nurturing thursdays: life in a…fortune cookie?

Never know what you’ll find when you break open a fortune cookie. 

Since I’m not usually a fan of this Chinese take-out dessert, I’m not likely to rush over to the bag to crack one open and see what it says about my past…present…or future.

Unlike me, however, my husband and daughter like the taste of fortune cookies and are always curious about their predictions.

When my daughter came across the following in a cookie she opened for me, well…it did seem appropriate for what I was going through at the time.

Avoid agreeing with people merely to keep peace.

In fact, that tiny slip of paper is still in the clutches of my pet tyrannosaurus rex…a little, rubber one which came as a prize in some food product…sitting at the top of my laptop.

Trying to rid my life of unwanted and unnecessary stress these last several years has meant adopting the message in these words. There’s no retracting the time lost worrying over other people’s agendas. Instead, I’ve made a concerted effort to find peace in my own life, ensuring that I can live as happily as is feasible.

I don’t insist others agree with me…just because.

…i do wish them peace, however.

………hugmamma.

my pet T-REX...

my pet T-REX…

(Find more inspiration at…
https://beccagivens.wordpress.com/2015/02/12/nurturing-thursday-fly/

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not everyone’s cup o’ tea…

I’m sure WordPress has invited many of you to participate in WordAds. For those not familiar with this, blogs approved for participation are potentially paid for ads that run on their sites.

Reality Television

Reality Television (Photo credit: badjonni)

Receiving the invitation is indeed an ego-booster, especially for a senior hobbit like myself use to toiling away in my cave incognito, more or less. Once the adrenalin rush has passed however, my own form of reality TV sets in.

One of the requirements for participation in WordAds is handing over my social security number. As a mom who has discouraged my daughter from revealing too much on Facebook, and as one who can’t wrap my brain around identity theft victims sorting out the mess their lives have become, why would I then relinquish my unique piece of identification to a company that is neither my health care provider, my banker or my loan provider? 

WordPress is as good a social network site as one can get. I’m particularly grateful for their attention to security. That doesn’t mean they’re impervious to hacking however. A year or so ago I was up close and personal with just how badly WordPress can be attacked. 

My blog was caught in the crossfire when WordPress pulled out their ‘big guns” to do battle with a global invasion of their systems. As a result of their hypersensitivity to intruders, I was spammed out of leaving comments on other WordPress blogs. I seriously contemplated leaving WordPress when it decided to pull the plug instead. My husband intervened with a few kind words on my behalf which finally got WordPress to review my situation. Hugmamma’s Mind, Body, and Soul was reinstated after they decided I wasn’t a bad egg after all. Their apology helped me recover from the bad experience. But I’ll admit…it was a long week.

I couldn’t imagine dealing with identity theft and picking up the threads of my life thereafter. At 63, would I really want the stress? It’s for sure the dollars earned from participating in WordAds would never compensate for the money I’d spend while waging the battle of my life.

Need a social security #?

Need a social security #? (Photo credit: Matt Blaze)

I’ve since learned that my social security number would be encrypted, a good thing. Unfortunately there are as many brainiacs trying to do evil as there are trying to do good. Where mega bucks is concerned, those on the “dark side” never give up until they can get their greedy hands on someonelse’s hard-earned cash.

I don’t fault anyone who opts to participate in WordAds. Why not make some money doing what you’re already doing, writing and blogging. Everyone buys and sells on the internet. Private information flows…in abundance. What’s the big deal?

For me, stress is a big deal. It consumes one’s life, mentally, emotionally, and physically. Research indicates that too much stress can lead to Alzheimer’s, cancer, heart ailments, diabetes and a whole host of other diseases.

Staving off illness is an uphill climb, moreso for those of lesser means. We all do what we must…to live. I choose to do so…with as little stress as I’m able. 

 

Scanned image of author's US Social Security card.

Scanned image of author’s US Social Security card. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

…your thoughts?…i’m open to some new age enlightenment…

………hugmamma.  😉

proactive…against alzheimer’s

My friend Sylvia sent me a nice email which, among other things, expressed her concern that perhaps I dwell on the possibility of succumbing to Alzheimer’s more than I should. I’m certain the disease is not in her genes, for I’ve never heard her speak of either parent or any family member having died with it. Sylvia’s a decade older than me, and shows no signs of memory loss. Having done extensive reading about the disease, I know that she’s already got several factors in her favor for NOT developing Alzheimer’s.

Sylvia is a voracious knitter. Challenging herself with difficult patterns probably keeps her mind agile. She is a meticulous housekeeper and gardener. You could dine off her kitchen and dining room floors, and spread out luxuriously on her manicured lawn, while your eyes feast on the abundant clematis flowers that climb the nearby fence. The exercise involved is also good for the brain, not to mention the body. Finally, Sylvia relishes socializing. She and Jim traipse hither and yon to listen to the big band sounds of “Peach Tangerine.” She has belonged to the “Happy Hooker’s” knitting group for 20+ years, inviting the ladies to her home for an annual Christmas luncheon. And she goes above and beyond to help those in need, from family members to elderly neighbors in her retirement community. Sylvia’s got socializing down to a science which is great, because it’s a key ingredient in the fight against Alzheimer’s.

Sylvia has taught me invaluable lessons on growing older gracefully…and keeping my mind healthy and happy. From what they’ve written, others have also given me useful information so that I can take a proactive role in slowing the onset of Alzheimer’s or perhaps preventing it altogether. I regularly share this information in the hopes that it might encourage others to take action as well. I don’t do it as a plea for sympathy, or to sound my own horn. I truly feel this disease, like others, can and should be addressed as early as possible. If there’s any cause for which I am fully committed, rather than “burying my head in the sand,” the delay or prevention of Alzheimer’s is the mother lode of all causes for me. I take a stand not only on my own behalf, but also on behalf of those I love, and who love me.

Cover of

Cover of Preventing Alzheimer's

Leeza Gibbons, one-time TV personality writes in the “Foreword” for Preventing Alzheimer’s – Ways to Help Prevent, Delay, Detect, and Even Halt Alzheimer’s Disease and Other Forms of Memory Loss by William Rodman Shankle, M.S., M.D. and Daniel G. Amen, M.D.:

If you’ve picked up this book, you’re probably scared. Or if not afraid, at least interested in what causes Alzheimer’s disease and learning whether you are at risk.

The reality is that we’re all at risk of having this “terrorist-like thief” randomly break into our brains and begin to rewrite our life stories. As Baby Boomers beginning to face our mortality, Alzheimer’s is the unwelcome stranger that reminds us of our vulnerability.

The good news is that we don’t have to be defenseless.

My grandmother lost her life because of Alzheimer’s disease. We lose a little more of my mom everyday. Before Mom was fully trapped behind the fog, she asked me to promise that I would tell her story and use it to educate and inspire. I am, but doing so often brings more questions than answers. She looked into the face of her mother at my Granny’s funeral knowing what her fate would be. I looked at Mom and wondered…What about my children, and what about me? Am I next in line to have my memories stolen?

When my three children ask me if I will get “it” I tell them–truthfully–that I don’t know.

Thanks to Drs. William Rodman Shankle and Daniel Amen, what I do know is that perhaps I can effectively manage my risk of getting the disease, and you can, too. Whether or not you have a history of Alzheimer’s or dementia in your family, your goal is to keep your brain strong and healthy. …

We all know that the “age wave” is about to crash in our culture and yet we are not at all ready. Even in the wake of President Ronald Reagan‘s death, there is still so much shame and stigma surrounding memory disorders that many families try to compensate and deny until they are bankrupt–financially, spiritually, and emotionally. Alzheimer’s is a disease that depletes and depletes, and it is never satisfied with the diagnosed individual…it wants the entire family.

It’s for this reason I created the Leeza Gibbons Memory Foundation. Our family was numb and paralyzed with fear when Mom was diagnosed. It was almost impossible to find the help and support we needed. Answers were scarce. …

Leeza's Place

At Leeza’s Place, our mantra is early diagnosis. We believe in memory screenings to get a baseline reading, against which any decline can be measured. We believe in educating our guests about the latest in alternative treatments to complement traditional approaches. We believe in being proactive against this frightening force. We believe in support for both the recently diagnosed and those who care for them.

That’s why I am so impressed with Drs. Shankle and Amen and their work. They are well-respected scientists whose work is world-renowned, but I also know them as kind, compassionate men who not only focus on how to tackle this disease, but on connecting with families who arrive in their offices with their breath knocked out of them, looking for a miracle. These two doctors will never try to talk anyone out of expecting a good outcome…they have seen it happen too many times. They have been the guiding forces toward success stories that may offer real hope against a dark landscape of despair. …

You are perhaps doing nothing short of changing the course of your future, and possibly someone else’s, by reading this book. Can you think of anything more powerful or important? It’s a popular notion that we must gracefully surrender the things of youth. Yes, we will lose our firm muscles and unlined skin, but memories should be ours for keeps. They are what resonate at the end of a life, sweetened over time.

We must do what we can to bolt the door to our minds so that our treasured recollections of those we love, where we went, and what we felt will be kept forever as a sort of “soul print” of our time here on earth. This book suggests options that might have the potential to lock out Alzheimer’s disease in order to do just that.

This image shows a PiB-PET scan of a patient w...

Image via Wikipedia

Under the heading “What the Brain Needs to Stay Healthy,” Drs. Shankle and Amen write:

Fuel
Just like any other living thing, a brain needs fuel to grow, function, and repair itself. Glucose and oxygen run the engine powered by your brain cells. Glucose is a simple six-carbon sugar. Unlike other cells in your body, your brain cells only know how to use glucose. Anything that impairs glucose delivery to brain cells is life-threatening. Oxygen is required to produce energy; without it your mitochondria will not produce enough energy to keep your brain alive. Because blood delivers glucose and oxygen to your brain, nothing must get in the way of blood flow if the brain is to stay healthy.

Stimulation
Although largely genetically programmed to turn on its functions at the right developmental age, the human brain also depends on proper stimulation to grow and develop throughout childhood and to maintain its functioning into old age. When you stimulate neurons in the right way, you make them more efficient; they function better, and you are more likely to have an active, learning brain throughout your life. …

The best sources of stimulation for the brain are physical exercise, mental exercise, and social bonding.

Physical Exercise
Physical exercise is important for brain health. Moderate exercise improves the heart’s ability to pump blood throughout the body and helps maintain healthy blood flow to the brain, which increases oxygen and glucose delivery. Exercise also reduces damage to neurons from toxic substances from the environment, and it enhances insulin’s ability to prevent high blood sugar levels, thereby reducing the risk of diabetes. Physical exercise also helps protect the short-term memory structures in the temporal lobes (hippocampus and entorhinal cortex) from high-stress conditions, which produce excessive amounts of the hormone cortisol (20). …The Honolulu Study of Aging found that untreated high blood pressure during midlife (40 to 60 years old) greatly increases the risk for dementia. …This study emphasizes the importance of regular exercise and proper treatment of any medical conditions you may have. …

Mental Exercise
Physical exercise has a global effect on the brain, but mental exercise is equally important. By mental exercise, we mean acquiring new knowledge. It is possible to use your brain without learning anything new, which in the long run is not terribly helpful. For instance, Dr. Joe L. reads mammograms all day long–reads thousands of them a year–and although he is working his brain every day, he is not actually taking in new information. Whenever the brain does something over and over, it learns how to do that particular thing using less and less energy. New learning–such as learning a new medical technique, a new hobby, or new game–helps establish new connections, thus maintaining and improving the function of other less-often-used brain areas. …

Social Interaction
One common source of brain stimulation that is often overlooked is interacting with other people. Social interaction is the fuel the brain needs to develop the ability to negotiate, cooperate, and compromise with others, to know right from wrong, and to know when to respond and when to keep silent. These highly complex human abilities are largely controlled by the tips of the frontal lobes. They start to develop before two years old, such as when the infant starts saying no to the parents. These abilities continue to develop at least until 50 years old, according to studies of brain myelination, and perhaps longer.

Child neglect has been associated with many brain-based developmental difficulties such as personality and learning and behavioral problems. Likewise, adults deprived of the company of others experience a clear negative effect on cognitive abilities, memory, and social skills. In studies on social connectedness in the elderly, it has been shown that people who spend time with others on a regular basis are cognitively sharper. In addition, their emotions are more even. Psychiatrists have seen time and again that people who are isolated commit suicide dramatically more often than those who are active in society. Simple social interaction stimulates particular neuronal circuits. For instance, there is a self-awareness circuit at the very tip of the frontal lobe. If its capacity is diminished, the person can no longer judge her own abilities. Self-awareness is maintained, literally, by being aware of oneself, and that is aided significantly by feedback from other people. If the circuits in the crucial areas of the frontal lobe aren’t being used, they atrophy, and the person’s social skills suffer.

Page 71 of the book carries “The Shankle-Amen Early Dementia Detection Questionnaire.” Listed are 21 short questions to which the answers are either “yes” or “no.” In parentheses are numerical scores. Upon completion, one is asked to total the scores for the “yes” answers.

Interpretation
If the score is 0, 1, or 2, then you have low risk factors for developing ADRD.
If the score is 3, 4, 5 or 6, then you should annually screen (see Appendix A) after age 50.
If the score is greater than 6, then you should annually screen (see appendix A) after age 40.

Following are the questions for which I answered “yes.”

1._(3.5) One family member with Alzheimer’s disease or other cause of dementia

10._(2.1) High cholesterol (hyperlipidemia)

Mrs. Laura Bush, First Lady of the United Stat...

Image via Wikipedia

As you can see my score is 5.6 indicating that I should test for memory loss, which I will be doing. Coincidentally as I write this post, there’s a Larry King special on TV, “Unthinkable – Alzheimer’s Epidemic.” Among other guests speaking of their experiences with family members who had Alzheimer’s are Leeza Gibbons, Laura Bush, Angie Dickinson, Ron Reagan, and Maria Shriver. Contributing to the piece are the Mayo Clinic, the Cleveland Clinic, as well as doctors, scientists, and other experts in the field. Larry King underwent testing, including an MRI, to see if symptoms of dementia and Alzheimer’s could be detected. He came away with a clean bill of health as far as they were concerned.

β-amyloid fibrils.

Image via Wikipedia

The message of my post, and Larry King’s TV special, is to recognize and accept the potential for Alzheimer’s. But more importantly, it’s that we should be aggressively proactive in remaining out of its debilitating grasp for as long as we are able. For once its tentacles take hold, there’s no escape…ever.

preferring to be the aggressor…and not the victim…hugmamma.  

husbands…can’t live without them

A sure sign of my significant other’s undying support and love was reflected in something he did for me, which I’d not even asked him to do. When WordPress suspended my blog, my husband came to my defense by messaging the support staff a few complimentary words. In return, WordPress emailed an equally supportive message.

Hi

WordPress Logo

Image via Wikipedia

Thank you for your note. 

The site you mention was actually removed by mistake, and it has been restored to its original state. We have notified the site owner of this, as well. We are incredibly happy that you’re enjoying this blog (and we’re sure the owner is, as well) and hope that you do continue to do so.

We do apologize for this, and if you have any further concerns at all please just let us know.

Enjoy your weekend  🙂

Anthony

WordPress.com

As with my previous experiences with Comcast, this one with WordPress continues to support my feeling that you can “get more with honey, than with vinegar.” This situation felt a little closer to the skin, in that I felt personally attacked, being labeled a spammer. Nonetheless, launching a retaliatory attack of words would’ve cost me more.

Stress is as much a killer, as heart disease. As it turned out, with whom would I have been engaged in battle? An automated system that would have come out the victor, not having shed any blood in the process. I didn’t mince words, but the matter wasn’t going to be resolved without the help of WordPress’s support staff. So I enlisted their aid, and while resolution seemed tedious and painstakingly slow, respect on both sides was never jeopardized. In the end, we both got what we wanted. I was able to resume blogging, and WordPress retained a consumer of its product.

Firetruck shirts

Image by Jordan via Flickr

isn’t that what life should be about?…getting along with one another?..hugmamma.

“pat-a-cake” kitties, or cool “dudes?”

Good friend Katy sent me this definite stress-reliever. Animals are always good for a hearty laugh, or at least non-stop grinning. In this case, you’ll have to click on the URL below, which I assure you is virus-free. Have had my share of virus attacks to last the remainder of my life. Thank you very much.

The 2 cats in the video are “frenemies.” They definitely get along, although they never, ever smile at one another. It almost looks like a stare-down, which might become a melt-down. Have I piqued your interest? You won’t be disappointed. Trust me. The senior citizen whose posts end up in people’s spam files. But I’m getting it sorted out…one buddy blog at a time. Beyond that, who knows.

Click on http://www.wimp.com/pattycake/ for some “cool” fun, dudes. Their word, not mine.

how did they get these felines to agree to do the picture?…i wonder…hugmamma.

habits to “steal” from hubby

Dr. Öz at ServiceNation 2008

Image via Wikipedia

Dr. Oz had a couple of audience members participate in a contest today. Both women had to guess the correct answers to 3 questions. The game’s theme was “Habits you should steal from your husband!” Of course I couldn’t switch the channel without hearing the results.

My mind raced ahead to possible suggestions. Not easy, but several things came to mind. Topping the list was “snoring.” “Snoring,” I thought. Why would I want to rob my husband of that habit? Maybe so we can both lie awake all night?!? Not likely. Another thought was “procrastination.” The longer we’ve been married, I think that particular habit is wearing off on me. Think Christmas decor. It’s slowly coming down, still.

Well here are Dr. Oz expert answers to the question “What habits should wives steal from their husbands.”

  1. Like them, we should drink a beer a day. Liquor was a no-no.
    (Will definitely NOT tell my hubby this. He’ll definitely jump on this, adding it to the one glass of red wine a day he already enjoys to stave off heart attacks. And I have no liking for the taste of beer, so this suggestion is a no-brainer for me.)
  2. Like them, we should get things off our chests. In other words, we should be aggressive, not passive. Holding everything inside can cause a heart attack, according to Dr. Oz.
    (My hubby’s pretty good about letting most things “roll off his back.” But I’ll remind him.)
  3. Like them, and this one I’d never heard, we should be “slipshods,” not “straighteners.”  (The example given by Dr. Oz was news to me. According to him, I’m NOT suppose to fix the bed after waking up. The covers should be left off to allow the bed linens to dry out from the accumulation of bodily moisture, dust mites
    The house dust mite, its feces and chitin are ...

    Image via Wikipedia

    and their feces, and so on and so forth. Yuck! Now that’s definitely one change my husband would welcome. He laughs at me when I fix the bed right before we climb in at night. That’s if I’d not fixed it earlier. I have to straighten the covers so I can slide in beneath them. Makes sense to me.)

I definitely understand the last 2 habits, although I think being too much of a type “A” personality has its drawbacks as well. Clenching one’s jaws in adamant self-righteousness can also lead to heart disease it would seem. But I will definitely heed the lesson in #3. Who wants to aid and abet the proliferation of dust mites and all that other yucky stuff.

I definitely don’t get the health benefit of drinking a beer a day. Can someone enlighten me, preferably not a husband who already indulges? I think that would be a highly biased opinion.

now how about habits husbands can steal from wives?…any suggestions?…hugmamma.

“for adults only!!!…if it’s your cup of tea”

My spirits needed a boost after the “rain” that’s showered down upon me of late, the last downpour being the viral attack. The other stuff was normal family occurrences, like my daughter having a bad case of the flu which required a visit to the ER, and hubby having had to go overseas for business. Every family has ordeals. It’s when they pile up one after another, that frustration seeps in.

Blogging usually helps release pent up angst, but when my computer is out of commission…duh??? Taking deep breaths helps, as well as reconnecting to small things that give pleasure in and of themselves. Several magazines await my perusal. Cupboards need reorganizing. Out running errands, the serenity and peace of Mother Nature washes over me as I gaze out across rolling hills dotted with sleek, black cattle, grazing. But I must admit, nothing totally replaces sitting at my laptop, words streaming forth from my fingertips. My senses are always on overload, so downloading them brings me the greatest relief, and sense of satisfaction.

My dear friend Sylvia, always hovering “close by,” emailed me a video that was shared with her by her British network of family and friends. I think the English, and Europeans,  have a healthy sense of self, and a wicked sense of humor. They “put it out there,” watching to see our reaction, their eyes seeming to chuckle at our befuddlement. Where some of us might need reassurance that laughter is appropriate, my English friends don’t hold back. They might not guffaw, but they smile broadly, enjoying the moment without reservation. 

Sylvia assured me I’d laugh at this video. I must admit that I had reservations about sharing it, but I guarantee you won’t see anything you shouldn’t see. What you do see is the Brit’s unencumbered sense of fun, and their healthy sense of self, also totally unencumbered. My friend and I hope you enjoy, and that it gives you a boost, if that’s what you need. I couldn’t reprint it here, so if you’re really curious you’ll want to click on the following. It was done in 1982, so it’s pretty mild by today’s standards. And Sylvia is a grandmother who’s not into wild and crazy… mildly crazy maybe.

http://videosift.com/video/The-Greatest-Show-On-Legs-The-Naked-Balloon-Dance

i don’t think we americans could do it quite like the brits…with great aplomb…hugmamma. 

give up the internet?

A tricky question posed by the wordpress.com staff to bloggers participating in Post a Day  2011. Most of the comments left by bloggers attested to mostly mixed feelings about the internet, mine included.

I’d very much like us to return to the old days when we communicated face to face, and mailed hand written letters, and visiting the local library was a trip to which we looked foward. But then would we want to return to the days before electricity, telephones, not to mention cell phones, automobiles, paved roads, supermarkets, refrigerators, stoves? The list is endless.

Recently, I’ve heard mentioned, “the only consistent thing in life is change.” So it seems there’s no turning back the hand of time. But in the case of the internet, perhaps a disconnect now and then teaches us to appreciate when we have it, and to appreciate other things in life, when we don’t. We can enjoy having both, as long as we live in the moment, and not stress out.

been there, done that…see my posts about Comcast”…hugmamma.

 

family, “warts and all”

At last Sunday’s Mass, Father Bryan began his homily sharing some family drama between his younger brother and mom, nothing catastrophic, more like what we all experience with certain family members through the course of our lives. Probably the key ingredient to the prickly relationship is that Father’s family members are very much alike in personality. That, for sure, is something many of us have in common. It’s probably like having 2 pieces to a jigsaw puzzle that fit together in every way, save one. That difference will forever keep them at odds. But unlike a board game, familial relations can be sorted through, and the rough edges made smoother, if not perfect.

As Father pointed out, not even the Holy Family was perfect. An angel appeared to St. Joseph three times, dictating what he and his family should do. First, he was going to marry the Virgin Mary who would conceive a child of God. Second, he and Mary must leave their homes, families, and all that was familiar, to move to Egypt. And then finally, they were to return home to Nazareth where they would settle into daily living. Surely as human beings, father, mother, and son must have had their moments of frustration, which spilled over onto one another. How they weathered stormy times together, while maintaining love and respect for one another, is what’s important, and a valuable lesson for all of us.

After Mass, my daughter and I approached Father Bryan to express appreciation for his homily. In reply, he looked at me exclaiming that our family probably didn’t experience any of the normal angst he mentioned about most families, including his. Before I could respond, someone offered him words of thanksgiving. If we’d not been interrupted, I would’ve told Father that no family is exempt from “baggage.” But like the Holy Family, we forgive, and move forward with compassion for one another, as well as ourselves.

The holidays seem to bring added pressures to families, insisting everyone “get along,” whether that means squelching decades old animosities, jealousies and rivalries, or feigning affection for those we barely know. Because I tend to wear my heart on my sleeve, and my feelings lie near the surface, I don’t squelch or feign very well. I can overlook and be fine. My mother use to want me to be other than who I was. Growing up I had no choice, but as an adult I can only be honest.

I don’t think we have to lie to get along, I believe we can be who we are and hope that others accept us for that, and not what they would like us to be. I don’t like to layer my expectations upon someonelse, nor do I want anyones’ expectations to rest upon me. Among the many things I took away from Dr. Amen’s book, “Change Your Brain, Change Your Life,” is that I want to live my best life. In order to do so I must dwell on the positive, not the negative. Of course it’s an ongoing effort not to get caught up in the daily grind of living, as witnessed on the news reports: wars, foreclosures, unemployment, natural disasters, a bad economy. While it may be impossible to control the macrocosm, I can manage the microcosm. And so I try to make my environment as positive and hopeful as I can.

Family are who they are. While liking them may be difficult at times, accepting them is not open for deliberation, in my opinion. Being with them, however, is another matter, again my opinion. No matter family or friends, people should respect one another in their dealings. “Do unto others, as you would have them do unto you,” is still a great way to live. One’s perspective may differ from another person’s, but respect for all viewpoints should be a given. Unfortunately that’s not always the case. Rather than “beating ourselves up,” tying to force relationships to fit like pieces in a jigsaw puzzle, it might behoove some, like me, to do what I can do, and be contented with that much. Progress can be made bit by bit, it need not occur in one fell swoop. It can, but it needn’t.

I’ll take small moments of happiness as often as they occur, rather than pine and stress at never attaining the perfect family portrait. All those in our families are striving to live their best lives, given their particular circumstances. I love them all, and will always wish them life’s best, whether I’m physically in their lives or not. And I’m certain they wish the same for me and mine.

for all families who are nearly perfect…or far from perfect, huge hugs…hugmamma.

good talk, still no action, comcast

Comcast is still talking a good story, but the internet connection is still “hit or miss.” Maybe it’s a tiny bit better, but I’m still getting “kicked off” despite “very good to excellent connection,” according to that little image of a monitor at the lower right corner of the screen.

Two repairmen showed up after the 5 p.m. “bewitching” hour, apologizing for the delay and blaming it on a schedule busy with customer problems. They donned their little blue booties and proceeded downstairs to have a “look-see.” When they asked where the modem was located, I pointed to the box atop the TV, which they said wasn’t it. So I showed my ignorance by exclaiming that my husband was the expert, not me. I then pointed to where the computer desk was, but they didn’t recognize the modem amongst the assorted pieces of equipment. Returning their gaze to the box atop the TV, they finally determined that, in fact, that was an arcane modem, no longer in use by Comcast. Then the “lead” man spun a very convincing story about noise interference. And I believed him.

It seems where we’re located, there’ve been numerous complaints like mine. The homes themselves weren’t responsible for the disrupted internet connection. Evidently the fault lay outside, some kind of noise being the culprit, impeding outgoing signals. Comcast has yet to discover the origin of the noise.

Perhaps if I’d not been so engaging, and understanding, the men might have set about doing what they will probably do on another day, either tomorrow or next Wednesday. The lead told me that tomorrow is his Friday, Wednesday is his Monday. I got the feeling that they probably wanted to call it quits after a long day. Truthfully, it had been a long day for me too, so I didn’t mind if they returned in the morning, and dealt with my more knowledgable husband.

I did tell the men that I’ve been blogging about this situation, and will do so until my connection problem is resolved. I also said that thus far I’ve been very positive, and the Comcast personnel with whom I’ve spoken have been helpful. The lead guy gave me his business card with his cell phone number, asking that I call with any questions. We all parted smiling, and exchanging pleasantries.

A few minutes later I did call the repairman’s cell phone asking if, in fact, he’d be returning tomorrow so that my husband would be able to speak with him. I was told he’d make a concerted effort, but that there was no guarantee. But he did say he’d try really hard to “look in on us” later in the day. He had also mentioned earlier that he’d exchange our antique modem for the 2 boxes that Comcast now uses.

Perhaps 45 minutes after my conversation, Comcast’s automated program called asking if I’d complete a 2 minute survey of my appointment. On a scale of 1 to 5, 5 being that I was happy with their performance, I gave Comcast 1’s, 2’s, and a couple of 3’s. The higher scores were for the friendliness of their employees, the low was for their having done nothing, except talk and give me a phone number to call.

So I’m amazed at all the attention and talk my blog has garnered from Comcast, but I’m no better off than I was before. Well, I take it back. I still lose my connection, but perhaps it’s lessened somewhat. At this stage, I’m not sure who’s making all the noise, Comcast or some alien force hovering in the skies above.

But you know what? My money’s still on Comcast, after all that’s the “Aloha Spirit”. And more importantly, I’m still not stressed out. My family’s healthy, it’s the holiday season, and truthfully, I’m a sucker for positive thinking. Like endorphins, it makes me feel good, in my heart, and in my brain. Maybe that’ll go a long way toward warding off a heart attack, and delaying Alzheimer’s.

hey, whatever keeps me smiling…hugmamma.

roses, with thorns

Was just thinking that my blog might be mistaken as portraying a life lived in a garden of fragrant roses, devoid of any thorns. It couldn’t be further from the truth. Living an impoverished life, the youngest of 9, raised by a widowed 30 year old, native Hawaiian, whose only source of income was as a laundress for a Catholic orphanage, was not without physical pain or mental anguish. At our best, we were a dysfunctional family, at our worst, we were individuals trying to survive, until we were old enough to get out of the house. I’m sure our story is replicated the world over. Rather than remain the victim of circumstances, and take my “mountain of pain” to even greater heights, I prefer to dismantle it altogether. At 61 I don’t have decades left in which to experiment, to learn by trial and error. I’ve dabbled sufficiently in life’s “ups and downs,” to know that, going forward, I’d like to live with a positive frame of mind. I don’t wish to allow negativity to take control of my life, the only one I have. What example would I be setting for my daughter, who puts great stock in the examples set by my husband and me? She’s worth more to me than any pain I suffered as a result of the personal baggage I dragged around, like a ball and chain. Better to sever the shackles that bind, and be rid of the accompanying stress forever. I’ve come a long way, but I’m far from done.

still a work in progress…hugmamma.

“good for you” foods

Ever wonder why doctors, nutritionists, exercise gurus, and others, tell us to eat certain foods, that they’re good for us? Well someone who works with my husband passed along the following list, which takes the mystery out of their recommendation. And so I post it here for you to incorporate into your life, and share it with those you care about, just as… I care about you…hugmamma.

  • Apples – protects your heart, prevents constipation, blocks diarrhea, improves lung capacity, cushions joints
  • Apricots – combats cancer, controls blood pressure, saves your eyesight, shields against Alzheimer’s, slows aging process
  • Artichokes – aids digestion, lowers cholesterol, protects your heart, stabilizes blood sugar, guards against liver disease
  • Avocados – battles diabetes, lowers cholesterol, helps stops strokes, controls blood pressure, smooths skin
  • Bananas – protects your heart, quiets a cough, strengthens bones, controls blood pressure, blocks diarrhea
  • Beans – prevents constipation, helps hemorrhoids, lowers cholesterol, combats cancer, stabilizes blood sugar
  • Beets – controls blood pressure, combats cancer, strengthens bones, protects your heart
  • Blueberries – combats cancer, protects your heart, stabilizes blood sugar, boosts memory, prevents constipation
  • Broccoli – strengthens bones, saves eyesight, combats cancer, protects your heart, controls blood pressure
  •  Cabbage – combats cancer, prevents constipation, promotes weight loss, protects your heart, helps hemorrhoids
  • Cantaloupe – saves eyesight, controls blood pressure, lowers cholesterol, combats cancer, supports immune system
  • Carrots – saves eyesight, protects your heart, prevents constipation, combats cancer, promotes weight loss
  • Cauliflower – protects against prostate cancer, combats breast cancer, strengthens bones, banishes bruises, guards against heart disease
  • Cherries – protects your heart, combats cancer, ends insomnia, slows aging process, shields against Alzheimer’s
  • Chestnuts – promotes weight loss, protects your heart, lowers cholesterol, combats cancer, controls blood pressure
  • Chili Peppers – aids digestion, soothes sore throat, clears sinuses, combats cancer, boosts immune system
  • Figs – promotes weight loss, helps stop strokes, lowers cholesterol, combats cancer, controls blood pressure
  • Fish – protects your heart, boosts memory, combats cancer, supports immune system
  • Flax – aids digestion, battles diabetes, protects your heart, improves mental health, boosts immune system
  • Garlic – lowers cholesterol, controls blood pressure, combats cancer, kills bacteria, fights fungus
  • Grapefruit – protects against heart attacks, promotes weight loss, helps stop strokes, combats prostate cancer, lowers cholesterol
  • Grapes – saves eyesight, conquers kidney stones, combats cancer, enhances blood flow, protects your heart
  • Green tea – combats cancer, protects your heart, helps stop strokes, promotes weight loss, kills bacteria
  • Honey – heals wounds, aids digestion, guards against ulcers, increases energy, fights allergies
  • Lemons – combats cancer, protects your heart, controls blood pressure, smooths skin, stops scurvy
  • Limes – combats cancer, protects your heart, controls blood pressure, smooths skin, stops scurvy
  • Mangoes – combats cancer, boosts memory, regulates thyroid, aids digestion, shields against Alzheimer’s
  • Mushrooms – controls blood pressure, lowers cholesterol, kills bacteria, combats cancer, strengthens bones
  • Oats – lowers cholesterol, combats cancer, battles diabetes, prevents constipation, smooths skin
  • Olive Oil – protects your heart, promotes weight loss, combats cancer, battles diabetes, smooths skin
  • Onions – reduce risk of heart attack, combats cancer, kills bacteria, lowers cholesterol, fights fungus
  • Oranges – supports immune systems, combats cancer, protects your heart
  • Peaches – prevents constipation, combats cancer, helps stop strokes,aids digestion, helps hemorrhoids
  • Peanuts – protects against heart disease, promotes weight loss, combats prostate cancer, lowers cholesterol, aggravates diverticulitis
  • Pineapple – strengthens bones, relieves colds, aids digestion, dissolves warts, blocks diarrhea
  • Prunes – slows aging process, prevents constipation, boosts memory, lowers cholesterol, protects against heart disease
  • Rice – protects your heart, battles diabetes, conquers kidney stones, combats cancer, helps stops strokes
  • Strawberries – combats cancer, protects your heart, boosts memory, calms stress
  • Sweet Potatoes – saves your eyesight, lifts mood, combats cancer, strengthens bones
  • Tomatoes – protects prostrate, combats cancer, lowers cholesterol, protects your heart
  • Walnuts – lowers cholesterol, combats cancer, boosts memory, lifts mood, protects against heart disease
  • Water – promotes weight loss, combats cancer, conquers kidney stones, smooths skin
  • Watermelon – protects prostate, promotes weight loss, lowers cholesterol, helps stop strokes, controls blood pressure
  • Wheat germ – combats colon cancer, prevents constipation, lowers cholesterol, helps stop strokes, improves digestion
  • Wheat Bran – combats colon cancer, prevents constipation, lowers cholesterol, helps stop strokes, improves digestion
  • Yogurt – guards against ulcers, strengthens bones, lowers cholesterol, supports immune system, aids digestion (Lemon yogurt is the only one that is a natural anti-biotic with NO side effects.)

As with anything, proceed with caution. The information provided appears to be valid, but we must each consider our own diets, allergies, restrictions. One size does not necessarily fit all. I think I’ve heard that grapefruits should not be consumed by someone on Lipitor, a statin to lower cholesterol. Honey increases energy because it contains sugar. Tomatoes belong to the “night family” of veggies, along with green peppers and its relatives. Some people are allergic to them. And not all fish are created equal. The best options seem to be salmon, tuna, sardine, and halibut. Peanuts consumed in great quantities can be fattening because of its calories. (Something I must be particularly wary about.) A friend feasted on seedless grapes and aggravated her diverticulitis. Evidently the seed piths were still present, so they lodged in the lining of her intestines causing excruciating pain. So beware!

I’ve concocted my own diet of sorts based, in part, upon information gleaned from “The Perricone Prescription” by New York dermatologist, Dr. Nicholas Perricone. I read the book cover to cover on a flight home from spending 3 weeks with my daughter at a dance program in Martha’s Vineyard. By the time my plane landed, I was a believer in Dr. Perricone’s theory that “Inflammation is a probable culprit, a contributor to most major diseases and degenerative conditions, from cancer to Alzheimer’s, arthritis to stroke. Proinflammatory diets, exposure to sunlight, environmental pollutants, and a host of other agents assault our cells and cause them to generate inflammatory chemicals. This subclinical inflammation goes on day after day, year in and year out, leading to numerous disease states as well as the disease of aging. Yes, aging is a disease–a chronic, uniformly progressive, inflammatory disease that is always fatal. …I explain how inflammation occurs on a cellular level and detail my search for powerful anti-inflammatories–antioxidants that stop inflammation and repair the damage. If you can prevent and stop inflammation, you can prevent and stop the signs of aging.” Dr. Perricone goes on to say that “Sugar causes inflammation…”

I tried Perricone’s diet for 3 weeks, but couldn’t remain on it because it was so restrictive for me. Nonetheless the information he imparted made a lot of sense, and so I’m still a believer. Sugar causes inflammation; extra-virgin olive oil is a powerful anti-inflammatory food; trans fats are dangerous to my health; the risk of colon, breast, and prostate cancers can be lowered by eating fish, and their omega-3 fatty acids reduces the pain and inflammation associated with arthritis. And green tea does ramp up my metabolism, as does alpha-lipoic acid supplements.

Along with Perricone’s book, I’ve adapted much of what is contained in “The Anti-Alzheimer’s Diet” by California neuroscientist, Dr. Vincent Fortanasce. Because of him, I eat blueberries most days, fresh or frozen. “If free radical damage causes aging, then ingesting antioxidants in high enough quantities should be able to slow aging. Ironically, you don’t have to eat tons of foods high in antioxidants to slow down brain aging! For instance, studies have shown that eating just 3/4 cup blueberries per day can turn back the clock dramatically.” Fortanasce adds “Berries, including blueberries…are filled with anthocyanins,…that…sweep out, harmful free-radical molecules that trigger inflammation…studies show that antioxidant filled berries help fight against aging problems, such as short-term memory loss. Dark blue and purple berries also are linked to a significant reversal in motor dysfunction that correlates with aging and dopamine deficiency.”

hoping this may help…hugmamma.

not so friendly skies

 Hearing about a Delta Airline flight whose passengers were closeted in a plane for 3 hours on the tarmac, inspired me to write this post. An engine problem was said to be the culprit, but upon close inspection nothing was found to be amiss. To Delta’s chagrin, the event was broadcast worldwide on YouTube. A very resourceful passenger captured his image with the camera on his cell phone.  Beads of sweat were shown cascading down his bald scalp, over his brows, and onto his cheekbones. It wasn’t a pretty sight. I can’t imagine that it felt any better than it looked. This picture ran countless times throughout the newscast. The Network drove home its point, and then some. Of course they included snippets of an interview with the passenger. In it he underscored how awful the situation was by explaining, that as a soldier, he’d served in Africa where temperatures soared well over 100 degrees. He’d also endured grueling conditions as a navy Seal. But nothing, he said, NOTHING could compare with the abhorrent conditions he experienced onboard Delta’s “flight from Hell.”  

Pictures of fellow passengers showed their disgruntled faces. Children’s cheeks were flushed from the heat. The air-conditioning was left off because of the supposed engine problem. A lone flight attendant finally took it upon herself to distribute bottles of water. Meanwhile, no announcements were made to explain the situation to the passengers. And according to the man in the picture, no apology was extended by Delta. I don’t remember what was contained in a formal letter sent by the airline. But judging from the man’s demeanor, it didn’t contain the mea culpa he expected. My husband and I experienced a similar situation on a USAirways flight leaving Philadelphia, but the outcome was considerably different.

Taxiing out on the runway, we were lined up with other outbound flights. It wasn’t clear if a passenger forced the captain to relinquish his place in line when she went to the bathroom, ignoring the “fasten your seat belt ” sign. I gathered that’s what happened because announcements were made to that effect. Pulling out of position, the plane went to the back of the line. Then Mother Nature stepped in, and “leveled the playing field.” All flights were delayed indefinitely because of bad weather in the Midwest. 

TV newscasts showing scenes like the one described earlier, drifted through my mind. I let myself go numb, knowing there was nothing to be done but settle in for the long haul. Getting agitated wouldn’t resolve the situation, and the accompanying stress would go against my resolve to stay healthy, and avoid Alzheimer’s. You know the old saying “Don’t cut off your nose to spite your face.” 

Unlike Delta’s indifference to its passengers, USAir kept us apprised of the status of our delay. It was like having an open phone line between the cockpit and the cabin. When the captain wasn’t on the line, the flight attendants were. At the time I was slightly annoyed. (I told you I was calm, not dead.) I just wanted them to stop talking and do something, anything, to relieve our discomfort. Even in business class, the seats were HARD. More disturbing, you’d have thought there was a party going on! (Helllooo…am I the only one wanting to get underway here?)  The  flight attendants strolled the aisle, smiling and laughing while serving up cups of water, and casually visiting with passengers who got up to remove items from overhead bins. All around me were voices chattering, while I sat with furrowed brow.

Finally, the captain announced that our plane would be returning to the terminal. Once there, the door was opened and a ticket agent came aboard. From the cockpit came a further update that our delay would depend upon reconfiguration of flight patterns due to the thunderstorms and lightning. What came next must have surprised my fellow travelers as much as it did me. We were told that, because of new government regulations, passengers were free to disembark to make other arrangements if they so chose. Now THAT caught my attention! Wow! An airline wasputting the passenger ahead of the “bottom line.” Of course they had their “neck on the block,” but no matter. While it didn’t make a loyal fan of me, USAir won my respect.

My husband and I have both worked in the airline industry, he with Pan Am, and me with Iran Air and TWA.  Airline employees enjoy very nice perks, foremost of which is traveling free or at greatly discounted rates. It does involve going “stand by,” where they literally stand around waiting to hear their names called if space is available on the aircraft. This can be nerve-wracking, especially when accompanied by young children who wonder aloud “Why can’t we get on yet?” The wait is worthwhile, however, if they’re upgraded to first class…for free.

When we flew our own airlines, we awaited takeoff, giddy and delighted at our good fortune.  Gazing out the window, we’d admire the planes bearing the company logo. We felt proud, and special. Proud to be employed by companies who transported people all over the world. Special, because we were part of what seemed a fantasy, air travel. We dressed accordingly, suit and tie for my husband, dress and heels for me. Stewardesses were fashionistas, carefully groomed from head to toe. How I admired, and wanted to be one of them. But they seemed an elite class. Pilots too seemed like mythical beings, ensconced in their private domain, the cockpit. Catching a glimpse inside was a treat, sitting in one during flight was memorable. I had that privilege once, on an Iran Air flight.  Reminiscing about air travel in decades past, makes me think how different it is today.

I’ve agreed with friends that flying today is like riding a bus. Line up; get your ticket punched; squeeze into a seat; read your book or paper; eat food you’ve brought aboard; get to your destination, deplane, and go your own way. Flight attendants are likened to waiters and waitresses, except they may, or may not, serve you something. These days, you couldn’t pay me to be one of them. I’d much rather sit in my comfy jeans, “catching 40 winks” or some part thereof. Now, passengers try to cram as much as possible into carry-on luggage, not wanting to hand over $15, $20, or $30 for checked bags.

Airline travel has certainly changed. Deregulation enabled airlines to set their own rates which allowed consumers more options in popular markets; not so much, in  less traveled markets. Big companies scrambled, some eventually closed their doors, or merged with others to survive. Small companies like Southwest and Jet Blue grew to prominence with travelers who wanted the biggest “bang” for their buck. The industry continues to expand and contract, mirroring the economy upon which it depends.

My initial experience with Southwest was terrible. Traveling with my husband and daughter, we stood in the haphazard line waiting to board. People were sitting on the floor or standing, luggage at the ready, making sure they’d get a good seat, for it was “first-come, first-serve.” Then unexpectedly a voice was heard over the loudspeaker calling out a gate change. A mad scramble ensued. Everyone made a dash for the new gate. Upon arriving there, our family was nearer the front of the line than before. Eventually we heard murmurings at the back that there was another change. Slowly the line unraveled, people running in another direction. Finally making it aboard the plane, my husband, daughter and I managed to sit together in one row. There and then, I made my husband promise never to book another Southwest flight again. He promised. 

Fast forward to now, and Southwest is my airline of choice. Management figured out that herding passengers like cattle wasn’t good for public relations. A new system was put into effect lining people up according to positions assigned upon check-in, A-1 through 30, B-1 through 30, and c-1 through 30. People are more civil; boarding runs more smoothly. Without the lengthy process inherent with other airlines, it seems Southwest is in and out of the gate more quickly. Service on board is comparable to major carriers, sometimes even besting them. Air fares are comparable or better.

Current air travel is a “free-for-all.” Passengers get, or don’t get, what they pay for; airlines make, or don’t make, a profit. Fate seems to have the upper hand these days. I’m not sure what to think.

what do you think?…hugmamma.