Every Child is Potentially the Light of the World.

Every Child is Potentially the Light of the World.

“Every child is potentially the light of the world—and at the same time it’s darkness; wherefore must the question of education be accounted as of primary most importance.” Bahai writings

The keywords in the above quote are; potential light, darkness, and education. Throughout history, education has been a fundamental factor in the advancement of civilization. At times this education has brought mankind light and at others darkness. Education has given man the ability to place manned rovers on Mars and acquire new medical knowledge. Advancements in communication have made the world flat. At the same time, mankind has created a world laden with moral dangers: selfishness born of materialism, children alienated from their parents, and a society in decline.  These conditions are not confined to race, class, nation, or income status. 

At an early age, children are asked,” What are you going to be when you grow up?” We send them off to school to find the answer. In school, they study various branches of knowledge in order to choose a profession based on demand and earning potential. In the end, the future is one of studying to work, working to earn, and earning to spend.  It’s a materialistic treadmill. The result is a society aimed at earning more and more money. Despite all the success and material gains, most people are still not happy and we are raising a generation of people who are living for themselves. This reminds me of the lyrics from the Broadway play Bye Bye Birdie, “Kids! I don’t know what’s wrong with these kids today! Why can’t they be like we were, perfect in every way, what’s the matter with kids today?”

Ask a child today what do you want to be when you grow up and they still don’t know, and now, many don’t care. What caused these young people to disconnect? When did the light of education dim in so many eyes? The methods for educating children are well established as evidenced in our technological and scientific advancements. But these advancements have come at a cost. Somewhere along our journey, we lost our children. As mankind enters a new age of maturity, we must develop a new purpose for educating our children. The tree of educational knowledge must add branches that evolve the inner and outer child as well as develop useful skills that benefit mankind.

I don’t think anything is wrong with today’s kids. Their true essence is there, often hidden inside. Through good counsel and education that essence can be brought to light. A quote by Alexander den Heijer may shed some light, “When a flower doesn’t bloom you fix the environment in which it grows, not the flower.” Instead of focusing on “fixing” the child, let’s focus on adapting the environment to ensure the child’s success. As the child gains inner and outer success and perfection, his light begins to shine.

Our primary and most urgent responsibility is the education of our children.  And, their teachings don’t only come from books. In early childhood a firm foundation must be laid; a foundation focused on refining character, learning virtues, and developing good behavior. Knowledge achieved through traditional book learning is praiseworthy when coupled with ethical conduct and virtuous character. These traits must be taught and practiced every day at school.  Fortunately, mindfulness, wellness, meditation, yoga, and art classes are appearing in school systems all over the world. 

The evolution of mankind is in full display in every child’s face you see. As each child’s inner light shines, it will surely brighten the world. As Neil Diamond sang,” Turn on your heart light. Let it shine wherever you go. Let it make a happy glow for all the world to see.”  It is truly our responsibility, as those that have come before them, to cultivate and support these additional branches of education. If we do not equip them with the social and emotional skills they need to conquer a rapidly changing environment, then their failures will be ours. Let us plant the seeds that will one day grow into a canopy of success in the hands of today’s youth. 

 

 

 

   

 

Growing Older, Seeking Wiser

Growing Older, Seeking Wiser

What do you want to be when you grow up?  At age 15, as a messy mix of idealistic earnestness and reckless curiosity, one thing to me was clear — when I grew up, what I wanted to be was wise. I was humble enough to know that I wasn’t there yet but confident that the goal was attainable, and that I’d certainly have everything figured out by the time I was nineteen.

It’s taking longer than I thought… I’m now nearly 50 years into this wisdom journey, and I’m still a work in progress.  I have picked up a few bits and pieces along the way though, and I‘ll gladly share what I have. Please note that these ideas are subject to change, based on future experiences. Further bulletins as events warrant.

  • Experience. I get a lot from books, mostly knowledge, and community. Both are priceless, but neither one is wisdom. Wisdom, that deep, clear, understanding that is always there, sometimes hidden in plain sight, arises from experience. For me, the best learning experiences often come out of an unintentional process of making mistakes and then watching what happens next. Much like roller skating, I learn about life by falling down a lot.
  • Change. Everything changes, Everything. All the time, whether I like it or not. In fact, everything is changing right now. I try to not spend too much time dwelling on this, or I’m apt to find myself drifting into a story, drawn away from the beauty and truth of this moment.
  • Truth. For me, a simple idea, but not always a simple practice. Many of my more epic learning experiences have their origins in self-deception; seeing things, people and experiences as I wish to see them or am conditioned to see them, not seeing them as they truly are. Am I seeing you or my thoughts about you? Am I seeing me, or my story about me?
  • Surrender. I’m learning to do the best I can with wholeheartedness and clear intent, but to then let go of attachments to the outcome. Crazy talk, right? This is really hard for me, the letting go part. When my efforts in life pay off, I want to savor the sweetness. I want credit. Conversely, when the Universe, in the form of fate or other people, does not play it my way, I want to warm myself by the fires of righteous umbrage.  A little savoring is good, a little indignation is ok, but these things unchecked can take on a life of their own; soon my ego is in full bloom and I am cut off from the true source of my original good intentions. Dammit, in the weeds again!
  • Meditation. It helps. As I continue to mature, I’m becoming a little more patient and consistent in my practice, not from slowing down but rather because of experience. I’ve seen over and over again how sitting gives my stuff time to settle, clears the channel, lets a little light in, and so improves the quality of my engagement with the world. It’s not in the time spent sitting, or even the quality of that time, but how that time changes me, forms me into someone who is a little easier for the world to put up with.
  • Love. When in doubt, choose to love. Love others. Love being alive. Go outside and love the world. Sometimes it hurts. Sometimes it feels ridiculous. Love anyway. It’s worth it.

Thank you for sharing your time with me. Bear in mind that nothing I have said here is the truth; it’s only my own best current understanding. Now go, live your life, check it all out for yourself. Enjoy!

Health Elevated – Biohacks for Modern Aging

Health Elevated – Biohacks for Modern Aging

I remember the cartoon The Jetsons– George, Jane, daughter Judy, son Elroy, and their dog, Astro. They were zipping around with jetpacks, moving sidewalks, robot maids, and flying cars. It was fascinating to see their “out of this world” use of technology and dream about what it would be like.  Seriously, can you imagine a world of video conferencing, robot vacuum cleaners, drones that delivered packages, and smartwatches? Or how about seeing the cellphone in “Star Trek;” or a computerized tablet in “The Space Odyssey;” or even a brain-controlled prosthetic limb from “Star Wars.” Oh wait– you can imagine it… better yet– we can LIVE it!  

The speed of technology in and around us is progressing every second.  If you can imagine it– it is likely possible. In the world of Anti-Aging medicine, it is a similar phenomenon.  It is estimated that the doubling time of medical knowledge in 1950 was 50 years; in 2010, 3.5 years. In 2020 the amount of medical knowledge is projected to double in just 73 days.

My mind starts racing when I think of the information we have access to regarding Anti-Aging medicine and our longevity.  For me, trying to narrow down the topic is like trying to get a child to pick out only two candies when there is an entire bowl full to choose from.  I’ll stick to a few developments that research shows can bring life-changing and life-lengthening benefits to you.

Let’s start right out of the gate with the amazing emerging science of Peptide Therapy.  Peptides are small proteins made of amino acids in short sequences and they have the ability to rewrite your body’s destiny. There are over 7000 peptides actively being studied and 150 in use currently.  The small molecules act as signals for very specific reactions.  Because peptides are naturally occurring, big pharma has not regulated their use– YET.   

If you know anyone who struggles with memory issues, concentration or focus; or has concerns about dementia or neurologic disorders; or brain inflammation issues like biotoxin exposure– then RG3+NAD nasal peptide spray is one you must know about.  It works to stimulate brain healing and repair. Substances used to enhance brain function are known as nootropics. In fact, iRG3+NAD is the only thing we have found to stimulate neuroregeneration.

Maybe you have become very aware of the dramatic increase in cancer rates in those around you and even the very young.  Peptide science is revealing molecules that can actually carry a chemotherapeutic inside of a cancer cell for incredibly targeted treatments.  This allows for a significantly increased response to chemotherapy. Peptide PNC-27 has been shown to be highly effective in several cancers– specifically pancreatic cancer.  Cancer cells turn off the bodies ability to “see” them and this peptide turns this back on. Hide and seek is over with certain cancers when this peptide is on board.

In a society focused on anti-aging, peptide therapy offers some uses that almost everyone can find appealing.  How about a Fat Loss Peptide cream? This cream is used to spot treat areas like the abdomen, upper arms, and thighs.  It decreases the fat under the skin by an impressive amount considering you are rubbing a cream on every day. The average waist measurement difference is 11cm in 12 weeks.  As you can see, peptide therapies will bring incredible changes to our lives starting… NOW!

Medical research is revealing that some modalities can not only feel great but do great things for us.  Let’s turn our attention to Infrared (IR) Saunas as our next Anti-Aging treatment. IR saunas use invisible infrared light to heat up the body.  Instead of just using a heat source like a dry sauna or steam sauna, the IR light penetrates the skin to jump-start the body at the cellular level.  This approach stimulates the healing and repair of tissues as well as increased detoxification. IR saunas have been proven to lower blood pressure, increase weight loss, speed injury healing, stimulate collagen production, and reduce pain levels by up to 70%.  We can thank NASA for justifying the use of this anti-aging modality. Just think… you can get the benefits from IR saunas by simply relaxing and possibly listening to your favorite podcast (not-so-subtle plug for the MBA podcast “Second Sip.”)

Let’s finish up with a couple of things that you have complete control over, as well as being quick and equipment free: High-Intensity Interval Training, Fasting and Mindset Effect.

Now don’t be turned off by reading the words High-Intensity Interval Training.  HIIT, as it is commonly referred to, can be a game changer for your approach to exercise.  Imagine exercising in small amounts of time… I mean really small like 7.5 to 20 minutes PER WEEK and actually getting results.  There are some great apps available such as Seven, Sworkit, and FitBit Coach HIIT that are free and offer workouts from 7-35 minutes.  To get the researched benefits, you must perform the workout with an intense effort and follow it with short recovery periods.  HIIT actually boosts your metabolism for 48 hours after workouts.   The benefits seen include weight loss, improved exercise endurance, and improved heart function.  There’s no need to hop on the treadmill for an epic hour and a half. You can simply do brief, high-intensity exercise for proven health benefits.

Fasting is another phenomenal longevity modality that continues to have research proven benefits.  The scientific and medical literature contains literally hundreds of papers dealing with the therapeutic use of fasting.  It has been extensively used in the treatment of a variety of conditions including obesity, diabetes, epilepsy, coronary artery disease, congestive heart failure, cancer, and autoimmune disease such as rheumatoid arthritis. There are two main types frequently studied.  Intermittent fasting is limiting calories between 8-24 hours and prolonged fasting is longer than 3 days.

Why does fasting work?  Think of your body organ systems as a game of red light/green light. When you eat, the lights are green allowing that organ to do its job. The organ also has a stoplight allowing it to stop when it needs to.  The more the body functions together, the better “traffic keeps flowing.” But also think about repairs– if you need to repair a road, the stoplights have to go to red to stop traffic.  The same happens with our body. It needs downtime to restore and repair. Your body naturally goes into a “red light” stop and repair mode within 10-12 hours after your last meal. The repair mode is crucial to our body being able to recover from injury or cell damage that might have happened throughout the day.  Your genetic makeup is actually programmed to function this way– turning genes on and off. The only way you can control this natural rhythm of repair is by allowing 10-12 hours between eating typically overnight as in Intermittent Fasting or Time Restricted Fasting.

If your body is attempting to heal and repair major issues such as autoimmune disorders, cancer, or heart issues to name a few, we are finding that Prolonged Fasts can be very helpful.  Don’t fret– there are protocols that allow you to eat small and very specific foods if you don’t want to do a complete fast for 5 days. We work with ProLon who provides a box with everything you eat in 5 days.  This more intense fast modulates immunity, improves brain function, lowers blood pressure, decreases inflammatory markers, and lowers cholesterol. It is a comprehensive system “reboot.”

Wrapping up the proven Anti-Aging modalities that can help us live longer and healthier lives is the discussion of the Mindset Effect.  William James said, “Man can alter his life by altering his thinking.” Research is continuing to reinforce this principle. Did you know that just thinking positively about exercise or how much activity you do leads to increased longevity?  And to be clear, I did not say you actually did more exercise. In the study, the positive thinkers tended to outlive those who didn’t feel good about the exercise they participate in even when they did more exercise.  Because of your beliefs, your body responds with changes that have lifelong effects!

Another mindfulness activity involves joyful journaling. I bet you have heard about the benefits of joyful journaling and how it can reprogram your brain.  To do this, simply think of three things that brought you joy and write them down before you go to bed.  Researchers have found that when you do this nightly for one week, it enhances happiness for up to one month and reduces depressive symptoms for up to 6 months. Again we see how our mindset affects our health and wellbeing. Through natural chemicals like dopamine, endorphins, endocannabinoids, serotonin, and gaba we can enhance chemical reactions that positively affect our longevity.

In the world of Anti-Aging medicine, there are literally hundreds of treatment options.  Our goal is to always put together the recommendations that best fit each person’s current condition and their goals.  Simply start by eating real food, moving until your mind is clear, and getting adequate rest. Start incorporating changes and build on those new habits.  If you need or want help, we are here for you. By listening to patients, we can openly discuss options that will help them lead the life they imagine living.  It is not always easy and not always fast, but using the bodies innate ability to heal we believe it is possible. I feel blessed to be able to walk alongside patients in this incredible journey that we call life– in the most revolutionary time of medical options. 

 

 

 

 

 

The Journey

The Journey

If you were sneaking into my house with the intention of finding out who I am, you might take a look inside my refrigerator. I often feel you can tell a lot about a person by what is in their fridge, bathroom and by what they read. After making a few observations including the fact that the light in the refrigerator needs replacing, you might think that the person who lives here must be healthy. The contents would include gluten-free veggie burgers, organic meats, yogurt and various whole foods. Once you made your way upstairs, the bathroom would reveal organic shampoo and Annamarie’s Labyrinth soap along with natural, earth-friendly cleaners. If you stopped with the kitchen and bathroom, you might think that you could begin to put together a picture of who I am. If we were to use a stereotype, you might think I am a bit “granola”, a “crunchy” or a smidge “earthy”. This definitely tells the story of a woman who owns Birkenstocks. Some of this might even be true. Then you would open my closet door. A closet would surely be the place that would be the most telling about a person. Right? At first glance you observe that hanging inside are clothes of a similar style with a specific color palette. Then you put on your best Sherlock Holmes impersonation and take a closer look. Once you finish gasping at the ridiculous quantity of shoes, you might begin to look at the clothing labels. You would notice that the tags inside the garments range from small to extra large and the picture starts to look a little less consistent with your prior thoughts about my identity. One of our core values at Mind Body Align is to keep things simple and authentic, and I’m going to be extraordinarily vulnerable and authentic with you about my health and fitness journey.

I was steadily gaining

I was a skinny kid complete with knobby knees, glasses and a bowl haircut (we called it a Dorothy Hamill. If you aren’t old enough to remember it then give it a quick Google search). This physical body was mine—albeit gawky—and over time, I grew comfortable in it. Puberty came, and I was pretty okay with who I was and how I looked. Throughout high school and college, I was physically active and maintained a healthy weight. I read Seventeen magazine and later Vogue and slightly idolized the models. I loved how the clothes looked on them. Thin was in. All of that changed in my mid-twenties and early thirties. My weight was out of control. Have you ever heard the term, “size denial”? That was me. Over many years, I was steadily gaining weight. I knew that I was shopping in the plus size section—hello Lane Bryant—but somehow that did not connect with the logical part of my brain that knew that I was not healthy. My reality was warped.

Make conscious choices

The change came in a room at Mansfield General Hospital. My grandmother was dying from complications of diabetes. She spent several weeks in the hospital, and I came home from Florida to be with her. My usual coping mechanism had been to eat my way through a crisis. Food was a comfort for me. This crisis was no different as I spent hours in the hospital cafeteria. One day when I was sitting by her side, a nurse came into the room with a scale. I had not measured my weight for years so I decided to step on. Size denial no more! The numbers don’t lie. I decided right then and there that I needed to make swift and severe changes. I did not want to spend my last days suffering in the same way as my grandmother. I immediately started to make conscious choices about food, and as soon as I returned to Florida, I joined a local Weight Watchers group. My weight loss journey was a fourteen month one with the end result being a loss of 75 lbs. I went from wearing a size 20 to size 6. I tell you this only so you can get an idea of the change. I faithfully walked 30 minutes a day and eventually added other forms of exercise. Most importantly, I was healthy. It wasn’t about a diet. It was about a lifestyle change. Yes. The scale was my new best friend, but I viewed it more as a tool and not the judge and jury. I maintained my goal weight and stayed within a healthy range for 15 years.

Be your best self

The topic this month is about sharing challenges and triumphs, and I’ve had my share of both in regards to health and fitness. At this moment, I am challenged. I am having a tough time controlling my weight and prioritizing regular exercise. Although I eat mostly healthy foods, attend yoga classes, ride a bike and enjoy other outdoor activities, there is room for improvement. Recently, I was scrolling through Instagram when a post caught my eye. It was a picture of a pair of feet on a scale. The scale read 180.4 lbs. It was a post from Olympic Volleyball player, Gabby Reece. Gabby is not only a professional volleyball player, but she is also a sports announcer, fashion model, and actress. She also happens to be my age. Here is what she wrote:  “Scale talk. I’m 6 foot 3 in and don’t fit into any of the typical measuring modalities. Just a reminder. Be your best self. In my case, I’m going with “one big bitch.” Just concern yourself with being healthy, feeling good, sleeping, and connecting. Not ready to talk about cellulite yet.”  This was, as Oprah says, an “Ah Ha” moment for me

Discovery and triumph

I am discovering that my body is changing and I am needing to embrace new strategies as I move through middle age. As I approach my fifties, I am realizing that health and fitness are more important to me than the size on a label, and I want to live my life in such a way that I am physically able to have all the experiences that I choose to have. I have all of the tools I need to achieve success and this feels like a triumph.  I also feel strength and support from my tribe as I embark on my newest journey. This is my health and fitness story, not my life story.  I will do this! The closet that you peered into at the beginning of this blog does, in fact, contain a variety of sizes. The story my wardrobe tells is that the woman who lives in my house and wears those clothes is a real woman with real challenges. She buys organic food, is a little bit crunchy, sometimes struggles to live her best life and, through it all, she is enjoying the journey.
Loving someone takes action

Loving someone takes action

It’s 4:30 am and I awake to the smell of apples cooking.  I stretch and move Sam, our dog, off my feet so I can get up to stir the apples.  I don’t think I imagined at the age of 13 or 14 that I would sleep all night on my couch and stir apples cooking in a roaster every two hours so my family could have Grandma’s apple butter for the holidays, but here I am, loving every minute of it.

As I add the cinnamon flavor, the aroma fills my kitchen and I can almost see my mom and grandma
sitting at my kitchen table, enjoying a cup of coffee and great conversation. Watching them together, it
was always obvious the love they shared for one another.

My Grandma’s apple butter was a staple at our house growing up and to be honest, I’ve never tasted store bought apple butter. I sometimes see it in the store and think maybe I should buy it. But I pass it up
knowing it won’t be as good. As is often the case, I took for granted that it would just be there, available anytime I wanted some. I also took for granted the work that went into those reddish-brown jars of caramelized apples. Although I had witnessed the process, it wasn’t until Grandma shared her recipe with me and I made it, that I realized, making apple butter is a labor of love.

Cooking with Love

Most of our family’s meals were raised in our gardens, harvested in the fall and canned or frozen to enjoy throughout the year.  We spent many hours picking and cleaning green beans, shucking corn or enjoying fresh strawberries while growing up, always with mom and grandma by our side showing us how it was done.

I retrieved fresh eggs from Grandma’s chicken coop and watched my Grandfather collect honey from his
hives many times when I was younger. Although they told us often they loved us, their actions surrounded us and we never doubted their love.

Spending time with my grandparents happened weekly and almost always involved food. Whether it was Sunday dinners, Thanksgiving or Christmas, the air was filled with mouth-watering aromas from the kitchen, the deep baritone laughter of my grandfather and us impatiently waiting for the blessing over the meal to be done.

Passing it along

It’s been 30 years since my mom passed and 22 for my grandmother, so for me canning apple butter is so much more than simply filling jars. It’s sharing a part of my heritage with our children, our family and
friends. It’s remembering that I was completely loved as a daughter of Gatha and Doug and granddaughter of Sarah and Roland. It has taught me that sometimes loving is hard and time-consuming, but it’s worth it.

One of the ways I love my children and others is through my cooking just like Grandma. When my son
comes home from college or my daughter has had a bad day, my first thought is what can I cook for them
to make them feel better. When I hear someone is sick or struggling with life, I wonder what they would
like for dinner.

Loving someone takes action, whether it’s making them a meal, sending them a card or just spending time with them making apple butter. And the return is just as sweet. Watching my children as they sit down to a favorite meal that I prepared, is a great joy to me. It might be a simple act of love, but it is one I pass along to them and I hope someday they will pass along as well.

Infinite possibilities and real life abundance

Infinite possibilities and real life abundance

Recently, my husband and I discovered what it’s like to have an empty nest. My youngest is away at college, and my oldest is “adulting”.  Our parents health has stabilized and life is good. It’s just me and the ‘ole Goat. (Said with love and affection, FYI – my hubs name is Todd.) We’ve recently celebrated our birthdays: Donna v5.2, and Todd v5.6.  We enjoy being alone together more. It’s almost as if we’ve rediscovered each other. We text more often, plan supper for two, watch Jeopardy and an episode of Game of Thrones every night – because we love it.

I looked at him the other day and said, “Dude, where have we been the last 24 years?” It was so nice to just be in the moment, together. We had nowhere to be, no crisis, no drama, and the house was STAYING clean! Suddenly, the realization of infinite possibilities came upon us.  Wintering in Tucson, traveling, and being more artsy came to mind.

Soon after, I found myself freely volunteering my time, working more, and playing more. It felt glorious to jump in my car and go anywhere I wanted, anytime I wanted, and not be responsible for anyone but me.  As Annamarie wrote in her blog post, her dream was a real possibility.  All I had to do was show up for mine.

Becoming reacquainted with change and chaos

A month later, my oldest called to tell me great news – she was transferring back to Mansfield with her company.

“That’s Great news, Honey!”, I said.

“But wait, there’s more!” She said.

I’m moving back home! “Sure, no problem!, I said.”

…and, my fiance is coming too! “Oh? Ok, that’s cool…”

…and our dog!  “I’M ALLERGIC TO DOGS!”

…AND, you’re going to be a grandma!

And here is where I imagine a cloudy speech bubble above my head go :::: KA-BOOM! :::

The above may seem like no big deal to some, or that I’m whining or complaining – but really, I’m not.  I was just startled my dream of infinite possibilities shifted in thirty seconds.  I fully understand now how my own mother feels about her dreams of retirement and travel because her dream has shifted too.

Come to see how perfect your life is today, even if it doesn’t look or feel that way

So, now I’m posting nursery and mobility stuff on my Pinterest board.  The mini-van has been well maintained for transporting parents and grand babies to doctor appointments.  Carpet and flooring have been replaced for wheelchair access.  I am grateful for flexibility and that I can care for aging parents, and new grandchildren.

Stepping back, I am so grateful for my life, health, and family.  I now understand my gifts are to build on my strengths, which include loving and caring for people. And, now that I’ve spent time with my thoughts, perhaps my “me” time was in my twenties? My life’s time-line is flip-flopped… maybe? I didn’t have my first child until I was twenty-nine. I am grateful I survived my twenties.

Thank you for listening while I pondered this.  Sometimes, writing your thoughts down evokes a new perspective.  My life is happy.  I want for nothing.  I need nothing. I am able to love. I am able to serve with joyful abundance. The time is now, and the possibilities are still endless.

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