Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Take a Break: Follow your curiosity for the day/Carole King

I was inspired to write this “take a break” after reading Elizabeth Gilbert’s (author of Eat, Pray, Love) article “What toDo If You Can’t Find Your Passion.”  She was in a slump and a friend suggested that she give up trying to follow her passion and follow her curiosity instead.

What a great idea. Gilbert found an outlet in gardening. What have you been curious about that you’ve never tried? Since I have a friend that we’re having a surprise birthday party, and he’s very much a Tiki devotee, I think I’ll spend some time today learning about Tiki  and how to incorporate this into his party.

So get started by remembering the last time you said, “Hmmm, that’s interesting.” Check out What Makes you curious?  and learn what makes Elie Wiesel, and 125 other interesting people, curious.

In case you missed it, last night PBS aired “In Performance at the White House” where Carole King was awarded the Library of Congress Gershwin Prize. You can watch the concert, featuring Carole and lots of other performers (James Taylor, Gloria Estefan, Trisha Yearwood, Billy Joel etc.). So if you are curious about the breath of Carole’s work, and be inspired, watch the concert on-line

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Prepared for summer? Tips for those with Chronic Conditions: Sunscreen

This weekend ushers in the summer season. So how well prepared are you for the season ahead? Do you plan to travel? Are there some unique characteristics for the community in which you live, (e.g. Lyme Disease) which you should take special precautions for?

 This Saturday begins a three part series Preparing for Summer. Even though it’s been raining for days where I live, and snow is in the forecast for tonight, today’s post is about sunscreen.

Depending on medications you may be taken and/or medical condition, sun exposure can be a serious problem. Start by checking prescription labels for warnings. If you aren’t sure, ask your pharmacist or talk to your medical provider.

There is conflicting information about sun exposure. Some think a certain amount (5-10 minutes) helps to prevent vitamin D deficiency, and others claim that no amount is acceptable and sunscreen should be worn at all times.
With skin cancer being the most common form of cancer in the US, there are real benefits of sunscreen. However, animal studies have raised concerns about what’s in these products. According to the ConsumerReports' Sunscreen Buying Guide,  Nanoparticles of titanium dioxide and zinc oxide have been linked to reproductive and developmental effects in animals. Our tests found that all four of the sunscreens with these mineral-based active ingredients contain nanoparticles. Retinoids, part of the vitamin A family and an inactive ingredient in some sunscreens, have caused an increase in skin cancers in mice.... Animal studies have indicated that oxybenzone, which is in many sunscreens, may interfere with hormones in the body.
To stay protected from the sun:
• Wear a broad brim hat, protective clothing (long-sleeved shirt, pants) and sun glasses
• Seek shade and avoid being outside in the hottest part of the day-10 am-2 pm .
• Use extra caution near water, snow and sand as they reflect damaging sun rays.
• Use a broad-spectrum protection (protects against UVA and UVB rays) sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 40. Note that the American Academy of Dermatology recommends 30, but Consumer Reports recommendation is higher. In their 2012 report, they note “We use to recommend 30, but given the performance of this latest batch, a claim of 40 makes more sense. “ As far as which brand to use, according to Consumer Reports’ annual sun survey for 2013, the top brands are as follows: Target Up and UP Sports SPF 50 had the highest overall score; Walmart, Equate Ultra Protection Sunscreen SPF 50 was No. 2; Coppertone Water Babies 50 lotion number 3; and number 4 was Walgreens, Continuous Spray Sports SPF 50. Cheaper, Store-Brand Sunscreens Protect BetterThan Costly Counterparts 
• Apply sunscreen liberally according to label directions.
Learn more about applying sunscreen and other ways to protect your skin-American Academy of Dermatology’s Sunscreen FAQs. 
Since many people with chronic conditions may be more sensitive to sun and sunscreens, discuss it with your medical provider.  Talk to condition specific organizations (e.g. American Cancer Society) since they will often have information from other members about what works and what doesn’t for a particular medical condition. 

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Take a Break: Make a Red, White and Blue Wreath

Memorial Day weekend and the official start of summer-and all those patriotic holidays-is just around the corner. What better way to show your red, white and blue spirit then with a special wreath for the door, window or wherever. Head to the Dollar Store and pick up some of those inexpensive wreath forms. Make a ribbon wreath using curling ribbon or other types by pinning them to the form. In the same manner, pick up flag and patriotic toothpicks and start pushing them into the wreath form. Mixing the two will have a nice effect.

For other ideas, check out

Tennis Racket and Felt Make a very interesting wreath:Like the wreath part but not so wild about the silver handle. 

Scrap Wreath: Loved the idea of shrinking this down for a pin, and the tiny white buttons make wonderful stars. This is a no-sew fabric project. 

If you don’t have a poppy to wear, check out Make Poppies. 

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Trust the Process

The last few months have been particularly challenging for me. I’d say the universe is picking on me if I didn’t know better. These experiences, as hard as they may seem at times, and as much as they challenge my beliefs, are the breeding ground for new and positive changes. When I’m in the midst of one of these upheavals it’s hard at times to have any sort of perspective on it.

One of the good things about writing this blog is it does cause me to focus on bigger topics. So today, I found myself reading one of  my past posts Change Happens: Gaining a Better Perspective On It. It reminded of a man with AIDS that I had worked with many years ago. He was always telling us that life was a process and we have to trust in it.

This led me to search for a better understanding of “trust the process” and I came across this quote from Shambhala Publications.

Whether in painting, poetry, performance, music, dance, or life, there is an intelligence working in every situation. This force is the primary carrier of creation.

If we trust it and follow its natural movement, it will astound us with its ability to find a way through problems—and even make creative use of our mistakes and failures.

There is a magic to this process that cannot be controlled by the ego. Somehow it always finds the way to the place where you need to be, and a destination you never could have known in advance.
When everything seems as if it is hopeless and going nowhere . . . trust the process.

 When I’m having some of my darker thoughts, just saying those words lifts my mood as I recognize this is not a permanent state and there is something positive that will result.

The one word of caution I would make to anyone, living with a chronic condition or not, as much as positive change can come from difficult situations, they can also tax the body. In short, trust in the process but don’t linger in it for any longer than you need too. If you aren’t seeing your way through it, or if you find yourself spiraling into depression, get some help.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Take a break: Crafting with Crutches, Wheelchairs and Medical Supplies

Crutches, canes, walkers, and casts don’t have to be boring. Consider some of the following:
• Make an art statement by decorating with all the wonderful styles and colors of duct tape

Shrinkins The Healing Art. Shrinkable skins can be used in a variety of ways to decorate wheelchairs, walkers, crutches, canes etc.While kits are available on-line, also check out your local hospital gift shops, medical supply stores and other places where durable medical goods might be sold. Check out some of the “how to” videos:

Don’t need the crutches, consider some of these ideas

Cool Stool: Love the reused crutches and a bike wheel (could use one from a discarded wheelchair) to make a very cool stool 

Consider making art with your wheel chair

Other Ideas
• Surgical Gloves: Fill with ice and freeze. Makes for an interesting addition to a punch bowl. If you’re going to using your frozen hands (or fingers) in drinks, use the powder free gloves.