Are We Set Up To Fail?

August 31, 2009 by  
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The world sets us up for failure.  Open any page of Elle or Vogue or Vanity Fair and you’ll see what I’m talking about. We can’t win.  What is the percentage of the world that can afford the things these magazines advertise?  And what about the models?  Yes, there is a lot photoshopping going on but still?  And what about the homes?  The glamour? The political power?

Life to most of us becomes a constant fight not to succumb to the despair caused by what is thrown on our faces on a daily basis and which we don’t have and probably never will.

My fourteen year old niece asked me a couple of days ago what life was about?  She asked: “Tia (aunt in Portuguese), what are we supposed to do in life?”  There is no simple answer, I had to confess to her.  It’s complicated.” 

Why is that the magazines don’t advertise things that most mortals can actually afford?  Why is that the people selling this stuff to us don’t look like most of us?  Why do both the women and the men all look like teasers?  Look at me but don’t touch and hear me loud and clear “you’ll never have me.”

I want to go to Tahiti and stay at the Four Seasons Hotel and eat pineapple on the beach and then get a massage on the sand.  I want to buy the D&G bag I see in their ad.  I would look amazing with the new leather jacket from Jean Paul Gaultier.   

No wonder so many of us walk around frustrate, we just can’t compete. We just don’t have a chance.  Maybe our society is set up as a political and social subversive machine.  I go back to, how many of us can live the lives described in the magazines, ads, films and television programming? 5%? 1%?  That’s a minimal amount of people on top of the world.  What if kindness, service, actual happiness became the “it” thing?  

I don’t know but the way the world is set up right now most of us are enslaved to the want and need machine and to most of us that will be a life time journey without ever achieving the goal. 

I think the solution is to change our focus and stand steady on what really matters in life.

Think about it.

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The Power Of Water

August 30, 2009 by  
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WATER

by Deborah Calla

Is there anything more soothing than being under the shower letting water run down our bodies?  It is not ecologically correct, especially if you live in California where it never rains, to take long showers but even a quick one can do the trick because there is nothing like a warm shower to relax the body and mind.  Maybe it’s because we are greatly made of water or maybe it’s because when we are in the womb we are “cuddled in water” but water is healing.

SPAs have taken note and have created all kinds of baths and steam rooms, from tea baths to charcoal steam (hydrotherapy) and Hollywood has explored from every angle the tired, the anxious, the depressed, the happy and the sexy under the water shot.

What is Hydrotherapy?

Hydrotherapy is the use of water to treat a disease or to maintain health. The theory behind it is that water has many properties that give it the ability to heal:

*          Water can store and carry heat and energy.

*          Water can dissolve other substances, such as minerals and salts.

*          Water cannot hurt you, even if you are sensitive to your surroundings.

*          Water is found in different forms, such as ice, liquid, or steam. Ice may be used to cool,      liquid is used in baths and compresses at varying pressures or temperatures, and steam is used in steam baths or when breathing in.

*          Water can help blood flow.

A Brief History Of Hydrotherapy

*          Greeks originated the practice of hydrotherapy by indulging in hot baths more than 2,500 years ago.

*          In Rome, “sudatoria” or steam rooms made up one section of the bathhouses, which also incorporated eating, talking, gambling and sports. The letters S-P-A frequently appeared on the walls, an abbreviation for “solus par aqua” meaning health or healing through water. Modern-day spas derive their name from this acronym.

*          In 200 B.C. India, the steam bath, or “swedana” was developed as part of a purification treatment. Wealthy families of the period incorporated bathhouses into their mansions.

*          Muslim bathhouses, or “hammam” consisted of a domed, central steam chamber. Adopted by Europeans, the hammam serves as the model for modern Turkish baths.

*          Russian hot vapor baths, known as “banya,” originated more than 1,000 years ago. Today they retain their function as a health, beauty and relaxation treatment.

*          Sweat bathing gained popularity in Finland at approximately the same time as the Russian banya. It remains wildly popular to this day–the country boasts more saunas than cars.

*          In Native American cultures, the sweat bath first served as an ancient hydrotherapeutic technique and is still practiced in a similar form today. Sweat lodges are traditionally low, windowless, insulated domes constructed of willow branches. Inside, red-hot stones are sprinkled with botanicals and water, creating an aromatherapeutic steam.

So What Is Water?

Chemically, the water molecule is a compound of hydrogen and oxygen and is positioned in a special way that results in it having both a negative and positive charge. Scientists believe that water in its liquid form is a collective of water molecules that form and re-form continually. Water undergoes a number of transformational physical changes when subjected to certain environmental conditions.

Additionally, water is one of nature’s most effective solvents, and many substances are found dissolved in natural water. Water falls from the sky as precipitation and emanates from the ground in the form of springs. The colossal power of water can be captured as usable energy and is of major economic importance.

Water And Its Symbolism

Water is most often symbolically regarded as the Great Mother or the prima materia, the universal womb. As the ultimate source of life, water is associated with birthing, fertility, and the feminine/yin, and is connected to goddesses and other mythological female creatures.

Water related spirits and goddesses celebrate the vitality of water and its status as the source of life. Artemis, goddess of the moon and ruler of the tides, is associated with menstruation.

Water spirits express the dual nature of water. Water sprites were tempters of evil, embodying both water’s life-giving and destructive properties, while the Naiads, Nereids, and sirens of Greek mythology were envisioned dualistically, emerging as either shy nymphs or dangerous, luring creatures.

Like water’s mutable scientific properties, its symbolic meaning is variable. Water is the source of all life, and it also has the power to drown and destroy.

Water is essential for our survival and so we must take prompt action to save our water.  Fresh, clean water is finite and as the earth’s population growths these sources of water get spoken for.  Compounding the problem is the lack of proper sanitation in these bodies of water or near them and large areas with no natural sources of water.

So if we want to survive as a species and continue to enjoy the history and the therapeutic usage of water we must take steps to clean and preserve our rivers, streams, and oceans.

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Seeing Beauty

August 29, 2009 by  
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Reading CNN.com about Jaycee Lee Dugard, 

(http://www.cnn.com/2009/HEALTH/08/29/california.kidnap.mental.health/index.html) the child kidnapped at age 11 and held in a shed for eighteen years, when at the end of the article I read the following from Elizabeth Smart, the Utah teenager kidnapped in 2002 for nine months and reunited with her family in 2003 at age 15:

On Thursday, Elizabeth Smart told CNN’s Anderson Cooper that after the reunion she spent lots of time with her family and advised survivors to not let “this horrible event take over and consume the rest of your life. Because we only have one life and it’s a beautiful world out there.”

“I would just encourage her to find different passions in life and continually push forward … [and] not to look behind, because there’s a lot out there,”

Her statement reminded me of a quote I had read by Anne Frank; “I don’t think of all the misery but of the beauty that still remains.”

How is that young women that have gone through such aggression can still see beauty in the world?

I think because it is a choice.  Letting the obstacles and the inhumane in life take over our spirits is more damaging than the actions perpetrated against us.

Our spirit or soul or energy, whatever you want to call it, belongs singularly to each one of us and we have at each moment the ability to choose how to look at life.

Jaycee has a long road ahead of her.  It is daunting to me how she could ever find peace and happiness but I know Elizabeth Smart is right when she says “…continually push forward…[and] not to look behind, because there’s a lot out there”.

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Love Heals

August 28, 2009 by  
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Love Heals

By Paulo Coelho

I read in the newspaper that a child in Brasilia (capital of Brazil) was brutally beaten by his parents.  As a result, the child lost all body movements and could no longer speak.

At a military base hospital where the child was staying, a nurse everyday said to the him: “I love you.  Don’t you ever forget it”.

Three weeks later, the child was able to start moving his body again.  Four weeks later the child started speaking and smiling.

The nurse never gave any interviews and the paper didn’t publish her name.  But here I would like to make the story known so we never forget that love heals. 

Paulo Coelho is the author of The Alchemist which has sold more than 65 million copies, becoming one of the best-selling books in history, and has been translated into more than 67 languages, winning the Guinness World Record for most translated book by a living author.

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Uncle Teddy

August 27, 2009 by  
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As the world reflects on the remarkable life of the unflappable public official for the people, Senator Edward Kennedy makes his way to his final resting place in Arlington, Va.  There, after much pomp, ceremony and well-deserved offerings of respect and appreciation, he will join his older brothers John and Robert. 

You will recall that it was Ted who, by chance and choice, became the patriarch apparent to the siblings of his two siblings.

It’s no secret that the country’s third longest tenured Senator had a very dubious initiation into the worlds of politics and socializing.  His drinking and fondness for the ladies often made headlines when he and his family would have preferred that they be obscured on a page as far from the cover as possible.  When I think of the Senator, I am often reminded of Friedrich Nitcheze quip, “Whatever doesn’t kill you will make you stronger”.   The younger Kennedy brother was the ultimate personification of that statement.

Having eulogized two of his three fallen brothers and a nephew, continued his courageous battle with cancer, divorced from the mother of his children …  he still managed to genuinely care for the less fortunate.  Whether it was about a universal health care plan which he called the cause of his life, a fair immigration bill, an increased minimum wage, the civil rights of American citizens, regardless of their age, sex, ethnicity or religion and active support for the riddance of the HIV AIDS disease, this man stayed on a course bound for justice for all.

From Chappaquiddick to the Congress … Ted Kennedy was a true millennium renaissance man.   His problems were approached more like challenges; his defeats were over shadowed by his victories.   Over the years, I watched Senator Kennedy grow in ways seemingly impossible two decades ago.  Born into a family of wealth and prestige, he embraced the causes and demonstrably helped those less fortunate; with the best education available, he sought ways to teach those who understood less than he did; to those who disagreed with him, he made them feel comfortable in doing so. 

“Uncle Teddy” loved life and the people that comprised it.  He fought hard for more to be able to enjoy theirs.  Although this lion won’t be roaring in the Senate chambers any longer, the aftermath of his forty-seven years there will resound as a symphony of respect and fairness for all the days of our lives … and our children’s and theirs.  Edward Moore Kennedy, the guy that the people should feel comfortable calling “Uncle”… may he rest in peace.

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Are You Stressed? Take The Quiz And Do Something About It

August 27, 2009 by  
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Stress is your body’s way of responding to any kind of demand. It can be caused by both good and bad experiences. When people feel stressed by something going on around them, their bodies react by releasing chemicals into the blood. These chemicals give people more energy and strength, which can be a good thing if their stress is caused by physical danger. But this can also be a bad thing, if their stress is in response to something emotional and there is no outlet for this extra energy and strength.

Take this simple test below to measure your stress level and then read some suggestions on how to better manage your life.


Rate yourself as to how you typically react in each of the situations listed below. There are no right or wrong answers.

4 = Always
3 = Frequently
2 = Sometimes
1 = Never

Enter a number in the box for each question. When you complete the questionnaire, add up you total number of points and type it in the box. An answer key is provided below. 1. Do you try to do as much as possible in the least amount of time? 2. Do you become impatient with delays or interruptions? 3. Do you always have to win at games to enjoy yourself? 4. Do you find yourself speeding up the car to beat the red light? 5. Are you unlikely to ask for or indicate you need help with a problem? 6. Do you constantly seek the respect and admiration of others? 7. Are you overly critical of the way others do their work? 8. Do you have the habit of looking at your watch or clock often? 9.Do you constantly strive to better your position and achievements? 10. Do you spread yourself “too thin” in terms of your time? 11. Do you have the habit of doing more than one thing at a time? 12. Do you frequently get angry or irritable? 13. Do you have little time for hobbies or time by yourself? 14. Do you have a tendency to talk quickly or hasten conversations? 15. Do you consider yourself hard-driving? 16. Do your friends or relatives consider you hard-driving? 17. Do you have a tendency to get involved in multiple projects? 18. Do you have a lot of deadlines in your work? 19. Do you feel vaguely guilty if you relax and do nothing during leisure? 20. Do you take on too many responsibilities?

TOTAL

arrowAnswer Key

If your score is between 20 and 30, chances are you are non-productive or your life lacks stimulation.

A score between 31 and 50 designates a good balance in your ability to handle and control stress.

If you tallied up a score ranging between 51 and 60, your stress level is marginal and you are bordering on being excessively tense.

If your total number of points exceeds 60, you may be a candidate for heart disease.

Learn how to manage stress

You may feel like the stress in your life is out of your control, but you can always control the way you respond. Managing stress is all about taking charge: taking charge of your thoughts, your emotions, your schedule, your environment, and the way you deal with problems. Stress management involves changing the stressful situation when you can, changing your reaction when you can’t, taking care of yourself, and making time for rest and relaxation.

Strengthen your relationships

A strong support network is your greatest protection against stress. When you have trusted friends and family members you know you can count on, life’s pressures don’t seem as overwhelming. So spend time with the people you love and don’t let your responsibilities keep you from having a social life. If you don’t have any close relationships, or your relationships are the source of your stress, make it a priority to build stronger and more satisfying connections.

Tips for reaching out and building relationships:

  • Help someone else by volunteering.
  • Have lunch or coffee with a co-worker.
  • Call or email an old friend.
  • Go for a walk with a workout buddy.
  • Schedule a weekly dinner date
  • Take a class or join a club.

Learn how to relax

You can’t completely eliminate stress from your life, but you can control how much it affects you. Relaxation techniques such as yoga, meditation, and deep breathing activate the body’s relaxation response, a state of restfulness that is the opposite of the stress response. When practiced regularly, these activities lead to a reduction in your everyday stress levels and a boost in your feelings of joy and serenity. They also increase your ability to stay calm and collected under pressure.

Invest in your emotional health

Most people ignore their emotional health until there’s a problem. But just as it requires time and energy to build or maintain your physical health, so it is with your emotional well-being. The more you put into it, the stronger it will be. People with good emotional health have an ability to bounce back from stress and adversity. This ability is called resilience. They remain focused, flexible, and positive in bad times as well as good. The good news is that there are many steps you can take to build your resilience and your overall emotional health.

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Feeling Blue

August 27, 2009 by  
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So sometimes things are a little hard and no matter how much effort we put into life things just don’t seem to move forward.  I’m feeling like that today.  I’ve been working hard on a few things and I just feel that the effort I’m putting into them is not showing.  That’s how I’m feeling but I know life is always changing so what’s today won’t be tomorrow.  So I keep telling myself that and I take a deep breath and I plow forward.  I know that if I’m working hard on something worth while it will eventually pay off.  It’s like planting; prepare the soil, bury the seeds, water the soil and only when the seeds are ready to grow, they will.  In the meantime, I slow down, and I look around to see what I have in life that is beautiful.  As I do that, I’m able to breathe more freely and I have more patients to wait for my seeds to burst into the plants I hope they will. 

Below is a quote/poem/saying, I found on the web that I wanted to share:

When things go wrong as they sometimes will,
When the road you’re trudging seems all uphill,
When the funds are low and the debts are high,
And you want to smile but you have to sigh,
When care is pressing you down a bit
Rest if you must, but don’t you quit.
Success is failure turned inside out,
The silver tint on the clouds of doubt,
And you can never tell how close you are,
It may be near when it seems afar.
So, stick to the fight when you’re hardest hit
It’s when things go wrong that you mustn’t quit.

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Lion Of The Senate

August 26, 2009 by  
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I’m very sad about Senator Kennedy’s passing. I’m sad that he passed away from brain cancer, a horrible painful death, and I’m sad to see a man who devoted forty seven years of his life to public service and still had the passion to fight, die.  But mostly I feel sad to see a man who seemed to have found a level of happiness and love for others die.

Ted Kennedy made his mistakes and lived through a life of many ordeals; the loss of all his brothers, Chappaquiddick, the partying, drinking and the trial of William Kennedy Smith, but it seemed that at some point the Senator got back to his life’s path. 

At age 59 Ted Kennedy married Vicky, a lawyer and a single mother who gave him the structure he so desperately needed.

“I had not ever really intended to get married again,” the Senator once told the New York Times. “The people who had been closest to me over the course of my life had disappeared, with that enormous amount of emotion and feeling and love, I thought I probably wouldn’t want to go through that kind of experience again.”

Ted Kennedy was considered one of the most effective legislators of the past few decades.  Ted Kennedy who became known as the “Lion of the Senate” played major roles in the passing of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Voting Rights Act of 1965, the 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act and the 1993 Family and Medical Leave Act.  He was an outspoken liberal who knew how to work with Republicans to get important legislation approved.

With his passing it is also the end of a generation of Kennedys that has so impacted this country. Gone are John, Robert and Ted.

Ted Kennedy will not be here to help support Obama’s health care reform, a reform he called his life’s dream. 

Ted Kennedy also had a personal meaning to me.  Whenever my husband Chris wasn’t sure about a political stance he would look up Ted Kennedy’s view and that was good enough for him.

Today on what would have been my third wedding anniversary neither Chris nor Ted Kennedy remains.

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Brian’s Song

August 25, 2009 by  
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Brian’s Song; A Story Of Love And Friendship

by Bob Allen

The film Brian’s Song has become the equivalent of the film Love Story to the testosterone fueled crowd.  Brian’s Song is the story of two players, Brian Piccolo played by James Caan and Gayle Sayers played by Billy Dee Williams.

 

The 1971 made-for-television movie tugged at the nation’s heart, telling the story of these two men’s friendship — one that shattered racial boundaries – and Piccolo’s final days.

Piccolo spent four seasons with the Bears and never escaped Sayers’ overwhelming shadow. Although Piccolo led the nation in rushing and scoring as a senior at Wake Forest in 1964, beating out two-time All-American Sayers among others, he wasn’t drafted. Scouts believed the 5-foot-11, 190-pound back wasn’t big or fast enough.

Piccolo married his high school sweetheart, Joy Murrath, and signed a free-agent contract with the Bears. Piccolo had been talking with the Cleveland Browns and Baltimore Colts, but chose the Bears because owner George Halas offered him the most money.

Known for his mild temper and sense of humor, Piccolo had a recipe for success: talent, determination and luck. “You have to be in the right place at the right time,” he said. “In my case, I happened to be a running back and they happened to draft Gale Sayers the same year. That’s not exactly the best way to bust into the league. That’s not exactly what you’d call being in the right place at the right time.”

“Pic never badmouthed anybody,” Sayers said. “They say that people who like themselves like other people, and Brian was never short on self confidence. He truly liked people.”

In the ninth game of 1968, Sayers suffered a ruptured cartilage and two torn ligaments in his right knee, ending his season. Piccolo became the starter. In late November against the Dallas Cowboys, he sprained an ankle, but after spending his career as a backup, Piccolo was determined to remain in the lineup. He took shots of a Novocain and cortisone to dull the pain.

In the next game, Piccolo had the only 100-yard rushing performance of his career, carrying 21 times for 112 yards in the Bears’ 23-17 victory over the New Orleans Saints. In six games as a starter, Piccolo gained 450 yards.

Sayers returned in 1969, and Piccolo was again relegated to being his backup. He began coughing early in the season. On November 16 in Atlanta, after scoring a fourth-quarter touchdown, he removed himself from the game, bothered by chest pains and that persistent cough.

Two days later, Piccolo took a chest X-ray. A tumor was spotted in his lungs, and Piccolo was sent to New York’s Memorial-Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. He underwent surgery to remove the malignant tumor on at which time his doctor determined the cancer had spread.

Two weeks later, the Bears organized a press conference at his home and Piccolo announced his intent to continue playing football.

Piccolo began chemotherapy treatments and spent Christmas at home with his wife and three young daughters. On April 9, 1970, his left lung and left breast were removed.

Six weeks later, Sayers, who had recovered from his injuries to win the NFL rushing title, was honored with the George Halas Award as the league’s most courageous player for the 1969 season. At a ceremony in New York, Sayers gave an emotional speech saying there was somebody more deserving of the award.

“He has the heart of a giant and that rare form of courage that allows him to kid himself and his opponent — cancer,” Sayers told the audience. “He has the mental attitude that makes me proud to have a friend who spells out the word ‘courage’ 24 hours a day of his life. . . . I love Brian Piccolo, and I’d like all of you to love him, too. Tonight, when you hit your knees, please ask God to love him.”

Piccolo was re-admitted to the hospital in early June, bothered by chest pain, and it was determined the cancer had spread to other organs. He died on June 16, 1970.

The Bears honor his memory by presenting the Brian Piccolo award each year to the rookie and veteran who best exemplify the courage, loyalty, teamwork, dedication and sense of humor displayed by Piccolo.

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It’s All Good

August 25, 2009 by  
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My sister in law was telling me today that she recently had a scare with a lump that was found on one of her breasts. 

While laying on the examination room and waiting for results she said she thought about her legacy and she thought about to whom she would leave her possessions.  See, none in her family have had children. I told her, you leave to your friends or to a cause.   That got us talking about the fact that as we get older we will only have each other to rely on. I too have no children.

I think a lot of people end up having children as a way to leave something behind; a mark that we’ve have been here.  But the truth is most of us, no matter what, after fifty years or so have no marks that we were ever here.  We do leave permanent marks and changes but as a society but not really as individuals.

Think about it.  My Italian fourteen year old nieces (they are twins) were visiting the recording room at the Warner Brothers lot, when the studio engineer mentioned that the day before, Clint Eastwood finished recording the music for his new film in that same room. My nieces drew a blank.  Who’s Clint Eastwood?

I think sometimes we get caught up in what others think of us or our spotlight or lack off in this world but the truth is our lives should matter to us more than what it looks like to others.  We need to learn to really listen to what makes us happy and invest in those things.  I believe that at the end of a life time what matters are the feelings within not how important or what others thought of us.

Society at large, especially in the US, keeps pushing us to produce, to strive to succeed.  It’s all good just as long as it doesn’t turn into obsession and replaces relationship and well being.

Happiness is a feeling within which brightly colors our lives. Remember what Lilly Tomlin so famously said:” The problem with the rat race is that even if you win you’re still a rat”.   And who wants to be a rat?  And by the way, my sister in law is fine.

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