In uncertain times we all need help to calm our fears so that our bodies are not flooded with stress hormones & neurochemicals.
A placebo is NOT imaginary but creates biological changes in the brain that actually ease our symptoms and are very similar to the biological changes when we take drugs.
There are many DOCUMENTED placebo effects, depending on what we think a treatment is going to do for us. Examples:
- Fake painkillerscause the release of natural painkillers in the brain called endorphinsand work through the same biochemical pathway that an opiod painkiller would work through.
- A Parkinson’s patient takes a placebo they think is their Parkinson’s drug, they get a flood ofdopaminein the brain, which is exactly what you would see with the real drug.
- Altitude sickness – someone at altitude inhales fake oxygen, there’s a reduction in prostaglandinswhich actually work to dilate blood vessels that cause many of the symptoms of altitude sickness.
Some explanations for the placebo effect
Stress and anxiety— if we feel that we are in danger or under threat, the brain raises its sensitivity to symptoms like pain. Whereas, if we feel safe and cared for and things are going to get better soon, we relax and are not so alert to symptoms.
Physiological mechanisms like conditioning* – We can all be conditioned to have physiological responses to a stimulus, even immune responses. For example, take a pill that suppresses your immune system and on another occasion take a similar looking placebo pill, with no active drug, your body will mimic same immune response. Astonishingly, it doesn’t even matter if you know it’s a placebo.
Stress can rewire the brain — and create more stress
Like a muscle, the more you exercise any part the stronger it gets.
Brains are shaped by our thoughts and behaviors. Research shows your brain structure, neurochemical and electrical activity responds to and reflects how you think throughout your life. For example: If you play a musical instrument, speak a second language, train for athletics for eight hours a day – the parts of your brain responsible for performing those activities gets more active and larger.
If you’re thinking stressful thoughts for the whole day parts of the brain involved in the stress response get larger and other parts of the brain actually deteriorate. Consequently, the very brain circuits we need to counter stress no longer work as well as they should.
It’s not as simple as saying, “I’m going to change how I think now. I’m not feeling stressed.” It takes a long time to change your brain.
In the middle of your face – your personal placebo “pill”
When stressed, the brain influences your body AND the body influences your brain. The stress response speeds up your breathing to pump more oxygen when your brain perceives danger, either real or imaginary. If you deliberately speed up your breathing when not stressed you’ll start to feel more aroused and on edge. The opposite is true: Slow your breathing down, forcing your body into a more relaxed state. Your brain responds with more calming thoughts and feelings.
Condition your own calming response using your breath . . . salivating optional.
Click below to read two ways to slow your breathing down:
* Ivan Pavlov, a physiologist, conditioned dogs so that whenever he gave them food he made a noise, like ring a bell. Eventually the dogs associated the bell with their food and they would salivatejust to the sound of the bell.
Non-stop writing, stream of consciousness, free writing . . . it doesn’t matter what you call it – it can change your brain, change your day.
I’m not being overly dramatic as there is a body of research which shows that
simply putting pen to paper changes your brain to reduce anxiety & stress.
Easy Peasy Writing How-to
Choose a focus – a situation, feeling, thought and create a “topic Sentence”
If you can’t think of a specific begin with
“When I ____________”, Right this moment I am thinking . . . ” , “I am feeling . . .”,
“I can’t think of anything to write because . . . “
It can be anything in the past, the present or the future.
- Use a pen that writes smoothly and comfortable to your hand.
Don’t use a keyboard since the act of writing with your hand is important. Your small muscle movement is expressive (much like artistic expression, your handwriting is unique to you). It doesn’t matter if it’s legible or beautiful as your hand movement registers with your brain in ways that tapping out letters on a keyboard do not.
- Set a timer for approximately 20 minutes. It takes that long for your unconscious brain to push through your logical thinking processes.
- Use a journal, a piece of paper, a brown bag- it doesn’t matter.
- Start with your “topic sentence”,thought, feeling . . . just start.
- Write continuously for 20 minutes, never letting the pen stop. If your mind goes blank simply makes loop-d-loops with the pen until you have words to put down. Write quickly, spontaneously, intuitively. It doesn’t matter what you write just put down on paper where your mind takes you.
- Do not be concerned about spelling, punctuation or grammar.
- Do not be concerned if it doesn’t make sense.
Read research: How Writing About Past FailuresMay Help You Succeed In The Present
Affect labeling—the act of naming one’s emotional state—helps blunt the immediate impact of negative feelings and begin the process of reducing stress.
Ina small study* of 30 subjects, researchers conducted a series of brain-imaging experiments in which participants were shown frightening faces and asked to choose a word that described the emotion on display. Labeling the fear-inducing object appeared to:
- Reduce activity in the amygdala, the part of the brain in which the fight or flight reflex originates.
- Increased activity in the right ventrolateral prefrontal cortex, which is associated with vigilance and symbolic processing.
- The brain’s perception of the images shifted from objects of fear to subjects of scrutiny.
- Experientially, the fact that there is a name for what you’re going through means that other people have experienced it as well, which makes an overwhelming emotion feel less isolating.
How to “Affect label”
30 seconds . . . as long as you don’t count the 15 minutes of moving.
*The University of California, Los Angeles. Study led by psychology professor Matthew Lieberman,
Diaphragmatic breathing is the best known and one of the most powerful breath exercises to reduce the stress response, get oxygen flowing to your brain and in your body.
If you’re constantly and chronically stressed out, sleep-deprived, malnourished, or dehydrated over time your immune function will weaken.
Longer, deeper breaths into your abdomen, slows your heart rate and activates the calming, parasympathetic nervous system.
The most basic type of diaphragmatic breathing is done by inhaling through your nose and breathing out through your mouth. However, exhaling through your nose allows you to do this in public places.
Sit in a comfortable position or lie flat on the floor, your bed, or another comfortable, flat surface.
Relax your shoulders.
To feel your diaphragm move as you breathe place one hand on your upper chest and the other just below your ribs on your stomach.
Take a slow, full breath in through your nose for about two seconds. Experience the air moving through your nostrils into your abdomen, making your stomach expand. During this type of breathing, make sure your stomach is moving outward while your chest remains relatively still.
(your hand below your ribs moves in and out with each breath).
Press gently on your stomach, and exhale slowly for about two seconds through your nose (or mouth) and tighten your diaphragm
(just like squeezing a lemon to get all the juice out)
The hand on your upper chest should remain as still as possible throughout.
Repeat these steps several times for best results.
It may take you a bit of effort at first to do this cuz it ain’t the usual way you breathe.
With continued practice, diaphragmatic breathing becomes easier, Easier, EASIER.
After you get the hang of it, you can practice diaphragmatic breathing . . . without using your hand.
Judy’s Self Reflection
I’m not a worrier by nature but during the past weeks and all the uncertainty about Covid-19 spreading throughout the world plus the fact that I have underlying medical conditions (I’m not mentioning my age!)I have had trouble falling asleep.
Tossing and turning, it took me 2 hours to realize my entire body was tense.
I relaxed my muscles. They tensed up again. I relaxed again. Muscles from head to toe tensed up again and again as if I were a trained athlete who had practiced so many times my muscle memory was so strong practice was no longer needed.
Flashing before my eyes was every therapy session I’ve ever had with anyone who had anxiety, PTSD, was a caretaker, had a sick loved one, experienced loss of any kind, anticipated loss, was in pain or had a medical condition. . . .
I know that our brains automatically perceive danger in any emotional, physical or imagined threat and sends signals to our bodies to ready us to flee or fight off our enemy. Muscle tension is needed for running like hell or slugging it out – now’s not the time to relax if you want to live.
The opposite of DANGER is SAFETY
I’ve taught one of the very best, easiest mind-body techniques that calms the brain hundreds, maybe thousands, of times. It absolutely works and only took me an hour of tossing and turning to remember to use it myself.
Best of all it requires no Rx, no money, no time and you take it with you where ever you go.
Safe Signal Breath:
1. Take a deep breath through your nose.
2. Hold the breathfor just a moment
3. As you release the breath, through your nose, very gently, silently say: “Thank you brain, I’m safe.”(Be kind to your brain. It’s just trying to keep you from being eaten alive.)
Our brains are relatively simple in that brains can not tell the difference between when we are actually in danger (anxiety is our brain’s way of keeping us on alert for danger so we can survive) or when we imagine danger through thoughts or other cues.
Imagine a snake, a spider, anything that you are afraid of. Your brain will signal “danger! danger!” and flood your cells with the neurochemistry of fear. Watch a sad movie and your brain will flood you with the neurochemistry of sadness and, if you are like me, sob like a baby.
So, tell your brain you are safe and it will stop the neurochemistry of fear and anxiety.
It’s not instant cup’o’soup because once you are flooded with the anxious feeling it will take about 20 minutesor so for the neurochemistry to metabolize out of your body’s cells. No matter how you FEEL keep giving your brain the “I’m Safe” cue.
Here’s the Key for Continual or Chronic Threats
Yoga, meditation, mindfulness prayer, listening to relaxation recordings all help. However, to break into a CHRONIC cycle you need to chronically signal your brain to stop sending the neurochemistry of the stress response to your body. Let your brain know that no one is throwing grenades at you, animals are not trying to eat you alive, you are SAFE.
Continually “Sprinkle” the Breath/I’m safe cue throughout the day and evening. It’s a good idea to get a cue(s) to remind yourself to do this. A post-it-note on the bathroom mirror, every time your phone rings, a note in your appointment book etc.
You HAVE to breathe anyway so you’ve got nothing to lose — except your stress response!
My Self Realization
I figured out that I had a legitimate reason to be anxious while virus swirl around the world looking for bodies to inhabit.
Dr. Janet Tomiyama has been trying to figure out if eating because of stress works for us. Here is a summary of her findings:
- Rats were given access to comfort food — usually Crisco mixed with sugar!
- Researchers then stressed them out
- Over time, the comfort food actually dampened their stress hormones
- Dampened down their brain’s responsivity to stress
- Dampened down the signaling between the brain and the rest of the body, so they didn’t secrete as many stress hormones.
We tend to be critical of people who eat because of stress BUT “Not just psychologically, but also biologically — people who do a lot of comfort eating tend to show a reduced level of stress hormones and stress.”
What’s happening, according to Tomiyama:
- “When you do anything that’s rewarding to you the reward parts of your brain light up — those parts of the brain can dampen down areas of your brain that are freaking out with negative emotion. And that’s why comfort foods tend to be foods that are high in sugar and fat. They’re really rewarding; they really do light up the reward centers of our brains.”
- There’s also some work showing that when you do comfort eating, it builds up fat in your belly region and that fat pad sends a signal to your brain to decrease the amount of stress hormones that you’re producing.
- Then there’s conditioning. If throughout your whole life, you’ve paired stress relief with comfort foods over and over again, then soon enough, your body is going to automatically respond to eating these comfort foods with relaxation.
Many people have had the experience of being given comfort food to cheer us up as kids. Part of the comfort t then came from bing cared for but that became associated with the food, which now gives us comfort on its own.
“in addition to rodents, we also see comfort eating working in some non-human primate species as well. So my main take home from this is self-compassion: You’re not doing the comfort eating because you’re some sort of weak-willed human being; you’re biologically driven to do this. ” says Tomiyama.
What Tomiyama is trying to do now, is to see if healthy foods can also be comforting. Even in rat studies only unhealthy foods were used. Therein some data from surveys that say there are people who do use healthy foods for stress.
“Nobody stress-eats strawberries, do they?”
Actually, strawberries might work she reports. Anything sweet can dampen stress.
We’ll eat to that!
Yay. Sure. 100%. When I meditate it’s 50%-50% at best. My monkey mind swings from trees with great abandon, my thoughts rambling, rumbling and wildly roaming.
When the stress, thinking of “doing nothing” for 20 minutes, negates benefits here’s 6 alternative forms of meditation:
(I’ve tried five of them- and they work. You can guess which one I’ve ignored)
1. Take a Musical Bath
2. Dance When NO ONE Watches
Dancing is the natural progression from listening to music. Many of us have had the horrible feeling of dancing while being stuck in self-conscious over thinking and paranoid about how we look.
Meditative dance is ignoring everything that is going on outside our own body and becoming one with the music. Flay your arms, sway your hips, roll your eyes – Let go of protecting your self image, have fun and even be silly.
3. Draw with your eyes
Drawing is less about talent and more about learning to see. Thinking actually can get in the way so that’s why this exercise is meditative.
(Don’t worry about what it’s going to look like, it’s the meditative process that counts not the Museum of Modern Art.)
By drawing without looking you use your sight perception to get out of your head- what you THINK it should look like – and be in the moment.
- Choose what to draw — a cup, your foot, a chair, it doesn’t matter.
- Set a timer for 10 or 20 minutes.
- Arrange yourself so you can see the object you will be drawing without seeing the paper. Put your pencil through a paper plate so you can’t see your paper.
- Focus your eyes on some part of the object and coordinate your eye moving around the outline (contours) of the object with moving your pencil to record what your eyes observe.
- Without looking at your hand, your paper or your pencil focus only on the shape of an object.
Do not look down at the paper as you SLOWLY move the pencil, concentrating on the lines, and contours of the object as you let your pencil “flow” in time with your eyes.
- Continue observing and recording until the timer rings
Just like any meditation practice, this exercise can be difficult at first but will become easier as you learn to shift your thinking from an analytical, labeling mode to one that is more intuitive, MEDITATIVE.
Not only is yoga incredible for flexibility, balance and strength, it’s also one of the oldest forms of meditation. You combining various movements with coordinated breathing to help focus on your inner body.
Watch yoga videos on YouYube, there’s hundreds to choose from – and practice them a few times a week.
Don’t get caught up with all the bells and whistles, yoga is about feeling connected to the earth and your inner body. (The last time I checked your feet were already touching ground.)
5. Meditative Munching
Remember, the power of meditation comes with practicing full focus. When your mind strays return to taste, texture, temperature. Eating in front of the TV, in the car or standing over the sink only encourages the monkeys to leap around.
Eat slowly, savor each bite – focus on the textures, flavors, aromas and the temperature. (And while you’re chewing, feel grateful for each bite of nourishment.)
6. Restore with Chores
(We’ve gone from what I consider the most enjoyable – eating – to the least)
Chores can be meditative WHEN you focus solely on what your are doing. Your monkey mind will try and take over to keep you entertained and stimulated.
Just as in all meditative practices keep refocusing your monkey mind on the task at hand: Washing dishes – focus on the temperature of water, seeing the pot become cleaner and cleaner; Mowing the lawn – examine the cutting patterns, inhale the aroma of cut grass; Making the bed – notice the feel, color, wrinkles of sheets, the tension of folds, your hand motion . . .
(Personally, I’d rather monkey around.)
There is unprecedented anxiety in the entire world due to the pandemic. Fear and anxiety is a normal response to unknown threats to our survival and well-being. The problem for all of us is prolonged and chronic anxiety which elevates the stress response and lowers our immune response.
We have searched all our posts which address stress and anxiety to give you some tools to incorporate into your daily life and better cope with uncertainty.
Have a look at these past posts:
And from Curious to the Max:
For the Foodie
If you don’t know what a “foodie” is you are probably around the same age as Peggy & Judy. For all you “oldies” . . . “gastronome” and “epicure” define the same thing. If you don’t know what gastronome and epicure mean it’s a person who enjoys food for pleasure.
- Have a picnic on the floor (benefit-no ants, just dust).
- Get takeout. Support independent restaurants which are hurting right now by eating their food. It’s reported that takeout service Grubhub will stop collecting commission of up to $100 million to support independent restaurants that use their service. (Just make sure you limit your contact with the delivery driver and wash your hands after unpacking the food.)
- Have your own wine tasting of whatever bottles you have. No wine? Have a tea-tasting.
- Make a new recipe, like dog biscuits.
- Perfect grandma’s special recipe.
- Make coffee, and study how many beans you use, which types, how hot the water is, how long it brews and whether any of that even makes a difference.
- Read your cookbooks and find new culinary sites on the internet.
- Make doggie biscuits – peanut butter should be the #1 ingredient
- Watch “The Great British Baking Show,” and bake something with the ingredients you have on hand
- Organize your spice rack alphabetically.
- Make a cocktail or mocktail (if you don’t know what a mocktail is you’re over the age of 21) Don’t forget the garnish.
- Cook something special – make a double recipe and give half to an elderly neighbor and the other half to your dog.
To better control your anxiety and stress every single one of you has all the equipment you need:
A pair of lungs and a nose.
Slow, deep breathing hacks your brain’s chemistry, resets the autonomic nervous system and activates the parasympathetic nervous system that calms and relaxes the body reduces anxiety and stress.
Inhale and exhale through your nose*
Inhale deeply for a count of four
Exhale for a count of four
Repeat 4 times
(Can’t get easier than this IF you know how to breathe and count to 4)
It’s best, during really stressful times, to so this breathing exercise throughout the day and evening. You can do it anytime and anywhere . . . even lying down or upside down.
*Nasal breathing is better than mouth breathing: Your lungs extract oxygen from the air and the absorption of oxygen happens mostly on exhalation. Exhaling through the nose (because it’s smaller than your mouth) creates greater air pressure and therefore a slower exhalation. Your lungs get extra time to extract a greater amount of oxygen.
Coloring books aren’t just for kids anymore. Adults have discovered coloring provides a brief focus, away from the world within and the world around us. It’s a form of meditation: Concentrated visual focus on color, patterns and repetitive motion are hallmarks of the meditative process.
We’ve picked out some Curious Critters that lend themselves for for quick & easy coloring. Embellish them, add patterns, squiggles and make them your own.
Click on the download at the bottom
Get out your crayons or colored pencils
CREATE your own meditation.
(Don’t want to meditate? Color with a child!)
Scroll down for more posts in this series.
Here are some fun, FREE resources for social distancing and self isolation-check them out!
Online University learning of all kinds of subjects
Join Coursera for free and learn online. Courses from top universities like Yale, Michigan, Stanford, Imperial College-London, Tel Aviv University, Duke, Johns Hopkins, University of Cape Town, University of Tokyo etc. . . . and leading companies like Google and IBM.
I (judy) have taken 2 of the courses and they were excellent. Since I don’t need any more degrees or certifications I never did the papers or took the tests . . . just watched the lectures and did the reading. There is a large catalogue of classes from colleges and universities all over the WORLD. Fabulous resource.
Online exercise classes – Planet Fitness
Planet Fitness, one of the nation’s largest chain gyms, is offering free online exercise classes
The at-home workouts are streaming on the company’s Facebook page, open to anyone, including non-members.
Because I love all of you I (Peggy) sacrificed myself and tried two Planet Fitness on-line workouts.
I tried 2 Planet fitness workouts. They were actually great! The instructors made it easy to follow all the exercises, all of which could be modified to easier levels.
To make sure all of you could do the routines I did the easier levels, even though I didn’t NEED to, of course . . .
I am recovering from a sprained ankle and didn’t want to jump on my foot, so I was clever enough to figure out ways to keep both feet on the ground. (I couldn’t think of other excuses to modify more exercises but carefully watched how they were done.)
Instructors do warm ups and cool downs. Have a chair handy and water. You get 15 second rests in between the exercises.
Another thing I liked is the instructor stopped exercising in order to continue talking. That allowed me to stop early too so I could hear what he was saying without the distraction of exercising . . . The workouts are scheduled for 4pm PST. I was late but no one said anything. There are many workout videos on the Planet Fitness Facebook page so if you’re late I’m positive they’ll let you in the class.
Fun things to do from NASA for kids and adults
“NASA’s website has a plethora of opportunities for kids and adults alike to learn more about astronomy and spaceflight. Whether you want to be an astronaut, kill some time learning about the universe or help the agency work on future space exploration activities, there’s no lack of things to do.”
“So, if you’re looking for a little out-of-this-world escape while you’re stuck at home, There is a list of free space-themed activities from NASA to keep you occupied.”
The National Park Service is waiving entrance fees at all national parks that remain open during the coronavirus pandemic in an effort to aid public social distancing.
Dear Freddie Fans,
Because I’m not allowed to go anywhere without a leash I KNOW how to cope. This week I will share what you humans can do. Since I’m Editor-in-Canine-Chief for several blogs I have a trove of posts to share with you. Here’s today’s bit of my wisdom.
Get out of the house. Just remember to keep 6 feet of distance from other people, Find an area where you won’t encounter crowds.
- Pot a plant
- Repot house plants.
- Weed, mulch, rake & mow
- Start birdwatching. Coronavirus hasn’t bothered birds. Download a birdwatching map. Sit in your backyard or near a window.
- Take a brisk walk You can still exercise – It helps your immune system be strong.*
- Go on a stroll. Sniff around and clear your mind.
- Sit outside & breathe fresh air. Notice things about the world around you that you didn’t see before.
- Bike ride.
- Meditate, journal, draw in your yard or patio.
Resting after munching the lawn, bird watching, walking and sniffing.
*Exercise which increases immunity and reduces the stress response . . . even if it’s marching in place for 5 minutes without a leash.
Take a 10 minute walk outside – 5 minutes out and 5 minutes back. The colors of nature are also calming to the brain.
Sports fans are going bonkers since all the games are canceled or have no spectators. Don’t go bonkers it’s not becoming, unless you are in a parking lot, eating hot dogs and drinking beer from the back of your pick-up truck. Do these things instead:
- Become an expert. Read up on your sport so that when your team starts playing again, you’ll have even greater insight into the game.
- Show your team some love. Tweet them a positive message or send them a photo of you wearing team gear in solidarity.
- Even better, support a charity that your favorite player loves.
- PLAY FETCH
- Practice painting your face in the colors of your favorite team. Keep your “art work” above the neck. Bare chests make you look like an “animal”.
- Revisit an old game. You know the one – The game that made you fall in love with the sport. If you have a subscription to a sport-specific streaming service, check if they have your favorite game. YouTube has clips of large collection of games.
- Play Keep-Away or Dodge Ball. No yard? Use balloons
- Watch sports documentaries about games of the past and present.
- Donate all your clothes that aren’t in the colors of your favorite team.
- Pretend you’re an athlete and do calisthentics. (If you don’t know what calisthenitics are do jumping jacks).
- PLAY FETCH
- Go Bonkers!
The constant flood of precautions and warnings, whether it’s from the medical authorities or recirculated, dubiously-sourced information on social media, can take a toll on our mental health.
The uncertainty of what a pandemic portends for our future, the drastic changes it means for the present can be unnerving.
It’s ok, it’s normal, to feel anxious and stressed when everything familiar has seemingly come to a halt in the entire world and when experts, whom we normally turn to, have no answers, no treatments and are impacted in the same way we are. We feel helpless and our fears are heightened when we can’t see or predict where the threat may strike.
Social Distancing for your Brain
Pare down your sources of information
- Continually tell yourself it’s ok not knowing every little thing because there will always be an update a click away.
- Don’t carry your phone around so you’re not tempted to check it.
- Leave your phone on a charging station, put it in “airplane mode” or turn off notifications
- Limit time on social media. Your friends and acquaintances filter what they share through their own fears and lenses.
- Unfriend those who are conspiracy theorists.
- Install social media apps or tools that limit access to content, or limit aimless scrolling.
- Schedule a set time, and no more, to get updates from reliable news or health organizations.
Hand-Washing for your Brain.
Don’t Chastise Yourself for Worrying
“You are allowed to worry or feel bad. When discussing how to talk to children about the coronavirus, health experts say people should acknowledge a child’s fear and let them know their feelings are valid.”
“Surely, you can afford yourself the same compassion. The key is to work toward understanding and contextualizing your fears so they don’t keep you from living your healthiest life.”
Name your Fears
A virus can’t be seen by the naked eye. It’s threat is abstract. Writing things down makes the worries concrete and stops your brain from going over and over the worries. Here’s what to write to reassure your brain that you’ll remember everything it’s been reminding you of. You may do all steps at once or over several days.
1. List what specific threats worry you. Do you think you will catch the coronavirus and die? (The fear of death taps into one of our core existential fears). Someone you love falls ill? Would you need treatment? What would happen if self quarantine was necessary? Not able to work? No access to support or childcare?
Keep writing small fears, big fears, rational and irrational, until you can’t think of anything else.
2. Mark the ones that are REALISTIC. Consider your personal risk and how likely it is that you will actually come in contact with the virus, lose work etc.
3. Write down what you are in CONTROL of – what you are currently doing and what you might consider doing.
4. Make a plan – Brainstorm options and write them down even if they seem out-of-reach or impractical. Being prepared for your fears will help keep them in scale.
5. Review and add, delete, rearrange, update all the steps frequently to keep your brain in the know.
Think Outside Yourself
Since action can allay our anxieties, also consider what you can do to help others who may be more affected by the outbreak than you. Service workers, medical workers, hourly workers and people in the restaurant or entertainment industries may have their livelihoods paralyzed or have to put themselves in disproportionate danger.
Talk to your brain: “Most of the precautions put in place to help stall the spread of the virus aren’t just for me. They’re intended to keep entire communities and vulnerable people safe.”
There are ways to reach out that don’t demand a lot of time or energy. Examples: Double the recipe you are making and give half to a neighbor, donate money, (if you have the means) to a reputable charity, write a letter or a note to someone in quarantine, e-mail friends who are isolated . . .
Seek Support Wisely
Talking to friends about the latest news, outbreak cluster or your family’s contingency plans is a good idea so you don’t feel alone. However, if you are overwhelmed, don’t seek out someone who also is overwhelmed. Find someone who does not support or inflame you on your anxiety and can provide some advice. Always consider professional help which can be short-term. Most psychotherapists and doctors are offering phone sessions. There are community agencies or religious clergy that are free or low fee.
Enforce or Create Healthy HABITS
Pay attention to your daily basic needs – healthy practices that affect your wellbeing.
If you haven’t practiced self-care, NOW is the time to create healthy habits that will last after this crisis is over.
- Get adequate sleep
- Have proper nutrition
- Go outside as much a possible
- Engage in regular physical activity
- Practicing mindfulness, prayer, meditation, yoga or other forms of self care can also help center you in routines and awareness, and keep your mind from wandering into worry and fear.
Remember! Fear and Anxiety is . . .
. . . overestimating the likelihood of something bad happening, and underestimating our capacity to deal with it.
Dear Freddie Fans,
Because I’m not allowed to go anywhere without a leash I KNOW how to cope. This week I will share what you humans can do. Since I’m Editor-in-Canine-Chief for several blogs I have a trove of posts to share with you.
CULTURED: characterized by refined taste and manners and good education.
cultivated, artistic, enlightened, civilized, educated, well read, well informed, discerning, discriminating
sophisticated, urbane, intellectual, scholarly, erudite
If you are lacking in any of these here’s what you can do:
- Download e-books and audiobooks and READ.
- Create a virtual book club and video call each other to discuss.
- Take a virtual museum tour. Many museums offer audio tours on your smart phone. The Smithsonian Museum of Natural History and the Guggenheim Museum are two that host online tours.
- Explore overseas? Google Arts & Culture has a collection of virtual walk-throughs for dozens of international museums, from Paris to New Delhi.
- Become a film critic. Write a review of the latest. Catch up recent Oscar winners and snubbed gems and share your thoughts on Facebook or Twitter. To exchange recommendations with your fellow cinephiles, join a site like Letterboxd, a social networking service for film geeks.
- Learn a language — or just the basics. Learning a few phrases in another tongue will make you feel smart.
- Bolster your vocabulary. Remember when reading the dictionary was a form of punishment? No longer. Flip through a thesaurus or take online quizzes to test your vocabulary.
Dear Freddie Fans,
Because I’m not allowed to go anywhere without a leash I KNOW how to cope. This week I will share what you humans can do. Since I’m Editor-in-Canine-Chief for several blogs I have a trove of posts to share with you. Each day I’ll share a bit of my wisdom.
Here’s my first recommendations for HUMANS
Ya Gotta Take Care of your Mental Health.
- Connect with family, friends. If you can’t get a scratch behind their ears you will have to settle for the phone, internet or writing a note or letter.
- Meditate, pray.
- Take a nap. One of my favorites.
- Video chat.
- Share funny messages on social media. Do NOT share conspiracy theories – leave theories to bonifide scientists.
- Take a warm bath.
- Take another bath.
- Go outside, get some fresh air and sunshine .
Keep your paws busy:
- Tackle a puzzle.
- Make art. Download my human’s free coloring pages.Click here for the PDF
- Humans like to knit, sew, paint
- Do all the stuff I’ve watched humans put off – taxes, clean closets.
- Play board games. Chess and checkers seem to be fun for humans . . . go figure
- Fix something around the house.
- Rearrange the furniture.
- Give yourself a manicure.
- Pet your pet.
- Brush your pet.
- Feed your pet.
- Give your pet treats
Tell me what you do to keep your paws busy!
See ya tomorrow.
Peggy is on the look-out for a long-haired kitty to adopt. After she reads this I hope she adopts a dog or . . . a lion.
- edited for precious blog space
- emphasized the scientific proof and
- pointed out the obvious (in red)
“Ask Daniel Mills, professor of veterinary behavioural medicine at the University of Lincoln, UK. In a recent study, Mills and his colleague Alice Potter demonstrated that cats are more autonomous and solitary than dogs. Carrying out the research for the project was as difficult as the cat’s reputation might suggest.“
“They are challenging if you want them to do certain things in a certain way,” says Mills. “They tend to do their own thing.”
“Cat owners (with the exception perhaps of Peggy) everywhere will sympathise. But why exactly are cats so reluctant to cooperate, either with each other or with a human? Or to flip the question around, why are so many other animals – wild and domestic – willing team players?”
1. It’s a well known that cats are greedy and don’t share. (Not nice).
” . . . domestic cats . . . hunt small animals. “You don’t want to be around somebody else when they’ve just caught a mouse, because they’re going to eat it whole,” Packer says. “It’s gone. There is not enough food to share.”
2. Cats are gate-crashers which is rude.
“All domesticated cats are descended from Middle Eastern wildcats, the “cat of the woods”. Humans did not coax those early cats out of the woods; the cats invited themselves into our grain storehouses, where an abundance of mice fed unchecked. Gate-crashing this mouse party marked the start of a truly symbiotic relationship. The cats loved the well-stocked storehouses, and the people appreciated the pest control.”
3. Cats are stubborn at best and unsociable at worst.
“They retain a large degree of independence and approach, or stay close to us, only when they want to,“says Dennis Turner, a cat expert and animal behaviourist at the Institute for Applied Ethology and Animal Psychology in Horgen, Switzerland.”
“Cats have evolved lots of mechanisms to keep themselves apart, which aren’t exactly conducive to herding,” says Mills. Cats spray their territory to help avoid awkward meetings with each other. If they do accidentally come face to face, the hackles rise and the claws come out.”
“In some circumstances it can appear that domestic cats have embraced group living; for instance, a colony living in a barn. But do not be fooled . . . “
“They’re very loose aggregations and they don’t have any real group identity,” he says. “They just have a common place they come to keep their kittens.”
“In keeping with their solitary, uncooperative reputation, cats turned out to be neurotic, impulsive and resistant to being ordered around.” (I didn’t say that the SCIENTISTS did).
4. Cats are uncooperative which creates unnecessary tension in an already tense world.
“In fact, even in the face of extreme danger, which often brings animals together to form a defensive unit, it is unlikely cats would cooperate. “It’s just not something that they typically do when they’re threatened,” says Monique Udell, a biologist at Oregon State University. Cats just do not believe in strength in numbers.”
“A study published in 2014 in the Journal of Comparative Psychologysaw scientists probe the personality traits of domestic cats. In keeping with their solitary, uncooperative reputation, cats turned out to be neurotic, impulsive and resistant to being ordered around.” (SCIENTISTS know.)
I rest my case. Please Peggy, get a cuddly canine. We don’t raise hackles or claw furniture.
Freddie Parker Westerfield, CCT, RET
If you don’t believe me here’s the full article:
Originally posted on Max your Mind. To see more from Max Your Mind, click here.
“It turns out that the answer to that question has to do with the bat’s status as the world’s only flying mammal.”
“During flight, a bat’s body temperature spikes to over 100 degrees Fahrenheit. Its heart rate can surge to more than 1,000 beats per minute.”
“For most land mammals, these are signals that would trigger death,” says Linfa Wang, who studies bat viruses at Duke-NUS Medical School in Singapore. But bats live it every day.”
Wang says it seems that bats have developed special immune systems to deal with the stress of flying.
“Their bodies make molecules that other mammals don’t have, which help repair cell damage. And their systems don’t overreact to infections, which keeps them from falling ill from the many viruses they carry (and also prevents conditions like diabetes and cancer).”
“This shows that it’s not always the virus itself but the body’s response to the virus that can make us sick, explains Wang.”
“Olival at EcoHealth Alliance says let’s be clear: it’s not the bats’ fault that people are getting diseases. “They’ve just sort of coevolved with these viruses and these bugs that basically don’t cause them any harm.”‘
“The problem, he says, is when the viruses jump to new species. And it’s human activity that makes that likely to happen.”
“In wildlife markets, like the one in Wuhan, Olival says animals that would rarely mix in nature come together. A bat in a cage could be stacked over a civet. And those animals are then mixed with humans — for example, butchers handling animals without gloves.”
“The way that we’re coming into contact with these animals, hunting, selling, and trading them is to a scale that really we haven’t seen before,” he says.”
“Investigators found traces of the virus in 22 stalls and a garbage truck at the Huanan Seafood Market in Wuhan, which also sold live animals. The market was shut down in early January, as it was tied to many of the early cases.”
“While the animal in the middle is still a mystery (some early reports point to pangolin), Wang says it’s easy to imagine how an infected animal could spread the virus to humans. “The animal can sneeze, the animal can urinate,” he says, “If a human touches [it] and blows their nose or whatever — they’ve got it.” Infection could also spread through eating undercooked meat.”
“And bat researchers stress that bats aren’t just a possible source of viruses. They play a hugely important role in Earth’s ecosystem. They eat tons of insects and pollinate plants and disperse seeds for hundreds of plant species. And they’ve found a way to coexist with the viruses they carry — which means, says Wang, that even though bats may be the source of viruses that affect humans, they could also be the source of potential therapies if we study their immune systems.”
In the interest of not spreading false information we have reproduced this article in it’s entirety.
An international research team suggests that humans are hardwired to favour leaning to the right while kissing their romantic partners, which may have wider implications for neuroscience and cognitive sciences.
“According to an academic study, published in the journal Scientific Reports, over two-thirds of the kiss initiators and the recipient of the kiss have a bias to turn their heads to the right and men were about 15 times more likely than women to initiate kissing.”
“Psychologists and neuroscientists at the universities of Bath Spa and Dhaka, Bangladesh, invited 48 married couples to kiss privately in their own homes, and after kissing they were asked to go to different rooms, open an envelope and then report on various aspects of the kiss independently of each partner.”
“The setting for the study was significant as kissing in Bangladesh is not typically observed in public and may censored from television or films. That means similar results from the western countries could be attributed to cultural factors or having learnt how to kiss through influences on TV or film.”
“Building on the previous studies from western countries, which have involved couples kissing in public places, this study is the first to investigate an inherent bias for turning the head to one side while people kiss in a non-western context. And it is also the first study in the world to show that the kiss recipients have a tendency to match their partners’ head-leaning direction.”
“Head turning is one of the earliest biases seen in development – even in the womb a preference for turning the head to the right is observable before that of favouring the right hand or foot. Whether this fundamental bias is innate and extends into adulthood is a lingering question for neuroscience and psychology,”
“The new research suggests that the act of kissing is determined by:
The brain splitting up tasks to its different hemispheres. Different hormone levels in each hemisphere and neurotransmitters might be unevenly distributed to each hemisphere as giving rise to a bias to turn right.”
This post was originally posted on Max Your Mind. Click here to see more from Max Your Mind.
Wondering if your pet rat is feeling happy? You should check its ears, researchers say.
A team of scientists in Switzerland found that a rat’s ears are more pinkish and are positioned at a more relaxed angle when it is experiencing positive emotions. The researchers recently published their findings in the journal PLOS ONE.
Scientists have not yet pinpointed what a rat is feeling when it is experiencing a “positive” emotion. As Melotti explains, they are currently at the point where they can distinguish “positive” emotions from “negative” – but not finer emotional graduations between happiness, joy and optimism, for example.
It’s interesting that rats show emotions on their faces because they are not particularly visual creatures, Melotti says. They’re nocturnal and rely primarily on their sense of smell and touch.
The team says their findings could indicate that rats “may at least partly sense … the facial expressions of their partner, along with other body postures, to gather information on the likelihood the partner will initiate play, and how intense that play is likely to be.”
DISCLAIMER: We’ve taken note that sex sells . . . or at least boosts the number of hits (no pun intended) . . . on the blog, not us . . . So in an unabashed ploy to raise our “ranking” . . . this article is by Rob Picheta, CNN, not Peggy, Judy nor Freddie.
* . * . *
(CNN)”A womanizing tortoise whose rampant sex life may have single-handedly saved his entire species from extinction has retired from his playboy lifestyle, returning to the wild with his mission accomplished.”
“Diego’s unstoppable libido was credited as a major reason for the survival of his fellow giant tortoises on Espanola, part of the Galapagos Islands, after being shipped over from the San Diego Zoo as part of a breeding program.”
“When he started his campaign of promiscuity, there were just two males and 12 females of his species alive on the island.”
“But the desirable shell-dweller had so much sex he helped boost the population to over 2,000. The Galapagos National Parks service believe the 100-year-old tortoise is the patriarch of around 40% of that population.
“He’s contributed a large percentage to the lineage that we are returning to Espanola,” Jorge Carrion, the park’s director, told AFP. “There’s a feeling of happiness to have the possibility of returning that tortoise to his natural state.”‘
“A total of 15 tortoises took part in the breeding program to boost the island’s population, but none played a big a role as Diego.”
“About 1,800 tortoises have been returned to Espanola and now with natural reproduction we have approximately 2,000 tortoises,” Carrion told AFP.”
“This shows that they are able to grow, they are able to reproduce, they are able to develop,” he said.”
Now that’s what we call WILD LIFE.
February is the month of love. And here at CURIOUStotheMAX love includes all God’s creatures as we are fascinated by this CURIOUS, WONDERFUL and WILD World we all share. Marvel with us at the incredible lengths nature goes to help mayflies survive.
Mayflies have an curiously interesting life cycle. Adult mayflies have no mouths, don’t eat, only live for a few days and their only purpose is TO REPRODUCE.
Males swarm above the water in a thick colony while females fly into the colony to mate. The males hold onto the females and mate in air. (No, it’s not the mile-high club since they stay a bit closer to the ground.) After mating, females fly down to the surface of the water to lay eggs and die – usually devoured by hungry fish either before or after death. The males also die, though on land.
Mayfly mating season-fish come to the surface looking for a tasty meal,
and fly fishers come looking for a tasty fish
The eggs fall to the bottom of the water where they land in mud and attach or stick onto stones or vegetation. The eggs remain in the mud for anywhere from a day to weeks before hatching. After hatching, the mayflies turn into their nymph stage (which you might attribute to teenage years). The mayfly nymphs are an aquatic life stage and do not have wings or contain gills.
Nyphs spend their time, anywhere from 1-2 years, searching for food in the relative safety of the lake bed bottom. When the time is right, the nymphs rise to the surface, molt and rest on the water’s surface to allow their wings to dry. After drying, they fly onto land where they wait in the vegetation before they molt once more and become a more colorful specimen..
Roses are red
Violets are blue
I’m not allowed chocolate
Valentine’s day . . . pooh
Did you know chocolate has been linked to lower rates of heart disease and stroke? You would think that my humans would want me to have a healthy heart.
Freddie Parker Westerfield, Published Poet
I sit alone, no valentines, no candy, no cake. The only thing I get is dog food.
If you are sitting home alone on Valentine’s day with dog food you are not alone.
Find out how:
by Freddie Parker Westerfield, published author
Once upon a time in a land far away lived a little orphan wolf. How he became an orphan is not known, the records being lost long ago in the archives of the forest. All the tales simply begin: Once upon a time, in a land far away lived a little orphan wolf.
Never having been around others of his own kind he didn’t know what big teeth he had. He didn’t know what big eyes he had. He didn’t know what a long tail he had. He didn’t know how hairy he was. He didn’t know how scary he was. All he knew was that he was alone in a big, big forest filled with creatures that ran away as soon as he approached.
Day by day, so the birds wouldn’t fly away, he sat far, far below the tree tops listening to them sing to each other from high above.
He watched from far, far away the forest creatures playing so they wouldn’t leap out of his sight.
He snuck peaks at all the critters sharing their meals from behind a bush so they wouldn’t know he was there.
Every morn he dined out for breakfast, alone. Every eve he dined out for super, alone. Every night he settled down to sleep, alone.
One day the little orphan wolf decided to set out from his forest home to find someone, somewhere, to be his friend.
Along the way he came upon a little girl. She had a little curl and wore a red cape and hood. Why she wore a red cape and hood is not known, the records being lost long ago in the archives of the forest.
Because she was so young she didn’t know how scary the orphan wolf was and asked.
“Where are you going Mr. Wolf”?
“I’m off to find a friend so that I am not alone. I’m off to find a friend to dine with. I am looking for a friend to play with and most of all I want a friend to talk with. I am very lonely.”
The little girl, feeling sorry for the little orphan wolf, said, “Do come with me to Grandma’s house. She makes delicious muffins from berries I pick in the forest. She sits at the table and listens to me talk. Grandma loves all of God’s creatures. Although she can’t be your grandma, perhaps she can be your friend”
“I don’t know what a Grandma is,” replied the little orphan wolf, “but she sounds exactly like the friend I’m looking for.”
And so the little orphan wolf set off with the little girl with a curl, wearing a red cape and hood to Grandma’s house.
They passed by a giant berry bush.“Stop here to pick berries for the delicious muffins Grandma makes.” They picked bushels of berries and carried them in the little girls red cape and hood.
They passed by a field of flowers.“Stop here to pick flowers for Grandma to put on the table where we sit and she listens to me talk.”They picked bouquets of flowers and carried them in the little girls red cape and hood.
They passed a bubbling brook where cool waters ran.“Stop here for a drink to refresh ourselves after all our work picking berries and flowers.” They drank from the bubbling brook and rested on the little girl’s red cape and hood so as not to get dirty.
As they passed over the crest of a hill the little girl cried, “There’s Grandma’s house. Let’s see if she will be your friend.”
Grandma greeted the little girl, the little orphan wolf peeking out from behind not sure what a grandma was, with a big smile, the biggest smile the little orphan wolf had ever seen.
The little girl announced, “Grandma, I’ve brought you berries so you can make delicious muffins. I’ve brought you flowers to put on the table where we sit and you listen to me talk. I’ve brought you a little orphan wolf who is lonely and looking for a friend”
Now, the little orphan wolf’s eyes grew big, having never seen a Grandma before. Not knowing what to do he opened his big mouth, showed his big teeth and wagged his bushy tail.
“My! What big teeth you have”, gasped grandma. “The better to protect you with”replied the wolf.
“My! What big eyes you have”, marveled Grandma. “The better to lovingly look up at you with”, replied the wolf. “
“My! What a bushy tail you have”, exclaimed Grandma. “The better to wag with happiness,” replied the wolf.
“My! How hairy you are”, said Grandma. “The Better to cuddle and keep you warm,” said the wolf.
“My oh my”, Grandma sighed. “You may stay with me. I’ll feed you delicious muffin treats, and you can sit and listen to me while I talk”.
“And because you are one of God’s creatures I will call you D-o-g.”
Where upon he looked up at Grandma with big eyes, opened his big wolf mouth, showed his big wolf teeth, wagged his bushy wolf tail, stuck out his wet wolf tongue and gave Grandma an appreciative lick.
He had found his friend.
PLEASE share this with everyone you know
to help clear the wolf’s reputation.
Soon to be a children’s book! Watch this blog for the premier international publication date! You may be able to get an advanced FREE PDF if you’d give a review. And/or treats. Treats preferred.
(CNN) Perhaps puffins aren’t as bird-brained as previously believed.
An itch their beaks couldn’t scratch
Stick scratching is the second type of tool use in birds
We’re so blessed to coexist
with creatures hard to resist
Hip Hip Hooray
It’s Fiona’s Birthday!
“Don’t cry because it’s over.
Smile because it happened.”
Dr. Seuss, Marilyn Monroe and/or
Gabriel Garcia Marquez: “No llores porque ya se termino.
Sonrie porque sucedio.”
Roses are red
violets are blue
sugar is sweet
but I wouldn’t know
So send me treats
I can eats
bananas, apples and meats
Every year I protest that I’m the only one who doesn’t get to eat chocolate. I’m told that if I eat chocolate I could die but I suspect that is my human’s ploy to keep it all to herself. When I want a cookie she says sugar causes inflammation. She said she read it on the internet but it undoubtedly is an Urban Myth.
The last post I shared (click here) was my some of my earliest memories I drew for my grand daughter Lucy. They didn’t hold her interest as she was 5 years old. Perhaps when she’s 50 she’ll value them enough to share with her children.
The more I drew the more my own memory was jogged and these were of my childhood best friend and pets.
I made friends with Kay in grade school. For a while, she needed to wear a patch over one eye. I think it was to make her other eye stronger- and it worked. After awhile she no longer had to wear the patch.
My dogs Tipper and Topper loved ice cream and would look at me with puppy dog eyes when I had some. They always got a taste.
My first horse was Misty. She had a foal and I guessed which night she would give birth. Kay and I spent the night at the pasture. It was good we were there, because the foal got caught in a loop of batted wire and I had to untangle him. That night I will always remember.
I named the foal Copper Tint for the color of his spots. I’d bring him along when I went riding.
Every morning I say Baha’i prayers which include family, friends, those who have passed. I know there is war, violence, inhumane actions in all parts this world – on personal levels, small scales and large. The current escalation between the United States and Iran, however, triggered the anxiety I felt as a child during the cold war between The USA and Russia. (jw)
Several months ago I began including this prayer:
O God! Let his American democracy become glorious in spiritual degrees even as it has aspired to material degrees, and render victorious a JUST government. Confirm this revered nation to upraise the standard of the oneness of humanity, to promulgate the Most Great Peace, to become thereby most glorious and praiseworthy among all the nations of the world.
You can change it in any way that fits your own thoughts, feelings and country. The full prayer is on The HeART of Spirituality where is also a selection of Christian, Jewish, Native American, Hindu, Jainist, Native American, Muslim, Sufi, Zoroastrian etc. prayers
Click here to find the prayer that best speaks to you:
When my granddaughter, Lucy was born, Judy gave me a “Grandmother-book” to write about events in my life as a keep-sake for my granddaughter. I thought it was a good idea, but writing has never been my first choice of expression. So I decided to draw stories & vignettes of my life for Lucy.
Some of my earliest memories:
I lived in Chicago until I was almost 5, so I got to play in the snow.
I had my tonsils out, and “had” to go on an ice cream diet. Back then the flavors were limited. choc chip now ( or Vanilla Swiss Almond from Haagen-Dax’s
We moved from Chicago, Illinois to Phoenix, Arizona when I was 5, so now I played in the sprinklers instead of snow.
I loved horses and drew them all the time. I got a real horse, Misty, when I was 10.
(I never make New Year’s resolutions because NEVER is how I keep them. However, I’m rethinking it this year to resolve to eat healthier based on these tips.)
1. Know who you are . . . and who you’re not
“Do the activities that make you who you want to be rather than just focusing on your goals. Decide the type of person you want to be: A healthy person? A strong person? A writer? A musician?
Then prove it to yourself with small wins over time: Gym classes, writing, practicing . . . Every time you do something toward the goal of you who want to be, tell yourself that you are becoming that person.”
(I want to be healthier . . . healthy might be a bit too big a stretch. And because food is medicine I want to eat healthier)
2. Make it something you like or enjoy.
(no problem – I LOVE to eat)
Avoid resolutions that sound great but are unattainable. Make them them something you will enjoy. They can still be hard, but that doesn’t mean they have to make you miserable.
3. Make it specific
Resolution idea: Eat an apple every day for lunch or snack.
Resolution idea: Have one donut on Saturdays for breakfast
Eating better and exercising more are all nice ideas, but they’re too general and don’t give you a plan of action. People often think they lack motivation when the problem is really a lack of clarity.
“The simple way to apply this strategy to your habits is to fill out this sentence:
I will [BEHAVIOR] at [TIME] in [LOCATION],”
(I’ WILL keep a bowl of fruit on the counter and cut-up vegetables in the refrigerator. I DO NOT ENJOY chopping vegetables so I’ll buy them already cut-up.
When I want to eat my go-to sugar with a side of carbohydrates I WILL EAT A PIECE OF FRUIT OR VEGETABLE.)
4. Change it up. Swap it out. Write your own rules
Instead of one year-long resolution set yourself monthly micro-resolutions.
(I might have to break it down into weekly . . . or daily . . . maybe hourly resolutions since I eat all day and all night)
5. Start Small
(I’m going to eat small pieces of healthy fruit and vegetables).
6. Allow yourself to fail
“Everyone screws up. Expect to have occasional slips. But don’t let the occasional missed exercise class or donut throw you off course. Most successful resolvers slip in January, but 71% of successful resolvers say their first slip strengthened their efforts through a combination of guilt, increasing awareness of their problem’s severity, and the slip reminding them to refine their plans.” (Who ARE these people?)
And if you do slip? Focus on getting back on track, not the slip. “The people who show more compassion for themselves are more likely to get back on the horse and try again.” (This might be a problem since I show compassion for myself by eating sweets.)
7. Set yourself up for success
(Since I want to “limit” sweets I must get them out of the house. I resolve: I WILL give them a stern talking to EVERY TIME they appear so they know they should leave.)
8. Make it public
(I just did)
“If you’re surrounded by supportive friends and family, making your goals public and asking for accountability can help. So can joining a gym with friendly competition or a group.”
(Probably the key to my past failures at keeping resolutions starts with the fact I prove myself right by thinking I can’t/won’t keep my resolve.)
“Think you can’t do it, you’ll likely prove yourself right. But if you believe in yourself, you are 10 times more likely to change via a New Year’s resolution, compared to non-resolvers, when both groups have comparable goals and motivation”.*
*University of Scranton psychology professor John C. Norcross, who has studied resolutions for decades.
As the new year arrives around the globe, special cakes and breads abound. The particulars vary, but the general theme is the same:
Share food and drink with family and friends to usher in a year of prosperity!
1. Hoppin’ John, American South
In the American South, Hoppin’ John said to bring good luck in the new year:
- pork-flavored field peas or black-eyed peas (symbolizing coins) and rice
- served with collards or other cooked greens (the color of money) and
- cornbread (the color of gold).
Different folklore traces the history and the name of this meal, but the current dish has its roots in African and West Indian traditions and was most likely brought over by slaves to North America. A recipe for Hoppin’ John appears as early as 1847 in Sarah Rutledge’s “The Carolina Housewife” and has been reinterpreted over the centuries by home and professional chefs.
2. Twelve grapes, Spain
3. Tamales, Mexico
4. Oliebollen, Netherlands
5. Marzipanschwein or Glücksschwein, Austria and Germany
6. Soba noodles, Japan
7. King cake, around the globe
- Greeks have the Vasilopita
- French the gateau or galette des rois
- Mexicans have the Rosca de Reyes
- Bulgarians enjoy the banitsa.
8. Cotechino con lenticchie, Italy
9. Pickled herring, Poland and Scandinavia
10. Kransekage, Denmark and Norway
We’ve been posting Happiness Hacks from our coming book Hacking Your Way to Happiness and put 12 of the 22 hacks into a 2020 calendar. Rick (Judy’s out-of-the-box-thinking brother) sent her what he thought was possible hack cure for fibromyalgia. We didn’t get it in time for the Hack Your Way to Happiness calendar so we’re sharing what Rick sent in this special post.
Note this calendar is small, 5.5″ x 7″
We’re not sure about fibromyalgia but for those of you who are planning to imbibe this New Years hopefully the hack won’t get you wacked.
* * *
DRINK ON A FULL STOMACH (that doesn’t mean balancing a beer on your belly)
Make sure to have solid food in your system before having any alcohol. Experts recommend that you eat high-protein foods such as cheese and peanuts, which help to slow the absorption of alcohol into the circulatory system and burn it off.
KEEP HYDRATED (with water, not wine)
Dehydration can cause your blood volume to drop, allowing less blood and oxygen to flow to the brain and allowing the stress hormone cortisol to have a greater impact on your system, so make sure that you are getting adequate fluid. If you drink alcohol while dehydrated, it will have a seriously negative impact on your system. Water improves the processing of brain chemicals such as serotonin and dopamine.
SIP IT SLOWLY (nothing to add, we just like the alliteration)
Your body absorbs alcohol quicker than you metabolize it. The faster you drink, the more time the toxins in booze spend in your body, affecting your brain and other tissues, and the bigger the hangover will be in the morning.
ONE PER HOUR (drinks, not miles)
Metabolism depends on several factors (gender, weight, age, health), but in general, most people can metabolize roughly one drink an hour.
ADD SOME ICE (we’re not referring to the Rapper)
Diluting alcohol with ice or water will increase your time between refills and decrease its effects on your body and brain. As you slowly enjoy your beverage, the ice will melt and create more liquid as it reduces the strength of the alcohol. You can also use soda water or another non-alcoholic beverage as a chaser. Don’t be influenced or embarrassed into not chasing your drink. Your own health and safety are what’s important.
DON’T MIX ALCOHOL WITH DRUGS
Whether it’s flu medicine, painkillers, sleeping pills, antibiotics, prescription meds, antidepressants – you name it, it doesn’t matter – it is a really bad idea to mix alcohol with drugs.
Alcohol Packs on the Pounds (We’ve saved one of the worst for last)
Alcohol is calorie-dense
Alcohol intake is for adults – 18 years and older but our Happiness Hacks Calendar is G-rated
*P.S. We bought calendars for ourselves with Zazzle discount coupon. Make sure to check out the Zazzle specials. Half of the profit we make will be donated to the charity, The Gentle Barn.
Fear of fly-by night men who are partial to the color red, use environmentally appropriate transportation and make their employees wear pointy shoes.
This phobia is often triggered by anticipation of shoveling snow and spending time with relatives in closed quarters. It is characterized by over-spending, over-indulging, delusions of family harmony, leaving cookies and milk out to spoil and . . . lying to children.
Have a HUMAN(E) Christmas!
P.S. My Humans say to tell you to have a DOG-GONE
Merry Christmas AND . . .
buy EVERYTHING I KNOW ABOUT MEN I LEARNED FROM MY CAT 2020 Calendar
It’s the purrrrfect mini size – 6 3/4″ w x 5 1/4″ H
Remember 50% goes to
Doodlewash is a blog I follow – both for Charlie O’s great water-colors but even more for his stories inspired by his watercolored drawings. Several years ago I was inspired by his childhood explanation of how Santa and his reindeer get around. (Charlie claims he was a child but I suspect that is just a cover-up for what he knows is the truth . . . )
Pome by judy
No one catches Santa on the roof
or in the snow sees prints
of tiny reindeer hoof
for Santa’s no bigger than a fly
and reindeer all the size of ants
ferry him through the Christmas sky
I don’t think it silly at all
to imagine reindeer quite so small
how Santa slides down chimney flues
with nary much soot on his beard or shoes
So make your cookies the size of peas
and leave the milk in a thimble please
Limit the weight of gifts and such
to crush an ant
it doesn’t take much
* * *
To read Charlie O’s story click here:
Because of my limited energy and never ending search for whimsey I took one of Carla Sonheim’s on-line classes The Painting Techniques of Anne Marie Grgich (Portraits). Carla is one of our Well Done Women and her classes are filled with experimentation and whimsey. This one didn’t disappoint.
Anne Marie encourages working fast, loose and intuitively . . . my kinda artist! She described her technique like frosting a cake – layers upon layers of media building the surface with color and texture.
We were to work on 6 portraits and keep moving spontaneously between all six. My work space (concentration & energy) was limited so I did three.
Abdu’l-Bahá writes: “If religion is opposed to reason and science, faith is impossible; and when faith and confidence in the divine religion are not manifest in the heart, there can be no spiritual attainment.”5
To have faith is not merely “to know” the truth. True faith is conscious knowledge expressed in action. Bahá’u’lláh states that “The essence of faith is fewness of words and abundance of deeds…”6 On the same subject, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá writes: “it is first ‘to know’ and then ‘to do’.”
A team of behavioral neuroscientists led by University of Richmond’s Professor Kelly Lambert taught rats how to drive specially-designed ROVs.
“The driver compartment of the ROV was a plastic container with an aluminum floor plate and cut out windows spanned by copper bars,” they explained. (Kinda like a Kia or Fiat?)
“The ROV was designed so that the rat could move the car by touching or grabbing a bar and stop movement by releasing contact.” (No self-driving technology?)
The research involved five young adult male rats (Female rats don’t need enrichment to learn) that had lived in an enriched environment (i.e., environment with interesting objects to interact with) for four months and six control rats raised in standard laboratory housing.
Driving training began when the animals were approximately 5 months of age. (Legal rat-age to acquire learner permits)
Compared to standard-housed rats, enriched-housed rats demonstrated more robust learning in driving performance. (It’s long been known that standard-house-wives need enrichment too.)
“We found that rats housed in a complex, enriched environment learned the driving task, but rats housed in standard laboratory cages had problems learning the task (i.e., they failed their driving test),” Professor Lambert said.
“That means the complex environment led to more behavioral flexibility and neuroplasticity.”
“Among other outcomes, the research could help scientists better understand the effects of Parkinson’s disease
(The next time you see a rat driving erratically, smile. They’ve learned how to escape from the lab and go joy riding.)
Teaching People Kindness and Compassion to Animals, Each Other and our Planet.
A paper describing the research was published October 16, 2019 in the journal Behavioural Brain Research.
On doctor’s “orders” I’ve been struggling to lose weight. The biggest problem I’ve discovered is swallowing. Now that art classes have resumed I think I’ve solved the “swallowing problem” . . . I’m painting . . .
Haven’t gained a single pound . . . So far so good . . .
A Turkey’s Tail
His story is such, so they say
Waking at dawn
he’d peck at the lawn,
searching for bugs,
nibbling on slugs
of which he was particularly fond.
Then a Thanksgiving day, out of the blue
Gobbledy gobbledy gone.
So if YOU took Tom from off his farm
in the middle of the night
please give him due thanks
for gracing your table. (It’s fitting and right).
And for all the bugs and many slugs
which make him an organic delight
Dear Human Beings,
- I am thankful that I was not born in places that eat dogs.
- I am thankful you are all my best friends and fans.
P.S. I was told to tell you my Human wishes that you things to be grateful for in your life, like me for example.
It’s THAT time of year again for “Cooking with Judy” Here’s my yearly Thanksgiving post — cuz it’s tooooo good not to be shared!
I have a reputation, among those who know me, to have an “interesting” sense of humor. Even though How to Cook A Turkey with 500 degree heat sounds like a joke IT IS NO JOKE.
- Pre Heat oven 500 degrees (this is not a typo)
- Clean the bird
- Throw it into a covered container – put on lid or aluminum foil
- Do not add ANYTHING to the pot and/or the bird.
- Do NOT baste or look at until time is up (you will hear burbling, don’t worry, by the time you hear burbling the turkey is dead)
- Bake (and I do mean BAKE), 7 minutes per pound, unstuffed at 500 degrees FARENHEIT
- 7 1/2 minutes per pound, stuffed
- Yes, it comes out brown and beautiful.
- No, it is moist and delicious
- I always put the stuffing in a casserole rather than the turkey – others have stuffed the bird and said it was great.
- Yes, it will smell like Thanksgiving not like a house-on-fire.
- No, PETA would not endorse this because it is more humane . . . for the cook
- Yes! 500 degrees. It is not a typo
- Yes, 7 minutes a pound
It’s unusual to receive a card in snail mail nowadays. Increasingly, social media, text and e-mail messages are the choice for everything from birthday greetings to wedding invitations. It was a nice surprise to receive a card from Sharon Bonin-Pratt (A “CURIOUS” Well Done Woman) and was struck by how lovely and whimsical the trees were.
I was even more surprised and delighted when I saw Sharon had hand drawn and painted it.
Peggy, too, loved it and made it into a poster. With Sharon’s urging we are donating one third of all profits to The Gentle Barn, Animal Rescue charity. (Judy)
“It is a tree of life to all who grasp it,
and whoever holds on to it is happy;
its ways are ways of pleasantness,
and all it paths are peace.
Web-site: Sharon Bonin-Pratt’s INK FLARE
Everything I know about men I learned from my cat.
They love toys.
Everything I know about men I learned from my cat.
They need plenty of rest.
Peggy loves to use multiple exclamation marks when she writes. Probably to her chagrin, I edit them out. I refer to it as PEM’s or “Peggy Exclamation Marks”.
One of the reasons I retired was after seeing clients I was exhausted for days. Because I felt fine when I was in session I largely ignored crashing afterwards. Besides I was used to feeling exhausted socializing, exercising or even taking a shower.
Having been diagnosed with fibromyalgia/chronic fatigue in 1996 I am relatively well versed in research, symptoms and treatment. However, I just recently came across the term PEM! I did a double take.
Turns out that, in relation to chronic fatigue and fibro, PEM stands for Post-Exertional Malaise and has nothing to do with Peggy’s excitement. I was gobsmacked to find a name for what I thought was just a weird reaction, I alone had, to anything stressful, whether positive or negative.
How do I explain that I dread taking a shower because it fatigues me. How do I tell friends I don’t want to get together because “they” exhaust me? I constantly evaluate cost/benefit of whether any activity is worth hours or days of exhaustion afterwards.
It’s a relief to put a name to my experience:
“Post-exertional malaise (PEM) is the worsening of symptoms following even minor physical or mental exertion, with symptoms typically worsening 12 to 48 hours after activity and lasting for days or even weeks. PEM can be mitigated by activity management (pacing). The goal is to avoid PEM flare-ups and illness relapses by balancing rest and activity.” CDC.gov
Some of my coping mechanisms.
- I avoid telephone conversation. E-mail is one-way – my pace, my time and not as energy depleting as two-way conversations.
- I watch lots of Hallmark TV movies – there’s always a happy ending. Any violence or tension sends my brain into over-drive.
- I eat constantly – Food gives us energy. So far all it’s given me is a roll of fat around my middle.
- I live vicariously through friends and fellow bloggers who travel to far away places. I daydream of moving to live in another country. My day dream always includes a villa in Southern France with servants.
- I try to find humor in life . . . “try” being the operant word.
- I never take a daily shower. I figure the sweat will help the dirt roll off.
- I take 3 hour naps immediately after I wake up in the morning.
Now I know why I edit out PEM’s (the Peggy kind). Exclamation is exhausting . . .
Don’t let her kid you, Judy is very successful at finding humor in life, to the delight of us all !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Everything I know about men, I learned from my CAT.