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Your Phone Could Save Your Life!

 

Our smartphones have gotten so smart, that they have a mind-boggling array of features and can store amazing amounts of data.

And of course, to protect all that we have stored in them, most of us keep them locked up tight. So what if (heaven forbid!) you were out and about and somehow got knocked unconscious. There’s your phone in your pocket, with tons of helpful information in it, but no one can access any of it to actually assist you when you need it most.

iPhones come with a built-in Health “app” that allows you to enter any information you think people would need to know if you are unable to speak for yourself. It has other features, too, like tracking daily activity, fitness information, and even automatically updates your data from smart scales, home blood pressure cuffs, and more. You can manually input your info as well.

If you open that Health app and press the “Medical ID” icon at the bottom of the screen, you can enter your name and date of birth, medical conditions and medications you take, allergies, blood type, emergency contacts, and any notes you care to include such as insurance information (you could include a note that you wear contacts or dentures, for example).

After you enter and save that data, it is accessible to anyone who wakes up your phone and swipes past the opening screen. On the screen where you would enter your passcode, the word “Emergency” appears on the bottom left. Anyone can touch that word and the “Emergency ID” information you entered will pop up, even if your phone is locked.

Android phones have health app options as well via the Google Play store. At the very least, there’s a way to take a screenshot of medical and emergency information and keep it as wallpaper on your locked screen so that it will be visible to first responders or Good Samaritans if the need should ever arise.

And I hope it doesn’t! Be well, friends!!

Category : Blog &Health

Finding Calm through Spirituality

These are some crazy times we live in. Most everyone I come into contact with says they feel increased stress and anxiety just from day-to-day happenings and the overall way people treat each other because EVERYONE is stressed and anxious.

What if we could all take a collective deep breath and make a conscious effort to be more kind to each other?

I believe that kindness is born from compassion—finding our commonalities and being more aware of our connection to each other. And I believe that that connection is spiritual in nature—we’re not literally, physically connected to each other, but if we’re still, sometimes we can FEEL an interconnection to others, to nature, to energy.

And if we focus on the positive energy, I believe we can manifest more of it. Here are five ways to be mindfully more spiritual, regardless of our religious beliefs:

Start each day with 10 minutes of calm. Many people use their phones for their morning alarm, and they IMMEDIATELY open apps for emails, texts, social media alerts, news, calendars, etc. Don’t do it! Take 10 minutes to quietly stretch, meditate, read something inspirational, write in your journal, walk in nature. Experts say this is a big influencer in setting our mood for the day.

Be of service to others. Too often we focus only on our own wants and needs. In doing so, we can isolate ourselves and feel worse by worrying or ruminating over things that aren’t going well. Reconnect by thinking of what would be helpful for someone else. Start with small acts of kindness—give someone a compliment, let someone out in traffic, be a good listener. Volunteer when you can.

Be spiritual wherever you are. Sometimes people think they have to travel to a retreat or even a foreign land to tap into their highest self and connect with others. The true essence of mindfulness is that it occurs right here right now, wherever we are! We all can work on our spiritual growth each day, whatever our circumstances.

Explore—and define—spirituality for yourself. You can read books and articles, watch videos and podcasts, go to conferences and workshops. Find like-minded people and see if someone could even serve as a role model for you. But no matter how much you admire someone for how they live, you have to be YOU! And spirituality actually can help us reach our highest potential.

Strive for simplicity. Faith can be non-religious, believing in our fellow humans and/or some kind of power in the universe that creates order and flow. Sometimes setting our to-do lists aside and allowing ourselves to be “human BEings” rather than “human do-ings” is a great way to tap into a spiritual contentment that can be quite profound. I like to have quiet moments in nature, but you might find something else that works well for you. It doesn’t have to be complicated!

There are actual health benefits to having a spiritual practice, including improved healing, and healthier brains experiencing more happiness and less negativity.

But perhaps the greatest benefit is mental or emotional wellbeing. Experts say we build resilience when we practice mindful meditation. Finding more calm and being more compassionate helps us cope and get through life’s challenges with more grace and creativity.

Source: “5 Ways To Find A Sense Of Spirituality Without Religion,” by Bénédicte Rousseau, mindbodygreen.com

https://www.mindbodygreen.com/articles/spirituality-without-religion

Category : Blog &Personal Growth

Are We Ever Old Enough to Die?

 

Author Barbara Ehrenreich has decided that she’s done with routine health screenings. That’s because at age 76, she feels she’s old enough to die.

Ehrenreich writes in a thought-provoking article that she is in good health, and she does not wish to spend whatever time she has left in labs and waiting rooms, being poked or prodded or feeling anxious about false positive test results. Many of the recommended screenings, she feels, are unnecessary, and are ordered not with the patient’s actual health in mind, but with the goal of making as much profit as possible for the healthcare establishment.

While her contemporaries tweak their diets and try new exercises routines, monitor their cholesterol levels and sign up for colonoscopies, Ehrenreich opts for a more simple, less faddish lifestyle of eating reasonably healthy and staying moderately active. She concludes, “As for medical care: I will seek help for an urgent problem, but I am no longer interested in looking for problems that remain undetectable to me.”

When I read this, I was really intrigued that someone would consider herself old enough to die. While I’m not afraid of dying, as I see it as a rather natural (and inevitable) aspect of life, I certainly wouldn’t welcome it any time soon!! And I think a lot of people ten, twenty, perhaps even thirty years my senior might feel the same way! And why wouldn’t you welcome a test that could detect a major disease like cancer way before it was “detectable”? Whatever you decide to do with that information, isn’t it true that knowledge is power?

Now, is it possible to drive ourselves nuts with chasing the latest health craze? Certainly. Could we make an argument that, say, a 95-year-old woman probably doesn’t need to subject herself to a mammogram? Or that if a 95-year-old were diagnosed with cancer, it might be an acceptable option to forgo medical intervention? Yes, of course.

And, most assuredly, a 76-year-old has the absolute right to make that same choice. We all draw the line somewhere. 

I’ve heard people complain about doctors ordering tests that seemed completely over the top. (Is it because the doctors get some kind of kickback? Is it to cover their butts so they won’t get sued?) Sometimes patients comply just to be safe, and sometimes they refuse. Sometimes it depends on whether their insurance covers it.

On the flip side, I’ve seen clients devote so much energy to such a strict discipline of “natural” remedies (usually in order to avoid what they consider “unnatural” medical treatments) that to my way of thinking, the time and expense and inflexibility of it all actually diminishes their quality of life.

But that’s just me. I draw the line somewhere in the middle, I guess. I want to live a long, healthy life, and I want to use the best of conventional medicine and complementary remedies to achieve those goals without making myself miserable.

Wherever you draw the line, I do strongly encourage people to self-advocate. When a doctor recommends a test or a procedure that doesn’t make sense to you, ask questions! Feel empowered to get a second and even a third opinion. Do thorough research on trendy recommendations or any alternative therapy that you’re not familiar with. Do what you feel is best for you.

I support whatever path people choose in their wellness journey. Even if they decide they’re old enough to die.

Source:  Literary Hub (lithub.com): “Why I’m Giving Up On Preventative Care: How Contemporary American Medicine Is Testing Us to Death,” by Barbara Ehrenreich. Excerpted from her book: Natural Causes: An Epidemic of Wellness, the Certainty of Dying, and Killing Ourselves to Live Longer

Category : Blog &Health

Tell Me What’s Good

The other day, a client I see monthly greeted me and asked how things had been since our last session. “Tell me about your month,” she suggested, “what was good, what was bad… start with the bad.”

I guess she knew from the previous month that my family had been dealing with some challenges, and I briefly gave her a quick status update. 

The way I was really feeling: the list of “bad” things could have gone on and on. I probably could’ve rattled off half a dozen things or more that had been occupying a lot of my time and mental energy. 

And maybe it’s because I’d been preoccupied with life’s challenges that they were top of mind the day I saw this client, but I’m embarrassed to say that I almost struggled to respond to her follow-up prompt, “Now tell me what’s been good.”

We’re all healthy, at least physically. Business is really good. I told her how well my garden is doing, and how I’m delighting in a squash plant that popped up out of some compost I used around a new flower last spring. The vine has taken over a large portion of the butterfly garden with meandering branches that split to veer around other plants. The leaves are beautifully variegated and as large as my two hands put together. It hasn’t produced a squash that survived to maturity—yet—but I have high hopes for the most recent sprout. Either way, it’s been fun to watch it grow, a happy accident that it is.

Weirdly, that was the one story uplifting enough to make me smile. 

Of course, we all hit rough patches in life, and it’s OK if there truly is not as much “good” in any given month. Goodness knows, some days we have our hands full and we can’t fit much more in.

But, was that really my situation? Did I really NOT have that much “good” going on? Or was I just so focused on the “bad” that I lost my balance and forgot to see, or keep track of, the good stuff?

After all, I HAVE carved out some time to spend wonderful quality moments with friends. I’ve fully “moved into” my art studio in the office and I’ve created a number of collage/assemblage pieces that I’m quite happy with. I started painting my kitchen cabinets a dark eggplant purple color and I love how it’s turning out. 

I probably could’ve thought of half a dozen things or more that had brought me joy, but I was taken aback by how hard I had to think about it to compile that list. 

Starting today, I’m renewing the practice of writing down something I’m grateful for and three things that went well. Apparently, I need to do this because left to my own mental devices, I will not remember. 

Now the next time someone asks me to tell them the good stuff, I will be able to easily and happily share because THAT is what will be top of mind!

Category : Blog &Health &Personal Growth

Happy Independence Day!!

This 4th of July, may we remember our love of country and love our fellow Americans. 

What I think would “make America great again” is civility, compromise, cooperation with respect and compassion.

John F. Kennedy said: “So let us begin anew-remembering on both sides that civility is not a sign of weakness, and sincerity is always subject to proof. Let us never negotiate out of fear, but let us never fear to negotiate. Let both sides explore what problems unite us instead of belaboring those problems which divide us.”

Maybe today he would say, “Let us never negotiate out of anger, and let us never be too angry to negotiate.” I hope we can truly remain the UNITED States of America, with liberty and justice for ALL. 

I wish everyone a safe and happy holiday!

Category : Blog &Personal Growth

Where Does the Time Go?

 

While June 21st marked the first official day of summer, school has been out locally for almost a month. We’ve blown through Memorial Day and are looking squarely at 4th of July. And just like every year, it feels like yesterday when we were saying “I can’t believe it’s 2018!”

Within the past few years, I’ve let go of some of my extracurricular commitments. I’m no longer in Rotary; my jewelry is not in a local gallery. I’ve said “no” to a good number of opportunities for socializing, I don’t do as much volunteer work as I’d like, I’ve decided not to adopt a dog at this time—all in an attempt to make life simpler.

I guess I’m hoping that if I slow down the pace of my life, it will feel like time itself is slowing down as well. That I can savor my un-busy moments and stretch out my days just a little bit more. 

But in the blink of an eye, the year is almost half over.

One day recently, 2 time-related headlines popped up on my Facebook feed. The first one said, “Stop saying you don’t have enough time. We have time for things we make time for.” And the second one said, “We’re almost halfway through the year. Are you ahead of your goals?”

I felt almost anxious! Am I ahead of my goals? No? Why am I NOT ahead of my goals? What ARE my goals? 

Well, some of my goals are health related. They seem very important to me, so I really “ought” to be able to make time for them. For example, I schedule time for exercise—goals that I think are very achievable. Just 30 minutes of cardio at least 3 time a week, daily stretching, and weights/resistance other days “as able.” But many weeks I fail to meet that goal.

I intend to make time to meditate every day, or at least “nearly” every day—even if it’s only for 5 minutes! But, I find I’m not consistently making time for that either.

I endeavor to eat healthy—carve out the necessary time to shop for fresh ingredients, do the necessary food prep and cooking, and sit down to eat with utensils at every meal. It is challenging to make the time for this, even though I know it is really important.

And in a good week, when I’m eating healthy and exercising and meditating and business is good, when the family is functioning well and there are no emergencies, I still don’t make enough time to read, journal, create art, spend time with friends, call relatives, and other things that I consider to be quite important. Can you relate?

The days, the weeks, the months fly by, and I am not ahead of my goals. I am barely keeping up, and I am often tired.

So, perhaps the most important “goals” are to try to strike a livable balance, and to embrace the imperfection. To accept that I am doing the best I can and that my best effort is enough. I am enough. You are enough, too!

Some weekends I even add “rest” to my to-do list. I make time to sit outside and enjoy my butterfly garden, looking at a magazine or simply daydreaming. I guess even in those moments, I am accomplishing something that’s important to me.

Because once a while, doing nothing is a virtuous goal, and worth devoting some time to.

Category : Blog &Health &Personal Growth

Why You Need to Learn CPR

Do you know how to administer CPR?

You should! The more people who know CPR the better, and here’s why.

CPR stands for Cardiopulmonary resuscitation. According to the Better Health Channel, “if the heart stops pumping, it is known as a cardiac arrest. CPR is a combination of techniques, including chest compressions, designed to pump the heart to get blood circulating and deliver oxygen to the brain until definitive treatment can stimulate the heart to start working again.”

We never know who might need emergency help. The American Heart Association says cardiac arrest “disrupts the flow of blood to the brain, lungs and other organs [and] is a leading cause of death. Each year, more than 350,000 out-of-hospital cardiac arrests occur in the United States.

“When a person has a cardiac arrest, survival depends on immediately getting CPR from someone nearby. Almost 90 percent of people who suffer out-of-hospital cardiac arrests die. CPR, especially if performed in the first few minutes of cardiac arrest, can double or triple a person’s chance of survival.”

A new technique has been developed called “hands-only CPR.” Doing chest compressions, even without mouth-to-mouth resuscitation, keeps blood flowing through the body. It’s less off-putting to the average person willing to help a stranger, and it’s far better than doing nothing! 

Chest compressions take over pumping blood when the heart cannot. But here’s the thing—it is very tiring work. CPR is most effective if it is done continuously until an ambulance arrives. But one person may not be able to keep it up for more than a few minutes.

We all need to be trained so we can help each other out. If you see someone administering CPR and you know how to do it, you can offer to take over for a few minutes. Then, the original person, or someone else with training, can take a turn. 

Hands-only CPR is easy to learn. Classes are offered locally through the American Heart Association and the American Red Cross. You can even arrange to have a class taught onsite at a civic organization or community club.

Please consider learning CPR. We always hope we’ll never have to use it. But I know if I needed help, I’d be eternally grateful for any Good Samaritan who helped save my life!

Resources: St. Johns County offers classes through the First Coast Technical College. For a link to that and other courses simply go to www.google.com and search for learn CPR near me.

Category : Blog &Health &Personal Growth

Acknowledging Our Positive Influencers

 

Many years ago I worked for a publishing company, and my boss—the best boss I ever had—was a British fellow named David.

David and I reconnected some time ago via Facebook. Today he posted about the anniversary of his moving to the US with his wife. He wrote, “If you are reading this, thank YOU for what you have done to create this magic existence we all share together. Because of you, our lives are loaded with rich relationships and experiences, and we are extraordinarily lucky.”

Back in the day, David was accused of being a “cheerleader,” insinuating that he lacked discernment in being unrelentingly positive when it came to fighting for something he felt his staff needed (getting a project approved, allocating more money to cover expenses, buying more time when needed, etc.). He was definitely our champion. He was the most genuinely cheerful person I have ever known. He and I used to get completely off track at work talking about music and life, and abstract ideas like what would the color blue sound like.

In life, David would do things like rent a lake cottage each summer and welcome guests with little kids, helping them catch their first fish and showing them how to make a fish print with it on a T-shirt to keep as a souvenir. As I’ve followed him on Facebook, I’ve enjoyed his perspective even more as he’s retired to live in lake country full-time, still with his wife hosting friends and their kids and their kids—still catching fish and going for hikes or giving tractor rides, and absolutely loving the simple pleasures in life and the insights they provide.

I commented on his post today that I was so grateful to have met him, that in being even a small part of his journey my life has been enriched as well.

It felt so nice to be able to tell him I appreciate him. It almost brought a tear to my eye as I reminisced and reflected on how much this person has meant to me.

I hope as he reads all the comments on his post, he realizes what a truly positive influence he’s been on a great number of people.

And I realized that it takes very little to reach out and tell someone how much they mean to us! And yet, how often do we make the effort? I would not have told David about my gratitude and affection if he hadn’t initiated the opportunity with his post.

I challenge myself and anyone reading this blog to make more opportunities to tell people thank you, I love you, you mean more to me than you know, your kindness made a world of difference in my world, your influence is greater than you think.

Cheerfulness and positivity come so naturally to David—even in his post about his own anniversary, he turned it around to thank others for their contributions to his time here. The world could benefit from more of us being cheerleaders and champions for others, don’t you think? At the very least, we can let people know that we appreciate them.

 

Category : Blog &Personal Growth

Writing Therapy

 

Have you ever engaged in writing for healing? Psychologists have long known that writing can help clients sort through and process their emotions. Now researchers are finding that writing can provide insights that help us do better physically, from boosting our immune system to functioning better with things like asthma and rheumatoid arthritis. [More info here: http://www.apa.org/monitor/jun02/writing.aspx]

Writing as therapy is great because it’s accessible to us all the time, and it doesn’t cost anything! Whether you like to write longhand (and for some this more tactile approach is especially beneficial—for example, it’s been proven that writing things down helps us remember them!) or using a computer keyboard, there are many types of writing that can be therapeutic.

Free writing. This is a very open-ended style of journaling—you can literally write about whatever comes to mind. I do this mostly when something is bothering me and I need to spend some time and energy quietly processing what is really going on or what I’m supposed to learn from the experience. Don’t edit yourself; just write what comes to mind. Sometimes you’ll get great insights!

Expressive writing. This is more of an exercise in which you pick a specific event, usually something troubling or traumatic, and you deliberately write about deeper and negative feelings to find meaning in them. It can be difficult, but this process has helped people stop ruminating about things that bother them. It can yield real healing, both mentally and physically. We can look for a therapist to help us with this type of healing process if we need to.

Reflective journaling. This is when we write about a specific experience or event, like a class we took or a project we participated in, and we write about what happened, how we feel about it, and what we learned. How did it help you grow as a person? It’s best to write shortly after the activity, and it’s fun to look back at previous entries to see how far we’ve come!

Keeping a gratitude journal. At the end of each day, or at least once or twice a week, it’s a good practice to write down what we’re grateful for. Research has shown that counting our blessings has a positive effect on our subjective well-being (reducing depression, for example). It also helps us sleep better and generally take better care of ourselves.

Letter writing. If you have unfinished business with a someone hanging over your head, writing everything you want to say in a letter can be extremely cathartic, even if you never send it.

Writing poetry. When we write a poem, we draw from our life experiences to really express ourselves in a creative way. Sometimes people have been able to use poetry to find meaning and perspective when dealing with a serious illness at the end of their lives. I imagine that it could be therapeutic to write a song or a short story based on our life experiences and viewpoints as well.

These are some of the ways to use composing to heal. Do you have other ways to use writing to sort things out, let things go, or reflect on the meaning of your experiences?

Source:https://www.mindbodygreen.com/articles/can-you-really-use-writing-as-therapy

Category : Blog &Personal Growth

Reflecting Before Sleeping

Much has been written on the benefits of contemplation first thing in the morning—setting intentions for the new day ahead and enjoying a calming ritual before rushing into the demands of the waking hours.

But what about introspection at bedtime—could we set the stage to have a wonderful night as well? 

Consider this 3-2-1 countdown strategy by Krista O’Reilly Davi-Digui, who writes for ALifeInProgress.ca.

3. Think of three things you are grateful for today. Even if we had a challenging day, we can find three things to be thankful for, however small. If you need help, there are many books on developing a practice of gratitude, including “A Simple Act of Gratitude,” by John Kralik. Here’s a link to the top 5 recommended by the Positive Psychology Program: https://positivepsychologyprogram.com/gratitude-books-oliver-sachs/)

2. Remember two things you did well today. Most of us have no problem identifying our shortcomings or “areas needing improvement.” It really is important to counter self-criticism by giving ourselves credit for our strengths and acknowledging where we shine! The benefits of self-love include building confidence and resilience.

1. Ask yourself, “what is one thing I would’ve done differently?” Some nights, our answer might be “nothing.” But sometimes, if we acknowledge with self-compassion that we could’ve handled something better, we can encourage ourselves to make that choice next time. This is not meant to be self-condemning; but rather, a step toward living the best version of ourselves.

In this way, we get to choose who we want to be, and how we want to live fully according to our goals and values. Taking a few minutes to think purposefully before we retire can bring clarity and peace that will not only help us sleep well, but set us up to have a better day tomorrow.

Source: “Pillow Self-Talk: Three Questions to Ponder Before Sleeping,” by Krista O’Reilly Davi-Digui, “natural awakenings” magazine May 2018.

Category : Blog &Health &Personal Growth