Several months ago my good friend Peggy Arndt, who is also a retired psychotherapist, suggested we collaborate on blogging the tips, tools and techniques for health, happiness and well-being we have accumulated over our combined 60+ years of experience.
As that was my original intent when I started this CURIOUS blog I agreed . . . on the condition that CATNIPblog also amused me.
By now, you know that I post when the mood moves me. Collaborating with Peggy, who is much more organized than I am, has made me accountable to a regular blogging schedule on Catnipblog. So I’ve been typing my little fingers to the bone and posting on CATNIP so Peggy will think I’m not as flaky as I actually am.
I’m not abandoning this blog as I started Curious to the Max over 7 years ago and have over 1,500 post (yes, you read that right . . . OVER one-thousand, five-hundred posts!). I’m just still in the process of figuring out how to do both blogs.
On CATNIPblog most of the posts emphasize current research and the neuroscience of health and happiness (with a bit of our personal experience thrown in). Once a week we post something inspirational, weird and/or whimsical on Pawsitively Tuesdays.
I’d LOVE it if you would check out CATNIPblog, see the proof that I can be disciplined . . . and subscribe.
CATNIPblog take a look !
I’m baaaaaaack . . . sorta . . . missed all my art classes, missed church . . . cancelled The HeART of Spirituality workshop cuz I’ve been feeling puny. (And when I am feeling puny I eat, watch the cooking channel, download recipes and read all I can about what not to eat in the hopes that I will follow that advice.)
The only constructive thing I’ve done is work on the NEW BLOG Catnip with my good friend and colleague Peggy Arndt.
(Peggy is a retired psychotherapist too AND an artist and author. I’ve never caught Peggy feeling puny and eating since she’s within a pound or two of the same weight she was when we were in high school together. If I didn’t like her so much I’d hate her.)
Between the two of us we have amassed decades of information on neuroscience and behavior and relationships . . . and eating . . . and addictions. We’re going to share all that on a new blog called CATNIP (but I digress . . .)
While I was researching for CATNIP this article caught my eye . . . here are some excerpts:
By Barbara J. King*
“The average American eats more than 33 pounds of cheese a year.” (Thirty-three pounds is about the amount of weight I’d like to lose. I need to stop eating my American share of cheese.)
“This is according to Neal Barnard, physician and president of the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine. And that’s a problem, he says, because it’s helping to make us overweight and sick.”
“Loaded with calories, high in sodium, packing more cholesterol than steak, and sprinkled with hormones — if cheese were any worse, it would be Vaseline …”
Some foods are fattening. Others are addictive. Cheese is both — fattening and addictive.”
“Barnard explains that dairy protein — specifically a protein called casein — has opiate molecules built in. When babies nurse, he notes, they’re getting dosed with a mild drug: “Milk contains opiates that reward the baby for nursing.”‘
“It’s no different with the cow’s milk — or other mammalian milk — from which cheese is made. In fact, Barnard says, the process of cheese-making concentrates the casein”
“Call it dairy crack.”
“. . . Barnard notes that vitamin D may play an important role in protecting us against some types of cancers. Citing prostate-cancer data, he suggests that because dairy products are high in calcium and calcium intake can slow down activation of vitamin D, cancer risks may increase with cheese-eating.”
“The National Dairy Council (or cows who would rather be milked than molded into meat patties) does not endorse Barnard’s descriptions of cheese . . . and points to research from Harvard School of Public Health that shows no association between cheese and long-term weight gain.”
“However, if one’s goal is to lose weight, there is something to be said for not teasing yourself with occasional doses of the very food that caused the problem in the first place. (I might add sugar and refined carbs to the list . . . might?) Better to end that bad love affair. If a person is concerned about asthma, migraine, rheumatoid arthritis, or other sensitivities, one soon loses all desire for the food product that caused the problem.” (So far THAT argument hasn’t worked with me.)
(Maybe every time I feel puny I should picture myself eating 33 pounds of VASELINE . . . )
Read the entire article and click HERE.
*Barbara J. King is an anthropology professor emerita at the College of William and Mary. Barbara’s most recent book on animals is titled How Animals Grieve, and her forthcoming book, Personalities on the Plate: The Lives and Minds of Animals We Eat,
The Cheese Trap, How Breaking a Surprising Addiction Will Help You Lose Weight, Gain Energy, and Get Healthy by Neal D., M.d. Barnard, Dreena Burton and Marilu Henner
It’s the Year of the Rooster – I was born under the Chinese sign of the Rooster. Always thought it to be a curse I was born under a sign that wasn’t fertile enough to lay an egg or two.
According to my friend Sharon Bonin-Pratt (whose last post inspired this post) People born under the sign of the Rooster are hardworking, funny, trustworthy and talented.
I’m not hardworking, at times am funny, almost always trustworthy, and have latent talents that get laid but never hatched.
This Rooster year started off with a cold virus that delights roaming the cozy recesses of my sinus passages. It’s day 11 (but who’s counting). I’ve been a total slug – no energy, no resolve which gives me a perfect excuse for not making New Years’ resolutions.
(The truth be told, I never make resolutions for the New Year – learned long ago that when I inevitably fail to keep a resolution it leads to feeling badly.)
What energy I have has been directed toward resolving to be more creative this year.
In preparation I’ve been obsessively reading everything I can find on how to break my creative block and stop procrastinating.
Most everything I read about procrastination indicates that we procrastinate when we don’t want to do something that is not enjoyable. Being a master procrastinator I also procrastinate with things that bring me enjoyment.
For inspiration, I read blogs of people who write, read or draw daily – all things which bring me enjoyment. I feel badly I’m not like them which leads me to read articles on procrastination and meeting goals (I know how to set them, just not meet them).
Finally the article below has liberated me! I know what to blame:
My dorsolateral prefrontal cortex is lazy . . . not me.
“What is it exactly that helps us be creative? What fuels us when we get into an especially productive work flow? What makes the hours disappear when our brains focus on a task?”
“What, in other words, is happening in our brains when we’re being creative?”
“Cognitive neuroscientist Heather Berlin at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai says we know a little bit about what’s going on. Berlin studies the neuroscience of imagination, creativity and improvisation. And for those people who might be facing writer’s block? “There’s really no prescribed medication,” Berlin says. “There is no real magic pill.”’
Instead, she says, creativity depends on which part of the brain you might be using.
“When [people] are improvising, there tends to be a pattern of activation where they have decreased activation in a part of the brain called the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex,” Berlin says. “And that part of the brain has to do with your sense of self, your sort of inner critic, making sure that your behavior conforms to social norms.”
“Translation? When you’re at your most creative, “basically you lose your sense of self,” Berlin says. “You kind of release your inhibition. The second you become too self-aware that comes back online and you lose that flow state.”’
“In addition to losing inhibitions, people who are in a creative state have increased activation in a part of the brain called the medial prefrontal cortex, which has to do with the internal generation of ideas. In other words, the ideas are coming from within.”
“Some people, when they’re in the flow state … a lot of people say ‘It feels like it’s flowing through me. It’s coming from someplace else,’ you know, ‘It’s coming so naturally I don’t even have to think about it,’” Berlin says. “It’s called liberation without attention. You can only keep a certain number of variables in mind when you’re thinking about something consciously. But if you let it go, you actually can come to a greater understanding because the unconscious can do much more complex processing.”
“For those suffering from creative block, Berlin has some practical advice:”
“You have to take in all the information and then go for a walk,” Berlin says. “Go out, do something else. Because those people who sit there and just obsess over thinking about it too much, using your prefrontal cortex you’re actually limiting yourself. So letting it go can actually help you get over, let’s say a writer’s block or a creative block.”
I’d go for a walk but I have a cold. Maybe some other time . . .
I admit it. I’m a bit paranoid about catching a cold or the flu.
When I get sick insult is added to injury as my fibromyalgia symptoms flare for weeks after I’ve recovered from the cold.
I avoid anyone who sneezes, eyes are watery or is coughing. I’ve moved my groceries from one counter to another to avoid check-out clerks who looked like they are sick and on occasion come home and taken a shower if I THINK I might have been exposed.
Now I learn it’s possible I’m avoiding people who aren’t sick, just afraid, sad or incredibly empathetic!
Sneezing is “catching,” like a yawn.
“It is true that emotions can affect your nasal membranes. Fear makes them shrink (which can make you sneeze), and sadness makes them swell (which can also make you sneeze.) Though there is conflicting evidence, yawning has been linkedto empathy, and one study showed that psychopaths — people who lack empathy — may even be immune to contagious yawning.”
“If sneezing fits are like yawning fits, does that mean that if we are tuned into others’ emotions, we might sneeze out of sympathy? Though hard evidence is murky, there is some reason to believe that both yawning and sneezing fits may be powered by the mind.”
The article Here’s Looking achoo – debunking the sneeze covers even more:
- Sneezing is good for the soul
- Sneezing is bad for the soul
- If you say “God Bless You,” God might spare you. Or not.
- Tweezing your eyebrows can make you sneeze.
- Sneezing always comes in threes.
- Bright light can make you sneeze.
Read the entire article click HERE.
SoulPancake and Puppy Chow teamed up to share the #PowerofPuppies at a preschool, retirement home, and gym to transform an otherwise ordinary day. Share http://bit.ly/pwrofppys with someone who needs the power of puppies in their lives! For every video view, Puppy Chow will donate one pound of Puppy Chow Natural to Rescue Bank® (up to 500,000 pounds or until April 23, 2016).
Now back to washing the dishes and the soapy water that reminded me to water the flowers in the garden which reminded me about this video . . .
Thanks Sharon M.!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Is it a good thing . . . or a sign . . . I can no longer remember when my attention deficit was activated . . .?
I tend toward the depressive end of the “depression vs anxiety” scale. There are very few things, besides snakes, heights and being suspended in the air in gondolas, that make me anxious. I rarely worry about them . . . unless I’m on a hike in the mountains, it’s rattlesnake season and the only way I can get down is a gondola ride.
After watching this video . . . I’m worried that I don’t worry enough . . .
My brother Rick told me about The Greater Good. Everyday I click on 6 of the sites. With every click I remind myself to feel grateful to be living in a free country where I have access to things much of the world does not have.
It’s free and every click counts toward making this a better world.
(plus there are some cool free-trade things to buy that help people around the world)
Click on Greater Good and subscribe to get a daily e-mail reminder to be grateful. Here are a list of the giving sites.
Research shows that feeling grateful doesn’t just make you feel good. It also helps – literally helps – the heart.
“A positive mental attitude is good for your heart. It fends off depression, stress and anxiety, which can increase the risk of heart disease, says Paul Mills, a professor of family medicine and public health at the University of California San Diego School of Medicine. Mills specializes in disease processes and has been researching behavior and heart health for decades. He wondered if the very specific feeling of gratitude made a difference, too.”
“He recruited 186 men and women, average age 66, who already had some damage to their heart, either through years of sustained high blood pressure or as a result of heart attack or even an infection of the heart itself. They each filled out a standard questionnaire to rate how grateful they felt for the people, places or things in their lives.”
“It turned out the more grateful people were, the healthier they were. “They had less depressed mood, slept better and had more energy,” says Mills.”
“And when Mills did blood tests to measure inflammation, the body’s natural response to injury or plaque buildup in the arteries, he found lower levels among those who were grateful — an indication of better heart health.”
“So Mills did a small followup study to look even more closely at gratitude. He tested 40 patients for heart disease and noted biological indications of heart disease such as inflammation and heart rhythm. Then he asked half of the patients to keep a journal most days of the week, and write about two or three things they were grateful for. People wrote about everything, from appreciating children to being grateful for spouses, friends, pets, travel, jobs and even good food.”
“After two months, Mills retested all 40 patients and found health benefits for the patients who wrote in their journals. Inflammation levels were reduced and heart rhythm improved. And when he compared their heart disease risk before and after journal writing, there was a decrease in risk after two months of writing in their journals.”
“Mills isn’t sure exactly how gratitude helps the heart, but he thinks it’s because it reduces stress, a huge factor in heart disease.”
“Taking the time to focus on what you are thankful for,” he says, “letting that sense of gratitude wash over you — this helps us manage and cope.”
“And helps keep our hearts healthy.”
Much is required from those to whom much is given. –Luke 12:48
He that give should never remember, he that receives should never forget. –The Talmud
Did you know you can train your brain not to wake you up at night to go to the bathroom? When you get the “full bladder” signal in the middle of the night ignore it. Trust me you won’t wet the bed. In about 2 nights your brain will stop signaling you that your bladder is full.
If you don’t trust what I’m saying, try painting your floor!
Thanks Linda B.!!!!!!!!
My Dear Human Beings and other critters,
My human has been too tired to go on walks. All she wants to do is sit around and I’m getting bored keeping her distracted by petting me. She blames Fibromyalgia/chronic fatigue but I’ve long suspected that she just needs a new career that is exciting. I found the perfect cure – FOR EVERYTHING THAT AILS HER .
There’s a woman in England who (instead of moping around like my human being) got a pair of feathered fans to do a routine in a bar that was holding a cabaret night.
She said: “It was nerve-wracking but exciting . . . I felt alive. . . . Even though she’s not completely cured, her chronic fatigue only flares up every two or three months – lasting at most for a couple of days. “
She’s got big plans for the future . . . She said: “I have signed up with the alternative model agency Ugly, in London and hope to start appearing in magazines and adverts.” (I didn’t tell my human being about “Ugly” because I’m not sure what kind of magazines and adverts want “ugly” . . . )
My human thinks all this is just a ploy to get her to take me on walks. I told her if she didn’t believe me to read this:
A hair-raising video worth watching!
Have you missed me? Have you EVEN noticed I’ve not been blogging? Well, I’ve been mishuga, fermisht and verklempt.
In my never-ending quest to feel better . . .
The short version: Went to an endocrinologist because I thought some of my exhaustion might be due to an adrenal problem. They took a quart of my hard-earned blood and I peed in an “orange juice container” for 24 hours to be told my adrenals are fine but I have Hashimoto’s disease.
Whaaaaaaaat??? I’ve never been to Japan and don’t even speak Japanese. Seems my immune system is eating my thyroid all up. Put me on thyroid medication and said I should have about 20% more energy. With my continual state of exhaustion 20% sounded good.
Three months later . . . maybe 10% more energy. So endo doc suggested I take Topomax, a tried and true medication, that will put my brain into deep sleep (my brain stays in REM sleep and I don’t get restorative sleep – that’s the main reason I’m so exhausted all the time). I researched it and checked it out with my fibro doctor who said it was worth a try.
NOT ONLY DIDN’T THE MEDICATION PUT ME INTO deep sleep it didn’t even put me into REM sleep!!!!! I was up for 3 nights and 3 days. Couldn’t even nap. My brain thought it was a stimulant. I couldn’t think straight, walk straight or talk straight. I’m just barely beginning to feel normally exhausted.
I told my fibro doc what happened on the medication. She gave me a new diagnosis: WEIRD.
is the NUMBER ONE killer of women.
Excerpt from HEART SISTERS Most Common Heart Attack Signs:
“These cardiac symptoms often come and go – sometimes over a surprisingly long period of time. They’re not always severe. We may believe that heart attack chest pain must be described as “crushing”, but it’s often frequently described by women with words like pressure, heavy, burning, full or tight – not “crushing”.”
“Almost 40% of women experience NO CHEST PAIN at all during a heart attack.”
Read the full post here: http://myheartsisters.org/2015/09/20/most-common-heart-attack-signs/
Thanks to Carolyn Thomas and her excellent blog Heart Sisters I recognized a heart attack in progress.
In my writing class this morning the woman next to me got up unexpectedly and left. On return she said threw up in the bathroom. A few minutes later she said she didn’t feel good, hot and sweaty, and thought she should go home. Something told me to ask her if she had chest pain.
I interrupted the teacher and privately told him she had heart attack symptoms. He immediately had the facility call 911.
The woman kept repeating she was ok, in great health, played tennis 4 times a week, no history of heart disease in the family, ate well and would be fine. Even after the paramedics came she kept questioning whether she needed to go to the hospital.
Because I’ve followed Carolyn’s blog I know common symptoms for women having a heart attack:
“Women often have different symptoms of a heart attack than men and may report serious symptoms even before having a heart attack, although the signs are not ‘typical’ heart attack symptoms. These include:”
- neck, throat, shoulder, upper back, or abdominal discomfort
- shortness of breath
- nausea or vomiting
- anxiety or “a sense of impending doom”
- light-headedness or dizziness
- unusual fatigue for several days
This woman had three symptoms PLUS, by the time the paramedics arrived, pain radiated to her jaw.
I insisted she go to the hospital and she could blame me if everything was ok.
Everything was not ok.
Click & Read this: Words matter when we describe our heart attack symptoms
“Fear is just excitement in need of an attitude adjustment”
~ in a very wise fortune cookie
Since I spend a lot of time (off and on) writing this blog and attending a writing critique group I figured it’s time to learn the tools of the trade. I signed up for a free Emeritus writing class from the local junior college. (“emeritus” is a sophisticated word for anyone who qualifies for Social Security.)
The first assignment was to write a two page SHORT story about being unfairly treated or treating someone else unfairly.
(Names have been omitted to protect my image)
Unfair Treatment – Body, Mind & Me
By Judy Westerfield
“More! More!” my mind screams at me. Her desire reverberates throughout my body. Once again, I’m caught in the middle between body and mind, between hedonism and health.
The three of us — body, mind and me — have been together a very long time. Over the years the mind has grown bolder, louder. To keep the peace I usually do what she says, even though it’s often based on want rather than need. Today is no exception.
For the second time in less than an hour I retrieve the half-gallon carton from the freezer.
“More! More!” She is unrelenting.
“Calm down. “I’m scooping as fast as I can.”
I ladle from the carton to the soup bowl – 1/3 less fat, 120 calories, $2.99 on sale — spoonfuls of vanilla, chock full of chocolate chunks and ripples of golden caramel. Hard, too hard. I like it soft, just this side of starting-to-melt. Ten seconds in the microwave will do it. I’ve perfected the timing.
“You will just have to wait 10 seconds.” I can be firm.
It’s creamy, cold, sweet and glides deliciously from the lips all the way down to the stomach.
“Ahhhh. Mmmm,” she purrs and declares it to be an invention ranking right up there with the discovery of fire, the wheel and Tampax.
The bowl is empty. She points out that there’s more in the carton, purposely left out on the counter, which is now just the right soft consistency.
“120 calories per serving . . . 12 servings per carton . . .1,440 calories,“ she calculates. “We’ll just skip dinner.”
* * *
“Why? Why?” My distended stomach cries out, pushing painfully against the waistband of my pants. Hips expand, thighs grate together, intestines grumble while impolitely relieving themselves of gas as I walk to the trash to throw away the empty carton.
The body unfairly treated, yet again, by me. And the mind . . . she’s still screaming . . .
I should go out in the garden and eat worms. I’m exhausted. I hurt all over. It’s hard not to have self-pity. I TRY to limit my public and private kvetching because I know it doesn’t help . . . me or you. There’s scientific basis for the harm we do to ourselves when we talk about trauma – any kind of trauma.
If you or anyone you know has a “story of pain” (physical, psychological, social, economic etc) read Carolyn Thomas’ My Heart Sisters excellent post. Here’s a teeny taste:
Rehashing a traumatic story/event does some of the following:
- puts our system on high alert
- triggers inflammation
- triggers the fight/flight response
- triggers shutdown mode
On the flip side Carolyn talks about the benefits of sharing with close friends:
“Dr. Laura Cousin Klein and her team found that the credit for women’s unique stress reactions may belong to the hormone oxytocin (also known as the “lovehormone”). It’s the body’s own wonder drug – released when we nurse our babies, for example, as well as during a woman’s stress response. It’s instinctual, it buffers the fight-or-flight response and it encourages us to tend children and gather with other women instead – what’s called our tend-and-befriend response to stress. This calming response does not occur in men, says Dr. Klein, because testosterone—which men produce in high levels when they’re under stress—seems to reduce the effects of oxytocin. Estrogen, she adds, seems to enhance it.”
Read the entire post “I don’t want to talk about it“- a Judy’s-Must-Read-Blog-Post.
I’m so smart. I’ve been employing this strategy for years! The only problem is when I remember what I forgot, I forget why I needed to remember what I forgot to remember.
Leigh Wells/Ikon Images/Getty Images
by CHRIS BENDEREV
“A new scientific model of forgetting is taking shape, which suggests keeping multiple memories or tasks in mind simultaneously can actually erode them.”
“Neuroscientists already knew that memories can interfere with and weaken each other while they are locked away in the recesses of long-term memory. But this new model speaks to what happens when multiple memories are coexisting front and center in our minds, in a place called “working memory.”‘
“It argues that when we let multiple memories come to mind simultaneously, those memories immediately lock into a fierce competition with each other.” When these memories are tightly competing for our attention the brain steps in and actually modifies those memories,” says Jarrod Lewis-Peacock, a neuroscientist at UT Austin.”
“The brain crowns winners and losers. If you ended up remembering the milk and forgetting the phone call, your brain strengthens your memory for getting milk and weakens the one for phoning your friend back, so it will be easier to choose next time you’re faced with that dilemma.”
It’s a strain on my brain
whether it’s June, July or December
lots of tasks
my brain crowns the winner
which I reward with dinner
Eats I never forget
Food being a permanent mind set
P.S. I forgot to tell you that you can read the entire article by clicking on the title above.
I am fascinated by our newfound ability to study the brain in real-time. For most of my life the only way the brain was studied was by autopsy.
For decades, I’ve explained to clients that “feelings” are not psychological constructs but a neurochemical phenomena. I had no proof – just trickles of brain research I read. Now that I’m retired the evidence is mounting. I’d love to be able to say “I told you so!”
In psychological “terms” the proportion of outward behavior is a measure of internal feelings. Examples: Do you know some one who is a “control freak”? Of course you do.
The more someone tries to exert control over everyone and everything it is usually (read “always” – I’m trying to be “politically correct, ahem . . .) a direct measure they internally/unconsciously feel out of control. People who “feel” in control don’t have to prove they are in control – they can collaborate, give others credit etc.
Know someone who is a narcissist – the earth revolves around them, not the sun? Of course you do.
The more a person needs to boast about themselves, point the finger of blame at others etc. . . . the more insecure they are. Read about some interesting brain research that substantiates this that on a neurological level.
I TOLD YOU SO!
I never answer my phone. I call people back when I have energy or e-mail because two-way phone conversations are physically tiring. Crazy! . . . sounds crazy, even to me. So I assume it sounds crazy to you.
Not wanting to be labeled as “nuts” I usually explain that after 30 years as a psychotherapist, answering my phone knowing that someone is probably calling in crisis, I’ve become phone-phobic.
You understand phobia’s and their hallmark of being irrational. You don’t understand neuroimmune-central nervous system-out-of-wack. Can’t fault you. I don’t understand it. Medical science doesn’t understand it.
Normal stimuli overload my brain circuits and the brains of others who live with Fibromyalgia, Chronic Fatigue, Lyme disease, Multiple Chemical Sensitivity, brain trauma etc. There are a lot of theories but no one really knows why or what to do about it.
Even though I’m a social person by nature all socializing tires me. One or two “events” a week is my limit. Social Events? You are undoubtedly picturing me out-on-the-town, wearing a Dior gown and sipping wine at the opera ( . . . those who know me are picturing me wearing a t-shirt, Levi’s, Crocs and sipping coffee at Starbucks).
Activities that once were pleasurable now create fatigue:
- Going to the movies or lunch with a friend (afterwards I nap for 3 hours)
- Participating in any group activity (afterwards I go to bed early)
- Walking Freddie in the park. (I go the opposite direction when I see others walking their dogs. Walking is taxing enough without interacting with dogs’ humans.)
- Shopping in stores crowded with merchandise. (My brain goes on visual overload)
- Talking on the phone to someone I love. (Yup, two-way conversations take focus and thus energy.)
Since retiring I’ve done phone sessions with clients. The pleasure of hearing their voices, catching up on their lives and the honor of hopefully helping them get back on track far outweigh any fatigue that comes later. I’ve long ago figured out that some things are well worth the consequences of a nap or a few days of inactivity.
Please continue to reach out. I will be honest with you about my options and energy. I don’t want to live as a social recluse. So E-mail me when you want to catch up, share, or get together because I won’t answer the phone . . .
This article prompted me to write this post: Cort Johnson, Social Exhaustion The comments are perhaps even more telling than the article itself.
Sometimes wanting to be “perfect” stops me from finishing projects. I’m now too tired to strive for perfection. I figure it’s time to experiment and remove expectation to get my “spark” back.
I’m comfortable abstractly sloshing paint color around but “drawing” is another matter. Put a pencil or pen in my hand and I tighten both my grip and expectation.
With that in mind, I purposely held the pencil very loosely and literally scribbled “areas” rather than try to draw perfect lines. I didn’t bother trying to copy anything, look at any references, decide where the light was coming from or have a plan. I just scribbled. I like the looseness of the drawing and taking away expectation of being precise was enjoyable.
Maybe this is a good lesson to apply to other areas of my life . . .
judy’s journal – Scribbled and scratched in the face with pencil and pastel chalk
I stopped the medication this morning. Like my painting, I’m not going to try to “finish off” the virus either . . . for now.
I look normal, I act normal (relatively normal). However, I feel exhausted much of the time, my body aches from head to toe and my brain sometimes has trouble remembering or concentrating. Please don’t tell me to exercise more, eat better, try acupuncture or go to a new doctor. After 20 years I’ve tried just about everything there is to try that I can afford, swallow or legally do.
I don’t even care anymore what you call it: Fibromyalgia, Chronic Fatigue, malingering . . . it’s just tiring being tired much of the time. I push through it otherwise I’d have no life. But the price for pushing can be days of crashing so I pick and choose my commitments.
No one knows what causes it or how to make it better. Looking back, I think I’ve had it my whole life. But I’m lucky because it didn’t become full-blown until I was an adult. For teens and young adults it’s really hard. Read this article by teens and 10 things they want the public to know. Teens who live with chronic illness and the 10 things they want you to know.
I’ve blogged about it before:
I prefer not to talk about it, write about it, dwell on it. It is what it is and I’m blessed that it’s not life threatening. But today is World Awareness Day for neuro-immune illnesses of ME/Chronic Fatigue (CFS), Fibromyalgia (FM), Lyme disease, and Multiple Chemical Sensitivity (MCS). It’s an opportunity to raise public awareness of these conditions that impact millions all over the world.
It’s a good bet that you or someone you know has one of these invisible conditions . . . if you didn’t before, you do now.
Goggle “emotional sensitivity” and you’ll find tons (well maybe not tons, but a lot) of articles, books, survival guides on how to overcome “being so sensitive”.
About 1 in 5 fit the HSP (Highly Sensitive Person) profile. I currently rate a 12 1/2 out of 16 traits below. When I was younger it was 16 out of 16. (Interestingly, artists and therapists seem to fit this profile in larger numbers than the general population . . . hmmm)
It’s baaaaaaaad: I cry at dog food commercials and can’t tolerate anything that has a hint of violence.
My husband prefers “blow’em up – shoot ’em dead – stab ’em hard” for his watching pleasure. He reminds me that it’s “not real” as I lock him in his room so I can’t see or hear what he’s watching. I watch HGTV House Hunters International, preferring my suspense and intrigue to trying to guess which house the couple will buy.
However, rather than label myself as a “Highly Sensitive Person”, I prefer to think of myself as a fragile flower . . . so much more feminine.
Here are 16 HSP traits. If you want to read more about each click here
- They feel more deeply.
- They’re more emotionally reactive.
- They’re probably used to hearing, “Don’t take things so personally” and “Why are you so sensitive?”
- They prefer to exercise solo.
- It takes longer for them to make decisions.
- They are more upset if they make a “bad” or “wrong” decision.
- They notice details.
- Not all highly sensitive people are introverts.
- They work well in team environments.
- They’re more prone to anxiety or depression (but only if they’ve had a lot of past negative experiences).
- That annoying sound is probably significantly more annoying to a highly sensitive person.
- Violent movies are the worst.
- They cry more easily.
- They have above-average manners.
- The effects of criticism are especially amplified in highly sensitive people.
- They prefer solo work environments.
The good news! I no longer have to read up on how to overcome, minimize, explain or justify my emotional sensitivity because I must have a ADRA2b gene.
(Now I can blame my mother for my sensitivity – aren’t mothers always the ones who get the credit for how we turn out . . . or the blame?)
“Your genes may influence how sensitive you are to emotional information, according to new research by a UBC neuroscientist. The study, recently published in The Journal of Neuroscience, found that carriers of a certain genetic variation perceived positive and negative images more vividly, and had heightened activity in certain brain regions.”
“People really do see the world differently,” says lead author Rebecca Todd, a professor in UBC’s Department of Psychology. “For people with this gene variation, the emotionally relevant things in the world stand out much more.”
“The gene in question is ADRA2b, which influences the neurotransmitter norepinephrine. Previous research by Todd found that carriers of a deletion variant of this gene showed greater attention to negative words. Her latest research is the first to use brain imaging to find out how the gene affects how vividly people perceive the world around them, and the results were startling.”
“Big Brother is watching you” George Orwell wrote in his novel 1984. In 2014 BIG BRAIN is controlling you. WATCH THIS!!!!!!
“Greg Gage is on a mission to make brain science accessible to all. In this fun, kind of creepy demo, the neuroscientist and TED Senior Fellow uses a simple, inexpensive DIY kit to take away the free will of an audience member. It’s not a parlor trick; it actually works. You have to see it to believe it.“
“One morning, a blood vessel in Jill Bolte Taylor’s brain exploded. As a brain scientist, she realized she had a ringside seat to her own stroke. She watched as her brain functions shut down one by one: motion, speech, memory, self-awareness . . . ”
One of the best TEDTalks EVER! VIVID, moving.
“How many brain scientists have been able to study the brain from the inside out? I’ve gotten as much out of this experience of losing my left mind as I have in my entire academic career.” — Jill Bolte Taylor
“Amazed to find herself alive, Taylor spent eight years recovering her ability to think, walk and talk. She has become a spokesperson for stroke recovery and for the possibility of coming back from brain injury stronger than before. In her case, although the stroke damaged the left side of her brain, her recovery unleashed a torrent of creative energy from her right. From her home base in Indiana, she now travels the country on behalf of the Harvard Brain Bank as the “Singin’ Scientist.”
I live a life of illusion (and so do you). My illusions include being a solid mass, living on a stationary planet.
I feel no pings of pain from the stream of neutrinos from space cruising through me at 186,282 miles per second. I’m not dizzy as I hurtle through space on a planet traveling around the sun at approximately 66,000 miles per hour.
Take a look at this video – how’s your eyesight?
“The optical illusion can highlight vision problems – people who might need glasses are often unable to pick out the fine details of Mr. Einstein’s face, and are left seeing an image of Ms. Monroe – but also points out a quirk in how the human brain processes visual information.”
“The MIT team that created “Marilyn Einstein” performed a series of experiments in which they showed participants the hybrid image for different lengths of time. When people saw the picture in just a brief flash of 30 milliseconds, they could only see Monroe – their brains simply didn’t have time to pick out the fine details of Einstein’s face, no matter what how close to or far away from the image they were. When they saw the picture for 150 milliseconds, they saw Einstein but not Monroe.”
Read the full article explaining the “Marilyn Einstein” illusion.
Skimming my surface
tell-tale signs of suffering
The pain buried deep
My haiku was inspired by Carolyn Thomas’ Post-Traumatic Growth: how a crisis makes life better – or not. Carolyn had a myocardial infarction – the “widowmaker” heart attack. Since that life altering experience she has been overwhelmingly affected by the ongoing pain of coronary microvascular disease.
Until I read Carolyn’s excellent post I had never heard of Post Traumatic GROWTH:
“Post-Traumatic Growth is the experience of positive change that occurs as a result of the struggle with highly challenging life crises.
“Although the term is new, the idea that great good can come from great suffering is ancient.”
“Reports of Post-Traumatic Growth have been found in people who have experienced bereavement, rheumatoid arthritis, HIV infection, cancer, bone marrow transplantation, heart attacks, coping with the medical problems of children, transportation accidents, house fires, sexual assault and sexual abuse, combat, refugee experiences, and being taken hostage.”
Read this informative and thought-provoking post and Carolyn’s concern for patients & people regarding this concept. Click HERE
It always “cracks me up” (figuratively speaking) when I see those signs for Chick Fil A. NOW here’s even better news . . . whether you are a cow OR a chicken . Listen to this Nutrition Facts short video on improving depression and anxiety through what you eat:
And for those of my blog readers who are too busy (or too depressed) to listen to the video here’s the conclusion:
“The complete restriction of flesh foods significantly reduced mood variability in omnivores…. Our results suggest that a vegetarian diet can reduce mood variability in omnivores. Perhaps eating less meat can help protect mood in omnivores, particularly important in those susceptible to mood disorders.
Long after the original dagger has been wiped clean of blood, wounds of failure, loneliness and rejection often never heal. We learn to cover them up with smiles and long sleeves to keep them hidden from view.
Emotional wounds lie on the surface. They get bumped, scrapped and ripped opened over and over throughout our lives. We habituate to our emotional pain and don’t look for help until our body starts talking to us through physical symptoms.
Many of you who know me well know I often speak in “hyperbole”. All of you know I’m not now exaggerating. Watch this excellent TedTalk.
“We’ll go to the doctor when we feel flu-ish or a nagging pain. So why don’t we see a health professional when we feel emotional pain: guilt, loss, loneliness? Too many of us deal with common psychological-health issues on our own, says Guy Winch. But we don’t have to. He makes a compelling case to practice emotional hygiene — taking care of our emotions, our minds, with the same diligence we take care of our bodies.”
I eat all the leftovers in the refrigerator. I make a batch of brownies from a mix and eat the batter slowly, very slowly, breathing in the chocolately aroma, feeling the slightly gritty grains of batter between my tongue and roof of my mouth. Spoonful by spoonful the intense sweetness permeates every sense of my being. I eat all the batter because turning on the oven is too complicated and not understanding what temperature or how long they need to bake too dangerous.
I search all the kitchen cupboards. The only thing left that is edible is a box of Saltine crackers and ketchup, necessities of life when you are a student and working your way through college. Intently focused, I carefully break the crackers apart into their neat little squares and slowly, carefully arrange them on a plate. It takes time to decorate them with swirls and globs of ketchup before I carefully spread the red with the tines of a fork marveling at the artistic lines I’m creating in the ketchup.
“Taste this – they’re delicious, like the best pizza ever.” I walk slowly, carefully balancing the plate, into the living room toward my roommate Shelly who’s sitting on our Salvation Army couch, her feet propped up on the wooden spool coffee table that once held wire cable for telephone repair and abandoned on a Berkeley street corner.
“Taste these – just like pizza, they are delicious,” I repeat, shoving the plate into Shelley’s line of vision as she blankly stares in the direction of the orange paper-mache flower in the milk carton that decorates the wooden spool. Mechanically, and without the enthusiasm I think warranted, she chews slowly, very slowly, silently, reflectively. Not waiting for her response I eat the rest of the pizza crackers while carrying the plate back to the kitchen to make more.
by Angus Chen
“Shortly after toking up, a lot of marijuana users find that there’s one burning question on their minds: “Why am I so hungry?” Researchers have been probing different parts of the brain looking for the root cause of the marijuana munchies for years. Now, a team of neuroscientists [led by Tamas Horvath at the Yale School of Medicine] report that they have stumbled onto a major clue buried in a cluster of neurons they thought was responsible for making you feel full.”
“An effect when cannibus is introduced in the brain . . . “creates a kind of runaway hungry effect. “Even if you just had dinner and you smoke the pot, all of a sudden these neurons that told you to stop eating become the drivers of hunger,” Horvath says. It’s a bit like slamming down on the brakes and finding weed has turned it into another gas pedal.
” . . . Last year, researchers foundthat cannabinoids lit up the brain’s olfactory center, making mice more sensitive to smells. Before that, other researchers discovered cannabinoids were increasing levels of dopamine in the brain; that’s the swoon that comes with eating tasty things.”
“For anyone who’s experienced it — you realize that’s exactly what’s happening,” he [Horvath] chuckles. “You just can’t stop, no matter how much you put in your mouth.”
. . . and I might add . . .
You just can’t stop no matter
WHAT you put in your mouth.
To read the entire article click here
Here’s hoping it’s not a “too-good-to-be-true” hype because it sounds promising. Electrical brain stimulation has long been used clinically for conditions like Parkinson’s and depression.
“Thync, a wearable startup that uses brain stimulation to affect a user’s mood, claims a new study proves that its device is capable of causing wearers to “instantly relax when they want'”.
“The study, published by bioRxiv, revealed a 14-minute session using Thync’s electrical waveforms caused a significant stress reduction in 97% of the participants.”
“Following several years of research and development the company found a way to target the noradrenergic systems and locus coeruleus – the parts of the brain responsible for regulating the ‘fight or flight’ response.”‘
“Until now artificial regulation of this response has been achieved using drugs, chemicals or invasive procedures.”
‘”Our results show that electrical neurosignalling can significantly reduce sympathetic nervous system activity in the face of stressful conditions,” said Jamie Tyler, chief scientific officer at Thync.”
“Our brains already have the power to combat stress and achieve a calm state. We found a way to invoke these mechanisms on demand using approaches described in our recent report. For neuroscience, and for us, this is a big deal.”
“The study showed that Thync’s electrical neurosignalling saw subjects experience reduced heart-rate variability, a galvanic skin response and significantly greater levels of relaxation.”
“Participants in the study described the effects of the technology as similar to meditating or the feeling experienced after drinking modest amounts of alcohol.”
“The potential impact of our findings becomes rather evident when we study how the ability to decrease stress on demand affects people in more natural contexts – in their everyday life at home or work,” said Sumon Pal, a PhD neuroscientist and executive director at Thync.”
‘”We find that people just felt better when they can instantly relax when they want. The program only takes about 10 minutes to run, but the acute effects last from 20 minutes to an hour.”‘
“We feel this can be a game-changing approach to managing the daily stress we all experience day in and day out.”
When I was a shrinkling listening was not automatic. Thirty years later I’m on auto-pilot listening simultaneously on multiple levels: What clients are saying, what they are not saying, how they are experiencing it, what their body is saying, how what I’m hearing is connected to feelings in the last few days, years, lifetimes; Listening for patterns, connections, disconnections . . .
Logic would have me think it was more stressful being a psychotherapist in the beginning of my career. So why, after just sitting and listening, I’m a zombie for days afterwards?
This explanation about chronic stress might explain some of it (I agree with everything, except for the conclusion):
‘”A young lady confidently walked around the room with a raised glass of water while leading a seminar and explaining stress management to her audience. Everyone knew she was going to ask the ultimate question, ‘Half empty or half full?’ She fooled them all. “How heavy is this glass of water?” she inquired with a smile. Answers called out ranged from 8 oz. To 20 oz.”
The “stuff” of science-fiction is no longer fiction.
“You may remember neuroscientist Miguel Nicolelis — he built the brain-controlled exoskeleton that allowed a paralyzed man to kick the first ball of the 2014 World Cup. What’s he working on now? Building ways for two minds to send messages brain to brain. Watch to the end for an experiment that, as he says, will go to “the limit of your imagination.”‘
As I get older
I grow less bolder
My body parts are rather dear
One leg up, one leg down
I’ll end up icing my rear, I fear
Two legs down are more my style
both feet on the ground awhile
trash the skates
there’s no self doubt
Easier to get about
Reserve the ice for drinks and such
One can never hydrate too much
And when my legs both give out
I could switch to four to get about
Don’t put me out to pasture yet
Am I still in the race? You bet!
Moderation is NOT my middle name. October did me in – I started celebrating Halloween early and haven’t stopped. Am I trying to hoist myself back on to my sugar shun track? Yup. Listen to this! Astounding!
Thanks Ida for tuning me into Nutrition Facts
Here’s my original post that helped me eliminate refined sugar for an entire month – 8 Steps to Kick Sugar Cravings to the Curb – Ouch!
I think my brain is suffering: Impaired Wit, Cerebral shrinkage, Eating binges, Hallucinations, Risky decisions, Anger, Lost memories, False memories, Head-in-the-clouds, slurred speech are some of the impacts from diminished or non-restorative sleep.
However, I won’t tell you which of those my brain is suffering from. You’ll have to read my blog posts to figure it out.
I can’t read this chart. The print is too small so click here for a larger image: What Sleep Deprivation Does to Your Brain.
I wonder if diminished sleep and diminished eyesight are related . . . .
If you have a brain in your head WATCH this! Important information for everyone, whether or not you or anyone you know has a chronic pain condition (including – MCS, irritable Bowell, TMJ, Interstitial Cystitis, Back pain etc.). It’s well worth your time.
Although the focus is fibromyalgia Sean Mackey, M.D., Ph.D explains how the emotions, the workings of the brain impact our physical well-being.
His presentation is 51 minutes long and then takes questions and answers.
Rosemary Lee, Seeking Equilibrium posted this on her excellent blog Seeking Equilibrium. Rosemary keeps up with the latest research and I highly recommend her blog
When it comes to women’s bodies I strongly suspect that “perfection” is really in the eye of the beholder and not the eye of the possessor! Three British students took issue with Victoria’s Secret The Perfect Body ad campaign, resulting in the online advert being retracted, but no apology from the lingerie giant.
“According to the campaigners, the advert failed “to celebrate the amazing diversity of women’s bodies by choosing to call only one body type ‘perfect’.” They asked for the ad’s message to be changed, and for an apology from the company. As of Friday afternoon, the petition had attracted more than 29,000 signatures. US underwear company Dear Kate responded in turn, posting their own version of The Perfect Body, showcasing a variety of body types.” Here’s the full article: Victoria’s Secret Changes Course on ‘Perfect Body’ Ads
Take a look, if you haven’t already, at the video on What body part would you change?
“. . . it is so easy to feel insecure about our appearance. Whether it is because of the mean comment that comes our way or the photoshopped image we see in magazines, it can be so easy to feel self-conscious about our body. When was the last time you felt comfortable in your own skin?”
“We are so excited to share with you our newest 50 people 1 question short – Comfortable. We hope that this video will inspire you to be more comfortable and confident in yourself. Beauty is not about what you don’t have, but about being comfortable in your own skin.“
I am thankful for
Not having been given the freedom
To choose my face, God,
I would have been
Tempted to copy that too
Or picked up
Pieces from the best looks
Here and there…
As I near my 70th year I am more than ever aware of what a blip in eternity my time is on this earth.
The 3 areas that the people who were dying shared with Mathew O’Reilly gave me pause for thought about what is important . . . and what isn’t.
- Forgiveness – reflecting on their regrets
- Remembrance – wanting a lasting connection with others
- Meaning – having wasted life on meaningless tasks.
It’s very short video and worth a few minutes of your life.
|“Matthew O’Reilly is a veteran emergency medical technician on Long Island, New York. In this talk, O’Reilly describes what happens next when a gravely hurt patient asks him: “Am I going to die?” — and the personal choice he made to tell the truth.”|
Did you know your brain creates waste all day and gets rid of waste all night? Not enough sleep may be a key to Alzheimer’s disease research.
“The brain uses a quarter of the body’s entire energy supply, yet only accounts for about two percent of the body’s mass. So how does this unique organ receive and, perhaps more importantly, rid itself of vital nutrients? New research suggests it has to do with sleep.”
Even if your ears are past the age of 7 take a few minutes to listen with your heart – to the message . . . and the music.
Pianist Daria van den Bercken in this talk, she plays us through the emotional roller coaster of Handel’s music — while sailing with her piano through the air, driving it down the street, and of course playing on the stage.
Music is a moral law. It gives soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination, and charm and gaiety to life and to everything. Plato
“We, verily, have made music as a ladder for your souls, a means whereby they may be lifted up unto the realm on high…” The Baha’i World Faith
Music is the shorthand of emotion. Leo Tolstoy
Psalms 95:1 – O come, let us sing unto the LORD: let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation.
Yes, I’m name calling to get your attention. Watch this TO THE END!
Social psychologist Amy Cuddy shows how “power posing” — standing in a posture of confidence, even when we don’t feel confident — can affect testosterone and cortisol levels in the brain. . . .”
ERIN, THANK YOU for telling me about this!!!
I drink a concoction of spices which is quite good that I first saw on Dr Oz. Dr Sanjay Gupta drinks this every evening for calming. Now that there is more in the news about the cognitive benefits of turmeric on Alzheimer patients and the anti-inflamatory effects of ginger and cinnamon I thought I’d share.
1 cup almond milk – either vanilla or chocolate
1/2 tsp turmeric
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp ginger
1 tsp honey to drizzle over top
Heat the almond milk in microwave. Stir in spices. Drizzle honey on top. (You can add a packet of Stevia to the mix if you like your drinks sweet) I like the dark chocolate almond milk and don’t add honey or stevia.
I buy bulk turmeric, cinnamon and ginger in the market and mix up a batch to have on hand. I add 1-3/4 tsp of mixed spices to one cup of almond milk.
Thanks Ida for tuning me into Michael Greger M.D. and NutritionFacts.org. Great information!
James Hillman explains why he believes that a person’s true character only emerges in old age.
(only 11 1/2 minutes – LISTEN!)
*Jungian psychologist James Hillman is the author of “The Force of Character and The Lasting Life”.
Thanks Laurie F. Hibernationnow for this grrrrrrrrrrrrrreat interview!
At the risk of jinxing myself I’ve been puzzling over why I do not suffer as much from fibromyalgia than the women (and men) I know who are in more pain, have more co-morbid conditions and debilitating symptoms than I do.
And because they are, for the most part, held hostage by their medical conditions they are unable to continue to work in their professions and live a “relatively normal” life. I’m not sure my life is “normal”. I’m often stopped in my tracks by exhaustion, distracted by pain but I’ve been blessed by being able to continue to work in a profession that gives my life purpose and meaning.
What’s prompted all my questioning and thinking?
I’ve been reading books written by Viktor Frankl an Austrian neurologist and psychiatrist who was a Holocaust survivor. In his book Mans Search for Meaning he writes about his incarceration in nazi death camps where he observed that those who did not believe their existence had meaning succumbed in greater numbers from starvation and disease than those who held the belief that their life had meaning.
Their purpose didn’t involve grand schemes of saving the world, curing people or groundbreaking discoveries. Purpose ranged from finishing a manuscript of a book begun before incarceration, staying alive for a family member or simply believing God had an unknown reason for them to live.
So? What part does purpose and meaning play in our lives? in your life? Does having purpose and meaning help reduce emotional or physical suffering? I don’t pretend to have the answer, just the question.
Here’s Dr Frankl in an interview about finding meaning in difficult times. (He talks about his experience in the concentration camps toward the end of the interview.)
“. . .the man on the street knows that meaning may not only be found in creating a work and doing a deed, not only in encountering someone and experiencing something, but also, if need be, in the way in which he stands up to suffering.” Viktor Frankl