End of an Era

It’s official…The 80s has reached the end of an era. Michael Jackson, the King of Pop, took the era with him when he died yesterday of a heart attack. But, it wasn’t just Michael that left this world this week. Farrah Fawcett and Ed McMahon also died this week. All three represented the 80s.

All eras must come to an end to make way for new ones to take the spotlight. It has happened throughout history. The sixties ended an era of free love, protests, and Woodstock. Our grandparent‘s era were different still, with stay at home moms and hard working dads and very clean, straight-forward values with a clear marking of gender roles in daily tasks.

1975:  (FILE PHOTO) Studio headshot portrait o...
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It is only the end of the era that is remembered, though, as no one notices the birth of an era. What we do today very well may mark the beginning of an era our children and grandchildren will mourn.

So should we end the era of ignoring our health, our environment. Today. let’s begin an era of green living, healthy living, good choices, and happier psyches. We now realize there must be a balance of not only body, but also of mind, soul, and environment.

We can improve how we think of ourselves, our lives, and our health through the use of daily affirmations. These affirmations aren’t meant to create a feeling of complete invincibility, but rather to change belief systems. Belief systems are those thoughts we believe to be true regardless of the evidence from whence they came about. For instance, an adult may form negative beliefs in childhood and hold to them in later years. If they believe, or were told often, they are not smart, the adult will continue to follow the path of this belief system and not reach the full potential.

Belief systems are related to our health in the way that our thoughts have an impact on our other body systems to create feelings of depression and other emotions. Daily affirmations help restore the balance by changing the belief system which in turn can change how we feel about ourselves. The better we feel emotionally, the better we feel physically. Used as an enhancement to regular health care, we can improve our lives and leave a better legacy to our children and grandchildren when the end of our era arrives.

The following is an example of a daily affirmation. You can create your own to begin a switch in belief systems that are tailored to your needs.

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Pray for Iran

Tehran
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Americans complain daily about how hard life is. After following the stories about what is going on in Iran, I think we  have much to be thankful for in this country. Iran seems to be on the cusp of another revolution at the hands at the Basij. While I realize there are other forces at work such as the revolutionary army, it is the name Basij that sticks in my memory.

The movement being seen is bigger than the election. The violence has escalated to a point that people are dying for doing nothing more than peacefully protesting. CNN reported today children, teens, are disappearing, being arrested and killed for wanting something different, something that gives them more of a chance for the life they dream of each night. Parents are searching for those that don’t come home and are seldom if ever told the fate of their babies.

It is now in practice to arrest the protesters at the first hint of the protester seeking medical attention. The protesters aren’t the problem. They are being beaten, murdered in the street for the slightest infraction in dress and speech. It has become a crime punishable by death to voice an opinion against the government.

I’m watching the news as I write this and I am disheartened at the state of things in Iran. Hospital sources are reporting a death toll of at least 19 just today.

Before the election and even during the election, the people were hopeful, wanting change and a sense of freedom. They were open about who they wanted to vote for and spoke of it often. That came before the actual election was finished. This is according to the CNN newscast and an interview with a reporter who had been there at that time.

The women, who are not usually the leaders of any movement, led the charge for freedom. The men showed more fear than the women because they only asked for the basic human rights we enjoy every single day. They desire to be equal, to do things everyone else can do, and not have it be against the law for reasons based on gender.

Everyone thought Mir Hossein would win. The upset tilted the scales as the shock occurred. In a very simple election lost, the hope of human rights seem to have been lost. Now the protests are a result of wanting what every human should have and being determined enough to make their voices heard.

I realize I have only touched on the crisis in Iran, and I don’t even understand all of it. I live in a country where what those people are dying for, I have. I can’t imagine it being any other way.

I think today, at least and if only for today, we need to step back and be thankful for what we have, the freedoms granted to us, the simple pleasure in having a voice whether or not that voice agrees with the government.  And, we need to pray for those who continue to suffer at the hand of oppression.

Think of Neda, a young woman killed in the streets for wanting freedom and now being used for an example to the public faction there as what happens to protesters. Think of how you would feel if she had been your daughter, your sister.

Then, look again at that complaint you have because the clerk got your order wrong, your boss criticized your work, or your spouse didn’t clean up his own mess. These are trivial matters compared to what is happening in the world today in so many places. Let Iran and the crisis put life back into perspective and remind you of all you have to be thankful for today.

I sincerely hope the regime is stopped before too much loss of life is seen. Already there has been too much, but perhaps it can be ended in the best interest of the people who call Iran home.

Pray for them today. They can use all the prayer you can send.

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Eating Together

A header for the "Meals" infobox tem...
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Remember when you were a child and families sat down together at the table every night at the same time for dinner? You probably weren’t allowed to inform your parents you weren’t going to eat at that time or tell them you’d just skip because it wasn’t your favorite dish. Back then, everyone in the family was expected to clear the calendar for dinner, regardless of what important thing you had to do.

I can. I remember telling my friends I had to go, dinner was on and Momma expected me for supper. I couldn’t call home with an excuse from a cell phone (no one had them back then) and even if I had, I would have been in trouble the second I walked through the door.

Supper or dinner, depending on where you lived in the country, was an important activity and one not to be missed. Families used the time to connect, relax, communicate, catch up, and enjoy each other.

Then we grew up, got jobs, went to college, had families, and got busy. Unlike our parents, we didn’t insist on eating together once the kids started school and began to have schedules of their own. We stopped sitting down at the table and instead clamored for the best seats in front of the television to  eat. We stopped talking to each other, learning about each other’s days, and enjoying the comfort that comes with being with family.

And we paid a price.

If you’re wondering about that price, look around. It’s our health. Obesity is a huge American problem along with stress, heart disease, cholesterol, diabetes, and other dietary influenced diseases.

As we stopped having the family dinner and opted for the eat on the run alternative, we began to experience change. Fast food became preferred over a meal that took hours to prepare. Calories and balance were tossed and replaced with convenience and speed.

In our quest to keep up pace with everything we wanted to do, we stopped exercising and grabbed the car keys, even for those errands less than two blocks away! There was no stopping us-we wanted to do more, be more places, experience more simultaneously. And, we found a way to do it.

At first it was just a few pounds. We disregarded these as a part of getting older. Then, when our tempers shortened and demands on our grew taller, we said it was a part of aging, to be expected, nothing to worry about.

By the time we reached our 40s, many of us began to really feel the price we’d paid. Unlike our parents, who didn’t see as many heart attacks, strokes, incidences of diabetes, ect, until closer to the golden years of 60’s and 70’s, we began to need our medical providers earlier and more often.

That’s when it finally hit home. The family dinner was much more than just a time of day we ate. It was the release, the stepping back from our lives, we needed to stay healthy. Our parents understood this and made sure we had it.

Obesity rates as a percentages of total popula...
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Studies back this up. Recent studies show evidence that teens have less stress, adults less depression, anger, and heart disease when a family dinner is part of a daily routine. Part of the reason this may be true is that we tend to cook healthier at home than we eat out in restaurants. Therefore, the family dinner helped control obesity, alleviating a vast number of problems we experience today.

Perhaps as concerns raise for saving the planet and living green, we should also consider that we are a part of the animal kingdom and therefore part of the planet that needs saving as well. It would only take a few adjustments to fit in an hour each night to eat dinner with the family. It might be a hard adjustment at first, and we’d probably feel as if we weren’t being as productive as possible, but that misplaced guilt would fade with time. And, we, too, would reap the benefits in health that our parents did.

Living green doesn’t just mean living in a way our environment thrives. We can’t fix the environment if we aren’t here. And, with current health habits suffering for a vast majority of the population, that is a real possibility.

Learn to live green by first taking care of you, then transferring that knowledge to the rest of the world.

Time Flies

Time is said to be the only thing we can’t regenerate. If we waste it, it won’t come back to us. If we spend it, we don’t get to enjoy except in memories. And, if we save it, it will not be there when we go back for it.

And yet, it is the one thing we all want.

There is some truth to the passing of time, though. Wasted time can cause a loss of profits in businesses. Wasted time can also create regrets in the fabric of individual lives. Personally, I believe the second is the worst of wasted time’s results. The missed opportunities can haunt like no other ghost in the span our lives. Each day brings these regrets closer until it is possible for them to consume us.

Time spent working is valuable, but only if it is balanced by time spent with family, friends, loved ones, and activities we enjoy. When the balance is tipped one way or another, the same feelings of loss and regret remain in our memories as when time is wasted.

Saving time makes no sense other than to those who believe they have the power to control each moment. There are no guarantees in life and we don’t know how long we will be allowed to grace the planet. Saving time to spend with the things that are really important-family, friends, our interest-does not mean there will be time left in later years. It does, however, create hurt feelings from those for whom you had no time and regrets for you.

Instead of chasing a dollar, chase your life. Work will be a part of that, but you cannot live if you do not explore who you are and spend time on it. Living in the shadows of pure responsibility without getting close enough to really feel the passions in life isn’t really living. It is surviving.

I hope everyone learns to live, to follow dreams, and to experience life in a balance that leaves little regret. It is following our passions and dreams that make us human and make work a more productive and enjoyable experience for all

We All Laugh in the Same Language

A series of thoughts ensured I’d have something to write about today. I thought of posting a review of products on EZ Vacuum, relating opinions on the historical events of the day (including the famous run from the law made by O.J. Simpson fifteen years ago today) and even researching new methods of water treatment that rely solely on the power of plants for purification. All of those would have made excellent topics of conversation for a blog entry.

However, none of those will be mentioned today.

As I sat thinking and planning out what to write, I gazed out my sliding glass door. Beyond the plates of glass separating me from the world, I watched the children play. At first, when there were only two children, everything went as one would expect. Laughter bubbled and toys were shared.

It wasn’t long before a third child joined in. With the addition of this new playmate, I noticed a shift in the play. Spurts of giggling still occurred and most of the toys were shared, but the easiness of the earlier play disappeared as the children vied for the position of most liked among their group.

When a fourth and fifth child joined in, the situation escalated. It seemed the group had determined a loser in the popularity contest: a little blue eyed girl in a bright pair of pink shorts and white top. Laughter now only visited the group at the girl’s expense. No longer were toys shared equally, but instead were used to taunt the little girl.

Tears mingled with the giggles as they tore the little girl to shreds in the name of fun. She was only about four years old, a little younger than the others, but she was different enough. Her tears seemed to encourage the other children to continue their behavior.

At last, a parent showed up to put an end to the teasing and torment. Unfortunately, it was not the children whose parents should have been correcting them, but rather the mother of the little girl, frazzled and upset at the treatment her child had received. She didn’t say anything to the children in question. She just picked up her baby and retreated to the sanctuary of her home.

Several thoughts paraded through my mind as I watched this scene. I remembered, of course, how it had been in my day, but that wasn’t the most striking of my thoughts.

I thought of the way we treat each other every day over differences that should never come into play.

I live in the South, in the heart of racism. Although I don’t endorse, condone or otherwise participate in the activity, I see it every single day. I couldn’t help making the comparison of the children to how we react to this behavior in ourselves.

Racism doesn’t have a color, a nationality, or a sexuality. It is a disease in all walks of life, no matter how affluent or poverty stricken the beginnings. While it was supposed to have been abolished in the sixties, it hasn’t been. What’s worse, few seem to know what to do about it.

Personally, I think it begins when we ignore the children at play. Children learn and react to what they are taught, whether by example or by book. Perhaps, if they saw less distinction from us when we encounter someone different than ourselves, they may be more inclined to follow that lead. If we showed more compassion for another’s suffering, our children might refrain from inflicting suffering onto another.

I think we should teach them irrefutable truths: All people have feelings, all people have needs, and all people deserve to be treated the same, regardless of the differences.

With my own child, I have taught her to respect the differences in others because it is those differences that make the world such an interesting place. If we were all the same in every way, there would be no need to explore, learn, grow, and become. Diversity is the tool in which we plant our gardens and watch the flowers bloom. Without it, life as we know it would no longer exist. No Utopia would fill its place. Instead, our gardens would be barren, devoid of life.

Every single person has something great to offer the world. There is a purpose to each birth, to each life, to each difference. Don’t waste your opportunity to learn that purpose through acceptance of those who are not the same as you. Don’t throw away a flower for blooming at a different time of year. Don’t waste time with hatred when it will only take the sight from your eyes and destroy the beauty within you.

If you need a reason to follow the path of a kinder humanity, then look towards the children. They are the generation of seeds we’ve planted. Do you want them to suffer the same loss as we have? Or would you rather see them bloom, no matter the season, no matter the color?

As for me, I want to see the garden grow, prosper, and love with the compassion of innocence. I want the children to become the dreams they carry and Iwant them to learn how from those of us who have lived long enough to realize how beautiful those dreams can be.

I’m going to leave you with a song. It is one we should all remember. Written for children, it holds a valuable lesson for all of mankind.

We All Laugh the Same by Marla Lewis

Reclaiming a Dream

Our grandparents and great-grandparents had a dream. As they toiled each day at a variety of jobs, raised families, worked in the home and on the farms, they dreamed of retirement. So vivid was their dream, they made it a reality by putting into place a plan in w hich they could stop working after a particular age. They saw themselves as enjoying life in the later years, a reward for all they’d done during the previous years of their lives. And, up until fairly recently, the dream was a reality.

The recent economic decline caused the fog to clear on that dream and for the rose colored glasses to come off. No more would the age of 65 mean retirement, but rather it would mean continuing to work. However, the problem with the dream didn’t happen overnight and didn’t have its start with the current economic slump.

Most retirees counted on social security. In the beginning, this was fine. It worked. However, as families had less children and the workforce was not replaced as evenly as before, the first inkling of trouble rose its head. Then, inflation, the economy, and the increase in the average life span finished it off.

I can remember as a child hearing about the lack of social security by the time I reached retirement age, so people knew well before now that something wasn’t working correctly for retirement. I’ve watched the age for retirement rise several times in the last few decades and realize the reason: it is an attempt to rebalance the system.

Consider the group approaching retirement now and part of the problem becomes clear. The baby boomers, one of the largest groups in the workforce, have reached the golden years. However, many of those baby boomers had very small families, so the number of people to fill their shoes doesn’t match the number of people preparing for retirement.

Now let’s see what this economic crisis has done to further help the loss of retirement by 65. Many would be retirees have seen a dramatic decrease in their 401(k) and pension plans as companies have faltered to stay afloat. There are a great number of companies that folded, taking with them the dreams of retirement.

This adds to another difficulty: unemployment for many of the younger crowd since a large faction of the people at retirement age no longer have the funds to retire.

So, now that the problems are laid out, what can be done about them? Those wishing to retire can take solace in the fact that working later does not have to be a terrible thing at all. If they love what they do or at least like what they do, then those who continue to work in the golden years can remain active and maintain the lifestyles they’ve grown accostumed to over the years. For those who are waiting to enter the work force, this little glitch in the plan has a silver lining as well. Find what interests and then learn to do it.

Many jobs that are available require a degree as they involve fields that can’t be learned on the job. Technology is one of these and is growing at a fast pace. Taking the time to get a degree may be the bridge to having jobs open up that are currently unavailable.

No matter the group you belong to, though, there are a few things you should consider. In order to find the dream of retirement again, you must establish a savings plan and follow a budget for long term security. This means living on the frugal side in order to rebuild or build nest eggs. In the long term, saving for the future is the only true method of attaining retirement, for any age group. Invest carefully and wisely. Don’t jump into anything without a bit of research and knowledge of all risks involved.

Preserving Your Budget

The economy took a dive in recent months and millions felt the result as jobs were lost and incomes decreased dramatically. Then, we had a presidential election and Obama took office. He immediately pushed through a recovery plan spanning more than 1,000 pages in length.

Since then, we’ve seen the big 3 car dealers struggle to stay in business with the help of thousands of dollars in bail-out money, the banks struggle to regain balances in finance and a slow recovery of the stock markets. All of this leaves us in a place where we are still seeing a recessive trend, but the degree of that trend is beginning to take an upward movement.

So, what does that mean for the rest of us? The general population?

Not much, in the reality of things. Jobs are still hard to come by, prices are still rising, and the cost of living is still more than some people can afford. While it won’t last forever as most things do come to an end, it does make it difficult for the average family to continue supporting themselves in the manner they’ve become accustomed.

A simple trip to the gas station or grocery store will give you a very good picture of what the economy really is for the average family. So far, the gas price has raised again this year to almost three dollars a gallon. This is down from last year’s four dollar price tag, but tell that to the masses who no longer have jobs due to downsizing.

The average cost of groceries has also increased, making it harder for people to afford to eat healthy. What has remained budget friendly on the grocery aisles are foods high in calories, fat, carbohydrates and cholestrol. Yet, as a society we are told to eat better to combat an increasing problem with obesity. Short of growing your own food supply, there really isn’t much that can be done…or is there?

Years ago, when grandmothers were mothers, there weren’t convienence foods prepackaged on the shelves ready to eat or to heat. Instead, food was prepared from scratch from a few basic ingredients. Yes, it took more time. But, it can be worthwhile to return to the days of our grandmothers when it comes to preparing affordable meals.

Instead of cooking each night, it is possible to prepare meals for the week in one day. Then, simply freeze the meals for later use. Microwave when ready to eat.

Resurrect the caserole. This staple of of hodge-podge ingredients is a great way to stretch a dollar. Besides being able to fill it with a variety of great foods, the combinations are quite tasty and filling. It can be made from leftovers as well as fresh ingredients. Each time a caserole is made, it is, by nature, different. Therefore, it is a dish that one can use without getting tired of eating it.

Even better, when making pre-made meals, freeze individual portions. this way, you don’t end up with a ton of leftovers in the fridge and you are less likely to overeat if you have to prepare another full portion.

Try baking slightly bruised fruit, such as apples, or stuffing slightly bruised tomatoes instead of throwing these away. Bruises won’t necessarily spoil fruit immediately. This gives you some wiggle room in what gets eaten and what gets thrown in the garbage, saving you money in the process.

Don’t go to the store without checking for coupons. This means searching store ads, newspaper, and online sources. I’ve found that I can locate coupons on the Internet for just about anything I’d like to buy. In fact, I’ve even gone out to eat at very nice restaurants for free due to a coupon I found on the internet.

Use gift cards. Sites like Restaurant.com sell gift cards at hugely discounted rates that allow you to dine for a fraction of the price. For instance, it’s possible to purchase a $75 gift card for about $35 depending on the special the site has at the time. Sometimes, you can get them even cheaper.

Basically, with a little help from the internet, a bit of ingenuity, the current economic conditions do not have to directly affect the way you live your life. There are ways around the money-crunch while the economy continues on the road to recovery.

Cleaning up the Air

After spending some time in the hospital for health problems related to breathing, I decided the first thing I should write about upon returning home this morning is dust and irritants in the air. For those of us living with COPD, Asthma, Emphysema, and Bronchitis, this is a major cause of distress. Yet, to date, the complete elimination of dust from the face of the earth is not possible.

That said, it is also important to remember that dust is not the only trigger for difficulties in breathing, It is simply one that can be easily controlled within our homes. It can’t be eliminated from all environments that might be encountered, but in our homes it is.

While I was sick, my family did the chore that created the problem: they dusted. I had always used the old cloth and can of furniture polish. My family, though, thought this was too much work. Instead, they used the Swiffer dusting system. From their results, I will be adopting this method.

The disposable dusters have an advantage over the old fashioned method in that less dust is plummeted through the air with every swipe. The heads for the duster already contain the optimal amount of polish and are treated to eliminate a larger amount of allergens. They are also safe to use on all surfaces, even computers. This is a big plus since I live my life on a keyboard.

The disadvantages of using Swiffer are, of course, the cost and the creation of additional trash for landfills, but the cost is outweighed when compared to medical bills due to the complications dust can create.

Swiffer is not the only system that uses replaceable dusting heads. Many companies now offer the same technology for the common household chore of dusting because we have become a society of convenience. No longer are feathers the preferred or even the most sanitary method of dusting quickly.

The feather duster, which is more modern than a cloth and polish, does little to control the dust in a home. In fact, these types of dusters tend to spread the dust. This is because they only remove the dust from the desired area and disperse it into the air, where it eventually settles on carpets and upholstery. Later, some of the dust left behind is vacuumed or swept up with a broom. If the vacuum does not use a hepa or hepa type filter, the remaining particles are scattered once again. With a broom, a larger amount of particles are scattered. This creates one large cycle of constant dust in the home.

The addition of an air filtration system to the home can help with the elimination of dust and other air pollutants. as well. In fact, after having researched the IQAir air purification system for the home during an earlier blog and taking into consideration my health care provider’s advice, I will be adding an IQAir purifier to my home to ensure better health.

My family will also benefit, although no other member of my family has breathing difficulties. I have learned that the lungs can be damaged easily. In addition, lung tissue cannot regenerate itself once damaged. The simple adjustments we are making as a family will help ensure that common pollutants in a home do not contribute to the damage of lung tissue in all members of the household. And, I believe that anything we can do to better the health of those we love is a worthwhile investment.

If you or your loved ones suffer from respiratory illnesses, whether chronic or acute, please spend some time investigating the options for cleaner air in your home. You can find a multitude of products available at very reasonable prices at EZ Vacuum.

What can you do?

This year has already proven to be one for the history books. Now at the halfway point, I wanted to touch upon a few things that have happened and what we have learned from them. As I have experienced my own setbacks as of late, I have had time to reflect on what we think we know and what we really know.

So far, Swine Flu has made a mark upon Mexico and the world as it created panic in its wake. Killing hundreds of people, we all felt the fear of what could be in the face of a potentially fatal illness.

We also learned that common sense can help conquer fear. By listening to age old advice handed down from countless generations of mothers around the world, Swine flu became a thing of the past and is now on a downward slide. No longer are we seeing it as a deadly adversary but rather as a formidable foe who can be beaten at his own game.

Banks and major businesses have fallen and our economy has declined as jobs have been lost. The very companies we counted on let us down as we realized together that not everything is as stable as it seems. It left us clamoring to build back that which had fallen in an effort to preserve our idea of our own society.

We learned, though, that we are bigger than the banks and car dealerships we watched disintegrate. We discovered that living closer to the earth filled the void of what had been and replaced it with something more beautiful than what we had. Our self image soared, even though our pocketbooks dwindled. We learned to trust in each other and in ourselves to overcome the bumps in the road.

Most importantly, though, this year has taught about change and the ability to live a better life than what was thought possible. While I can’t speak for all, I can for me.

After having to change my lifestyle, I have discovered how easy it is to live green. I had always avoided this as I thought it time consuming, expensive, and difficult. I envisioned hours of working diligently and gaining only small steps in both health and in changing the environment. I cringed at the thought of having to work so hard when there was obviously so little to gain.

However, that changed in March when I discovered what not living green had really cost me. I got a crash course in how the environment bites back when its too polluted. Breathing difficulties compound, disease spreads, and allergies abound.

At first, I found recycling a little confusing. However, I got the hang of it in a couple of weeks. I realized how easy it was to find even when traveling as most parks, cities, and businesses now observe nature’s request to respect her.

I discovered just how much better it is for all of us when smoking is eliminated from public places and the reasons behind the ordinances. I began to get it when I started using an air purifier in my home. My breathing improved dramatically-at least until I had to venture outside.

Writing this blog, I discovered the virtues of hepa filters and what they can do to further increase health in the population. It still amazes me that we can get such tiny irritants out of our homes and make such a difference in our daily lives.

As I am researching for materials on how we process water, agricultural changes in the way we process our food and even in advances in skin care due to ultraviolet rays, I am growing more confident that we haven’t waited too long. There is still time to save the environment and ourselves, but we have to begin now. Too much damage has already come at the hand of man.

According to National Geographic, no other species either before or since the appearance of humans has left such a trail of destruction across the face of the earth. Perhaps we should take heed from the species of the past and the ones that share our planet now before we’ve nothing left to save.

There are all sorts of ideas out there. Some of tips I have written about here. Some you have shared with me. Others are still waiting to be shared. In the meantime, perhaps we can help each other in our own perspective communities.

One person can change the world because it only takes one to set the example for the masses. Be that one person in your community today. Your age doesn’t matter. Your intentions do.