Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Earth Day

April 22nd was Earth Day, a time when the human race was urged to examine how it could modify its action faced with the degradation of the planet. Earth Day had a modest beginning in 1970 when U.S. Senator Gaylord Nelson from Wisconsin invited students to implement projects to sensitize their communities to the needs of the environment. Since then, the warnings from scientists have become more dire as our actions have brought us closer to a point of irreversibility.

But there is reason to be optimistic because we are changing our ways and becoming more engaged in our efforts to heal the earth. I can certainly see that in my grandchildren. Being green is now second nature to them.

However, when you make that comment to older folks, they are proud to point out that they were green before it became a fashionable modern-day virtue. I remember that my grandmother transformed the cotton sacs in which she bought flour to make her bread into sturdy tea towels. My mother who sewed a lot of our clothes kept all the remnants, and when there was enough she would braid them by hand and make beautiful rugs displaying an array of gorgeous colors. Braided rugs are still available of course, but they are now made by machine and to me lack the personal touch I remember so fondly.

In my mother’s day, little was thrown away. Things were reused, recycled. Of course, in those days life was different, many would argue simpler. But in the years of after-war posterity life changed. Like many of you, I remember a time when cars were long and pink and gas was selling for about 25 cents a gallon. So we fell in love with automobiles not thinking about their growing impact on the air we breathe. Fortunately, we are getting back to basics after decades of spending our resources without much thought to how it was affecting the environment, but a lot remains to be done. 

I believe each of us should get involved in “greening” our world beyond the weekly recycling of household trash. We should be involved in our respective communities and pressure decision makers so that economic development does not come before environmental protection. We have to think like Gaylord Nelson did when he initiated Earth Day. Every day should Earth Day.


Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Heart Disease

Whatever time of the year the media finds ways of focusing on the latest information for keeping heart disease at bay. It is always important to encourage people to do the things needed to stay heart-healthy physically. Eating right, exercising regularly and managing stress are all steps in that direction. 

There is another type of heart disease the media seldom discusses: the broken heart. Hearts can be broken in so many ways: seeing a child suffer; supporting a spouse or sibling through a long illness; losing a mate; losing a close friend; or having to put down a cherished pet. We’ve all had our hearts broken along the way, in some cases many times. And as the years pile on, we’re bound to have our hearts broken many more times.

But to me it’s when our hearts are broken that we know we have loved, that we have shared life with someone who has enriched us. Having faced the trauma of the emotional disease that is a broken heart, we go on stronger than before. What doesn’t kill us makes us stronger, the saying goes, and as we know a broken heart doesn’t kill, it makes us more compassionate and understanding when troubles befall others. We can support them because we know that, as I suspect all grandmothers say, the grieving shall pass and the heart will go on much richer.






Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Living Longer

Reading some of the medical opinions being advanced to live longer, it seemed to me to be simple common sense. But, I suppose, it’s a good idea to be reminded from time to time that what we do or don’t do affects the state of our health and quality of life. Not smoking is high on the list, followed by exercising 30 minutes each day, choosing to eat a well balanced diet with at least five servings of fruit and vegetables every day, controlling blood pressure, and learning to relax to decrease stress. All very sensible things, but not the only ones.

If you increase your social networks and reduce stress you may reach a biological age benefit of up to 30 years according to the RealAge science team, while laughing a lot can give your immune system an eight -year boost. Things certainly worth considering especially since such changes can only make life that much more enjoyable.

Telling funny jokes seems to be second nature to some people. They don’t forget jokes and have the ability to keep you in stitches for a long time. I regret that I’m not in that category. I have absolutely no talent for telling jokes. Especially when I try to impress my grandchildren. They simply roll their eyes while saying: Good one, grandma! Well, at least I try. 

I know some people who seem to be afraid to laugh. It’s simply not in their nature. Life is hard and then you die appears to be their motto, no doubt born of some type of depression or anger, or both. These people don’t even seem to have the ability to smile. One woman of my acquaintance is especially notorious for admonishing those who do enjoy a good laugh. To her it’s silly. Personally, I see it as sad because she’s not only missing out on a lot of fun, she’s also punishing her immune system. After all, who wouldn’t want to have the age benefit of laughter.






Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Small Choices

No matter our age, it is easy to make the choices that will keep us healthy. These choices need not be difficult, but they are cumulative when repeated every day.

We all know that after 50 our waistlines seem to magically thicken. Unless we choose to keep our weight under control, we can be at risks for a variety of ailments including diabetes and heart disease. Taking steps to ensure our nutritional intake is as healthy as possible is a good start, but it must be combined with regular exercise if fat is to be lost. Diet without exercise will result in a loss of muscle rather than a loss of fat.

But a regular exercise program need not be anything complicated. Walking every day is the easiest and safest form of exercise. And once it is part of your life, you will feel energized as you lose unwanted pounds. A lady I know who had long neglected any form of exercise decided one day to start walking. It was a nice day so she walked for an hour. She felt good and proud of herself for having done it, however the next morning her legs were sore, so walking fell by the wayside. Small steps should be the rule, not an all-or-nothing approach. If you haven’t been walking a great deal, like any other form of exercise, it is best to start slowly by gradually increasing time and pace.

Studies have shown that walking 30 minutes every day not only results in weight loss but has other health benefits such as lowering blood pressure, increasing lung function and strengthening bones to prevent osteoporosis. And walking is also great for lifting the spirit, especially if it is done outside in nature.  When that’s not possible, combining mall walking and window shopping is a fun alternative. There are walking clubs in almost every community, so the idea is to find one and join a group that will bring a social dimension to a walking regimen. A perfect combination!