Most People Are Wonderfu

I fell on the street in Center City Philadelphia, yesterday.

I literally landed on my face.  My left shoulder and elbow and both hands are bruised and sore today.

What isn’t sore today is my heart.  In fact, it is full of thanks for the kindness shown to me by two strangers, two women.  Both rushed to my side as I lay on the road.  Both reached to help me up.  Both smiled, murmured words of kindness and gentility and both helped pick up my purse and the things that flew from it when I landed.

A piece of the gingerbread I was taking to my doctor’s office fell on the street, just one piece.  I asked if the “…:30 second rule” applied.  Then immediately said no – not on a Philadelphia street.  We all laughed.  They helped brush the cinders off my face and shoulder and tentatively asked if I was okay.  One of them walked me into the medical building where Dr. Uberti Benz’s (my dermatologist and another angel) office is.

What exceptional people. What exceptional women.  Neither was in health care; both were seeing their own doctors.  I think both were angels sent to lift me up off the street, sent to touch my soul with theirs.

Sometimes it takes a fall, literal or figurative, to remind you that 99% of the people who share this planet with you are good and kind and caring.

 

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Filed under Death & Dying, Gifts, Healthcare, Life & Death, Mysteries, Religion

Love Knows No Bounds – from Upworthy

This morning, I share some wonderful moments of love, just love, love that is not bounded by race, religion, sexual orientation, age or disability.  This is a beautiful video.  Please enjoy it and know that this is the world I want to live in.

http://www.upworthy.com/a-bunch-of-skeletons-kiss-hug-and-dance-in-a-super-heartwarming-video-about-love

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Vietnam Veteran & A Young Boy’s POW Bracelet

Vietnam.

All these years later, all the tourist brochures and sunny reports of a lovely country in Southeast Asia…that word, that name still conjures up the place where close to 60,000 American servicemen lost their lives and hundreds of thousands were wounded or ruined or both.

Some memories you never want to awaken but this morning, reading the story of Captain Guy Gruters, I was overwhelmed, heartened and once again, reminded, of just how many wonderful men who went to war and the wonderful people who kept vigils for those who were taken prisoner – like the man whose post I am sharing with you today.

His discovery of the POW bracelet worn, all those years ago and how he found the man for whom he prayed for a safe return  make a beautiful story with a happy ending.  I hope you enjoy their story.

I need some advice… | OUR LIFE IN 3D.

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Edward Abbey – The Voice Crying in the Wilderness

The Voice Crying in the Wilderness is one of those books that I have long wanted to read but never quite got to until this week.  I wish I had read it when I was younger.  I’m glad I didn’t start reading it until now.

Abbey was a writer of some repute authoring books like The Monkey Wrench Gang and The Brave Cowboy.

A naturalist, well-educated and well-read, Abbey was also a truth teller, a writer who pulled no punches, a man frequently described with a single word – iconoclast.

He was, also, a man who kept a journal for 21 years, jotting down thoughts, observations and ideas and eventually coalescing all into the small but powerful book of which I am writing, today.

This small volume looks like an easy read and it is.  It’s also a deep, insightful, belly-laughing, terrifying and sad read.

Abbey saw, really saw his world, the world around him and the world we live in.  Divided into categories like Government and Politics, Life and Death and Money, etc, Abbey’s book doesn’t just report what he sees, it shares what he thought, his philosophy, if you will.

But The Voice Crying in the Wilderness went a bit further because Abbey’s insights are, in some cases, more than 30 years old and yet, spot on for today.  For example, the current and terrible economic situation – 1% of the United States population owning 42% of the financial wealth of this country, might resolved or at least ameliorated if we followed this insight of the author’s:

“If America could be, once again, a nation of self-reliant farmers, craftsmen, hunters, ranchers and artists, then the rich would have little power to dominate others.  Neither to serve nor to rule. That was the American Dream.”

Abbey’s predictive powers appear to be like those of the best science fiction writers, writers like Ray Bradbury, Isaac Asimov and Theodore Sturgeon,  Sturgeon once told me that sci fi was predictive because it was based in science. Sturgeon called it “scientia fiction.”

In coming weeks, I will be sharing other Abbey insights that I find compelling, telling or just plain funny. Do you have a favorite Abbbey quote? Please feel free to share it, here!

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Dieting? Watch What You Eat – It Can Kill You

Odd title but there is truth to it.   What you eat, even if you think it’s healthy, can kill you.

The information I am about to share ranges from upsetting to frightening to life-changing.  I put this together for two friends who want to lose weight and eat healthier diets.  Although some of it appears to be “off tangent,” all of this information affects your ability to lose weight and keep it off; all of it is about what to avoid (like commercially produced milk or corn) if you want to get healthy.

If you want to change your diet quickly and start to see weight loss and better health, here’s the first step.

Processed Foods
Ditch the processed foods.  I confess that this was the hardest for me and my husband but it is necessary.  Get rid of all processed foods.  That means removing foods like these:

  1. Chips of any kind (yes even and especially corn chips as they contain GMO corn and are actually almost pure sugar to the body).
  2. Potatoes in any shape or variety – not baked, not mashed and really, really not fried or escalloped.
  3. Pasta – that’s a lot to ask but almost ALL pasta on the market is made with refined grains and eating it is a bit like injecting a syringe of “bad carbs” and sugar directly into your vein.
  4. Store-bought canned soup unless it’s organic and low sodium.
  5. Candy – it is sugar.
  6. Cookies – they are sugar, flour and fat (butter or margarine and of the two, margarine is a bit riskier).
  7. Cake – ditto what I said about cookies.
  8. ANYTHING fried – french fries, fried fish, fried chicken and yes, even fried pickles.

Artificially Sweetened Anything
This step starts for most people with getting rid of diet soda.  But, wait, you’re thinking, artificial sweeteners let me cut calories and still drink something sweet. Why should I cut out all artifical sweeteners?

Early research indicates that artificial sweeteners may “trick” the body and cause an increase in eating because the body expects sugar and doesn’t get it (my summary and certainly not all that scientific but Yale Journal of Biology and Medicine explains in more detail).

Meat
Protein from meat is not all bad but it can be if you don’t know where your meat has been before it came to your store or your dinner plate.

In this move to change what you eat, you need to be aware and wary of where your meat comes from.  The only meat I buy is organic and locally raised.  Cows get to graze, chickens get to free-range (literally) and pigs enjoy field time until the day they are picked up.  I visit the farm. I interview the farmer and I specifically ask about hormones, antibiotics and steroids — all not so secret ingredients in commercially produced meat.

Meat whose origins you are unsure of can be dangerous to you and your loved ones. How can I say this?

  1. Chickens, raised commercially, have exactly 6 inches of space to live in.  They are de-beaked because they are so over-crowded that they attack each other. They are fed arsenic to make them “healthier.”  Chickens raised commercially are so stressed that the campylobacter which used to reside in their intestinal tract is now showing up in the flesh of the bird making it necessary for us to raise the internal temp of chicken to a minimum of 160 degrees when baking to kill this bacteria. So I don’t eat commercially raised chicken for reasons of health and humanity.
  2. Breeding female pigs “farmed”by companies like Smithfield in CAFOs (Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations) are held in severely restrictive gestation crates and are forced to stand, literally, for their entire breeding lives.  They cannot turn or lay down in these crates.  I refuse to support this type of cruelty to any animal let alone a pig, which is smarter than the smartest dog (which was a Border Collie with a documented vocabulary of more than 900 words).
  3. On average, 100,000 head of cattle are held in feedlots and fed….cornflakes….to bulk them up prior to slaughter.  Feedlots sound a whole lot nicer than what they really are.   Over-crowding, thigh high mud, and an unnatural diet for a ruminant cause many of the cattle to get bacterial infections.  Antibiotics are standard operating procedure for “managing” the potential for illness but the downside is that the antibiotics get in the beef, in the water and in our bodies.

Cows and pigs are both raised in CAFOs.  CAFOs are not new.  The Union of Concerned Scientists is the leading science-based nonprofit studying and working for a healthy environment and a safer world. This group published a damning paper in 2008 about CAFOs, which focused not just on the horrendous treatment of the animals held/raised in these operations but in the huge risk due to unsanitary, overcrowded conditions  Also, drone footage of the Smithfield operation , which was recently released, shows just how terrible the conditions are in CAFOs and just how much waste the CAFOs produce.

If that information is not enough to have you looking for a local farmer, you should know that CAFOs have to use significantly larger amounts of antibiotics on their animals to try to overcome the hazardous conditions in which they raise the animals.  Last year, the CDC found a direct link to rising incidents of human infection with so-called super bugs like MRSA but also with the common bacteria like e-coli, salmonella, campylobacter and shigella (which causes shingles)   NOTE:  run off from these CAFOs affect fish, birds, bugs and….our drinking water.

Dairy
Last but not least on the list of foods to eliminate — for both your diet and your health are commercially produced dairy products.

I have been trying to move that way and now, because of a TED talk, I will be trying even harder.  According to the speaker, Robyn O’Brien, in 1994, a hormone was introduced to milk cows to increase milk production.It increased production but also caused mastoiditis and cysts in the cattle which required antibiotics which also ended up in our food.

O’Brien is a former food industry analyst and marketer and now the mother of 4 children. She speaks about what has changed all the foods we still think are healthy for us and why they are not. She’s not advocating an overthrow of the giant food companies; she is advocating that these companies start rethinking their strategies a bit as more people awaken to the fact that their health is on the line.

So, if you want to eat healthy and lose weight you have to put in a bit of work.  Rethink the proposition.  Read labels. Research. Know, for a fact, that many of the grains, milk and meat in our marketplace today are being “manufactured” by industry to get more of the product and more profit while basically sickening the people who use them.

It’s not the foods; it’s what the business has put in them.  But you can stop subsidizing these big comapanies.  And you can fight back by buying organic, buying local and growing some of your own.

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Nancy Kanwisher: A neural portrait of the human mind | Talk Video | TED.com

If anyone had asked me if a TED talk on neural imaging of the brain would make me cry…I probably would have laughed.

But this TED talk by Nancy Kanwisher did just that.  In the last 2 or 3 minutes of this fascinating talk, Kanwisher popped some images on the screen and I cried, instantly, spontaneously.

I won’t spoil it for anyone who wants to watch this talk but, having lost both of my brothers to brain tumors, I found the information and the imaging absolutely brilliant.

And the final images stunned me.  I hope you enjoy it, too.

Nancy Kanwisher: A neural portrait of the human mind | Talk Video | TED.com.

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4 Tips for Safe, Effective Sunscreen Use

Every August since 1993, my small family has shared a house on the beach in North Carolina.  It’s only for 1 week but it is a wonderful week of boogey boarding, books and board games.

It is also one of the hotter months of the year, a time when the sun beats down on hot sand and warm ocean water, a time when sunburns and skin damage can really take their toll.

I have always loved my time in the sun; I was a beach bunny as a 20 something.  Today, I still ride the waves with my grandchildren and walk the beach with my daughter and husband.  I garden.  I ride horses.  I play Kan Jam.

But all that time in the sun came with a price which I am paying right now.  I was diagnosed with skin cancer – melanoma – in January of this year. I spent Valentine’s Day under a surgeon’s knife having a large portion of my left hip removed due to melanoma.

I’ll admit that this experience has made me a bit crazy about sunscreen, finding the right one, finding one I can afford and using it properly.

I’m not the only one who is confused by manufacturers’ claims about the sunscreens they sell.  But Earth Easy has cut through all the noise to share a short, clearly written article about what products work best and why.  4 Tips for Safe, Effective Sunscreen Use | Eartheasy Blog.

I found two products on Amazon that work for me – Elta MD Skincare makes both; both are broad spectrum and both are free of the chemicals Earth Easy warns against. The general sunscreen is a “sport” sunscreen meaning it doesn’t sweat off into your eyes or mouth.

Enjoy the dog days of August, play in the surf and loll on the sand but make sure you read up and buy the right sunscreen for you and for your family.

 

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Filed under Death & Dying, Healthcare, Life & Death