Saturday, May 31, 2014

Reminders to Inspire, Support, and Guide

There are times when it helps to hear, read or see something that makes us think differently. It could be inspirational or offer a new way to cope with our current situation. It can provide an insight into the mystery of life or help us recognize what we should be doing versus what we are doing.  

Over the years, when I come across something that makes me stop and take notice, I add them to my “quotes files.” When I’m feeling a bit perplexed or in a funk, I find it helpful to read them.

The first quote that I remember wanting to memorize was by the humorist and author of The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, James Thurber.  Let us not look back in anger, nor forward in fear, but around in awareness. Thurber was into mindfulness way before it became popular.

While I’ve included some of the phrases from my "Quotes" stash below, I encourage you to develop your own and store them where you have easy access to them.

Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma – which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of other’s opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary. Steve Jobs

The intuitive mind is a sacred gift and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift. Albert Einstein 

We are all in this world together - people , plants and animals - and we had better make the most of our opportunities. We are all here for some purpose: I believe that it is to live a good life, individually and collectively. That means for us humans to do as little harm as possible, to other humans, to animals and to the whole environment, and to do as much good as possible. to live simply, not elaborately; to consume the least possible, not the most possible. If you have any religion, let it be helpfulness, love and unity. We will then fulfil the purpose and take our part in the great plan. It is as simple as that. Helen Nearing

Truth is a pathless land." Man cannot come to it through any organization, through any creed, through any dogma, priest or ritual, not through any philosophic knowledge or psychological technique. He has to find it through the mirror of relationship, through the understanding of the contents of his own mind, through observation and not through intellectual analysis or introspective dissection. Man has built in himself images as a fence of security -- religious, political, personal. These manifest as symbols, ideas, beliefs. The burden of these images dominates man's thinking, his relationships and his daily life. These images are the causes of our problems for they divide man from man. Krishnamurti

I finally learned, with the help of this therapist, that depression didn't need to be pictured as the hand of an enemy trying to crush me, but rather the hand of a friend trying to press me down to ground on which it was safe to stand. And through that realization, I understood that part of what took me into depression was that I was living life at artificial heights, at untenable elevations, so that the elevation involving a kind of inflated ego or a free-floating spirituality or a detached sense of "oughts" and in that sense a false ethic, or simply living intellectually in my head more than in my feelings and in my body, that all of those things put you at such altitude that if you trip and fall, which you're inevitably going to do. Parker Palmer

Forget about fear of pain. It's usually much worse than the actual pain. Epicurus

You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You must do the thing you think you cannot do. Eleanor Roosevelt

No tree has branches so foolish as to fight amongst themselves. Ojibwa saying 

 May we be helped to do here, whatever is most right. American Indian Prayer

Paul Goble (From: Beyond the Ridge):
“Anything that has a birth must also have a death.
  The spirit is not born with a person,
            But is given at the time of birth.
Therefore, because the spirit has no birth,
            It will never die.”

Don't Turn an Excuse into an Identity Tony Robbins

Om [his term for God] told me that there is not one universe but many-in fact, more than I could conceive-but that love lay at the center of them all. Evil was present in all the other universes as well, but only in the tiniest trace amounts. Evil was necessary because with out it free will was impossible, and without free will there could be no growth-no forward movement, no chance for us to become what God longed for us to be. Horrible and all-powerful as evil sometimes seemed to be in a world like ours, in the larger picture, love was overwhelmingly dominant, and it would ultimately be triumphant." “Proof of Heaven: A neurosurgeon’s Journey into the Afterlife.” Eben Alexander MD

"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed it's the only thing that ever has." Margaret Mead
            "People often ask me at this age, ‘Who am I passing the torch to?’ First of all, I’m not giving up my torch, thank you! I’m using my torch to light other people’s torches. … If we each have a torch, there’s a lot more light." Gloria Steinem

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Take a Break: Do Something with Plastic Bags

If you have a drawer full of plastic bags, you can take them to your local store and recycle them, or you can try one of the projects below.

Bags can be ironed together thereby creating sheets of plastic fabric that can be used just as you would other fabric. Start by watching the Plastic Fusing Tutorial. Consider using a bag with a pattern, such as Target bags with the red dots, as your top layer. Cutting up bags to create a design for the top layer also works. Keep in mind that different bags will fuse in different ways. Once you have your sheets of plastic, consider some of the following:

• Gift Bags: This video shows another way to get a cool design using lots of different types of plastic bags cut up and ironed together. 

• Clutch: No sewing involved if you use the right type of plastic bags. The ones from the grocery store that are thinner will be more likely to fuse together when making seams. Be sure to use parchment paper over top and on the bottom to avoid sticking. 

Not interested in today’s activity? Check out the Take a Break Pinterest for lots of Take a Break ideas. 

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Take a Break: Welcome Summer

With Memorial Day weekend just a few days away, it’s a good time to make some items that you can enjoy all summer.

 Summer Wreath for the door: Lots of ideas for something festive
• Umbrella wreath: Start with a Styrofoam ring and a box of drink umbrellas. Stick them into the foam. May need to use glue to get them to stay in place.
• Dots: Pick up a couple of boxes of Dots Candy and use either pins or toothpicks to stick them into the Styrofoam ring.
• Garden Hose Wreath: Love this idea. Take some old hose and wrap it around. Wire on some faux flowers along with a pair of gloves, plastic trowel or whatever else strikes your fancy and finish it with a bow. 

Make a Welcome Summer Kit for Someone: Depending on age and preferences, pack a small cooler, pail or another summer related container with all sorts of things they can use in the months to come. Items to consider: glow sticks, star gazing guide, bubbles, beach ball, sand pail, gardening spade or gloves, flip flops, squirt gun, Popsicle mold, something for the BBQ, a book by their favorite author, sunscreen, water bottle, bug spray, beach blanket, tickets to the baseball game or outdoor concert, or a summer wine with appropriate glassware and cheese.

Sidewalk Chalk: Mix three tablespoons of tempera paint with one cup of cold water. Slowly add one and a half cups of plaster of Paris and stir until the lumps dissolve. Pour into muffin tins and let harden. For a slightly different twist, try sidewalk paint.  

Memorial Day Activities: Lots of ideas from how to clean gravestones to making a five-pointed star in one snip.

Container Garden: Even if it’s planting a few herbs for the kitchen, there is a lot you can do to enhance your recipes with food you’ve grown yourself. 

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Journal Watch May 2014

New Fact Sheets from the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine

FDA Proposing to Regulate E-Cigarettes: The proposal will be subject to public comment and further review by the agency before becoming final. But once that happens the rule would impose new restrictions, including: ban sales of ECs to minors; prohibition on distribution of free samples; ban on sales via vending machines unless in places that do not admit young people; required warning label and disclosure of ingredients. NPR

Meta Analysis Bolsters Case Against a Diet of Steaks: Researchers analyzed 21 studies that included more than 292,000 people who were followed for an average of 10 years. They found a link between consuming heme iron -- which is only in red meat -- and a 57 percent increased risk of heart disease. In contrast, consuming non-heme iron -- found in vegetables, other non-meat sources and iron supplements -- was not associated with the risk of heart disease. Journal of Nutrition 
Laughter Therapy Could Combat Memory Loss in Seniors: Humor and laughter may help combat memory loss in the elderly, according to a study presented at the Experimental Biology meeting, held from April 26 to 30 in San Diego. 
Aspirin Use Cuts Colorectal Cancer Risk: Regular aspirin use is associated with a reduced risk of colorectal cancer in association with high hydroxyprostaglandin dehydrogenase 15-(nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide) (15-PGDH) expression, according to a study published in the April 23 issue of Science Translational Medicine
Increasing Coffee Reduces Death From Liver Cirrhosis and Type 2 Diabetes: Increasing coffee consumption by on average one and half cups per day over a four-year period reduces the risk of type 2 diabetes by 11 percent, research shows. Diabetologia, April 2014 
Consuming two or more cups of coffee each day reduces the risk of death from liver cirrhosis by 66%, specifically cirrhosis caused by non-viral hepatitis, new research reveals. As with previous studies, heavy alcohol use was found to increase risk of death from cirrhosis. Hepatology, 2014 
Up to 40 % of Annual Deaths From Each of Five Leading Causes of Death Preventable: Modifiable risk factors are largely responsible for each of the leading causes of death: Heart disease (#1 cause of death) and Strokes (#4 cause of deaths) have similar risks include tobacco use, high cholesterol, poor diet, overweight and lack of physical activity. Alcohol use and diabetes also play a role in stroke deaths. Cancer risks (#2 cause of deaths) includes those for heart disease plus sun exposure, certain hormones, alcohol, some viruses and bacteria, ionizing radiation and certain chemicals and substances. For chronic respiratory disease (#4 cause of deaths0 tobacco smoke, including second-hand smoke, other indoor and outdoor air pollutants, allergens and exposure to occupational agents. The fifth leading cause of death, unintentional injury, risks include lack of seatbelt and motorcycle helmet use, unsafe consumer products, alcohol and drug use, exposure to occupational hazards and unsafe home and community environments. MMWR 

Reducing Just 6 Factors Could Prevent 37million Deaths from Chronic Disease: Reducing or curbing just six modifiable risk factors -- tobacco use, harmful alcohol use, salt intake, high blood pressure and blood sugar, and obesity -- to globally-agreed target levels could prevent more than 37 million premature deaths over 15 years, from the four main non-communicable diseases (NCDs): cardiovascular diseases, chronic respiratory disease, cancers, and diabetes, according to new research. The Lancet, 2014; DOI: 10.1016/S0140-6736(14)60616-4 

Deaths Decline after Massachusetts’ Health Care Reform: Deaths declined significantly in Massachusetts four years after comprehensive health care reform, according to an article being published in Annals of Internal Medicine.

Diets rich in antioxidant resveratrol fail to reduce deaths, heart disease or cancer: A study of Italians who consume a diet rich in resveratrol — the compound found in red wine, dark chocolate and berries — finds they live no longer than and are just as likely to develop cardiovascular disease or cancer as those who eat or drink smaller amounts of the antioxidant. Studies have shown that consumption of red wine, dark chocolate and berries does reduce inflammation in some people and still appears to protect the heart. "It's just that the benefits, if they are there, must come from other polyphenols or substances found in those foodstuffs.” "These are complex foods, and all we really know from our study is that the benefits are probably not due to resveratrol." Internal Medicine

NIH Says Sex Bias in Studies Makes Research Less Effective for Women: The U.S. government's medical research agency is taking steps to erase gender bias in biomedical studies, saying scientists too often use male lab animals and cells – which can mask the way men and women react differently to some drugs. Beginning Oct. 1 this year, researchers seeking grants from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) must report their plans for balancing male and female cells and animals in preclinical studies, with only “rigorously defined exceptions.” 

Purposeful Life Might be a Longer Life: Researchers analyzed data from more than 6,000 people who were asked if they felt they had a purpose in life and about their relations with others. The participants were then followed for 14 years. During that time, about 9 percent of them died. Those who died during the follow-up had reported feeling less purpose in life and having fewer positive relationships than the survivors. Psychological Science