ADJUSTING

BACK AND FORTH, UP AND DOWN, SIDE TO SIDE – WHAT TO DO?

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Sometimes life is mixed up.  Jumbled-up seems to be the theme of the day.  Disorganization follows everywhere even into our thoughts.

So what do we do?

We understand that being in the throes of adjusting our lives is a central theme of life.  When we look at nature adjusting is a central theme.  Clouds adjust to the weather, temperature adjusts to the position of the sun, birds adjust to the availability of food and water, plants adjust to the warmth and direction of the sun, animals migrate to food sources, water flows downstream.

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We learn lessons from nature.

When we find that things are difficult we should figure out why they are hard and then make them easy.  Sounds logical doesn’t it but in reality, if we take time to make the adjustment in our thinking or our approach to life our path would match nature’s theme.

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Dealing with a difficult problem, working with a stubborn person, living with an abusive partner or wrestling with complicated emotional issues requires adjusting for everyone.  However, if your adjusting efforts don’t bring results that are giving you positive rewards – keep adjusting!!!

 

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Holiday Planning

HAPPY EASTER.

We are celebrating this holiday season with family functions, festive meals, party planning preparations, and friendly conversations.

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Our checklist often begins weeks in advance with decisions being made that will showcase our finest and our best. We mentally and physically prepare by going through what we have and then become busy buying any needed items making sure that organization is our focus.

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INVITATIONS ARE IMPORTANT !!!

Whether we call our guest on the phone, send out engraved invitations by registered mail or engage in a face-to-face conversation inviting a variety of interesting guests to the celebration is obviously critical to having a fun and engaging event.  We are social beings and thrive on regular public interactions and holiday celebrations certainly fit the bill.

So, you have double checked your last minute details and await the arrival of your guests.  Some of your friends will inevitably arrive early but you are prepared so you relax, greet your guest and have a fun and happy day.   Holiday planning checklists offer you a happy and relaxing holiday event.

 

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.

 

Much A-Do About Sleep

What’s all the fuss about?

Ask any teenager and you’ll get a quick lesson on the limited need to take time away from friends, fun activities, laptops, cell phones, etc.  However, according to a report by the periodical Community (Vol.5, Issue,2, Summer 2016) teens need 8-10 hours of deep, restful sleep each night.

Sadly, sleeplessness has become an American epidemic. Consumers Reports (March 2019) indicates that 80% of adults have trouble sleeping at least once a week.  In a recent CR report, almost half of the people studied toss and turn in sleeplessness each night.

Whatever your age or gender, sleeplessness takes a personal toll.  Women are most likely diagnosed with insomnia and men follow closely with a diagnosis of sleep apnea. A large percentage of U.S. adults, 30 %, – an estimated 83 million people – sleep poorly.  Since the National Sleep Foundation suggests that adults aim for at least 7 hours of uninterrupted of sleep each night, how do we hit that goal?

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Adequate restful sleep on a regular basis is critical.  It enhances your mood, boosts your memory, invigorates your creativity, and props up your problem-solving ability.  The periodical Community goes on to state that per night: Seniors need 7-8 hours of sleep, Adults need 7-9 hours, Teens need 8-10 hours, School-aged children need 9-11 hours, preschoolers need 10-13 hours, Toddlers need 11-14 hours, Infants need 12-15 hours and Newborns need 14-17 hours of sleep.  Traditionally,  sleep has been seen as one of the three pillars of health and wellness along with diet and wellness.  However, today research points to sleep being THE foundation of living a healthy life according to Terry Cralle, RN, certified sleep educator for the Better Sleep Council.

There is an answer: personalize your routine.

= Keep a record of your sleep pattern

  • Exercise, less active people are more likely to experience insomnia
  •  Experiment with aromatherapy – lavender essential oils may induce sleep
  • Enjoying meditation helps to generate restful sleep patterns
  • Eliminating sleeplessness with melatonin or other supplements may help
  • Elicit help in maintaining your sleeping area at a cool temperature (60-67 degrees)
  •  Eliminate alcohol – it interferes with sleep quality

That’s what all the fuss is about…  Enjoy your sleep!

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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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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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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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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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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Sports, Sex, Sizzle

So what makes us feel good, what makes us sizzle?  According to an article by Salynn Boyles from the archives of WebMD, athletes who encounter unavoidable injuries in playing sports can play through the pain because they have a higher tolerance than a “couch potato.”  The report expands the theory that physical activity boosts levels of chemicals that mimic the effects of “feel good” and pain-relieving opioids, known as endorphins.  Seems as though we can get a feel-good high from physical exercise – we “sizzle.”

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However, Allan Basbaum, Ph.D., of the University of California, San Francisco indicates that it’s both the brain and the blood that “sizzle” with endorphins when our body is charged and feeling good.

A study in Time Health (Fall 2018 p. 11) relates that sexual experiences with a committed partner give rise to a personal reaffirmation and a sense of benevolence that is beneficial to the relationship. This sort of sexual experience seems to improve well-being through a rush of emotions that spread hormones throughout our brain and body – again we “sizzle.”  Humans’ deep need to belong is likely at the root of this effect according to Todd Kashdan et. al., at George Mason University who published a paper in Emotion.  This study also indicated that the day after the sexual encounter occurred the people involved were less concerned with how others viewed them and they held themselves in higher esteem – indicating that the “sizzle effect” is lasting. Romantic relationships flourish with satisfying and intimate sexual contact which gives rise to personal reaffirmations.  Sex is important in the well-being of an adult relationship.

Maybe you don’t feel like “sizzling.”  You’re tired, worried about work, don’t feel good, your partner relationship has gotten boring or your energy level is just plain empty.  There are some suggestions that might help.  An article by Gina Shaw in WebMD indicates a little spice might be needed.  Biological evidence shows that participating in new and novel experiences stimulate the chemical dopamine which affects the pleasure center of your brain – again you “sizzle.

Tom DiChiara suggests yet another option.  Grunting, bench pressing, Downward Dogs, sprinting, boxing and stopwatches may not be a dream date with your significant partner but that may be exactly what your relationship needs.  Working out as a couple gets both of you into a training routine.  Since you already know that physical exercise stimulates  “feel good” endorphins both you and your partner can “sizzle” together first at the gym and afterward at home.

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Sex and sports helps us “sizzle”, what’s not to like – I’ll leave you with that thought.

Do You Feel the Anxiety?

As we enter the month of December the feeling of free-floating anxiety is rising.  There seems to be an unwritten rule that we must perform unusual social activities with our friends and casual acquaintances for the next few weeks in order to fulfill an invisible cultural norm.

This duty requires our appearance at social functions that are often scheduled to include potluck meals prepared with high-calorie foods that we prepare late at night with ingredients we normally wouldn’t purchase.  We do this so that our potluck dish will be noticed among all of the other specially prepared meals.  Of course, we also are socially obliged to eat portions of these dishes so that we can fulfill the invisible cultural norm.

As the month of Christmas-tide begins most of us make a mental resolution to manage our sleep routine so that getting enough much-needed shut-eye is a priority.  However, bedtime bleeds into the wee hours as we try to check up on our emails.  Since we are exhausted after a difficult day at the office most of us will try to catch a few winks on the couch before dinner – invariably then we can’t fall asleep at night.  If we do manage to fall asleep all of the festive issues swirling around the season wash through our brain with worry and concern.  When we can’t sleep we get out of bed, turn on the TV and watch the latest re-run of a 20 year old western even though we know that this artificial light interferes with our body’s production of melatonin.

So, now we have eaten too much unhealthy food, socialized with people we don’t know or even like and when we do finally get to bed, we can’t sleep.  Does this sound familiar?

Take a breath.  Understand that you can manage Christmas-tide because you have three tools on your December calendar.  These tools will work well for you because you’re putting them to work early in the month.  They’re easy and free.  Since you know what’s coming in the Christmas-tide from your past experiences you’ll now be prepared to handle situations.  These tools assist you when you feel the anxiety of the season.

  •  Schedule your time
  •  Eat healthy food
  •  Plan for setbacks

These three powerful tools may seem simple and logical but if you put them into practice NOW and physically write them on your December calendar you’ll be successful in using these expert tools.  I know that you’ll make a mental resolution to write the physical words on your calendar or type them into your laptop but I want you to do it NOW. When you feel the anxiety, read the tools!

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.