I have a true confession for you — this weekend I caught a case of the sniffles. It’s probably been 5 years or longer since my last cold so I can’t complain too much. Undaunted by my semi-disease ridden body, however, I bundled up and ventured out to the grocery store to restock our exceedingly barren refrigerator. Perhaps influenced by my influenza, I loaded up my grocery cart with a refreshing variety of vegetables, fruits, nuts, and seeds. Lengthy winter months often wither our resolve to eat fresh foods as many of us opt for comfort foods to warm us up when the cold winds blow. What better time to turn up our internal temperatures with an abundance of seasonal fruits and vegetables as we march into March?
Did you ever walk through a museum or past a static display that enticed you with its rich texture, glimmering sheen or perhaps its historical significance? Instinctively, you reach out to indulge your tactile temptation only to find yourself recoiling at the sight of a “Do Not Touch” sign? I hate those signs, don’t you? It makes me obsessed to touch it at the risk of reprimand by the local curator or temporary incarceration in museum prison for my defiance. So, now I’m feeling a little guilty for spending the better part of this month telling you what you shouldn’t do. Maybe it would be helpful, instead, to hear what you can do when it comes to your heart health.
I feel honored and blessed to have a grandfather who was part of the Greatest Generation as a veteran of World War II. Although I don’t recall him sharing many stories from the war, I always found it interesting that he never smoke or drank during a time when it was common and, quite frankly, fashionable to do so. I feel equally fortunate that my parents never smoked. So, it came as a complete shock when I was old enough to discover that my uncles smoked cigarettes. Fearing for their health, my siblings and I hatched plans to bury their cartons of cigarettes on numerous occasions. While that may not have been the best method to get them to quit, it at least got their attention. At the time, I didn’t know why it was dangerous to smoke, I just knew that I loved my uncles and hated cigarettes. If you, or your sweetheart, still light up, the following heart disease facts may help you bury your butts too!
Living in a rural state like Maine, it’s easy to get spoiled by the solitude. With no traffic to speak of, nights are still and silent which makes for a perfect sleeping environment. It also makes it easier to get startled when an errant noise jolts you out of bed with your pounding heart leading the way. Isn’t it amazing how much we don’t think about our hard-working hearts until they remind us in a big way? Since February is a month in which we celebrate the decadence of Valentine’s Day along with the prudence of heart health month, let’s find a happy medium to enjoy both!
As a kid, I had a propensity towards injury for some reason. Maybe it was the daredevil in me that led to compromising predicaments which ultimately ended in scrapes, cuts and an assortment of broken bones. I was either doing stunts on my banana-seated bicycle, or climbing on top of the refrigerator when inclement weather kept me from my favorite backyard tree. While those antics served me well in adulthood — I’m not afraid to try something new — several knocks to my noggin resulted in minor concussions and one major one requiring dozens of painful stitches. My past antics have certainly made me more aware of protecting my cranium inside and out. Recently, there has been more attention focused on brain trauma from concussions to traumatic brain injury (TBI) especially in sports and in military service due to some alarming survivability trends.
Early in the 2013–2014 football season, I had every confidence that I would be watching my beloved Packers play in the Superbowl this Sunday only to see my hopes fade as Aaron Rodgers was out with an injury for several games and, of course, a playoff loss that quickly ended their season. So, I turned to my runner up, the Patriots, and, yet again, my dreams were dashed as were theirs when they lost to the Broncos. Undaunted, I pinned my faith to the fast & furious 49ers. As you can tell, I don’t place any bets on my predictions! At least my fourth favorite is playing in the Superbowl this year, although, I’d better not say to whom I betroth my allegiance for fear of jinxing the outcome. The reason for my football rant is seated in what you’ll be doing this Sunday and beyond. Drinks and snacks will be the norm for Superbowl Sunday and, while it’s okay to share good cheer, you may want to rethink your cocktail concoctions.
My first memory of soda, or “pop” for you Midwesterners, was a coca-cola machine my sister got for her birthday. All the neighborhood kids crammed into our kitchen to witness the creation of this fizzy concoction formerly reserved for special occasions or the rare trip to McDonald’s for a burger and the drink of our choosing. I guess I was just a weird kid, but I never acquired a taste for carbonated beverages which remains to this day. Little did I know that my distain for such childhood delights would pay off in the long run. How about you? Are you a soda freak? If so, the dangers of what you are sipping may surprise you.
We live in a typical Maine neighborhood where the closest house may be 3–6 acres away. That kind of isolated living certainly has its benefits when it comes to privacy but it also has its challenges as you may go days without seeing a sole, especially during the winter months. What’s different for us is that we have been blessed with incredible neighbors, from a combat wounded Vietnam Vet with a heart of gold, his wife who takes care of our cat and delivers scrumptious goodies on our doorstep, to my friend and business partner Julie who leaves little surprises in our mailbox and is always up for a glass of wine and a chat on the back deck. Recently, Julie shared great information about the dangers of dietary supplements and how some have been linked to liver damage. This is a must-read story.
Did your grandmother ever have a tried-and-true remedy for whatever ailed you? It usually came from ingredients she gathered from her backyard garden or root cellar that transformed into a stinky, sticky concoction she would rub on your chest or stick under your tongue, right? My grandmother’s cure-alls were cocoa butter and Vitamin E. Regardless of the nature and severity of your complaint, she’d say, “Just rub some Vitamin E on it and you’ll be all set,” with such a commanding tone that you were convinced it would work. And, actually, it did more often than not! Maybe Grandma was onto something after all and science is backing up her home remedies with even more E-vidence.
Bill Murray is one of my favorite comedic actors…I don’t know how he does it, but for me, he just stands there funny. From iconic SNL skits to wacky movies like Stripes and Groundhog Day, Murray portrays an ordinary guy who comes out on top no matter the circumstances. As we begin the new year with lofty resolutions and grand plans to transform our lives, I suddenly thought about Bill Murray in “What About Bob?” Bill plays Bob Wiley, an off-centered but endearing phobic who receives misguided advice from Dr. Leo Marvin played by Richard Dreyfuss in the form of the doctor’s new book entitled Baby Steps. Fearful of everything, Bob takes his book and his pet fish in hand and baby-steps his way to Dr. Marvin’s vacation home. “Baby steps get on the bus, baby steps down the aisle…baby steps into the elevator…I’m on the elevator!” Maybe we could take some advice from Bob and take consistent steps instead of quantum leaps to achieve our goals this year.
My favorite Christmas memory is the four of us kids sitting on the top of the stairs waiting for my parents to wake up so we could all bound down the stairs like a heard of elephants and dive into our presents. What I didn’t mention was the mega-light Dad had mounted on his home movie recorder to capture each precious moment — I’m certain it could be seen from space. It’s a wonder we didn’t all trip over our bathrobes and land in a heap from the blinding spotlight that obscured our vision and probably did permanent retinal damage in the process! Fortunately, our smart phones and digital devices make Christmas morning far less traumatic, or do they? For some of us, the holiday season is anything but jolly. Before stress trips you up, take a cue from Santa on how this season can be smooth sailing.
For some odd reason, I never seem to have a very stocked refrigerator. Maybe it’s my tendency towards minimalism or perhaps my propensity for reducing clutter behind closed doors like pantry shelves and closets. Either way, more often than not, my cupboards tend to be on the bare side, that is, until my relatives arrive in town! My mother has the opposite problem, a fridge so full that food and condiments spill out of ever door and shelf. Growing up there was never an utterance of “there’s nothing to eat in the house!” So, with the arrival of family this Christmas, it will be my turn to stock the shelves, and overload the refrigerator — it will be a foodie’s paradise for at least a week. While this time of year lends itself to over-indulgences, shaking the salt habit is one simple thing you can do to stay slim this season.
Like most of the country, it’s cold and snowy today. Hard to believe that it’s still officially autumn as winter won’t arrive for another few days. Even though I grew up in the midwest and have lived in Maine for a number of years, I still get a little grumpy when the cold weather arrives. I will say, though, that one advantage to living in Maine in the wintertime are the stunningly brilliant blue skies and abundant sunshine. The problem is that by the time those golden rays hit us, they’ve lost their power to warm us up — not to mention the fact that the sun sets around 4pm this time of year. Beyond frosty fingers, less sunlight means we have to work a little harder to get a very essential vitamin that is a dynamo at warding off disease. Let’s find some ways to supplement our sunshine with dominating vitamin D.
Please forgive this delayed Thanksgiving message. We were in the throws of a floor tiling project in advance of Christmas company and the time slipped away. Although the day has passed, I am reminded by my friend David at Snipers Skate Shop, that we need to celebrate Thanksgiving as a “Mindset…not just one day of the year.” Please take a moment to enjoy and share this message from one of our most inspirational Presidents, Abraham Lincoln:
As some of you may have already figured out, I get a little non-traditional during the holiday season opting for seafood over stuffing, chocolate over cherry pie and tofu over turkey most Thanksgiving meals. Maybe it’s the non-conformist, rebellious side of me that strikes out against the routine of familiar fare. My guess is that we all feel that way on occasion, although there is something to be said for the comforts of tradition especially when we are far from home and loved ones. This year, while I’m still not tempted to prepare a turkey, I have decided to be bold and daring in other endeavors, namely punching up my Thanksgiving spread with pomegranates. Don’t let its quirky exterior fool you, inside this exotic fruit is packed with non-traditional nutrients that are sure to make your body thankful for years to come.
In the past few months, I’ve had the honor to work closely with remarkable Veterans and civilian leaders who fully committed to creating a permanent Veterans Family Center here in Maine. It was the vision of Staff Sergeant, Travis Mills, one of only five surviving quadruple amputees from the wars in Iraq & Afghanistan, to have a permanent, handicap accessible camp for Veterans and their families to relax, rehabilitate and rejuvenate among fellow Veterans. This week, Travis retired from his military service and will be moving his family to begin a new life away from the familiarity of 19 months in rehabilitation at Walter Reed, his unit, squadron and fellow veterans. Like many veterans and their families, change can bring exciting opportunities but it can also trigger stress and anxiety especially for those dealing with PTSD.
As teenagers go, I was a pretty good kid. I stayed active in sports, was the editor of my yearbook, acted in theater productions, stayed on the honor role, and was always home by curfew. But, like all good kids, when you fall, you sometimes fall hard. A day after graduation, I told a little lie in order to attend a dinner and a play in the city. By midnight, we had crashed the car in the median after the driver feel asleep behind the wheel. I ended up in the hospital with a severely broken wrist and hand. Beyond my mother’s wrath, I also suffered terrible flashbacks. For years, I couldn’t get into a car without tremendous anxiety and the sound of a gravel road would completely freak me out. It is remarkable how traumatic experiences affect our physical and emotional state and I can only imagine how difficult it must be for our military and veterans. While I won’t presume any fool-proof solutions for the physical and emotional complexities of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), there are some helpful healthy choices that are easy to incorporate right now that may help alleviate some factors that aggravate PTSD.
For as long as I can remember, I’ve been an investor, squirreling away my hard-earned lawn mowing and babysitting money in my passbook savings account at our local bank. At a young age I knew the importance of compounding interest and the benefit of investing in my future. The same rules apply to your health — the more you invest in it at an early age, the better return you’ll get on your investment in the future. Are you well-invested? If not, there are some simple investments you can make right now to ensure you’ll reap those healthy dividends.
For nearly a year now, I haven’t watched any news and it is amazing how much I haven’t missed. While I can appreciate the role of the media to keep us informed and connected, I wonder it if sometimes does more harm than good. A snappy headline here and there catches our attention especially, it seems, when it comes to our health. For whatever reason, soy has been much maligned in recent years as a dangerous and harmful food. This week alone, I had two people express their concern over soy and their vow never to eat it. Let’s stop the insanity and get at the real truth about soy.
For those of you who connect with me regularly, you know my passion for our military and our veterans. From the bravery, courage, and inspiring leadership of my amazing veteran husband, Mark Gauger LtCol USAF(ret), to the thousands and thousands of everyday people who have risen up to serve our nation so valiantly, I remain in awe of your service and sacrifice. Recently, working here in Maine with the Travis Mills Project and the expansion of the National Veterans Family Center, I have become acutely aware of the unspoken needs of our Armed Forces. No where is that need more evident than in the tragic death of Marine veteran, Clay Hunt, in 2011. This article is a spotlight on a team who has taken up Clay’s torch to inspire leadership and provide mentorship for our veterans.