Will Tottle, editor of Dog Owner in the U.K., has written a comprehensive piece on how dogs can help with mental health. We recommend that you take a look here.
Thanks, Will, for a highly informative and enlightening piece.
Will Tottle, editor of Dog Owner in the U.K., has written a comprehensive piece on how dogs can help with mental health. We recommend that you take a look here.
Thanks, Will, for a highly informative and enlightening piece.
May is Lyme Disease Awareness Month. If you know anyone who has Lyme Disease or another tick-borne Illness, you will relate to this story.
It’s been about 15 years since my daughter was bitten by a tick. To say it caused her life to change dramatically is an understatement. At the time, she was 15. She had tested out of high school and was attending community college classes. She was determined to get an Associate of Arts degree before leaving for college. Bright, strong, and adventurous, she had endless options at her fingertips.
The tick bite happened while she was on a camping trip with a friend. Previously diagnosed with and recovering from mononucleosis, she felt good enough to be in nature to have some fun.
Several months later, she was still suffering from fatigue. She dragged herself to classes, but frequently complained of brain fog. Some days, her exhaustion was so debilitating that she couldn’t walk across the room. She also suffered from joint pain, severe depression, twitching, inability to sleep, stomach problems, and a host of other mysterious symptoms.
She was ultimately diagnosed with Lyme, which was a baby step compared to the herculean efforts required to find a cure. In fact, there is no cure—only remission. For most people, the diagnosis is the start of a treatment journey that is long, arduous, ridiculously expensive, and for many people, relatively ineffective. My daughter is no exception.
It took five years of internet research, inconclusive tests, and doctor visits to finally get a diagnosis of Lyme Disease from a Lyme-literate doctor. By this time, the condition was chronic, and the CDC’s recommended cure of two weeks of antibiotics was a joke.
In 2007, not much was known about this chronic and debilitating disease that today infects about 300,000 people in the US every year. To put this number into perspective, it is ”1.5 times the number of women diagnosed with breast cancer, and six times the number of people diagnosed with HIV/AIDS each year in the US.” (www.LymeDisease.org)
From traditional allopathic treatments to alternatives such as as homeopathy, acupuncture, chiropractic, and apitherapy, my daughter has tried them all. Oral and IV antibiotics. (She developed sepsis from an infected port.) Several hospitalizations. Handfuls of supplements and IV nutrient therapy. Biological detoxification and ozone therapy. Chelation and heavy metal detoxification. Hormone replacement, nutritional supplementation, and bee sting therapy.
Some treatments have worked better than others, but remission has been far from permanent.
She is now 30 years old, married, and living an hour away from me. Although she experiences severe pain and extreme fatigue on most days, she refuses to give up hope. This Saturday, she will begin a two-week course of treatment at Infusio Beverly Hills. The clinic specializes in Lyme disease treatment, SVF stem cell therapy, and biological cancer treatment therapies. This is not a quick fix. The results can take up to 11 months, but reports have been promising.
The Lyme journey is different for everyone. Ticks carry an arsenal of diseases causing symptoms that often require aggressive and persistent treatment. Education is not only required for prevention but is an integral part of any cure.
Take time to learn about Lyme Disease and other tick-borne illnesses. Understand the pain and suffering that your friends and loved ones might be experiencing as a result. Physically debilitating, Lyme and other related diseases also affect the mind and the emotions. Many people with Lyme look good but feel like sh**.
Here are a few travel tips from our friend Shelly Biswell, who continues her overseas experience in the UK.
In March we visited York (Jorvik), which was like a walking history lesson. Eric Bloodaxe’s reign! How did I miss that in Dr Newell’s English history course?
At York Minster, they have a thought-provoking exhibition on what it means to take a pilgrimage. At the beginning of the exhibition they ask visitors whether they are pilgrims, travellers, or tourists. It got me thinking: can the journey change you over time? Perhaps you start as a tourist and end as a pilgrim, or the other way around.
What I do know is that after a few months of travelling I’ve learned some things that have made our trip easier and richer. I’ve also included some of Ken’s top travel tips, which are more technology oriented (big surprise).
If you’re a globetrotter, this isn’t meant to tell you how to suck eggs, but here’s a list of some of the things I’ve learned—in no specific order.
What are your top tips for travelling? Let me know in the comments section below or email me at email@example.com. I’ll share some of your ideas (with credits) in a future blog post.
When not on her OE, Shelly Farr Biswell works as a communications consultant in New Zealand. You can follow her on Instagram (shellybiswell).
Guest blogger Hollie Grimaldi-Flores warns about the dangers of too much giving, which can lead to burnout.
Many years ago, when I joined a service club for the first time, one of the members warned me to be careful about taking on too much, lest I burn out. At the time, I could not even imagine what she was talking about. How does one burn out from socializing in the name of community service? Frankly, my membership in the service club was my social life. It took more than twenty years, but I now see she had a valid point. Too much giving, without enough getting, leads to burnout. It is true in the workplace, as well.
According to psychologytoday.com, “Burnout is a state of chronic stress that leads to physical and emotional exhaustion, cynicism and detachment, and feelings of ineffectiveness and lack of accomplishment.” Each of these stages comes with its own set of symptoms, including fatigue, insomnia, loss of enjoyment, pessimism, detachment, feelings of apathy, and increased irritability.
These symptoms arise from caring too much, which is part of the problem. The article goes on to state, “Because high-achievers are often so passionate about what they do, they tend to ignore the fact that they’re working exceptionally long hours, taking on exceedingly heavy workloads, and putting enormous pressure on themselves to excel”—all behaviors that can cause burnout.
I used to call it the “east coast work ethic,” because many of the people who felt the way I did were also from the east. Surely it was the way we were brought up—to work hard and not complain. But now I see it all around me, with coastal upbringing a non sequitur. There are always people in any group who are the doers, just as there are those who are happy to let the doers take on all the work.
I worked for years in a place that gladly let me log as many hours as I possibly could, usually without extra pay. Once the workday was over, a few of my co-workers and I would represent our place of employment by engaging in community events—bowling or running for a cause, emceeing fundraisers, and attending numerous meetings. We did it with pride for the organization and for the pure joy of helping others. But it took its toll—on time away from family and on our own well-being.
I burned out, and I have no one to blame but myself. Because I didn’t recognize the symptoms, I didn’t see it coming. It’s likely that I never would have stopped if my body hadn’t held a mutiny. I was forced to surrender.
These days when I say yes, I do so gladly. I learned a valuable lesson and intend not to repeat my mistakes.
To those who do too much, I advise you to keep the risk of burnout in mind to protect your health and well-being. To those who are not quick to give, I encourage you to consider stepping up to the plate, at least occasionally. Find the cause that brings you joy or concern. Be part of the solution by giving your time, energy, or resources to the extent that you are able. That might just be the fan needed to keep the flame from burning out.
We recently discovered a website called Reviews.com. It was started in 2013 by “a small group of obsessive consumers with a passion for the truth and a desire to find the best.” They’ve reviewed everything from allergy meds to yoga mats, and they clearly do their homework before they recommend a product. Unbiased research is what they’re all about, and we strongly suggest you click on the link above and take a look around their site.
Among their passions is the critical importance of staying vigilant over your finances—no matter what your age. (We’ve written about it here.) Perhaps you’re new to credit even if you’re older. Maybe you have a grown kid who’ll listen to advice as long as it doesn’t come from you. Either way, the Reviews.com folks have some compelling insight. You can access their credit report guide here.
We’ve heard it for years: responsible spending and immediately paying our bills results in a high credit score. In turn, we are granted lower interest rates and the ability to borrow large sums of money for our purchases. It seems everywhere you look there are tutorials and guides advising young people how to build their credit—but should that focus shift at different times in your life?
The twenties are formative years for laying the groundwork of adulthood. Those just starting out should strive to build their credit by establishing responsible use of money, credit cards, and loans. Keep in mind the major factors that contribute to your credit score.
Payment history: We’ve probably all heard the advice to pay bills on time, every time. One missed payment can have a great impact on your credit score, and worse, a habit of late payments can absolutely trash it. Use the tools at your disposal—such as automatic payments—to make sure you never miss a deadline. Of course, we are all human, so if you miss a payment, don’t hesitate to contact your credit card issuer. You may be able to negotiate the late payment off your history if you have a record of on-time payments.
Utilization rate: The obvious point here is to use a low percentage (aim for 30% or less) of the credit available to you. For those who have bills to pay, consider requesting an increase in your credit line. These days, many credit card companies make this a quick, painless process over the phone or via their website.
Oldest line of credit: Unfortunately, there isn’t much you can do to turn back time and open a credit card earlier. You can, however, start today if you haven’t yet. It can take years to build enough history to score highly in this area.
Many of the central tenets of maintaining credit overlap with the above. Yes, of course you should always pay your bills on time. Although some say that your credit score doesn’t matter after you retire, it might be wise to rethink that belief. You never know what life will throw at you, and financial stability isn’t always guaranteed. What if you want to buy a new home or refinance your existing home? Buy a new car? Co-sign on a loan for your child? Maintenance is key no matter where you are in life.
Monitor your credit report. Nobody is immune to breaches of personal data security, so staying vigilant and advocating for the accuracy of your credit score is an important exercise for both young and old(er). Order your credit report on a regular basis (sites like https://www.reviews.com/credit-report/ can help you choose a secure report provider).
Pay off old debts. Credit issuers regularly pull customers’ credit reports to see if you’re at risk for falling behind on payments. Keeping a high credit score can prevent against expensive interest rate increases.
A few months ago, the spring catalog for the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI) arrived in my mailbox. OLLI offers noncredit courses—with no assignments or grades—to “seasoned” adults over the age of 50. Funded through The Bernard Osher Foundatinon, the institutes can be found in just about every state. They’re located on the campuses of 121 colleges and universities—from Maine to Hawaii to Alaska—so there’s probably one near you. Each one provides a distinctive variety of noncredit courses, and many offer activities specifically developed for adults 50+.
The institute closest to me offers classes in art, film, history, literature, music, and wellness. There’s a Feminist Film Series, drama classes, and a Mahjong Club. The cost for some is as low as five dollars. You can also participate in field trips to places like the Black Chasm Cavern in Volcano, California and The California Museum.
The classes on government and politics really caught my attention. I especially like the one called “Philosophers, Preachers, and Farmers: How We Got to Declaring Independence.” As a fitness buff, the Tai Chi and QiGong classes also looked interesting. Both are endorsed by the Harvard Medical School.
“Cutting-edge research from Harvard Medical School supports the long-standing claims that Tai Chi has a beneficial impact on the health of the heart, bones, nerves and muscles, immune system, and the mind.”
If you’re looking to learn something new and perhaps meet like-minded people in your community, check out the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute. Be sure to let us know about your experience.
In honor of Mother’s Day this Sunday, guest blogger Hollie Grimaldi-Flores reminisces about her own mother.
“Who were you before you were a mother?”
“As a young girl, what did you dream of doing with your life?”
“Did your life turn out at all like you had planned?”
“What were your high points? What were the lows?”
These are just a few of the questions I wish I could ask my mother.
Having recently passed the five-year anniversary of her death, I still find myself with so many questions. I know some of the answers through family lore, but when I had the opportunity to ask firsthand, I did not take it. The older I get, the more I wish I had paid attention to her and all she sacrificed to raise my siblings and me. I wish we had spent more time in meaningful conversation and doing the things she enjoyed.
I never really thought much about her being a daughter, a sister, a wife, or a friend. In fact, I didn’t even consider that she might have had other aspirations until I was well into my thirties. By then, I was a mother myself, and I understood the selflessness that comes with parenting.
I found myself quickly forgetting about my own dreams as I did whatever it took to raise my children and give them the lives they deserve. Providing them with the security I did not have became a priority. Looking back, it’s safe to say that my mom spent her years making sure she gave me a life better than the one she had, as well.
As the eldest daughter in a family of seven children, she was forced to leave school to help raise her younger siblings when her father became ill and her mother needed to enter the workforce. She was married at nineteen and had her first child at twenty-one. She spent twenty-five years in a difficult marriage, raising seven children of her own. I know she worked in retail for most of her career, but she sometimes cleaned houses for extra income. I know she spent most of her life just making ends meet, and she never traveled outside of the United States. “Vacations” were limited to visiting her children, whether to my sisters in Nebraska or Arizona or to me in California.
When I left home and moved across the country, with not so much as a backward glance in her direction, I didn’t give a lot of thought to how it would make her feel. I just told her I had decided to leave the East Coast for the West, sight unseen. We spoke on the phone on Sunday evenings after the long-distance rates went down, but rarely beyond that. I would occasionally call for family recipes when I was homesick or to clarify a recollection I was having trouble with. She would call if someone was sick or a relative had passed. Our conversations were largely about other family members’ health and well-being and the weather. Pretty simple stuff. It sure would be nice to be able to pick up the phone and ask about any one of them today.
She watched me go out and struggle in the world as she had with each of my other siblings. We floundered. We failed. We regrouped. We succeeded. Twice she suffered through the agony of losing two sons unexpectedly—her firstborn to an auto accident, and her youngest to a rare virus—and she never fully recovered. Alternatively, she celebrated the births of grandchildren and great-grandchildren. The circle of life in full view.
As my children enter the world of adulthood, I find myself thinking back to who I was when I was their age. What my life was like and how I hoped it would be. It can be difficult to hold on to those aspirations when the more natural path is to put it all aside in the name of parenting. Who has time to think about much of anything when the day-to-day joy (and sometimes grind) of parenting takes all you’ve got—and then some?
I have no doubt that my mother knew she was loved by my siblings and me. I think she understood I didn’t give her enough of my time, because I always thought there would be time for her later, but I was wrong. Given the opportunity, I would ask about the girl who became the woman who became my mother. I bet she would have a lot to say.
This is our friend Jill, testing for her fifth-degree black belt in karate. She’s absolute proof that age is just a number.
To see her in action, click IMG_4219.
Observations on friendship by guest blogger Hollie Grimaldi-Flores.
There was a time when, if you had a few true friends, you would consider yourself lucky. It seems that Facebook has taken the word and somehow redefined it. Minimized it, if you will. I have more than 1,000 Facebook “friends.” Daily, I see the lives and times—both good and bad—of many people I don’t really know. My newsfeed seems to be filled with faces and names that are familiar only in passing.
I was talking with my brother recently about a post I saw from our aunt—only to find out this woman is not our aunt at all. I had the wrong Sue. Good thing I didn’t show up for the reunion! The photos looked fun, and I am certain I recognized a family member or two. Hmmmm.
I feel bad about blocking perfectly nice people, but the truth is I don’t necessarily care about their dinner plans, politics, or Pinterests. I really want to have my feed filled with the people I care about and am genuinely interested in. However, I find myself checking out vacation photos from more than one person I do not have a personal relationship with at all.
More and more often I find myself alarmed by the inappropriate posts and shares I see in my feed. I keep yelling at my computer screen: “This is too much information! Keep it off social media! It’s none of my business!” And I am sad to see longtime friendships ending over political and social differences. But I also see how this part of our culture helps the lonely feel less alone and the socially awkward more engaged.
I admit I am getting to know quite a lot about people I would never have considered inviting into my life without Facebook. But the bigger question is: do I really need to? Isn’t that what high school reunions are for? The wondering whatever happened to that boy from freshman English has gone out the door. Unless he is of the (seeming) minority who cannot be bothered or does not want to be found, I already know what he is doing.
Last week, I was in my hometown to meet up with some friends for a newly formed annual get-together. One lives in Indiana, another in North Carolina, and I’m in California. After mentioning the trip on social media, we were told that a few of our former classmates would be gathering at a local watering hole while we were in town, and we were invited to stop by.
Upon arrival, we were greeted by no less than fifteen alumni. I did not recognize at least three of them, but felt I had come to know another half dozen simply from our posts on Facebook. There were a few people who are not part of the FB community, and it was a genuine treat to catch up with them and find out about their families, interests, and career choices. There were also a few who were not friends in either real life or online, but we have since made a social media connection.
During the evening, many of us played twenty questions to fill in the decades that had passed since we graduated and went our separate ways. It is amazing how many times we passed each other in the halls without a sideways glance. But now, given the advances of modern technology, we share activities, successes, and even failures with abandon. I have found myself finding kinship with people I would not have otherwise given a second thought—and that is a good thing.
Also at this gathering were some of my faithful friends—longtime confidants and partners in crime who know and love me through and through. We don’t need computer applications to keep track of our comings and goings, but it does make it easier to keep up.
I have a close friend who just doesn’t get it. Why are we all so fascinated with the lives of people we would otherwise not spend a moment getting to know? My former classmates are all fine people, but the truth is, without social media I would have long forgotten many of them. I would know nothing of their whereabouts, offspring, or recent vacations.
While it is interesting and does give a sense of belonging, these people are not among those I would call in an emergency. This new brand of relationship is a long way from friendship. Might it be more adequately described as acquaintance, or something even more casual, like a passing interest or simply voyeurism? Still, my sense of empathy has me sending condolences to someone I went to school with nearly forty years ago whose dog lost its fight to cancer. It’s an interesting phenomenon.
The truth is, I know who my real friends are. The ones I would call in a crisis. Those I turn to first, in celebration and in sorrow. There are a scant few I know I could call in the middle of the night for help, knowing they would come to the rescue—no questions asked. I know the ones who would probably be in the cell beside me should we find ourselves in real trouble. That kind of friend is sacred. It’s important to be able to make this distinction.
Sometimes I run across articles that are so helpful they need to be shared. Yesterday, Vol. 12, Issue 04, of the April 2018 To Your Health online magazine arrived in my inbox with the feature article, “Top 5 Healthy Habits (We Tend to Ignore).” The article, written by the editorial staff, was so informative that I contacted them for permission to share it with you.
If you want to read about the “top five healthy habits you probably haven’t adopted yet” (and be forewarned) “failure to do so is damaging to your health and wellness in ways you can’t imagine,” click here.
Their suggestions aren’t typical.