Health

Deliberate Words of Kindness

I recently had the honor of attending my great-niece’s Bat Mitzvah. I’ve been to two such services, and it’s a somber, religious occasion.

It’s also personal and very meaningful to the young person and her family. My favorite part is when the parents get to address their daughter. They typically heap praise on her for how hard she had to work to prepare for the day. And they also recall stories that tell about her character in general.

This is an opportunity for parents to stand up and publicly tell their child how wonderful she is, how much they love her, and how proud they feel. It brings a tear to the eye just to witness the power and beauty of that.

Never in my upbringing was there such an opportunity. My dad made sure I knew he believed in me in his own quiet way. My mom was more reserved and critical. Atta-girls were very scarce in my Catholic school. I don’t remember anyone toasting in a meaningful way at my wedding. I remember receiving a few accolades when I worked in an office and feeling very moved when the recognition happened.

And maybe that’s appropriate. Maybe if we work hard to earn praise and it is reserved for special achievements, it is that much more rewarding.

But let’s not be too stingy! Let’s never underestimate the power of a kudos. Sometimes a kind word can make all the difference in someone’s day. What if someone has not heard any encouragement in a long while, and might really be uplifted by a compliment?

“When you see something beautiful in someone, tell them. It may take seconds to say, but for them it could last a lifetime.” — Unknown

I bet my great-niece will remember her Bat Mitzvah for a lifetime. What if we could each have a positive influence on someone, albeit in a much smaller way, simply by being bold enough to say something nice about them?

Let’s find ways to spread goodness, not only through “random acts of kindness,” but also through deliberate words of kindness.

Goodness knows the world could use more kindness!

Category : Blog &Health &Personal Growth

Today Is Special

 

“Burn the candles, use the nice sheets, wear the fancy lingerie. Don’t save it for a special occasion. Today is special.” — Regina Brett

We’ve all heard the quotable quotes: Seize the day! Tomorrow is promised to no one! Enjoy life now, this is not a rehearsal!

When you hear these sentiments, how do you feel? Does it go in one ear and out the other? Or do you pause to think about it, but dismiss the thought? Live more fully—who has the time? I have to … (work, take care of the kids/grandkids/parents, clean the house, work in the yard, organize the garage, do volunteer duty, etc. etc. etc.)

We do have to be practical. But I can share with you a few observations. I sometimes see people at their worst: stressed out, in pain from overdoing and self-neglecting, tired and frustrated and irritable.

I also get to see people at their best: looking forward to or retelling about a vacation or special event. One client delights in sharing plans for each next trip off the “bucket list.” One details with a smile how the fishing has been since his last appointment and any new venues visited for dinner and dancing. One client lights up describing art projects in progress, music concerts coming up for the community band she plays in, and family gatherings being organized.

Do you have something you’re looking forward to? How/when will you make it happen? My mom and dad were always going to go to Hawaii when my dad retired. They talked about it often. Then my dad died suddenly of heart failure at age 59. He never got to retire, and they never made it to Hawaii.

If you have a trip you’ve been wanting to take, some china you’ve been waiting to use, a class or new hobby you’ve been curious to explore—I encourage you to do it now!

I’ll always remember the words an elderly client said to me once. She had been a caretaker for her husband, many years her senior, as he declined in his final years. She had injured her back lifting and helping him. By the time I met her, she was older, too frail to travel and do her bucket list items, and alone, missing her travel companion/life partner.

She looked at me with sad eyes one day and said, “I always thought I’d have more time.” Meaning, more time to be vibrant, to move around with ease, to explore all that life has to offer.

We don’t know how much time we have. Let’s not wait to take the trip, to wear the fancy lingerie, or use the nicest sheets, china, or candle!

I love this quote from an unknown author: “There are 7 days in a week, and ‘someday’ isn’t one of them.”

Here’s another: “Many great things can be done in a day if you don’t always make that day tomorrow.” —Unknown

Today is special! What great thing can be done today?

Category : Blog &Health &Massage Therapy &Personal Growth

Increasing Our Resilience

 

Virtually every day we have to deal with stress. Clearly too much chronic, day-in-day-out stress is bad for us, and we’ve learned about the physical and mental repercussions of that and strategies for managing them.

But unexpected things happen, and usually bring stress. How do we build the mental fortitude we need to deal with it? Believe it or not, we can practice skills to increase our resilience, so that when a major life event causes stress, we can cope. If we can deal with stress better mentally and emotionally, the physical effects will be lessened as well.

An article in the “New York Times” titled “How to Build Resilience in Midlife,” by Tara Parker-Pope gives us techniques to “stretch our resilience muscle.” Professor and author Dr. Adam Grant says, ““There is a naturally learnable set of behaviors that contribute to resilience,” and he claims that adults—because of the perspective that comes from life experience and (hopefully!) the ability to regulate our emotions—are in a great position to deliberately boost our emotional survival skills.

Here are the tips Parker-Pope recommends:

1. Be optimistic. As with most traits, optimism is part nature and part nurture. So even if we’re not natural born optimists, we can still work on increasing our positivity. That doesn’t mean we deny the reality of challenges or negative events. But we can always choose how to react to situations. The example she gives is when a person loses their job. An optimist would replace dire thoughts like “I’ll never recover from this,” with “This is going to be difficult, but it’s a chance to rethink my life goals and find work that truly makes me happy.”

More and more research confirms that reframing how we look at things, and changing our internal dialog to more positive self-talk, really does improve our outlook and our ability to cope with the inevitable hurdles of life. So does surrounding ourselves with more positive, optimistic people.

2. Don’t take it personally. We are quick to blame ourselves when something bad happens, and ruminate about what we could have done differently. To build resilience, we can remind ourselves that even if we did make a mistake, there were likely numerous factors that contributed to the situation. It’s rarely ever ALL one person’s fault. Practice self-compassion (forgiveness!), and shift into problem-solving mode: what can we do now to repair any damage and prevent similar mistakes from happening in the future?

Smart companies have a corporate model of looking at mistakes as procedural, not personal, and they use the opportunity to refine processes and training.

3. Recall previous triumphs. We get a resilience boost by remembering challenges we have overcome in the past. Although a common strategy is to be grateful that things aren’t worse (and even calling to mind someone who has it worse than ourselves), a better exercise is to look back and say—I’ve made it through something even worse than this in the past. This is not the toughest thing I have ever faced or will ever face. I know I can handle this!

4. Be of service to others. While it’s really important to have a support network, it’s even more empowering to BE part of something larger than ourselves. Studies show that gratitude, altruism, and a sense of purpose lead to greater resiliency. Experts say a key component of being resilient is taking responsibility for our lives—creating a life we consider to be meaningful and finding our purpose. It doesn’t have to be a grand mission, but even if our purpose is to support our own family, that focus can see us through all kinds of adversity.

5. Make peace with stress. Stress is an inevitable element of life. Some would even argue that a little bit of stress is good for us and necessary. (Think how boring life would be with no challenges whatsoever!) So rather than resist it or dread it, one expert suggests we just welcome it as an opportunity for personal growth, AND create concrete opportunities to recover. Taking a walk, meditating, laughing with friends—we can schedule breaks from stress just as we schedule breaks from strenuous workouts.

6. Commit to a challenge. We can build resilience by pushing ourselves out of our comfort zones. Take an adventure vacation. Climb a mountain! Or go skydiving. Or finish a half marathon or triathlon. Or share your writing at a poetry night. Or sing karaoke. Each time we rise to the occasion, our bodies become better at processing stress hormones. If we live our lives with regular opportunities to overcome stress, we get better and better at it. Then we are in a better position to cope when a crisis arises.

Source: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/07/25/well/mind/how-to-boost-resilience-in-midlife.html

Category : Blog &Health &Massage Therapy &Personal Growth

Stress, Part Two

 

Are you, or is someone you love, the type of person who is always feeling stressed out? Last week we learned how chronic stress can be really bad for our health.

Here are some ideas for quick ways to reduce the negative impact of stress:

  • Chew gum. Studies show that chewing gum lowers anxiety and stress. Some researchers think the rhythmic act of chewing may calm us and improve the blood flow to our brains, while others believe the smell and taste of gum help us relax.
  • Go outside. Being active is best, especially in a setting that you find beautiful. But even close to home, just quietly being outside is sometimes enough to achieve a respite from stressors.
  • Smile. Even if you don’t feel happy, keeping a genuine smile on your face (including the muscles around your eyes as well as your mouth) reduces the body’s stress response. It helps lower our heart rate quicker once the stressful situation is over. Turns out “grin and bear it” is actually pretty good advice!
  • Smell lavender. One study demonstrated a significant reduction in stress when nurses pinned a vial of lavender to their clothes and sniffed it throughout their shift. WebMD cautions that lavender can intensify the effect of some pain killers and anti-anxiety medications, so checking with your doctor for possible interactions is always a good idea. If lavender doesn’t do it for you, there are other essential oils that can provide calm, such as chamomile, frankincense, and vetiver.
  • Listen to music. Sometimes listening to music you like is even more calming than listening to trickling water or other relaxing sounds. One study showed a positive benefit from listening to Latin choral music such as “Miserere” by Gregorio Allegri.
  • Take some deep breaths. Focusing on our breathing distracts us from negative thoughts and quiets the body’s fight-or-flight response. Sit or lie comfortably and take in a full, deep breath that makes your belly move. Really engage the diaphragm! Breathe out slowly—it should take a few seconds. You can say a word or phrase as you exhale that helps you relax. If nothing else, think: inhale relaxation, exhale tension. Repeat ten times.
  • Practice self-compassion. We have something like 50,000 thoughts in a day, and a large percentage of them are negative. We tend to be especially hard on ourselves. Using more positive self-talk helps us calm down and come to better terms with our situation. Self-compassion includes gently talking to ourselves with as much encouragement as we’d offer to our best friend. Try reassuring yourself with “Everything will be OK,” for instance, or “I can figure out how to handle this.”
  • Journal. This one has helped me so many times! Sometimes we just need to write our thoughts and feelings in a free stream of consciousness, either with pen and paper or electronically. Once we have it in front of us, it’s easier to make a plan. And you can write the plan down, too! But the most important thing is just to give yourself an outlet to be honest and let stuff flow out of you.
  • Talk with a friend. When we’re feeling overwhelmed, it’s nice to share with a good listener we trust. If you have a friend who’s dealing with the same worries that you have, even better! You can share ideas and concerns, and feel less isolated.
  • Exercise. When we work up a sweat, we improve our mood, clear our head, and take a breather from whatever is stressing us out. Go for a hike or a swim or a bike ride, hit the gym, dance as if no one is watching. As long as we don’t overdo it, moving always helps us feel better!
  • Play. Be silly. Do something joyful!
  • Enjoy a reflexology session. Human touch is powerful, and there’s almost nothing better to get our nervous system out of fight-or-flight mode than relaxing foot reflexology.

Source: http://www.webmd.com/balance/ss/stop-stress-now

Category : Blog &Health &Massage Therapy

Stress, Part One

 

You probably know that stress is bad for you. But do you know why?

A stress response in our bodies is normal and sometimes even helpful. If you have to make a presentation or do well on an exam, the stress you feel leading up to it can actually help you stay more keenly alert and actually perform better.

If we are facing an actual threat, our “fight or flight” response is actually necessary for our survival. Our pupils dilate so we can see a little better, our heart rate increases so we have more fresh blood delivering resources to our cells, more of that blood is diverted to our extremities so that we’re ready to run or fight for our lives.

The modern-day problem is that we can have a stress response when we’re sitting in a meeting, or sitting in traffic in our cars—when we don’t actually need more physical resources but our brains perceive that we do. When we are subjected to daily stressors we can get stuck in a perpetual state of imbalance—the part of our nervous system responsible for revving things up does its job well, but the part of our nervous system responsible for calming things down isn’t given enough opportunity to do its work.

And it isn’t only a response to a negative or threatening situation. Sometimes planning a fun vacation or celebratory event can cause people great stress. Biologically speaking, our bodies can respond the same way to the demands of “good” and “bad” challenges.

So we all feel stress from time to time and it serves a purpose. But when we experience chronic stress, when we constantly feel stressed out—it can cause real health problems.

Chronic stress diminishes our immune system, so people who are stressed out all the time tend to get sick more often. Our bodies divert energy and resources to fight or flight, and things like fighting viral infections (colds and flu) suffer.

Stress also causes our bodies to divert energy away from digesting food, so being stressed all the time leads to digestive issues including constipation and irritable bowel syndrome. Emotional eating and stress hormones can cause us to gain weight, especially harmful belly fat. And stress can interfere with our bodies’ ability to absorb nutrients even when we eat healthy.

Stress also leads to having a short temper, frequent headaches, tight muscles and body aches, and insomnia. And being sleep deprived just makes things worse! Stress has been linked to high blood pressure, heart disease, and depression. Both men and women can lose interest in sex, and men can experience erectile dysfunction and a reduction in quantity and quality of sperm due to chronic stress.

Chronic stress can even lead to diabetes. According to WebMD: “When you’re stressed, your liver puts glucose in your blood to fuel the fight-or-flight response. But this can be released when you don’t need it—say, in a stressful meeting, for example. If you’re already at risk for high blood sugar and it happens too often, it can lead to diabetes.”

So how do we deal with stress? The first step is understanding and accepting it! If we have the mindset that stress is necessary and can even be positive when we need focus, it’s less likely to be physically or emotionally taxing.

Next week: ways to combat the ill effects of stress.

Source: http://www.webmd.com/balance/stress-management/rm-quiz-stress-test

Category : Blog &Health &Massage Therapy

Having a Stroke

 

How do you know if you or someone you’re with is having a stroke? And what should you do?

According to mayoclinic.org, the following are the telltale signs. If at all possible, notate when the symptoms began, because their duration can guide treatment options:

  • Difficulty speaking and/or understanding. People having a stroke can slur their speech and can have difficulty understanding words.
  • They experience confusion.
  • Paralysis and/or numbness of the face, an arm or a leg. People having a stroke can develop sudden numbness, weakness or paralysis is the face, arm or leg, especially on one side of their body. See if they can raise both arms over their head at the same time. Ask them to smile. If one arm begins to fall, or one side of the mouth droops, they may be having a stroke.
  • Trouble seeing in one or both eyes. People having a stroke can have sudden blurred vision, blackened vision, or double vision.
  • Headache—sudden and severe, which may be accompanied by vomiting, dizziness, or “altered consciousness.”
  • Difficulty walking. In addition to dizziness, a person having a stroke can stumble, lose their balance, or seem suddenly uncoordinated.

What should we do? Think FAST: Face, Arms, Speech, Time.

  • Face = ask the person to smile. Does one side of the mouth droop?
  • Arms = ask the person to raise both arms. Does one not go up, or drift back down?
  • Speech = ask the person to repeat a simple phrase. Is their speech slurred or sounding strange?
  • Time = if you observe any of these, call 911 immediately!

Don’t wait to see if the symptoms go away. Every minute counts! The longer a stroke goes untreated, the greater the potential for brain damage and disability.

What Causes Strokes?

A stroke is when the blood supply to our brain is interrupted or diminished. The brain doesn’t get enough oxygen and nutrients, and that causes the brain cells to die.

A stroke can be caused by a blocked artery (ischemic stroke) like from a blood clot, or the leaking or bursting of a blood vessel (hemorrhagic stroke) like from an aneurysm. Some people have a temporary disruption of blood flow to their brain, which is called a transient ischemic attack or TIA. Sometimes folks refer to these events as “mini strokes” because the blockage is temporary and doesn’t leave lasting symptoms. But it’s still important to get medical help! It’s not possible to know if you’re having a TIA or a full blown stroke just from your symptoms. And having a TIA puts us a greater risk of having a more severe stroke in the future.

Risk factors include:

  • being overweight or obese
  • being physically inactive
  • engaging in heavy or binge drinking
  • using illicit drugs such as cocaine or methamphetamines
  • having high blood pressure
  • cigarette smoking and exposure to secondhand smoke
  • high cholesterol
  • diabetes
  • obstructive sleep apnea
  • cardiovascular disease
  • family history of stroke, TIA or heart attack
  • being 55 or older
  • race—African-Americans have a higher risk of stroke than people of other races
  • gender—men are at a higher risk than women.

Strokes can cause serious disabilities like paralysis, difficulty talking or swallowing, memory loss, difficulty understanding, and reasoning, emotional problems, pain and tingling, changes in behavior and self-care.

Even if these complications are temporary, it often takes a huge effort in rehabilitation to gets one’s faculties back to full strength. It’s worth it to do what we can to take good care of ourselves and avoid having a stroke.

For inspiration, here’s a fascinating account of a brain scientist remembering what it was like to have a stroke, and what she learned from the experience:


Source:http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/stroke/home/ovc-20117264

Category : Blog &Health

Heart Attack Primer

I think everyone knows that when it comes to helping heart attack victims, time is of the essence. But how do you even know if you’re having a heart attack? And what exactly should you do?

Our hearts pump blood to every part of our body. But even the heart itself needs blood for fresh oxygen. When arteries are blocked, heart tissue can be damaged and die. For the best recovery, blood flow needs to be restored quickly. It’s important to get immediate medical help if you even THINK you might be having a heart attack.

How does it happen? Over time, we can develop blockages on interior blood vessel walls made up of fatty material called plaque. Too much plaque constricts blood flow. According to WebMD, “Most heart attacks happen when a piece of this plaque breaks off. A blood clot forms around the broken-off plaque, and it blocks the artery.”

Symptoms can include pain, pressure or discomfort in the chest, shortness of breath, profuse sweating, feeling faint or nauseated. Some people feel pain in their neck, jaw or shoulders.

Men and women can have different symptoms. Men, for example, are more likely to break out in a cold sweat and feel pain radiate down their left arm.

Women are more likely to have pain in their back or neck, feel a sensation like heartburn, and experience shortness of breath. Women tend to have a stomach ache, upset stomach/queasiness and vomiting. We also can feel very tired, light-headed or dizzy. (In the weeks leading up to a heart attack, women can have flu-like symptoms and sleep issues.)

WebMD suggests: “If you or someone you’re with has symptoms that might be a heart attack, call 911 right away. If it is, you’re more likely to survive if you get treated within 90 minutes. While you’re on the phone, the person should chew and swallow an aspirin (unless they’re allergic) to lower the risk of a blood clot. Are they unconscious? Hands-only CPR can double their chances of survival.”

Locally, anyone can take a hands’ only CPR class through the St. Johns County Fire Rescue. They offer classes at their building on the First Coast Technical College north campus, and sometimes at local libraries. If you put a group together, you can even have someone teach a class at a neighborhood clubhouse or a civic group gathering. The American Red Cross offers classes as well. The more people in the world who know how to do CPR, the better!

Once a person is under medical care, a diagnosis is made via an EKG, which measures your heart’s electrical activity. It can even show which artery is clogged if there is a blockage! Doctors can also diagnose a heart attack with blood work that detects proteins that heart cells release when they die.

According to WebMD, “Doctors will quickly act to get blood flowing to your heart again. You may get drugs that dissolve blood clots. You’ll likely have a procedure called a coronary angiogram. A thin tube with a tiny balloon on the end goes through your artery. It opens up the blockage by flattening the plaque against the walls. Most times, doctors place a small, mesh tube called a stent in your artery to make sure it stays open.” Of course sometimes people need open heart surgery.

And while these procedures have been perfected and most people make a complete recovery, not having a heart attack is always preferable to surviving one!

Our risk of having a heart attack goes up as we age, and men are more prone than women. A family history of heart disease increases our chances. So does smoking!! Other risk factors include high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, obesity, stress, a lack of exercise, and depression.

Prevention is key—and we can take important steps to lower our risk!! Quitting smoking lowers our chances of having a heart attack by a third! Losing enough weight to get out of the “obese” range drastically improved our odds as well. Eating well is important—fruits, veggies, and whole grains can help keep our arteries healthy. (Processed foods are believed to increase inflammation, a top factor in setting us up for trouble.) The American Heart Association recommends 30 minutes of moderate exercise for 5 days each week. We have to find positive ways to manage our stress. And if you’re at risk, ask your doctor if taking a daily dose of aspirin is right for you.

WebMD assures us that there is life after a heart attack! “If you’re in the hospital, you may come home after just a few days. You can get back to your normal daily life in a few weeks. Cardiac rehab can help you recover. You’ll get your own fitness program and learn how to keep up a heart-healthy lifestyle. Counselors give you support if you’re feeling down or worried about having another attack.”

So now you know—and I hope you never need this information!!

Source: http://www.webmd.com/heart-disease/ss/slideshow-heart-attack

Category : Blog &Health &Massage Therapy

Why Can’t We Just Get Along?

 

Many people who write about such things are opining that as a nation, we are more divided than ever before, with the possible exception of the Civil War era.

It seems that way to me as well. And it’s causing some real problems. It also seems like a lot of people are starting to get tired of it.

But how could we possibly resolve our differences? We are not ever going to all agree, nor should we. But there are two things we can do to get back to at least tolerating each other, and behaving with honor and integrity and civility rather than with anger and distrust and close-minded resentment.

Step one: compassion. A video popped up on my Facebook feed titled “The Importance of Empathy.” Critical to getting along with each other—even if we don’t see eye to eye—is our level of empathy, which actually can be improved with practice. Here’s how:
Be observant of others. It starts by putting down our devices and noticing each other. Watch people, and wonder about them without making judgments. Be curious.

Practice active listening. Too often we decide what our response will be without fully listening to what the other person is saying. We think we already know the other person’s position. We engage in a sort of verbal combat. It’s much better to stay fully focused on what the other person is actually saying. Pause. Ask questions to really clarify. Then think about how to respond. We don’t have to agree with each other, but at least we can try to understand and acknowledge each other’s point of view. And if we’re really open-minded, we might even allow one another’s ideas to more fully expand our own understanding.

Share. Equally important to listening to another person’s experiences and opinions, is opening up and sharing our own feelings and views. This can be scary because we don’t know how we’ll be received. But empathy is a two-way street. Both parties must share openly in order to discover commonalities.

Keeping an open mind is the best way to avoid the prejudicial classifying of people who disagree with us as “others.” When we experience a divide between ourselves and people who are different from us (liberal vs. conservative, for example), we cut ourselves off from a rich, shared experience. We really do have more in common than not!

Step two: service. Doing something helpful without expecting anything in return is perhaps the ultimate way to build goodwill and bridge the divide.

In addition to the “typical” volunteer opportunities that might be too time consuming, consider how even small things can have a big impact. One author has some unique and simple suggestions, such as:

inviting someone who needs help getting enough exercise to go on a walk with us
sharing flowers or veggies from our garden
offering to babysit or walk a pet for someone who needs assistance
donate pet food to a local animal shelter, or diapers to a women’s shelter, or donate blood
being open to learning a new language (in our area, American Sign Language for example) so that we can get to know more people, and be in a position to understand if anyone needs help while we’re out and about.

The point is, there are many ways to lift people up and beautify the world. This author suggests that when we do our morning meditation, we ask ourselves what can we do to be of service today? It doesn’t take much! How much better off would we be if each of us picked up at least one piece of litter each day? Or tossed wildflower seeds into a blighted vacant lot? Or smiled and offered a compliment to a stranger who seemed sad.

Maybe this is how we heal our country right now. We get to know each other a little better, and be willing to give of ourselves.

Sources:
https://lifehacker.com/the-importance-of-empathy-in-everyday-life-1791961488

http://dailyom.com/cgi-bin/display/articledisplay.cgi?aid=58605

Category : Blog &Health &Personal Growth

Fighting Evil with Love

 

Last week I attended the Rotary International Convention in Atlanta. Rotary is a huge, global organization devoted to service. Rotarians excel at pulling resources together to tackle challenges from small to so large that they would seem insurmountable. One such challenge is ending slavery and human trafficking.

Florida is a state with lots of coastline and many ports—a key entry corridor for trafficking people into the country. Of course, not all people are trafficked from foreign lands. I personally know of two gentlemen who were “recruited” from Maryland when they were homeless, offered jobs working farm fields in sunny, warm Florida for “wages” that would never cover the “living expenses” of staying on the farm camp and relying completely on food, clothing and other supplies sparingly, but not inexpensively provided by the camp boss. Of course, they didn’t know this when they accepted the “job offer.” Once on the truck to Florida, with no money or transportation or even a cell phone, they were trapped. They are now free, but the practice continues in our own county and communities across the country.

All over the nation, places as common as truck stops perpetuate the practice of selling sex falsely advertised as “massage” services. I’m proud of the work that the Florida State Massage Therapy Association and the State of Florida have done and are doing to combat this problem. Law enforcement does what it can, but they are busy, there are sneaky ways around most statutes to make establishments just barely legal on the surface and hard to catch in the act. And there seems to be a never-ending supply of people willing to buy and people willing to profit off of the victimization of others.

Even in Las Vegas where prostitution is legal, it would be a mistake to assume that the women participating in the sex trade are doing so of their own free will. One of the speakers at the Rotary Convention was a woman who was lured to Vegas by someone she thought was a love interest. He wooed her for over a year during a time when she was emotionally vulnerable, and she traveled with him to start a new life. Once in Vegas isolated from her family and support network, she was immediately sold for rape, beaten into compliance, repeatedly moved around and taken over by new handlers until she was rescued in a police raid some seven years later. Another aspect of ending this practice is helping the survivors. With physical and mental scars, a huge gap in employment AND a criminal record, these victims have a very hard time moving forward.

One of the panel discussions I attended at the Rotary Convention featured a law enforcement official, an elected government representative, and none other than Ashton Kutcher, an actor-activist who founded an organization called Thorn dedicated to fighting sex trafficking via the internet.

The law enforcement officer talked about seeing people at their absolute ugliest, and the need to devote more resources to combatting this challenge and imposing harsher punishments. The politician talked about working on tougher legislation and finding ways to fund services for survivors.

And while these are worthwhile efforts to be sure, it was Ashton Kutcher who inspired me the most. He acknowledged most honestly that we’ll never be able to arrest our way out of this problem. We have to go to the source, the buyers of sex. But how?

Kutcher admitted that when Thorn first started, and discovered a way to find online sex offenders, they badgered them with messages like “we know who you are,” and “we know what you’re doing.” But this was not successful. Instead of feeling ashamed or changing their ways, the perpetrators got angry and pushed back.

So Thorn changed tactics. Learning that it doesn’t help to get angry or frustrated in return, they decided instead to reach out with compassion.

They started educating the customers about what they were really buying. They shared images of battered women who had been forced into the trade. They shared resources for people to get help overcoming sex addiction.

And it’s making a difference! Here is a link to their page reporting all the progress they’ve made, and new programs they continue to implement: https://www.wearethorn.org/impact-report-2016/

Just when a problem seems too immense to tackle, the answer becomes beautifully clear—and this came up again and again in different presentations throughout the convention—the best way to fight evil is with love. My favorite speaker was civil rights activist Andrew Young, who preached a compelling message of love and personal responsibility in reflecting on how best to fight prejudice and end discrimination.

If you’re inspired to learn what you can do to end slavery and human trafficking, the State Department has a page listing 15 ways we all can help: https://www.state.gov/j/tip/id/help/

And here’s a link to many different agencies fighting this horrific issue: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_organizations_that_combat_human_trafficking

Category : Blog &Health &Massage Therapy &Personal Growth

Improving Our Posture Is Worth It

 

Did your parents tell you to STAND UP STRAIGHT when you were a kid? It probably seemed like a pain in the butt if they did. But they were right! And we will get bigger pains in the neck if we DON’T work on maintaining good posture.

I’ve seen elderly folks so bent over at the top of their spine, that they literally can only look down. Imagine how that must feel, to have your whole view of the world limited to what’s at your feet. This doesn’t happen overnight. It happens gradually over time. And there are other ill effects of poor posture. So throw your shoulders back and take a look at these facts about posture from WebMD.

1. Slouching adds stress to our spine, and this puts a strain on muscles and other tissues that hold the spine in place. And in addition to being bad for our backs and support structures, slumping too much begins to smush internal organs together, making it harder to digest food or fill our lungs up with air.

2. Maybe the best way to prevent bad posture is simply to deliberately stand up tall. (A bonus is that we look better and it can even help us feel more confident!) Lift your head up and straighten your back as you would if someone were going to measure your height. Are your shoulders back? Are your ears over the middle of your shoulders? Engage your abdominal muscles and tuck your pelvis just enough that your backside doesn’t pooch out.

3. If we have to sit at a desk a lot, it’s tempting to slouch and/or lean back as we get tired. But this is not good posture. It’s far better to sit all the way back in your chair. Use a rolled up towel or small pillow for your mid back if you need it, to support the natural curve of your back. Bend your knees at a right angle and keep your feet flat on the floor. Good seated posture is equally important in the car!!

4. Looking down at our phones all day is really hard on our spines! Even if it seems like we’re only on our phones for a few minutes at a time, it really adds up. It’s much better to lift the phones up to where we can look down with just our eyes. And we need to be diligent about doing some gentle neck stretches and range of motion exercises daily.

5. High heels might look stylish, but they are horrible for healthy posture. They throw off our natural distribution of weight, our balance, and our gait. Wearing heels puts more weight on our knees and the balls of our feet and our toes. Pushing our hips forward causes over-arching our backs, and changes the alignment of the spine and puts pressure on spinal nerves. All of these factors cause problems, so save your back and save high heels for special occasions.

6. We can even support healthy posture while we’re lying down sleeping. Choose a mattress that’s not too soft. My chiropractor recommended getting an all-foam mattress to support every inch of the spine (not just wherever the springs happened to be). If you’re a side sleeper, use a pillow that supports the natural curve of your neck—you don’t want your head to be propped up or angling down. Also, consider sleeping with a pillow between your knees and ankles to support your hip alignment. If you sleep on your back, use a small pillow under the neck instead of a thick pillow under your head.

7. Many of us strain our backs because we carry too much weight around the belly AND our abdominal muscles are weak—so the back has to do too much work. It’s important to keep our core muscles strong to support our spines. Exercises like Tai Chi are also great for working on balance.
Source: www.webmd.com/osteoporosis/ss/slideshow-posture-tips

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