Hug Yourself…We All Need Some Self-Love

Editor’s Note: When I picked up Wes and Anna’s article on self-love I knew they were sending it to me personally. Anna has been aware of some upending events in my personal life recently and she sent this unsolicited piece to remind me that sometimes you need to check out of the chaos and just be kind to yourself. Thanks Anna and Wes for knowing how to support a friend. Sending hugs your way.

 

Hug Yourself….We All Need Some Self-Love

Be kind to yourself 

By Anna Hessel with Wes Hessel

 

You Only Have One You

In tumultuous times, self care, self love, and choosing to be comfortable in our own skin are as important as ever.  Here are some ways to stay positive and upbeat in a negative world:

  1. Remember that Joe Biden, not Donald Trump, is President.
  2. Reading relaxes – curl up with a good book, the Good Book perhaps; read a newspaper or magazine, read blogs (especially this one).
  3. Comfort foods are comforting in moderation and fruits and veggies will keep you healthy.
  4. Exercise: it gives you endorphins, and endorphins sure do make you happy.
  5. That glass of wine, margarita, martini, or Kahlua can be a comfort but do not over do.
  6. Prayers and meditation are a healing balm to a weary soul.
  7. Get a manicure, pedicure, facial, massage, or body wrap – think of it as an investment in yourself.
  8. Use a facemask, take a bubble bath, or a hot shower.
  9. Look at art, it is calming and thought provoking – in a gallery or museum can add to the impact.
  10. Cook or bake a new or old favorite recipe, and then actually eat it, or share it with others.

Let It Out

  1. Light some scented candles, just not so many that you burn the place down, because only a fire in a fireplace or grill is comforting. Opt to meet your fire department at their next open house, not before.
  2. Smile – it takes less muscles to grin versus frowning.
  3. Realize it’s okay to not be okay. God gave us emotions for a reason – controlling them is not always for the best.
  4. Embrace the sadness as you work through the pain – God has your back.
  5. Take a dip in a pool – as long as it’s actually open.
  6. Enjoy a sauna or whirlpool – ditto.
  7. Contact a friend; real friends don’t judge – they encourage, commiserate, and help you to see humor, if there is any, in a given situation.
  8. Call clergy or a help line if things get too difficult for you to deal with on your own.
  9. Scream loud, it actually helps – just do it in an appropriate place; in line at the grocery store, the dry cleaners, a church, theater, or at the department of motor vehicles (tempting though it may be) are not on the list of appropriate places.
  10. Listen to music, it soothes the soul and the savage beast – or is that breast?

You’re Worth It

  1. Hear children’s laughter.
  2. Laugh at something funny or silly – laughter really is the best medicine, after all.
  3. Binge watch favorite shows, take in a movie, find new favorite shows, or watch your favorite film (mine is Legally Blonde but there are many more movies that I love). Give me a chick flick anyday.
  4. Take a break from social media drama – yes, this means you, Facebook.
  5. Do an act of kindness for someone, because being nice never goes out of style.
  6. Compliment someone.
  7. Clean out that closet, and donate what you don’t need – one person’s trash is another’s treasure. Let’s not fill up those landfills.
  8. Dance and don’t care who is watching.
  9. Sing your favorite song loud, even if it is off key.
  10. Take a class – it shows you have some.

Try Something

  1. Go for a walk or a drive, nature can comfort even the most frazzled nerves, but always on designated paths or roads, unless you’re the off-road type.
  2. Turn everything off.
  3. Talk to Alexa – her and I have had some wonderful conversations.
  4. Have a date night – if you don’t have a significant other, date yourself.
  5. Pet an animal – ‘fur-babies’ are an uplifting lot.
  6. Play a board game with friends, but don’t argue over what Free Parking is for, or who gets the dog or the top hat.
  7. Get dressed up, wear a silly hat, or some Betsey Johnson boots.
  8. Play in the snow or the sand.
  9. Redecorate – do something different to spice up your decor. I, however, do not recommend painting multiple color stripes on the walls.
  10. Deep clean the whole house – spring cleaning isn’t just for spring.

Get Out And Get Going…

  1. Window shop, and maybe even stop in to buy something special.
  2. Go to the grocery store on free sample day. Costco has samples everyday.
  3. Volunteer – it helps you and someone else.
  4. Watch a Little League baseball, or pee wee football game, go to your local high school musical, or attend a dance or piano recital, just not as one of those parents.
  5. Drink a glass of champagne while wearing your best outfit – celebrate you.
  6. Stomp your feet, it’s fun – just make sure the surface you’re doing it on can withstand it.
  7. Ride a bike, motorcycle, or snowmobile. How about a Qubi?
  8. Go horseback riding.
  9. Do yoga, water aerobics, barre, spin class, Pilates, or another group exercise – twitch those hips (not twerk)
  10. Take a dance class – ballet, ballroom, and belly dancing are always fun and great exercise; work those endorphins as per Elle Woods.

Prescribe Yourself a Chill Pill

  1. Take a deep breath and exhale.
  2. Watch a sunrise or sunset. How about both?
  3. Stretch – physically or emotionally.
  4. Do something out of your comfort zone but keep it within reason. Getting arrested is not what I’m suggesting here; but maybe try a Karaoke night out.
  5. Visit your place of worship, local library, or neighborhood park.
  6. Attend an online or live event, such as a concert, lecture, or play.
  7. Challenge someone to a short race. It doesn’t matter who wins – you’re in the running.
  8. Walk, dance, or sing in the rain – umbrella or rain slicker optional.
  9. Clear out the kitchen cabinets and donate to a food pantry.
  10. Visit an elderly person – it will make their day and they may just share their wisdom with you.

It’s The Little Things

  1. Count your blessings, even when things are rough – sadness and difficult circumstances will not last forever; this too shall pass.
  2. Thank heaven for being alive.
  3. Smell a bouquet of flowers or your favorite fragrance.
  4. Laugh at yourself, that’s okay to do.
  5. Go to a planetarium, zoo, or aquarium – kiss a dolphin.
  6. HUG! If no one else is available, just wrap your arms around yourself and squeeze – you deserve it.
  7. Write a letter, article, or essay.
  8. Paint something but make sure you own what you chose to paint.
  9. A walk around the block can cure the blues, especially with a dog, friend, or significant other. I don’t recommend walking the cat – just give them a pat on the way out the door.
  10. Wash and wax the car – maybe vacuum it, too.

And Now For Something Completely Different…

  1. Watch cats stretch.
  2. Watch puppies or kittens play.
  3. Order take out, wear your jammies, and watch a black and white show or film.
  4. Look at your high school yearbook and smile at your hair style, then recreate that do. Try on your high school cheerleading outfit, letter jacket, bell-bottom jeans, or other apparel of years gone by.  I certainly don’t mean to boast but the earrings I wore to prom I can still fit in.
  5. Prepare something from a basket of strange ingredients and pretend you are a “Chopped” competitor.
  6. Be silly, not stupid.
  7. Stand up to someone that irritates you, but do so with dignity and class.
  8. Get naked but not in public.
  9. Check out some fun vintage things – a trip down memory lane is good for the spirit.
  10. Do your old high school or college cheer, even if the uniform no longer fits (see # 74).

Do For You And Others

  1. Throw your bathroom scale in the dumpster.
  2. Donate clothes or personal care items to a shelter, clothing closet, or pantry.
  3. Adopt a senior pet.
  4. Become a foster family.
  5. Walk barefoot in the grass or on the beach; you’ve never seen a “Do not walk on the sand sign”, right?
  6. See live theater and enjoy the magic from the stage.
  7. Eat the cookie.
  8. Try a new hairstyle, a different shade of lipstick, or tie a pretty scarf around your neck.
  9. Remember we have a female Vice President – be very cautious where you walk, because that ceiling has been shattered, and there’s glass everywhere. I just have to recall Kamala Harris stating, “So help me, God”, on inauguration day when I need a boost of confidence.
  10. Collect items for Ukrainian refugees, donate to the cause, and keep them in your thoughts and prayers.

Just Breathe…

  1. Invite your in-laws to lunch, you’re in a bad mood anyway.
  2. Go out to brunch with your besties, and drink mimosas or morning glows (mimosas made with wine, my signature cocktail)
  3. Visit your local park district or recreation department, and sign up for classes or events.
  4. Go to a farmers market – spend some time browsing and shopping.
  5. Go boutique hopping with a group of friends – it’s much more productive than bar hopping.
  6. Check into a hotel and be a guest.
  7. Jump in the pile of leaves or snow.
  8. Build a snowman or a sandcastle, or make a snow angel.
  9. Play with dolls, balls, or jump ropes – be a kid again.
  10. Hop on one foot – brush yourself off and start all over again when you fall down.
  11. Just breathe and feel the energy of God’s universe.
  12. Put up a Donald Trump dartboard, and get that pitching arm ready…

Celebrate Women; Every Day of the Year

Celebrate Women; Every Day of the Year

Women contribute to society every day of the year.

Celebrate Women; Every Day of the Year

By Anna Hessel with Wes Hessel

 

History In the Making

Women’s History Month 2022 is now behind us, but women’s contributions to society continue, so we are recognizing some of the Women’s History Month themes of previous years in honor of the confirmation of our first female African American Supreme Court Associate Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson.  The theme for 2022 is “Providing Healing, Promoting Hope”, which pays tribute to frontline workers, medical professionals, and caregivers.  The 2021 Women’s History Month topic saluted the strength of women in times of difficulty.

Glass Is Trash

During 2020, festivities for the centennial of women’s suffrage had to be postponed due to COVID-19 restrictions, therefore 2020’s theme, “Valiant Women of the Vote: Refusing to be Silenced”, was extended through 2021, as we celebrated the election of our first female Vice-President, Kamala Harris. The intent was to pay respect to the ladies that paved the way for women’s voting rights.  Now that the second highest office in the land has had its see-through ceiling shattered, the view to the top looks clear for breakthrough when President Biden hands over the reins.  Ladies, we should make sure we are wearing cute shoes and watch where we step, as there is glass everywhere, and more to come.

Breakouts

Barriers are falling and walls are continuing to be breached.  As Douglas Emhoff put it, “I may be the first Second Gentleman, but I know I won’t be the last.”  The foundation for more is being laid in part by the man who wrote and pushed through the “Violence Against Women” Act.  Dr. Jill Biden has a doctorate in education. Ms Biden is the only First Lady to continue her career while her spouse has led the nation.  But there were leaders before them who led the way.  Shirley Chisholm was the first woman of color elected to Congress, then the first woman to run for the Democratic nomination for president.  Geraldine Ferraro was the first woman to be a major party candidate for Vice-President.

Working From Within

The 2016 Women’s History Month theme was “Working to Form a More Perfect Union: Honoring Women in Public Service and Government.”  This sisterhood of political pioneers have opened the doors of diversity for our nation.  The National Women’s History Project for that year honored the often undervalued and overlooked women in government leadership and public service.  This collection of amazing women has stood on the forefront of change, and their dramatic influence on public policy and the assisting of building viable organizations and institutions have helped lead the way to a more democratic, safer, and stronger America.

Above And Beyond

These women have fought to insure equal opportunity for all.   With diversity of experience and tireless dedication to community service, each of these public leaders, have succeeded against seemingly insurmountable challenges.  This company of ladies and their ability to create non-partisan policies and all-encompassing solutions, in addition to their determination, art of collaboration, and amazing skill sets, will serve our nation today and inspire our future generations.  We applaud these women for their unyielding courage and faithful service.

Women In Front

Mark Twain is quoted as saying, “Behind every successful man, there is a woman”.  Behind every successful woman is one or more women who succeeded before them, breaking ground or building up new progress.  And these were not always just in the advancement of women’s rights.  Most of us know of Madame Curie, and her ground-breaking radiation work.  But what about Tabitha Babbitt, a Shaker who came up with the prototype for the circular saw?  Or Nancy Johnson, who patented the original hand-cranked ice cream freezer.

Intrepid Inventors

Josephine Cochrane created the first dishwasher to achieve commercial success, with the first use of water pressure to scrub.  Sarah Boone improved the portable ironing board to the familiar wedge shape of what we use today for our pressing engagements.  Alice H. Parker created the first natural gas central furnace.

Men Don’t Have A Monopoly

Elizabeth Magie gave us “The Landlord’s Game”, the forerunner of what we now know as probably the most recognized board game ever, “Monopoly”.  In its design she made social commentary on property owners of her time in their treatment of tenants and materialistic priorities, as well as the benefits of home ownership.

Science This!

The first female scientist hired by GE, Katharine Burr Blodgett, developed the first method to put one-molecule thick coatings onto glass or metal.  This made possible non-reflective glass, which is used for lenses on common items such as eyeglasses, cameras, microscopes, and other optics, as well as picture frames and the like.  She also invented screens during World War II to protect troops from toxins in smoke.

Even More Data

In 1944, data processing pioneer Grace Hopper worked with Howard Aiken to create the Mark I computer at Harvard, then later came up with the computer slang “bug” and its companion, “debug”, after finding an errant moth had caused a system problem.  She was also on the team that developed COBOL.  Architect Eleanor Raymond collaborated with biophysicist Maria Telkes to build the first solar heated home in 1947.

She Didn’t Just Play A Spy…

And Hedy Lamarr didn’t rest on her acting laurels – her work with George Anthiel in 1941 created a “Secret Communication System” that depended at least in part on frequency-hopping for security.  These innovations and further work on her part gave us the beginnings of “spread-spectrum” technology, which became the basis for fax machines, cell phones, GPS, Wifi, and other related wireless communication advances.

Create Like It’s 1966

1966 was a bellwether year – in it Marie Van Brittan Brown patented the first closed-circuit TV security system. Again in ’66, Stephanie Kwolek invented-Kevlar. Kevlar is one of the most important synthetic fabric fibers ever created. She developed the process while working on strengthening material for auto tires. It is still used for tires, and brake shoe linings, boat hulls, flame-resistant clothing, and many other composite materials.  It’s most significant use has saved countless law enforcement and military personnel; which we are extremely thankful for – the bulletproof vest.

Dr. Jackson, Dr. Jackson…

The first black woman to receive a M.I.T. PhD, Shirley Jackson, helped develop modern communication technologies such as touch tones, call waiting and caller ID, and fiber optic cables, in addition to solar cells.  And she was the first woman to head one of the major technological institutions, in her case Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.

They Figure In

Since this article is about women, we can’t forget women in American history; explorer Sacagawea, original First Lady Dolley Madison, abolitionist Sojourner Truth, women’s suffrage advocate Susan B. Anthony, famed authors Louisa May Alcott and Harriet Beecher Stowe, Red Cross founder Clara Barton and fellow super-nurse Florence Nightingale, aviatrix Bessie Coleman and Amelia Earhart, poet and author Julia Ward Howe, civil rights activists Rosa Parks and Coretta Scott King, just to name but a very few…

Wells, Wells, Wells…

Women have typically had to be multi-taskers – many took this to levels of great feats.  Ida B. Wells was a women’s rights and civil rights activist (one of the founders of the NAACP), while also wearing the hats of teacher and investigative reporter, particularly focused on the horrors of lynching.  She, working with Frederick Douglass and other African American leaders, orchestrated a boycott of the 1893 Columbian Exposition, since Blacks were not permitted to enter the exhibit areas.  Ms. Wells also advocated for school integration, and helped found many African American clubs, particularly for women of color.

Working It In

Contemporary to Ida B. was housing reformer, women’s suffragette, social work pioneer, and political administrator Jane Addams.  Harriet Tubman made a career out of multiple jobs – in addition to her famous slavery freedom trips, she was a spy for the Union, abolitionist, and political advocate.

Multi-mavens

Multiple talents aren’t just a precedent of years gone by – what about actress, director, and producer Penny Marshall?  Or dancer, choreographer, singer, and reality talent judge Paula Abdul?  Queen Latifah handles music (including songwriting), acting, and producing, equally well.  While we’re on the subject of entertainment, we can’t forget Cher and Madonna.  Then there’s the lifestyle mavens such as Martha Stewart, Rachel Ray, and Ree Drummond.  And, of course, there’s one lady we only need one word for: Oprah.

Sporting It

Great women of sports also abound.  Mildred Ella “Babe” Didrikson Zaharias excelled in baseball, golf, track and field, and basketball.  In the 1932 Summer Olympics, she received two gold medals for track and field events, then became a golf professional, and went on to win ten LPGA major championships.  In 1951 she was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame, and she was married until her death in 1956 to George Zaharias.  Babe is seen as a lady ahead of her time.

They Have the Drive

Ms. Zaharias has been followed by other outstanding female athletes, such as a professional from Sweden who is considered to be one of history’s most stellar lady golfers: Annika Sörenstam.  She has received numerous awards, including H.M. The King’s Medal, AP Female Athlete of the Year 2003-2004, Bob Jones Award, and the Presidential Medal of Freedom.  Nancy Lopez’ exemplary career was also precedent setting.

Tennis Anyone?

The dynasty of the Williams’ sisters in tennis is one of the great dominations of a particular sport.  And before them was the legendary Billie Jean King, who even beat out Bobby Riggs in the “Battle of the Sexes”.

Leading From The Front

The 2017 theme was “Honoring Trailblazing Women In Labor And Business”; these are ladies that have been successful in challenging women’s roles in the paid labor force and businesses.  Although women have always been part of our workforce, they are often been underpaid and undervalued.  One well known example was popularized by the movie “Norma Rae”, which was based on events in the life of Crystal Lee Sutton.  She was a strong labor leader who fought for unionizing as a way to gain better working conditions.

Do Something…

Here are ways we can continue to commemorate women’s history:

  1. Involve yourself with female supporting groups that empower girls and women
  2. Create a brand-new book or movie club on-line, or join an existing one
  3. Treat a special lady that you receive inspiration and friendship from to a mocha latte, lunch, or bouquet of flowers
  4. Invite female entertainers, speakers, writers, and other professionals to online events
  5. Utilize all social media outlets to encourage women
  6. Utilize intersectionality to understand women of all walks of life
  7. Take an online class that highlights women’s history
  8. Help involve children and teens in art, writing, performing, and reading women’s history related material
  9. Support STEM/STEAM initiatives targeted at encouraging young women in science and creative pursuits
  • Write a play, article, song, book, or poem about women, or read one

Color Purple And White

Let’s all wear purple, the international color which symbolizes women, and white, which represents women’s suffrage, to highlight those ladies who have contributed and continue to do so.  We will keep using our voices for the advancement of female equality.  For more information, visit www.womenshistorymonth.gov.  In the words of Elle Woods, “What? Like it’s hard?”

OPINION: Sorting Out Generational Differences

OPINION: Sorting Out Generational Differences

Family gatherings often result in anger and hurt feelings.

Minding the Gap

OPINION: Sorting Out Generational Differences

The pain of family dysfunction is frequently on display over the holidays

By Megan Wallin

Farewell Patience

Despite the cries of “holiday cheer,” the truth is holidays can drain you of every ounce of patience and good humor you possess. The dark underbelly of family gatherings is that they often culminate in contentious  counter viewpoints. These instances can be quite grating for all parties, especially where generational gaps are involved. While it’s easy to dismiss such disagreements as being a result of an ageist culture, one that neither admires nor protects its most experienced members, I sense there’s more to it than that.

Times Change

Often, the mindset that genuinely worked for one time in history does not work when applied to another. During times of war, hardship and economic depression, children grew up fast. They often skipped the phase that allowed them to develop as individuals and instead adopted a more collectivist perspective, with an absolute respect for authority. Case in point: The idea that children are to obey all adults—absolutely and without question—is a concept that has actually led to insanely corrupt and egregious cover ups of child predators.

A Shift in Parenting Priorities

Now, armed with this knowledge, parents no longer tell their children to trust all adults or do as they’re told without a prior relationship established. Perhaps as a result, we have more self-aware young people and more challenging behaviors at times as today’s kids test boundaries with their parents, teachers, and older family members. Gone are the days of “Because I told you so,” as we usher in the new era of, “I understand that you’re upset, but you cannot do that because . . . .” We are demanding accountability from parents as well as children, and while it may be an exhausting way to parent, it’s by far the preferred method for newer generations.

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Safe Medication Disposal: Do It Right

Safe Medication Disposal: Do It Right

It is important to dispose of medicines safely.

Safe Medication Disposal: Do It Right

D. S. Mitchell

Read the Dates

I was getting packed for my third move in two years. I know, too many, too often, but it was a strange set of circumstances and not worth talking about here. Usually I just go into the bathroom and dump the drawers into a box and then sweep the contents of the cabinet shelves into another box, and voila, the bathroom is packed. But, I picked up the first bottle, a bottle of Aspirin and glanced at the expiration date. Holy Moly, it had expired three years ago. That knowledge shook me up a bit. I’m a retired R.N. for Pete’s sake. The next bottle, a prescription for Flexeril, was outdated by 10 months.  I was two for two. Not good. Next,  was a bottle of cough syrup, expired the previous year. I was batting 100%.

I Have Information 

If your medicine chest is full of outdated medications or medications you no longer need and you are wondering how to dispose of them I have some information for you.  The best option is to use community-based drug disposal programs. Go to the DEA (Drug Enforcement Agency) website, dea.gov and use their search tool to find an authorized drug disposal collector in your area.

Local Police Departments

If you don’t find a program in your area don’t give up, call your local police department or county sheriff. Often these law enforcement centers have disposal programs. As a last resort you may be forced to dispose of them yourself. Please do not flush medications down the toilet, or the sink. These toxins are dangerous to animals, fish and water systems. Throwing them in the trash, makes them available to folks who may try to use them, no matter what they are.

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Thinking Tiny House?

Thinking Tiny House?

A lot of people are looking to tiny house living.

Thinking Tiny House?

Not everyone wants a mega mansion. In fact, there is a growing minimalist movement in the U.S.

D. S. Mitchell

‘Downsize Revolution’

If  you’ve  ever watched “Tiny House Nation” or “Tiny House” on television you are aware of a growing trend in the United States toward minimalist living. Many people are attracted to the prospect of financial freedom, a simpler lifestyle, and a smaller human environmental footprint.  Cities are encouraging ADUs (Accessory Living Units) in urban areas to increase housing options. The “downsize revolution” promotes living structures with sizes between 300 and 700 square feet. In general, the tiny home is 400 sq. ft or less. In some cases, the homes are even on wheels. Despite the stated positives, they are not for everyone.

Costs To Consider

Small does not necessarily equate with cheap. A tiny house can cost anywhere from $10,000 to $150,000. There is no land, so in some ways it is like a mobile home, the owner of a tiny home needs to find space to rent or buy to place the home. Holy Moly. The cost is dependent on a series of factors: location, building complexity, materials, and finally are you doing it yourself, or are you having it built. A contractor construction package will generally cost twice as much as a “do it yourself” house.

Reduced Appliance Size

Not always identified, but a serious matter, are the extra building costs for appliances, fixtures, water heaters and heating & cooling systems because of their reduced size. The rule it seems is that the smaller, the more expensive. It is important that you do some very careful figuring before you commit yourself to building a tiny home. One recommendation would be to get a minimum of three bids. Many builders  do sizeable markups on small projects.

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Be Ready To “Grab & Go”

Be Ready To “Grab & Go”

An emergency can happen at any time. Survival may depend on how prepared you are.

Be Ready To “Grab & Go”

Natural disasters kill an average of 60,000 people per year worldwide according to published statistics. The effects of climate change are becoming more evident . . . being ready to make a quick dash to safety may be the new normal. 

D. S. Mitchell

Extreme Weather

You never know when an emergency might strike. The recent tornado devastation across four states highlights our need to be ready for such events, day or night. In the last dozen months we have seen the devastation and chaos caused by wildfires across the west, freezing temperatures in Texas leading to dozens of deaths, and a ‘Heat Dome’ that hovered over the Pacific NW sending temperatures to 117 degrees, killing nearly 100 people. It can happen anytime, anywhere.  In my little corner of the world, the North Oregon coast, we are subject to evacuation orders because of tsunamis, earthquakes, fires, floods and even a rare tornado, on a regular basis.

Being Ready

No matter where you live there is always the possibility that you will be forced to move quickly out of harm’s way. Not all incidents of danger are natural in cause, often these tragedies are man made disasters, such as toxic spills. The idea is that you can, in some small way, help yourself by being prepared. In a true emergency you will be under extreme pressure and critical evacuation time can be lost as you race around the house looking for medications and other supplies. So, do yourself and your family a favor, and pack for survival.

Researching

I spent the morning flipping through recent and not so recent magazines and newspaper articles looking for pieces on emergency preparedness. I have a ‘library’ of at least 1500 old magazines and periodicals, taking up valuable space in my office. Mostly they are corralled in a large armoire, but today I was pulling out stuff from the bottom of the stack and creating a small bit of chaos in the office. The bird gets upset when things are not “as they should be,”  and was screeching irritatingly.

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The Shift From Pet To Family Member

The Shift From Pet To Family Member

Pets have gone from family service to family member.

The Shift From Pet to Family Member

The Changing Landscape of Pet Ownership in the United States

By Megan Wallin

Holiday Photos

Everyone knows that couple whose dog or cat is their “baby,” and to suggest otherwise might get you kicked to the curb—literally or figuratively. It used to be rare, or even laughable, to meet people like that, but now the family pet is just that: a true member of the family. We include them in our family photos, holiday cards, wedding celebrations, birth announcements and more. American pet owners spend an average of $1,480 per year on their dogs and a little over $900 on their cats, according to an article from Fortunly.com. To put that in perspective, some American parents—namely those who can forgo daycare and babysitters—actually spend less on their human children.

The Shift from Pet to Family Member

Perhaps it’s a demonstration of our shift from utilitarian view of pets to a relationship view. We now have behavioral specialists and animal psychologists for dogs. Professionals specially trained to seek out what could be causing Spot’s sudden loss of interest in his favorite toy or his penchant for nipping ankles whenever guests wear funny socks. (Well, maybe that’s not the exact purpose, but you get the idea.) The point is that we’ve expanded our view; from seeing animals as useful contributors to a system, such as the family guard dog or cat who functions as the barnyard mouser, to a loving, sharing, participant in family life. One look at most people’s social media accounts will tell you that pets are now bonified family members. We carefully interview potential pet sitters. We celebrate pet birthdays, and “gotcha” (adoption) days. There seems no awareness that some of our sentimentality might be displaced, because it doesn’t feel at all unnatural.

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11 Super Easy Holiday Weight Loss Tricks

11 Super Easy Holiday Weight Loss Tricks

Looking for a few tips to cut back on holiday eating

All the goodies available at the holidays can challenge any weight loss program. Here are 11 easy tricks to  help you stay on your healthy eating program. The holidays don’t automatically spell weight gain.

11 Super Easy Holiday Weight Loss Tricks

By D.S. Mitchell

The Checkout Line

I’m standing in the grocery store check-out line reading the magazine headlines when the ‘Woman’s World’ catches my attention. Their busy cover page announces, “The #1 Keto Trick for Women to Lose Weight Without Surgery.”  I have toyed with trying the Keto diet, and I couldn’t resist the teaser, and found myself tossing the magazine on to the conveyor belt.

Lovin’ Woman’s World

I love ‘Woman’s World’, because it is cheap, it has an easy to read format with lots of pictures and almost always features a weight loss trick or two for the ‘always dieting’ crowd. Once home, with feet up on the ottoman, I search for the article on Keto Dieting. Before I get to that story I landed on, “Tiny tweaks that melt pounds”.

Tiny Tweaks

As I read the “Tiny Tweaks” article I thought the ideas were great and thought they were worth passing on to my blog readers, especially with the holidays upon us and the constant temptation of homemade cake, cookies, pies and candy.

  • Afternoon Snack: A recent study found that by shifting a morning snack of an apple or a handful of nuts to the afternoon could give dramatic weight loss results. The reason the study suggests is that there is a bigger time span  between lunch and dinner, than between breakfast and lunch. The snack gets us through the long afternoon and that healthy snack prevents overeating on those holiday treats.
  • Weigh Daily: Weighing in every morning is a good way to reverse sneaky weight gain trends. In fact, researchers in Finland found that people who weighed daily at the same time each morning shed more weight than other test subjects.
  • Pay With Cash: I loved this one. When you go grocery shopping, always plan to pay with cash. A study in the Journal of Consumer Research found that paying with cash actually reins in the impulse junk food purchases. Researchers explain that the “pain of paying with cash” makes people less likely to splurge on unhealthy extras. Awesome. I know this tip will work for me.
  • Add a sprinkle of salt:  This tip comes from British researchers who discovered that women who add a bit of salt to their vegetables will increase their intake of the green goodies by as much as 70%. It seems that using the flavor enhancer can actually cause us to start craving vegetables in as little as three days. Who knew?
  • Red Wine: A glass of red wine in the evening can help you lose weight. It seems the polyphenols in red wine “help the body process excess blood sugar before it can be turned into fat. Investigators discovered that women who sip one glass of red wine daily are “30% less likely to experience weight problems than teetotalers”.
  • Rearrange Pantry: If you must have high calorie indulgences in the pantry try rearranging their position on the shelves. Experts suggest storing high calorie treats on the right side of the shelf and good for you snacks, such as dried fruit and nuts on the left. In this case, researchers at University of South Florida, tell us that the reason is that the brain is wired to read numbers from left to right. Fascinating. When a person sees foods displayed this way we are subconsciously reminded that the foods on the left are healthier for us.
  • Turn On Soft Music: This one surprised me, but at the same time it made sense. Before you sit down to eat, find a soft music channel and let it play throughout the meal. You will find you eat less and enjoy it more. The best part is Psychological Reports found most people will eat 175 fewer calories per meal; which is an easy way to shed 15 pounds a year.
  • Seek Encouragement From A Friend: It seems if you feel you are at risk of diving face first into the office buffet you should take a minute and text, or call a friend or loved one, about your weight loss progress. Duke University scientists say that exchanging words of encouragement reminds and reinforces your goals. Such reinforcement doubles your odds of sticking to your healthy living plan and helps you lose up to six pounds a month.
  • Recall A Happy Moment: Happy thoughts help us stay on track. Researchers at Cornell, suggest that when cravings strike, recall a positive memory. Apparently, being in a positive frame of mind switches off the desire for instant gratification of a chocolate or calorie heavy treat and encourages healthier choices.
  • Chop It Up: Before gobbling down that Hersey’s bar, take a minute and break it up into small pieces. Scientists at Arizona State University say cutting sweets into “bite-size bits tricks your brain into thinking your eating more than you are, triggering the release of appetite-taming signals”.
  • Count To 10: Remember the old saying, “count to 10 before you speak”. In this case, it is “count 10 before you eat”.  Harvard researchers discovered that people who are able to count to ten (or any simple ritual) before eating that piece of cake or chocolate bar are able to consume much fewer calories than those who just dive in. Why? Repeating familiar behaviors or “rituals,” stimulates the part of the brain that controls self-discipline.

Now that you are armed with these dietary tricks, hopefully you can get through the holidays without feeling either deprived, or guilty. Happy holidays.

Holiday Decorating Challenges

Holiday Decorating Challenges

Holiday Decorating Challenges

Yes, I admit I am guilty of a bit of tawdry tastelessness when it comes to holiday decorating, but my spouse has me beat hands down.

By Anna Hessel

Its hard to believe the holiday season is already here. As we prepare to celebrate, who can forget decorations? Sometimes I wish my husband would. Don’t get me wrong, I love a tasteful wreath on the door and a holly berry candle glowing on the mantle. And this year, thanks to my recent DNA test, we will be including a menorah along with the family creche. My Significant Other, however, is not a Clinton Kelly when it comes to holiday embellishment.

As I sit watching a Hallmark Christmas movie, I glance up in unmasked horror to see my spouse, attired in a Santa hat and flashing Christmas tree tie, hanging a string of bells on the bathroom doorknob. Curious, but cautious I enter the powder room, which he has transformed into a winter wonderland, as in, “I wonder what the heck happened to my bathroom?”

Gone are the tasteful lace-edged fingertip towels and gold-edged ceramic soap pump. In their place, is Hallmark’s ‘Jolly in the John’. Jolly is a talking snowman, holding a plunger, telling our guests they “look a little flush” and singing the “Potty Song”. My husband loves this little guy as much as he loves his Saab. Jolly doesn’t come alone. Joining good ol’ Jolly is his pet reindeer, another Hallmark creation, sporting a roll of toilet paper on one of his antlers. And, rounding out the tacky trio is Mr. Jolly’s “wife”, a plastic snowwoman soap pump.

A purple garland now adorns the shower curtain rod, and the shell toilet seat has been covered with a giant Santa face, gloved hands covering his eyes. Do you blame him?  He has replaced my attractive celery green with chocolate-brown polka-dots bathrobe with a latch hook creation of eight tiny reindeer, a rather unfortunate garage sale find. As I turn to flee this holiday horror I nearly knock over hubby who is nailing mistletoe above the ‘necessary’ room’s door.

Taking refuge on the couch I resume my paused holiday-inspired film. I take a fortifying gulp of my mocha latte and I watch suspiciously as my husband makes his way to the kitchen. There is a devilish glint in his eye, and our bell-collared pug, Maggie, follows close behind. In my better(?) half’s hands I can see he is carrying a pair of Rudolph pot holders and a Grinch tea towel. Visions of plastic glitter sugar plums strung on the stove dance in my head, threatening a migraine.

Did I mention, our cats, Zoe and Latte, are wearing kitty-sized elf ears? Does murdering a spouse still hold a life sentence?

I am the first to admit I have one of those aluminum trees (mine is pink), and a hodge-podge of sentimental ornaments. Yes, I am guilty of  a bit of tawdry tastelessness, but over the years my spouse has acquired a plethora of assorted kitschy Christmas items, right down to the glow-in-the-dark snowman boxers. I do not lie.

We have certainly decked the halls with a unique bevy of holiday decor, but always in the theme of “peace on earth and goodwill toward men.”

I married a man with style…and a love of garage sale finds.

EDITORIAL: Me and Twitter

EDITORIAL: Me and Twitter

EDITORIAL: Me and Twitter

Its the holidays, can we just lighten up. . .

D. S. Mitchell

Twitter and Tweet

I love Twitter. I hate Twitter. I love Twitter. I hate Twi….I know.  I sound a bit confused in my base emotions surrounding this global social sparring arena, and I am. My relationship with the Twitter platform,  reminds me of a couple bad relationships I’ve had in my life. I hate you, I love you, I apparently, “love to hate you”. There is something to be said about high adrenaline.  However it is usually like placing a pile of papers on a table and turning on a fan.  I forgot who said that, but I think it is applicable.

Commitment

To all of the clear thinking, intelligent, brilliant folks that hope for a more tolerant and inclusive world, I love tossing tweets back and forth, and I love you all. So many caring and committed individuals wanting to do everything they can do, to advance society and humanity.

Conversely

The ‘I hate’ side of me, comes out when somebody in the audience decides to suddenly join in, by launching a vile attack.  Why would someone choose to do that?  Hmmm. Good question.  Not all vicious attacks come from  Nigerian trolls, I have decided. Is it because the offender didn’t get any nookie last night, or did Mom yell at him,  did he get a bad grade, was he passed over for a promotion, did he have a fender bender?

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