My Next Right Thing


For oh-so-many years I have been compelled to buy local, support small businesses, down size and spend time doing what I felt was important.  Sometimes I have been more successful at it than others and sometimes I have lost my way entirely–having to travel full-circle to remember who I was & who I wanted to grow to be.

Well, today I joined a local farmers coop.  I have wanted to for years but was totally unaware that we had one in the area.   Not only do we have one–we HAVE HAD for almost 10 years!  Wondering where MY head has really been…..  Anyway…

After work today I stopped in and looked around, comparing prices with our local supermarkets & the sites I have been ordering from.  I was surprised at how competitive the prices are and happy with the variety of things they have. ….So I signed on,  picked up a load of local, organic  goodies and feel great about seizing the opportunity.  What have you guys done that made you feel you’ve done something good for yourself and made a difference in your community?

Common Sense from Mayo Clinic, part I


Heart-healthy diet: 8 steps to prevent heart disease

Changing your eating habits can be tough. Start with these eight strategies to kick-start your way toward a heart-healthy diet.

By Mayo Clinic staff

Although you might know that eating certain foods can increase your heart disease risk, it’s often tough to change your eating habits. Whether you have years of unhealthy eating under your belt or you simply want to fine-tune your diet, here are eight heart-healthy diet tips. Once you know which foods to eat more of and which foods to limit, you’ll be on your way toward a heart-healthy diet.

1. Control your portion size

How much you eat is just as important as what you eat. Overloading your plate, taking seconds and eating until you feel stuffed can lead to eating more calories, fat and cholesterol than you should. Portions served in restaurants are often more than anyone needs. Keep track of the number of servings you eat — and use proper serving sizes — to help control your portions. Eating more of low-calorie, nutrient-rich foods, such as fruits and vegetables, and less of high-calorie, high-sodium foods, such as refined, processed or fast foods, can shape up your diet as well as your heart and waistline.

A serving size is a specific amount of food, defined by common measurements such as cups, ounces or pieces. For example, one serving of pasta is 1/2 cup, or about the size of a hockey puck. A serving of meat, fish or chicken is 2 to 3 ounces, or about the size and thickness of a deck of cards. Judging serving size is a learned skill. You may need to use measuring cups and spoons or a scale until you’re comfortable with your judgment.

2. Eat more vegetables and fruits

Vegetables and fruits are good sources of vitamins and minerals. Vegetables and fruits are also low in calories and rich in dietary fiber. Vegetables and fruits contain substances found in plants that may help prevent cardiovascular disease. Eating more fruits and vegetables may help you eat less high-fat foods, such as meat, cheese and snack foods.

Featuring vegetables and fruits in your diet can be easy. Keep vegetables washed and cut in your refrigerator for quick snacks. Keep fruit in a bowl in your kitchen so that you’ll remember to eat it. Choose recipes that have vegetables or fruits as the main ingredient, such as vegetable stir-fry or fresh fruit mixed into salads.

Fruits and vegetables to choose Fruits and vegetables to avoid
  • Fresh or frozen vegetables and fruits
  • Low-sodium canned vegetables
  • Canned fruit packed in juice or water
  • Coconut
  • Vegetables with creamy sauces
  • Fried or breaded vegetables
  • Canned fruit packed in heavy syrup
  • Frozen fruit with sugar added

3. Select whole grains

Whole grains are good sources of fiber and other nutrients that play a role in regulating blood pressure and heart health. You can increase the amount of whole grains in a heart-healthy diet by making simple substitutions for refined grain products. Or be adventuresome and try a new whole grain, such as whole-grain couscous, quinoa or barley.

Another easy way to add whole grains to your diet is ground flaxseed. Flaxseeds are small brown seeds that are high in fiber and omega-3 fatty acids, which can lower your total blood cholesterol. You can grind the seeds in a coffee grinder or food processor and stir a teaspoon of them into yogurt, applesauce or hot cereal.

Grain products to choose Grain products to limit or avoid
  • Whole-wheat flour
  • Whole-grain bread, preferably 100% whole-wheat bread or 100% whole-grain bread
  • High-fiber cereal with 5 g or more of fiber in a serving
  • Whole grains such as brown rice, barley and buckwheat (kasha)
  • Whole-grain pasta
  • Oatmeal (steel-cut or regular)
  • Ground flaxseed
  • White, refined flour
  • White bread
  • Muffins
  • Frozen waffles
  • Corn bread
  • Doughnuts
  • Biscuits
  • Quick breads
  • Granola bars
  • Cakes
  • Pies
  • Egg noodles
  • Buttered popcorn
  • High-fat snack crackers

4. Limit unhealthy fats and cholesterol

Limiting how much saturated and trans fats you eat is an important step to reduce your blood cholesterol and lower your risk of coronary artery disease. A high blood cholesterol level can lead to a buildup of plaques in your arteries, called atherosclerosis, which can increase your risk of heart attack and stroke.

The American Heart Association offers these guidelines for how much fat and cholesterol to include in a heart-healthy diet:

Type of fat Recommendation
Saturated fat Less than 7% of your total daily calories, or less than 14 g of saturated fat if you follow a 2,000-calorie-a-day diet
Trans fat Less than 1% of your total daily calories, or less than 2 g of trans fat if you follow a 2,000-calorie-a-day diet
Cholesterol Less than 300 mg a day for healthy adults; less than 200 mg a day for adults with high levels of LDL (“bad”) cholesterol or those who are taking cholesterol-lowering medication

The best way to reduce saturated and trans fats in your diet is to limit the amount of solid fats — butter, margarine and shortening — you add to food when cooking and serving. You can also reduce the amount of saturated fat in your diet by trimming fat off your meat or choosing lean meats with less than 10 percent fat.

You can also use low-fat substitutions when possible for a heart-healthy diet. For example, top your baked potato with salsa or low-fat yogurt rather than butter, or use low-sugar fruit spread on your toast instead of margarine.

You may also want to check the food labels of some cookies, crackers and chips. Many of these snacks — even those labeled “reduced fat” — may be made with oils containing trans fats. One clue that a food has some trans fat in it is the phrase “partially hydrogenated” in the ingredient list.

When you do use fats, choose monounsaturated fats, such as olive oil or canola oil. Polyunsaturated fats, found in nuts and seeds, also are good choices for a heart-healthy diet. When used in place of saturated fat, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats may help lower your total blood cholesterol. But moderation is essential. All types of fat are high in calories.

Fats to choose Fats to limit
  • Olive oil
  • Canola oil
  • Margarine that’s free of trans fats
  • Cholesterol-lowering margarine, such as Benecol, Promise Activ or Smart Balance
  • Butter
  • Lard
  • Bacon fat
  • Gravy
  • Cream sauce
  • Nondairy creamers
  • Hydrogenated margarine and shortening
  • Cocoa butter, found in chocolate
  • Coconut, palm, cottonseed and palm-kernel oils

Putting On The Brakes….


I’ve felt it creeping up for a couple weeks……. More fatigue, less energy, aching, nausea, no appetite &

Taking it easy….

headaches…. So I’ve been backing off things and taking it easier, hoping to avert a miserable exacerbation.  The joint pain & southern discomfort started yesterday, while I was (of all things) leading a meeting.  No, I did NOT have to run from the room, thank goodness.

Today I’m resting, taking my medications on my “head it off at the pass” schedule (like a good girl) and looking forward to a few days of Ensure & other liquids…..  Listening to my body helps me stay on top of the curve–most times, at least.  For now, I’m remaining hopeful & proactive!

From: PICK YOUR BRAIN


Shared from PICK YOUR BRAIN’s page.  Nothing helps us be more successful than a well designed plan combined with an open mind.  Read on…..

FIVE WAYS TO LIVE A DRAMA FREE LIFE:

Drama sucks.

Not “dramas” as in movies, TV shows, plays, etc that are serious in tone, but rather “drama” as in the petty ridiculous conflicts that get blown way out of proportion for no reason at all.

Urban Dictionary has my favorite definition of this kind of drama: “making a big deal over something unnecessarily.”

We’d like to believe that petty social drama ends the day we leave high school, but sadly, this is not the case. No matter how old they are, people can still find ways of adding unnecessary conflict to their relationships, be they at work, at home, or with friends.

This is truly a shame, because drama increases stress, ruins relationships, and eats away at that one precious commodity none of us can afford to waste: time.

If you want to stress less, have better relationships, and make the most of the limited time you have on earth, I would highly suggest you eliminate as much of the drama from your life as you can.  Here are 5 things you can do to live “drama free”:

 

Make No Assumptions

Assumptions are where drama starts. Somebody does something that bothers you, and then you run off and start making assumptions about why they did it.

What you observe someone doing is fact. If that bother you, then you need to deal with it. The moment you start making assumptions about their reasons, motives, or inner dialog is the moment you move out of the realm of rational thought and into the world of unnecessary stress.

You have no way of truly knowing what a person is thinking or why they do the things they do. Catch yourself when you start making those assumptions; if you want to live drama free, let those assumptions go and simply resolve to deal with the observable behavior.

Don’t Believe the Grapevine

Problems tend to increase exponentially with each additional person who is added to the communication chain. If I hear you say something, I can be pretty sure of what I heard. If Sandy tells me that John told Jane that Steve heard Sheila say something, chances are that the story you are hearing bears little resemblance to the actual truth.

Each additional person alters the story to some degree. They may remember things differently. They may add in emotion of verbiage that wasn’t there before. They may just be flat out wrong.

If you hear something through the grapevine, it might be worth investigating. But if you work yourself up into a lather based on third, fourth, and fifth party communication, then you are just feeding the drama monster.

Don’t get sucked into this. Skip the grapevine and go straight for the horse’s mouth. It will save time and cut the drama factor way down…

Be Direct

Drama is simply a byproduct of people’s inability to communicate like logical, rational adults. This is why it is so prevalent in highs school. This is also why it should be 100% unacceptable in the adult world.

If you have a problem with someone, talk to them about it. If you believe that someone has a problem with you, talk to them about it. Direct conversations nip drama in the bud. This is not to say that direct conversations make all problems go away, but they will help you cut through the nonsense and deal with the real issue.

Relationship challenges begin and are compounded by passive aggressive behavior and indirect communication. If you want to cut out the drama, be willing to have those “crucial conversations.”

Be the Bigger Person

Fighting fire with fire is good if you are trying to control a raging wilderness inferno. It’s not so good if you are trying to eliminate needless petty conflicts from your life.

When you find yourself the victim of some small offense, your first instinct may be to respond in kind. While this may feel good for a moment, it usually just escalates the situation and makes everything worse. If you truly want to live drama free, then you need to be willing to be the bigger person and let things go.

You don’t need to get in the last word, you don’t need to “one up” the other person, and you certainly don’t need to make them pay for wronging you. Just let it go, and watch the drama flow away.

Avoid Drama Queens

After you have made sure that you are not creating the drama yourself, the best way to keep your life drama free is to eliminate the drama queens (or kings!) from your life.

This is easy when you meet new people or are dealing with someone you aren’t very close to. Once you realize they are “drama prone,” minimize (or if you can, eliminate) the interactions you have with them.

With people you are close to, have a long history with, or are related to, or who are genuinely good people who’s one major flaw is their tendency to make a big deal over nothing, you don’t have to cut them out of your life altogether. Just acknowledge that quality about them and, when they start acting up, don’t get sucked into their “drama vortex.”

We are functions of our environment. To live drama free, get as many drama creators out of your life as possible.

You may never be able to eliminate all the drama from your life, but with just a little bit of focus and discipline you can certainly minimize how much you have in your life. It’s well worth doing – the less drama you have in your life, the room you have for fun, joy and great relationships!

***
Avish Parashar is the Motivational Smart Ass. As a speaker and on his blog, Avish makes people laugh while sharing with them simple ideas to make their lives easier and more successful. To read more of his ridiculous rantings on self improvement, watch videos of him in action, and download the free “How to Think Quick” MP3, visit his Motivational Humor Blog at http://www.MotivationalSmartAss.com

Rights & Choices


Can you tell me what’s wrong with this very popular picture traveling around on Facebook?  On the surface, it sounds like a very live-and-let-live approach to life.  Think it through though…

First, not all of these things should be lumped together as “rights”.  Given the spectrum of the list, it’s like comparing apples, horse shoes & Volkswagens.  Also, factor in the reality that a large subset of society routinely chooses the  easy, fun & hedonistic option over the smart considerate  one, no matter WHAT the better option is ~OR~ the impact on others.

Gay marriages, guns , abortions & sex fall into a different area than smoking, alcohol & drugs & they shouldn’t be lumped together.

Regarding rights, I definitely have the right to NOT be subjected to second-hand smoke–one person’s right ends when it negatively impacts the right of another.  Alcohol is fine, in moderation & in an appropriate manner & setting.  With that being said, I have the right to drive without getting hit by a drunk driver, or go to the mall without being accosted by a drunk.  Regarding drugs:  I have the right to NOT be jacked by someone tweaked out on meth.  I also have the right to NOT have my home broken into by some drug-seeking individual whose concept of rights & boundaries have been blurred by addiction or substances.  Are you picking up what I’m putting down???

Simple Living Pledge


I found the simple living pledge at Kanelstrand: Simple Living for Human Beings  and think it’s a fantastic idea!  I’m mired in a house full of unnecessary stuff and it’s choking the life & spirit right out of me.  Honestly,  I had started a post titled Drowning in Success, which was based on my accumulation o’ crap.  No I’m not a hoarder but it’s not for lack of desire….  Here’s the information on the simple living pledge.  Check out the link above to take the pledge yourself!

What is Simple Living?
  • Identifying what is most important for you and eliminating everything else.
  • Freeing up time for doing what inspires you and being with the people you love.
  • Decluttering your mind, your everyday life and your virtual life.
  • Single-tasking and learning to diminish stress.
  • Striving to live frugally by wanting less and buying only what is necessary.
  • Slowing down and being actively present in the moment.
  • Living a healthy life, including cleaning your home and your body, eating, exercising and thinking.
  • Striving to be green and sustainable as much as your surroundings allow.
  • Enjoying the simple pleasures of life.
  • Simplifying your goals, tasks and expectations.
What is the Simple Living Pledge?
This is a solemn and personal promise to live a simple life in a complicated world. Simple living is the conscious act of cleaning your mind and surroundings of clutter and filling the space with the things that you value. After spending years entangled in stress, multitasking and clutter, 3 years ago my family started a conscious simplifying process in all aspects of life and now I am the first to sign the Simple Living Pledge.
Why take the pledge?
By taking the pledge you are making a conscious decision to keep your sanity in a modern life, where everyone is screaming the opposite. It has long been known that after you make up your mind, the next step to fulfilling a wish is to write it down. Signing your name and pasting the badge on your blog/website is what will serve as a reminder to slow down, relax and look for the simple truths in life even when you are tempted to forget and get back to normal. Let simple be your new normal!
Who can take the pledge?

Anyone – regardless of age, nationality or language. You don’t need to have a blog or website to sign the pledge. The only thing you need is willingness to live a better, simpler life.

My Personal Wellness Plan


When I started this blog  I was sick & couch–bound.  I  hoped to loosely chronicle my slow ascent to better health.  Well, I am officially pronouncing it a success!  Yes I’m doing much better; most of it because I’m making better choices & have learned the rules for being the “new me”.  Had I continued to live the same way, I suspect my outcome would’ve been much less impressive.

One of my biggest choices was how to continue working & maintaining my independent life. The prospect of living on disability, for me, was a worst-case scenario and I could NOT wrap my head around it. Realistically  chronic illness creates bad days/weeks/months where I feel like hell and there’s no way around it.  Soooo,   I concluded that most times being at work didn’t make me feel worse & sometimes it even made me feel better.  Plus, it’s better to try than not.  At that point  I realized I had to tweak & clarify what REALLY worked,  accept that my life has changed FOREVER, then find a way to make it work.  GAME ON!

Towards that end, I worked part-time and spent a number of  years streamlining my health management routine-such as it has become.  I’m officially a high maintenance health gal and frankly, the whole process makes me yearn to poke my own eyeball out with a fork.  Yeah–it’s that much fun.  However, the alternative is even less desirable, so I’m on board!

Thus began years of picking & choosing, trialing & erroring, trying & failing, wishing & whining;  a quest to  find what works without feeling like I’m suffering, missing out or deprived.   I’ve kept food diaries, symptom diaries, pain diaries, vital signs diaries, feelings diaries, calendars, day planners, medi-planners, appointment planners, project planners…. You know what I realized??  I still did whatever I wanted or felt like.  (Sez the cranky old lady who preaches accountability and responsibility all the time…..)  Most of them were only mildly helpful since I kept opting to forget to use the information I learned about me.  I think I have a post on DENIAL somewhere… Finally, I figured out (admitted)  I actually had to USE the information I discovered….

Anyway,  I have been able to implement a few (basic)  key things most of the time and a few more some of the time.  I can tell it’s been helpful and my health world has improved.  I wouldn’t say I’ve been wildly successful since some of the more important efforts have been epic fails, but I’ve MORE than scratched the surface.  Here are some of the things I’ve done/learned that have made a great difference:

1.  I say “NO”.  Lesson:  When you say ‘no’ to something, it means you’re saying “YES” to something else.  You are not required to explain to anyone why.  If the recipient of said “no” feels that “why” matters, stick by your guns.  It’s THEIR boundary issue, not yours.  Let’em stew.

2.  I get enough sleep.  It’s ok to take a nap if you need to.  See #1 if required.

3.  I always carry a couple of durable, healthy snacks in my  bag/car so I’ll remember to eat them instead of a donut at least half of the time.  DO NOT leave an apple in the glove box from February ’til May ~OR~ put a ripe banana in a tote bag….Just keepin’ it real….

4.  I take my medicine like I’m  supposed to and I don’t get dramatic about side effects.  Drama is the enemy in all things.  Remember–Your Dr. is NOT trying to kill you.  Side effects are expected; that’s why they’re listed on the information we’re given at the pharmacy. Many of them pass with time.  If the side effects are insurmountable, talk to your health professional INSTEAD of talking about them behind their back. IF every medication has (in your mind) side effects which aren’t tolerable, then you haven’t been sick enough yet.  Keep NOT taking care of yourself; soon the side effects won’t seem so crappy.   Communication is the single greatest FAIL in health care today and I see a lot of patients dropping the ball.  Rant over.

5.  I try to manage the options within my control.  I resolved to stretch/exercise four days a week.  I actually do it only 2-3 days a week.  I feel better though and I feel best when I stick with my resolution.  Without it, I lose strength & lean muscle at the speed of light.  (Not to mention my ass hastens its quest southward)  My attitude also starts circling the drain-if you know what I mean… Our bodies truly are “use it or lose it” mechanisms.  No way around it and no pill and no amount of complaining will fix it.

6.  If I eat foods with ingredients I can’t pronounce, I’ll feel like words I shouldn’t say…..

7.  I always take a multi-vitamin.  Really.

8.  I think and plan ahead.  If I  know my medications cost a lot of money every month, I don’t act like it’s a surprise every time they roll around.   If you’re struggling with med costs, check out www.needymeds.org  Sometimes it’s a sacrifice but a $50 prescription is better than a $10,000 hospital stay….

9.  I take care of myself in general.  Keeping a basic daily routine makes a difference.  So does keeping some sort of log or diary. Putting on a little makeup helps.  De-cluttering areas that cause me stress REALLY helps.  If I only have five minutes to spend, I can make a difference in my life, my surroundings and how I feel about them.

10.  When I have setbacks or get discouraged, I remind myself of the progress I’ve made ~AND~ that my process remains a work in progress.

Drama Magnets


I have learned many things in my quest to take better care of myself.  In the beginning, I focused entirely on physical things:  Eating well, resting, medication scheduling.  After I had a system in place for those (not perfect, mind you), I started noticing other areas of my life needed some attention.

A number of people on the periphery of my life seemed to generate constant chaos.  Luckily, I

had limited interaction with them, but sometimes I had to enter their orbit.  You know the ones I’m talking about.  After spending an hour with them, it feels like my  life force has been drained out my ear ~or~  I can actually see them sucking all of the light & life out of the free world.  Yes, THOSE folks.

When I run across individuals with that ‘unique skill set’, I quietly observe to determine what actually sets the vortex spinning.  On rare occasions,  the drama arises from outside sources and mows them down like a lawn mower.  Those folks have my genuine sympathy.

Others stir & muddy the waters themselves and blame everyone around them–and they do it over and over and over and….. You get the picture…..  Everything offends them, everything is an issue to be contested, everyone is against them, the glass is TOTALLY empty.  Forever arguing, fighting blaming, complaining…The old wise folks in my life have a term for them:  Shit stirers.  Not P.C. at all, but aptly stated.  I label them ‘toxic’.

I have learned to avoid these people.  I don’t have to agree with them, or counsel them, and I’m definitely NOT responsible for fixing them.  They thrive by sucking others in and I won’t be fuel for the drama.  On occasion, I’m asked why I avoid certain individuals.  At first, I was uncomfortable discussing my observations, but over time, have become quite effective at telling the kind truth.

Moral of the story?  It’s absolutely appropriate to avoid people who suck the life out of you.  Don’t feel guilty.

Worth repeating–I LOVE the Graphics Fairy!

The Graphics Fairy

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Milky Way Above Zion National Park

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