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Posts Tagged ‘Health’

One of the things I did not expect after getting my second COVID vaccine was the degree of relief I felt. I knew I’d be glad to have it done, knowing that in two more weeks I’d be as protected as I could be, but it was almost a mild euphoria. The start of a new day!

The pandemic is not over by any means, but COVID is on the run. I can now finally meet with my vaccinated friends or family at outdoor eateries with confidence. Or just hang out with them outside without a mask so long as we’re not cheek to cheek. It really IS a relief.

And a big change. I had not realized the degree to which I have been stressed over the last year, emotionally holding my breath, knowing that COVID really could be anywhere. It’s a lot about degree.

The facts – My state is 46.8% fully vaccinated as of today. And 50% of those with COVID continue to show no symptoms. The vaccine is 94% effective (Moderna). Clearly, there are still risks. However, the more people that get vaccinated, the safer we will all be.

That’s what I look forward to … good health and being safe … for you, for me, for all of us.

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NewmansOwnCoffee2Once vilified as being a troublemaker to your health, coffee has been getting a whole new appraisal as of late. Its health benefits are now being recognized. An article in Prevention magazine wrote up how coffee can help lower your risk for Type-2 diabetes.

Researchers at Harvard University looked at 28 studies with more than a million combined participants and found that people who drank six 8-ounce cups of coffee daily had a 33% lower risk of diabetes. The good news is that each cup lowered your risk by 9%, so you don’t have to go crazy with coffee consumption, but just be aware of the possibilities.

What’s even more exciting is that it’s not the caffeine responsible for the effect, so if you drink decaf, this still applies to you. Researchers suspect that it’s a naturally occurring chemical in coffee called chlorogenic acid that reduces the rate at which the intestines absorb glucose.

So that’s how you can change your personal world, but how about expanding your vision and changing the world at large?

The coffee you drink can make an actual difference to the rainforest and to saving the lives of migratory and resident birds. With the advent of agri-technology, sun-grown coffee became the new big thing, but is not without a goodly number of drawbacks. Here are a few differences between your typical coffees and shade-grown coffees in their benefits to wildlife and the environment.

Poco-Coffee2* Migratory birds and many resident birds, (such as Poco, a rescued macaw, right), find sanctuary in the forest canopy of traditional coffee plantations, while in sun-grown coffee areas, there are 90% fewer bird species.

* Shade trees protect the coffee plants from rain and sun, help maintain soil quality, and aid in natural pest control, thanks to the birds. These traditional coffee plantations also help to conserve watersheds, leading to higher water quality and quantity for local populations. Sun grown coffee requires chemical fertilizers and pesticides and year-round labor, placing financial demands on the growers. It also leads to greater soil erosion and higher amounts of toxic runoff endangering both wildlife and people.

* Shade coffee plants can produce crops of beans for up to 50 years, while sun grown plants produce for only 10 – 15.

* The higher quality beans produced by shade grown methods produce a better tasting coffee!

FairTradeLogoWhere do you find shade-grown coffee? Most coffees marked “Organic Fair Trade” will also be shade-grown. Read the labels and check out the producers’ literature and/or web sites for details. Smaller merchants, health-oriented food stores, and, increasingly, your local supermarket now carry shade grown coffee. There is one more bonus – when you see the “Fair Trade” logo on your bag of coffee, or elsewhere, it assures you that the farmers and their families who grow the coffee are being paid a sustainable living wage for their work.

While it may be a bit more expensive than sun grown coffee, it preserves the biodiversity of our planet, the rainforest, and a multitude of bird species, plus it helps humanity. A pretty good deal all in one cup of coffee.

So you can change your personal world, and spread your wings and change a whole lot more of it.

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Just like life is filled with dreams and plans, so is it filled with transitions.

TheMac2Over the last 2 months, I’ve had a number. The most recent, though initially stressful, has been the now-happy upgrade of my beloved Mac, the primary tool of my trade.  Reliant as I am upon my Mac to make a living, I was not happy to find it behaving increasingly squirrelly as of late. It’s stood up to the test of time, but has missed a few OS upgrades as well as the accompanying program upgrades. My Mac superhero, Steve, told me that right about now is when hard drives often start to fail. Gulp.

It seemed the time had arrived. So off it went to Steve to have a new hard drive and double the memory installed as well as the latest OS and other upgrades. He brought it back, did his on-site magic, and then the biggest transition began, my learning all the (sometimes) improvements of the latest and greatest software. Trust me … a transition! (I’m much calmer now.)

But the bigger transition has been – and will be –  in my diet. While not really horrible by any means, my cholesterol was found to be sufficiently high that it needed addressing. Before you could say “lower your cholesterol,” I found myself plopped on 3 drugs — me who takes no meds at all, just vitamins and supplements, and eats largely organically, MainStreetVegan-VMoran2relatively low-fat and 99% vegetarian is suddenly infused with three. And so began a series of escalating side effects, med changes and so on … not a happy experience.

Meanwhile, at a recent picnic I was pleased and surprised that a friend bought me a book – Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease by Caldwell B. Esselstyn, Jr., M.D. – which she read because of the benefit of the suggested diet to the prevention of cancer. I started reading. The regimen the author describes is beyond vegan in its restriction of fats, and a possibility, but has some very strong limitations. Still, I want to find a way to change my diet sufficiently to get off the meds, so I ordered additional books, one of which is pictured here, plus  2 cookbooks, Forks over Knives and the Joy of Vegan Baking and The Skinny Bitch Book of Vegan Swaps.

If I’m to consider going vegan, I need to know I have options … lots of them. I’m a bake it with butter, sugar and eggs kind of girl, and this is going to be a HUGE transition. And so I’ve begun reading, investigating, considering and shopping. That I already eat animals rarely makes one part easier, but giving up dairy? Now THAT’s tough. So I’m cutting out more dairy and animal fat than I already have and wading in.

I know plenty about the quality, or lack thereof, of our food supply and the toll it is taking on the health of millions of people as well as the planet and the horrendous suffering it is causing billions of animals. I’ve never wanted to be a part of that and have taken many steps over the years to limit my participation. Apparently, the next step – this transition – is mine to take.

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We all have them, right? And then something occurs in our lives and we can watch them go up in smoke. Or at least for a while.

But what I’ve found is that the phoenix can rise again from the ashes, except this time, the dreams and plans have changed, perhaps evolved. Or maybe are new altogether. In any event, they have been colored by that event and now they look quite different. Can you relate?

RaritanRiver2

I was often told as a child that I daydreamed too much. It was made out to be a bad thing. But how do you proceed in life without dreams … something to hitch our stars to? It seems to me that when we lose our dreams or when they get mired in the muck is when we get in trouble. I never minded being called a dreamer. I still am, and it’s just fine with me. When I have no dreams, I’ve lost my moorings.

Recent events caused my dream of being published in children’s books to be pushed into the background, to be, at least for a period of time, not that important in the grander scheme of things. That happens. But early, early this morning – certainly before I wished to be awake – the dream was stirring again, and as I thought about it, a next step came into view … a plan. As I lay there, a number of things fell into place, and I knew what I would soon do. A dream with a plan … that felt good!

Sometimes we just make plans that arise out of an event, in my case related to my health. OK – that happened, what will I do now? Up until this morning, I didn’t really know. Not exactly, anyway. However, it seems my unconscious has been quite busy when I wasn’t looking. A number of recent events – a conversation with someone I’d never really had a  chance to talk to, a book that crossed my path, a wanting to know what I should do – click, click, click – it all fell into place, and suddenly I had a plan. Ideas that had been more on the line of `maybe someday’ or `that seems impossible,’ suddenly seemed real and do-able.

HorseFarm2

It’s amazing when we have a plan, how much lighter we feel. It’s as if a fog that has been swirling about us has burned off and we are standing in radiant sunshine, arms lifted in joy and anticipation. A plan, enlightened by a dream, is a wonderful thing. The path may have pebbles or rocks along the way, but it glows nonetheless.

That old Irish blessing comes to mind, and I wish a beautifully lit path of dreams and plans for you, too …

May the road rise up to meet you.
May the wind always be at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face,
and rains fall soft upon your fields.
And until we meet again,
May God hold you in the palm of His hand.

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It happens to all of us at one time or another. We get stressed, overwhelmed, overworked or catch the latest bug that’s going around. Or several of the above.

And what’s one of the first things that falls by the wayside? Our good health habits. When you feel like crap, you don’t feel much like cooking the solid meals, getting the vitamins and supplements together, sticking with the exercise routine. I know I’m not alone when I say sometimes it’s just hard to keep it all together under duress.

Having a family and/or animals  staring you down on a regular schedule does keep the food prep moving, but any leftover energy is often devoted to recovering from that physical or mental stress. There are lots to ways to deal with it, but here’s an easy and convenient one that I find works for me. I pick up Spontaneous Healing by Dr. Andrew Weil. It’s a simple reminder for me to allow my life to heal and get back on track. A reminder to eat healing foods, those that support my best health, and reinvest myself at whatever rate I’m able into activities that support my well-being. Reading something inspirational – Wayne Dyer right now also has that effect for me, but it can just as easily be some other metaphysical teacher – can also be very healing.

It’s essential is to carve out some time for ourselves that soothes and heals us. Add calming music to that, light a candle, and enjoy a bit of space that is sacred, not to be encroached upon by others, family or not. Meditate, breathe, stretch.

It’s so easy in today’s world to become overwhelmed and hit that wall of exhaustion. But we owe it to ourselves to be kind to us. Being kind to ourselves isn’t selfish; it’s what allows us to recharge so we have the energy and the love available to be kind to others. When we’re worn to a nub we’re not much good to anyone. Taking proper care of our physical selves is important, as is caring for our emotional, mental and spiritual selves. We need to be whole.

So I dip into Spontaneous Healing as a reminder of what magnificent housing we live in – our bodies – which are always doing their best to heal themselves. If only we listen to what they need. Andrew Weil tells us and it’s not really what most of us are doing.

And then … I might try and find some time to read something purely for pleasure. At the moment I am reading a novel recommended by my friend’s husband, Homegoing. I’m having a difficult time, but I suspect it’s because I’m trying to cram in a little reading before it’s finally lights out at night; it’s rarely a good way to enjoy a book. Perhaps there’s a bit more time to find … somewhere, I don’t know where … but it’ll be after I cook a healthy meal, for sure.

Here’s to you and your health.

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