About Stress…

DSC_0358In this new chapter of my life, I keep discovering things I wish I’d learned thirty or forty years ago. If you’re on the far side of fifty, like me, you can probably relate. But since we can only move forward (or so they say), we must forge ahead without regret. Much of my recent self-directed education has been focused on learning how to live a healthy, happy life. Stress-reduction is key to reaching that goal.

Seven or so years ago (time flies, so maybe it was closer to ten??), I read Dr. Kathleen pnpDesMaisons’s books, Potatoes, Not Prozac and The Sugar Addict’s Total Recovery System. They changed my life. I discovered my sugar-sensitive self and was able to change my eating habits, break my addiction to sugar, and step out from under the heavy cloud of depression. I’ve become so much more aware of what and how I eat and of how that affects the way I feel. It took years to get where I am today and, of course, the journey continues.

Last weekend, I attended a workshop lead by the author of two bhbsother books that I’ve read more recently: Breaking the Habit of Being Yourself and The Placebo Effect. In these books, Dr. Joe Dispenza teaches that through meditation it’s possible to break the cycle of thinking and feeling (and feeling and thinking) the same way everyday in order to create a new, happier, healthier future. And now I’ve just started reading Dr. Christiane Northrup’s brand new book called Goddesses Never Age. In it she postulates that there’s a difference between growing older and getting old. She sites the work of Dr. Dispenza within the first few chapters of this latest book and of Dr. DesMaisons in at least one of her previous books.

All three of these authors are proponents of meditation as a means to balanced health. And all three discuss the devastating effects of stress hormones on the body. I’m sure we’re all aware on some level that being “stressed out” is not the best thing for us. But the more I learn about what the body goes through when those stress hormones are released, the more I understand the value of learning how to de-stress.

We can experience physical stress, like not getting enough sleep, or emotional stress, like losing a loved one, or chemical stress, like consuming a high-sugar diet. Adrenaline and/or cortisol rush to our aid to sustain us and strengthen us in our momentary need. But they’re only meant for short-term use. If we’re constantly stressed, then we’re not giving ourselves a break from these hormones. And that can wreak havoc in the long-term. It can literally wear out the body, organ by organ, system by system.

It’s important to take stock of the stress in one’s life and to assess it as a very real health DSC_0703threat. There are small, but effective ways to de-stress, like taking a walk, enjoying the scenery, playing with your dog, cuddling your kitten, or just taking a few deep breaths. New habits could be formed: learning how to meditate, eating healthier foods, unplugging from your electronic social connections once in a while, or investing time in a hobby, to name a few. For some, there may be a need to take even larger, more difficult steps to let go of stress, like getting counseling, changing jobs or marital status, quitting smoking, or moving away from a bad situation. The goal is to learn what it feels like to be truly non-stressed and to make that the norm for your life.

I know that de-stressing is often easier said than done, but ultimately it’s our health we’re talking about here. It’s the quality of our lives that’s at stake. And who doesn’t want to live a long, healthy life? So, I encourage everyone (myself included) to take the time to make the changes that will lead to stress reduction and improved health. Check out one of the books I’ve mentioned above or take a pottery class or put your iPhone on silent for an hour…or do whatever it takes! And enjoy your life!

 

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Photo Project: Spring Is In Sight…

Every morning, between 6:30 and 7:30 am, I’ve been photographing the same scene outside the window above my kitchen sink. I’ve dubbed the project Kitchen Window.

With the turning of the calendar page to March, the morning light has increased a bit each day and I actually took some of the following photos before 6 am. I know that was before my chosen time slot, but the light was waking me earlier each day. I also decided to switch my constant aperture from F16 to F22.

Then came Daylight Savings Time…the clocks sprang ahead an hour and so did the sunrise.

Evidently, ten minutes can make quite a difference in the amount of available light around sunrise. Should I shorten my chosen window of time? Maybe. Will I? We’ll see…

In the meantime, the snow is melting. The trees are thinking about budding and I look forward to capturing the transition into spring, one day at a time.

Celebrating a Record…

Well, it’s official: it’s been a record-breaking year for snowfall amounts in New England! Yipee.

Last winter, I shared my thoughts on The Art of Snow Shoveling. This year, after one particularly deep snowfall, I was out shoveling (duh!) when I thought how little my previous advice applied while standing in two or more feet of snow! And I thought, “It’s hard to be methodical when the snow is three feet deep!” The following poem was born. I thought I’d share it on this record-breaking occasion…

Help! I’m Caught in a Snow Drift!

It’s hard to be methodicalapple tree 858
when the snow is three feet deep;
I’ve been shoveling in circles
and can’t seem to find my feet!

I swear they were there at the end of my legs
only a minute ago,
but now I can’t see nor feel them —
I’m numb from hip to toe.

I wonder, will someone notice
the pathway that I shoveled?
I tried to call for help just now,
but the sound was somewhat muffled.

The wind is blowing sideways
and my scarf has frozen flat.
Perhaps they’ll spy the pom-pom
on my smartly knitted hat.

I could use a sip of cocoa
or a nip of something stronger,
for I may be a “hearty New Englander,”
but I can’t take this much longer!

Wait, I see light; maybe someone’s coming
to rescue me somehow.
They’re coming closer, hallelujah!
Oh, crap, it’s only a plow!

cvb 2015

Winter Break…

I flew south for a few days to escape the snow and the frigid temperatures and to visit with my Dad. Despite turning eighty last month and dealing with bouts of chemo-induced exhaustion, he insisted on scouting out some local venues for bird-watching during my visit. I do my best to try to identify the birds I see, but I need help with some of them…

Happy Birthday, Dr. Seuss!

cat-in-hat

Theodor Seuss Geisel (a.k.a. Dr. Seuss) was born on March 2, 1904. So, to one of my favorite authors of all time, I say “Happy 111th Birthday!”

 

In honor of this occasion, here’s a fun poem I wrote a few years ago…

The Zookeeper’s Symphony

On a Saturday night, when the zookeeper’s keys
Have locked the front gates with a click and a squeeze,
The hippos let go a most watery moan
And the toucans catch hold of the rich overtone.
The primates percuss, snapping fingers and toes,
While the elephant inhales and lifts its great nose.
In the dim light of a thin crescent moon,
A trill, a crescendo, a riotous tune
The peacocks conduct with an arrogant flare,
Coaxing a growl from the lone polar bear.
The zebras create a fine washboard effect
Rubbing their stripes side to side, neck to neck.
A smart pair of meerkats barks up the scale;
A young leopard whines while chasing its tail.
Up on the high ground, some old mountain goats
Bleat several sweet bars of staccato notes.
Then, an African lion adds a deep roar
To the rippling sounds of the sleepy sloth’s snore.
The zookeeper smiles as she hangs up her keys,
Then, humming along, plays the spoons on her knees.

                              cvb 2012