Halloween Pome

Orange pumpkins, black cats

skeletons, and scary bats

mummies that horrify

Witches flying through the sky

Thank goodness witches aren’t like birds

screeching and dropping turds

See our Halloween collection, with witches, black cats and Woofer at Zazzle. Click here. 

Last day to get FREE eBook about Maui, a reminder

We wanted to remind you that today is the last day to get your  FREE ebook:

The Pulling, Pushing, Climbing, Falling Down Tale of Maui and His Back Legs ,

free Kindle version,  click here.

If you’ve read any posts on MAXyourMIND you know the blog was inspired by and is dedicated to Peggy’s cat Maui who lived to show the brain CAN be rewired and healing IS possible.  

After losing the use of his back legs Maui didn’t need a physical therapist, a coach, or a professional of any kind. He had his own reasons to use his back legs again and he just kept at it. Peggy wrote and illustrated a children’s book for her grand daughter Lucy that tells Maui’s story. 

“The Pulling, Pushing, Climbing, Falling Down Tale of Maui and His Back Legs”.

“It’s true, I loved this book and it’s real-life message. But my grandson adored it. The first time I read it to him, he was so very anxious about Maui, urging him on, hoping him better. Then he wanted it over and over. Easy to see why. Both the book and the message it contains are wonderful gifts for any young child.” Sheridan Bentson

Here’s a synopsis

“Maui’s Healing Tale”

Brain Plasticity – Even if you lose it, you can get it back –and a free Kindle book link

Research on the brain has shown the old adage “Use it or lose it” isn’t always accurate.

Brain plasticity is not just for cats*.

At the Taub Clinic* patients are restrained from using the parts of their body that work so they have to try to use the parts affected by stroke. The patients are given exercises and unrelentingly pushed to try doing them. The program is an intense 6 hours a day for 10 days. Eighty percent (80%!) of stroke victims improve, and not just the ones who have had a recent stroke.

Patients start out doing small things such as lifting cans or “washing” tables, writing the ABCs. Slowly, fine motor skills come back.

*I’ve witnessed first hand how with patience and perseverance the brain can be rewired, even the brain of a cat.

After losing the use of his back legs my cat Maui didn’t need a physical therapist, a coach, or a professional of any kind. He had his own reasons to use his back legs again and he just kept at it. 

Maui proved the brain is plastic. It took time but by incremental steps Maui rewired his brain and developed new new brain maps for his back legs. His story also inspired our blog about neuroscience and mind-body health on MAXyourMIND

Get your free e book copy, only good until September 23

Click here for “The Pulling,Climbing, Falling Down Tale of Maui and HIs Back Legs” ebook

        *     *      *

*University of Alabama at Burmingham

Constraint-Induced therapy (CI therapy, or CIT) is a family of rehabilitation therapies designed to help “rewire” the brain and thus regain some level of limb function in those who have had an injury or illness such as traumatic brain injury (TBI), stroke, brain tumor, or multiple sclerosis. Research pioneered at UAB over the last 25 years by Edward Taub, PhD, has shown that patients can “rewire” their brains and “learn” to improve the function of the more affected parts of their bodies rather than depending on the less-affected parts. These results have been found to be true for both movement of the affected arm or leg as well as the use of language, and the therapy typically produces excellent results. Brain imaging studies have confirmed Constraint-Induced therapy’s effect on the brain as a result of this therapy, indicating that there is “rewiring” of the brain taking place. Constraint-Induced therapy has been found to be effective no matter how long ago the injury or illness occurred so long as the treatment criteria are met.

 

 

 

Four days left to get the free Kindle book about Maui!

If you’ve read any posts on MAXyourMIND you know the blog was inspired by and is dedicated to Peggy’s cat Maui who lived to show the brain CAN be rewired and healing IS possible.  

After losing the use of his back legs Maui didn’t need a physical therapist, a coach, or a professional of any kind. He had his own reasons to use his back legs again and he just kept at it. Peggy wrote and illustrated a children’s book for her grand daughter Lucy that tells Maui’s story. 

Four days left (ends September 23) to get

The Pulling, Pushing, Climbing, Falling Down Tale of Maui and His Back Legs , free Kindle version,  click here.

“The Pulling, Pushing, Climbing, Falling Down Tale of Maui and His Back Legs”.

“It’s true, I loved this book and it’s real-life message. But my grandson adored it. The first time I read it to him, he was so very anxious about Maui, urging him on, hoping him better. Then he wanted it over and over. Easy to see why. Both the book and the message it contains are wonderful gifts for any young child.” Sheridan Bentson

Here’s a synopsis

“Maui’s Healing Tale”

FREE Kindle Maui and His Back Legs book!

I’ve been delighted and gratified to have a great response from all around the world to my very first book:

“The Pulling, Climbing, Falling Down Tale of

Maui and His Back Legs”

“You had one strong, courageous cat there! The story is great to read, and inspiring to say the least. It does go to show us the power of the mind, and how we all possess the power of healing, ourselves and others. It comes with courage, belief, perseverance, hope, and most of all love and passion for life. I applaud you for your determination but most of all for your vision of Maui walking again.”

Paul Del Sordo, Martial Arts Instructor and Special Needs Inclusion Coordinator

“I read the story of Maui. It is touchy and inspiring. Though being a cat, Maui was determined, to resolve her back leg problem with continuous & renewed hope. And the Pictorials were so lively, pleasant and explanatory. These type of stories are good for children, parents must make a habit of them read inspiring stories, which has fun and moral, which is Determination.”

Anil Kumar Morathoti, Sr Social Worker-Child/Student Welfare|Education|Development. State Coordinator, OISCA Telangana|AP States, Hyderabad, Telangana, India

I’ve signed up for a Kindle publishing opportunity – for me and for YOU –

for 5 days STARTING NOW you can get a FREE KINDLE copy

by clicking on the title below:

“The Pulling, Climbing, Falling Down Tale of

Maui and His Back Legs”

BUY THE PAPERBACK BOOK

“The Pulling, Climbing, Falling Down Tale of

Maui and His Back Legs”

CATegorical Purrrrrspective

Everything I know about men I learned from my cat.

Let them show you what good hunters they are.

Graciously accept their gifts, even if it is something you will dispose of later.

Calendar (small) from this series available on zazzle. Click here.

CATegorical Purrrrrspective

Everything I know about men, I learned from my cat.

Help them keep their tools sharp.

Keeping their “claws” sharp is important, so make sure there is something for them to “tackle”. Something you want “shredded”.

Calendar (small) from this series available on zazzle. Click here.

CATegorical Purrrrrspective

Everything I know about men, I learned from my CAT.

Happy cats need to have territory to mark as theirs . . . so . . . 

. . .  give a man space to claim as his own . . . he’ll be one cool cat.

Calendar (small) from this series available on zazzle, click here

 

 

Did You Know? – Luscious Lipped Bat Fish

Luscious Red lips,
lanquid eyes
this guy’s in disguise
 a femme fatale?
 a walking bat?
Can you imagine that
A fish that doesn’t swim
Ogcocephalus darwini

An identity crisis of the first degree
he needs a psychoanalyst
It’s not normal to be THAT carefree

This Red-Lipped Batfish (aka Ogcocephalus darwini) walks around the deep waters of the Galapagos Islands.  They are terrible swimmers since their fins have evolved into legs.

To attract prey, the red-lipped batfish uses a shiny lure that comes out of its head once it gets really close to its preferred meal,  like crabs, mollusks and shrimp  Some scientists think the males’ red lips are attractive to females during mating season.  To each his own . . . 

Thanks to Charlie at Doodlewash for the inspiration.

Red-Lipped Bat Fish, NOT CHARLIE

Fur Fun: hard to watch

In the interest of full disclosure we have a tv in every room of our house, with the exception of the bathroom.  Several of them are so old they are neither flat, nor high definition.  I suspect they will outlast the latest models.

We didn’t have a TV at home until I was 10 years old.  It was black & white, there were only 3 channels and programs ended at midnight with test patterns.   I grew up reading, playing outside and making up ways to entertain myself with household objects.  It may partially explain why I’m relatively creative but doesn’t explain why I have the attention span of a gnat.

Fur Fun: Think about it

Your beliefs become your thoughts. Your thoughts become your words. Your words become your actions. Your actions become your habits. Your habits become your values. Your values become your destiny.” 

Mahatma Gandhi

Paws, 2 thoughts

Thinking Thoughts by Peggy

Happiness Hacks: Compassion

“Happiness Hacks”  are quick and easy ways, based on scientific research, to lift your mood. We are compiling them into a book, but want to share them here with you.

Compassion makes you feel better.  I saw this first hand when I worked in an outpatient program with people diagnosed with severe psychiatric disorders – schizophrenia, manic depressive disorder and major depression.  Many had been hospitalized more than once.

My goal was to help patients manage their illness, so they could stay out of the hospital  and live a more normal life. Besides many of the things the program offered to help them, including medication, I believed if I could help them be happier, have more positives in their lives, some of the stressors they felt would be offset and help them stay well.

Acts of Kindness by Peggy

I had read a research project using compassion exercises and decided to try it. It worked well in the research and I hoped it worked for the patients. Here’s what I did:

Week 1: I asked the patients to spend an hour being really good to themselves, something to pamper themselves. It didn’t matter what they chose as long as they personally enjoyed it.  When they shared everyone expressed liking their experiences and felt happy they participated.

Week 2: The patients were to take the same amount of time – an hour – and do something nice for somebody else, something to brighten someone else’s day.  It didn’t matter who they chose or what they did as long as it was something kind and giving.  When they shared this experience they were even happier!  All reported they felt better doing something nice for somebody else for an hour than doing something for themselves.

Caring for others, having compassion, can make you happier. You don’t have to wait weeks between.  Do something nice for yourself for an hour one day.  The next day do something nice for another person.  It doesn’t even have to be for an hour.  Try it and see for yourself.  And let us know how it goes.

Compassion Hack

According to brain science Buddhist monks are some of the happiest people in the  world.  They are don’t leave their monasteries and do things for others, but meditate on compassion.  Research shows compassion meditation changes the brain and makes it happier!

Don’t have an hour to do something nice for someone else?  Spend 10 – 20 minutes and meditate on compassion . . . Remember – It’s a hack NOT a substitution for the real thing.

 (PW)

Happiness Hacks: Touch much

“Happiness Hacks”  are quick and easy ways, based on scientific research, to lift your mood. We are compiling them into a book, but want to share them here with you.

I’m a hugger.  I admit it.  It’s almost a reflex when I see someone I like or admire.

In the 1970’s I taught 3rd grade.  It was common for some students to run up, throw their arms around my waist and give me a big hug.  We teachers would always hug back.  When a student got hurt or was in distress a hug was automatic.  Our cultural climate has changed and teachers are no longer suppose to touch, much less hug, students.  Our cultural climate is continuing to change and unwanted, unwarranted “hugs” are rightly being brought out into the open and condemned.

So I share this information from the work of Alex Korb, UCLA neuroscientist author of The Upward Spiral: Using Neuroscience to Reverse the Course of Depression, One Small Change at a Time  with the acknowledgement that we should only be touching others who want to be touched.

Got someone to hug? Go for it. Alex Korb,  says ‘A hug, especially a long one, releases a neurotransmitter and hormone oxytocin, which reduces the reactivity of the amygdala.”

“Hand holding, pats on the back, and handshakes work, too. Korb cites a study in which subjects whose hands were held by their partners experienced a reduced level of anxiety while waiting for an expected electrical shock from researchers. “The brain showed reduced activation in both the anterior cingulate cortex and dorsolateral prefrontal cortex — that is, less activity in the pain and worrying circuits.”’

And if you have no one handy to touch, guess what? Massage has also been shown to be an effective way to get your oxytocin flowing, and it reduces stress hormones and increases your dopamine levels. Win win.

Mousey Masseuse by Peggy

The value of touching shouldn’t be overlooked when you’re down. According to Korb:

“In fact, as demonstrated in an fMRI [functional magnetic imaging] experiment, social exclusion activates the same circuitry as physical pain . . .”

The next time you see me HUG AWAY!

(jw)

Fur Fun: Buried Alive

When under ground

and no one’s around

it’s very dark before the dawn

or perhaps it’s dawn before the dark?

 It’s sometimes hard to tell

So make sure you’re planted

at just the right depth

and not in some deep well
1-5-2017

Eye my View – “Gourgous” Gorge

On a plane ride returning back to California from a trip to Alaska, I opened an in-flight magazine and was mezmerized by a picture of Multnomah Falls, a waterfall so beautiful that I knew I had to go see it in person.

620-foot (190 m)-high Multnomah Falls.

“Multnomah Falls, is located in the Columbia River Gorge – the area with the highest percentage of waterfalls (over 90) in the continental U.S.  The Columbia River Gorge is a canyon of the Columbia River in the Pacific Northwest of the United States. Up to 4,000 feet deep, the canyon stretches for over 80 miles as the river winds westward through the Cascade Range forming the boundary between the State of Washington to the north and Oregon to the south.”

The area is known for its high concentration of waterfalls, with over 90 on the Oregon side of the Gorge alone.[1] Many are along the Historic Columbia River Highway, including the notable The gorge was formed when an upstream glacier broke and came crashing through a riverbed towards the ocean. The flow of melting ice and debris widened the riverbed.

“The same Ice Age floods that created the Willamette Valley carved a wide river gorge through the Cascade Mountains, tearing through ancient volcanic rock and cresting at more than 700 feet high. After the floodwaters receded, they left behind a mighty river flanked by towering cliffs, its tributaries now flowing into dozens of towering waterfalls – the tallest, Multnomah Falls.”

Fairy Falls

I’m happiest around water and tons of water cascading over beautiful terrain was my idea of heaven on earth. I invited my two daughters and a friend to join me on what turned out to be a wonderful trip. We hiked steep trails, had picnics in the rain, and  decided we wanted to quit our jobs, move to Oregon and buy a small restaurant. Needless to say that never happened.

Horsetail Falls

“The Columbia River Gorge began forming as far back as the Miocene (roughly 17 to 12 million years ago), and continued to take shape through the Pleistocene (2 million to 700,000 years ago).”

We never opened the restaurant.  Now that I’m retired I’ll settle for a vacation home next to a waterfall and take-out dinner.

Peggy

See our post on Max Your Mind  “Falling water, raising spirits”

Eye my View – The Secret of the Lotus Flower

My favorite photography subjects are from nature. The frame of the camera lens helps me see things in ways my naked eye misses.  Much of my intrigue and curiosity about natural wonders are the marvelous secrets that are not visible to the eye. 

Lotus flowers have held such a secret for centuries.  It’s  life cycle is unique:  Its roots grow in muddy, murky river water where, every night it submerges and miraculously re-blooms the next morning, no residue on its petals.

Science has learned the lotus’ secret for keeping so pristine. It is in their nanostructure: Thousands of nano-sized bumps on the petals, that cause water to pick up the dirt and roll it right off the petals.*

The lotus holds a revered place for Buddhists and Egyptians and considered one of the most sacred flowers today.

There is general consensus among ancient texts that it symbolizes spiritual enlightenment and rebirth with its ability to dip into the grime and revive itself —an incredible daily cycle of life, death, and an immaculate spiritual rebirth.

The lotus is native to India and Vietnam.

Scientists are researching the lotus’ nano-structure to create windows that never have to be washed.  Hopefully, the next step will be self-cleaning clothes, sinks, floors, cars . . . 

Peggy

*“The lotus effect refers to self-cleaning properties that are a result of ultrahydrophobicity as exhibited by the leaves of Nelumbo or “lotus flower“. Dirt particles are picked up by water droplets due to the micro- and nanoscopic architecture on the surface, which minimizes the droplet’s adhesion to that surface.”

“Plants with a double structured surface like the lotus can reach a contact angle of 170°, whereby the droplet’s contact area is only 0.6%. All this leads to a self-cleaning effect.”

Wikipedia

 

Happiness Hacks: The Write Way


“Happiness Hacks”  are quick and easy ways, based on scientific research, to lift your mood. We are compiling them into a book, but want to share them here with you.

“In the 1970s, a professor of psychology named James W. Pennebaker began experimenting with the effects that talking, confessing and self-understanding had on human well-being. Nearly 30 years later, he and his collaborator, Joshua M. Smyth, a professor of behavioral health and medicine, produced a body of research that found the emotionally connective and relieving effects of expressive writing to promote self-understanding, ease emotional pain and aid in physical healing.[viii] Since their book, Opening Up by Writing It Down, was published in 1997, their findings have been corroborated by other scientists’ independent studies around the world.”

The 2016 edition of their book explains that expressive writing:

•  Offers those who either don’t wish to talk about their feelings or have no one to confide in a way to unburden themselves

•  Reduces stress, fear and isolation

•  Boosts immune systems, optimism and sense of connectedness

•  Allows minds to process, organize and understand their experiences and feelings, enhancing learning and memory

“When expressing themselves in writing, people often report that they feel safe. They are actually creating an artifact—one that symbolizes some of their thoughts and feelings but is not them. With that safety, people often find they can put things down on the page that are often hard to speak about, and explore the deeper truths that we all carry with us.”

“The writing itself is a “made thing”—something with weight and substance. Therefore, it has a place in the world and you become identified with that creative construction. For many people, this gives them a way to bootstrap out of negativity and to start to identify themselves in a powerful and positive way.”

http://www.howlifeunfolds.com/stronger-connections/expressive-writing-a-path-forward-for-your-health

Happiness Hacks: Sing

“Happiness Hacks”  are quick and easy ways, based on scientific research, to lift your mood. We are compiling them into a book, but want to share them here with you.

In second grade we stood at our desk and sang. EVERY DAY.  The teacher traveled the room, bending down to intently listen to each child.  Those who were out of tune she tapped on the head to sit down.  There were two of us who always got tapped.
 
From third grade on  I silently mouthed the words anytime, anywhere there was singing, terrified someone would hear me.   

Now the science is in. Singing is really good for you and the most recent research suggests that group singing is the most exhilarating and transformative of all.

Creating music together evolved as a tool of social living. Groups and tribes sang and danced together to build loyalty, transmit vital information and ward off enemies.  (Since I still can’t carry a tune I figure all my enemies have long ago been warded off.)

Caterwauling beautiful music by Peggy

“What has not been understood until recently is that singing in groups triggers the communal release of serotonin and oxytocin, the bonding hormone, and even synchronises our heart beats.”

“Singing helps people with depression and reduces feelings of loneliness, leaving people feeling relaxed, happy and connected. What’s more, the benefits of singing regularly are cumulative. People who sing have reduced levels of cortisol, indicating lower stress.” (The research must have been done on people who could carry a tune.  My cortisol levels still go up when singing)

Now the good news (for me) . . . 

One of the great things about singing is that you can receive the wellbeing benefits even if you aren’t any good. One study showed that:

“Group singing can produce satisfying and therapeutic sensations even when the sound produced by the vocal instrument is of mediocre quality.”

“The current research into the neuroscience of singing shows that when we sing our neurotransmitters connect in new and different ways. It fires up the right temporal lobe of our brain, releasing endorphins that make us smarter, healthier, happier and more creative. When we sing with other people this effect is amplified.”

I still can’t carry a tune but at least no one . . . so far . . . has tapped me on the head since second grade.

(jw)

Read the entire article:  The Neuroscience of Singing

Fur Fun: Opportunity

The Fate of young ladies who “demurred”

with Bill Gates, Jeff Bezos or Mark Zuckerberg  

There once was a Miss

who declined a kiss

fearing the poor lad

would make her look bad

if the news leaked

about her and this geek.

There’s no mystery

The rest is history

 This fearful honey

is out of the money

Take a Hike – My Next New Car?

I’ve spent the last couple of months looking for a car.  Internet reviews, consumer reports, test drives was exhausting, confusing and frustrating.

My primary need for a new car was based on the monthly trips I take to visit family in another state.  Comfort, mileage and good visibility were important . . . I never thought about maneuverability over rough terrain!

Hyundai has shown off a small model Hyundai Elevate car it says can ACTIVATE ROBOTIC LEGS to:

  • Walk at 3mph (5km/h) over rough terrain.
  • Climb a 5ft (1.5m) wall
  • Jump a 5ft gap

_105100392_mediaitem105100391

The Hyundai Elevate could be useful for emergency rescues following natural disasters.

“When a tsunami or earthquake hits, current rescue vehicles can only deliver first responders to the edge of the debris field. They have to go the rest of the way by foot,” said Hyundai vice-president John Suh.”

“Elevate can drive to the scene and climb right over flood debris or crumbled concrete.”

Mr Suh also suggested that wheelchair users could be collected via the vehicles, which could “walk” up to the front door of a building.

I love to hike.  The next time I buy a car I’ll look for one that can accompany me on the trail and then drive me home

Peggy

 

https://www.bbc.com/news/technology-46794087

Fur Fun: Life Lessons from Noah’s Ark

  1. Don’t miss the boat.

  2. Remember that we are all in the SAME boat.

  3. Plan ahead.  It wasn’t raining when Noah built the Ark.

  4. Stay fit.  When you’re 600 years old, someone may ask you to do something REALLY big.

  5. Don’t listen to critics; just get on with the job that needs to be done.

  6. Build your future on high ground.

  7. For safety sake, travel in pairs.

  8. Speed isn’t always an advantage.  The snails were on board with the cheetahs.

  9. When you’re stressed, float a while

  10. Remember, the Ark was built by amateurs; the Titanic by professionals.

  11. No matter the storm, when you are with God, there’s always a rainbow waiting.

However,

The woodpecker might have to go!

Fur Fun: Succeed or Fail

In my opinion, one of the most “damaging” things we can tell our children, or ourselves for that matter, is that if we set our mind to it and have the perseverance we can do anything, accomplish anything, be anything.  WRONG.

No matter how much I may want to be a nuclear physicist my brain simply will not grasp the finer, much less coarser, points of physics or math.  No matter how much I might want to be a sumo wrestler, my body, dexterity and athletic ability forbids it.

So if I were going to talk to The Cat in the Hat I would tell him to change what he preaches to:

You have brains in your head

You have feet in your shoes

Try things, succeed OR fail,

You’ve got nothing to lose. 

fd0f57d38a4b6a79ec24e10df11a9465

(jw)

Happiness Hack: Maui Had a Ball-You Can, Too

“Happiness Hacks”  are quick and easy ways, based on scientific research, to lift your mood. We are compiling them into a book, but want to share them here with you.

“Maui’s Mini Tail”

Maui had a yellow ball.

Maui loved to chase a small yellow ball around the house. He would grab it with his paws and throw it up in the air, or bat it across the floor!  He loved  playing with the yellow ball, constantly chasing it around the house and batting it across the room.

I should have learned a thing about feeling good from Maui but it took a book to teach me what Maui knew.

Peggy had a beach ball

When I was working with patients with major mental health problems (Schizophrenia, severe depression, manic depression), I read The Biopsychology of Mood & Arousal by Richard Thayer. I was surprised to learn that if you do a brisk activity for only 10 min, your mood goes up and stays up for 4 hours. It sounded almost too easy.  I found  a beach ball to put it to the test.

At the beginning of the next patient’s group therapy session I  asked everyone to rate their current mood on a scale of 1 to 10. One = horrible/awful/terrible/bad. Ten = wonderful/elated/ joyful/good.

I tossed the beach ball in the air and everyone joined in batting the ball to each other.  Sometimes we missed, sometimes we got hit in the head, but everyone swung at the ball, waved their hands around and had a little exercise.   AFTER 10 MINUTES we stopped and rated mood again.

Take a look at the chart below showing how each patient rated their mood at the beginning of the session, in blue, and where each patient rated their mood after tossing the ball for 10 minutes,  in green.

fullsizerender

Would the mood elevation last? After 3 1/2 hours, everyone rated their mood again.  All moods were still up with one exception. It had worked making my own mood elevated.

The chart below shows each patients mood before the ball toss started,  in blue, and where each patient rated their mood after 3 1/2 hours, in purple.

hourslaterchartThe average improvement in mood was 30%! In TEN MINUTES.

Of course, negative events can bring mood down again. (as happened to the one patient – letter i – in the group) but this is one of my favorite “tricks” to stay happy.

Maui always knew . . .  playing ball is good for you.

THE SCIENCE 

In his 1989 book The Biopsychology of Mood and Arousal, Robert E. Thayer discusses how 10 minutes of brisk exercise improves mood for four hours.  He describes how each of us has a daily biorhythm of ups and downs in energy (There’s a chart in the book on how to  figure out your own biorhythm).

Exercise is shown to boost endorphins and the neurotransmitter norepinephrine both of which improve mood.

Not only does exercise grow your muscles, it also grows neurons in your brain. Such neuron growth is associated with improved mood.  Research shows:

Regular exercise can relieve depression just as well as medication over a 4 month period, and even better after 6 months.

I personally use this concept to get and keep my own  mood up.  Ten minutes of activity is a cheap price for creating 4 hours of feeling good (or at the very least, feeling ok).

(Peggy)

How do you elevate your mood?  Let us know in the comments.

Click here for Time article It’s All in the Nerves: How to Really Treat Depression 

 

Frankly Freddie, EYE with a VIEW

Dear my Freddie Fans,

It’s hard to get Peggy to show her art (she’s more humble than Judy who seems to relish posting nude humans).  Peggy prefers nude animals.

She took these photographs at the San Diego Zoo,

a nudist camp if I ever saw one . . .

Peggy, clothed

Frankly,

Freddie Parker Westerfield, Roving Reporter

Fur Fun: Freddie’s Forwarning

 You can’t be vain

dancing in the rain

for it’s a sure bet

your paws’ll get wet

your fur will matt

and you’ll looked like

a drowned cat

 

Our Inspiration – Maui and the Healing Power of the Brain

Anyone who has ever had a pet or watched wild critters knows animals are inspirational (I’m told there are even people who find reptiles, insects and other vermin fascinating – myself . . . I prefer mammals . . . but who’s to say . . .).

I’ve had a horse, Misty, dogs and cats.  My last kitty Maui, long after his passing, has been particularly inspirational:

  • Maui inspired me to write his story as a book to help children know that they too can flourish with patience and persistence.
  • Maui’s story is proof the brain, YOURS and mine, is capable of “rewiring” and “repatterning”. 

To read Maui’s story click here

  • Maui inspired Judy and I to create MAXyourMIND (formerly Catnipblog) to share neuroscience research and how we can all live better, healthier lives harnessing the power of our own minds.

Maui was part Siamese and lived up to the breed’s reputation of being intelligent, playful, social and quite mischievous.  

Maui

I named him for the jokester god of the Hawaiian islands. What happened to him was no joke.

When Maui was 11 years old, he had a  blocked ureter.  The treating vet told me Maui would not live.  I brought him home and helplessly watched Maui do nothing but lay on the floor with his chin on his favorite water bowl.  He didn’t eat for days and his back legs were weak.
One day Maui couldn’t move his back legs at all. The vet had neglected to tell me that cats not eating for 3 days or more can lead to heart problems which can result in a clot that blocks the femoral artery. The blockage causes the back legs to not function.  A permanent condition.

 The vet repeated Maui could die at any time and suggested putting him down. I was distraught.

Hope against hope, I took Maui home and helplessly watched him drag around with his two front legs.  It took him one human year or 7 cat years to rewire his brain and regain use of his back legs.

Maui taught me first hand about persistence, resiliency and how with patience the brain can be retrained  . . .  and the paws will follow.

For Maui and His Back Legs book, click here

Our human brains, too, have incredible plasticity.  Maximize aspects of your life by focusing on what you want and minimize what doesn’t support your wants and needs.

The old sayings “Practice Makes Perfect” and “The Power of Positive Thinking” have been proven accurate through scientific research . . . and Maui.

Peggy

 

 

 

Truth Is . . . Lying Makes You Sick

Given the “climate” in the United States . . . and parts of the world . . . this study on lying is fascinating.

Most people lie because they are trying to:

  • sidestep something uncomfortable 
  • feel better about themselves
  • impress someone
  • escape punishment or other negative consequences
  • or, so no one will be mad at them

Pinocchio Knows by Peggy

New research

Avoidance of the truth can be hazardous to our health. “When people lie, they are more prone to feeling anxious or blue, and to experiencing frequent headaches, runny noses, bouts of diarrhea and back pain. When people change their ways and start telling the truth more often, however, they can improve both their mental and physical health, says University of Notre Dame psychology professor Anita Kelly, lead author of a new study on the effects of lying.”

“The Notre Dame study looked at 110 people, ranging in age from 18 to 71, over a period of 10 weeks. Half the participants agreed to try to stop telling lies (both major and minor) for the duration of the test. The other half received no special instructions. Subjects took weekly polygraph tests to assess the number and type of lies they had told in the previous week. “Those who were instructed to dramatically reduce lies experienced significantly better health than those in the group that continued to lie,” Kelly says.”

“Her team found that participants who began telling the truth more often experienced 54 percent fewer mental health complaints (such as anxiety or feeling blue) over the course of the study, and 56 percent fewer physical health complaints (such as nausea or headaches). Subjects who began telling the truth more often also reported happier relationships and improved social interactions.”

Surprisingly, the “size” of a lie doesn’t appear to have much impact on its health effects, Kelly says. Both minor lies, like telling a friend you can’t meet for coffee because you “have to work,” and big lies, such as claiming false credentials in a job interview, can negatively affect your health.

“Both white and major lies can be problematic,” she says, “because they can both cause the person to be seen as a liar. Both can violate expectations of honesty in a relationship.” And all of that leads to feelings of anxiety and guilt.

Why Lying Makes You Sick

Because you know it’s wrong to lie, doing so “goes against what you deem as ‘right,’ and builds anxiety,” Walfish says. The anxiety just increases as you try to keep from being caught. “A person who lies doesn’t want to be found out. They want the whole thing to go away,” she says.

“As a result of all that guilt, or related anxiety and stress, you begin to physically feel the effects of the lies,” says Reef Karim, an assistant clinical professor of psychiatry at the UCLA Semel Institute for Neuroscience. “There’s definitely a connection.” Your immune system could become compromised because your body is stressed, making it harder to fight off colds and flus. “For some, it’s an immediate effect,” Karim notes. “For others it’s a slow build of physical problems, like headaches.”

Guilt

The level of guilt you feel about your lies is a crucial factor in how much they’ll affect your body. “The more guilt or anxiety you feel,” Karim says, “the more physical and mental symptoms you’re going to experience.”

The Power of Telling the Truth 

“Just as you try to eat well and get regular exercise to maintain your overall health, experts say, you need to develop the healthy habit of telling the truth. “People need to experience the feeling of freedom and strength derived from telling the truth in difficult situations,” Walfish says. “Taking the leap of faith and telling the truth — regardless of the outcome — is a wonderful feeling of power. You feel you can handle anything.”‘

And that’s the truth.

Click on picture below for the latest MAX your MIND post!

 

Fur Real: Your body is made of remnants of stars and massive explosions in the galaxies

It blows my mind that I’m made up of blown up stellar dust.  You gotta read this interview of:

“Astrophysicist Karel Schrijver, a senior fellow at the Lockheed Martin Solar and Astrophysics Laboratory, and his wife, Iris Schrijver, professor of pathology at Stanford University, have joined the dots in a new book, Living With the Stars: How the Human Body Is Connected to the Life Cycles of the Earth, the Planets, and the Stars.”

How 40,000 Tons of Cosmic Dust Falling to Earth Affects You and Me

“Talking from their home in Palo Alto, California, they explain how everything in us originated in cosmic explosions billions of years ago, how our bodies are in a constant state of decay and regeneration, and why singer Joni Mitchell was right.”

“We are stardust,” Joni Mitchell famously sang in “Woodstock.” It turns out she was right, wasn’t she?”

Iris: Was she ever! Everything we are and everything in the universe and on Earth originated from stardust, and it continually floats through us even today. It directly connects us to the universe, rebuilding our bodies over and again over our lifetimes.”

Can you give me some examples of how stardust formed us?

Karel: When the universe started, there was just hydrogen and a little helium and very little of anything else. Helium is not in our bodies. Hydrogen is, but that’s not the bulk of our weight. Stars are like nuclear reactors. They take a fuel and convert it to something else. Hydrogen is formed into helium, and helium is built into carbon, nitrogen and oxygen, iron and sulfur—everything we’re made of. When stars get to the end of their lives, they swell up and fall together again, throwing off their outer layers. If a star is heavy enough, it will explode in a supernova.”

“So most of the material that we’re made of comes out of dying stars, or stars that died in explosions. And those stellar explosions continue. We have stuff in us as old as the universe, and then some stuff that landed here maybe only a hundred years ago. And all of that mixes in our bodies.”

Your book yokes together two seemingly different sciences: astrophysics and human biology. Describe your individual professions and how you combined them to create this book.

“Iris: I’m a physician specializing in genetics and pathology. Pathologists are the medical specialists who diagnose diseases and their causes. We also study the responses of the body to such diseases and to the treatment given. I do this at the level of the DNA, so at Stanford University I direct the diagnostic molecular pathology laboratory. I also provide patient care by diagnosing inherited diseases and also cancers, and by following therapy responses in those cancer patients based on changes that we can detect in their DNA.”

“Our book is based on many conversations that Karel and I had, in which we talked to each other about topics from our daily professional lives. Those areas are quite different. I look at the code of life. He’s an astrophysicist who explores the secrets of the stars. But the more we followed up on our questions to each other, the more we discovered our fields have a lot more connections than we thought possible.”

Karel:” I’m an astrophysicist. Astrophysicists specialize in all sorts of things, from dark matter to galaxies. I picked stars because they fascinated me. But no matter how many stars you look at, you can never see any detail. They’re all tiny points in the sky.”

“So I turned my attention to the sun, which is the only star where we can see what happens all over the universe. At some point NASA asked me to lead a summer school for beginning researchers to try to create materials to understand the things that go all the way from the sun to the Earth. I learned so many things about these connections I started to tell Iris. At some point I thought: This could be an interesting story, and it dawned on us that together we go all the way, as she said, from the smallest to the largest. And we have great fun doing this together.”

We tend to think of our bodies changing only slowly once we reach adulthood. So I was fascinated to discover that, in fact, we’re changing all the time and constantly rebuilding ourselves. Talk about our skin.

Iris:Most people don’t even think of the skin as an organ. In fact, it’s our largest one. To keep alive, our cells have to divide and grow. We’re aware of that because we see children grow. But cells also age and eventually die, and the skin is a great example of this.”

“It’s something that touches everything around us. It’s also very exposed to damage and needs to constantly regenerate. It weighs around eight pounds [four kilograms] and is composed of several layers. These layers age quickly, especially the outer layer, the dermis. The cells there are replaced roughly every month or two. That means we lose approximately 30,000 cells every minute throughout our lives, and our entire external surface layer is replaced about once a year.”

“Very little of our physical bodies lasts for more than a few years. Of course, that’s at odds with how we perceive ourselves when we look into the mirror. But we’re not fixed at all. We’re more like a pattern or a process. And it was the transience of the body and the flow of energy and matter needed to counter that impermanence that led us to explore our interconnectedness with the universe.”

You have a fascinating discussion about age. Describe how different parts of the human body age at different speeds.

Iris: “Every tissue recreates itself, but they all do it at a different rate. We know through carbon dating that cells in the adult human body have an average age of seven to ten years. That’s far less than the age of the average human, but there are remarkable differences in these ages. Some cells literally exist for a few days. Those are the ones that touch the surface. The skin is a great example, but also the surfaces of our lungs and the digestive tract. The muscle cells of the heart, an organ we consider to be very permanent, typically continue to function for more than a decade. But if you look at a person who’s 50, about half of their heart cells will have been replaced.”

“Our bodies are never static. We’re dynamic beings, and we have to be dynamic to remain alive. This is not just true for us humans. It’s true for all living things.”

A figure that jumped out at me is that 40,000 tons of cosmic dust fall on Earth every year. Where does it all come from? How does it affect us?

Karel: When the solar system formed, it started to freeze gas into ice and dust particles. They would grow and grow by colliding. Eventually gravity pulled them together to form planets. The planets are like big vacuum cleaners, sucking in everything around them. But they didn’t complete the job. There’s still an awful lot of dust floating around.”

“When we say that as an astronomer, we can mean anything from objects weighing micrograms, which you wouldn’t even see unless you had a microscope, to things that weigh many tons, like comets. All that stuff is still there, being pulled around by the gravity of the planets and the sun. The Earth can’t avoid running into this debris, so that dust falls onto the Earth all the time and has from the very beginning. It’s why the planet was made in the first place. Nowadays, you don’t even notice it. But eventually all that stuff, which contains oxygen and carbon, iron, nickel, and all the other elements, finds its way into our bodies.”

“When a really big piece of dust, like a giant comet or asteroid, falls onto the Earth, you get a massive explosion, which is one of the reasons we believe the dinosaurs became extinct some 70 million years ago. That fortunately doesn’t happen very often. But things fall out of the sky all the time. [Laughs]”

Many everyday commodities we use also began their existence in outer space. Tell us about salt.

Karel: Whatever you mention, its history began in outer space. Take salt. What we usually mean by salt is kitchen salt. It has two chemicals, sodium and chloride. Where did they come from? They were formed inside stars that exploded billions of years ago and at some point found their way onto the Earth. Stellar explosions are still going on today in the galaxy, so some of the chlorine we’re eating in salt was made only recently.”

You study pathology, Iris. Is physical malfunction part of the cosmic order?

Iris: Absolutely. There are healthy processes, such as growth, for which we need cell division. Then there are processes when things go wrong. We age because we lose the balance between cell deaths and regeneration. That’s what we see in the mirror when we age over time. That’s also what we see when diseases develop, such as cancers. Cancer is basically a mistake in the DNA, and because of that the whole system can be derailed. Aging and cancer are actually very similar processes. They both originate in the fact that there’s a loss of balance between regeneration and cell loss.”

“Cystic fibrosis is an inherited genetic disease. You inherit an error in the DNA. Because of that, certain tissues do not have the capability to provide their normal function to the body. My work is focused on finding changes in DNA in different populations so we can understand better what kinds of mutations are the basis of that disease. Based on that, we can provide prognosis. There are now drugs that target specific mutations, as well as transplants, so these patients can have a much better life span than was possible 10 or 20 years ago.”

How has writing this book changed your view of life—and your view of each other?

Karel: There are two things that struck me, one that I had no idea about. The first is what Iris described earlier—the impermanence of our bodies. As a physicist, I thought the body was built early on, that it would grow and be stable. Iris showed me, over a long series of dinner discussions, that that’s not the way it works. Cells die and rebuild all the time. We’re literally not what were a few years ago, and not just because of the way we think. Everything around us does this. Nature is not outside us. We are nature.”

“As far as our relationship is concerned, I always had a great deal of respect for Iris, and physicians in general. They have to know things that I couldn’t possibly remember. And that’s only grown with time.”

Iris: Physics was not my favorite topic in high school. [Laughs] Through Karel and our conversations, I feel that the universe and the world around us has become much more accessible. That was our goal with the book as well. We wanted it to be accessible and understandable for anyone with a high school education. It was a challenge to write it that way, to explain things to each other in lay terms. But it has certainly changed my view of life. It’s increased my sense of wonder and appreciation of life.”

__________________________________________________________________________________

Read more of judy’s “mini sermons” on this same subject click:

 Part I, The Interconnectedness of All Beings click HERE

Part II, Head & Heart, click HERE

 Part III – Stardusted, click HERE

Part IV – Two Wings of a BIrd, click HERE

Happiness Hack: Today’s Good Happenings

We’re excited to let you know that we are compiling all the Happiness Hacks we’ve posted. This one was on Catnip as:

“Research shows you will be happier for 3 months – Music to my ears”

I played violin in the high school orchestra. It was enjoyable and got me out of physical education class. Practicing was another matter.  Practicing the violin was excruciating for me. It was solely focused on doing weird, complicated, boring scales over and over and over . . . no melody, NO FUN.   I would set a timer for 1 hour: polish my violin for 10 minutes; resin the bow for 5; tune the strings for 15 and; laboriously do scales for the rest of the time. I did get better.

If only I had known that I could have practiced being in a good mood while I was practicing scales.

Yup, research now shows the more you practice being in a good mood the better you get at keeping a good mood.

Our brains seek out familiar patterns. The more we consciously focus on positive thoughts the easier it is for our brain to access those thoughts and find positive patterns in other areas.  (Of course, there is a corollary  – focus on the negative and your brain will look for more negative connections).  So the more you think about the positive things in your life, the easier it is to think of good things in your life. 

Start at any time.  Like now. Think about something “positive/good” . . . a time you had fun or laughed at a joke or a childhood celebration.  It doesn’t even have to be about you or your life . . .  something “positive” you’ve witnessed, read about or even imagined.  Share it with someone and notice feeling happier.

The more you practice the easier it will be for your brain to access the positive and lift your mood.  

Here’s an easy practice session.

   Maui Practicing, not judy, by Peggy

Pawsitive Exercise

Each day for a week, at the end of the day, write down 3 good or positive things that have happened to you that day and why they happened. 

They can be:

  • BIG things (became a grandma, bought a Maserati, won the lottery)
  • Small things (took a nice shower, ate breakfast, paid the water bill on time).
  • The same things repeated each day or different things/events listed.

When you write down why they happened give yourself credit:

  • I won the lottery because I bought a ticket
  • I took a nice hot shower because I paid the water bill on time
  • I became a grandma because I became a mother because I have kept a good relationship with my daughter because I called her and had a positive conversation.

You don’t need a fancy journal –

a notebook, post-it-notes, napkins will work.

Just do this for one week.

Research shows you will be happier for 3 months!

My violin “practice” list would have looked like this:

  • I managed to get through another violin practice session without dying of boredom.
  • I played in tune, 75% of the time
  • I polished my violin and it’s shiny.

(jw)

Reference:  Seligman, M. P., Steen, T. A., Park, N., & Peterson, C. (2005). Positive Psychology Progress. American Psychologist, 60(5), 410-421. doi:10.1037/0003-066X.60.5.410

Fur Fun: Throw it Around

Throw kindness around like confetti

Sprinkle it slow, sprinkle it steady

Let it fall from the air

stick in the hair

get caught on the lips

sit on by hips

Throw kindness around without care

Show there’s more than enough to spare

A Happy Snacky Peggy Post

One of my long time friends (whose initials are jw but shall remain nameless) is a bit of a sugarcarboholic and green isn’t her favorite food color.  She also is in chronic pain and lacks energy.  When I found this research I wanted to share it and I know she reads this blog.

The Chemistry of Joy

Our mood, outlook and energy levels are determined to a huge extent by the chemicals serotonin, dopamine, norepinephrine and their relationship to one another.

We feel good when they are in balance. Beta endorphins also create a feeling of well-being, connectedness to others, and emotional stability. They even help us tolerate pain.

  • If levels of norepinephrine and dopamine are low, people will slow down, sleep a lot, have trouble concentrating and find it hard to motivate themselves. They can have a “sluggish” depression.
  • On the other hand, people with high levels of norepinephrine and dopamine, and possibly low levels of serotonin often feel angry, resentful and despairing. They can be critical and demanding. This would be an “agitated ” depression.
  • A third kind of depression can occur with low levels of serotonin, which results in people feeling fearful , worried and inadequate. This is an “anxious” depression.

maui-making-tea

In the Kitchen by Peggy

  • Sluggish Depression – Eating to INCREASE norepinephrine and dopamine: 
    Eat high quality proteins throughout the day, lean beef, low-fat meats and fish.
  • Agitated Depression – Eating to DECREASE norepinephrine and dopamine:
    eat the same as to increase serotonin but eat very small amounts of protein. A vegetarian diet would be good.
  • Anxious Depression – Eating to INCREASE serotonin:
    Increase carbs, eat tryptophan, which is in nuts, dairy, and meats. Eat regularly throughout the day. Get some protein, but not a large amount.

SUGAR (also alcohol) elevates beta endorphins, which may be why people have sugar cravings. This elevation only lasts a short time, because the body metabolizes it quickly. This results in a “low” that follows the sugar “high”, and you want more sugar! My friend (who shall remain nameless) can avoid this by eating complex carbs and protein.

Cholesterol helps the brain make the chemicals we need. So if you are depressed, eat some fat: Halibut, salmon, grains and nuts that have omega 3 and animal fat with omega 6 are both needed in balance.

    *    *     *

Hopefully my friend will not only read this post but start to eat better.  To make sure, I’ll suggest it for the book we are working on . . . 

“Hacking Your Way to Happiness” (It’s a work in progress, just like my friend). 

Peggy

Frankly Freddie, Help make my Chanukah Merry & Christmas Happy*

Dear all my fans,

I’m here to help promote a petalicious book because my human and her blog-buddy Peggy Arndt are loath to toot their own horns, which is a human expression I fail to understand but because you are mostly human I think you know what I mean . . . but I digress.

If you’ve read CATNIPblog you know that it is dedicated to Peggy’s cat Maui even though I maintain it should be dedicated to me, Freddie, since I do most of the work . . . but I digress.

Peggy has FINALLY after years and years of prodding published the children’s book she wrote for her granddaughter about her cat Maui who regained use of his paralyzed back legs. He did it by re-patterning his brain, even though I doubt Maui knew that’s what he was doing. That’s why, so they tell me, CATNIPblog is dedicated to Maui, because the blog is about how neuroscience research helps humans . . . but I digress.

Here’s the skinny, which is another human saying so ridiculous even human’s don’t know what it means:

Freddie Parker Westerfield, not Maui Arndt

“The Pulling, Climbing, Falling Down Tale of

Maui and His Back Legs”

 is now published on Kindle

*You have two choices to help make me happy & merry

1.  Because you are my friend I’ve convinced Peggy you give you a free PDF copy of her book In return she will give me 5 minutes of scratching and petting for each downloaded PDF.

Here’s the link to a FREE PDF copy of Maui:

The Pulling, Climbing, Falling Down Tale of Maui and His Back Legs

 . . . . . If you download the PDF please put a brief review (even  one sentence will do) e-mail me at PeggyJudyTime@gmail.com

 . . . and I’ll get another 5 minutes of body bliss.

Or better yet . . . for each book bought I get a Doggie cookie treat!

2. BUY THE BOOK on Kindle – it’s cheap, the book that is, not Peggy. The Kindle link is:

“The Pulling, Climbing, Falling Down Tale of Maui and His Back Legs”

THANK YOU for all the scratches and treats which I love almost as much as I love you . . . well that’s probably a slight exaggeration but it’s called “marketing”.

Frankly,

Freddie Parker Westerfield, CDMDSCN6554

Canine Director of Marketing

Maui and His Back Legs. PDF 

A Happiness Hack – Splish Splash

Each month we post “Happiness Hacks” on Catnipblog. They are quick and easy ways, based on scientific research, to lift your mood.

We are compiling them into a book, but want to share them here with you.

img_0002_2

I love waterfalls!  

One of my favorite places to go is the Columbia River Gorge, an area with the highest concentration of waterfalls in North America.  There are over 90!  I love it there and I will hike uphill for miles to see the waterfalls.

All my life I’ve loved the rain, going to the beach, having a water fountain in my yard, and taking showers. They all make me happy. Now I know why – negative ions.

Negative ions are produced by falling water and create changes in our levels of serotonin, a neurotransmitter that relieves stress, increases energy and reduces depression

“Negative ions increase the flow of oxygen to the brain; resulting in higher alertness, decreased drowsiness, and more mental energy.” 

WebMD. Pierce J. Howard, PhD

The WebMD article goes on to say “The air circulating in the mountains and the beach is said to contain tens of thousands of negative ions — Much more than the average home or office building, which contain dozens or hundreds, and many register a flat zero.”

Want to get negative ions?

  • Take a walk by a river or stream.
  • Walk in the rain.
  • Go to the beach.
  • Run in the sprinklers.
  • Have a water fight in a pool.
  • Hike to a waterfall.
  • Sit by a fountain.
  • Buy a negative ion generator for your home.
  • Or . . .  just take a shower.

(I didn’t list “wash dishes by hand” or “scrub the floor on your knees” because I believe adding detergent to water MIGHT create positive ions which we all know are not mood elevators . . .)

(PA)

References:

“Negative Ions Create Positive Vibes” By Denise Mann, WebMD, June 2, 2003.
The Owners Manual for the Brain: Everyday Applications from Mind Brain, by Pierce J. Howard, PhD
Biopsychology of Mood and Arousal, by Robert E. Thayer,

 

Sneak Peek – Be Careful what I ask for . . .

My last life drawing post Nude No More I complained that the models were wearing clothes.  WELL!  This last model was nude AND geeeeeeeorgeous:  Tall, long, lean limbs, beautiful body, beautiful face, long blond hair and she was really nice . . .  I was soooooooo jealous.

2 minute warm-up, charcoal

10 minute pose, charcoal on back of cereal box

10 minute pose, charcoal on back of cereal box

Some of the models never talk to the students.  During their breaks they retreat to the dressing place or focus on their cell phones.  This model was personable, looked at the drawings and chatted.  

I was soooooooo jealous and told her not to come back until her body matched the lumps and bumps on our drawings.

Sneak Peek – Nude No More

I was soooooo frrrrrrustrated in the last two life drawing class . . . the models were clothed . . .  sensuous lines of flesh, shadows high-lighting skin tones replaced by FABRIC . . . arrrrrrgh.

Two different poses – charcoal sketches on same paper

I pretended they were naked . . . 

Conte Crayon, 2 minute sketch
Charcoal, 2 minute sketch  (my favorite)

UNTIL I COULD PRETEND NO MORE .

Pencil drawing on back of cereal box 

Sneak a Peek – Cereal Box Art

Practice makes perfect . . . so they say . . . I’m practicing using just 3 colors burnt Umber, raw Siena and white.

Deflated Apple

These are all studies in value which is training my eye to see darks, lights and midtones.  It’s easier when using just one or two colors and right now I’m all for easier.

Plumped up Apple

The biggest problem using the back of food boxes is I have to eat the food first.

Sneak Peek at My Alien Babies Painted on Boxes

Needing a bit of variety (getting bored with just drawing nudes), I signed up for a beginning painting class.

In order to not take myself too seriously and give myself permission to experiment I’m painting on the inside of cereal boxes.  Canvas seemed much too intimidating and . . . the cereal boxes are free.

It’s a beginning oil painting class but 3 of us are using acrylic paint.  Acrylic is water based, dries fast (helps with my boredom quotient) and doesn’t have stinky solvent.  For the first lesson the teacher sent us a picture of a black and white alabaster bust of a small innocent looking child.

It’s challenging to say the least.  My paintings turned into alien babies.  After being initially aghast at how I transformed the innocent little child into someone from the outer realms I started to have fun painting alien babies.
Cereal box Alien Baby in Acrylic
Cereal box Alien Babies
Cereal Box Alien Baby

Sneak Peek into my Sketchy Life

My “art” posts are a bit sporadic, as is my energy.  Have missed several classes cuz I is too pooped to pop . . . or in this case draw.

The life drawing class starts with very fast – today it was 30 seconds – warm-up sketches.  These “quickies” are just to capture a single aspect of the model, like the way the body is .  The poses for the remainder of the class range anywhere from 10 to 20 minutes.

 15 minute poses

I’ve discovered I don’t have a lot of patience and am into “quickies”.

Two 30 second warm-up poses drawn on the same page.
 

I remember I don’t remember being hung-over

I have little, VERY little, memories of my childhood or adolescence – or adulthood for that matter.  It concerned me when a therapist colleague said “not remembering” was an indication of repressed memory probably of horrible childhood trauma.  Ai yiiii yiiiiii.  Maybe I was beaten, or worse, and all these years believing I had nice parents.

I told a psychiatrist friend about my memory “affliction”thinking he would suggest decades of psycho-analysis at best and in-patient treatment at worst.  He looked passively at me and without the slightest hesitation said, “All that indicates is your childhood was boring.”

This is one of my aha moments that I DO remember and spurred me to investigate the neuro-biology of emotion.  What does that have to do with hang-over?  Read on!

Hung Over by Peggy

Excerpts from:

You already know without a doubt that most of your memories are ones that were highly emotional experiences.

“Emotional experiences can induce physiological and internal brain states that persist for long periods of time after the emotional events have ended, a team of New York University scientists has found. This study, which appears in the journal Nature Neuroscience,also shows that this emotional “hangover” influences how we attend to and remember future experiences.”

“How we remember events is not just a consequence of the external world we experience, but is also strongly influenced by our internal states–and these internal states can persist and color future experiences,”explains Lila Davachi, an associate professor in NYU’s Department of Psychology and Center for Neural Science and senior author of the study.”

“‘Emotion’ is a state of mind, . . . findings make clear that our cognition is highly influenced by preceding experiences and, specifically, that emotional brain states can persist for long periods of time.”’

” . . . data showed that the brain states associated with emotional experiences carried over for 20 to 30 minutes and influenced the way the subjects processed and remembered future experiences that are not emotional.”

“We see that memory for non-emotional experiences is better if they are encountered after an emotional event,” observes Davachi.

I’m so relieved!  Not only wasn’t I beaten . . . or worse . . .  the biggest hang-over I’ve experienced was the result of my exceptionally boring life.

(jw)

Initially posted on CATNIPblog.com

*To read the entire article, who the authors are and the research behind it click HERE.

Sunday Sermon, Part IV, Two Wings of a Bird

“Science is not only compatible with spirituality; it is a profound source of spirituality. When we recognize our place in an immensity of light-years and in the passage of ages, when we grasp the intricacy, beauty, and subtlety of life, then that soaring feeling, that sense of elation and humility combined, is surely spiritual … “

Carl Sagan (1934-1996)

Hold up your hand for just a second.  Feel anything?

At any given second 100 trillion neutrinos are passing through your body  . . .RIGHT NOW.

The majority of neutrinos in the vicinity of the Earth are from nuclear reactions in the Sun. The solar neutrino flux for us on Earth is about 65 billion neutrinos, passing through just one square centimeter of area on earth, every second.  That’s a lot of neutrinos and we are not able to see them, sense them nor understand them.

There is so much, too much, that is not perceivable to our limited senses nor explainable by our reason.

I was a psychotherapist in private practice for 30 years.  Not only did people share their fears and sorrows but unexplainable encounters with spirits, near death experiences and life altering experiences with the divine. I admit I was sometimes skeptical.  Over time it became impossible, to dismiss what intelligent, discerning people shared.  

I now think of science as one wing and religion as the other wing of a bird; a bird needs two wings for flight, one alone would be useless . . .  

 . . .  and I circled back to my study of faith and my belief we live a domino life where when one falls we all fall, where one succeeds we all succeed.   I discovered two faiths I’d not originally studied – Unitarian Universalism and Baha’i. They not only complemented each other but each offered something a bit different.  

Baha’is believe in and share all the UU principles:  

  1. The inherent worth and dignity of every person;
  2. Justice, equity and compassion in human relations;
  3. Acceptance of one another and encouragement to spiritual growth;
  4.  A free and responsible search for truth and meaning;
  5. The right of conscience and the use of the democratic process;
  6. The goal of world community with peace, liberty, and justice for all;

. . . and most importantly the 7th UU principle –

Respect for the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part.

The Baha’i World Faith brought me full circle back to childhood and to God but it wasn’t the God of fear but of love.

When I read the three core principles which are the basis for Bahá’í teachings and doctrine: the unity of God, the unity of religion, and the unity of humanity From these stems the belief that God periodically reveals his will through divine messengers: MuhammadJesusMoses, Zoroaster, Buddha, Krishna the Bab and Bahá’u’lláh.  It was an “ah-ha moment for me that all establishers of religion. the great religions of the world, represent successive stages in the spiritual evolution of human society. That religion is seen as orderly, unified, and progressive from age to age unexpectedly resonated.

Through decades of trials and tribulations I realize the magical thinking in my childhood, that the world revolved around me, wasn’t quite accurate . . . however,

. . .  perhaps some magical thinking persists 60+ years later.   Every morning I say a Baha’i prayer for family, friends, acquaintances,  past clients and a prayer for those who have passed.  The recitation of all the people grows longer each day and takes longer than the prayers . . . The difference between then and now is my prayers are steeped in love, not terror. 

        *          *           *

I’m attending a sermon writing workshop led by Kent Doss, the reverend at Tapestry Unitarian Universalist Congregation – not because I plan to deliver sermons but because I’m fascinated how ministers, rabbi’s, priests and preachers write and deliver something inspiring enough to capture the imagination and stir humans to transformative right action. week after week after week which seems a daunting undertaking.  

To read Part I, The Interconnectedness of All Beings click HERE

Read Part II, Head & Heart click HERE

Read Part III – Stardusted, click HERE

 

 

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