Tag Archives: health

Got books? Time to celebrate! #reading #book lovers day

book love 1

If you’re a habitual reader, (like I am), then today is your day to celebrate – it’s Book Lovers Day! If you don’t read much but wish you did, today is the perfect day to curl up with a good book and start forming the healthy habit of becoming a regular reader. Reading is known to not only improve brain function but also help us in even more positive ways.

Many people claim they have no time to read; this is something I’ve never understood. What about all those minutes, (which build into hours), you’re sitting at a red light and wishing it would hurry up and turn green? What’s your rush anyway? And those of you who use public transportation have even greater opportunity for time to read. You aren’t going to get to your destination any faster, so why not use that blessing of time [to yourself] to read? Just keep a book, or, if you’re an eBook reader, your tablet, with you at all times and you’re set! And that’s just one chance. Be aware of how you spend your free time and you’ll soon find ample opportunities to read, read, read.

“My Alma mater was books, a good library… I could spend the rest of my life reading, just satisfying my curiosity.”  Malcolm X

Although I have been lazy about updating my bookshelf lately, I have read several books since the last update in August. Here are a few of the best:

The Hot Country, Robert Olen Butler ~ Rated 5 There is a reason Robert Olen Butler’s work has won the Pulitzer Prize. The Hot Country, a Christopher Marlow Cobb thriller, is one of his best yet!

This Side of Brightness, by Colum McCann ~ Rated 4.5 I love how McCann takes us into a world most people never even get a glimpse of, and he shows us precisely how “full” that world is. The characters here are especially compelling.

Odd Apocalypse, Dean Koontz ~ Rated 5 It’s Dean Koontz, it’s Odd Thomas, what more could you ask for? Superb work!

I would be hard-pressed to choose a favorite read from 2013 as I’ve had the pleasure of reading several great stories. Check out my bookshelf for short reviews. What is the best book you’ve read this year? Do you have any helpful hints for those who are having difficulty finding time to read? I hope you’ll share your secrets with us! Have a beautiful and blessed Book Lovers Day!

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Can we rid the world of Down’s Syndrome, of Pervasive Developmental Disorders? Would we want to? #autism #autismawareness

It’s been several years since I read Elizabeth Moon’s The Speed of Dark but it’s the first thing I thought of when reading this article about the forthcoming possibility of curing Down’s Syndrome. The Speed of Dark is about a man’s struggle with whether or not to participate in a study to “cure” his autism. Here’s the blurb from The Speed of Dark, via Elizabeth Moon’s website:

“Lou is a high-functioning autistic adult who has made a good life for himself and is, he thinks, content. But a new manager in the pharmaceutical firm for which he works decides to put pressure on the unit that employs autistic persons. Lou is pressured to undergo an experimental treatment that might “cure” the autism he doesn’t think needs curing, or risk losing his job–and certainly the accommodations the company has put in place for its autistic employees.”

The ethical question that both the article and The Speed of Dark poses is: If you could cure the disease would you be willing to risk the possibility of basically erasing [the person’s] personality?

To be short and to the point, I wouldn’t. My son has High Functioning Autism, which is basically the mildest form of autism under the “umbrella” of Autism Spectrum Disorders. Although his autism caused many difficulties for him throughout his early school years, especially in social situations, with continual therapy and much hard work he overcame those challenges, and along that journey he became one of the most kind-hearted and intelligent people I’ve ever known. (Yes, the possibility of exaggerating that, as his mother, exists but others have expressed this opinion too).

One of the characteristics I love most about my son is his insistence at questioning everything, and when I say everything I mean everything. At times that can be frustrating of course, (mainly when I don’t know the answer and am unable to explain something to him), but I am rather proud of his persistence in investigating until he finds the answers he seeks. This trait makes for terrific philosophical discussions, something I’ve always enjoyed, even when the particular subject shoots way over my head. (He is 16-years-old now and as he discovers more and more about life this is often the case).

Because of this “need to know” my son has developed a dogged patience that I quite envy. When he wants to learn something, (he is very interested in software design and such), he sits down, he studies, and he learns it, no matter how long it takes. He is also quite a talented artist, not only using software tools but also with nothing more than pencil and paper, (something else I’m proud of considering how many teenagers are averse to doing anything that doesn’t require a computer).

If this sounds like a “mommy brag post”, well, I suppose it is, but the point is: should a cure for autism suddenly be discovered and offered to all people diagnosed [with a form of autism] I would not want my son to take advantage of it, I would not be willing to sacrifice the personality traits that make him the wonderful person he is.

What about you? If your child is living with autism, Down’s Syndrome, Asperger’s, etc., or if you know someone who is, would you be willing to risk the loss of their personality to “remove the parts of them” that present the challenges of living with such an illness?

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Pour it on chef!

Image via cliparttoday.com
Image via cliparttoday.com

“And here’s your gift,” my boss said, setting a large shaker of salt on my desk. He’d just returned from a trip to San Francisco. Co-workers who’d received t-shirts and coffee mugs were trying hard not to crack up, stupid grins plastered on their faces as if painted there.

I didn’t get it. I looked at my boss cross-eyed. “Salt,” that look asked, “Why do I, the woman who makes sure your work life is smooth as a baby’s bottom, get the cheapest gift?”

He looked like I’d just smacked his hand and sent him to the corner. Apparently a shaker of salt was a lot more important to him than it was to me. He let out a big Uh. “Because you love salt so much!” he said, incredulous that I wasn’t more grateful.

“Oh!” I smiled, picking the glass container up and holding it with both hands as if it were the most precious diamond I’d ever received. “Thank you so much!” I deserved an Oscar for that performance.

I sat the gift on my desk and thought no more of it until, a few weeks later, I picked it up to pour some salt on my fries and realized it was nearly half empty. “Wow,” I thought, “I guess I really do like salt.” I was touched then, truly grateful my boss had taken the time to notice such a seemingly small habit. But my next thought was frightening: should I be eating so much salt? Probably not. But did I try to cut back? No, I liked to be able to see the snow on my food.

In the twelve years since my cholesterol numbers have always been idea and my blood pressure only increases when I’m having a fibromyalgia flare. Yes, now and then I’ve felt I probably should cut back on my salt intake, despite those “good” numbers, but it’s such a hard habit to break!

Then I found this article: Salt, healthy? Why it might no longer be Public Enemy Number 1 on Reader’s Digest, and felt I’d been handed a clean bill of health. The article, written by Gary Taubes, argues that government recommendations for sodium intake are not only low, they’re most likely too low, and that we should all be consuming more salt than we are:

“…the evidence from studies published over the past two years actually suggests that restricting salt can increase our likelihood of dying prematurely.”

Because of the USDA’s and the CDC’s counsel, the average person takes in too little sodium to flush out the necessary amount of renin, (stored by our kidneys), which increases our risk of heart disease.

Huh……Of course the article ends with an editor’s note to talk to your doctor before either increasing or decreasing your salt intake, (which we should do when considering any change in diet), but because of all the evidence – or lack thereof in this case – I believe I’ll stop worrying about whether or not I should cut back on the salt. After all, it’s proven that worry in itself can increase our blood pressure, so I’m already taking a positive step, right?

The man who gave me the salt shaker has moved on to another company, but I still keep the salt on my desk, and think of him every time I pour it on my lunch.

I encourage you to read Mr. Taube’s article in full (its short) and tell us what you think. Will you too stop worrying so much about your salt intake?

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