and help fine-tune gene expression (protein production) in response to what’s happening in the environment.

The New York Times recent publication (July, 2018) reports on a new study by Nature Genetics.  This study finds that many of the genetic variations related to educational attainment are involved in how neurons communicate in the brain.  A striking number are involved in relaying signals out of neurons and into neighboring ones through connections called synapses.

Daniel J. Benjamin, a behavioral economist at the University of Southern California in association with UK Biobank in Britain and 23andMe began sharing information and found a number of genetic variations that are unusually common in people who finished a lot of school.  The variants are linked to genes active in the brain, helping neurons to form connections.  The key to educational attainment may not be how quickly information is acquired, but how quickly it can be shared between various regions.

Some variants linked to education work not in the brains of students, but in the people they inhertited the variants from – their parents (Epigenetics).

By somehow shaping the educational behavior of parents, these variants may alter the environments in which children grow up in a way that helps or impinges on time spent in school.

I was the first woman in my family to attend and graduate from college.  I didn’t have a person in my immediate or extended family to guide me through the process.  Attaining an associate, bachelor and master’s degree has made a difference in my financial and personal life. However, following this example, my siblings attended various educational institutions.  Since then my children and granddaughter have made the decision to either attend or graduate from college.

Is there educational behavior based on a gene profile?   Is there a genetic “score” for educational success?  Based on the methylated changes on a person’s genetic code, the answer would be – probably.  The longer your ancestors stayed in school the more probable you will too.

Taking a Moment

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It’s a good time of the year to reflect on some of the articles about my adventures.  As I place them together the collection seems a little small compared to the busy beehive of activity that’s been buzzing around my life.

Additionally, as I co-host on the Talk Radio show, Aspects of Writing that is designed to inspire viewers and writers to focus on concerns in today’s society, my schedule fills up quickly.

Response from LinesofListeningblog.wordpress.com continues at a steady pace.

Anticipation grows as my next book “Ripples in the Generations” is just coming out of the book cover design process.

Someone needs a moment; it may be me.

Vitrification

Vitrification is a process of converting a material into a glass-like amorphous solid that is free from any crystalline structure, either by the quick removal or addition of heat or by mixing with an additive.  So, what does this mean and why am I writing about it?

Well, your most recognizable example of this process occurs as you walk along the beach and you find a solid form of light-brown tinted glass lying in the sand.  When lightning strikes enough sand it can create glass.  In this case, the sand heats up and liquefies, then rapidly cools into a glass-like state.  When you reach down and pick up this vitrified glass you’re holding evidence of nature changing itself.

We can take a lesson from nature.  Feeling awkward in social situations or being mentally challenged often increases our body temperature because our innate “flight-or-flight” preservation response tells us that our system is under attack.  Things are heating up for us, we are getting hotter; sweating, dry mouth, jittery, nervous are all responses that we know.

Do we need to change?  Does the heat that we’re experiencing indicate that we’re getting ready for the proverbial bolt from above?  Will changing help us feel comfortable?  Well, nature seems to understand change fairly well and accepts the idea as part of life.  Could it be that we are stubborn when the need for change comes our way?  I think that we all agree – a bolt of lightning is extreme and no one wants to experience a fast, atmospheric, electric flash with enough energy to discharge itself and change us into glass.

Vitrification is extreme.  Maybe a slow, uncomfortable burn is more manageable when we are looking for clues of change.  We want to feel good, relate well with our partner, enhance our well-being and mental ability in a low anxiety environment.  No one wants to get zapped with high-voltage electricity!  Embracing the need for change may be a powerful potential antidote to loneliness or social isolation – “therapy without a therapist.”

Making change when we first feel uncomfortable in social situations may be the key to a comfortable transition.  Introducing small adjustments to our daily lives before big changes are needed seems logical.  It’s like experiencing light rain with far-off thunder instead of standing in a hurricane with the constant threat of a lightning strike.

Purpose

I was listening to an interview with a prominent sports marketing and memorabilia entrepreneur.  This person has overcome multiple challenges in his life to become successful.  These struggles facing humiliation and embarrassment solidified his purpose at a young age.  His focus which was forged into a purpose centers around developing healthy relationships.

It’s obvious that this person is a prominent figure in today’s sports arena.  He has strategically developed business relationships throughout his tenuous career.  Therefore, he enjoys conversational dialogues with well-known athletes.   His personal relationship skills have developed through years of interactions in multiple business ventures.

His personal skills have been finely honed into a detection monitor for the finer things in life.  Although money is important and needed for daily existence the real and sustaining value lies closer to everyone’s reach.  It is something that can be developed and nurtured by anyone desiring to have a rich and full life.  This ‘finer thing’ requires attention to developing problem-solving abilities and upgrading your listening skills.

The purpose of developing healthy relationships is a lifelong skill.   It involves struggling with life’s challenges, appreciating your life, trusting in the goodness of people, looking honestly at disappointments, disassembling your old notions of bias and being charitable toward other’s faults.  In order to have healthy relationships with people, you have to talk to and interact with people.  I know that sounds obvious but the idea can be scary to some people.  Often, people who are skilled at playing hardball in the business world find it difficult to interact in the personal arena with others.  For some reason, these hard-hitting entrepreneurs find that dealing with another human being on a strictly personal level is terrifying.

However, this terror is quickly overcome when a ‘purpose’ is the main focus.  Purpose trumps everything.  Especially when you truly care for people you’ll find that if you decide that your purpose is healthy relationships that’s where your focus will be.  Fostering your interactions with the people that you care for will melt away all of the incidentals in life.  I’m not saying that food or clothing or shelter aren’t vitally important because they are but if you decide that your purpose in life is healthy relationships with yourself and others, the essentials of life will also fit nicely into your life.

The purpose of life is to remember that people are more important than things.