Friday, February 24, 2017

Seeing red at the park

Just outside of my neighborhood is this lovely little park. A small playground, scattered picnic tables, and a well maintained walking trail, it's lightly wooded with just enough trees to provide plenty of shade but not so many trees to make someone feel unsafe walking alone. I go there regularly and walk about 3 miles. I'm always delighted to see the variety of people that come there to use the trail - young, old, some walking, some jogging, some pushing baby strollers, the occasional dog walker. There's also plenty of wildlife there; I've seen squirrels, bunnies, a wake of vultures dining on road kill, a rat, a bat, and a copperhead snake. More on the bat below, and everyone gave the snake a wide berth as he lazily slithered across and off the trail into the woods.

Occasionally I see trash on the trail, mostly ignored :(, which I always pick up and toss in one of the randomly spaced trash cans. But that's not why I saw red.

Yesterday as I did my usual walk, I noticed four teenage girls. At one point they jogged past me in pairs. It was on the return when I heard the first pair commenting to hurry, the second pair was catching up. Ah! A competition of sorts! As the other pair approached me, one stopped, obviously tiring out. Her companion attempted to spur her on by asking, "Do you want to get heart disease? C'mon!"

According to statistics listed by the American Heart Association:

- Cardiovascular diseases were the most common cause of death in the world as of 2013, claiming about 17.3 million lives.

- In the U.S., more than 1 in 3 adults (92.1 million adults) have cardiovascular diseases, accounting for 807,775 deaths in 2014.

- About 790,000 people in the US have heart attacks each year. Of those, about 114,000 will die. In the U.S., about 795,000 adults experienced a new or recurrent stroke, accounting for nearly 133,000 deaths in 2014.

- There were more than 350,000 out-of-hospital cardiac arrests in the U.S., nearly 90 percent of them fatal.

February is Go Red for Women Month. The Go Red for Women movement began because:

"In the past, heart disease and heart attack have been predominantly associated with men. Historically, men have been the subjects of the research done to understand heart disease and stroke, which has been the basis for treatment guidelines and programs. This led to an oversimplified, distorted view of heart disease and risk, which has worked to the detriment of women.

Because women have been largely ignored as a specific group, their awareness of their risk of this often-preventable disease has suffered. Only 55 percent of women realize heart disease is their No. 1 killer and less than half know what are considered healthy levels for cardiovascular risk factors like blood pressure and cholesterol. The Go Red For Women movement works to make sure women know they are at risk so they can take action to protect their health."

So, to the teenage girl encouraging her friend to keep running to avoid heart disease, I say to you, thank you! Thank you for being aware, thank you for bettering your own health, and thank you for trying to help your friend.

Getting healthy is not just for young people. I once heard a doctor say, "You're never too old, and it's never too late to improve your health." This is excellent advice.

Now, more on that bat.

Last year while out walking in the park with my hubby, another walker warned us there was a bat on the ground. As we came near it, I saw it on its back, making threatening sounds. We kept walking, unsure what to do, because in our area they often caution about the possibility of contracting rabies. It was gone when we walked back by, but I've always hoped no one came along and did something horrible to it.

Once I got home, I googled how to handle a situation like this one, in the event it possibly happens again. I learned that in the probable case of this bat, it was a female with her young. Apparently she can become weighed down with all of them clinging to her and fall out of the roost. She will make defensive sounds and motions to frighten predators away. The best way to handle this if you encounter it is too find a long, strong stick and touch it to her feet. She will grab on and you can lift her to a branch in a tree. Bats cannot take off from ground level, so need to be placed about five feet up. Now, I want to point out that I believe this was a mama bat because of the time of year it occurred. Advice still remains that you should never touch a bat you find on the ground with your bare hands. Assume it is injured. If you can get it to grasp the stick and set it back in the tree, all the better. Be gentle. Be safe.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

It's the small things

Yesterday when I posted a few things I'm grateful for, other things popped into my head. At random moments, which of course, isn't that always the way?

For instance, I can never get my husband to watch tv with me. Even things we've both enjoyed in the past, he's always noncommittal about it. With, lately, one rather fascinating exception: old movies. Like from the 30s and 40s black and white movies. I rented the entire collection of the movies The Thin Man, and we watched all of them together, often in our pajamas. Next he found - yes, he - I Married a Witch. Again, we watched in our pjs. It is kind of becoming our thing now. Watching movies at night in our pjs. He even bought popcorn for us.

The only other exception is, believe it or not, Godzilla movies. I'm not sure when that fascination for us began, but it's been years. Only recently, however, have we been buying the movies when we come across them. We've built a nice little collection so far.

I realize to many this may sound utterly boring. But for us, it's been a lot of fun. Our youngest even joined us for the Godzilla movie. That by itself was a rarity. He's often off doing his own thing, but that night he sat down with his old fogey parents and watched a monster flick.

Like I said, it's the small things. But they are cause to celebrate, just the same.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Sipping tea in a beer guzzling world

My original idea for this blog was to find things to make every day a celebration. It's just a weird fascination of mine to discover holidays from around the world, and how people celebrate them. But it has never had to be something official like that. That is just fun for me, personally. However, I have so sorely neglected this blog for well over a year.

Hey, I have an excuse. Last year was a dumpster fire of a year. I don't know who first coined that term to apply to 2016, but I think it's pretty brilliant. There's even an ornament someone designed for it. Seriously! But on a more personal level, my dad died last year. I learned way more than I wanted on elder care (severely lacking, honestly), health conditions in general, and what it means to be an executrix. Mostly, how much death brings out the best and worst of people. Testify.

But then a new year rolls around, and everyone makes noises about being better. I know I do. I'm kind of notorious about resolutions. And I keep them. Mostly. Okay, kinda. So this year is no different. I was recently reminded about listing five things I'm grateful for every day. I think it was Sarah ban Breathnach that made that a thing? When you think about it, being grateful is a way of celebrating, amirite?

So here's my five things from last year and into this year that give me reason to celebrate:

1. My son and I have reignited our passion for finding old and often neglected cemeteries. We should probably dress in black considering how much we enjoy this. It's probably the history buff in both of us that drives us to seek these usually hard to reach places, but we do love doing it.

2. The Vikings. I watched the first episode when it first aired and never quite managed to get back to it. It kept creeping into my life last year, and I am lucky to have a friend who just so happened to have three seasons on dvd loaned them to me. Once I started watching I was HOOKED. Thank you On Demand and kisses to my dvr that allowed me to then watch the fourth season. I also can't stop playing the theme song. I'm waiting for my family to rebel. I won't lie, I'm listening to it right now.

3. Thrift shopping obsession. This is very likely a tribute to my dad, because it was something he and I liked to do together. We understood one another about this in a way that baffled my mom and makes my husband shake his head. I typically go once a week and often come home with treasures. See, I call it treasure hunting, but my dad called it junk shopping. Potaytoe, potahtoe. Just today I found some very cool wine themed stuff. Which leads into my next item.

4. Normally if I drink wine, it's of the dessert variety. Last year I decided I wanted to become more discriminating. At a thrift store, natch, I found a kit on hosting a wine tasting party. I'm not so much interested in the party part, as the items contained in the kit. Basically, score sheets for wine tastings. I never realized there was so much to wine other than smashed and aged grapes. Go ahead, call me a philistine. I own it. So, when possible, I sample different wines, attempting to differentiate the tastes and smells one from another. I won't say I'm getting good at it, but I am getting a little better. Now when I drink dry wine I don't make faces.

5. But mostly, and hence the title of this entry, tea. Last year I finally took the challenge a friend of mine gave me to post all of my tea mugs on my tea blog. You can find it here, if you are so inclined. I was surprised, not surprised, at how many tea mugs I currently own. My dining room is dedicated to all things tea. I drink tea every single day. Nothing (okay, that's an exaggeration, but you get it) makes me happier than a nice cuppa.

And those five things, for starters, give me cause for celebration. History, more history, shopping, wine, and tea. And politics. But I won't say more on that. ;)

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Take a Walk Outdoors Day

January is Family Fit Lifestyle Month and today is, appropriately, Take a Walk Outdoors Day. So how do you plan to spend it?

The website Work Smart, Live Smart offers these suggestions for your family:

Outdoor activities such as taking a nature walk together are a great way of keeping the family fit and spending quality time together

Reward each other’s participation in fitness activities. Be each other’s cheerleader.

Start a fitness diary and record how far or long each family member participated in an activity

Be a positive fitness and healthy role model for your children. One disturbing study found that french fries were the most popular vegetable for 15-18 month old children. Children learn about nutrition from their parents. Set boundaries and limits so that it is easier for everyone in the family to make healthy food choices. (Appropriate portions for a typical dinner meal – plate 1/2 filled with fruits and veggies, 1/4 with protein and 1/4 whole grains.)

Drink more water and limit beverages that add needless calories such as pop and artificial fruit juices

Get more sleep. Children need between 9-11 hours and adults need on average 7-9 hours. Inadequate sleep leads to greater appetite, weight gain and lethargy

Have fun. Fitness shouldn’t be boring or feel like drudgery. If it does that you haven’t found the right activities. Some of us prefer activities that we can do alone. Some of us need the watchful eye of a coach. Some of us prefer team settings. Fitness activities should be something that we look forward to.

Research funded by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development found kids spend 2 hours less per week outdoors than they did 20 years ago. With this decrease in outdoor activity comes an increase in health problems, including obesity, diabetes and heart disease.

Kids that spend time outdoors in gardens and nature are more focused, perform better in school and have less problems with ADD symptoms. And all of us feel the benefit as our blood pressure is lowered and mood improved.

I am blessed to have a perfect walking track in a park just outside my neighborhood. We all use it as often as possible. I am always pleased to see how many people regularly use it, and how many different ages.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Ditch Your New Year's Resolutions Day

Didn't we just discuss on January 12 how to STICK to your new year's resolutions? And now we discover today is the day to ditch them! What?

Based on statistics compiled over at Statistic Brain, while 45% of people make resolutions, only 8% are successful in achieving them! Now that's just depressing. 75% maintain their resolutions for the first week of the new year, but by six months, only 46% are still at them. However, people who actually do make resolutions are ten times more likely to attain their goals than those who never make resolutions.

So, I think what is called for here, rather than ditching your resolutions, is to reevaluate them. Most people, myself included, tend to make a long list of goals. Most are improvement or achievement goals. Some are general, some are more specific. I suggest you take another look at your goals. Break them down into smaller increments. Say, you want to lose 20 pounds. Sounds kind of reasonable, right? So you start an exercise program. You've been at it two weeks and you've lost two pounds. You become discouraged. This is going to take forever! So, change the goal - just a bit. Make the goal three pounds a month (or whatever you like), and work on that smaller goal. Before you know it, you've achieved your 20 pound goal!

It's like telling your young child to clean their room. They walk in and feel immediately intimidated. But if you say pick up all the clothes, they can do that. Next, pick up all the Legos. They can do that. And on and on until the room is done.

Resolutions are like that.

So, don't ditch. Reassess. And keep on keeping on!

Friday, January 15, 2016

National Hat Day

Today is National Hat Day. My husband, youngest son, and even my daughter-in-law are rarely spotted without a hat. My daughter is frequently sporting something cute or jaunty on her head. I rarely wear them, myself, but I'm entertaining the idea.

In case you didn't know, millinery is the designing and manufacture of hats. The term “milliner” derived from the city of Milan, Italy.  The best quality hats were made in Milan in the 18th century.
Millinery began as traditionally a woman’s occupation, as the milliner not only created hats and bonnets but also chose lace, trim and accessories to complete an outfit.

There are so many types of hats to choose from.

These, though, tend to be more the type I would most likely wear.

However, this is the one I actually own. And wear.

But, for today, I think I will try out something new and different. Why don't you, too?

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Stick To Your New Year's Resolutions Day

Today is Stick To Your New Year's Resolution Day. It's been almost two weeks into the new year, how are you doing? It is said it takes 21 days to  make a habit, and this is only day 12. Still holding on?

The reasons people don't stick to their resolutions are numerous, but there are ways to do better. The American Psychological Association offers these tips on their website, in the article entitled Making Your New Year's Resolution Stick:

" is important to remember that the New Year isn’t meant to serve as a catalyst for sweeping character changes. It is a time for people to reflect on their past year’s behavior and promise to make positive lifestyle changes. “Setting small, attainable goals throughout the year, instead of a singular, overwhelming goal on January 1 can help you reach whatever it is you strive for,” says psychologist Lynn Bufka, PhD. “Remember, it is not the extent of the change that matters, but rather the act of recognizing that lifestyle change is important and working toward it, one step at a time.”

Start small
Make resolutions that you think you can keep. If, for example, your aim is to exercise more frequently, schedule three or four days a week at the gym instead of seven. If you would like to eat healthier, try replacing dessert with something else you enjoy, like fruit or yogurt, instead of seeing your diet as a form of punishment.

Change one behavior at a time
Unhealthy behaviors develop over the course of time. Thus, replacing unhealthy behaviors with healthy ones requires time. Don’t get overwhelmed and think that you have to reassess everything in your life. Instead, work toward changing one thing at a time.

Talk about it
Share your experiences with family and friends. Consider joining a support group to reach your goals, such as a workout class at your gym or a group of coworkers quitting smoking. Having someone to share your struggles and successes with makes your journey to a healthier lifestyle that much easier and less intimidating.

Don’t beat yourself up
Perfection is unattainable. Remember that minor missteps when reaching your goals are completely normal and OK. Don’t give up completely because you ate a brownie and broke your diet, or skipped the gym for a week because you were busy. Everyone has ups and downs; resolve to recover from your mistakes and get back on track.

Ask for support
Accepting help from those who care about you and will listen strengthens your resilience and ability to manage stress caused by your resolution. If you feel overwhelmed or unable to meet your goals on your own, consider seeking professional help. Psychologists are uniquely trained to understand the connection between the mind and body. They can offer strategies as to how to adjust your goals so that they are attainable, as well as help you change unhealthy behaviors and address emotional issues.
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