Sunday, December 28, 2014

Auld Lang Syne

Did you survive the Christmas season?  I hope so.   We are marching toward 2015 and many of us will find ourselves singing Auld Lang Syne, a traditional New Years eve song.  I am sharing a beautiful arrangement by the Royal Scots Dragoon Guards at

As we enter 2015, I wish for you and your family a healthy, happy, and prosperous year. 


Sunday, December 21, 2014

Merry Christmas to you and yours

I love the Christmas holidays for many reasons:  the gift-giving, the special dinners and food treats, and so many traditions (including the great Christmas movies on TV).  But especially the Christmas holiday celebrates God’s gift to mankind: “For unto us a Child is given.”  I hope you pause to celebrate the reason for Christmas.  The London Symphony Orchestra performs a portion of Handel’s Messiah at

May God’s blessings shine on you and yours this holiday season.  Merry Christmas. 

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Coping with the Holidays

Hubby and I brain-stormed and came up with some suggestions on how we have changed our behaviors to protect our mental and physical health this holiday season.

1.      Don’t set our expectations at unreachable levels.  I recognize I cannot do it all.  I cannot decorate the house beautifully, buy and wrap all the presents, make fudge and homemade cookies while working full time.  And it’s ok.   Do you put too many chores into your schedule?  Which leads us to #2.

2.      Prioritize what gives the most satisfaction for the time and money you have.  What is most important to you?  What traditions/activities/chores do you really not care about?  Keep the important ones and leave off the ones that don’t give you pleasure.

3.      If possible, don’t wait till the last minute (unless you enjoy that.  Some people do enjoy it.  I would find last minute chores and shopping stressful—but that’s just me.)  If possible, do your shopping in less busy times.  I know some gals who have bought their children’s gifts at Walmart at 4am before they came to work.  I applaud anyone who gets up that early to buy Christmas presents. 

4.      Hubby suggested this one:  eat before you go shopping so you aren’t tempted to grab unhealthy fast food.
5.  Don't forget to care for your physical body.  That includes:  good food, exercise, a good night's sleep and other healthy behaviors. 

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Shopping Online and Protecting your Online Identity

Thanksgiving was Thursday and now we enter the Christmas season.  Were you a “Black Friday” warrior, clipping coupons and driving around parking lots searching for a parking spot so you can bargain shop? 

Another way to be a Black Friday warrior was to check your emails and shop on-line.  The nice part about being an on-line shopper is you can shop from home, wearing pajamas if you want.  A savvy shopper can often get the great prices (and free shipping).  In years past I didn’t do much on-line but am finding myself doing more and more.  It’s just too easy to ignore. 

The serious part about shopping online is protecting your online identity.  I want to share information from the University of Texas Health letter about protecting yourself from hackers and the stress they can cause at

Sunday, November 23, 2014


As our cruise ship pulled away from the New York City terminal, I enjoyed seeing both the Statue of Liberty and World Trade Center buildings.  My heart swelled with feelings of patriotism, a love and support for our great country.  While no one can deny we have problems, the USA is still the greatest country on earth. 
An article I recently read called The Psychology of American patriotism talked about the health implications of patriotism.  Dr Keith Ablow said this:  “feeling part of something greater than oneself-especially one’s country-can be sustaining, both spiritually and psychologically.”  Feelings of patriotism contribute to our mental and physical health.  Fox News, 
As we approach Thanksgiving time, we can be thankful for our great nation and the people who work hard every day to make it better.  I hope you and yours have a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday. 

Sunday, November 16, 2014


Do you sleep well?   Approximately 30% of adults complain of problems with sleeping.  The two most common problems, according to the National Sleep Foundation, is waking up unrefreshed and waking up a lot during the night.  The term “insomnia” has been defined as trouble falling asleep or staying asleep. 

Women experience more sleep difficulty than men.  57% of women vs. 51% of men have insomnia issues.  Experts believe that hormonal issues contribute to the higher number for women. 

When a person cannot “turn off” the life stresses, this contributes to insomnia.  How many of us go to bed thinking about our children, or work problems? As you might expect, parents have more insomnia symptoms than non-parents.  Younger people (with many job and life stresses) experience insomnia at higher rates (68% of adults 18 to 29) when compared to 44% of people over the age of 65 (who may be retired and experience less job stresses).  I don't have a solution to life stresses; we all deal with them.  However, the National Sleep Foundation has a comprehensive website at  They offer valuable, reputable information we can use in our quest for a good night’s sleep. 

Sunday, November 9, 2014

In the News--Healthy lifestyle may cut stroke risk in half for women

A study published in the American Academy of Neurology journal involved 31, 696 Swedish women approximately 60 years of age and followed them for an average of 10 years.  The researchers believe that five factors of a healthy lifestyle helped protect them from stroke.  The five lifestyle behaviors were:  healthy diet, moderate alcohol consumption, never smoking, physically active and healthy body mass index (BMI).

Healthy diet involved adding fruits, vegetables and low-fat dairy to their diet.  Drinking alcohol moderately meant no more than 3 to 9 drinks per week. Physical exercise was defined as walking or biking at least 40 minutes per day plus one hour vigorous exercise per week.  

The researchers found that as women added more of these healthy behaviors to their lifestyle, their risk of stroke decreased.  This study can be found at

Sunday, November 2, 2014

In the News--Texting changes the way we walk

In the News—Texting changes the way we walk:  walkers swerve and slow down while texting

Scientists looked at 26 healthy adults and compared how their walking changed when they were reading texts and typing texts.  They found that texting had the most dramatic changes because people who text walked slower, did not walk in a straight line and moved their bodies less.  They noticed that people reading texts showed the same findings but to a less extent. 

Researchers also noticed that pedestrians texting or reading on a mobile phone were not paying as much attention to obstacles in their path and traffic. 

I noticed this last week when I was reading a text on my phone while walking to our cafeteria for lunchtime.  It distracted me from my normal behavior of watching what was ahead of me as I was walking.   We can use this information to avoid danger by staying off our phones while walking, especially on public streets and sidewalks.  This information can be found at


Sunday, October 26, 2014


Earlier this month we took a fall foliage vacation.  We cruised the New England/Canada area on the Royal Princess ship.  While the foliage was still pretty green, we spotted a few colorful trees.  (This picture was in Boston.)

The Royal Princess is a huge ship which holds over 3500 passengers and 1200 crew members.  Can you imagine spending seven days crammed into a boat with 4700 people?  We wondered if we would be waiting in line, constantly surrounded by people.  I’m happy to say it was very nice.  This new ship was well designed.  We did not feel crowded.  We had an excellent vacation with our travel buddies RJ and JL. 
We visited Newport, Rhode Island, Boston Massachusetts, Bar Harbor Maine, St John’s New Brunswick and Halifax Nova Scotia.  Each stop was unique, from the big cities of Boston and Halifax to the quaint little towns of Newport and Bar Harbor.  We enjoyed them all.  We spent time off the ship at each port to experience the local cuisine (lunch) We had some great ‘fish and chips’, Maine wild blueberry muffins, and raw oysters (well the guys ate the oysters, not me.)

When did you last take time to rest/rejuvenate?  Whether you go on a trip or just enjoy down time at home, vacation time contributes to our health and enjoyment. 

Sunday, October 19, 2014

How to protect against infection while undergoing cancer treatments

I recently talked with a former colleague; a retired surgeon.  I knew he was diagnosed with a rare type of cancer and had undergoing treatment.  I asked him how he is doing:  the good news is his treatment has been successful and he is in remission.  He looks healthy.  I was glad to see him doing well.

People undergoing chemotherapy deal with several potential side effects:  one involves the chemotherapy drugs which decrease a person’s white blood cells and their ability to fight off infection.  People going through chemotherapy (and their loved ones) can do several things to protect their health and prevent infections.  This begins with good handwashing with soap and water.  This sounds simple (and it is) but it is a huge protective practice.  More information can be found at
If you or someone you know is dealing with chemotherapy treatments, there is a helpful website from the centers for disease control (CDC) called 3 Steps toward preventing infection during cancer treatment.  Check it out at

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Breast Cancer Awareness

October’s PINK UP festivities emphasis breast cancer awareness

What do we know about breast cancer?  Researchers are recognizing that breast cancer is not one disease, but several.  In general, cancer could be described as cells gone wild. But there are multiple types of breast cancer.  Many of them, “70-80% of breast tumors are hormone receptor positive—that is, the tumor exhibits estrogen (ER) and/or progresterone (PR) receptors, which it needs to grow.”   This statement from the Nurses’ Health Study newsletter explains how hormones affect the breast cancer cells.  During the diagnosis process, doctors usually test patients for hormone receptor status (whether estrogen or progresterone) and human epidermal growth protein.  The results of this testing helps determine treatment.  This explains why all breast cancer patients may not receive the same treatment. 
Breast Cancer is a scary, stressful diagnosis to receive.  We all know women and men who have dealt with or are dealing with this disease. For more information about breast cancer, visit The American Cancer Society at
Nurses’ Health Study Newsletter, volume 21, 2014.


Sunday, October 5, 2014


Last year a friend of mine had to deal with shingles.  She suffered a great deal of pain before she got past this illness.  What is shingles?  Shingles occurs when the varicella zoster (chicken pox) virus which has lived in our bodies inactive since we had chicken pox as kids becomes active. 

Symptoms of shingles include a painful, blistering rash which affects nerves on one side of the body (either side but rarely on both sides).  When shingles symptoms occur, the nerve affected may result in pain, burning, tingling or numbness.  Some people notice itching.  After the pain symptoms begin, a red rash and blisters may show up.  Other symptoms some people experience also include fever and chills, aches, headache and fatigue.  These symptoms may last two to four weeks and cause great discomfort. For some people, the pain of shingles continues for months and years.  This postherpetic neuralgia causes long-term pain and symptoms. 
Anyone dealing with shingles should see their doctor immediately for treatment.  Treatment includes antiviral medications as well as drugs to treat symptoms. 

Who is most at risk for shingles?  According to the CDC, one in three people will deal with shingles during their lifetime.  As we age, our risk of developing shingles goes up.  In fact, almost half of all cases of shingles affect people age 60 and older. 

Can we protect ourselves from shingles?  The shingles vaccine has been recommended for people over age 60.  If you and your loved ones are age 60 or older, check with your doctor and insurance co as some will cover the cost of the shingles vaccine. 
For more information about shingles, check out the CDC Prevent Shingles at or Mayo Clinic

Sunday, September 28, 2014

September is Fruits and Veggies--More Matters Month

When researchers look at how our children are eating, they find that children are eating more fruit but 6 out of 10 children are still not eating enough fruit.  When they looked at the vegetables consumption, they found that 93% of children did not eat enough vegetables.
If you are wondering how much servings of fruits and vegetables are recommended for a child (by age), check out this website:

Sunday, September 21, 2014

In the News: Kate Middleton suffering from hyperemesis gravidarum

Congratulations to the British royal family.  Prince William and his wife, Kate Middleton, The Duchess of Cambridge, have announced the pregnancy with their second child.   As Mom Kate did during her first pregnancy, she is suffering with a condition of severe persistent nausea and vomiting called hyperemesis gravidarum (HG). 

What is hyperemesis gravidarum? Besides being miserable with excessive nausea and vomiting, women who deal with Hyperemesis gravidarum face the danger of weight loss, dehydration, electrolyte imbalance.  Serious complications can occur and harm both mother and baby.  Prompt diagnosis and treatment is needed to provide the best outcome.  More information can be found at American Pregnancy Association at

Hyperemesis Education and Research Foundation at


Sunday, September 14, 2014

Walking prevents limitations for arthritic joints

When your knees hurt, it’s easy to back off on the exercise.  You want to protect your joints and do not enjoy the pain you deal with.  However, the experts recommend more exercise, not less. So how much exercise is needed to prevent arthritic limitations such as getting out of bed or a chair, climbing stairs or walking?  They recommend walking 6000 steps/day. 

The researchers recognize that many people with osteoarthritis do very little exercise.  A 2013 study showed that 2/3 of Americans do not walk 90 minutes per week.  But what about the “unstructured walking” we do during our day to day lives?  “Unstructured walking” happens when we walk around the house, watering our flower beds. Another example of unstructured walking is when we carry clean clothes from the dryer and put it away in our closet and dresser. Probably everyone does these types of activities.  So how many steps will help keep our joints healthy and prevent limitations?  Researchers looked at almost 1800 people for a period of two years.  Those people who walked 6000 steps/day or more protected their joints better and had fewer limitations.
So, I guess we need to pull out those pedometers (or download a free pedometer app on your iPhone) and see how many steps we take every day.  It would be an interesting experiment.  Hmmm.  I wonder how many steps I make during my work day.


Sunday, September 7, 2014

In the News--Ebola

Have you read the news about Ebola?  This virus found mostly in Africa has killed over 1500.  Earlier (7/31/2014) US health officials warned Americans not to travel to three African countries (Liberia, Guinda, and Sierra Leone).  Two Americans working for a medical mission became ill with Ebola and were transferred back to the US (Emory University in Atlanta for medical care.  Both Americans recovered.  What do we need to know about Ebola?

Ebola is caused by the Filoviridae virus and has been causing illness and death in Africa since 1976.  The experts suspect the first people caught the virus when they ate an infected monkey. Moore, P, The Little Book of Pandemics, Fall River Press (New York, NY, 2009): 29-31.  Another possible carrier is bats.   The current outbreak has killed over 1500 people in western Africa countries.  This virus is a vicious killer; it kills 60-90% of the people infected.  If you want to check out the CDC website on Ebola virus, you can find it at

The Yahoo News report on 8/2/2014 quoted a doctor/professor and chair in molecular microbiology and immunology at Johns Hopkins University, as “low-risk situation for general US population…Ebola is not spread like the cold or the flu… It’s transmitted by very close contact with people who are sick or with their bodily secretions, such as blood, urine or feces.”  This Yahoo article can be found at

I noticed a recent communication from CDC expanded to “body secretions.”  

This week’s news involved the successful treatment using a experimental vaccine on 18 monkeys infected with the Ebola virus.  The National Institutes of Health will begin enrolling volunteers for the ebola vaccine beginning this week.

Many people (including medical professionals) are concerned with this disease.  Needless to say, many people are watching this situation as it evolves. 

Sunday, August 31, 2014

In the News--When Hospital Workers get Vaccines, Community Flu Rates Fall

I have taken an annual flu shot for years—long before they became mandatory.  I think the flu shot helps keep me healthy (and people I come into contact with). 

This study showed that “for every healthcare provider who received the influenza vaccination, one few person in the community will contract an influenza-like illness.” 
By the way, August is Immunization awareness month.  Have you considered whether you will get a flu shot this year?  Almost everyone should be getting a flu shot every year.  It’s time to think about it.  If you aren't sure about whether you should get a flu shot, talk to your doctor/primary health care provider. 



Sunday, August 24, 2014

Million hearts website

I am holding a scone which we enjoyed during our Scotland trip in May.  We found this scone to be yummy--a sweet biscuit with dried fruit --the locals recommended adding jam and whipped cream.  Yum. I did share this scone with 3 other people and, of course, we do not eat desserts every day (I wish we could). We do try to eat healthy most of the time and I am always on the lookout for new recipes. 

Have you looked at the Million Hearts website at  The goal of the Million Hearts program is to prevent 1 million heart attacks and strokes by 2017.  While I was looking around the website, I printed off a chicken recipe which sounded good. Check it out at



Sunday, August 17, 2014

Family meals promote healthier eating

Life gets hectic, we work late and kids have activities (ballgames in the summer, after school activities during the school year).  This keeps the family in the car, driving from place to place.

We grab food at our favorite drive-thru.   We cope as best we can with a crazy busy schedule. 
What’s a family meal time? It seems like a great idea but is it worth the effort?  Yes,
researchers find that making meal time a time for family gives great benefits.  According to research by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, family meals encourage healthier eating. 

More fruits and vegetables while less calories and fried foods.  Parents can be good role models for healthy eating.  Another huge benefit of family meals comes from the talking, listening and building relationships for family members.     

 If you want to add family meals into your busy life, these suggestions may help you:
      ·       Begin slowly.  Add one more family meal than you currently have to your schedule.  Schedule this event like you would an appointment.  Let your family members know about the family meal.
      ·       Plan your menus as a group.  Let everyone make suggestions for the menu. 
      ·       Turn off distractions such as the TV, cell phones and other noise distractions. 
      ·       Talk.  One suggestion is to begin with positive topics such as, “what’s your favorite color?” or “what made you laugh today?”

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Backpack Safety

Summer is slipping away.  Many families are preparing for school which means buying school supplies.  Does your child/children use a backpack to carry books and supplies? 

If you go to a store searching for backpacks, you will find many choices, in lots of colors and sizes.  What is the best choice for your child?  The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) guides us in our backpack purchases at
Here are their recommendations:

·       Get a backpack with two wide, well-padded shoulder straps.  Narrow straps can cause pain and one strap cannot distribute the weight evenly.

·       Look for a lightweight backpack to minimize the weight.  Books and supplies can get heavy so begin with a lightweight backpack. 

·       A padded back on the backpack will be more comfortable and protect your child’s back from any sharp objects in the pack. 

·       A rolling backpack may be helpful if your child must tote a heavy load.  However, this rolling backpack will need to be carried up steps and may not roll well in snow.

 There are behaviors which the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends to prevent injuries when using a back pack:

·       Tighten straps to fit the child.  The backpack should rest close to the body and sit two inches above the waist. 

·       Go light.  Keep the back pack as light as possible.  The contents should never weigh more than 10 to 20 % of the child’s body weight. 

·       Organize the contents.  Put the heavier items closest to center of back.

·       Teach your child that when he is wearing a backpack, it’s best to bend down (stoop) at the knees, not bend over at the waist.  The AAP suggests some back strengthening exercises for backpack wearers at

·       Wear the backpack using both straps.  Slinging the backpack over one arm could strain muscles and cause pressure on the shoulder and spine.  

·       Tell your child to let you know if pain or discomfort begins.  Consult your pediatrician or family doctor about pain from backpacks. 

Last year I decided I wanted a backpack to use as my carry-on for travel.  We went shopping at a local store.  I was quickly overwhelmed by the many choices, colors, sizes and brands.  Wow.  I looked at my husband and said, ‘help me find one.’  I did not have these recommendations but the backpack we bought fits these recommendations.  I have used my new backpack several trips now and it has worked well.  My backpack is lightweight, comfortable and I can fit a change of clothes (in case my luggage goes astray), and essentials into my backpack. 

Sunday, August 3, 2014

The End of the Beginning video

I’ve been busy the last several weeks visiting family and I have missed attending church.  Today I plan to be there, listening to Pastor Jason (who is a great speaker by the way.) 

This week a friend recommended that I listen to a (new to me) gospel song and I loved it.  Please join me as I listen again to David Phelps sing “The End of the Beginning” at

What a blessing this song has been to my heart and soul this week.  I hope you enjoy and have a blessed week. 

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Do you need antibiotics for that cold?

You have probably heard about antibiotics being prescribed or overprescribed when not needed.  The experts recognize that germs mutant and become resistant to antibiotics.  Then when we need antibiotics, the drugs are not effective.  These bacteria have been named to designate this issue, such as methicillin-resistant staph aureus. 

What should we be doing about antibiotic resistance?  Use them appropriately and don’t push your healthcare provider to give you an antibiotic prescription unless he recommends it. 

A recent study reported that patients ask for an antibiotic prescription 23% of the time.  The main reasons people request antibiotics were that the patient thinks an antibiotic will cure the illness and help them feel better faster. 

How do you know when you need an antibiotic for an upper respiratory infection?  The Get Smart website for CDC provides information at



Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Family time 2014

Please excuse me.  I missed posting this past Sunday because we were enjoying family time. 
Our two granddaughters came to visit for a week.  Then we had hubby’s side of the family at our home for the weekend.  Brother-in-law brought 300 fish filets and fried them Friday night.  We enjoyed the video/old picture presentation another brother-in-law shared with us.  Saturday morning we drove-in-convoy around town, visiting graves of parents and grandparents while recognizing the value of our family roots.  
When I listen to people talk, I recognize that family can be a complicated issue for some folks.
We are blessed; we enjoy our family members and feel fortunate that they travel many miles to gather and spend a weekend together.  We’ve all returned safely home and look forward to our next family time weekend. 
Yes, the kids spent hours on this slip and slide this year.  It was a huge hit. 

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Take care of Yourself This Summer: 7 Simple Tips from the Positivity Blog

The summer is almost half over.  How is it going for you?  Are you ‘chillin (relaxing)?  Are you finding yourself too busy?  Are you working all day and racing from ball field to ball field as you chauffeur your kids/grandkids to their ball games and activities?
If you find yourself wishing for more relaxing summer days, check out the Positivity Blog as Henrik tells us all how to “take care of yourself this summer:  7 simple tips”  He gives some great suggestions for relaxing and taking care of you. 


Sunday, July 6, 2014

Those Dreaded Ticks

Do you like these flowers from my gardens?  I bet you don’t immediately think of ticks when you see these pretty flowers.  However, ticks are what I want to talk about on this blog post. 

Ticks live outdoors so we are at risk for being tick-food whenever we are outside. Ticks can carry viruses, germs and parasites which cause ten different diseases (including Lyme disease and Rocky Mountain spotted fever). 

Recognize how to protect yourself and your loved ones from tick bites: 
Ticks live in moist, humid places so grassy places and woods are their habitat.  However, remember that deer and animals can carry ticks into your yard.  Last year I found a tick behind my ear after I spent time working in my flower beds.  We treat our yard routinely to discourage ticks so where did that tick come from?  Probably off the deer who often walk through our yard at night. 

According to the CDC website, we can protect ourselves by using DEET repellent on our skin and permethrin products which kill ticks on our boots, clothing and camping gear.  (Don’t use permethrin on skin).  For details on how to properly use these products, check out

Tick Check
My husband and I joke about doing a tick check on each other, but it’s a good practice.  As you come in, check your clothing for ticks.  Shower as soon as you can.  A shower within 2 hours is recommended as one way to find and wash away any unattached ticks.  Physically look and check for ticks.  If you are doing this tick check on yourself, use a mirror to examine hard-to-see areas.  Body areas that you should check include:  under the arms, in and around ears, between legs, in and around your hair, inside belly button, at the waist and backs of knees. 

What if you find a tick? 
If you find a tick attached, the CDC recommends, “grasping with tweezers, as close to the skin as possible, and pulling it straight out.”

Other preventive actions
Treat your yard to create “tick-safe zones”.   More information about this topic can be found at

Discourage deer (My personal opinion is good luck on this one.  When our subdivision was built on what was original farm land that deer wandered through, that’s probably not going to change.) The suggested actions involve removing plants that deer like to feed on and constructing physical barriers to keep deer out. 

Protect your family pets (which also protects your family)

If you do get tick bit, watch the wound carefully and seek medical help if a fever or rash develops.  More information can be found at



Sunday, June 29, 2014

6 Survival tips for long travel days and airplane rides

We received several great tips which made our travel to Ireland/Scotland more pleasant and healthy.  I share these with you now:

1.      Dress comfortably.  My girlfriend/travel buddy and I wore nice exercise/gym jogging pants, tennis shoes and layers of clothes.  The only thing restricting our movement was our seat belts.

2.     Wipe down your airplane dropdown tray with antiseptic wipes and use hand sanitizer before you eat.  I recently read an article saying the airplane dropdown tray and pocket on seat in front of you were probably NOT wiped down after the last person sat in your seat—probably did not happen.  If that person coughed and sneezed germs and/or viruses on the tray table, guess who gets exposed???

3.      Move around often.  Remember that deep vein thrombosis (DVT) can occur when we sit still for long periods of time.  See my blog post from June 1, 2014 for more on this topic.

4.     Carry eye drops in your carryon and use them.  After our all-night flight to Glasgow, my eyes were dry and irritated.  A few eye drops and they felt so much better.

5.     Pack a toothbrush and toothpaste to freshen your mouth.  It will feel so much better—and your seatmates will thank you.

6.     Buy noise-cancelling headphones.  Several years ago I traveled by myself to AZ to visit family.  On the way home, I sat beside a woman and her small infant.  That child cried and fussed from AZ to St Louis.  My nerves were frazzled and I wanted to say, “do something for your child, woman!”  I kept my mouth shut, but barely.  I decided that noise cancelling headphones were a future purchase.  I know headphones aren’t cheap (we got ours for Christmas presents one year) but they are amazingly protective to my ears—and my nerves.  

Those are new suggestions for surviving travel.  Do you have some you want to share?