On This Thanksgiving, Are All Welcome Here?

On This Thanksgiving, Are All Welcome Here?

The United States’ celebration of THANKSGIVING is rather unique, though Canada also celebrates a Thanksgiving Day in October. But ours is firmly planted on the fourth Thursday in November, due to a joint resolution of Congress signed by President Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1941.

The day was set aside to remind us of our bountiful beginnings in this new world and the gratitude felt by the early settlers for a plentiful harvest. A celebration took place in Plymouth, Massachusetts and tradition states that Chief Massasoit and his Wampanoag tribe of Native Americans brought deer meat to share with the English settlers. Corn, shellfish and some other roasted meats completed the celebratory meal. All participants could look from the bluffs of the New Land to the vast ocean beyond and just wonder at the power and beauty surrounding them. All were welcome at that feast.

Similarly, when Marty Haugen wrote his famous hymn All Our Welcome (Let Us Build A House) there were times when in some churches the words coming from the pulpit were not inclusive. ALL were not welcome. Thankfully, that is changing because of openness in the hearts of many people, a deeper understanding of differences and a desire to share. Most wanted the change and believed in the change. They desired that the words to Haugen’s hymn would truly have meaning. And now in many churches and congregations all are truly welcomed.

But this Thanksgiving, when we gather with our families, there will still be people working to bring food to our Thanksgiving tables or clean our homes or care for our children and our gardens who don’t always feel welcome. They desire and need a pathway to come out of the shadows. It’s more change to get our heads around, but it needs to happen.

And I propose a test. Why not reread the words on the Statue of Liberty: Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door! With hearts and minds open to understanding, we can all acknowledge that we are a country of immigrants and that living by the words on mighty Liberty make us one and make us proud.

Let’s realize that the diversity of peoples in our country is what makes it strong and unique. When we do that, Thanksgiving Day will have the meaning it should have. My immigrant ancestors came from Germany but I bear no special privileges. Instead, I am totally grateful for my life in this country—grateful to my great-grandparents for making an arduous journey, grateful to my parents for loving, caring and educating me and grateful to the United States for the freedom that it still provides.

This year on Thanksgiving why not share some story of your ancestry—reach back and remember how you came to be celebrating Thanksgiving, a unique and special holiday. And remember to reach out to your family and friends. The treasures of life are not in some store that is staying open on a national holiday—the treasures are in the eyes of those you love and the hands you hold. The treasure lies with those who sacrificed so that all could be welcome in this land of thanksgiving.

THANKS TO GOOGLE IMAGES On This Thanksgiving, Are All Welcome Here?On This Thanksgiving, Are All Welcome Here?

When You’re A Caregiver, You’re Always Learning

When You’re A Caregiver, You’re Always Learning

It’s been some time since I wrote a post that dealt with being a caregiver and helping an aging relative or parent. Though my mother has died and the focus of my life altered, I still read about caregiving and I often advise my friends who are now where I used to be. My desire to help, to make a stressful and yet it’s-part-of-life experience easier to navigate is strong. I want people to use me as a sounding board for questions about the entire process: how to take the car keys away, how to protect monetary resources by taking over the checkbook, how to recognize the signs and symptoms of dementia, how to talk to someone with dementia, drugs that can often help dementia patients, the difference between palliative care and hospice care—and much more.

I certainly don’t have all the answers, and I know the entire learning process is ongoing. So when I’m helping a friend and we’re talking about what happens when your parent breaks a hip or the ins and outs of senior housing or just basic things like how to stay healthy when the person you are caring for is in a health crisis—I can advise them to access the AARP Caregiving Resource Center. 

The site is jam-packed with well-written articles that offer advice on a wide variety of topics like these:

1Caregivers Tips for the Holidays

2. Ten Ways for Caregivers to Nurture Themselves

3. Easing Age-Based Sibling Rivalry in Caregiving

There is even a Community page where you can find support and help for individual problems and questions. It’s a place where other caregivers share, get and give advice.

Even before the caregiving journey began for my brothers and me, my mother gave us an amazing gift. While still healthy and before she needed to enter a senior facility—she purchased a Long Term Care policy. That economic benefit was an enormous help as her care needs increased.

I have a Long Term Care policy—the importance of purchasing such a policy was one of the things I learned from being a caregiver. It’s very important to plan for the time when you will be the receiver of help and not the giver. Think about your own financial situation and check out this link from AARP, which discusses the process.

My mother was a giver who dedicated her life to caring for and loving her family. But one day we exchanged places and I was called upon to do the caring. It was sometimes a daunting task, as I lived five hours away from her. Debbie became me—a caregiver who lovingly provided hands-on care. She gave me peace of mind and we stayed on the same page through emails and phone calls. But in the end, the major decision-making fell to my brothers and me. We did everything we could to keep Mom comfortable and then to let her die in peace when she knew it was her time. May blessings always shower my dear mother and all the women and men who daily provide care. Every caregiver is on a continuum—learning something new every day. Every caregiver needs love and help from another family member or a friend. It’s a circle–and we all must join.

I’m pleased to partner with Midlife Boulevard to bring you this important public service information about National Family Caregivers Month.

(Read How to Care for Caregivers here.)

Watch a video of singer Amy Grant providing tips for caregiving here.  

When You’re A Caregiver, You’re Always Learning

It’s National Caregiver Month

When You’re A Caregiver, You’re Always Learning

When You’re A Caregiver, You’re Always Learning

Thanks to Google Images



Pictures on Your Walls, Dreams in Your Heart

Pictures on Your Walls, Dreams in Your Heart

A house in Huntington, Indiana by Peggy Brown

Picture One: The Translucent Home of Memory

Early in our marriage my husband and I purchased an original watercolor by artist, Peggy Brown. It’s an imaginative rendition of a home in soft blues and greys with tall barren trees surrounding it. The house has a turret similar to the old Victorian-style home my husband was raised in. And amazingly, the artist was from Huntsville, Indiana, the home of my maternal grandfather. When you look at it you can visualize the movement of hearts within. It’s filled with light and thus with dreaming. All these things made it logical that the painting spoke to us and that’s why we wanted to take it home. For 18 years it held a place of honor in our living room. In this house it is now in our bedroom, still a treasure, still able to evoke dreamy thoughts though its colors have faded.

Pictures on Your Walls, Dreams in Your Heart

Nana’s Gift, The Girl with the Basket of Grapes

Picture Two: Nana’s Gift

This picture has an amazing story connected with it and it’s my maternal grandmother’s story. When Nana was married in 1909, a friend of hers named Lena, presented her with a watercolor of a woman wearing a bright gold sash and holding a basket of grapes. The subject matter was rather odd for the 1900s in Chicago, but my grandmother proudly hung it in her home. Years later, Lena came to tea. She gazed at the picture on the wall, telling Nana that the real reason for her visit was that she had come for the picture. She said it was the best painting she had ever done and she wanted it back. Nana said no—it was a gift and it would stay a gift. Thus it hung in Nana’s home until she died, moved with my aunts to a new Chicago address and when they died it came to me. A real treasure. It hangs beside two water colors that Nana painted when she was in her late teens.

Pictures on Your Walls, Dreams in Your Heart

A World For Our Children

Picture Three: Two Girls and a Boy

My friend Gay Lynn sent me a card with a rendering of a painting by artist Steve Hanks. I was entranced immediately because it shows a boy and two girls sitting on a pier over the water. The boy is blonde like my son, the girls appearing to be the ages of my two daughters. Again, the art draws you in and you can almost hear the water rippling when the children move their sticks. A bird is singing somewhere and the sun feels so good on their cotton tee shirts. I framed the small card-size and later found a bigger version that I also framed. I dreamed of buying the original art, but never have—though Steve Hanks remains a favorite.

Pictures on Your Walls, Dreams in Your Heart

The Sea Hath Its Pearls

Picture Four: The Sea Hath Its Pearls

Art can call out to you from very unusual places and I found this at a store that has since gone out of business. It’s a reproduction of a Pre-Raphaelite painting, women often being the subject matter. I was in a decade of my life when I wasn’t totally sure of my path. Our daughters were gone to university, our son was busy with school and band. Maybe I felt like the woman on the beach, searching the water and the sand for a shell, a stone, some token that might whisper the future.

Pictures on Your Walls, Dreams in Your Heart

I felt this picture calling out to me.

Picture Five: Back to My Childhood Home

This final picture I purchased in Des Moines, Iowa. Again it’s a reproduction and I know nothing about the artist or its title. I was wandering a department store and found myself looking at art. When this picture of a home in autumn, the feathery trees, a reflecting pond and geese came into view, I had a physical feeling, a rush of remembrance. Of course I stopped. I had never seen this painting before, so what was I feeling. It didn’t take long to figure it out. Above the fireplace in our home in Chicago hung a picture of a house, a picture my brothers and I loved. (It’s the one thing my brother Bill wanted and so it’s hanging in his home.) I probably looked at that picture every day of my young life. Its colors and composition implanted on my brain feelings of warmth and security, peace and comfort. And though the composition of this department store painting was different, it echoed those feelings. It spoke to me. I purchased it happily.

Of course most of us have on our walls and tables iconic framed photos of our family members. They truly are the pictures that reveal the dreams of the heart. When I see photos of my children young, not so young and grown into wonderful adulthood I feel joy and gratitude. When I look at my grandchildren, I’m just about as happy as I can be. Photos of my parents and my husband’s parents are absolute treasures, as our photos of our younger selves. Do you have a favorite picture hanging in your home? No matter where it came from or who the artist is the value is in your perception–and the story of how it came to be yours, the story of some little dream that it holds–that makes it a perfect jewel, a memorable treasure.

 Thanks to John Havey and Google Images

P.S. My brother sent me a photo of THE ENGLISH COTTAGE that hung over our fireplace in my childhood home. Here it is.

Pictures on Your Walls, Dreams in Your Heart

Just Some Friendly Teacher-Troublemaker Advice

Just Some Friendly Teacher-Troublemaker Advice

As a blogger, I read articles about how to reach my readers. One article suggested I wear one of these hats: friend-hat, teacher-hat or troublemaker-hat. Spoiler: I’m going to be wearing all three. And another spoiler. Topic today: health. Again. Sorry. But we only go around once.


With my friend-hat on, I’ll make this simple and short. Boomers: do the following to insure that you won’t develop type 2 diabetes. Why? This disease can lead to other health issues including: heart attack and stroke, damage to nerves, kidneys and eyes, also skin conditions and diseases of the feet. If you are pre-diabetic or already diagnosed–then you know the drill.

1. Exercise 30 minutes a day. You can divide this 30 minutes by walking 15 minutes in the morning and lifting weights and stretching for 15 minutes in the evening.

2. Walk. When you walk or exercise, your muscles pull glucose out of your bloodstream for energy. This lowers your glucose levels and increases your blood circulation–so good for your brain, heart, lungs and all the organs in your body. And good blood circulation is essential for people with diabetes, as they have a greater risk of foot sores and disease due to peripheral vascular problems.

3. Make fiber your friend. Marjorie Cypress, PhD and president of the American Diabetes Association advocates fiber to keep blood sugar levels nice and even, avoiding up or down swings. That’s glucose control, Folks, and it’s good for everyone. You feel great when your blood sugar isn’t rising or dropping.

4. Know what fiber does. Foods high in fiber stay in your system, taking longer to break down, thus providing you with slow even amounts of glucose instead of sending sugar into the blood stream so quickly your blood sugar spikes and then drops. This improves  glucose tolerance and carbohydrate metabolism. Fiber improves insulin resistance because insulin isn’t called from the pancreas so quickly as it is with straight white table sugar. Women should aim for 25 grams of fiber a day and men for 38 grams a day.

5. Eat the Mediterranean way. Dr. Cypress states that the Mediterranean way of eating is really the diet of fiber-rich foods. Think: whole grains, vegetables and fruits. Then add fish and nuts for protein. Finally, limit or eliminate red meat because of its saturated fat.

4. Other Tips: 

  • If you are currently overweight, losing 15 pounds will decrease your chance of getting diabetes;
  • stress hormones raise your blood sugar so try to meditate or practice yoga;
  • use CREATE YOUR PLATE when eating out or planning meals at home. Read more about this easy method here;
  • If you already have diabetes or are pre-diabetic, purchase a glucometer and keep track of your blood sugar levels. Your healthcare provider will be better able to advise you with your glucose levels charted this way. Read about glucometers here.

Words From a Wise Teacher and Blogger

Dr. Roxanne Sukol blogs at Your Health is on Your Plate. The following is great advice from this doctor and mother:

When my kids were in high school, and they were in a complaining mood (I’m cranky; I don’t feel well; I’m bored; I have too much homework), I would always say, “Go for a walk!” It got to be a joke in our house. Being teenagers, they, of course, took it to the next level. Fever? Go for a walk! Migraine? Take a hike! Appendicitis? Walk it off! Broken leg??? Very funny, I said. You get the idea. But I felt then, as I still do, that a walk is just about the best solution for a whole host of problems. And going for a walk is one of the best ways to protect your mobility and your blood sugar as you move through the decades. Use it or lose it.    Love this and could not have said it better.

Some Conclusions

Do any of you have a dog? Yes? Great! You’ve got a companion for your daily walks. The rest of us either go solo or find a friend. I walk with my husband and if he’s not available, I walk alone, praying for awhile, listening to the birds and then maybe to music on my iPod. We all feel better when we are able to get up and move.

And who hasn’t been in a hospital, senior center or rehabilitation unit and been eager to just leave, to get out of there, being totally grateful that you can move, walk–even run. WARNING from this Troublemaker blogger — you better keep it going. Winter is coming, it will be harder to do. When I was a young mother with small children, I even walked in my house on bad weather days. My daughters set up posts where they checked me as I walked by. We made it fun. THERE ARE NO EXCUSES!

Finally, one of the most read and loved posts on BOOMER HIGHWAY is this one: Do You Have Occasional Low Blood Sugar? Read it and ask yourself if you have similar symptoms which indicate you need to alter your diet and move your body. Bottom line: take care and heed my friendly, teacher-troublemaker advice.


Just Some Friendly Teacher-Troublemaker Advice

Thanks to Google Images




Ideas for Beauty Inside and Out

Ideas for Beauty Inside and Out

Walking is so good for you–try to get outside and walk even in winter.

INSIDE: Beauty is health. We can’t see inside to the workings of our bodies, but we certainly can make choices that help insure everything in there is in working order.  And amazingly, a simple exercise that you can do almost anywhere, in any type of weather, with little cost–helps major organs in your body stay healthy. And you already guessed what that exercise is–WALKING.

The American Heart Association states that walking vigorously for 30 to 60 minutes three to four times a week is your best choice. The AHA also states that low-to moderate-intensity walking is certainly good for you, and so is just walking 20 minutes a day at a moderate pace.

WALKING PACES: To break it down:

  • A 20 minute mile is a stroll, low intensity but you are still getting exercise. Examples would be walking through the mall or going to pick up something at a nearby store. It’s an estimated 120 steps per minute for a person of average height. This helps your health. See below.
  • A 15 minute mile is brisk walking, the general pace of most walkers, about 135 steps per minute for a person of average height. Breathing: noticeable but you can carry on a conversation using complete sentences.
  • A 12 minute mile is advanced walking for aerobic fitness and for burning calories. It is typically about 150 steps per minute.

To maximize your time walking:

  • Walk outside where the unevenness of pavement, grass, sand etc gives your muscles a better workout. You also benefit from any inclines or wind resistance—both help you burn more calories. Walking on a treadmill? Crank up the incline and add bursts of faster movement.
  • Use a pedometer which will increase your activity by 27% a Stanford University  study says.
  • Make sure you have the right shoe—a lightweight walking sneaker that bends and flexes with the rolling action of a walk. Running shoes are often too stiff. Talk to a shoe expert.
  • Walk without weights as even the lightest ones can increase you chances of shoulder injury.

Here’s how walking will make your insides more beautiful:

  • You will maintain a healthy weight which is so good for all bodily functions
  • Keep your energy level up
  • Strengthen your memory
  • Strengthen your bones
  • Maintain and improve your balance and coordination
  • Prevent or manage chronic conditions like heart disease, high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes
  • Decrease the risk of some cancers
  • Just plain make you feel good, elevating your spirit and sense of wellbeing.

Here’s a link to an app that keeps track of your miles, calories burned, ascent, descent, and keeps it all in a history.

NOW THE OUTSIDE: How we present ourselves to the world is often a biggy, something we worry about and at the same time truly care about. I really enjoyed these five tips from Dr. Val Jones who shared them after visiting her dermatologist–it’s about the skin we are in.

1. Throw away your 10X mirror. The dermatologist actually said this: “Honestly, no one sees your skin at 10x, so why should you worry about what it looks like so close up? The best way to make your pores look smaller is to quit looking at them under a magnifier.” In some ways I do find this comforting.

2. Lather on the physical block sunscreen every day. And what you must use is a zinc-based sunscreen that physically blocks incoming UV radiation. The hardest part might be remembering, so this is the final step after cleansing and makeup–if you use it. Also cover your hands and any other exposed skin that you want to keep youthful. And take a tube with you so you can reapply.

3. Remind yourself that you don’t need so much moisturizer. “Women think they need to apply moisturizer multiple times a day, but there is enough moisturizer in sunscreens and anti-oxidant serums to make additional products unnecessary.” Of course you know there’s a dermatologist who will disagree. Dr. Michael Lin, who practices in Los Angeles, recommends adjusting moisturizer usage to the weather. “…winds and indoor heating work together to remove skin’s protective oils and moisture. In extreme conditions the thicker the moisturizer the better. Vaseline is the ultimate moisturizer because nothing gets through it, but it clogs your pores. ” He suggests Aquaphor Healing Skin Ointment as an alternative. He also likes: moisturizers with hyaluronic acid and additional ingredients like mineral oil, beeswax, lanolin and aloe vera. He says it’s okay to layer two or three to get it all.

4. Sun damage. This is the big issue for Boomers who didn’t know we were ruining our skin while getting a tan or just living in the world. Skin-lightening creams often use hydroquinone that can reduce the appearance of sun damage. Hydroquinone acts to down-regulate melanin production in melanocytes. But this help can be easily reversed if you are getting UV sun exposure. So it will even out skin tone and lessen sun spots but only if you also aggressively avoid sun damage by using sunscreens.

5. Avoid the following: dryer sheets! Why? Dr. Jones’s dermatologist says: “Most contain a horrible chemical that no one can pronounce.” And this gets into your clothing in the dryer. Then while running, exercising or walking the ingredient gets reactivated by heat and moisture and the irritating chemical gets on your delicate skin, often guaranteeing a contact dermatitis in places where you sweat. If this is you, consider stopping the dryer sheets to see if the dermatitis clears up.

6. Don’t overuse Neosporin or other antibacterial ointments as they can cause the colonization of antibiotic-resistant organisms.

7. Cut back on using battery-operated exfoliating brushes. Dr. Jones’s dermatologist says they are overkill and might harm delicate facial skin. Consider if you are using products that contain exfoliating acids or you are also using scrub creams. It’s just too much. If you are cleansing your face regularly, you shouldn’t need other aggressive cleaning measures. But Dr. Michael Lin thinks using something like Clarisonic once a week is fine, he does say: “…don’t overdo exfoliation, particularly if you have sensitive skin or acne, or you’ll make your skin worse.”

Now that I’m living in California it is very easy for me to get out at least five days a week and walk. BUT….I am also now exposed to the sun–and a very strong sun–more than I was in the Midwest, so there are tubes of sunscreen in my jacket pocket, my car, my bag. Everywhere. And caps and hats too.

Though it can be challenging, getting outside to walk is good for your body and your spirit no matter what the weather. Read more in my post Nature Deficit Disorder: Why We Need to Go Outside and  You’ll be beautiful inside and out. Happy walking, happy sunscreen!

Thanks to BLUE, Winter 2014

Thanks to Google Images

Ideas for Beauty Inside and Out


Is The U.S. Having a Panic Attack?

Is The U.S. Having a Panic Attack?

Panic: a sudden uncontrollable fear or anxiety, often causing wildly unthinking behavior. Repeat: wildly UNTHINKING behavior. Did we act like this in 2009? Do you even remember what happened in 2009?  H1N1

In 2009 the United States was faced with an outbreak of a strain of influenza, H1N1, often referred to as the swine flu. The outbreak began the weekend of April 24th when groups of students at a high school in Queens in New York became ill—all at once.


Having just taken a position with the the health department in Des Moines, Iowa, I was immediately called to help prepare for the “pandemic” that was sure to develop. Vaccine had to be prepared to deal with this particular strain of the flu. And to best care for the population, the CDC outlined those who should be vaccinated first: pregnant women, immunocompromised patients and young children. Some people not on that list did panic.


From April through the coming flu season (September 2009 through February 2010), the health department’s focus was H1N1. A special facility was set up to increase the number of clients who could be vaccinated per day. I spent days on the phone answering questions about H1N1, quieting panicked callers and providing dates and times for vaccination. By September 3rd, which was week 35 of the pandemic, H1N1 was widespread in the U.S. specifically affecting 11 states and regional activity in 13. The number of people seeking medical help was above the national baseline. 97% of the viruses being reported to CDC were 2009 influenza A (H1N1) viruses.

Facts: H1N1 infected 60.8 million people in the U.S. resulting in 12,469 fatalities. By August 2009, the Pew Research Center found that 45 percent of Americans were worried that they or a family member would contract the disease, women more concerned than men.


H1N1: Again, 60.8 million people in the U.S. were infected with H1N1 – a virus that can survive in the air and be passed through the air in droplet form—thus being highly infectious. Vaccinations reduced the number of people exposed. See HERD IMMUNITY here.

During the H1N1 pandemic, PEW research revealed the following stats: Confidence in the government’s ability to deal with the flu: very confident 18%; somewhat confident 47%. Pew stated: There is virtually no difference in opinion by gender, age or income when it comes to confidence in government, but Democrats are notably more likely to say they are confident in the government’s ability to handle swine flu (76%) than are independents (64%) or Republicans (54%).

Ebola: a virus that is not air-borne, that is passed from direct contact with a symptomatic person’s body fluids—vomit, blood, watery feces. Two nurses who cared for Thomas Eric Duncan, patient zero in Dallas Texas, have tested positive for Ebola and treated. Two doctors, an aid worker and a cameraman who worked for Doctors Without Borders in Africa, tested positive for Ebola. They were flown home and treated in the U.S. All are alive. These people got Ebola because they were working directly with very sick patients who were passing copious amounts of infected body fluids.


Now consider this from Danielle Kroll MD: An elementary school teacher in Maine was placed on a 21-day medical leave recently, the incubation period of Ebola, after visiting Dallas to attend a conference that was 10 miles from the hospital where Thomas Eric Duncan, the first person in the U.S. to test positive passed away. Fear of Ebola is distilled in nearly 80 percent of Americans, in a recent poll.

The above is an example of sheer, unthinking behavior–or complete panic. Ebola is not passed through the air. And even if it were, the teacher was 10 miles from the hospital were Thomas Eric Duncan was in isolation. If the elementary teacher was a very close friend of one of the nurses who cared for Duncan and had hugged and touched her right after she removed her PPE (personal protective equipment) coverings in the hospital–you might have cause for concern. Maybe monitoring her for a fever, but certainly not putting her on a medical leave for 21 days. Insane. And this is only one example. So keep in mind: When the perception of risk increases, the feeling of risk increases. 


In May of 2009, researchers from the University of Michigan wanted to see if they could increase the fear of the public for H1N1. The experiment was simple, but mischeivious. Undercover researchers on the Michigan campus approached people, asking them to complete a questionnaire on public health. 50% of the time, the experimenter sneezed in front of the unsuspecting participants. When they evaluated the questionnaires they discovered that the sneeze powerfully manipulated responses. It increased fear in the participant about all things health-related. The researchers concluded: “Those who had just passed a sneezing confederate [i.e., undercover researcher], perceived the average American as more likely to contract a serious disease, to have a heart attack before 50, and to die from a crime or accident.” Those who experienced the sneeze were more negative about the country’s health care system, and more in favor of spending federal dollars on flu prevention. Later, when the sneeze was revealed to the participants they stated they were not aware that they were being manipulated.


And keep in mind that there are always people who will take advantage of fear. Someone might even try to sell you expensive PPE stuff to wear to protect yourself. During 2009, lists of scripts were written for Tamiflu pills from India. Right now someone is trying to make hay from your fears.


Politicians, media folks, people with an agenda line up in a crisis and use your fear to manipulate you–just like the Michigan study above proved. The best way to stay healthy in body is to practice good hygiene and be alert. The best way to stay healthy mentally is to read the science and believe in it. Let the stats underline it. Don’t be fooled. Stay calm, avoid a panic attack and be well.

Some places to read about the science of Ebola and get the TRUE information:

http://www.cdc.gov/vhf/ebola/pdf/infographic.pdf      http://www.cdc.gov/vhf/ebola/




Is The U.S. Having a Panic Attack?

Research. Read. Study. A Current List of Ebola Cases here.

Keep calm, it’s not ebola, but it could be

the flu. Avoid the worry and get your flu shot.


Where Are You on the Happiness Scale?

Where Are You on the Happiness Scale?

There’s a lot going on in the world right now that is negative, depressing or just makes you want to throw up your hands and say why? Yet yesterday, after spending a few hours with neighbors and people I did not know well, I felt uplifted and did something I’ve been told to do since childhood—I counted my blessings. And I decided to shake off negative feelings—a conscious decision. Will I be successful? Will I earn good marks on some happiness scale?


Eckhart Tolle writes that the concept of happiness is actually quite superficial and that peace is deeper and has more meaning in day to day life. He states: Peace is immune to the polarities of life: the highs and lows, the hots and colds, the so-called goods and so-called bads. This is why peace is so crucial.

Tolle acknowledges that there isn’t anyone who goes through life unscathed. We all hurt. We all lose someone or something. And when that happens we cannot feel happiness. But then he asks the question: But do you need to feel in absolute despair? Do you need to feel devastated? 

[Tweet ” If you are at peace…connected with that deeper level in you, …emotional extremes don’t occur.”]He says no and promises you won’t feel it’s time to just give up. The reason again is finding peace within. If you are at peace…connected with that deeper level in you, …emotional extremes don’t occur. You’ll have a calm that is not affected by whatever happens in the world, because you have an acceptance and understanding of whatever happens in the world.

An amazing concept, though one that might take much work to achieve. In our culture happiness is prized and pursued as everyone can relate to these familiar words found in the U.S. Declaration of Independence: We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.


Alex Lickerman, an internal medicine doc at the University of Chicago, conducted a study with patients requiring colostomies (a procedure that would create a major change in one’s elimination system). He found that six months later those patients told the procedure was permanent were happier than those told the procedure was potentially reversible. Why? Lickerman explains: Because uncertainty prevented the latter group from adapting to the change, keeping them focused on and attached to what they still stood to lose. Uncertainty about the future has almost unequaled power to lower our life-condition in the present.  Think: ISSIS, EBOLA, CANCER, UNEMPLOYMENT.

So what do we do? Lickerman found that the converse also seemed to be true—that anticipating something pleasant seems to have almost unequaled power to make our present glow. Anticipatory joy is often greater than the joy brought to us by experiencing the very things we anticipate.

Let’s say that again: the anticipation of the pleasure to be experienced is often more joyful than the experience itself. Do you agree?

You can create your own happiness experiment by keeping a short diary for a week. At the end of each day ask yourself where you might fall on a happiness scale. Then ask yourself if you were looking forward to something that day. Lickerman states that the days with anticipation are probably happier days than those empty and containing nothing to look forward to. He advocates experiencing anticipatory pleasure by planning experiences that give us joy.

He writes: Anticipatory pleasure is so important to my sense of well-being…that I now plan my life in such a way that I almost always have something to look forward to. For me, this can be finishing an interesting blog post, working on my next book, going to a movie or a play with my wife, playing with my son, reading a good book, getting errands done, or even organizing my desk. I’ve learned the activity needn’t be large or significant or meaningful—just something I look forward to, even a little bit.

But Lickerman cautions that this might be hard to achieve if our lives are in a crisis mode and something looming large is depressing us. He also cautions that clinical depression requires clinical help. But on the up side, Lickerman says: …our brains are so constituted that we’re able to feel more than one thing at a time—even diametrically opposed feelings…So even when we’re depressed, placing something in front of ourselves that we look forward to can bring anticipatory pleasure… I’ve been amazed at how much of a boost to my life-condition even a small anticipatory pleasure can bring, even when I’m feeling anxious, sad, or depressed.


Gretchen Rubin, author of The Happiness Project would agree that doing errands and being organized are pleasurable activities and contribute to happiness. She cites the concept in law enforcement known as the broken windows theory. It states that we humans take lots of cues from our environment. Translation: if your neighborhood portrays evidence of minor lawbreaking like vandalism, graffiti and piled refuse and people living there fail to right these wrongs, the chance that bigger and more consequential laws will be broken increases. The cure is to immediately address the minor infractions and then people start to behave better. Though a controversial policing theory, Rubin is convinced that it’s true when applied to one’s life.

She writes: There are small indicators of disorder that unleash in us a feeling that things are out of control. Even if the trigger is just a stack of unsorted mail, that feeling begets other, bigger feelings—namely, guilt and defeat. Maybe your broken window is dirty laundry, a sink full of dishes, clutter on your counter. Whatever it is, it undermines your goals because it gives you a sense of chaos. The act of fixing broken windows, however, is liberating. The task takes on symbolic weight. It doesn’t just feel like you’re sorting the mail you’ve been meaning to sort—it feels like you’re taking the first step toward doing everything you’ve been meaning to. 

Taking the first step. Moving toward everything you’ve been meaning to do. Moving toward usefulness and having anticipatory pleasure because the leaves will be raked and you’ll burn some calories in the process. The mail will be sorted and you’ll unexpectedly find a rebate check. You’ll connect with an old friend and make his day—maybe even bring some peace into his life and yours.

The happiness scale can certainly change from day to day. But like Dr. Lickerman does, it’s a great idea to schedule something that gives your joy, something to anticipate and help you through other parts of your life. If you have a happiness theory, please share. And again I will quote a wise woman: “Feeling sad today? Then go out and help someone else.”

To take a test to see how happy you really are go here. 

Thanks to Google Images

Where Are You on the Happiness Scale?


The Grandmother Hypothesis and the Importance of Grandparenting

The Grandmother Hypothesis and the Importance of Grandparenting

If you ask the evolutionary question: why do women continue to live after they are no longer able to bear, birth and breastfeed children, you come up with a researched and very interesting answer. They continue to be part of the evolutionary plan because they become grandmothers. And that is terribly important.


In the 1980s, anthropologist Kristin Hawkes and her colleagues studied the Hadza tribe, the last known hunter-gatherers in Tanzania, Africa. Their findings:

1. the tribe’s old women did not just rest, they worked, digging up a deeply-buried tuber which provided the main source of starch for the tribe’s diet.

2. though the young women also dug for the tubers, the older women spent more time at this task, leaving early in the morning and coming back late in the evening.

3. and because of the presence of this food in the diet, the grandchildren of these older women had better growth rates.

From these observations, came the “grandmother hypothesis.” Simply stated: women past childbearing age help not just their children, but their children’s children. They strengthen the genealogy of the family, insuring that the line will continue. Having such a role or purpose eventually lengthened their own life span. When no longer required to carry an infant around, they were freed up to do work that helped their progeny. And very importantly, by foraging for more food, they prevented their grandchildren from dying. All generations were aided as the lengthening of the life span was then passed on.

The researchers added that the “grandmother hypothesis” clarified why humans are able to have children in quick succession, whereas in other species there are long gaps. Example: chimp mothers wait 5 or 6 years to give birth to another neonate. But with tribal grandmothers available, the younger women could continue to have children. This collaborative child-rearing allowed the young woman to focus on the next baby while the grandmother took care of the toddlers.

In her piece in the New Republic that analyzes the “grandmother hypothesis” Judith Shulevitz writes of another very positive reason for grandmothers –As the grandmother effect spread throughout the population over thousands of generations, it changed humans in another way. It made their brains bigger. As life lengthened, so did each stage of it. Children stayed children longer, which let their brains develop a more complex neural architecture.


It is my belief that grandparenting is the most important family role of the new century, says Roma Hanks PhD. There is much to substantiate that claim. In a society where many women have to work or choose to work, daycare centers, schools and grandparents often replace the role of the parent. Hanks is referring to the gifts that grandparents can bring to children whose parents are stressed and often emotionally unavailable because of work schedules and the worry of providing basic needs. In these cases and in families where life flows more easily, grandparents are vital in helping a family thrive.

  • Children need guidance, love and someone to listen to their fears and worries. Grandparents easily become that source and a bond forms, allowing for future communication.
  • Grandparents can babysit, allowing stressed moms and dads a chance to get away and relate to one another.
  • Grandparents can relate family stories, creating a history that forges a bond and provides a child with a sense of place and security.
  • Grandparents can be a source of information, providing advice, guidance and just plain helping out–like locating the phone number of a doctor.
  • Grandparents can be role models for their children’s parenting and for their grandchildren’s relationships with others. The love and gentleness found in the home is the first step to forming good citizens of the world who will have their own relationships and build their own families in the decades ahead.
  • In the end, grandparents can offer a shoulder to cry on, words of encouragement, or gentle reassurance to both their children and their grandchildren.


Kate Fogarty, PhD, stressed the importance of the protective role grandparents can play when grandchildren are cared for by a depressed mother. Her research showed that the formation of loving bonds between grandparents and those children could help develop positive behavior, increase cognitive development and prevent behavioral problems. She even went so far as to say that the possibility of the depression being passed to these children could be broken by the grandparent/grandchild relationship–a win win.

And though Fogarty’s research was with grandparents, certainly the role of loving aunts, uncles and friends will always make a positive difference in a child’s life.


There’s the familiar line: “If I’d known how wonderful it is to have grandchildren, I would have had them first.” What is that all about? Probably that with grandchildren comes experience, confidence in the role to be played, freedom from the harder aspects of child-rearing and the amazing chance to see once again the future in a child’s eyes.

Certainly some grandparents have more nitty-gritty responsibility for their grandchildren than others. Some are doing much of the raising and rearing. Some show up only for the fun times, like birthdays and holidays.

But hopefully most grandparents find the middle acceptable ground–they are eager to role up their sleeves and help when needed and they are always desirous of telling family stories, reading well-loved books, taking exploratory walks or singing well-loved songs. It’s a little like reliving your parenting. It’s a lot like looking into the future and once again having that uplifting feeling of knowing something of you will live on. That’s truly important.

The Grandmother Hypothesis and the Importance of Grandparenting

Thanks to Google Images


Memories, Mother-worry, Results–Diagnosis: MMR


Memories, Mother-worry, Results--Diagnosis: MMR

Memory: I lay in my bed with a fever, restless, taking sips of water that my mother delivered, she a constant at my bedside. This delirium lasted for 18 hours or more until the fever broke. I recovered. Diagnosis: measles. Memory: the salivary glands on both sides of my face swelled making talking and eating painful and difficult. I had a fever and of course was confined to my room. So were my two brothers. Diagnosis; mumps. Memory: another rash and a fever which kept me home from school for a week. But though I wasn’t very sick, my mother said I had to stay home, relating the story of a child I knew. She was completely deaf, the first hearing-imparied person I ever met. And she was deaf because her mother had the same rash and fever when she was pregnant. Diagnosis: rubella.

I also have very vivid memories of chicken pox. For me, this was probably the worst as I had more than my share of the classic rash that turns into itchy, fluid-filled blisters that finally scab over. And they weren’t just on arms and legs. These blisters can appear inside the mouth, eyelids or genital area.

These four illnesses, combined with fears of polio that often occurred in the early fifties, were part of raising a child. Mothers and fathers expected these diseases to infect their children–and they did. We missed weeks of school and upset households. When I was ill with chicken pox, my younger brother succumbed a few days later. My mother, who worked at home, could do nothing else but care for us.

So you know where I’m going with this–make sure your children and grandchildren and great-grandchildren are vaccinated. Children need to get an MMR. Read more about the MMR here. And everyone needs to help provide herd Immunity.  Read more about the concept here.

Definition: Herd immunity is a form of immunity that occurs when the vaccination of a significant portion of a population (or herd) provides a measure of protection for individuals who have not developed immunity. It arises when a high percentage of the population is protected through vaccination against a virus or bacteria, making it difficult for a disease to spread because there are so few susceptible people left to infect. This can effectively stop the spread of disease in the community. It is particularly crucial for protecting people who cannot be vaccinated. These include children who are too young to be vaccinated, people with immune system problems, and those who are too ill to receive vaccines (such as some cancer patients). 

  • So when you vaccinate your children and grandchildren you are also protecting vulnerable members of your community by reducing the spread of disease.
  • When you get a flu shot you are protecting the elderly and immunocompromised from dying of the flu–and some do every year.
  • “When the number of people vaccinated drops below 95 percent, a community loses herd immunity to highly contagious germs…”

Looking at the History: the 1950s

In a recent article in TIME Jeffrey Kluger provides great information: in 1952 there were 57,879 cases of paralytic polio in the United States. By 1961, six years after the Salk vaccine was introduced, that number fell to 1,312, a 98% reduction. Today the figure is zero. Measles?? In the 1950s, 3-5 million of us contracted the disease EACH YEAR! 48,000 of those cases were hospitalized. In 2012 there were only 55 cases. BUT WE DON’T WANT TO GO BACK.

Some states have excellent rates of coverage: Louisiana 96.6% rate for the MMR and 98.3% for diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis Tdap. Mississippi boasts a near perfect 99.9% but California, with its contributing figures from Orange County where mothers often listen to a certain pediatrician who tells them not to vaccinate if they don’t want to, has only 92.7% for the MMR and 92.5% for Tdap. This is serious. Populations cannot afford the numbers to drop below 95%. It puts many people at risk. It puts immunocompromised people, infants and cancer patients at risk.

Fighting Back

Kluger reports that some medical professionals are able to convince parents to vaccinate by using these measures:

1. Relating the consequences of getting the disease:

mumps: deafness, inflammation of the brain (encephalitis), inflammation of testes which can cause a drop in the sperm count and inflammation of the ovaries though fertility is not affected;

measles: ear infections, pneumonia, encephalitis; and in a pregnancy miscarriage or premature birth; death, as one or two out of 1,000 die;

German measles, rubella: poses a grave danger to a pregnant woman’s fetus and can cause miscarriage or birth defects like deafness, intellectual disability, heart defects; 85 out of 100 babies born to mothers who had rubella in the first 3 months of her pregnancy will have a birth defect.

2. MOBI – maximizing office-based immunizations–in other words, taking the opportunity to offer vaccines to children whenever they appear in the medical office. “We think people listen to their providers, Says Mary DiOrio, the state of Ohio’s epidemiologist.

3. Laws. 49 of the 50 states have laws that require kids to be vaccinated before attending public schools and daycare centers. Ohio does not extend the law to daycare centers. PROBLEM: parents can utilize an opt-out form for religious reasons–but this is being exploited.

4. Schools are now permitted to require unvaccinated children to stay home during outbreaks and to bar them from school activities. Says superintendent of schools in Delaware County, Ohio: “We say unvaccinated kids can’t come to school dances or play on sports teams because of the risk. That gets it on the child’s radar screen.” And thus the parents’.

The Autism Component 

The initial fears that the MMR contributed to the rise of autism are still circulating, though the research has been found to be totally inaccurate. As Kluger writes: “The vaccine opponents are not going away anytime soon, though encouragingly, some are going dark.” He states that Jenny McCarthy speaks little of the matter anymore. And in some communities parents who refuse to vaccinate their children are being outwardly criticized by vaccination proponents. This just might bring those parents around.

With the scare of Ebola now coming to our shores, once again it is important to educate ourselves. We need to understand how the virus is passed and what controls or measures to take to protect ourselves. Panic blinds us. Education helps people make sensible decisions. To read about Ebola go here.

My husband and I were able to vaccinate our two daughters with the MMR and DPT and thus their childhoods were free of these pernicious illnesses. They did have to deal with the chicken pox as the vaccine was not available then. My son, born in 1989, was able to get the chicken pox vaccine. To create good memories, avoid mother-worries and raise children with healthy results–vaccinate. For more information, talk to your healthcare provider or pediatrician. And thanks for reading

More info on vaccination:   Great article about docs helping to convince parents to vaccinate here.

On Immunity: An Inoculation by Eula Bliss Graywolf

Who’s Afraid of a LIttle Vaccine? by Jeffrey Kluger

Memories, Mother-worry, Results--Diagnosis: MMR


Why Jenny McCarthy Is Selfish

This is how herd immunity works.

Thanks to Google Images


Autumn: A Time of Atonement and Bounty

Autumn: A Time of Atonement and Bounty

Autumn is finally here. In some parts of the country and the world summer’s end was wet, with incessant rains that felled leaves early, smashing grass and crops with a blanket of soggy vegetation and shorn tree limbs. Such weather patterns contrasted with the drought and dryness other parts of America and the world continue to experience. What does nature know that we do not about the length of our days? Why do some regions have bounty and others experience loss? Is there something we need to atone for?

Probably. But though in my town we yearn for rains, I’m still determined to enjoy autumn once again. I have pots of yellow and burnt ocher mums nestling by pumpkins on my front porch. My autumn welcome sign is hung and a wreath of yellow leaves blazes on my front door. This is my time. For me autumn is always a beginning.

A Clearer Picture

When things fall back toward the earth, the outlines of garden and lawn, of walkway and road become more apparent. This precise definition creates a sense of order and organization. In fall there are memories of wild vines and riotous summer flower color. But now it’s best to be more satisfied with quieter denser things like clipped boxwood and evergreens, like bare tree trunks of grey and soft brown. The air is cool. The skies seem swept up too, presenting swathes of crystal color. Cold air outlines things so definitely, you can almost see each leaf and branch.

Order Brings Time for Contemplation

Definition and order soothes the soul. I lean toward putting things away in their proper place. I lean toward knowing that everything sleeps quietly waiting for a reawakening. This is a time to store energy, to store knowledge. It can be a time to read and contemplate and make decisions.

If you seek solace and quiet, this is your time too. For as we move inside to do our living, placing things we love like a bright pumpkin or a sheaf of leaves on table surfaces, or brightening a room with a flowered pillow or candlelight, it can also become a time to move inward in our thinking–to meditate and determine more and more exactly who we are.

Autumn decorations can remind us of endings, yet good endings that are resolute and leave us feeling blessed, not sorrowful. Autumn is the time of atonement for the Jewish people and how appropriate to tidy up one’s soul as the earth is preparing for sleep and hibernation, as winter winds are soon to come and humans are stocking up on food energy and light energy and the ability to survive.


But no matter what the season, we should atone for the hurts we have caused; we should try to mediate our expressions of anger. And certainly if we have hurt someone we need to ask for forgiveness; and if someone has hurt us, we should try to find a way to forgive that person, to lighten the loads we often carry. And we must forgive ourselves.

Settling In

It’s a little early, but there will come a time as the days get shorter that we will want to settle back into our brains and examine who we are, where we are going, and how we might improve. Life cannot be lived like the riot of spring where nature blows her wad and lets everything grow and rush about. We enjoyed that fertility. But now it’s time to be more judicious in our use of harvest fruits; we need to carefully use and share our bounty.

Certainly in the spring, when life comes back, we have no fears of the future. But in the autumn, we need to count the jars in the cellar, the apples in the basket, the sins on the soul. We need to tidy our lives and draw within to discover how we will survive, how we will make it through the dark times of our life. And how we can help others through their darker, harder times.

Final Thought

In each of us is a light deep within. Sharing that light draws bounty, brings good things to us whether the world is hard-packed snow or dry desert. Autumn can provide a time for atonement. Winter and beyond can be full of the light of love as the grace of forgiving someone brings the warmth of reclaiming love. If you are feeling like all the days of your life are hard, cold winter, then it’s time to open up to those around you, to share the light within you. IT WILL BRING YOU HAPPINESS. As a wise woman once said to me: “Feeling sad today? Then go out and help someone else.” She was so right.

Autumn: A Time of Atonement and Bounty

Thanks to John Havey and Google Images