October Update

Bought a standard poodle puppy.  Bringing him home October 5, so October will be full of housebreaking, and FUN.



Entries in health (5)


Spreading Health the Avon Way

Last week the NY Times carried a fantastic story about a recent, burgeoning microfinance idea in Africa.  Several groups s are franchising African women to go "house-to-house" to sell goods that improve lives. 

The franchise business model is one that has been successful for over a hundred years.  So why shouldn't it work as well in Africa as anywhere else in the world?

The latest one covered in the Times is "Living Goods," which provides low-cost health items, such as sanitary pads, soap, de-worming pills, iodized salt, condoms, nutritionally fortified foods, kits for clean delivery of babies, malaria treatments, bed nets, high-efficiency cookstoves, solar lamps and cellphone chargers.

The delivery model works just as well for Living Goods franchisees and customers in Uganda as Avon does in the US and all over the world.  Everyone benefits.  Living Goods trains the women it franchises to educate customers and sell the health goods, thus providing them with good incomes. Customers gain access to low-priced health supplies that improve the lives of their families.

This is spirituality at its best: spreading a better life from person-to-person.


Better News on the PTSD Front

Last week I posted about an article in the New York Times Sunday Magazine concerning the US Army and soldiers' brain injuries. The news was discouraging regarding both concussions and PTSD: denial, delays in treatment, callousness.

But I heard this from writer Tena Russ about a treatment program that is just the opposite, attentive, caring, serious:

          "I volunteer with my therapy dog at the Captain James A. Lovell Federal Health Care Facility in North Chicago.  My dog Cami and I visit active duty soldiers and veterans who are in the the locked wards at the mental hospital.  Many of them have PTSD and are being treated for it.  In addition, on the campus there is a residential program for soldiers who have been in battle and have PTSD.  From what I gather, this particular VA (at least) is doing the right thing by the wounded warriors.  They are not denying that PTSD exists."

Thanks, Tena, this is wonderful news!  I'd be happy to hear more from anyone out there who has had similar experiences.


Exercising in the Present

My last two posts have been about the power of staying in the present.  Just before those posts, I was writing about how healthy it is for us to stay in motion.  Now I’m trying to combine the two in my life.  Whenever I am waiting around for something, I try to be in motion.

         In the elevator, I march in place.  In line at the supermarket, I rock or dance in place, in my desk chair, I stretch, or stand up and sit down again when I’m contemplating what to write next.

         This is a hard habit to make and an easy one to break, especially if I’m lost in thought.  I’m trying to train myself to move and think at the same time.

         On the telephone, I remember more and more often to walk about while talking. (Modern phones, either cell or cordless, are a big boon here.)  Waiting for the bus, instead of sitting in the bus shelter, I walk circles around it.

         Any suggestions for more?  Please let me know. 


Music for Health

I’ve been musing in my last couple of blogs about the healthy necessity for humans to stay in motion, and the deleterious effects of spending long periods seated.  (See my May 1 post.)  In my quest for more information I found a Scientific American article about dance, and how much humans like to play music and dance to it.

         During the evolution of our species, if we needed to stay in motion for our very survival, it makes sense that our brains would evolve to promote motion.  One way our brains promote life-sustaining activities is by making them pleasurable and making us want to repeat them.  This is why we love salty, fatty, and sweet foods.  Tens of thousands of years ago, such foods were exceedingly scarce, so we needed to love them and eat as much of them as we could on the rare occasions when they were available.

         Our brains make things pleasurable and worth repeating by sending out dopamine, a neurotransmitter behind lots of learning and, alas, addiction.

         So here’s a wonderful clue to some of the greatest artistic accomplishments of our species.  Perhaps rhythm, music, and dance arose out of repeated spurts of dopamine, urging our bodies and minds to keep us in motion.  Then, as musical skills developed, perhaps musical activities became pleasurable in their own right.  Perhaps we just wanted to engage in them because we enjoyed them so much.

         To steal a line from Shakespeare: “If music be the food of love, play on!”


Built to Move

Last Sunday’s New York Times carried Gretchen Reynolds' summary of new research showing we stay healthier and burn significantly more calories, when we move around all day.  (In fact, I’ve begun marching in place when I’m riding in an elevator, but only if I'm alone.)

         Curiously, Reynolds reports that regular exercisers remain more sedentary throughout the day, after exercising, than non-exercisers.  I can’t help wondering why this latter finding should be true.

         I am a regular exerciser.  Weekday mornings I rise around 5:00, brush my teeth, make my bed, limber up, and climb many flights of stairs inside my apartment building.  Then I head outside to walk briskly anywhere from 3 to 4 miles.  I'm fortunate to be able to walk along a bike path that threads the generous park hugging Chicago’s Lake Michigan shore.  The limbering, climbing and walking take about an hour and fifteen minutes, and I return home feeling energetic and alive.

         Part of the energy must come from moving aerobically.  But part of the energy is spiritual.  Outside among the trees and shrubs and grass, under the dark or dawning sky, my muse visits me.  I am enlivened with ideas for what to write or what to add to what I’m writing.  The ideas seem to come from a Higher Power, along with spring’s blossoms, mating ducks, newly arrived robins, and Frisbee chasing dogs.  My walk makes me available to inspiration from the cosmos.

         Yet, I’ll stay healthy longer, stay available to inspiration longer, if I get up from my desk, interrupting my writing over and over, to move around.  What a strange contradiction!