Friday, January 27, 2012

Moving Tribute to a Mom from her Sons

A beautiful tribute from two brothers who lost their mother due to a Firestone tire blow-out in 2004. Reminds us just how precious and fleeting life can be and that it can all change in an instant. Their lyrics are original and the boys sing it on the video themselves.  We all need a reminder sometimes to live every moment appreciating what we have rather then fretting or wishing it could be "other" or "only if" or "better." A complete waste of time, don't you agree?

BTW I think many of the comments posted by people to the above link's site are incredibly lacking in any compassion. Whatever the boys intention, the sad fact still remains that they have lost their mother and no amount of monetary compensation will ever bring her back. It is a really disappointing testament to the cold, and critical perceptions people have in this world.  I for one prefer to focus on thinking people have only the best of intentions rather then being swayed by cynical commentary of those who think they know best.  No one ever has the right to judge another, ever. Let's all remember that more in our every day life. See how hard it can be to do this sometimes and try to catch yourself when those negative or judgmental thoughts arise. Think with our hearts more instead of our minds and maybe, just maybe, things might not seem so bad.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

A Different View from the Ground

My 7 year old son is a huge fan of all things roller coaster! He loves to feel the air whip across his face as the car careens along the narrow track, jerking around tight corners and zooming down hills at speeds unknown. He is enthralled. I, on the other hand, find roller coasters to be anxiety producing behemoths that make my palms sweat, my heart beat faster and my thoughts race with imagined views of disaster.
My son on a Coaster with his Dad at the Jersey Shore!

When I was younger, I loved rides that spun me around in circles and made my head feel otherworldly from the spinning effects. Things like the Tilt A Whirl and Tea Cup rides, when I was a small tot, were the absolute best! As I got older my demand for spinning got more intense. I loved a ride at Six Flags Great Adventure in NJ called The Rotor. You entered a circular room where you stood against a rubber wall studded with a Velcro like material. The door would shut and the operator above you would remind you to keep your feet, hands and head against the wall at all times. Slowly the room would start to spin and your body would be gently pushed back against the wall. But within seconds this gentle force would be felt like a heavy weight against your chest and throat till you were unable to move your body in any direction. Suddenly,  the lights would go out and you would hear metal scraping metal. When the lights came back on the floor had dropped 3 feet below and you were delightfully stuck to the wall with shear centrifugal force. It was heaven to me! I hated when the floor slowly started to come back up which always seemed like seconds after it dropped. Which it probably was because at the time Great Adventure was notorious for ghastly short rides in order to move the crowds along. It was frustrating, however you could run out the door when it opened and jump back on line the minute you got outside.

I was not one to shy from coasters completely, in fact, I loved The Runaway Train at Great Adventure. This was a relatively fast coaster with more twists and turns then ups and downs.  I have ridden Space Mountain in Disney, albeit with my eyes mostly closed as I jerked around the track, and was one of the first riders on the Scream Machine at Great Adventure soon after it was built. I white knuckled it the whole way and kept my eyes tightly shut screaming "I HATE THIS" until it was over. My boyfriend and my cousins thought it was hilarious. Needless to say I never went on again!

 Just as an aside, I have an Uncle Louie, who is quite famous in the world of roller coasters aficionados! Uncle Louie adores them so much so that well into his 80's he would be asked to travel to various amusement parks to try out the latest and greatest in coaster thrills from inventors and engineers that were trying to be top someone else's record for speed and height. He did this so often that he was even featured on several Discovery Channel specials on Roller Coasters. I was in awe of Uncle Louie and so often wished I could tap into his free spirit and bravado to learn his secrets!!! I know one factor that worked against me growing up was the fact that my mother  raised me to think coasters were dangerous. Which they probably were back in her youth in the early days of shoddy carnivals that set up rickety old rides that were not inspected and looked as though they could fall down in a slight breeze.

Now that I am older, I can no longer go on rides that spin and twist me about as my equilibrium is not the same as it was in my younger days. I was disappointed when this started to happen but accepted it in due time, as an inevitable progression in my march toward AARP status. So at 49 my rides are relegated to things like the Lazy River tube fun at water parks, or the bumper or mini race cars. I know, not so much thrilling as fun, but you still enjoy them none the less!

So I applaud my son's love of coasters and I hope it continues well into his later years as it had for my Uncle. You can just see it transports him to another world, much as those spinning rides did for me in my younger days as well. And to coaster lovers everywhere, BRAVO to you for being daring enough to let go and see those same body reactions that I feel as fear and you see as excitement! I am moved beyond words since I find it so thrilling to watch you all as you careen through space, from the safety of the ground,

Friday, January 20, 2012

Yoga from the COMFORT of YOUR home!

Several people I know will be guest speakers at the 2012 Yoga and Meditation Conference which starts February 7th through the 11th. There is an opportunity to receive $30 off the $129 fee by entering the following code upon registration: SND 219, use by January 31st. This makes it a truly affordable way to immerse yourself in the many programs being offered and you don't have to drive anywhere to participate! You also do not have to be a yoga practioner or teacher to sign up. You may just be curious, or have an interest, and this is a great way to open yourself up to learning some new ways of dealing with life in general. And who among us could not benefit from that?

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Let there be light!

Many years a go, I recall visiting my parents at their home in Connecticut. My mother had a table top light sitting next to her favorite red chair in the family room. It was small and looked a bit like a make up mirror, but was much brighter. This was my first introduction into the world of light therapy. She told me to sit in front of it every morning for 10 minutes or so and see how it made me feel. I found it to be quite relaxing and mood lifting. I was equally impressed that my mother had the gumption to purchase such an item as at the time Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD as we now refer to it, was still being tested out as a theory and many thought it to be just another gimmick. Not so today of course. It goes without saying, my mother had no formal diagnosis, she just seemed to know her mood dropped off in the winter months and when she came across this device in a newspaper she decided to give it a try.

I too am greatly affected by the lack of light. Many of you might recall from earlier posts my mention of my sun loving nature, so much so that I will spend a good deal of my days outside in the warmer months. Winter gets tough for me around Christmas when the darkness falls for us here in New England around 4pm or so. In the excitement and fun of the holiday though I find it easy to turn my attention and focus elsewhere rather then on the diminished light and low horizon sun. Not so easy after the holiday bustle is over.

Years ago I purchased a large light box from a company called Northern Lights, as I was truly feeling the dark nights. I had recently moved from New Jersey to the New England area and found the snow, cold and dark nights all a bit too much for me to handle. My "winter blues" as I called them seemed much more pronounced and the light box did indeed help. I would plug it in to use while I went about my business of folding laundry, making dinner, etc. It did help me to focus less on the fading light outside and I felt more energized.

I have not been faithful to my light box over the years and was rather haphazard in its use. In fact, some winters I forgot about it all together. Recently though, I have been reading in a myriad of sources that women are more susceptible to the seasonal changes, in particular around perimenopause and menopause. Also, thyroid issues can exacerbate SAD as well. Family history plays a part, as many of us are genetically hard wired or predisposed to certain types of conditions that are just a part of who we are as individuals. So as a result, I am now "back in the light" so to speak.

There is a terrific book written by the man who was one of the early pioneers on SAD, by a Norman E. Rosenthal, MD called "Winter Blues." The book is a fantastic reference on all things related to this condition. It is a most useful resource for people and its full of plenty of practical advice and scientific research to support his studies.

I know so many of us talk about our own winter blues and feel it is just something to muscle through or tough it out, but for others it is a very real condition that makes us long for spring and the longer days in an all consuming way sometimes. So my light box is in full use now and I am not going to stray from its use, as I have in the past. Plain and simple: it helps. And just as my mother self diagnosed herself those 20 or so years I ago, I too have done the same. I use my best judgement with its use and in fact, Dr. Rosenthal tells people it is an intuitive process in which you begin to determine how much you need by how well you feel.

The most important thing I learned is to start it as soon as you get the symptoms, which for most people is when we start to notice it  harder to get out of bed in the morning. I am glad I know that now as next winter that will be my aim! I was a bit late this winter, and did not really notice it starting to bother me so much until I got a virus recently and found my energy drained more so then it should have been as I was recovering. That made me take notice of how much the lack of light was adding to my weariness and tension at dusk. By the way, have your Vitamin D levels checked as well. Mine are low, so I do supplement also, as it has been found to assist people in areas of the country where winter light is reduced so substantially.

All in all, it would be great to be a snowbird like some of my friends, but it is not practical for most of us. I admit, there are those days I have contemplated homeschooling my son just to get away in the winter to a brighter, warmer spot! But alas, this is not to be. So I do what I must do make the days seem just a tad more brighter in order to help me make it through yet another winter bathed in as much light as I can muster!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Choose You | American Cancer Society

How timely to have just received this email and post from the American Cancer Society today! It truly dovetails nicely with my last post on your REAL age. Strive to be a healthier YOU, not a YOUNGER you. Make healthy living a reality and stop focusing on your age as an indicator of happiness and satisfaction.

As someone who has received that all too REAL diagnosis of cancer some 9 years ago, I know from where I speak. The power to be the absolute, most authentic and best version of yourself comes from within YOU. The results of living a healthy lifestyle DO make a difference and it will show in so many ways. 

As I stated previously,  it's your choice to focus on whether or not you feel good or feel bad, but please agree to feel better about being you.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012


I think most of us have heard of the books and websites that are so popular right now that proclaim to tell us our "REAL" age. There are various questions that are asked of us about our current dietary and health related habits. Things like how often do you smoke, exercise, sleep and what types of food you eat. These books then proceed to give us a "REAL" age that is supposed to make us feel better (or worse) depending upon how you view the information. But in fact, these books are marketed toward getting you to BUY THE BOOK! Sure, the advice in them is for the most part sound and useful. Where I draw the line is when authors are preying on the vulnerable public to sell their wares. Let's face it put the words "younger" on any book or diet and you increase your sales significantly.

Well here is a fact you cannot change: YOU ARE THE AGE YOU ARE and no amount of dieting, lipo, botox, exercising, etc is going to change the fact that you are however old you are in calendar years. Now this does not mean you are not healthier or in better shape, because being healthy and fit is indeed a better way to face life's challenges. And indeed it could help you live longer too! No argument from me there.

However, if you are one of those people constantly trying to fool other people or yourself into thinking you are younger then your birth years reveal by utilizing external methods to do so, then perhaps you are indeed missing the point.  In fact, many people do! I read recently in Newsweek magazine that between 2008 and 2010 while Americans spent far less on entertainment, housing, clothes and food, they increased their spending on  breast augmentation, lipo, eyelid surgery and the biggest increase was 24.4 percent on butt lifts! And one third of those people who are opting for such procedures make less then $30,000 per year. That is indeed a sad testament to our youth and perfection oriented culture where we need to look a certain way in order to be happy.

There is a huge plethora of both women and men spending hours trying to look younger then their birth years. There are some very real reasons for this as evidenced in the movie "The Company Men" where the actor Chris Cooper is laid off along with hundreds of people from his long term position at GTX corporation in Massachusetts. He is over the age of 60 and looks it (as he should) and is told by the outplacement service representative hired to help the employees find new jobs that he should think about dyeing his hair and lose everything on his resume that is prior to 1993. A total and complete denial of everything this man is up to this point in time. You could feel the palpable pain as it registers on the actors face as he realizes the full extent of what he is up against in the already bloated job seeker market. Is it any wonder he becomes so profoundly discouraged when he is cut down so brutally before he even starts his search. Ageism at play in our society, I could say more here, but will save it for a later post.

What I am merely suggesting here today is that youthfulness is so elusive a quality especially when it is based on external sources to obtain it. Reality is reality and no amount of working at it can truly make us younger. So keep this in mind when you run those extra miles, or bench press that extra weight; that you are the age you are and be happy to be living it in better health and optimal condition. Try not to make the goal BE about an age, but about feeling your best and remember NO one no matter who you are can LOOK or FEEL like any age. Ask yourself: what does an age look like exactly? You cannot LOOK an age. You CAN feel better or healthier or more content, but you cannot LOOK an age. It is simply not possible.

You have a choice about whether to focus on feeling good or bad,  but just agree to feel better about being YOU!