Following a Folded Dream

My dad was of the mind that a job’s only purpose is that it pays your bills, whether you like the work or not. Well, he was an architect and one does not pursue that career unless he enjoys the creativity of the work. I believe he followed a dream and the end result was, “BAMMM! Architect!”

I have always enjoyed hard work…physically hard work. It kept me in shape and by it’s nature (no ledgers or contracts or personnel issues) my mind was free to wander and daydream. My favourite job was working on a truck terminal…a 400′ terminal…loading and unloading 41′ semi-truck trailers, mostly by myself. 8-10 hours a day. 6-7 days a week.

I’m here to tell you that I was in marvelous shape, both physically and mentally. I ate like a horse and slept like a baby! Working a truck terminal wasn’t my dream job, but I¬†loved it…for twelve years.

We don’t all have the luxury of finding a job that allows us to follow our dreams – where we can go to work every day and return home with a calm mind. I’d say most of us must unwind from working a job that is so stressful that it affects our health.

Thank God for meditation, yoga and Tai Chi. And fireplaces. And windchimes. And paths that meander through the woods.

Hmmm… ūüėĆ

Mine have always been artistic dreams:

  • Painting, pencil sketching and portraiture
  • Fabric painting and crafts
  • Wood and stone carving
  • Clay and wire sculpture
  • Singing, and…
  • Writing

I have followed each of those dreams, either in the course of (or in spite of) any employment…and accomplished enough to satisfy my ideas of success.

Though I’ve always been a writer, it is only now, in my retirement, that I have begun to follow my dream of becoming an author – writing more than articles and blog posts for a company.¬†I started by writing…and publishing…a book.

Folded Dreams – the Beginning was published last December (2015). The follow up novel, “Folded Dreams – to the End?” (working title) will be published before this Christmas, hopefully.

This¬†two book series is good. I’m not an award winning author – yet – but I am my own worst critic and even I think it’s good for its genre (metaphysical/visionary fiction). In fact, the first book has received 4 star reviews from people who don’t normally even like this genre.

What has this to do with balancing your life? Everything!

At my age, the biggest worries are fixed income and health, with mental accuity rating top of the list.

Working on these books (and the next four or five) has excercised my mental faculties in crucial ways. After several mini-strokes affected my short term memory, I had a difficult time finding my words – they just got lost. I need words in order to write…so I have to work at it – even now. Hard.

Also, 62 years is just not long enough to share the memories of a life that has been so full of adventure, crazy experiences and drama, with all my fifty-plus grandchildren.

The fact that I continued to follow my dreams into old age is my legacy to my family. These books, starting with Folded Dreams – the Beginning, are my legacy to them.

My mind is clear, my health is fair – my spirit and body are balanced. I’m good.


If you would like to read a bit of Folded Dreams – the Beginning, you can find it on Amazon; try the “Look Inside” feature for the Kindle version.

A rough draft (3rd edit) of the first 4 or 5 chapters of the upcoming “Folded Dreams” novel (and the ¬†first chapter of my newest novel, “Waking Up Dead!”), are here on Goodreads. I’m sure you’ll find both of them…interesting!

You can also enter the Goodreads Giveaway (below) to win 1 of 10 copies of Folded Dreams – the Beginning.

(by the way Рyou can follow my author blog, The Old Fossil Writes, catch me on Twitter @PLKirkby and Instagram @pearlkirkby_author.

 

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Folded Dreams by Pearl Kirkby

Folded Dreams

by Pearl Kirkby

Giveaway ends October 20, 2016.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter Giveaway

https://www.goodreads.com/giveaway/widget/200767

Breathe…and Share

baby-elephant-surprises-caretaker-with-a-hug

You will notice that I’ve added a new category: “Shared Posts”. There are a lot of wise people out there, who have some really great blogs along the lines of “Balance the Circle…” and I’ve decided that I should share them with my own readers and do my part to promote their efforts.¬†“Balance the Circle…” will still have original posts, but to not share would be just¬†self-centered, which in turn, is completely¬†counter-intuitive to the whole concept of this blog and the way of life so many of us pursue.

This week I would like to share the blog with the goal of promoting “science-based practices for a meaningful life…” “Bay Art“. Now,¬†while¬†this is a blog that is attached to a business, there are such wonderful posts and articles about learning how to meditate, breathe and calm the turmoil in your life. I will not be making a habit of promoting any business, but because I enjoyed the non-promotional posts that I found I will, this one time, make an exception!

Glass Half Full?

I’m really tired of moving.

I mean, where’s the “glass half full” part of life when you have a combined 120 years worth of stuff to deal with?

Well, the moving part itself¬†isn’t so horrible as a general rule…except when it comes to packing that¬†120 years of stuff and considering that as¬†a broken-jointed, ruptured disk, cartilage-less knee’d, 60 year old, old fossil I¬†had to climb up and down steep stairs twenty times each day for¬†six days, carrying boxes that weighed 30-40 pounds, on average. Of course, my disabled husband helped, as well as¬†my two youngest sons and youngest daughter,¬†all of whom work nights, who¬†spent¬†two days¬†(when they should have been sleeping)¬†doing the really heavy lifting and carrying.

Either way you look at it, though, by the seventh day I was completely worn down to the bone, physically. But, man, oh man! I’m so happy to finally be able to give up living in a second floor apartment¬†and going¬†into a single story house!

I think the worst part of moving this time is the unpacking. Who would have thought that finding places to put your stuff in a larger house would be more difficult than when going from a larger home into a smaller one?

Which is to say…I’m really tired of moving.

It’s easy enough to get discouraged when you’re exhausted. You want to simply kick your feet off…er, up…and put a cold cloth on your head, lay down in a cool, quiet dungeon somewhere, step off the world for a week or so and ignore that there’s anything you have to do. But you can’t, because some things just have to be done whether you’re¬†tired or not.

Like unearthing your kitchen boxes that wound up in the bathroom, or your bathroom tissue that somehow, at the most inopportune time, wound up in the shed. Almost makes you want to break down into tears.

Really.

But even with all the aggravation, frustration and physical discomfort one suffers during a move, you want the experience to leave you with the positive feeling. This is a new beginning after all and how often does someone advancing in years find themselves in the possession of such a treasure?

So, I see my life as half over but the other half is ahead of me. Therefore, still, is the glass half full.

american-gothic

Carpal Tunnel or Dupuytrens Disease?

So here I am,¬†keyboarding away,¬†writing this article, when¬†all of a sudden I¬†notice that¬†my wrist is beginning to ache,¬†my fingers and thumb are tingling and there is an increasing numbness in¬†my hand.¬† Unbelievably, I’ve just finished reading¬†all my resources pertaining to¬†this very subject and, wait for it…yes, there it is: a pain that feels like a live electric wire is¬†travelling up¬†my arm to¬†my shoulder.¬†How ironic. I never thought about it before when it happened but, I think I may¬†have developed Carpal Tunnel Syndrome.

Nothing is physically obvious on the outside, but from the inside…OUCH!

There are very specific symptoms to “Carpal Tunnel”, but if noticeable swelling¬†or a deformed appearance¬†to your palm is also in evidence, a more serious condition called “Dupuytrens Contracture“…aka: Dupuytren’s Disease…¬†may be present. Either way,¬†you¬†should¬†visit¬†your doctor or an orthopaedic surgeon to rule out Dupuytren’s Contracture (“doh-pwee-trenz”), which can actually start out with much the same early¬†symptoms.

Although neither Carpal Tunnel Syndrome nor Dupuytren’s Disease¬†can be found¬†amongst the standard¬†labels of ‘Invisible Illnesses’, sometimes the symptoms of either condition may¬†not be¬†immediately¬†visible.¬†And because carpal tunnel is more common¬†and successfully treated, people might “pooh pooh” complaints about the unique pain and disabilities that are part and parcel of the similar early symptoms of Dupuytren’s Disease.

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

CarpalTunnel_A00005F02Just as general background information, Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS) centers around the median nerve. This nerve originates in a network of nerve fibers called the brachial plexis, around the spine. Sometimes hand and/or arm vibrations (such as those experienced by motorcycle/scooter drivers or power tool operators) or repetitive movement, such as typing or keyboarding, can cause the tissues which surround the tendons in your wrist to swell. In turn, those swollen tissues press against the median nerve, thus causing pain.

In some instances,¬†CTS¬†may simply be genetic in nature (run in¬†families)¬†as the size of the¬†“tunnels” in the carpal bones of the wrist are often an hereditary condition. Another common occurance that may lead to CTS is fluid retention during¬†pregnancy or menopause. If you have problems with obesity, smoking, alcohol abuse, or mental stress, you may also be at risk to develop CTS. And if all of those risks weren’t enough to think about, women are three times more likely to suffer CTS than men because, as a rule, womens’ bones are¬†simply smaller than mens’!

“But wait! There’s more!”

Certain medical conditions, if present, can increase the tendency to carpal tunnel problems. These biologic conditions can include:

  • ¬†trauma or injury to¬†the wrist
  • overactive pituitary gland
  • hypothyroidism
  • rheumatoid¬†arthritis
  • the development of a cyst or tumor in the canal

On the Northside Hospital website (located in St. Petersburg, Florida), there is a video explaining Carpal Tunnel Syndrome and the surgery performed to correct the condition. This video, produced by Nucleus Medical Media, is highly recommended for its in-depth information on the subject.

Dupuytren’s Disease/Dupuytrens Contracture

Dupuytren’s¬†Disease or Dupuytren’s Contracture was actually¬†“discovered” in 1831 by a French surgeon, Baron Guillaume Dupuytren.¬†Although¬†the disease¬†has been¬†monitored in great detail,¬†to this day¬†its causes are still¬†the subject of ongoing studies.¬†Whether this condition¬†may be an autoimmune dysfuntion or a biochemical reaction in the hand’s fascia (the tissue just underneath the skin, where lumps and pits in the palm may develop), the question still remains a puzzle.

CT  CTH 031710-HEALTH sc-health-0317-hand-drug MJWIf you develop this disease, you may notice thick cords which¬†appear¬†to be tendons (although they are not tendons),¬†running¬†from the palm of your hand¬†to your¬†fingers, usually the ring and little fingers (you’re looking at your hands, aren’t you!). Eventually, in the later stages of this condition, these cords will act like drawstrings in your hand, causing your fingers to¬†bend inward toward the palm or even at an odd angle.¬†This is called¬†‘contracture’. Either one or both hands¬†can be¬†affected, however, usually¬†the condition affects one hand more seriously than the other.

As opposed to CTS, Dupuytren’s Disease is more likely to occur in men over the age of 40 and is usually found in those of Northern European descent (Caucasian), with the highest percentage of sufferers carrying Scandinavian heritage. Also, whereas Carpal Tunnel Syndrome can be brought on by injury,¬†continuous repetitive motion or vibration, no evidence exists to indicate that these kinds of conditions will lead to Dupuytren’s Contracture.

Again, initial symptoms of Dupuytren’s Disease may be quite similar to¬†Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, but as a rule it isn’t as painful as it is inconvenient…unless, of course, you attempt to force your digits to straighten out! And the progression of this disease isn’t always predictable, either. Sometimes only lumps and noticeable cording may be all that occurs, while others may suffer the severely bent fingers. Fortunately (sort of), if the disease is going to be one of the more severe cases, it will usually be evident early on.

One study in London showed that¬†Dupuytren’s Contracture/Disease will normally present in women, aged 60-70, while the incidence in men is closer to those aged 70 or older. It is a sad fact that if onset occurs around age 30, there is a greater likelihood that the condition will lead to a more severe case and also increases recurrences if corrective¬†surgery was performed.

Alleopathic or Homeopathic Treatments?

(Click the picture link for informative video about homeopathy)

(Click the picture link for informative video about homeopathy)

With both CTS and Dupuytren’s Constricture, if you catch it before it becomes too problematic, you can ease the pain, discomfort and inconvenience you will initially have to deal with.

Severe Carpal Tunnel Syndrome might be avoided by simply identifying the activities you perform which seem to trigger the pain or restriction of movement. Using a mouse pad with gel wrist support, taking more frequent breaks from the aggravating activity, using a wrist brace made specifically for CTS sufferers and/or purchasing one of the re-freezable wrist packs designed for wrist stress¬†can delay, or even halt, the onset of¬†a severe case of this¬†condition. However, if it recurs often enough, or you’re unable to get relief, high-tail it to your doctor and hope that surgery can be avoided.

The increasing symptoms of Dupuytren’s¬†are not so easily dismissed. Generally this is a progressive disease which has, historically, been treated by the surgeon, although the same supports, rest and manipulation of the hand may help the discomfort and inconvenience…in the beginning…if the disease is recognized for what it is.

There is good news, though:¬†Surgery may not be your only option, as newer treatments have been discovered.¬†In 2010,¬†FDA (Food and Drug Administration) approved a more homeopathic sort of treatment by way of enzyme therapy (sic), by which the nodules and ‘cording’ can be diminished or even returned to normal (see reference to the Chicago Tribune article, below).

Bottom Line…

So Carpal Tunnel Syndrome and Dupuytren’s Disease aren’t officially “Invisible Illnesses”, but because we don’t tend to stare at peoples’ hands, the fact that our co-workers, family members or friends may be suffering will not be immediately evident. But if¬†the conditions are brought to our attention, don’t dismiss their complaints as “hypochondria in action.”¬†Instead, be supportive. Direct them to the many support groups who will be able to explain the options about which, perhaps, their doctors may have neglected to tell them.

Many people with Carpal Tunnel Syndrome or Dupuytren’s Disease suffer in silence. That doesn’t mean it doesn’t hurt.

Citations:

(1)¬† The Mayo Clinic Staff. (n.d.). Dupuytren’s Contracture. In The Mayo Clinic. Retrieved 4 December 2013, from http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/dupuytrens-contracture/DS00732.

(2)¬† ASSH. (n.d.). Dupuytren’s Disease. In American Society for Surgery of the Hand. Retrieved 4 December 2013, from http://www.assh.org/Public/HandConditions/Pages/DupuytrensDisease.aspx.

(3)¬†PDLabs. (n.d.). What is Dupuytren’s Disease?. In PDLabs.net. Retrieved 4 December 2013, from http://www.pdlabs.net/dupuytrens/whatisdupuytrens.html.

(4) SCOI. (n.d.). Dupuytren’s Disease. In Southern California Orthopedic Institute. Retrieved 4 December 2013, from http://www.scoi.com/dupuytrens-disease.php.

(5)¬† Clay, R MD. (1944). Dupuytren’s Contracture: Fibroma of the Palmar Fascia. In Dupuytren Foundation.org. Retrieved 4 December 2013, from http://dupuytrenfoundation.org/DupPDFs/1944_Clay_1188.pdf.

(6)¬† ¬†Johns Hopkins Staff. (n.d.). Dupuytren’s Contracture. In Johns Hopkins Medicine. Retrieved 4 December 2013, from http://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/healthlibrary/conditions/plastic_surgery/dupuytrens_contracture_85,P01110/.

(7)  Northside Hospital Staff. (n.d.). Carpal Tunnel Syndrome Related Media: Carpal Tunnel Release. In Northside Hospital (St. Petersburg FL). Retrieved 5 December 2013, from http://northsidehospital.reachlocal.com/?scid=3050457&kw=7472251&pub_cr_id=34057645591.

(8)  National Institute of Health Staff. (n.d.). Carpal Tunnel Syndrome Fact Sheet. In NIH National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. Retrieved 5 December 2013, from http://www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/carpal_tunnel/detail_carpal_tunnel.htm.

(9)  University of Maryland School of Medicine Staff. (n.d.). Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. In University of Maryland Medical Center. Retrieved 5 December 2013, from http://umm.edu/health/medical/reports/articles/carpal-tunnel-syndrome.

Flibbertibibbet

THE FLIBBERTIGIBBET’S, “POST PITY PARTY LIST” FOR THE NEW RETIREE

So here I am. It’s Monday, September 23, 2013. Got laid off earlier this month. Loved my job, but really missing the social life I’ve had for two years at a great company with awesome co-workers.

To quote an oldie but goodie song, “It’s my party and I’ll cry if I want to!”

Poor, pitiful me.

Now although I must admit I’ve enjoyed the “Time to Relax” part¬†(even though I got bored by about day 11), my allotted two weeks¬†for¬†a¬†“Semi-Pity-Party” is¬†finally over and my new life as a retiree has¬†now commenced. Sort of.

Today is relegated to making a list, or schedule if you will, of how to proceed.¬† Oh yes…and cleaning the guinea pig cage and changing the cat litter, but that’s neither here nor there!

Yes, I know¬†it sounds kind of stupid, but only to those who don’t know me for the quintessential list maker that I am (is that a dangling participle??). Some would say, “What list? You know what needs doing, so just do it!”, right?

Wrong.

My brain doesn’t work like that. Unless there is a deadline, my mind will skip merrily around like a curious puppy…sniff a flower here, chase a rabbit there, watch a swarm of bees, spot a favourite chew toy (puppies have teeth, you see )…in other words, I’m the epitome of what Mother Superior refers to Maria in The Sound of Music: “A Flibbertigibbet“.

You see, in my world there is always such a wondrous choice of things to do that, when I start on one task, I’m very easily distracted into pursuing another one.

With me, it’s all, “Ok, I need to do this…no wait! Let me do that first…but no! I have to¬†take care of this other first, THEN finish that and¬†THEN I’ll do this….aww, shoot fire and save matches…wait, dang it! I need to finish this thing before I get to that thing and THEN I can do those other¬†things!”

BUT FIRST I need a cup of coffee…

Yeah.

Today is list making day…

You all have a great day doing whatever YOU do!

“Sticks and stones…”

Whoever coined the phrase “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never harm me,” must never have loved anyone…or had anyone love them.

When it comes to criticism by our peers, just acquaintances or people we interact with as ‘ships that pass in the night’ carry only fleeting influence on us. Oh, we may question ourselves, our actions or our motives if we hear some stranger “hating on us”, but unless it’s a glaring observation of a shortcoming, their words really don’t hit us where it hurts.

If, on the other hand, someone whom we love dearly even hesitantly brings up an issue, past or present, that they have with us…well, now…that’s an entirely different story.

Parents get this a lot, once their children are grown. I will hold myself up as a prime example.

I have always tried to watch my words and would never hurt someone’s feelings on purpose (it has happened, but only a few times in 60 years…I’m not saying that makes it acceptable), but apparently I have failed more times than I thought, and not with just one or two of my kids, but with all of them. And not just intermittently, but often enough to warrant them bringing it to my attention.

It hurt for them to bring this to bear, but my¬†pain was nothing but¬†just a faucet drip compared to the downpour of horror…the awful feeling I had¬†that I’d¬†hurt my own childrens’ feelings, whether it was when they were young or now that they are grown.¬†I mean, I’ve never tried to convince my kids I was perfect…that would have been foolish…and I’m well aware that I’ve made some pretty bad mistakes. I had just hoped the ones I made were not bad enough to turn them into awful people.

I always felt so blessed with the children I had that the few times they gave me grief¬†are hidden behind the cobwebs of time. As a matter of fact, between the ages of 5 and about 13-14 years old (each)¬†I really don’t recall any issues. And each child only¬†gave a year,¬†if that,¬†of rebellion!

It often bewilders me how my many children grew up to be such great men and women. I always credit God for giving them better sense than me…or even their daddy. I just¬†hope that the few really good things I did will one day be remembered more so than the bad.

My children know that I love them and I know that they love me and that’s important. But more important is for the younger generation to always be aware that once a word is spoken, especially to those who love you, it can never be retrieved. Trust me, sticks and stones may break your bones but words can certainly harm you.

My family and I can vouch for that.

www.richardcrossenphotography.co.uk/

Life and Health Can Be Easy Like Sunday Mornin’!

Many thanks to Richard Crossen,¬†Pembrokeshire, West Wales, UK…photographer extraordinaire, for his kind permission to use his photos on this site. To see his wonderful collection of nature photographs, you can visit his gallery or his blog site

I’m a ‘glass half full’ kind of person. I¬†rarely worry about what I don’t have¬†because I’m¬†too busy being¬†thankful for the things I do have. Well, except when¬†my gas tank¬†has only one gallon in it¬†the day before payday.¬† If I had to define my thoughts on the subject, I’d say my outlook on life is “…easy like Sunday mornin’ ” (that’s a song from the ’60s for those who wouldn’t remember that era!).

A lot of times, when some great, blue funk or another tries to overtake¬†me,¬†my Granny¬†comes to mind. I remember¬†her always trying to¬†teach us that God takes care of His own, regardless of how hard we try to screw things up. She was good at backing up her beliefs with scripture, like “…behold the fowl of the air” or “…consider the lilies of the field” as a way of showing the difference between what we need and what we want.¬† Yes, I learned from an early age¬†to¬†see the best in every situation and to¬†find the¬†most positive¬†things¬†inside of¬†the worst possible scenarios.

This is what¬†true balance is all about. It’s taking life as it comes and striving to make each moment count for something positive. You know the old saying, “When life hands you lemons, learn to make lemonade!”

It’s easy enough¬†to fool yourself into feeling miserable simply by¬†wallowing in misery,¬†but by the same token it’s equally simple to fool yourself into being content, regardless of¬†how your life has transitioned. Finding something good either in¬†a situation, about¬†a situation or what good thing can¬†eventually happen because of¬†a situation¬†is the key to distracting you from¬†whatever¬†hardship you might be facing.

Your health is as much emotionally as physically based. You must learn to¬† b r e a t h e¬† when you feel stress creeping up on you. Find something relaxing to do whether it’s meditating, reading a good book, writing a letter to someone you love…or even just stopping your day and thinking deep thoughts!

Biofeedback, which became a ‘craze’ back in the ’60s,¬†has been¬†used to teach people to regulate their body rhythm and has¬†proven that they¬†can learn to¬†control many “automatic” physiological functions, including slowing the heart rate and lowering¬†blood pressure and¬†respiration (then again, so does yoga!). Considering that even these three functions alone can cause health problems, being able to control them can help you to avoid stress related¬†health conditions.

There are also simpler routes to controlling the “mind over matter” part of your health. You can schedule an at-home regime of relaxation, including meditation, aromatherapy and exercise using techniques designed to produce and¬†release natural endorphins, an opium-like hormone.

Also, if you don’t already belong to one, a¬†lot of spas and health clubs¬†offer¬†incentives for new members and specials for current ones, that may include anything from¬†deep tissue massage to¬†yoga classes¬†or¬†whirlpool spas to herbal wraps.¬†These great benefits¬†¬†can come by means of contests, filling out surveys, trial memberships or redeemable coupons.

Coupons for such things can be found in the newspaper or even online. The internet is a wonderful resource for finding the best deals in your area. You may even find purchasing clubs, such as Good Deals 24/7or Groupon that can help you save money on anything you need for health and beauty aids or even travel deals for a relaxing vacation.

Don’t wait until stress overtakes your life and creates illness and dis-ease (as in ‘un-easy health’) in your body. Even if life can be difficult it needn’t be hard to adapt to or accommodate its uncertainties. Learn to roll along this bumpy road with grace and acceptance. After a bit of practice, it almost becomes easy. Easy like Sunday morning.

Sowing and Reaping Good Health

“You reap what you sow…”

It’s an old saying, one that is usually meant in a strictly philosophical way. You know, the Golden Rule and all of that. We have probably all heard it at some time or another,¬†most likely¬†from our grandparents. This quote has grown from being a simple,¬†spiritual¬†lesson¬†on how to¬†treat people,¬†to one that encompasses everything about life…including your physical health.

“Your Are What You Eat”

We’re constantly¬†cautioned against eating¬†high¬†sugar¬†snacks, whether it’s the middle of the day or just before bedtime. Without going¬†all science-y¬†(which you can get by talking to a doctor or¬†by¬†looking it up on¬†the internet), let me just¬†repeat how it was explained to me decades ago when I was¬†a sugar loving fool!

Consuming simple carbohydrates, such as¬†sugar or fructose,¬†raises¬†serotonin¬†and blood sugar levels. This¬†falsely signals your¬†pancreas that there are extra¬†reserves of insulin available¬†for converting sugar into energy. Thus¬†triggered (usually by biting into that candy bar),¬†the pancreas then¬†releases large amounts of insulin into your blood stream,¬†does the conversion thingy and¬†voila’!¬†you get instant (very short term) energy¬†which is¬†called a ‘sugar rush’. The rush generally lasts for only¬†about an hour before your energy abruptly vanishes, just like turning off a faucet…aka “The Crash”.

This is not a good way to prepare for sleep, by the way.

19531Our blood sugar must be maintained at a particular level in order for the pancreas to do its job. The best way to insure this is to make sure you consume an appropriate amount of complex carbohydrates (found in whole grains, nuts and legumes) which actually do build the reserves you need for sustained energy.

By the way, craving sugar can be an indication that you aren’t giving your body other things it needs to stay healthy or that you have underlying health issues. If you find that you crave sugar more than just every now and then you should probably¬†talk to a physician about it, just to be on the safe side.

What you take into your body will ultimately show in your health, energy levels and frame of mind.

“Burnout”

Keeping up with daily work, updating ‘works in progress’, research for future projects already lined up, being available as a consultant, keeping track of¬†correspondence which will “pile up” if it’s¬†not checked often and trying to keep a record of the work done¬†from home; it¬†requires¬†a lot of organizational skills in order to get it all done.¬†All that plus volunteer work and a home life. Pretty demanding stuff and¬†a lot more¬†time consuming than¬†it sounds.

Multi-tasking is all fine and dandy, but there is such a thing as too much of a good thing.

10142500-overworked-and-frustrated-woman-with-files-on-the-deskMental exhaustion carries with it pretty much the same result as physical exhaustion. You become stressed and therefore suffer functionally.¬†Unlike your body does when it’s dead tired, though, you¬†can’t really just “push through” and expect your thought processes to magically adapt.

When you overtax your body¬†¬†it takes a bit¬†more time to recuperate than it¬†takes to¬†recover¬†from simple mental exhaustion; taking around¬†5-10 minutes¬†to clear your mind¬†or a 15-20 minute “power nap” usually suffices to boost your mental energy for another hour or two.

A very important note here: If you notice that either you or a co-worker seems to also be suffering from confusion or is having difficulties talking, it may be time to call 911 or at least talk to a doctor, as signs of mental exhaustion and confusion can also be signs of a stroke.

A study by Louisiana State University led to the conclusion that employees whose jobs primarily involved computer work had a higher performance level and greater productivity when their schedule included even just a 30 second break every 15 minutes or so, followed by a 10-14 minute break every two hours.

Writers know about that.

“Birds of a feather”

Surrounding yourself with like minded individuals who are supportive and encouraging is more important than you might think. Obviously you can’t completely avoid negative people if you live in this world, but you can pick and choose¬†who you deliberately spend time with.

untitledNegative people can not only ruin your mood and make you feel depressed, they can also trigger a stress response that will affect your entire body, like high blood pressure which can basically burn out your adrenals and leave you with no energy. Not only do you expose yourself to health threatening issues but, aside from that, spending time around negative people might affect your own personality as well.

If you aren’t sure that¬†someone else’s negativity is causing your energy drain, you have a couple of options:

  1. if you feel drained all the time, get in touch with a doctor and find out if a health condition or illness is taking its toll on you, or
  2. take a minute to analyze how you feel when you’re in the same vicinity as that person.

If you can feel a definite difference between being around that person vs being in the company of a someone you know to be a good friend…in other words if just standing close to them makes you jittery,¬†feel like¬†pulling away or makes you feel like you want to¬†go to sleep…then avoid that person as much as possible.

Good health is so much more than exercise and diet. Your stress levels and emotions will always indicate whether or not you have sown the best seeds for reaping the best health.

” M O M M Y ! I’M ALL STICKY AND THERE’S SAND IN MY SUIT ! ! “

The Benefits of Salt, Sun and Yes, Even Sand

Hollywood_Beach_panorama

Ah, those were the days! As a school aged child living in Florida¬†I always looked forward to the weekends when, either Daddy would go fishing and maybe, just maybe, I’d be invited to go along, or better yet, it would be one of those glorious two days that we would go spend¬†in a cottage at the beach. Sand castles, salt spray on my tongue – oh, and sand in my bathing suit.

Coquina Key. That was my favourite, but that story belongs on a different post.

DannyGreen_11%20Sanderling%20running%201Now mind, I couldn’t swim until I was 12 years old (kinda crazy considering I grew up in Florida) but I did love to chase the waves, the seagulls and the small, quick sanderlings…the tiny birds who also¬†chased the waves, and then let¬†the waves¬†chase them back!

Sea shells and seaweed, broken pieces of coral, the occasional shark’s tooth and sand dollars…all found their way into my little pail to stink up the car on the way home and draw flies as they dried in the sun on the shelves of our front stoop.

Once in the water, I¬†would follow Mama out as far as she would let me, then make my way back to shore, letting the salt water buoy me up while I used my hands to “walk” on the bottom. Invariably, the waves would wash not only me up onto the beach, but always gave me going away present in the form of a bathing suit full of sand. All in the wrong places.

So I’d go back in the water and shake…things…trying to rinse it out. Of course as short as I was,¬†I couldn’t go too far out…only a few feet away from where I had collected all that sand¬†to begin with so it didn’t do a whole heck of a lot of good.

crying-girl

I didn’t burn but one time each summer, but boy that one time was uncomfortable as all get out…not because it was a bad burn, but because the salt made me sticky and the residual sand I couldn’t get rid of was scratchy.

One year, I think I may have been 13 or so, I overheard some teenage girls talking about how good the sun, salt and sand was for your skin. Having just become a teen and worried about the possible onset of the dreaded  A C N E , I eavesdropped. Strange, the things you remember, because I never had a single problem with my skin until now, 47 years later.

hey-culligan-man-cartoonThe spokesman of the group mentioned things like “Hey Culligan Man!” (for those of you who remember, that was the jingle for the water softener company), exfoliation and Vitamin D.¬† I didn’t understand a thing she was talking about but, somehow, I never forgot.

But I got old.

One year I noticed that the skin on my legs and arms were just as flaky as a pie crust. Nothing I did helped. I’d stand under the shower until the hot water was used up, scrubbing everything with a loofah sponge and then rinse off, just knowing I’d scoured it all off. Of course, my towel would tell me otherwise when I’d dry myself.

And my hair? Oh my heck, the chlorine in the city water supply played havoc with it, conditioner or not, and seemed to be causing my skin to itch as well.

I was almost ashamed to put on a bathing suit…people can be cruel when you aren’t perfect, you know. So I just didn’t go to the beach at all for years, even though I loved it. When I finally did go, I hid at the water’s edge, covering up my legs with the wet sand. When it was time to go, I rubbed the sand off of my legs, rinsed myself¬†off thoroughly under the public shower head (no sandy britches and hair for me!), wrapped up and went home.

When I eventually got home I re-rinsed¬†from the neck down¬†under the garden hose and went in to shower…and made the most amazing discovery! No flakes! Not only that, my hair was just as soft and shiny as it could be! I just couldn’t figure it out, until I remembered that incident at the beach as a teenager. And like all¬†the old wives who tell tales, I spouted my experience to everyone I knew who was old and dried up like me.

There are so many bath products available these days: some diminish oily skin, some moisturize, some open the pores and some exfoliate (ah ha!) with tiny grains of everything from salt (again!) to apricot kernals.

4961048424_92dc1b87b8Florida sand is very fine, especially at the water’s edge. You wouldn’t be the first person to bury your legs in the sand at the beach, so while you’re at it, apply it to your arms and elbows. Then,¬†as you¬†rinse it off, use a little pressure. I wouldn’t advise scrubbing the tender skin of your face with beach sand though!

Water softener systems use salt to neutralize chemicals in the water and remove impurities. Now, if¬†salt will soften city water, it can’t hurt your hair (no, I’m not saying pack your head in salt).¬†Natural salt water has healing/antiseptic properties, you know, so¬†it’s good for people who¬†have skin problems like acne;¬†as a desiccant it¬†helps to dry up excess facial oils as well.

Vitamin D is a natural advantage to spending time in the sun. It’s not really a vitamin, by the way; it’s more like a “sun hormone”, but whatever it is, people who suffer from Winter Seasonal Affective Disorder are usually prescribed vitamin D supplements. Do the math.

istock_photo_of_sunburn_peelingOne more thing, and it’s not something I would advise doing on purpose, and nor would my cousin, Michael (now quite a famous doctor). As a teenager, he¬†developed a bad case of acne. It was¬†aggravated by some other skin¬†condition or allergy, or something, that¬†I was just¬†too young to be interested in at the time.

His first full day in the summer sun always resulted in a bit of a sunburn…not bad, but just enough to where he would begin to peel…very thin layers…within a day or so. After that first peel, his skin would look almost healthy and it would last right up until it started turning cooler. Again, you don’t want to go getting a fierce sunburn on purpose, just to see if it would work on your flare ups, but the sun does have its advantages if you’re careful.

Okay. You’ve read everything I’ve written. Now the trick is to take it all with a grain of sea-salt, because nothing, I mean nothing, is cut and dried.

Getting a sunburn can be a dangerous thing, especially during certain times of the day…or even season. Scrubbing down indiscriminately with sand can cause minute tears in your skin and if the beach you’re visiting isn’t clean…the water is polluted or there are so many seagulls that you can’t walk in the sand without stepping in “bird squat”, as Mama used to call it…or it’s a “ghetto beach” where people pee, defecate or spit¬†all over the place…then this is not the place to risk getting a bacterial infection from hell.

And although salt is generally good external medicine, occurrences like red tide, a vessel sinking off shore or an oil spill is going to give you contaminated water, antiseptic sea salt and all.

The only thing you want to hear by way of complaint at the beach is the kids crying, “MOMMY! I’M STICKY AND THERE’S SAND IN MY BATHING SUIT!!”

So play it safe. Use common sense. Test the waters before you leap in (pun intended!). And if you or your children or¬†companions¬†come up with a rash, abnormally burning eyes that can’t be explained by the salt in the water, nausea, light headedness or swelling in your extremeties, flag down the nearest life guard and call a doctor immediately.